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I am currently completing the manuscript for a second art mystery novel, with the provisional title of 'Due Respect', and will soon need to inch my toes forward to the edge of the starting block and send the MS to some publishing possibilities. With some trepidation as so far I have not managed to attract much interest - which is putting it mildly!

So... what to do and where to from here?

Herewith the beginnings of draft summary (I would not go so far as to call it a 'synopsis') of my manuscript. 

Parry, who works for an art auction house, and Apolline, a lawyer, have settled into married life in present-day France with their five-year-old twin boys and her two daughters from a previous marriage. Parry shoulders much of the responsibility for their day-to-day lives, particularly those of Gregory and Pascal. If Apolline is finding life a little too quiet Parry relishes their ordered existence after the dramatic events of six years previously when he was kidnapped and threatened with surgical mutilation.

Parry’s boss, Thomas Bronsard, asks him to check the authenticity of several paintings by Australian artists Richard Crooks and Sarah Crookstone - a seemingly straightforward assignment. However there are puzzling changes in Richard’s work from the 1920s and one of Sarah’s paintings bears the year of her death rather than that of its execution. When did Richard die? Why did Sarah stop painting in 1948?

Apolline is dealing with the estate of deceased businessman, Louis Styming. Apart from Philippe Styming and his sister, Marie-Jeanne, three more offspring have legitimate claims on the estate: Hélène Williams from Louis’ first marriage, and James and Stuart Stymson from an extra-marital liaison. It becomes evident that Apolline and Parry are working on the same matter. When their house is burgled, the only things missing are the emails of the Crookstone and Crooks paintings and some of Apolline’s clothing.

Apolline is irritated at Parry’s forgetfulness; he is worried their marriage is failing. Parry’s boss is increasingly difficult. Philippe Styming, wants the inheritance sorted out immediately and some missing paintings found. He also intends to dispute the will of his late mother, Cassandra, in particular her deeding of ‘Curlew Cottage’ (inherited from her aunt, Sarah Crookstone) to Marie-Jeanne, who has disappeared. It is a race against time to solve the mysteries surrounding the Australian artists since the Styming art collection is going to auction.

Parry’s search to ‘find’ the two artists takes him to art museums in Lausanne, Lyon and Grenoble, to centres for X-ray analysis, and an abandoned artists’ commune. He visits the Styming residence and sees the portrait painted by Sarah Crookstone, its enigmatic title, ‘The Curlew’. He does some illegal entry of his own and learns Sarah’s story, which leaves him with a conundrum. Does he make public Sarah’s disturbing confession and bring discredit to her art, and Richard’s? Or does he accord Sarah due respect, and condone a serious distortion of art history?

Apolline flies to London to oversee the signing of papers by the Styming heirs. She travels to East Sussex with Hélène, only to find herself held prisoner by Hélène and James. They have been plotting with Philippe and force her to sign bogus legal documents to give them Sarah’s cottage and a greater share of their father’s estate, at the expense of Marie-Jeanne.




As a further foretaste of the new book, I propose to upload sections of my first art mystery novel, 'It Happened Tomorrow' (Kusatsu Press, 2013), which is, I guess, a prequel to the current novel.


It Happened Tomorrow


A funeral was taking place on a sparkling summer’s day. The woman to whom everyone had come to pay their last respects was the revered (and sometimes feared) matriarch of a family, an important figure in the lakeside community near Annecy in eastern France where her family had lived for generations. Many of the people present at the service were involved in the charities she had actively patronised. It was only in the weeks before her death, at the age of ninety and acutely ill with kidney failure, that she relaxed her grip on life.

At the front of an orderly crowd of elderly friends plus men and women in business suits, a straggle of black-clad family members huddled together, whispering amongst themselves. An elegantly dressed woman poked the noisiest culprit in the back and ordered ‘Shhh!’

The man looked startled at the intrusion but quickly collected himself and glanced at the priest conducting the funeral service.

‘Monsieur,’ the priest said, handing the man a small shovel. ‘It is time to complete the ceremony for your mother.’

The man took the shovel, scooped up a few clods of dirt and sprinkled them on the coffin that had been lowered into the deep hole freshly prepared for it. His two sisters repeated the process.

The priest uttered the prescribed words of benediction; the mourners moved towards the gate. Several of the older people came up to the siblings with words of condolence and small gestures of sympathy. A discerning eye would note that they, in contrast to their sympathisers, were not displaying the degree of distress and sadness the occasion warranted. If that discerning eye had been a discerning ear, it would have overheard a strange conversation.

‘Can’t say I’m sorry the old girl has finally shuffled off.’

‘But it does leave us with a problem – a big problem. Several big problems.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Her will, mon frère, her will. Especially that last bit about it being our duty to atone for Father’s disgrace.’

‘I must say I was surprised at that. Especially as she neither spoke his name nor even acknowledged his existence after he went to gaol.’

‘True. But the terms of her will are quite clear. She must have felt very strongly about the whole thing and now we’re left with the mess.’

The man looked thoughtful and scratched his ear. ‘Maybe it’s not such a mess. We might be able to do something interesting.’



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