Letters from Elsewhere

What an honour! I’ve been joined today by an venerable old woman. I’m not sure how old Irena is, but I’m told she’s the oldest resident in the Tuscan mountain village of Santa Zita. She’s brought a letter to her son, Carlo, who’s been pressing her to help him piece together a mystery that’s puzzled him all his life and which he’s come back to the village to solve after living abroad for many years.

Irena’s chaperone is Katharine Johnson, whose first two novels, Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings and The Silence were very much enjoyed by yours truly. Here’s the letter:

Dear Carlo,

That wedding photograph I said I didn’t remember – I may as well tell you the truth, I suppose. The bride was Martina. And yes, I was the bridesmaid. And the one of the two girls sitting on the wall of the fountain eating ice cream? Martina and me. We must have been how old – twelve? Thirteen? We were best friends back then. I couldn’t imagine my life without her.

I know that will surprise you – she and I were never close when you were growing up. We never spoke to each other again after the war. At least not properly.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. You can laugh but you don’t know what it was like to be with Martina in those days. It’s funny, I remember her saying to me once, “In fifty years time we’ll be sitting here by the fountain and nothing will have changed.” How could either of us have guessed that our lives would change so much?

Sometimes I allow myself a little fantasy – an alternative history in which Martina didn’t do what she did. That she and I could really be sitting there now by the fountain discussing our children and grandchildren. But how could we have had any idea back then how precious and precarious our friendship really was?

You can see how beautiful Martina was. Oh, I know what you’re thinking – how she was a dried-up old prune when you knew her. And that scar was hideous. But life does that to you – war does that to you. In those days I felt very plain in comparison. 

Looking at the picture again, I always had that rather square face and thick eyebrows and I was a heavy build as you can see but I didn’t look so bad, did I? And yet next to Martina I always felt plain and plump and I suppose because of that it made me want to be good at something, so I studied harder than anyone. She and Gianni used to call me the Encyclopaedia. They tested me out in facts and dates – they hardly ever managed to catch me out. They both used to copy my school work, which made me feel proud.

We all thought Martina would be famous one day. She dreamed of moving on, being someone. This place was too small for her. She should have been a Hollywood star. She had that innate sense of glamour – and the temperament to match. If the War hadn’t happened, if she’d had different opportunities, she might have been a star.

So many things would have been different.

I don’t know to this day why she married Gianni. I suppose it was because she could. She said she loved him, but I think what attracted her most was that all the other girls loved him.

Gianni and I were wary of each other for a long time. We both knew we were competing for Martina’s attention. But we came to realise that if we both wanted to be with her we’d have to learn to rub along with each other. I grew fond of him.

God knows, he didn’t to deserve to die the way he did.

That’s enough for now. I wish you’d never asked. Why can’t you leave the past where it belongs?


About The Secret

A beautiful village hides a dark story – two girls growing up in wartime Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences reaching right up to the present day. But as one person tries to uncover the truth, another is determined to keep it hidden.

The Secret will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 1st June.

The Secret


The Silence, which tells of another secret harboured by the same village, was published last summer and is available from Amazon UK or Amazon US.


About Katharine Johnson

Katharine Johnson is a journalist with a passion for mysteries, old houses and all things Italian (except tiramisu). She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire with her husband, three children and madcap spaniel. She plays netball badly and is a room guide in a stately home.

You can find Katharine at: Website/blog  Amazon author page  Facebook Twitter

Katharine Johnson


Letters from Elsewhere is taking a break and will be back towards the end of April.


Letters from Elsewhere

A rather scary-looking person has just joined me here. She’s called Belinda MacKenzie and she’s brought her letter to heroine Beth Haldane – heroine, that is, of Alice Castle’s series of crime novels. Let’s see what Belinda wants to say to Beth.

Dear Beth,

I can’t believe I’m having to write to you. I’d like to say that you’re beneath my notice. The truth is that you always have been, up until recently, and not just because you’re such a titch. Honestly, I’m the last person in the world to make personal comments, but don’t you think a simple pair of heels would help? But no, it’s flats. Every. Single. Day. And the way you dress, in those drab colours, anyone would think that you want to be ignored. Well, I’ve always tried to oblige you on that front. But, when there was all that business over at Wyatt’s, somehow there you were, in the thick of it. It’s the best school in Dulwich, so what they were doing employing someone like you, I can’t imagine. But I suppose the archive office is the sort of dusty place you thought you could hide away in.

