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Today we are delighted to feature Jill Paterson’s book, Lane’s End
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WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT?
Sydney’s Observatory on a balmy summer evening is the perfect venue for a cocktail party and, it would seem, a murder, for Peter Van Goren’s body is discovered bludgeoned to death in the grounds. The first question Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn must answer is why Van Goren was present given his name does not appear on the guest list. The second is what was the subject of Van Goren’s vehement argument with Richard Carmichael, one of the function’s hosts.
Meanwhile, Richard’s son, Ben Carmichael, a photojournalist, returns to Sydney from an overseas assignment to find his fiancée, Emma Phillips, has gone missing. Although unavoidably dragged into the police investigation, Ben goes in search of her. In so doing, he is drawn to Lane’s End, the abandoned family estate where the very atmosphere awakens disturbing memories.
Through a maze of twisted stories, Fitzjohn follows a winding path to solve his case, but he is not prepared for the spiralling perplexity his quest creates.
HOW DOES THE BOOK START?
With his wire-framed glasses balanced on the bridge of his nose, Alistair Fitzjohn hummed to himself as he turned the key in the lock and stepped into his sandstone cottage in Birchgrove. Relishing his success at winning North Shore Orchid Society’s, ‘Orchid of the Evening’, he beamed at the prize-winning specimen.
‘Who would have thought you’d be my first win?’ he said.
With both hands now clasped around the precious object’s purple pot, he closed the front door with his foot and made his way through the house to the kitchen before stepping out into the back garden. There, a warm evening breeze ruffled the few wisps of hair that remained on the top of Fitzjohn’s head while his gaze took in the flowerbeds, their fragrances wafting in the air around him. At the bottom of the garden stood the new Victorian greenhouse, its shape bathed in moonlight. Sophie had been right, he thought to himself as he made his way down the stone path; it is the Rolls Royce of greenhouses. Edith would love it. A hint of sadness tinged Fitzjohn’s thoughts as his late wife’s smile came to mind.
Sighing, and balancing the orchid’s pot in one hand, he unlatched the greenhouse glass door and stepped into its warm, humid atmosphere. Once inside, he placed the prize-winner in pride of place at the end of the centre bench and stood back to admire it against the rows of other orchids, their delicate blooms wax-like in the soft light. To add to this peaceful scene, Fitzjohn turned to switch on the CD player that sat on the shelf next to the door but as he did so, a soft tap sounded. Peering through the glass, he could see the tall, slim, figure of his young, ginger-haired sergeant, Martin Betts.
Fitzjohn groaned and opened the door. ‘Betts? Why do I have the distinct feeling that you’re about to spoil my evening?’
Betts, his tall frame towering over Fitzjohn, cleared his throat. ‘I apologise, sir, but we’ve been called out to attend a homicide.’
Fitzjohn’s shoulders sagged and he turned to close the greenhouse door, his gaze falling upon the rows of orchids standing like shadowy sentinels, waiting for his return.
‘Okay, whereabouts is this homicide?’ he asked, making his way back along the garden path.
‘Observatory Hill, sir.’
Mumbling to himself, Fitzjohn opened the back door of the house and marched inside.
‘You know, Betts, I had the most stupendous evening planned. Do you know why?’
‘No, sir,’ replied Betts, following Fitzjohn into the kitchen.
‘Well, I’ll tell you. Tonight I won ‘Orchid of the Evening’ with my Paphiopedilum woluwense.’
‘That’s great, sir. Really great.’
‘It’s not just great, Betts. It’s remarkable!’
Fitzjohn removed his glasses and commenced to clean them with his handkerchief. ‘I’ve been trying to win that prize for the past two years, and I was planning to have a glass or two of that whisky over there to celebrate.’ Fitzjohn looked longingly at a bottle of Glenfiddich that sat on the kitchen table.
‘Sorry about that, sir.’
‘So am I, Betts. So am I.’
With a sigh, Fitzjohn grabbed his briefcase from the kitchen table and, followed by his sergeant, headed for the front door and out to the waiting car.
‘Fill me in,’ he continued as he settled himself into the passenger seat before pulling the seat belt across his recently acquired trim shape.
