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The Carcassonne Affair

The Carcassonne Affair

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The Carcassonne Affair

161 página
2 horas
Jul 20, 2012


Bestselling author Mark Bolt’s plans to sever his links with high society life in London are scuppered when a crooked financier fears his next book will expose a conspiracy at the top levels of the horse racing world in Europe.

Expat Life in Europe

In this fast-moving adventure Mark is pursued from London, England, to the South of France by three people: his ex-partner, a woman scorned, a psychotic ex-terrorist with murder in mind, and a philandering Irishman who can’t keep his mind on his work. Expat life in Europe can rarely have offered up such mind-blowing consequences for all concerned.

A Murder Mystery

As Mark sets about restoring a centuries-old property close to Carcassonne in South West France he is befriended by long-established expats who have little idea how much danger the newcomer is in. A mysterious death alerts the gendarmerie who are unaccustomed to dealing with such incidents in a hitherto tranquil setting. Old relationships falter and new ones beckon. But reality has an unusual way of dealing out the new hands!

A contemporary thriller and a superb escapist fiction story!

Jul 20, 2012

Sobre el autor

Jonathan's books are dedicated to the brewers of South Wales, restaurateurs of Catalunya, racehorses of Tipperary (the fast ones) and the red, white and sparkling wines of the Languedoc Roussillon. Jonathan Veale knows too much about the above, to his delight and cost. In an earlier life he spent years in marketing, specialising in advertising and management communication.(where great literature seldom flourishes) With a second home in a medieval village near Castelnaudary, between Toulouse and Carcassonne, and a website, www.WriteAway.co.uk where he helps aspiring writers chase their dreams of infamy and wealth, his take on life nowadays is reflected in numerous blogs and articles about writing and publishing.

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The Carcassonne Affair - Jonathan Veale




Jonathan Veale

Digital rights

Moulin Publications

© Jonathan Veale 2012

(ISBN: 979-10-90730-26-7


Published by Moulin Publications at Smashwords

~ ~ ~

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

~ ~ ~


I would particularly like to thank Joanna Hulme for her valuable editing input. Some editors have a lot to put up with! Thanks, too, to Brian Stephens for his continued support in formatting and marketing my ebooks. His ebook website http://ebookissues.com/ is always a pleasure to visit. And for my readers, . . . thanks for the interest you’ve shown in my books, past and present. By all means get in touch with me personally with ideas and brickbats. My website: http://www.writeaway.co.uk/

Jonathan Veale - July 2012

Chapter One

It started going pear-shaped for Mark Brayfeld on the day events in three countries coincided. But to an outside observer, indeed to Mark himself, no danger signs flashed. A New York publisher with more money than sense decided to offer a staggering sum for Mark’s second novel; a yearling colt was entered for his first race at Newmarket in the following flat race season, and a feisty English woman running a hamlet of gites in South West France received a writ threatening the future of her business, and worse, her home there. But the seeds for what followed were sown in Ireland.

~ ~ * ~ ~

Two men sat sipping Guinness in the finest pub in County Tipperary. Horse talk is the lifeblood of McCarthy’s Hotel, but this conversation was muted, murmured, and concerned men not horses. And one man in particular, the novelist Mark Brayfeld. To overhear a word you would have needed to be within whispering distance . . . yet they only shared the space with a bored-looking sheepdog and a barmaid busy polishing the life out of a queue of glasses.

‘If this gets published it will kill us stone dead,’ said the older man. He paused as he slipped on the black leather gloves he had only minutes earlier removed. ‘And that, I cannot afford – neither can you!’

‘Leave it to me, Liam. I’ve got a line on the fellow. We’ve dug out his London address. I’ll be there tonight. He won’t know what hit him.’ So saying, he grasped his right fist in his left palm – the menace there for the other man to see.

But the other man was already walking away. ‘See to it then, Keveaney,’ he mumbled, as though talking to himself. The girl behind the bar realised the words were not for her as he passed. She glanced at her remaining customer. He too was on the move but, as she guessed he might, he spared a moment for her as he left, . . . and a smile. ‘Thanks. Lovely pint.’ His was a face women remember.

