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#Bookreview THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS by Ruth Hogan (@ruthmariehogan) A gentle read for those who love books set in Britain, short-stories and Blithe Spirit

Hi all:

I should be all caught up with my reviews by the end of this week (more or less. I have some programmed already and one that I’ll post later on because the book will be published later in the month) so soon I’ll be posting as I read. Hooray!

But first, another review:

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

The Keeper of Lost Things: The feel-good novel of the year by Ruth Hogan

We’re all waiting to be found…

‘The first book I read in 2017 – and if another as good comes along in the next 12 months, I’ll eat my special gold reviewing spectacles’ DAILY MAIL

Meet the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’…
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.

But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

Ruth Hogan’s second novel A Beginner’s Guide to Drowning is now available for pre-order

https://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Lost-Things-feel-good-novel-ebook/dp/B01D8ZE2C0/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Keeper-Lost-Things-feel-good-novel-ebook/dp/B01D8ZE2C0/

Author Ruth Hogan
Author Ruth Hogan

About the author:

instagram.com/ruthmariehogan

twitter.com/ruthmariehogan
facebook.com/ruthmariehogan
Website: http://ruthhogan.co.uk

I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford. My sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me.
As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on. Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop. My favourite reads were THE MOOMINTROLLS, A HUNDRED MILLION FRANCS, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, and the back of cereal packets, and gravestones.
I passed enough A levels to get a place at Goldsmiths College, University of London, to study English and Drama. It was brilliant and I loved it.
And then I got a proper job.
I worked for ten years in a senior local government position: a square peg in round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage. In my early thirties, I had a car accident which left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously.
It was all going well, but then in 2012 I got Cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS, my first novel.
I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering husband. I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan.
My favourite word is’ antimacassar’ and I still like reading gravestones.

https://www.amazon.com/Ruth-Hogan/e/B01KO3PWVY/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and Two Roads for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Although I am not sure this is ‘the feel-good novel of the year’ I’d have to agree it is a feel-good novel, although perhaps not for everybody.

The novel tells many stories, although it tells two in more detail, those of Anthony and Laura (later of Laura and her new family) and Eunice and Bomber. Although those stories are separated by forty years, they are parallel in many ways: an older man who puts an advertisement for an assistant, a younger woman —very young in Eunice’s case— who ends up becoming a personal friend of the man and whose life ends up enmeshed and entangled with that of her employer, both men’s work relates to literature (Anthony is a fairly successful writer of short stories and Bomber is a publisher), both males die leaving some sort of legacy to these women (and also asking them to fulfil their final wishes). As we read on, we might suspect that the relationship between these two stories runs deeper than at first appears, but it is not confirmed until very close to the end.

There are other important elements in the novel, which functions also as a collection of short stories, as Anthony, after experiencing a terrible loss, started to collect lost things, cataloguing them and using his study for safe keeping, in an attempt at recovering something he had lost himself. Throughout the novel, there are stories about those objects (written in italics so it is easy to differentiate them to the rest) interspersed with the two main stories. We are told, later in the book, that Anthony used those objects as inspiration for several collections of short stories, but the novel allows for several possible interpretations of what these stories really are. Are they imaginary stories? Are they the real stories behind the objects? If they are imaginary short-stories who has written them? Anthony? Somebody else? Each reader can choose whatever explanation s/he prefers and I’m sure there are more possibilities.

I mentioned the two main stories that frame the novel and the short stories within. Each chapter is told (in the third person) from one of the characters’ point of view (mostly Laura or Eunice) and this is is clearly indicated, as it is the year, because Eunice and Bomber’s story develops from the 1970s up to the current days. We get to know his family and follow his father’s illness (Alzheimer’s) that unfortunately later also afflicts Bomber himself. There are comments on movies of the period; there is the wonderful relationship with Bomber’s parents, the two dogs that share his life and an unrequited and impossible love story. Ah, and Bomber’s sister, Portia, her awful behaviour and her even worse attempts at getting her brother to publish one of her rip-offs of well-known and loved classics, that make for hilarious reading, especially for authors and book lovers. I must confess that, perhaps because their story develops over time and it has none of the paranormal elements added to the other, I particularly warmed to it. I found the depiction of the dementia sufferers (both father and son) touching, humorous and bittersweet, and although we don’t get to know Eunice well (other than through her devotion to Bomber and his life-work), she is a character easy to like and some of her actions make us cheer her on.

