I'm absolutely delighted to be able to announce the release of my latest thriller, 'Purple Death' published by Moongypsy Press today. The book can currently be ordered from the publisher at http://moongypsypress.com/porter.php (see ordering info at bottom of page). The book also has its own website at http://www.freewebs.com/purpledeathnovel/index.htm

What's Purple Death about?

Purple Death


Tranquil suburban Richmond-on-Thames, home to such landmarks as Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens becomes the setting for a series of shocking and particularly gruesome murders that leads Detective Inspector Sean Connor and his team into a labyrinthine investigation in which all roads lead towards a thirty year old unsolved murder. The victims, all apparently unconnected to each other, are being despatched by the use of a singularly unique poison, previously more closely associated with the notorious medieval Borgia family.

As the murders begin to multiply at an alarming rate Connor finds clues hard to come by, and every lead takes him down yet another blind alley as the killer seems to be one step ahead of the police at every turn. Together, he and his assistant Sergeant Lucy Clay must piece together the shreds of evidence that will lead them to the mysterious ‘Chocolate Woman’ and in turn to the brain behind the horrific murders that soon come to be known as ‘The Purple Death’

ISBN (10) 1-44995-415-4

ISBN (13) X978-144995-415-4

The cover design for 'Purple Death' was created by Graeme S Houston

Excerpt

Welcome to Purple Death

The London Borough of Richmond-on-Thames sits sedately at the south-eastern fringes of the boundaries of Greater London. Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens and Twickenham, the home of English Rugby are all to be found within its borders, as is the National Physical Laboratory. It contains over one hundred parks within its borders. The River Thames flows sedately through twenty-one miles of the borough, which has royal connections that date back some nine hundred years.
It is into this tranquil and unlikely setting that a killer with terrifying motives begins a spree of murders that soon lead the police to a connection with a decades-old case. Unfortunately for Detective Inspector Sean Connor and his assistant Sergeant Lucy Clay, all roads seem to lead to nowhere in this baffling investigation as they begin to realise that the man behind the murders is a master of the art of misdirection who appears to assume a new identity with almost every passing day. Witnesses are thin on the ground, clues non-existent, and every potential suspect soon turns out to be yet another victim of the invidious killer.
Who is the unknown but deadly female accomplice of the murderer whom the police soon dub The Chocolate Woman? Who is directing her in the murderous committal of these apparently pointless and motiveless crimes? Why does the driver die at the controls as an express train arrives at Birmingham station, and how does his murder on the opposite side of the country connect with the horrendous series of killings taking place in quiet, leafy Richmond-on-Thames? What, if anything connects the victims to a thirty-two-year-old unsolved murder investigation?
Each and every time that Connor and his team feel they are about to discover a new lead, they find they have been led into yet another ‘blind alley’ by the merciless, fiendishly clever mastermind behind the murders. Time is running out for those still on the killers ‘murder list’ and the detectives must work fast to prevent the serial killer from completing his gruesome task as they begin their investigation into the catalogue of murders that would soon come to be known collectively as ‘The Purple Death’.

* * *

Author’s note: Although the towns and cities named in this fiction and the borough of Richmond-on-Thames are genuine, any and all references to local place names, streets and individuals are purely the inventions of the author’s mind and bear no connection to any place or person in real life. Any similarity to real places or persons is thus a pure coincidence and is entirely unintentional.

Prologue


The man pulled the grey cardboard box file from its place in the bottom of the well- worn metal filing cabinet that stood in the darkest corner of his office. The heavy box file bulged from the bulk of its contents. It bore no file name or label in the space that had been provided for the purpose. Placing it on his desk the man removed the pink ribbon that held it closed and slowly pulled out the contents. Old newspaper cuttings, yellow with age, were soon joined on his desk by photographs of a diverse collection of men and women, of streets that betrayed their history by the collection of motor cars of a previous generation, notebooks with discoloured, crumpled pages and a single, leather bound album that contained yet more photographs, this time of a more personal nature.
He spent a good ten minutes perusing the contents of the file before slowly replacing each item in the reverse of the order in which he’d removed it. Finally he spent a few minutes looking at the photos in the personal album, tenderly fingering the face of the central character in each. A smile played across his lips and he appeared lost in thoughts of a happier time, but eventually he added the album to the other items in the box file, which he replaced in the filing cabinet. He pushed the protruding pop-out auto-lock on the cabinet. His secrets were safe until the next time he decided to delve into his own personal museum of what his life had been, and what, under other circumstances, it might have been.
Unlocking a drawer in his desk, he next took out a polished wooden box. Hand-made from the finest quality oak, it bore a distinctly aged and old-fashioned appearance. He knew it had once belonged to a retired sea-captain who’d sailed the world on one of the old clipper ships, carrying tea and other treasures from one corner of the empire to another. He’d acquired it at an antiques auction, and had put it to good use.
Opening it with a key he kept on a chain around his neck, he surveyed the contents with a look of satisfaction. Five small glass tubes, rather like test tubes from a chemical laboratory, lay in a bed of green velvet. Each was securely topped with a closely fitting cork top and sealed around the edges with strong corrosion-resistant black tape. Only the sharpest of syringes would serve to pierce the heavy-duty corks in order to pry out the contents of those vials. He touched each of the vials in turn, his gaze lingering upon the clear, innocent looking liquid within. Then, with a smile of satisfaction on his face, he slowly closed the box, turned the key in the lock and returned the box to its allotted place in the drawer.
Picking up the telephone, the man prepared to make a call, checking the number on a pad on his desk. He smiled again as he began to dial. The game was about to begin!


