Time for an extract!
Thank you to the publisher for inviting me to take part in this blog tour!
Clare Hills thinks she’s discovered every archaeologist’s dream…
Instead she’s unearthed a nightmare that puts her at the centre of a murder inquiry.
Following the recent death of her husband, Clare Hills is listless and unsure of her place in the world. When her former university friend Dr David Barbrook asks her to help him sift through the effects of deceased archaeologist Gerald Hart, she sees this as a useful distraction from her grief. During her search, Clare stumbles across the unpublished journals detailing Gerald’s most glittering dig. Hidden from view for decades and supposedly destroyed in an arson attack, she cannot believe her luck. Finding the Hungerbourne Barrows archive is every archaeologist’s dream. Determined to document Gerald’s career-defining find for the public, Clare and David delve into his meticulously kept records of the excavation.
But the dream suddenly becomes a nightmare as the pair unearth a disturbing discovery, putting
them at the centre of a murder inquiry and in the path of a dangerous killer determined to bury the truth for ever.
This is the third part of the third chapter. You can find the first part here and the second part on yesterday’s blog tour!
Chapter Three (continued)
‘Where did you find this?’
‘Stuffed into the back of one of Gerald’s site journals.’
She withdrew a small spiral-bound notepad from her bag. ‘He talks about it. “Arrived on-site to find a note addressed to me pushed under the door of the finds hut: more of the usual rubbish about the Woe Waters. Another amateurish effort by one of my more unstable fellow residents to make the Harts feel at home in Hungerbourne. I had hoped they might have come to terms with our presence by now.” Don’t you think it’s a bit of a coincidence?’
He passed the letter back to her. ‘Gerald was right. Best off ignoring rubbish like that. If I’d stopped work every time some nutter had spouted mumbo-jumbo about my sites, I’d never have dug anything.’
‘But it’s the same as the warning in the coach house.’
‘Probably some local with a grudge against the bloke in the big house. People have long memories in villages like Hungerbourne.’
‘Maybe.’ She wasn’t convinced, but she knew him well enough to know there was no point arguing. And he was obviously determined to change the subject.
‘I’ll put a funding bid in to British Heritage to get radio-carbon dates from the intact cremation. It’d look piss poor if they don’t stump up the cash on something as big as this.’ For a few seconds he sat motionless, before pushing his cup and saucer away from him. ‘What would you say if I asked you to work on the project?’
‘Isn’t that what I’m doing?’
‘Not voluntarily. I mean professionally – a paid post as project manager.’
‘I’d be the director, but I don’t have time to deal with the day-to-day stuff. The pay wouldn’t be great and it would depend on the BH funding being confirmed.’
She hadn’t expected this. She replenished her pot of Earl Grey with hot water, aware he was scrutinising her face intently.
‘I’m not bothered about the money.’
‘I sense a “but” coming.’
‘I need to be sure you’re not doing this because you feel sorry for me.’
He placed his right hand over his heart and grinned. ‘Promise.’
‘I mean it, David.’
He leant forward. ‘Look, I couldn’t get anyone half as good as you for the money I’ll be paying. And’ – he hesitated – ‘we understand how one another work.’
‘OK, but if I’m working on this I need some background information.’
‘What was Gerald really like?’
‘How the hell would I know?’
‘You’re mates with Peter.’
‘Belonging to the same rugby club doesn’t make us bosom buddies.’
‘Doesn’t he ever talk about his uncle?’
He rested his elbows on the table. ‘From what I can make out, he was very fond of him. A bit of a father figure after Peter’s old man did a bunk. But I gather he was pretty much a recluse in his later years.’
‘It’s difficult to picture him shutting himself away in that draughty old house. His site diaries are so full of life. His ideas and plans for the site. According to the early entries, when he started he intended to dig the whole barrow cemetery.’
David laughed. ‘You’ve got to admire his ambition.’
‘So why stop? He had so much talent.’
David made no reply, yet his expression articulated an accusation she understood but was determined to ignore.
‘Judging from the papers we found in the house, he didn’t lose interest in the subject.’
‘Some people choose to do other things with their life. You of all people should know that.’
She said nothing, her gaze fixed intently on the teapot in front of her.
It was David who spoke first. ‘Look, it’s the barrow cemetery we’re trying to piece together, not Gerald Hart’s life story.’
‘Oh, come on. Aren’t you even a tiny bit curious?’
‘Archaeologists normally wait until people have been dead for a few hundred years before they start poking round in their lives.’
They both laughed.
David leant back in his chair. ‘Now you’re signed up for the long haul, do you fancy a day out on expenses?’
She narrowed her eyes in mock suspicion. ‘Where to?’
‘The Big Smoke.’
She wrinkled her nose. She’d come here to try to get away from London and the memories it held.
‘Pity . . .’
‘Why? What did you have in mind?’ Licking her index finger, she dabbed it distractedly at the last few poppy seeds on her plate.
‘A visit to see Daniel Phelps.’
She stopped dabbing. ‘Who?’
‘Keeper of Prehistoric Antiquities at the British Museum. I’ve arranged to go through the finds they hold from the dig. And Daniel is expecting two of us.’
‘You’re very sure of yourself, Dr Barbrook.’
‘Well, do you fancy getting your hands on the Hungerbourne gold or not?’
What do you think? Intrigued enough to get the story??