Laura’s story is that of somebody lost, perfectly in keeping with Anthony’s life mission. She made some questionable decisions when she was younger, married too young and her knight in shining armour turned up to be anything but. She is very insecure and full of self-doubt and that makes her a less likeable character as she pushes people away rather than risk being rejected, but she is also the one who has to change more and work harder to get out of her shell. Sunshine, a young neighbour, Down’s syndrome, also shares her point of view with the reader at times and becomes a member of the family, although she has her own too. She is less hindered by concern about what others’ might think, or what is right and wrong, and she has a special connection (not sure ‘power’ is the right word) with the objects and with the paranormal elements that later appear in the novel. Fred, the gardener, is the love interest, handsome and kind, but he seems to be there to provide the romance and second chance more than anything else, and he is not very well developed.

I’ve mentioned the paranormal elements. There is a ghost in the house and that takes up a fair amount of the book as Laura keeps trying to work out how to make things right. I am not sure this added much to the story but references to Blithe Spirit (that is being performed by an amateur theatrical group in the neighbourhood) put an emphasis on the effect the writer might have been aiming for (each reader can decide how well it works for them).

This is a well-written novel, with effective descriptions of objects, locations and people. There are elements of chick-lit (the descriptions of Laura’s disastrous date, her chats with her friend…), romantic touches, some elements of mystery, plenty of loss, death and second chances, a fair bit about literature… The whole feeling of the story is somewhat old-fashioned (and very British. I’ve lost count of how many ‘lovely cups of tea’ are prepared and drunk during the novel, and although that is partly in jest, yes, there is a fair amount of repetition, foreshadowing and signposting, perhaps unnecessary in this kind of story). Some of the references, including songs and films, will be lost on the younger generations. Everything is fairly gentle; even the bad characters (Portia) are only moderately nasty and they are the object of fun rather than being truly evil. There are gossip and misunderstandings but nothing really awful happens. No gore details, no huge surprises, no hot sex (I think you’ll have to buy Portia’s stories of Hotter Potter for that), and even technology only appears by the backdoor (people send text messages and a laptop and a website  appear towards the end, but this is not a book where characters follow mother trends).

Funnily enough, a publisher (rival of Anthony) sums up what the books he publishes should be like, thus:

I know what normal, decent people like, and that’s good, straightforward stories with a happy ending where the baddies get their comeuppance, the guy gets the girl and the sex isn’t too outré.

The structure of the novel and some of the short-stories are not at all like that, but the spirit behind it perhaps it and its charm might be lost on some readers who prefer more action and adventures and a more modern style of writing.

In summary, a gentle read, bittersweet, with plenty of stories for those who love short stories, of particular interest to lovers of books and movies set in Britain, stories about writers, the publishing world and women’s stories. It has sad moments and funny ones but it is unlikely to rock your world.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and to the publishers, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, CLICK and REVIEW!

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Book review Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team Rosie's Book Team Review

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat (@LizaPerrat) Recommended to lovers of historical fiction, in particular women’s history and the French Revolution

Hi all:

Today I repeat with a book by Liza Perrat, as I was truly impressed with The Silent Kookaburra. And when she submitted another novel to Rosie’s Book Review Team, I couldn’t resist. And here is the review.

Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat
Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat

Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat Recommended to lovers of historical fiction, in particular women’s history and the French Revolution.

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her impoverished peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the 18th century old regime.

Imprisoned in France’s most pitiless madhouse, La Salpêtrière asylum, the desperate Victoire begins a romance with fellow prisoner Jeanne de Valois, infamous conwoman of the diamond necklace affair. With the help of the ruthless and charismatic countess, Victoire carves out a new life for herself.

Enmeshed in the fever of pre-revolutionary France, Victoire must find the strength to join the revolutionary force storming the Bastille. Is she brave enough to help overthrow the diabolical aristocracy?

As this historical fiction adventure traces Victoire’s journey, it follows too, the journey of an angel talisman through generations of the Charpentier family.

Amidst the intrigue and drama of the French revolution, the women of Spirit of Lost Angels face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse.

https://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Lost-Angels-Liza-Perrat-ebook/dp/B0082MI2Y4/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirit-Lost-Angels-Liza-Perrat-ebook/dp/B0082MI2Y4/

Editorial Reviews

Writing MagazineSelf-Publishing Awards 2013, Shortlisted.
EFestival of Words 2013, Best HistoricalFiction category, Winner.
Historical Novel Society Conference, Recommended in “Off the Beaten Path” recommendations.

…. I LOVE when a book sucks me in and is so engrossing that I get ticked when I have to put it down. …made me feel I was being written into the pages of the book.  I always say to people that those who refuse to read indie published books lose out on dynamic novels and this book is definitely an example of why I feel that way – Naomi B (A Book and A Review).

… impressed with Perrat’s knowledgeable treatment of the role of women during one of France’s most tumultuous times, as well as the complexities of insular village life – Darlene Williams (Darlene Elizabeth Williams Historical Fiction Reviews).

The writing is superb, the sights, sounds and smells of a city in turmoil is brought vividly to life – Josie Barton (Jaffareadstoo).
 