Betts slid into the driver’s seat. ‘All I know at this stage is that the victim was found in the grounds of the Observatory about an hour and a half ago. Apparently a guest at a function being held there this evening.’
‘Male or female?’
‘Middle-aged male, sir.’
MEET SOME OF THE CAST
Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn
Part of the old guard of detectives, Fitzjohn’s methodical, painstaking methods were, no doubt, viewed by some as archaic. Nevertheless, over the years, they had brought him success as well as the respect of all but one of his colleagues; Superintendent Grieg, the man Fitzjohn regarded as his nemesis.
Detective Sergeant Martin Betts
Peering through the glass, he could see the tall, slim, figure of his young, ginger-haired sergeant, Martin Betts.
It was late on Saturday evening when Ben climbed into a cab at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith on the last leg of his journey home. Weary, and yet tense, he stretched his long lean body out and tried to quell the images of the horrors he had witnessed during the past four weeks.
The two officers walked amongst the soft furnishing and tables filled with bric-a-brac to where Theodora Hunt could be seen at the far end of the shop, talking to a customer. Wearing a tight floral dress over her buxom frame, her blonde locks tied up in a matching scarf, she excused herself and bustled over to where they waited.
WHO SAYS WHAT?
‘Good evening Mrs Butler. Doing a little night time gardening are we?’
‘It’s none of your business what I’m doing, Mr Fitzjohn.’
‘It is when it’s my hedge you’re trimming, madam.’
‘Later, of course, I realised that her body had already been washed off the rocks.’
‘Ben! Come away from the edge. You’re making me nervous.’
WHERE DOES THE STORY TAKE PLACE?
He hastened his step and pushed his way forward into the undergrowth until he found himself at the eroded edge of the cliff. High above, seagulls soared and in the face of a cool nor-easterly wind, he looked down to where the sheer wall of the cliff, wet with salt spray, gleamed in the afternoon sun above rocks in the churning sea. The image of his mother’s body splayed on the rocks flashed in front of him and he lurched back from the edge.
‘Even you lot have a pecking order,’ he muttered to himself, pouring seed into the dish. The parrots dived for it and Fitzjohn continued on to the greenhouse, the orchids inside hidden behind the misted windows. Opening the door, he turned on the CD player, and the soft sound of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major filled the air. Time slipped by unnoticed whilst he made his way along the rows of plants, tending to each one in turn.
Fitzjohn and Betts ducked under the police tape and continued on through the open gates, their shoes crunching in the gravel under foot. The edifice of the old Observatory building loomed ahead, its shape casting a shadow across the grounds. In silence, they made their way along the side of the building to the rear corner where a white marquee came into view and not far behind it, a blue forensic tent. While Betts continued on to the marquee, Fitzjohn approached the entrance to the tent. There he found the tall, thin figure of the pathologist, Charles Conroy, along with the SOCO’s who worked silently around him. The victim lay on his side at Conroy’s feet.
A child-like scream rang through his head and tears rolled down his face as the full force of what he had seen that day, long ago, played out in his mind.
TELL US ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jill Paterson was born in Yorkshire, UK, and grew up in Adelaide, South Australia before spending 11 years in Ontario, Canada.
On returning to Australia, she settled in Canberra.
After doing an arts degree at the Australian National University, she worked at the Australian National University’s School of Law before spending the next 10 years with the Business Council of Australia and the University of NSW, ADFA Campus, in the School of Electrical Engineering.
Jill is the author of four published books, The Celtic Dagger, Murder At The Rocks, Once Upon A Lie and Lane’s End which are all part of the Fitzjohn Mystery Series.
She has also authored two non-fiction books entitled Self Publishing-Pocket Guide and Writing-Painting A Picture With Words.
WHAT DO READERS THINK?
“Well written. Hard to put down. Kept you interested to the end.”
“I’ve enjoyed all of Jill Paterson’s books. This one is no exception.”
“A murder investigation that may have roots in a thirty year old unsolved case, and possible suspects not telling all the truth, makes for a satisfying murder mystery.”
“I truly enjoyed this book. I liked the detective, the mystery, the plot and the bit of Australian countryside description.”
“I enjoyed it so much, I have downloaded the first 3 volumes.”
LANE’S END is available from Amazon.com
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Many thanks and happy reading and writing, Charlie