A sharp easterly wind bit into David Keveaney’s clenched knuckles as he hurried up Fethard’s Main Street to retrieve the car. Dublin airport was a good hour’s drive, and this flight was one he dare not miss.

~ ~ * ~ ~

Every breath in my lungs had departed – and then some. Winded was a polite word for it; I was out cold, or should have been, but a morsel of life remained. I eyed the worn Nike trainer within inches of my nose and would have recoiled had I the strength. But I knew I was beaten. I managed a grunt then beat the sprung maple flooring with both fists.

‘Some tumble, Mark! Let’s call it a day,’ said my squash opponent, Greg, offering me first one hand, then two. One was by no means enough. I was well and truly spent. On my feet I felt shaky and we both realised the game was over. It was Greg’s win, the third in a row. Enough said. We trooped off the court. I managed a nod in the direction of the waiting couple who’d booked the court next.

First in, first out. The changing rooms were empty yet full of bags, brief cases, posh and not so posh plastic bags, and some classy suits on coat hangers. All ten courts were in play.

North London’s premier squash club has standards to maintain. By invitation only, its Iranian owner, Ziggy, insists. Members have to negotiate a social minefield to receive one, and then know what is, and what is not acceptable on the application form. I could have told applicants a mention of poetry would help. Ziggy’s grandfather – a friend of my father, Sir Tasker Brayfeld – had been one of Tehran’s finest poets in the Shah’s era, but many of the oiks who apply have no time for literature, at least not of the edifying kind. They prefer numbers, long lines of them that adorn bonus cheques. The reputation of bankers might be taking an overdue hammering in the disastrous recession, but inexplicably, bonuses keep on coming, whether the sun has its hat on or not.

As a writer I can only dabble with words as the fortunes of my acquaintances balloon into the troposphere. Not for me, a Ferrari, a wrist dribbling with bling, and caviar rather than beans on toast for breakfast. But I’ve never coveted such things; my world, my sanctuary, is secure, or so I’d thought on that November day. I’d been constructing my own view of life and my place in it since childhood, from the moment I’d realised my father, a banker too, but of the old school, worshipped mammon more than either his wife or his three children.

My partner Miriam also has a career in the City yet, thank goodness, tends to be a low-key spender. Her only extravagances, a sporty Alfa Romeo forever being tweaked (repaired, at great expense), and a penchant for acting as unpaid trialist for every cosmetic product claiming to prolong the bloom of youth.

But I fear the work Miriam professes to enjoy is eating away at her humanity. Certainly our bond is nowhere near as powerful or exciting as it had once been. And in my melancholic moments I suspect it will take some doing to turn this particular clock back six years. Even if I want to.

‘Snap out of it! You’ll get your own back soon enough. Next Friday OK?’ Greg had changed and was swinging his bag in his usual let’s get on with life manner I always find comforting. We are both capable of destroying the other’s game, given half a chance, but over the years our wins even out. However, Greg’s successes had been mounting lately, we both knew it. My zest for the game had waned – the flair missing.

‘Yes – next Friday’ll be fine. Nothing planned.’

‘Want a lift? I’m going your way,’ Greg added.

‘Thanks – but I’ve got Dad’s car. Frightens the life out of me, but mine’s in for a service.’

‘Is he staying with you?’

‘Yes – and Miriam’s not amused. Keeps threatening to put him out with the bins. But he’s going back to Norfolk tomorrow – or so he tells me.’

I patted Greg’s departing shoulder and returned to my packing. Still a little stiff from my exertions I found donning a jacket a tad painful, but everything else seemed to be functioning. Time for home, and an early bath. God! I’m in a rut; it’s always the same after I’ve delivered a manuscript and the final draft has been signed off. I feel drained, bereft of ideas. So be it. Life goes on. Things must perk up one of these days.