… a tale to lose oneself in … persuasively combines fact and fiction … The peasants fury, the passion building up to the Bastille storming, are just a few of the vivid illustrations – Andrea Connell (The Queen’s Quill Review).

… escapist fun — Francophiles will want this one and those who enjoy historical fiction that doesn’t focus on royals … I can’t wait to see what Perrat does next– Audra(Unabridged Chick).

Liza Perrat brings to life the sights and sounds of 18th century France. Her extensive research shines through, from the superstitions of the villagersto the lives of the sophisticated Parisians – Anne Cater,Top 500Amazon reviewer (Random Things Through My Letterbox).

Author Liza Perrat
Author Liza Perrat 

About the Author

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for over twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist. Since completing a creative writing course twelve years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France. Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in her French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel series. The second – Wolfsangel – was published in October, 2013, and the third, Blood Rose Angel, was published in November, 2015. She is a founding member of the author collective, Triskele Books and reviews books for BookMuse.

Links: Email Newsletter sign-up for FREE short story, Ill-fated Rose, that inspired The Bone Angel series: http://www.lizaperrat.moonfruit.com/sign-up

Website: www.lizaperrat.com

Blog: http://lizaperrat.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Liza-Perrat-232382930192297/

Twitter: @LizaPerrat

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/triskelebooks/

My review:

Thanks to Rosie Amber for organising Rosie’s Book Review Team and to the author for offering me a copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

I had recently read and reviewed Liza Perrat’s fabulous book The Silent Kookaburra (check the review here) and could not pass on the opportunity to read and review another of the author’s books. I had commented on my previous review that the author is well-known for her historical fiction novels and I felt The Silent Kookaburra, although set at a much closer point in time (the 1970s in Australia) also shared the detailed setting, the atmosphere and the background events that made it worthy of that category, together with a very disturbing and beautifully written story.

Spirit of Lost Angels falls neatly into the category of historical fiction. Set in France, a few years before the French revolution, it follows the life of Victoire Charpentier, a young girl born on a farm in a small village, whose mother is a wise woman, midwife and healer to all, and who experiences death and tragedy from a very early age. She is a direct victim of the unfairness of the society of the time (a nobleman’s coach runs her father over and doesn’t even stop) and it is not surprising she wants revenge. Tragedy and disaster pile up in her life and brief moments of happiness are cut short when something else happens. Her story fits also into the category of melodrama, as she always finds herself at the centre of everything, and survives against incredible odds. Her life demonstrates that a woman’s lot is (and was even more so at the time) hard. Losing your husband, children, being raped, accused of being a witch, and being denied a voice, are everyday affairs. One thing that helps Victoire above everything is her literacy. Her reading and writing skills help her keep in touch with loved ones, provide her later with a literary career and with the means to raise consciousness as to the plight of women and the poor, and allow her to meet people and make connections. Eventually, it also helps her fulfil her dream and have a happy ending. The focus on women’s issues and the importance of education are one of the strongest points of the novel for me.

The book is beautifully written, narrated in the first person by the protagonist, who presents as very articulate. As we learn later, she becomes very proficient at writing, although early on there are moments when the beauty of her writing jarred me a bit (when she writes a letter to her daughter Ruby, she’s trying to improve her writing, but her letter is not only deeply felt but also lyrically written in spite of that), although later events and the ending facilitate a different reading of the novel. The beautiful language and the detailed and, at times, poetic descriptions help readers feel transported to the France of the period and experience the smells (and stinks), the touch, the sensations of the different settings (including the horrifying experiences at La Salpêtrière). The historical figures and events of the time (Victoire meets Thomas Jefferson, corresponds with Mary Wollstonecraft and becomes friendly with Jeanne de Valois, who plays an important role in her life) add to the texture and background of the book, making the France of the late XVIIIc even more vivid. The author explains in an endnote that her main character is entirely fictional and all her interactions with historical figures are invented too, although inspired by the real characters.

I enjoyed, in particular, the reflections of the character about the role of women in the society of the time, her terrifying but enlightening period at La Salpêtrière, and her enterprising and determination. This is a novel full of action, where events follow each other quickly and the protagonist suffers more than anyone’s fair share of events, to the point where a degree of suspension of disbelief is required. Perhaps because we follow the character through a long period of time, and Victoire is very much a conduit to reflect historical events and the lot of women at that particular historical period, I did not feel her character was as consistent or psychologically well-drawn as was the case for Tanya in The Silent Kookaburra (where although we see the protagonist at two different ages, most of the story is told from the point of view of 11 y.o. Tanya). That notwithstanding, this is a great story, full of twist and turns, that will transport you to an extremely momentous time and place, and although it is the author’s first novel, it already shows her flair for language and for creating gripping stories.

Thanks so much to Rosie and to the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK! And, of course, if you read books, remember to review them. 

