2 December 2020

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[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction

Images of three monkeys are sent to the police to taunt them: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil...

[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard - Blog Tour Banner

The Book:

Three Monkeys 
(DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1)
By Len Maynard
  • Publication Date: 22nd July 2020
  • Publisher: Sharpe Books
  • Page Length: 270 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Crime

The Blurb:

1958.

A girl’s body is found in Hertfordshire.

Her eyes and mouth have been sewn shut. Candle wax has been poured into her ears to seal them.

DCI Jack Callum, policeman and dedicated family man, who cut his teeth walking the beat on the violent streets of London, before moving his family away from the city, to a safer, more restful life in the country, leads the investigation into this gruesome crime that shatters the peace of the sleepy English town.

Images of three monkeys are sent to the police to taunt them: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Something more sinister than a mere isolated murder seems to be going on as more victims come to light.

Who is doing this and why?

At the insistence of the first victim’s father, a local dignitary, officers from Scotland Yard are brought in to bring about a speedy conclusion to the case, side-lining Jack’s own investigation.

In a nail-biting climax, one of Jack’s daughters is snatched. Before she can become the next victim, Jack has to go against the orders of his superiors that have constantly hampered his investigation, and risk his own career in an attempted rescue at the killer’s own home.
[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
Three Monkeys - Front cover

Three Monkeys: the first DCI Jack Callum Mystery - Excerpt:

Frances Anderton let herself out of the Blainey house and took a deep lungful of the warm, summer air. She walked down the crazy-paved path, through the gate and out into the tree-lined street. It was early, not yet seven. Hopefully, she would be home before breakfast.

She walked briskly along the street, before turning into Glendale Road, an equally leafy thoroughfare. A milkman trundled by, milk bottles rattling in the crates stacked on his float, but apart from him there didn’t seem to be anybody about. She crossed the road and took the small lane that led to Riverdale Avenue, a few streets away from her parents’ house.

She was regretting the argument she’d had with her father the previous evening that led to her being sent away by her mother to stay with family friends. It was to keep her out of the way of her father’s unpredictable temper – not that he’d ever hit her, but last night he had come very close to it. All because of that stupid dress, her desire to wear it, and his unreasonable demand that she should not.

It wasn’t as if she was a child. She was fourteen, for heaven’s sake. She should be allowed to dress how she liked, not be confined to the gymslips and ankle socks which, if her father had his way, would be all she was ever allowed to wear. She wouldn’t, couldn’t, stay his precious little girl forever. He should let her grow up. Her older sister hadn’t had these problems, she was sure. Fiona was wearing what she chose, going out to parties, mixing with boys, and father didn’t make her life miserable.

Along the road a young man was crouching down beside a gleaming, two-tone blue motor scooter. He appeared to be tinkering with the engine.

“Hello,” the young man said as she walked past. “It’s Frances, isn’t it?”

She was taken aback for a moment. “Yes,” she said, hesitantly. “How do you know who I am?” He was smartly dressed in a fawn jacket and cream slacks. His fair hair was short, neatly parted and combed, and he was very good looking. He was smiling at her, at her. She was not at all confident with boys, remaining very much in her sister’s much more glamorous shadow. Suddenly she was very aware of the wire braces on her teeth, her freckled face, and her unruly shock of ginger hair.

“You’re Fiona Anderton’s sister, aren’t you?”

“Are you a friend of Fiona?” she said.

“Yes, Fiona and I go back a long way. Derek Webster,” he said, and stuck out a hand.

She shook the hand. “Very pleased to meet you,” she said.

“Likewise, I’m sure. What do you think of the scooter?” he said. “I’ve only had it a few weeks.”

“It’s very…smart,” she said.

“It’s more than smart,” he said. “It’s a Phoenix, designed by the great Ernie Barratt, made with an all steel body and a 150cc engine. There’re not many of these around.”

She made a show of admiring the motor scooter, but not really sure what she was supposed to be admiring.

“Would you like a go?” he said.

“I…I don’t know how.”

He laughed. “Not to ride it,” he said. “I’ll take you for a spin, if you like, on the pillion.”

She shook her head. “I’d better not,” she said.

“Don’t you trust me?” he said. “Don’t you think I can ride it properly?”

“No,” she said. “It’s not that. I’m sure you ride very well.”

“Then where’s the harm?”

She glanced down at her Timex Alice in Wonderland wristwatch and felt immediately embarrassed by the childish timepiece. She pulled down the sleeve of her blouse to hide it. “I don’t want to be late for breakfast,” she said.