Somehow, and don’t ask me how you managed it, you got yourself into the middle of quite a nasty business, and almost ruined the reputation of Wyatt’s into the bargain. Luckily, the headmaster, Dr Grover, managed to sort all that out. I’d hate there to be a stain on the place’s reputation, as my two boys, Billy and Bobby, are bound to be going there – did I mention it’s the best school in Dulwich?

And then, I couldn’t believe it but there you were, somehow, in the thick of the next awful scandal to hit Dulwich. Well, the Picture Gallery is just the sort of place that someone like you would poke around in. But those poor teenage girls. Well, they’d gone off the rails. Not like my own daughter, Allegra. What? No, I don’t know what she’s up to every minute of the day, she’s in such demand, like her mother, some people might say. When you’re popular, you have to spread yourself thinly. Not that you’d know that. But, even though she’s out a lot, I know I can absolutely trust her, one hundred per cent. And if her clothes sometimes smell of cigarettes, well, some of her friends will experiment. Same goes for alcohol. She tells me that some girls are knocking back the booze, but my Leggy? Oh no. I don’t have any worries at all on that score.

I’m wondering how we’ll get on, Beth, now that our sons are sharing a tutor as the Wyatt’s entrance exam approaches. Well, my boys don’t really need it, but I decided to be kind to you when someone else dropped out. As you’d know, if you’d ever put any effort into your boy’s schooling, it’s not easy to get an appointment with the best exam coaches. And, let’s face it, your kid needs all the help he can get. But he’s no competition to my two, so that’s fine.

And I’m beginning to find myself intrigued by you, I must admit. That way you have of seeming to shun the limelight, yet falling into adventure after adventure… it’s rather clever. Maybe I could pick up a tip or two from you. In any case, I’ll be watching you closely in future. Oh yes, Beth Haldane. I’ve got my eye on you.

With warmest wishes,

Ahem. I’m glad I’ve never had to deal with anyone like Belinda.

Apparently, Belinda MacKenzie is the terrifying Queen Bee of the Village Primary School playground and nemesis of single mum amateur sleuth Beth Haldane. Beth, star of cosy crime whodunits Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery, stumbles on a murder on her first day at work and has to clear her name.

About Death in Dulwich

Alice Castle - Death in DulwichAlready described by reviewers as ‘murderously good fun’ (author TP Fielden), a ‘keenly observed page turner … highly recommended’ (Amazon) and ‘well-written, engaging and fun,’ (author Jo Blakeley), Death in Dulwich is the story of thirty-something widow Beth Haldane.

Beth has her hands full – she has a bouncy nine-year-old son, a haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and a ton of bills to pay. She loves her little home in plush south London suburb Dulwich, but life here doesn’t come cheap.

That’s why she is thrilled to land a job as archivist at top local school Wyatt’s – though she has an inkling the post is not what it seems and she doesn’t think much of her new boss, Dr Jenkins, either. Then, on her first day at work, Dr Jenkins is brutally murdered. Beth finds the body, and realises she is the prime suspect, with means, opportunity and a motive.

Beth has no choice but to try and clear her name, bringing herself into conflict with the police and the school. But who is the real culprit? And is the cause of the killing a horrifying secret buried deep in the school’s past, or does evil lurk behind the comfortable façade of daily Dulwich life?

Beth grows in confidence during her dogged pursuit of the murderer and, by the end of the book, is ready for any adventures that may come her way. Which is just as well, because there’s trouble brewing at the Dulwich Picture Gallery ….

Buy Death in Dulwich here.

About The Girl in the Gallery

Alice CastleTheGirl In The GalleryJust when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…

It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane has sneaked off to visit one of her favourite places, the world-famous Picture Gallery.

She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.

Who is The Girl in the Gallery? Join Beth in adventure #2 of the London Murder Mystery series as she tries to discover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

Buy The Girl in the Gallery here.

About Alice Castle

AliceCastle2Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.