 

 

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Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings FREE Writing samples

#Free Last Chapter of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

This is the last week when I’m sharing the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry. Yes! We’ve got to the last chapter! Although  I have the draft of the next story in the series, I’m not going to punish you with it yet but I’ll be catching up on reviews, life and other projects…

First… A reminder. I finally published the prequel and it’s FREE, hopefully in most places by now . (If not, please report to Amazon adding the link to one of the other sites, as they need to be informed of links in each place it seems. I have reported links in the UK but they’re taking their time. Otherwise I’m happy to send it to you personally.)

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret

How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.

If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.
Here you can check a preview live:

AMAZON (e-book)      KOBO    NOOK    APPLE  SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY

And without further ado, here is Chapter 8

8.     The Truth

As part of her ongoing training, Mary moved to a different job, and although it was only a few miles from where she lived, it involved some adjustments and getting used to a new routine. It was also a busy job and she didn’t have much time to think about anything else. When her phone rang at 6:30 one morning, she jumped out of bed, thinking she was on-call. Then she remembered she wasn’t and wondered who’d be calling her so early.

“Hi, Mary. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

“Phil! I thought it was a call from work.”

“Are you on-call?”

“No, but it took me a while to remember that. Not many people call me at this time of the morning. Is anything wrong?”

“Eh… No, no. Nothing like that. Are you following the trial? Fenton’s?”

“Not closely. I read a bit about it and I saw something in the news, but I haven’t paid it that much attention. I’ve changed jobs recently, and it’s always a bit hectic. How is it going?”

“It’s all very awkward. Lance went to work for the DA’s office and is sitting at the prosecution table. He hasn’t opened his mouth but it’s unnerving. Mr Wright tried to talk the judge into throwing him out, but Lance’s name wasn’t on any of the previous depositions and he wasn’t listed officially. She—the judge—warned the DA that she’d not only dismiss Lance but would throw out the trial on a technicality if they used any privileged information they should not have had access to. But it has opened the trial right up.”

“It sounds quite tough.”

“Well, I don’t think they have a case. There’s plenty of evidence of Green’s deranged behaviour, and Fenton always tried to do the right thing.”

‘Yeah, right,’ Mary thought. “So, when do you expect it to finish?”

“One can never be precise in these situations, but I imagine Friday. That’s why I was phoning you. Could you take the Friday off and come? Perhaps you could come on Thursday evening and stay over the weekend, if you can escape. Percy suggested you might want to be present, and I think it’s a great idea. Especially if you might become an expert witness at some point in the future. People always think they know how it is because they watch TV programs and movies, but it isn’t like that.”

“I’m not working this weekend. I’ll try to see if I can get Friday off. I’d like to see the resolution of the case. I have the feeling it will be interesting.”

“You’ll probably be disappointed, but we can do something nice over the weekend, and I’m sure that Ryan would love to see you again.”

“Oh, Phil! Stop that!”

“Only joking!” He laughed. “Give me a call! And have a good day!”

Mary managed to get a day off, and the doctor who was on call on Friday agreed to keep an eye on her cases. She phoned Phil to confirm she was going, and on Thursday, as arranged, he went to pick her up at the train station. As they were riding in a taxi, Mary asked, “So, will tomorrow be the last day, then?”

“Very likely. It’s their turn to question Fenton’s agent tomorrow morning. And after that…well, that’s it. Closings and then up to the jury. We might not hear the verdict tomorrow, but I don’t expect it will be long.”

“And how has it gone so far?”

“Well, other than the evidence that Fenton was very forceful when he defended himself, there isn’t anything else against him. There have been plenty of witnesses that have talked about Green’s behaviour and how he had been harassing Fenton non-stop for months.”

Mary was quiet for a while. “I always imagined that the real protagonist of the novel, the real David Collins, whatever his true name is, would have turned up.”

“What for?”

“Well, it would have given even more strength to the story that Green wasn’t well and his suspicions were unfounded.”

“Perhaps he doesn’t think there’s any danger that Fenton will get into serious trouble. Self-defence. And, if he’s such a private person, perhaps he’s out of reach of the media.”

Mary shook her head. “Unlikely. The case has been going on for a long time. And it’s everywhere. Anyway, just wondering.”

Next morning they went to court. Percy and Steve sat at the defence table with Fenton. Phil took Mary’s arm and made her sit next to him on the bench behind them. Ryan appeared a few minutes later and sat next to her. A handsome African-American man, wearing a blue suit, sat at the prosecution table, talking animatedly to Lance. Phil saw Mary looking at them and said, “The DA. Stanton.”

Percy and Steve turned to say hello. Percy looked sideways. “I wonder what they’re talking about. You wouldn’t have guessed things are going badly for them, looking at how animated they seem.”