“You worry too much,” he said. “Your sister doesn’t…” He let the sentence fade away.

“All right then,” she said, rising to the unspoken challenge. “Take me for a ride on your wonderful Phoenix.”

“Well done,” he said. “Just hop on and hold onto my waist. I’ll have you home in time for breakfast.” He straddled the machine and steadied it as she climbed aboard.

Once she had settled behind him on the pillion, and wrapped her arms around his waist, he kick-started the scooter and eased it forward off its stand. Moments later they were heading down the street.

“Not too fast,” she called above the engine’s noise.

“Just relax,” he called back, “and when I lean into a bend, follow my lead and lean the same way.”

Within minutes they had left the leafy streets behind and were heading into a part of town she didn’t recognise. The neat houses with their tidy gardens were replaced by warehouses and factories guarded by yards of chain-link fencing.

“Where are we going?” she called.

“Away from traffic,” he called back. “I want to show you what this beauty can do.” He twisted the accelerator. The engine rose in pitch and she felt herself pushed back by the sudden turn of speed. She held onto his waist even tighter.

The scent of his hair oil was strong, almost overpowering, and she turned her face away from his neck to take a lungful of fresh air.

“I think I’ve had enough now.”

He didn’t answer. They had entered a long straight stretch of road and he increased their speed still further.

“I’d like to go home,” she said, but her words were whipped away on the air buffeting her face.

Still he was ignoring her.

Seconds later they were leaving the chain-link behind and entering more streets with houses.

“I want to go back, now,” she called.

Finally, he acknowledged her. “Yes, of course.” They were slowing down to a more sedate speed. “I just have to make a stop and then I’ll take you straight home.”

“Thank you,” she said with relief.

He steered them along a tree-lined avenue and then took a left turn, into a drive belonging to a large Victorian house that stood alone from its neighbours, surrounded by high privet hedges. He drew up outside the house and switched off the engine.

“I just have a call to make,’ he said, pulling the scooter up on its stand and dismounting.

“Should I come with you?” she said.

“No, you wait here. I’ll only be a moment.”

She watched him as he trotted up the steps to the front door of the house and inserted a key in the lock.

The door swung inwards and he disappeared inside.

She sat there on the pillion of the scooter and looked at her watch again. It had only been twenty minutes since he had offered her a ride, but to her it seemed much longer, and she was starting to wish she had never accepted his offer. She wanted to be at home, enjoying breakfast with her mother and sister, and building bridges with her father. Being a rebel didn’t sit comfortably with her.

She glanced at her watch again and was just about to dismount to see how long he was going to be. She had one foot on the ground when she was grabbed roughly from behind and something, a rag or a pad that smelled sweet and sickly, was clamped tightly over her nose and mouth. She tried to cry out, but whoever had grabbed her was too strong, and she was hauled backwards off the scooter. She flailed her arms and kicked out with her sandaled feet, her foot connecting with the rear end of the scooter, gashing her toe.

She was trying to pull air into her lungs, but the sickly-sweet aroma was all she could smell, and it was making her head spin. Gradually, as several minutes passed, her struggles grew weaker and her strength ebbed away from her. As she was dragged back over the ground her feet kicked weakly, but her arms just hung uselessly at her sides. Consciousness was slipping away, and her eyes started to close, until all she could see was the green blur of the privet hedges, and the crisp blue of the sky above her. And then they closed completely, and she sunk down into darkness.

[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
Len Maynard

Author Bio:

Len Maynard was born in North London in 1953. 

In 1978, a book of short ghost stories, written in collaboration with Michael Sims, was published by London publisher William Kimber. For the following forty years the pair wrote ten more collections of ghost stories before moving into novels in 2006, completing over thirty more books, including the successful Department 18 series of supernatural/crime crossover novels as well as several standalone novels and novellas in the supernatural and crime genres. 

Always a keen reader of crime novels, and with a passion for the social history of the twentieth century it was fairly inevitable that, when he decided to branch out and write under his own name, some kind of combination of these two interests would occur. 

The six DCI Jack Callum Mysteries were the result of several years of total immersion in the world he created for Jack Callum, his family, his friends (and enemies) and his work colleagues. 

He has also written a trilogy of adventure thrillers set in the Bahamas (also available from Sharpe Books) 

He is currently at work on the seventh book in the DCI Jack Callum series

[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
'Three Monkeys' - Blog Tour schedule

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