Alice is currently working on the sequel to Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series. It will be published by Crooked Cat next year and is entitled The Calamity in Camberwell. Once again, it features Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing DD’s Diary at

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Links to Alice:

Author website            Facebook page            Twitter

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to welcome Casey to the blog today. Casey has flown from the pages of Another Woman’s Man by Carrie-Ann Schless with a letter to Max. I feel very sorry for Casey at the moment, but I wonder whether I’ll continue to feel sorry for her as time goes on. Here’s the letter…


I don’t know where to start. When you left this morning and we said goodbye, although I couldn’t quite hold in my tears. I didn’t really take the reality of what was happening. I have seen you leave that door in the same way each morning for the past four years, a travel mug of coffee in one hand, car keys in the other and always without fail a trusty kiss on my forehead. But I’ve realised sitting here in our kitchen that I may never be in this house with you again. Who knows what the future brings.

I always believed we would make it through anything. We could battle the world as long as we had each other. You were the other piece to my whole and we fit so perfectly. But we don’t, not anymore. I know this and I am not writing this letter to make you feel guilty or to push blame. I’m writing it because I’m scared we’ll never see each other again and I didn’t say anything profound as you left. A lasting memory. Tomorrow I’ll be back in my one-bedroom flat on the harbour in Eastbourne and you’ll end up meeting someone new and starting your own life in our Brighton home. Your Brighton home.

I want that Max. Really I do. I want us both to find our happy. The happiness we had before the miscarriages and the infertility testing and way before we started trying to fix each other over and over again. That pure love that doesn’t ask questions and doesn’t need explanations. We used to finish each other’s sentences and now we don’t even talk. I wish I could turn back time and go to the night we first met. When you were just an idea in the back of my mind and we hadn’t even begun to experience the best we would have.

I love you. I know that’s not enough. I know you love me too. I’m sorry Max. I’m so sorry I pushed you away when all you wanted to do was help, Just like you pushed me away when you thought you had cancer. And I thank you for waiting and supporting me at Nan’s funeral last week and pretending we were OK. I couldn’t cope with facing everybody with the truth. It was bad enough having Mum and Dad in the same room! You always did know how to calm me in social situations.

Before I go I want to thank you for the memories. Thank you for being my friend as well as my partner and taking on my friends and treating them as family too. One day, Max, you are going to make a great Dad. I really want that for you. I’m just sorry it won’t be with me.

How am I going to live my life without you?

Until we meet again.

Casey x

Poor Casey! I do hope things get better for you.

Carrie-Ann Schless - Another Woman's ManAbout Another Woman’s Man

What if you’re in love with another woman’s man?

Casey Turner finds herself sad and single again after a seven-year relationship. Having suffered multiple miscarriages, she is adjusting to the realisation she will never be a mum, just as all her friends are all getting married and having children.

Feeling alone, she finds herself drawn to a man she can’t have: her ex’s best friend. Although he has a girlfriend, she can’t stay away. But does he really care for her, too, or is he just having his cake and eating it?

Torn between her feelings and her morals, is Casey destined to follow the wrong path, or will she see sense before time runs out?

Another Woman’s Man is available from Amazon.

About Carrie-Ann Schless

Carrie-Ann SchlessCarrie-Ann lives in South East England with her three children, her cats and her dog with her mum just a short drive away. She is never bored. She fills her time with reading, writing, tv series binge watching, amateur dramatics, dog walks, dinner with friends, the park, taking her children to clubs and the odd glass or three of something alcoholic. Carrie-Ann is a self confessed Social Media addict who can normally be found somewhere floating around the World Wide Web. However, learning to use it for marketing has been a trying experience. She would love you to get in touch by connecting to her on Facebook or on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and other sites. All can be found at

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s guest is Lily, who comes from the pages of Watercolours in the Rain by Jo Lambert. Lily is keen to show us her letter to Max, so here it is.

Dear Max,

This is the hardest letter I have ever had to write. You’re the first person I’ve ever cared about although after what I’ve done I doubt you’ll see it that way.