Fenton looked back briefly and nodded in their direction. Mary had the feeling that he wasn’t terribly pleased to see her. But he had more important things to think about, so perhaps it was only her imagination.

Judge Pearson, a woman in her early sixties with curly red hair, entered, announced by the clerk, and they all stood. Once they were ordered to sit, proceedings started. Although Mary had not met Mike Spinner, Fenton’s agent, she didn’t expect anything new from his statement. Stanton asked him about his background and then what he knew about the origins of the book. He also asked briefly about Green’s behaviour. Everything seemed to fit in with the version of events Fenton had given. Stanton approached the table, looked at a piece of paper that Lance showed him, and then walked slowly back to the witness stand. “Mr Spinner, was there ever talk of an injunction?”

“An injunction? I did talk to one of my lawyers about it, but there was the complication of the tours and the continuous travelling that would have made it difficult to fix the terms. And even keeping him at a certain distance, if it had been agreed, with the amount of public attention and people coming and going… It would have been impossible to enforce. It wouldn’t have worked. There was no point.”

“So, you never heard Mr Fenton or Mr Green mention an injunction,” Stanton asked again.

“No. Not really, no.”

“Not really?” Stanton, who had been walking back towards the table, turned around quickly and fixed his eyes on the witness.

“The witness has already replied to the question, Your Honour,” Steve said.

“No, not really,” Judge Pearson replied, with a smile. “Proceed.” She nodded in Stanton’s direction. Mary noticed how Fenton’s neck reddened.

“I mean…the last time Green came to a book signing, I had been called away to talk to the bookshop owner, and we both heard a kerfuffle. Two of the security guards were dragging Green away by the time I got there. The security guards later told me that Green had managed to get close to the table by wearing a name tag like the bookshop employees and he had got right next to Fenton, and had whispered something in his ear.

“They told me Fenton had replied something very low, that they hadn’t heard and waved at them, and when they were taking him away, once out of the bookshop, Green had said that no injunction would prevent him from telling the truth, or something of the sort. Nothing new, although I don’t know where the idea about the injunction came from. I did ask Oliver—Mr Fenton—later, but he told me that all Green had told him was more of the same, that he had used his story and he’d get redress. Nothing else.”

Steve seemed like he was about to stand up and object, Mary imagined ‘hearsay’, but Percy stopped him. He seemed intrigued.

“Thanks.” Stanton picked up a piece of paper that Lance was offering him. He walked to the witness stand and showed the paper to Spinner. “Do you recognise this mobile phone number?”

“No. I don’t have a lot of memory for numbers, though. I could check my phone…”

“Isn’t it the accused’s number?”

“No, no. That number I know very well.”

Stanton smiled and said there was nothing else. Spinner was told he could leave and stepped down.

“We wish to recall Oliver Fenton,” Stanton said.

Percy, Steve and Fenton looked at each other.

“I need to confer with my client,” Percy said, standing up.

“Let’s have a brief recess. We’ll be back in half an hour,” Judge Pearson said.

Once the judge had left, Percy turned to Phil and Ryan. “Come with us. And you too, Mary.”

“But is it OK with Mr Fenton?” Mary asked.

Fenton turned to look at her and smiled, his lips pressed so hard that they had become a white line. “Of course I’m OK. Do you think I’m scared of you? I know you have no superpowers and you can’t read my mind. And anyway, I have nothing to hide.”

Mary shrugged and followed them. They went to a side room whilst the guard waited outside.

“So, what’s that about an injunction?” Percy asked, as soon as they were all sitting down.

“I know nothing about any injunction. Who knows what he might have said? Some mad idea that came into his head,” Fenton replied, dismissive.

“And that mobile number?” Ryan asked.

“Which mobile number?”

“Evidently the prosecution asked your agent about a phone number. Is there anything we should be worried about?” Percy asked.

“Why didn’t you object to all that blah, blah from Mike? It was all hearsay. Green whispered something, I said something. It means nothing. What could he have said?”

“Surprises are no good in this business, Fenton,” Wright said. “We can prepare for almost anything, but not for what we don’t know.”

Fenton sighed. “I’ve already told you. I’m sorry he died but the man was crazy,” he said, letting his head drop.

“OK,” Percy said. Then, he turned to look at Mary. “Any questions, Doctor Miller?”

“I was just wondering…” Fenton looked up and glared at her, “why whisper? He’s shouted about the fact that you’d used his story, loud and clear, and he’d told anybody who would listen to him. Why whisper it in your ear? It makes no sense. He must have told you something else. Why would he talk about telling the truth and how nobody would stop him? If it was the same allegation, he’d already told the truth. And don’t reply that he was just mad. He hadn’t done that before, and he’d been pretty vociferous and consistent. He must have had a reason. A reason that got him killed.”

