Saturday, July 28, 2018

EXCERPT AND BLITZ of The Invisible Case by Isabella Muir

The Invisible Case

A shocking death turns a homecoming into a nightmare.

Its Easter 1970 and Janie Juke is looking forward to her aunts homecoming.  Jessica has been travelling around Europe for the last nine years and is now returning to Tamarisk Bay from Italy, with a friend in tow.  In this second chapter of The Invisible Case we meet Jessica and Luigi on their long train journey from Rome to Calais.  Luigi has just discovered his briefcase has gone missing and his emotional reaction shows Jessica a side to her young friend that has her wondering

Hoping to calm an increasingly tense situation, Jessica thanked the guard for his time, shook hands with him and confirmed they would meet him on their arrival in Paris.  Once he had left, she slid the compartment door closed and turned to Luigi.
‘Are you going to tell me what has you so fired up? I can’t believe this is about a few papers and an old leather briefcase.’
Luigi turned away from her to look out of the carriage window.  ‘Forget about it.’
‘I’m hardly going to do that, am I?  You’ve made enough of a fuss.  I’m surprised you didn’t pull the emergency cord to stop the train in its tracks.’
‘I thought about it,’ his voice now almost a whisper.
They passed the rest of the train journey in virtual silence.  Occasionally Jessica commented on the scenery as they passed through miles of French vineyards.  The only response she got from Luigi was a nod, until eventually she stopped speaking.  Instead she enjoyed an internal conversation that required no companion, just her own thoughts.
She almost wished the train would move more slowly, giving her longer to absorb the scenery.  It was just a few weeks after her thirtieth birthday when she left Janie and Philip to make her first train journey down through France.  She was so overwhelmed with the sheer expanse of the countryside that she spent the first few hours just gazing at it.  She smiled at the memory.  ‘Thirty years old and as naive as a teenager,’ she mused to herself.  Seeing it all again now gave her just the same pleasure.  Carefully tended vines stretched out on either side of the train tracks.  The patchwork of fields with overlapping shades of green and brown reminded her of the paintings she had marvelled over on her one and only visit to the Louvre.
As they travelled further north the weather closed in, reminding her of the endless grey of English winters.  But she was returning in spring, her favourite season and looking forward to seeing daffodils and lush green lawns.  If she’d missed anything over the last nine years, apart from family, it was the abundance of grass, in front and back gardens, parks and avenues.  She promised herself the first chance she had she would take an early morning walk through Maze Gardens, kick off her shoes and feel the dewy softness of wet grass under her feet.  Her brother would think she was crazy, but crazy was good.
After a few hours, the train pulled into Paris Gare de Lyon station.  They lifted their cases and bags down from the luggage rack and eased forwards towards the exit.  A porter came forward to help and he followed them and the guard to the railway police office.  Neither Jessica, nor Luigi, had more than a few French words in their repertoire, perhaps the guard would act as their translator.  The railway policeman was curt, almost monosyllabic, noting down names and addresses in a small black notebook.
‘And the contents, monsieur?
‘Why is everyone so keen to know the contents?’  As he spoke he threw his hands in the air, making Jessica take a step away from him.  ‘If it was a suitcase, would you want to know what was inside?  Would you expect a lady to describe her garments, her underwear?  Of course you wouldn’t.  It was a briefcase with personal papers, that should be enough.  Besides, it’s locked, so unless someone breaks the lock, they won’t know what’s inside, will they?’
‘It’s locked?’ Jessica said.
The policeman looked from Jessica to Luigi, then back to Luigi again as he replied. 
‘I bought a briefcase with a key.  Why wouldn’t I use it?’
‘And do you have the key?’
‘Of course,’ Luigi said, taking his wallet from the breast pocket of his jacket, holding the key out to show her.  ‘A key that is no use to me until I find the thief.’
‘I wish you wouldn’t keep talking about thieves and robbers.  I’m certain it was a simple case of misunderstanding.  A thoughtless moment.’ 
‘There was a family,’ Luigi said, ignoring Jessica’s attempts to calm him.  He described all he could recall about each member of the family he believed had walked away with his belongings.
When he had finished speaking, the policeman said, Merci, monsieur e madame.  We have all we need.  We will be in touch with you at your address in…’ he paused, struggling with the pronunciation.
‘Tamarisk Bay,’ Jessica enunciated the words clearly.
Oui, Tamarisk Bay.  Allor, au revoir.
They were dismissed.  Jessica thanked the Italian guard again, hanging behind, while Luigi stormed ahead towards the station foyer.  The porter had been following them throughout, pushing the heavy metal trolley ahead of him.  Now he was puffing a little as he tried to keep up with Luigi’s long strides.
They had two hours to cross Paris, plenty of time, provided the taxi queue was not too long.  The city centre was a mass of cars, buses and pedestrians, but after the chaos of Rome it seemed almost calm. The wide tree-lined avenues breathed space and tranquility.  She watched as two elegantly dressed women sauntered past.  Both wore tailored dresses.  One had a cardigan over her shoulders, the wool so fine it was almost translucent.  She noticed their cropped hairstyles and ran her hand through her hair, imagining briefly what it would be like to have it cut short.  She shook the thought from her mind with a smile.
 As the taxi arrived at Paris Gare du Nord, she took a little cotton purse from her bag.  She had changed ten thousand lire into francs, which meant she could pay the taxi fare, leaving enough to buy a large bottle of water and two baguettes, each stuffed with Camembert.
‘I’m not hungry,’ Luigi said, as she handed one to him. 
‘Take it, you may be later.’  He reminded her of a truculent child.
The train journey to Calais wouldn’t take long and then they would be on the ferry.  Luigi had barely spoken since the incident with the briefcase.  She had pretended not to notice, immersing herself in the book she had started when she left Rome.  She had brought it with her when she left England nine years earlier and had read it so many times since then she almost knew it by heart.  ‘The Lord of the Ringswas a tale of adventure, with young Frodo as fearless as she had been setting off on her travels.  She smiled to herself thinking about all the terrifying ordeals that Frodo encountered on his journey across Middle Earth.

It's Easter 1970 in the seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, and for one family the first Easter of a new decade brings a shocking tragedy. Amateur sleuth and professional librarian, Janie Juke, is settling into motherhood and looking forward to spending time with her family. When her Aunt Jessica is due back from Rome after nine years travelling around Europe, she arrives back in town with a new Italian friend, Luigi, and the whole family soon get embroiled in a tangle of mystery and suspicion, with death and passion at the heart of the story.

As time runs out on Luigi as prime suspect for murder, Janie has to use all of her powers of deduction in the footsteps of her hero, Hercule Poirot, to uncover the facts. Why did Luigi come to Tamarisk Bay? What is the truth about his family?
As Luigi's story unfolds, tragedy seems to haunt the past, present and unless Janie acts fast, possibly what is yet to come.

Author Bio –
Isabella Muir is the author of Janie Juke series of crime mysteries - all set in Sussex.

'The Tapestry Bag' is the first in the series, followed by ‘Lost Property’. Now - 'The Invisible Case' - the latest in the series is available for pre-order from Amazon.

The 'Janie Juke mysteries' are set in Sussex in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian with a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Isabella has also published 'Ivory Vellum' - a collection of short stories.

She has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing - she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.
Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –
TWITTER  @SussexMysteries

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