When my husband left me, my survival instinct kicked in.  With a four year old child to support I smartened up, got myself some training and suddenly there I was, working as a temp at Warner Webb one of the city’s most prestigious estate agents.  And you, Max Warner, decided to give me a chance by offering me a permanent job.  Of course early on I knew the opportunity you’d given me wasn’t totally out of the goodness of your heart.  I felt a connection as soon as we met; something which might have developed given the chance. But everything changed on that fateful evening you invited me to join you and Nick for dinner to meet the new owner of Lynbrook Manor. I never thought I see Talun Hanson again.  The scruffy good looking gypsy was now heir to a Norfolk farming dynasty.  He’d even changed his name to Hawkeswood.  That evening sitting around the table with all of you, I kept glancing at him, envious of all that wealth.  He seemed pleased to see me and asked me out to dinner.  I quickly got the measure of him. Kind, soft, gullible even. And so I hit on a plan. Something, given the one night we had together five years ago, was plausible. I told him he was Josh’s father and through an old boyfriend even managed to fix the DNA test. And he bought it! I couldn’t believe my luck. We moved to Norfolk with him and for a few months I lived the dream. I should have known things would eventually catch up with me.

Oh Max, what can I say? Despite everything, you were still there for me. You stood bail and took me home with you.  I know you were trying to help but with the charges stacked against me I simply couldn’t face prison.  I had to escape and the only way I could do that was to use you. The kindest, sweetest man in the entire world.  I saw how you were bringing money home, locking it in your safe.  You were hiding money from Davina weren’t you? Afraid that slick divorce lawyer she’s hired would have the shirt off your back.  You didn’t see me watching you but old habits die hard and I soon had the safe code memorised.  Pauli had contacts. Ones I knew could provide the paperwork I needed for a new identity.  So now I’ve gone to a place where I can I can start a new life and put the past behind me.  I have no qualms about leaving Josh. No doubt he’ll have a much better life without a lousy mother like me. But I do have regrets about what I’ve done to you. If I could have found another way, made different choices believe me I would have.  You’re the first person I’ve ever had a conscience about but in the end, as always, I’ve had to put my needs first.  It’s the way I am; the way I’ll always be.


Lily has now returned to her place in Watercolours in the Rain. Just as well, I think, as I don’t think she and I would have got on well!

About Watercolours in the Rain

What happens to the future when past and present collide?

Jo Lambert - Watercolours in the RainJESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

Watercolours in the Rain is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

About Jo Lambert

Jo LambertBorn and raised in rural Wiltshire, Jo Lambert grew up with a love of books and a vivid imagination. She is author of seven novels, all romantic fiction, and is currently working on her eighth.   When she’s not writing she reviews and produces a weekly blog.

Jo is married and now lives in Somerset with her husband, one small grey feline called Mollie and a green MGB GT.  She loves travel, red wine, rock music and has a passion for dark chocolate…

You can find Jo on her blog and on Facebook and Twitter.

Hunter'sChaseBanner (ValPenny)

Have you ever done crime? I mean, of course, have you ever written about crime? Would you like to write about crime? Why would you write about crime?

ValPennyI can’t answer those questions for myself, let alone for you. Fortunately, I don’t have to, because fellow Crooked Cat author, Val Penny is here to share some of her experience and answer those difficult questions.

Take it away, Val!

Reasons to Write a Crime Novel

People like crime, at least in novels! Often, I meet dentists and bank managers with clever plot ideas, or nurses who read every crime novel they can lay their hands on. If I visit a writing group, there are always members keenly producing new murderous plots. Lawyers and convicts show equal enthusiasm for this genre. For those who want to write a crime novel, there are several reasons to want to do so. Here are a few of them.

Emotional Release

Often, those who write crime novels find an emotional release in their craft. Crime novelists deal with the dark things that people usually push to the side of their minds in order to get on with every day life. The cathartic attraction of writing can be decisive.

Some crime authors tell of poor sleep patterns, punctured by nightmares that are repaired when they start to write. Others panic, constantly scanning doorways for signs of danger. The stiffening fear that afflicts them resolves when they are busy writing crime.

The Story-Telling Urge

The sources for crime novels are many and varied. Ideas can spring from the news and current affairs; memories from the past and historical events or things that puzzle or fascinate the writer. Once an author begins to exercise their creative muscles, they often find that they run into stories demanding to be told. The stories demand to be told and will not stop coming.

For Companionship

It is often said that writers can be difficult people: gloomy, competitive and quarrelsome. However, for the most part, I have found crime writers to be an inclusive and convivial bunch. They are certainly hard-working. The pressure of producing a book a year is intense, yet they never seem to turn their backs on fun. If you have a chance to go to a crime-writers’ convention, do take it. They are exhausting, exhilarating and irresistible.