Fenton stood up from the chair so fast that it fell on the floor, making an echoing sound. “You think you know everything. What do you really know?”

“That man was obsessed with the truth. He must have found something out, or suspected something, but had no confirmation of it. That’s why he whispered it to you. Your reaction confirmed his suspicions,” Mary said, still sitting down, looking up at him and keeping a low voice and a calm expression.

“Yes? And what do you think that was? Perhaps you really have superpowers?” Fenton said.

“I have no idea, although if I had to hazard a guess… You invented the whole story. The book is a work of fiction. No, you didn’t use Green’s story, because you didn’t use anybody’s story. You just made it up. And he must have worked it out somehow. Perhaps you contradicted yourself at some point, or perhaps he checked and discovered that you hadn’t really worked for a phone helpline. Whatever the circumstances, when he told you, you threatened him with an injunction.”

Fenton had paled and was shaking slightly. “The harassment was one thing, but that could have ended my career. There have been scandals for plagiarism and being economical with the truth in the literary world, but that… It would have been the end right at the beginning. I just got a phone, no contract, untraceable, not registered, and called him. I was planning on meeting him somewhere discreet and offering him money to keep his mouth shut and disappear, but when I phoned him he told me not to waste my time that he was not for sale. That he wanted to make an example of me for exploiting that topic and making a profit out of a lie, out of something that had hurt so many people.

“Then I told him I’d taken out an injunction against him and he wouldn’t be able to follow me around or turn up at my apartment ever again. I knew that would provoke him and he’d turn up. And it would be perfect for me, as he’d be invading my home and I could allege self-defence. I sent the receptionist out with an excuse and waited, in hiding. When he turned up I did give him a chance to take some money and leave but he refused. He turned around and said he would talk to the press and I…”

Percy looked aghast. Steve, Phil and Ryan had stood up too and were looking at each other, lost for words.

“They must have a recording of the phone call… Or at least a record of it,” Steve said. “And they must have tracked it back to you. It’s evidence of murder. It was planned.”

“He didn’t die there and then! Can’t we just go after the hospital, claim they mishandled it?” Fenton asked.

Phil shook his head. “The chain of causation is clear.”

“But he had been harassing me!”

“Yes, but that is not the motivation for it. Self-defence won’t cut it if they have the call,” Ryan said.

“I’ll have the mental health assessment!” Fenton shouted.

Mary shook her head. “You’re free to ask for another opinion, but…”

Percy shrugged. “No point. Lance knows Fenton, and he was there when we discussed his mental health. He also knows he refused to have an assessment. Although he cannot testify to that, they’ll have no problem finding experts who’ll say there’s no evidence of any disorder. At least nothing that would get him off on an insanity plea. And I can’t think it would be easy for us to find somebody who’d say the opposite.”

“What shall we do, then?”

“Change the plea to guilty. We can try to claim overwork, stress, the harassment, but it depends on how generous they are feeling. We’ll try to negotiate a plea bargain,” Phil said.

The clerk knocked at the door. “Time to go back.”

Once inside, after the judge had returned to the courtroom, Percy approached the bench. After listening to him, the judge called Stanton. The two lawyers had a few words and the judge adjourned. This time the judge, Stanton, Lance, Wright and Steve met in private. The public waited outside. Ryan asked Mary, “How did you know?”

“I didn’t know for certain. It just struck me as a possibility when I started talking. And Fenton’s reaction just confirmed it.”

“Perhaps you have superpowers,” Phil said.

Mary laughed.

Shortly after, they returned. There was a change of plea and the judge adjourned for sentencing.

“Extraordinary,” Percy said on the way out, shaking Mary’s hand. “I seriously hope you’ll work for us in the future.”

“Thanks very much. I’m very busy in my current job, but I must admit it’s been very interesting.”

“And you can undertake any formation you deem necessary, at our cost.”

“Thanks!”

Phil saw Lance walking towards the door and called out. “Eh, Lance, don’t you remember your friends?”

“Hi, guys! Mary…” he smiled warmly at her.

“Come on, tell us. What did you have?” Ryan asked him, patting his shoulder.

“Now, now, you know I can’t tell. Confidential. See you soon!”

Ryan muttered something about secrets and they all left court. The case made it big in the media: television, radio, newspapers… Of course, there was a book written about it not long after.

Mary did take up some of the training on offer, about writing reports, being an expert witness, and studied the workings of the criminal justice system.

Approximately a year after the trial, Phil called Mary. “I have good news.”

“Yes? Tell me more.”

“Do you remember I told you Wright was looking into expanding? He’s agreed to have me set up a new branch of the firm in the south. I’m not sure if it’s Savannah or Atlanta. I need to go and check in more detail. He’s giving me full independence, so I’m planning on doing plenty of pro-bono, hiring local lawyers and—”

“Being more ethically correct.”

