Cam Fraser, #1
Genre: Contemporary Thriller
Publisher: AUS Impulse
Date of Publication: October 1, 2015
Number of pages: 209
You can run from everything but your fears.
Three years after a gang brutally murdered his wife and son, Sergeant Cam Fraser has returned with his daughter Ruby to the country town where he was raised - a town too small for trouble. But then a body is found on the school grounds, badly burned and unrecognisable. Who in Glenroyd could possibly be a murderer? And why?
This violent crime plunges Cam straight into a baffling and deadly investigation, where nothing is as it seems. From shady cop Vince to the secretive Smithsons who run the school to the local bikie gang who may still want him dead, Cam has his hands full with suspects. Not to mention Jo, his daughter's teacher, whom he can't keep his mind off of ...
But the danger is coming closer to home, and Cam is running out of time to solve the case. Will he be able to protect Ruby and stop the killer? Or will everything go up in flames?
The general store might have revamped into a supermarket, but little else had changed in Glenroyd over the last twenty-five years. Cam walked down Main Street, past the same tin-roofed fibro cottages he remembered from his youth, the same small shops decorated with the same archaic advertising logos, faded by the sun and meaningless to anyone under forty.
The stock feeder’s and the farm machinery were the largest retail establishments, but the town also boasted a small newsagency, a post office, a bank, two pubs and two petrol stations. There were enough amenities in Glenroyd to provide basic goods and services, but anyone with a need for anything out of the ordinary would be forced to make the hour and a half trip to Toorrup, the closest town of any size.
The rusting wrought-iron lacework of the pubs and the sloughing paint on the historic post office were visual evidence of the recent agricultural slump. Fifteen-year-old cars dotted the streets or filled up with fuel from the domed shaped bowsers of flat-fronted garages. On market day wobbly-armed women in sleeveless cotton frocks and men in gut-stretched work shirts stood in segregated groups, as they always had, discussing wool prices and CWA, horse racing and lamington drives.
Cam peered through the grimy window of one of the town’s two boutiques where post-war dummies with large busts and wasp waists modelled last summer’s sun-bleached clothes. No wonder Ruby hated it here.
But given time, she’d learn to love it. The town might be small, grotty and old, but this was home: this was where they were meant to be.
The sun was heavy on his head as he scooted between the shady shop awnings, but a wave of cool air rolled over him when he reached the open door of the Glenroyd Arms. He stopped for a moment to savour the sour tang of beer and listen to the contented murmuring from within. For those citizens of Glenroyd with the money and the time, this was the only place to be on a stifling day such as this. Even the adjacent TAB had lost all but its hardcore gamblers to the cool allure of the pub.
He paused again at the window of the stock feeder’s to peruse the For Sale section. The sun-faded pictures of quaint weatherboard houses surrounded by bucolic farmland were photographed in spring before the summer sun and wind had dried the countryside to a dustbowl. He skipped past these, spending longer on the lists of second-hand tractors, posthole drillers and harvesters, his breath whistling through his teeth when he noticed the prices.
When he came to the equestrian section, he rubbed his chin, reading through the descriptions of over a dozen horses and ponies. The ponies were too small, the horses too young and flighty for an inexperienced rider. At five foot six, Ruby would have to have something between fifteen-two and sixteen-two hands, an old bombproof schoolmaster who had done it all. The right horse would come along, if they bided their time.
A gentle tapping on the window drew his attention from the notices to the smiling face of an elderly woman on the other side of the glass.
‘Mrs Rooney?’ he mouthed. Her face lit up. Her hair, like a white powder puff, bobbed from side to side as she nodded her head.
‘Cameron Fraser, crikey Moses – aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!’ she said as he entered the store. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust from the baked whiteness of the street. The store was cool and dark and smelt of grain and dried dog food.
‘They said you’d come back. I nearly dropped in at the station the other day, but held back knowing how busy you’ve been since you arrived.’
He laughed. ‘You know you’re always welcome, Mrs Rooney.’
She frowned, tapping at her cheek. ‘Well, come on then, what are you waiting for? Don’t I deserve a kiss?’
He gave her an extended kiss on the cheek and moaned with mock passion.
She laughed. ‘OK, you don’t have to eat me alive. Stand back so I can have a look at you.’
He stepped back and braced himself for her reaction. When she tilted her head to one side, he focused on the dust motes dancing in a beam of filtered light.