An Outlet for Aggression

Most crime-writers will tell you that they are good company because they channel all their belligerent thoughts into their stories, so in real life, the authors are meek and mild. It is not always true, but I can confirm that a crime novel is an excellent place to park your rage! The prospect of giving vent to righteous anger in a safe form can be a particularly pleasing device. When characters require to act in a violent way or commit violence the reader is willing to witness this on the page but they would shy from it in real life. Crime writers can let rip on the page in a way they avoid doing in the real world.

The Thrill of Research

I can personally confirm that the research you do for crime novels and for academic purposes are equally satisfying. It is also extremely diverse. It may involve visiting prisons, refuges, police stations or drug dens. Police are often very willing to be of assistance to crime writers, even if it is just to avoid being irritated when otherwise the writers would get police procedures wrong. This information is most useful and helpful. Indeed, when you are writing a novel, no information or experience is wasted!

Thank you for that, Val.

Val Penny’s debut novel, Hunter’s Chase, was published just last week. Here’s the blurb:

Hunter'sChaseCover (Val Penny)Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taut crime thriller.

Letters from ElsewhereI’m delighted to welcome Beth to the blog. Beth has a few questions about what her friend Flora is getting up to in a little village in Portugal. She’s even nipped out of Forest Dancer by Susan Roebuck to ask them. Over to you, Beth.

Darling Flora,

You can’t even BEGIN to imagine how much I miss you. Even the Ballet Master (the old bastard) said the same the other day. Anastasia had to come out of her understudy role in Swan Lake and actually dance as Odette. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it, because she got that audition over you, didn’t she (well we all know why with Daddy being such a big donator?). But she’s a better Odile – she’s got that wicked look down to a tee – but she just can’t be sweet Odette. So she’s grinning like a monkey and fawning over Prince Siegfried like a sack of potatoes, and that’s when the BM said, “Perhaps we should’ve picked Flora after all.”

You see? Maybe all’s not lost. Come back, Flora. I know you lost your house (what WAS your father thinking of, leaving you a measly cottage in the middle of nowhere in Portugal?). You could stay with me here in London.

Mind you, we’ve got a new choreographer for Don Quixote who is driving me mad. She wants us to do cardio-work-outs and pilates, as well as rehearsals from midday to seven, when we’re not performing Swan Lake. She’s mad. She’s even talking about us taking a run at the end of the day. Give me the pub any time.

Well, enough of me. Tell me about this forest ranger that’s got you all riled up? You said he was living in your cottage with his wife and daughter. Flora – are you getting involved with a married man? Tell me you’re not. And I speak from experience as you know.

The little village of Aurora sounds sweet, up there in the cool mountains, and your descriptions of the Portuguese cakes that they sell in that funny-looking kiosk sound delicious – our choreographer wouldn’t let us eat them though. I think I’ll take a little holiday and visit, and get fat.

You know? I’m beginning to think ballet isn’t for me. We couldn’t get out of the Corps de Ballet, could we, although you should’ve been at least a Coryphee ages ago. Unlike me, you love it, don’t you? I remember you saying that ‘the feeling you have when you are dancing and your whole heart and soul are in it is indescribable’. You’re a proper dancer.

Send me all your news soon – and think about coming back. Please.

All my love,

Thank you, Beth. Now I want to know the answers, too. I wonder how I’m going to find out. Hmm, I think I know…

Forest Dancer - Susan RoebuckAbout Forest Dancer

Forest Dancer is a story that fans of Polina will enjoy with characters that are genuinely flawed yet decided on bringing out the best in themselves. Flora Gatehouse has just recently lost her father, but she has also suffered a devastating blow in her career: her failed audition that sees her moving to a small cottage in Lisbon, Portugal, the only inheritance left to her by her father. Follow her story as she embraces the life of a small village with its dark secrets, and falls for the forest ranger, Marco. But can she totally become part of this little hamlet and can she ever reconnect with her dream to become a principal ballerina?

You can find Forest Dancer (paperback and ebook) on Amazon.

About Susan Roebuck

Susan RoebuckSue Roebuck is British born and bred, but when she met her husband (who’s Portuguese) in London she was then exported to Portugal and now lives by the Atlantic Ocean watching the cruise ships arrive and depart. She loves her adopted country and believes that her novels about it can bring the beauty and diversity of Portugal to the rest of the world.