“Correct! The best of both worlds. I’m not leaving the firm, but I don’t have to condone all their practices, or follow them.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“What do you say? Do you fancy a trip to the south?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

The end (of the beginning)

Just in case you’ve missed the other chapters, here are the links (I’ll create a page with all the links so you can always go back to it at your own leisure).

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

And this is the last week Escaping Psychiatry is available at a special price, so, here it is! 
Rather than give you the description, you can have a look a read and preview it directly from here:

And a few links:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER PAPER

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

Categories
Book launch Escaping Psychiatry launch FREE Writing samples

#Booklaunch. It’s out! FREE chapter 6 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #Tuesdaybookblog

Hi all:

I finally published the prequel in a few places last week and it’s FREE, hopefully in most places by now . If you find it is not, could you do me a big favour and report that you’ve seen it free elsewhere? That will make them change the price. Thanks!

 

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret

How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.

If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.
Here you can check a preview live:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE  SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY
But as I promised you to publish the whole of the story in my blog, here is Chapter 6. But don’t forget to download the story, to tell people about it, and if you like it, to review it too if you can.

6.     The Surprise

Phil had always considered himself a keen observer and used to joke with Mary that he was an amateur psychologist. It was true that such skills as he had were very useful in his line of work. He watched Ryan and Mary’s interaction on the drive back to New York. He’d secretly wondered if those two would hit it off, but worried that asking directly would scare Mary off. She didn’t take interference in those kinds of matters too kindly. Still, once they had dropped Ryan off at his apartment, on the way back to his, Phil asked Mary, “So, what do you think?”

“What do I think about what? Your boss’s place is amazing, although I wouldn’t say I necessarily liked his guests or the highly artificial lifestyle. I doubt anybody there has expressed their true feelings even once in the whole weekend. Well, perhaps one person.”

“Are you talking about…”

“Lance. I think you were too far away, but a woman seating opposite us made some pretty  unkind comment about Miles Green and he became quite angry and gave her a piece of his mind.”

“Oh…I thought you were talking about Ryan.”

Mary smiled. “Ryan always speaks his mind, it seems. Even when it would be to his advantage not to. I like him.” Phil wondered what his expression was like, because Mary looked at him and shook her head from side to side. “No, no, don’t you start trying to pair me up with Ryan. It will never work. I think we might get to be good friends but I can’t imagine it going anywhere.”

Phil sighed and looked at Mary before manoeuvring to park the car. “I could try to fix you up with Lance, but I know he’s in very high demand. It might be difficult.”

“Oh, don’t go around trying to fix me up with anybody, please. And, are you insinuating that Lance is too good for me?”

“No, of course not! You’re far too good for him, but you know that certain girls only go after the flashy individuals.”

Mary looked at Phil sideways but eventually smiled. Phew! He’d got a reprieve.

“Well, I’ll finish packing and I should get going. I’m working tomorrow. Thanks so much for having me. It’s been interesting.”

“I’m sure it will carry on being interesting. And I’m sure Percy will want your help in future cases, if not this one.”

“I think Oliver Fenton is a lost cause, at least in regards to a possible assessment. Not to worry. It’s better that way. I wouldn’t have liked to have to go and give evidence about him. I suspect I would have done more harm than good to his cause. Although perhaps that’s not necessarily bad.”

Phil accompanied Mary to the train station and they said goodbye before Mary got on the train.

“Thanks again, Phil. And keep me posted on any news.”

“I will. Of course I will. And don’t forget to give me a call once you get home. Let me know you’re well.”

“Yes, Mom.”

They kissed and Phil watched as Mary walked down the platform and climbed into a carriage. He went back home wondering why Mary was so stubborn about relationships. It was true that perhaps his personal example hadn’t done much to encourage her to try but…

The next few days at work were incredibly bizarre, and Phil hardly had any time to think about anything that wasn’t work related. On Thursday evening he decided to avoid another after-work drink to unwind and went home. He had to stop to do some food shopping on the way, as he had hardly spent any time at his apartment since Mary left, other than a few hours to sleep. He had a shower, ate something, and as he was going to turn the TV on, decided to phone Mary first. He wanted to know what she’d made of the news. She answered quickly.

“Hi, Mary.”

“Hi, Phil.”

“You’re not on call or anything, are you?”

“No, no, don’t worry. I’d been thinking about you. I was reading an interview with Oliver Fenton yesterday, and yes, I couldn’t help but think about you, Fenton…well, the whole firm.”

“Well, there have been a few changes.”

“Really? Are you at liberty to talk about it?” Mary’s voice sounded mocking.

“You’re in Percy’s confidence, so I guess it’s OK. The truth is it will all be common knowledge soon, although I doubt you’d hear about it yourself.”