Chapter Two

Blenheim Walk, NW8, a prime London residential location in estate agency speak, is in St John’s Wood, close to the Abbey Road studios of Beatles’ fame, and only a cricket ball’s throw from Lord’s, the headquarters of the game. But other things were on my mind as I accelerated across the famous pedestrian crossing before a hooded teenager could put a boot on it. Dad’s Aston Martin was growling, almost pawing the tarmac to express the reserves of power under the bonnet. I was using little of it. I was dawdling too, my brain in low gear and my expectations at an even lower ebb. As I swung into our narrow street I noticed the century-old plane trees were rapidly shedding their leaves. Soon that damned street light would be floodlighting our bedroom again.

I parked next to Miriam’s Alfa, found the key and, after a struggle, managed to activate the beast’s central-locking system. The clunk sounded promising – but I checked the doors manually, just in case. Belt and braces. Old habits die hard.

As I eased my bag through the door I could hear Jon Snow interviewing someone in the front room. So I knew where Miriam was. But what about Conkers? Conkers has many faults (dubious parentage and pedigree included – some collie, with added terrier, perhaps), but inattention to homecomings is not one of them. As a rescue dog, or more accurately, a rescued puppy - I selected him from a centre that took in mistreated animals – Conkers is wary of strangers and only speaks when spoken to; his bark is a weapon of last resort. But he knows how to greet his master – by hiding, and then leaping out when discovered. His tail gave him away. The hall table was wagging furiously. The reunion was, as ever, accompanied by much patting and shared banalities. Every home should be so welcoming. TV interviewer Jon Snow’s questions were, in the meantime, getting longer, and still not a peep out of Miriam.

‘Good day?’ Miriam was slouched on the sofa as I popped my head round the door. She didn’t look up, but her reply was friendly enough, . . . or was it?

‘Not bad. Look! I’ve had two calls for you since I’ve been in. One from your bloody literary agent, that ponce Julian, and another, from a semi-coherent Irishman called Keveaney rabbiting on about wanting to interview you for the Tipperary Syndicate or whatever. Kept calling you Mr Bolt, but sounded pleasant enough. Harmless. I told him to drop round tomorrow morning, but to ring first. And, oh yes, your father wants you to collect him from the Wells – a pub I suppose. Said something about needing a snifter to keep out the frost. Left in a taxi less than ten minutes ago. What is it with your family? Can’t you do your socialising indoors like normal people?’ Miriam had a point, but I was not in the mood to share it. Not in the mood at all. And then I started it. Unintentionally, perhaps, but my next words lit the fuse which led to all that followed.

‘Leave my family out of it if you don’t mind. And I’d rather you didn’t offer me advice on socialising . . . inside or outside this house.’

That did it! She was off the sofa in an instant making for the kitchen, her favoured venue for a verbal punch-up. I followed. I too relished a fight this time and was not going to concede an inch. She leant back against the Aga, having put the kettle on; I stood guard by the door to the larder, the room that also houses my wine cellar. We were subconsciously defending our preferred territories, but far more was at stake than either of us realised. Our future together was in the balance.

‘Right! From now on, do precisely what you want, where you want. Don’t let me get in your way? But just remember who it is who brings home the bacon here, puts up with your old man dropping in at will as though it’s his club, and all the while you’re hiding away in a back-street library conspiring with that frump of a female, Frances – for God’s sake, what a name for an editor, neither man or woman – over yet another uncommercial nonsense. Can’t you see? There’s no future in it. You’re going nowhere. And how many copies were sold of your last book? A thousand at most? What on earth your publisher sees in you I can’t begin to guess. Why don’t you get a job like the rest of us, and pay your way? At least as a psychiatrist you used to contribute something to the upkeep of this place. As a so-called writer you’re simply a self-indulgent wanabee!’

I’d let her ramble on, taking the digs, but at the same time realising they weren’t hitting home as they’d used to. It was dawning on me that, for once, I could bat back her insults without losing my cool; a delicious thought because that would infuriate her still further. But I drew back from retaliating; I have many faults, but premeditated bullying is not one of them. But I was still angry enough to continue the session.

‘I’ve told you countless times. Money and all you think it can buy doesn’t motivate me. Never has, never will. I write because I feel the need

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