It’s my stop on the #blogtour for Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles today and I’m thrilled to be sharing an extract of this book with you! What’s more, I am hosting a giveaway too! To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Old Bones, read the extract below, follow me on twitter and retweet my #blogtour tweet and answer the question in the comments! The competition closes at 6pm on 09 August and is only open to those with UK addresses. Good luck!
Monday morning began with bones. McLaren took the phone call, breaking off from hand-to-mouth combat with a bacon baguette.
‘You’re disgusting,’ Swilley said as he sprayed crusty flakes in the attempt to say ‘CID room’. ‘What would your girlfriend think if she could see you now?’
McLaren put down the baton carefully, balancing it across the top of his coffee mug, said, ‘Yeah, I’ll hold,’ into the receiver, and had the leisure to answer Swilley. ‘Nat wun’t care,’ he told her. ‘She likes a bloke with an appetite. She’s only little, but she can put it away herself all right.’
‘Ah,’ Atherton murmured on his way out. ‘A gastro-gnome.’
But McLaren was now listening to the call. He didn’t generally catch Atherton’s witticisms anyway. He thought wit was a description of the weather in New Zealand.
A garden contractor starting to dig out foundations for a shed had unearthed a large bone and called the police. Uniform decided it ought to be investigated and Mackay from Slider’s team went out. When he reported back that he thought the bone was human, Slider sent McLaren to assist while the SOC diggers were sent for, carefully to uncover whatever else might be there.
Mid-morning, Swilley appeared at Slider’s door. ‘The bones, boss,’ she said. ‘Mackay says they’re definitely human.’
Slider looked up. ‘How definitely?’
‘The whole skeleton’s there. Doc Cameron’s on his way. The builder had the sense to stop when he uncovered the first one, so there’s not too much damage. Uniform’s got the owners corralled in the house – yuppie couple. The husband’s kicking up blazes, apparently – wants to be let go to work.’
‘All right, send someone down to keep him happy.’
‘I’ll go, boss.’
Slider eyed her. Tall, athletic, blonde and attractive. ‘No, you might inflame the wife,’ he said. ‘Send Gascoyne – he’s got an emollient personality.’
‘If you say so,’ said Swilley, though Slider didn’t know whether she was doubtful about the man or the vocabulary.
He returned to the sea of paperwork that these days covered his desk. It never grew any less, because every time he left the room for a moment, elves would come and deposit some more. There had always been annoying paperwork, but of recent years, what with political correctness, pressure groups and the increasing litigiousness of the British Public, it had seemed to become not an adjunct, but the whole purpose of The Job. Sometimes he made an attempt at sorting the stuff into piles, butsearching for something specific just spread them out again. It was an intractable mass. There were layers at the bottom that were turning into peat.
On a trip to the loo, to get away from it for a minute or two, he bumped into Detective Superintendent Porson, his boss, coming out, shaking his big chalky hands to dry them.
‘Out of paper towels again,’ he said irritably, glaring at Slider as though it were his fault. ‘I hate them bloody blower things.’ Slider whimsically pulled out his handkerchief, but Porson, with a stern look, advanced one hip and said, ‘Get mine out of my jacket pocket.’ And while he wiped his hands dry, still staring at Slider, he said, ‘Got anything on?’
Slider repressed the facetious answer that sat up like a dog smelling sausage, and said, ‘Human remains unearthed this morning in a garden in Laburnum Avenue.’
‘On the Trees Estate.’ It was the officially unofficial name for a small development off the Uxbridge Road.
‘Right. Laburnum. What sort of remains?’
‘A whole human skeleton, apparently.’
Porson looked pleased, for some reason. ‘Old bones. Lovely. Something for you to get your teeth into.’
‘Sir?’ Slider said with an effort. Down, Fido!
‘Keep you busy,’ Porson explained. ‘Usefully employed and out of everyone’s hair. You can’t upset anybody looking into old bones.’
Porson took on a worrying hint of kindness. ‘You know you aren’t Mr Popular in some circles. Now this won’t put anyone’s toes out of joint. Sort it out, it’s good publicity for The Job, bit of bon for you.’
‘You want me to prioritize it?’ Slider queried innocently.
‘Get stuck in!’ Porson invited, with a nod of his massive head, and strode on.
‘Roger that sir,’ Slider murmured. Direct order from the boss. Bye bye paperwork, hello fieldcraft. He returned via the CID room, where his minions were toiling over their various routines. ‘I’ll give it half an hour more for Doc Cameron to do his stuff, then I’ll go over to Laburnum myself,’ he announced. Eyes were raised in hope. DS Atherton, his friend and usual bagman, wasn’t there – out on some business with the sergeant’s envied freedom. He thought of the indignant yuppie couple and Fido grinned and wagged again. ‘Hart, you can come with me.’ Hart was black and sassy with a gorblimey London accent. Emollient she was not.
‘Right, boss,’ Hart said with a happy grin. ‘Old bones. Lovely!’
Odd that Porson had used the same words, he thought.
My thanks go to Holly Domney and Blackthorn Books for the invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book. If you enjoyed my post, please do check out my others, and also the other stops on the #blogtour (see below).