Chapter 1
The First Taste


Looking out at the world through his office window, Sam Gabriel had every reason to feel pleased with himself. As he took in the sights of the people enjoying the warmth of the sun in the park that lay directly below his office building he wondered if any of them could possibly feel as happy as he did at that particular moment in his life. Just forty years old and already he’d been propelled towards the higher reaches of the promotion ladder. Less than an hour ago, old Lawrence Betts called Sam into his office and handed him the prize he’d been seeking for so long, a partnership! Sam had dreamed about being offered the role of partner in the firm of Betts, Cowan and Ford ever since he’d joined the city law firm just four years ago, but he’d never envisaged it would happen this soon. He’d earlier made a name for himself with a smaller firm specialising in criminal matters and had been head-hunted by the larger, more prosperous firm for whom he now worked. He wanted so much to call Lynne, but he knew that she was on her way to Edinburgh to visit her mother and Lynne would never, ever dream of answering her phone while she was driving. She’d always been too safety conscious to take such a risk.
As Sam was thinking of Lynne he first noticed the slight burning sensation, accompanied by an unexplained tingling in his mouth. Putting it down to excitement Sam ignored the discomfort at first but, as he watched two children chasing a small Yorkshire terrier through the park below his window he became aware of another disturbing sensation, when his mouth began to feel numb, as though he’d received a large dose of novocaine, and the tingling sensation increased, as did the burning which now spread from his mouth and took a firm hold of his abdomen.
Sam staggered back against his desk while the burning increased and his motor functions suddenly failed him. He wanted to move his arms and legs but they didn’t want to obey his brain’s commands. What the hell was happening? Sam reached for the telephone which sat invitingly on his desk intending to call for Maggie, his secretary. He knew he must have eaten something that had disagreed with his stomach. This could only be a virulent attack of food poisoning, surely. For some reason, at the same time as he reached across the desk the telephone seemed to keep moving away from his outstretched hand; no matter how hard he tried he just couldn’t make his hand connect with the inanimate but elusive plastic object that had become the absolute focus of his life in the last few seconds.
He couldn’t do it. The telephone wouldn’t allow him to pick it up, so he tried for the next best option. He’d walk across the floor to the door, open it and call Maggie into the office. He’d done it a thousand times before, why not now?
Sam tried to move his legs and instead fell in a crumpled heap on his office floor. He felt more than just ‘ill’ now. Fear gripped Sam while the sweat on his brow began to run down into his eyes. He felt a constriction in his chest, as if someone had suddenly placed an iron barrel ring around him and was tightening it by the second. The life was rapidly being crushed out of his body, but with nothing and no one there to offer help. Sam Gabriel had never felt so frightened and alone.
Why didn’t anyone come to his aid? He couldn’t think of a reason why no one came until he remembered that he’d told Maggie he wasn’t to be disturbed under any circumstances. Sam had wanted to enjoy his big moment, to savour it and then make a few phone calls to friends and family to share his news. Then he’d have gone for lunch, meeting as usual with his colleagues from inside and outside the firm at The Harrow Arms, the local watering hole for the legal and upmarket business set.
His pulse was slowing. His skin felt like it was on fire and the sensations of heat were rapidly spreading over his whole body. He could feel the throbbing of his own heartbeat in his temples and he knew that along with his pulse, his heart rate was getting slower by the minute.
“What the hell’s happening to me?” he managed to voice out loud, but they were the last words he managed before he felt his stomach lurch and heave, and Sam Gabriel began to vomit uncontrollably. He lurched violently while a spasm shook his body. He felt the cold hardness of his desk behind his back.
Sam began to sob as he realised that no one was about to come to his aid. This was no simple case of food poisoning, he concluded. Some bastard had deliberately poisoned him. But who, and with what? He tried desperately to think of something he might have ingested that could have caused this type of reaction but his poor tortured brain could think of nothing.
The pain in his gut increased exponentially and Sam managed to assume a foetal position, his arms gripping his belly tightly in an effort to dull the agony and control the retching that now wracked his weary body every few minutes. It became harder to breathe.
Lucid to the end, Sam Gabriel lived out the last minutes of his life on the floor of his office, recognising the approach of imminent death, but unable to summon help, unable even to call out to his secretary in the next office. Sam thought of Lynne and the child she was carrying, the son or daughter he’d never know, and then, as the pain in his abdomen reached a crescendo and his lungs felt as though they were being crushed in a vice, Sam closed his eyes for the last time, and the children in the park chased the little terrier, and the lunchtime crowd gathered on the park benches to enjoy their sandwiches and pre-packaged drinks.

* * *

Knowing that he’d want to be on time to celebrate the good news of his promotion with the lunchtime crowd, Maggie Lucas dared to knock and enter Sam Gabriel’s office less than ten minutes after he’d drawn his last agonizing breath. The screams that accompanied her discovery of the painfully contorted body of her boss brought the staff and the senior partners of the firm of Betts, Cowan and Ford running to the office of their newly promoted and recently deceased junior partner. Sam Gabriel had lived less than two hours to enjoy his promotion.

Once again, Purple Death can be ordered now from http://moongypsypress.com/porter.php

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