She clasped his hand. Hers were fibrous and knotted like pieces of root ginger. ‘I’m so sorry, Cam, sorry about everything.’
‘The worst is over.’
She nodded. ‘There’s always the future to look forward to.’
‘And what about you? You still have the teashop?’ he asked, keen to change the subject.
‘Crikey, no. I gave that up not long after you left, went to work at St Luke’s Retirement Home. I’m retired from that too now.’ She chuckled. ‘I suppose you could call me a lady of leisure.’
Cam doubted that. She laughed again and smoothed the imagined wrinkles in her faded cotton frock.
‘I still dream about your vanilla slices.’
‘You and half the boys from St Bart’s, I’m sure. I’m hoping them that used to steal ’em are still getting nightmares.’
‘I’ll bet they are. You had the fastest wooden spoon in the west. How are Greg and Mark?’
‘They run this place now. Doing a grand job at it. I’m just minding the store for the moment till Greg gets back from lunch,’ she said. ‘Mark’s at the hospital in Toorrup with his Kate, having their first.’
‘So you’re about to be a grandmother?’
‘Heavens, no – Greg has four already.’
‘Wow, and you not a day over forty-five. I’d never have guessed.’
‘Tease,’ she said, pushing him with her palm. ‘Speaking of kids, was that your Ruby I saw in the park the other day? I had to do a double take; for a moment I thought I was looking at a fair-headed Elizabeth. How strange that you and Elizabeth would produce a girl with such blonde hair, you two so dark and all.’
Cam looked around the store for eavesdroppers and put his fingers to his lips. ‘Actually, Mrs R, I think it’s from a bottle.’
She shook her head. ‘Kids today, what they do to themselves, I don’t know. Still, there’s a lot worse than a bit of hair dye. That boy she was with, well, I wouldn’t want to meet him at night down a dark alley.’
Cam felt as if he’d just received a body blow. He had to jerk in a breath to get the words out. ‘Boy? What boy?’
‘Goodness, Cam, have I said something I shouldn’t?’
He forced out a smile. ‘She never told me, that’s all. Do you know who he is?’
‘What’s-his-name’s apprentice, you know, runs the mechanic shop.’
‘That’s him, and the boy’s Angelo, Angelo Arnoldi. He helps out with the bushfire brigade too. He can’t be too bad if he does that I suppose. I’ve always said young people these days don’t have enough community spirit, so it makes a change to have one who’s willing to help out.’
A man in work clothes walked into the shop and started to look around. ‘Can I help you with anything, love?’ Mrs Rooney asked him.
An idea came to Cam while he waited for her to finish serving her customer. When he asked, she said she’d be happy to have Ruby help out in the shop every now and then. But even with the arrangements made, he continued to the station with heavy steps, eyes to the ground, concentrating on the cracks in the pavement.
It has been 10 years since A Certain Malice was first published. Tell us how it feels to have this title renamed and republished for a new audience and a little bit about how the whole process works.
Ten years indeed — and what a ten years that has been!
A Certain Malice was my first book, published as a result of winning a competition run by a new UK crime fiction publishing house. They were keen on my writing a sequel for it, which I duly did. After a year of work I handed the manuscript in only to be told that no one in the publishing house had time to read it! Reading between the lines myself, I realised that ACM had not done as well as they’d hoped and they no longer wanted me in their stable. Hmm, but that’s publishing for you.
But really, it all worked out for the best. I was then picked up by a bigger Australian publishing company who published 3 more of my contemporary crime novels, and then by HarperCollins who I write for now.
I was delighted when HarperCollins decided to republish A Certain Malice. They thought it needed a punchier title and we re-named it Flashpoint on account of the recurring fire theme. It was given a more modern/cutting edge cover and I was also given the chance to re-edit the manuscript. The only major change I made was to re-name the love interest from Cecelia to Jo.
The most exciting thing about all this however, is that the yet unpublished sequel, festering under my bed for the last ten years is at last going to see the light of day, to be published (as yet untitled) next year.
So, thank you for not having the time to read it, English publishing company. I’m happy to say that everything has worked out for the best!
Felicity Young was born in Germany and educated in the United Kingdom whilst her parents were posted around the world with the British Army. In 1976 the family settled in Perth. Felicity trained as a nurse followed by an arts degree. In 1990 the family moved from the city and established a Suffolk sheep farm in Gidgegannup WA. Here she studied music, reared orphan kangaroos and started writing.
To connect with the author online:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads