••• The International Writers Magazine - 24 Years on-line - The 2nd Delaney & Asha mystery
The Book of Ashes
Hammer & Tong - August 2022 - ebook & Print
"Great characters, a gripping mystery and the wonderful return of Rufus the dog"- Beverly H
'an immensely satisfying story' - Walli Leff on Goodreads.
'a fun read with unique elements ... exemplary in its voice and style'
'Judge, 10th Annual Writer's Digest E-Book Awards
My new novel The Book of Ashes is out. It’s the second Delaney and Asha investigation following ‘We Feel Your Pain - So you don't have to’. Originally they ran the Office of Berg City Oversight - to protect the City from scams and corruption - only for them to discover the real corruption was within the Mayor's office. Delaney nearly died in the process of uncovering the truth. Now they have set up on their own – worried about where the next client will turn up and how to keep the show on the road.
Going private is filled with doubt and unpaid bills and often the people who need the help the most can’t afford it. Fortunately for Delaney their next client is a young cybercurrency millionaire who commissioned a biography of his father, now suffering from dementia. Only the writer disappeared with the $10,000 advance. It seems like a simple track and trace job, but of course, it serves to open up a total horror show – like peeling back an onion. Every father is hiding something it seems – some more than others.
Writing a follow up story is fraught with difficulties. Each character comes with baggage. Delaney in his new relationship with Asha, his adopted daughter Maria is now an awkward 15-year-old and of course, Rufus the dog will still need feeding and walks. Rufus, quite naturally steals the show – as events unfold.
The Book of Ashes is set in New England. It’s cold, it’s nearly Christmas and New England in the snow looks great on a postcard but can be lethal in reality.
Writing a sequel can be fraught - ask any writer. No longer do you have the frission of the main characters meeting each other for first time. But, of course, you have to remember that a reader might start with book two and wonder how they hell they even got together. Then you also need a compelling mystery. In this case I have long harboured an idea about a biographer uncovering unsavoury secrets about their client. In this case I added the complication of the writer having little chance of any cooperation as the subject has dementia. Had a little fun with Wolfie the feckless writer. Shan't reveal who he might be based on, but there really are people out there exploiting people who want their memoirs written for them - no matter that few or any relatives will actually care.
It was good to explore more of the hinterland of New England in winter. Yes it really gets this cold. -30C or lower in places. I get a secret pleasure out of visiting summer resorts in winter when there are few people and even less places to eat or socialise - but you get a real insight into the hardy locals and their unique approach to life.
Asha as a character interests me. She has evolved nicely to fit in with Delaney, complimenting him with her ability to see connections that others might not make. My sister read an early draft and said 'You do realise you are writing a new episode of Hart to Hart' and I'm still trying to decide if it was a compliment or a slur. (Slightly complicated by her deep affection for Robert Wagner). I never saw the TV show, but I'm going to take it as a compliment.
As ever Rufus the dog plays a big part in the story. If you have ever owned a dog you'll understand that you can't keep them out of your business for long. Rufus is loyal and devoted to Delaney and I'd like to think would be exactly the type of dog to alert any passerby to a problem if misfortune ever struck his or her owner.
© Sam Hawksmoor 2023
Anyway, this is what I did in the second year of covid. I hope you enjoy and if you did, tell others. It's my own fault I'm not on social media or booktock so I will have to rely on you.
Happy reading. Berg City awaits you.
An extract from The Book of Ashes here