Although my next novel will be Lucky Portbraddon, which I’m furiously editing at the moment – it’s very long, very complicated, and needs a lot of pruning – I am also writing the next Radwinter novel… if that seems a little crazy it’s just that editing is quite tedious, and not creative, so I take time out and do some other writing.

I originally wrote a stand alone novel about Thomas Radwinter investigating his family tree, as many of us do, and in doing so discovering things about  himself and his brothers… He was researching his paternal line, the Radwinters, and it seemed only half done… so another novel arrived where Thomas looked at his maternal line… I have now written four Radwinter books, and Thomas has been investigating not only  his own family, but little mysteries other people have, an old lady’s family is worried about her young Moroccan friend, a woman vanishes from a car in the middle of a busy town, a man comes under the influence of a mysterious Buddhist lama…

Now, in this fifth novel, as well as ghost hunting, identifying a young woman washed up on the town beach who has lost her memory, worrying about his niece who has elective mutism, Thomas has been asked by Laurence Shelversell to investigate a murder in 1931 at a boarding school where his mother, Cynthia,  was a pupil… The more Thomas researches, the more mystery he uncovers, other deaths which appeared to be accidents; in this excerpt he is telling Laurence’s sister, Rose, what he has discovered…:

Her beautiful face became serious and enigmatic and I had no idea what she was thinking. At last she spoke

“It seems that you and my brother think that these five girls who died in 1931 were murdered… and that there is also something mysterious about the deaths of the two women who drowned…”

It sounded preposterous when she said it and I suddenly realised that Laurence and I had been caught up in this ridiculous fantasy… It was nonsense of course…

“And you think, “ she went on in her cool voice, “That one of the remaining six, including Mother, might have been responsible?”

“Not your mother… she has an alibi,” I replied feeling very foolish indeed.

“Alibi?” she looked sceptical…oh heck… I’ve really got carried away with my enthusiasm – this has happened before on a small scale in some of the other research – I’ve found someone I think is a relative of a client and spent hours researching them, making a little biography and then realised I’d made a simple error and had been looking at the wrong person… Alibis from nearly eighty years ago?

“Um… well, she was in hospital having her appendix  out when little Marjorie and Florence died… “ I passed her the letter I had found in among the letters Laurence had given me. It was from Cynthia’s mother, Rose’s grandmother, clearly dated and with details in it which showed she wasn’t even at Beauchamps when it happened.” She was in a wheelchair on the platform waiting for the train when Rhoda died – ” and I passed her another newspaper report I’ had found. “And she was on holiday on Farholm island with your grandparents when Lilian drowned and Katy disappeared… “and I showed her the copy of the Farholm Bugle…”And you and Lawrence and your parents were in Canada when Cicely and Christian drowned… your father was working there for a year… in Moosejaw… “

Rose suddenly smiled, the cheeky smile she and her brother had inherited from Cynthia.

“You have been very thorough, Thomas!” she said and handed me another slice of coffee and vanilla Battenberg… I’m ashamed to say I think it was my fourth!

If you haven’t yet read any or all of my Radwitner novels, or my other novels, here is a link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

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