Find Susan on Facebook and Twitter, and on her blog.

Letters from Elsewhere

Readers, please welcome Walter Perch to the blog. It sounds as if he needs cheering up and maybe you can help. Walter Perch has come from the pages of Dortmund Hibernate by C.J. Sutton, which will be published by Crooked Cat Books in July 2018.

Dear reader,

My name is Walter Perch. I am a guard up at Dortmund Asylum. You’ve never been to Dortmund. No, it’s not the popular German location. You’ve probably never even heard of this place; a small rural town known only for the crazies on the hill and the animals in our zoo. People get these two institutions confused, and it’s not hard to see why. The nine inmates (and believe me, they’re inmates) would kill you for a hot meal, no two ways about it. I try to avoid their stares, to drown out their voices with earphones blasting rock music, and to limit my inhale to the excretions tossed about their cells. But I am not alone.

Brian, Shirley and Carter are the other full-time guards up here. They look to me, I think, to lead them in some capacity. Carter has been here the longest, but his age (and solid drinking) has started to impact his work. The other day he couldn’t remember if he locked a cell that contained a man your children would tell horror stories about. Lucky for us, he had. Lucky for Dortmund, only two Scotch-coffee cocktails had been consumed that morning.

I don’t much like Dortmund. I’ve lived here most of my life. In the beginning it was a peaceful bubble hours away from the Big City. Now, the only interruptions to my solitude are the faces behind the bars and the sly drinkers at the pub. Maybe I’ll leave soon. I wouldn’t know where to start in the Big City. What does a man like me do in such a place?  

We have a new doctor arriving next week. ‘Dr Magnus Paul’. He sounds fancy, a young hot-shot psychologist who brought someone back from looney town. He’ll have no such luck here. Nobody can save the nine. They’ll live within these dank walls until the skin rots from their bones. And I’ll probably still be walking the corridors, checking in to make sure they’re contained.

I’m writing this, dear reader, because I don’t get to talk much. People are either waiting for a command or asking about one of the nine. Every conversation is business, and the business is death. Humour me, if you will, and read this last paragraph:

What is it like, to attend a football match with family and friends? How does it feel to move in the swell of a crowd, surrounded by concrete buildings pushing through the clouds? When cheers erupt at such a volume, does the ground shake? I watch these games on TV and marvel at the scenes. I picture myself in the midst of it all, just watching normal people chant wildly for those on the field. For those who mean no harm.

Do not pity me, dear reader, for I do not seek your help. I merely ask for words not concerned with nine condemned souls. For when Magnus arrives, it all starts again.

Write me, if you will. Address it to Dortmund Asylum. Nobody else here receives mail, and I would find it quite amusing to see the postman drive up this hill for the first time in years.

Yours sincerely,
Walter Perch

You see, he doesn’t ask for much – just a letter. I’m sure we can all manage that. You know what? I’ll make it easier for you. Write your missives to Walter in the comments and I’ll forward them.

About Dortmund Hibernate


Dortmund Hibernate, yet to be covered

Psychologist Dr Magnus Paul is tasked with the patients of Dortmund Asylum; nine criminally insane individuals hidden from the world due to the extremity of their cases. Magnus has six weeks to prove them sane for transfer to a maximum-security prison, or label them as incurable and recommend a death sentence under a new government act. The small rural town of Dortmund and its inhabitants are the backdrop to the mayhem on the hill. As Magnus delves into the darkness of the incarcerated minds, his own sanity is challenged. Secrets squeeze through the cracks of the Asylum, blurring the line between reality and nightmare. And the most notorious man of all is strapped to the floor of his cell, urging Magnus towards a new life of desire…



About C.J. Sutton

C.J. SuttonC.J. Sutton is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Postgraduate Degree in journalism and creative writing, and supports the value of study through correspondence. His fictional writing delves into the unpredictability of the human mind and the fears that drive us. As a professional writer C.J. Sutton has worked within the hustle and bustle of newsrooms, the competitive offices of advertising and the trenches of marketing. But his interest in creating new characters and worlds has seen a move into fiction, which has always pleaded for complete attention. Dortmund Hibernate is his debut novel.

C.J. can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on his website. Happy Australia Day, CJ!

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