“OK, OK. You got me intrigued. Tell me the news.”

“Lance… You’ll never guess. Lance went and—”

“Left the firm.”

Phil was flabbergasted. How on earth had she guessed?

“Did you know? You must have known. You’d never in a million years have been able to guess such a thing. It took all of us by surprise! Did Ryan phone you?”

“Ryan? He doesn’t have my phone number. No, of course not.”

“How did you know, then?”

“You should already know I have a crystal ball. That must have been a shock for everybody.”

Phil was intrigued, but suspected that the more he asked, the less likely he’d be to get a straight answer. It might be better to just carry on with the conversation and perhaps it would slip out. He knew he was clutching at straws but he couldn’t think of anything else to say to convince Mary to spill the beans.

“Yes. Absolutely. And the way he did it, too. He just turned up quite early on Monday, walked into Percy’s office unannounced, leaving the door open, and said that he was quitting. That he’d made a mistake and he cared too much for ethics and morality to carry on playing games. That he didn’t want to side with the rich and powerful any longer. And he walked out. Percy was left there, opening and closing his mouth like a fish. It was a sight!”

“I would love to have seen it. And what’s happened with the case? Who has taken the lead?”

“Percy doesn’t seem prepared to let any more surprises come his way and has decided to take charge personally. His name was already on the papers anyway. Of course, that means that the rest of us are running around him, carrying and fetching like headless chickens. But still…”

“Will he have enough time to prepare?”

“There’s a month left until the official date of the trial, but with the change in the team he was talking about asking for an adjournment. A couple of weeks or so.”

“Yes, that would be handy. And how is everybody else?”

Phil was on the phone to Mary for a few more minutes, but she kept him distracted talking about all kinds of things, never referring back to Lance or her mysterious knowledge. Perhaps next time.

Just in case you’ve missed the previous chapters and prefer to read them in my blog, here are the links:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5
If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99 until the end of February. Rather than give you the description, you can have a look a read and preview it directly from here:

And a few links:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE   SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER  GOOGLE PAPER

It’s also available in audio and you can check it here (not at $0.99).

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

Categories
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings FREE Writing samples

#FREE Chapter 5 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:
I hope to share the link to the published novella by next post (and if everything goes well it might be free already by then) but in the meantime, here is chapter 5.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

5.     The Weekend

Mary enjoyed the leisurely week where she completely changed the usual rhythm of her life. She threw herself enthusiastically into the task of exploring the city, visiting exhibitions, looking for the perfect clothes shop and bookshop, and walking for miles. By Thursday afternoon she was exhausted and decided to stay at Phil’s apartment and finish reading The Darkest Night. Phil arrived shortly after eight p.m. and found her cooking pasta.

“Hi, Phil.”

“Hi, Mary. It smells lovely.”

She smiled and looked at him. “Well, you know my culinary skills are limited. I’ve never been truly domesticated. If anything, a househusband could come in handy.”

Phil smiled and pressed her arm. “I’ll go and get out of this suit. Did you have a good day?” he asked her as he walked out.

“I came back early. I was tired and wanted to finish reading the novel,” she replied, talking loud enough for her voice to carry to Phil’s room.

He came back a couple of minutes later. “Which novel?”

The Darkest Night.”

“Fenton’s book? Isn’t it supposed to be a true story, or rather, based on a true story?”

“Yes. It’s supposed to be based on a true story. But there’s something that doesn’t ring true to me.”

“What? Is it a lack of psychological truth? Perhaps it’s due to the changes he made to disguise the identity of the main character.”

“Could be. But if I understood him correctly, he said that he had changed the details to hide his real identity, but the story was still his story. And to me, it doesn’t work. I’ve heard many things, and I’ve read psychiatric reports, and believe me, most of them would never get confused with a Pulitzer Prize winner, but they still ring true. This doesn’t. And there’s something about him…Fenton, I mean. He says he manned a telephone helpline offering advice and counselling. If that’s the case he’d be more understanding and have some empathy, one would hope. He’s too cold… But ignore me. It’s probably a defence mechanism. His behaviour, I mean.”

Phil shrugged. “Oh, you know what my opinion about the man is. I’m happy it’s Lance and not me handling the case, even if that might bring him a lot of attention.”

Mary turned off the hob. “This is ready. Will you set the table?”

“Sure. I’ll get some wine. Yes, and water for you. I know you don’t drink.”

While they were eating, Mary asked, “Shall I check and see if I can find tickets for a play tomorrow?”

“Oh, I nearly forgot. Mr Wright—Percy—has invited us to his house in the Hamptons this weekend. It seems his wife is having some kind of reception, and he’s decided we should be there too. I told Ryan we’d pick him up on the way. Wright has decided that tomorrow we’ll only work in the morning to make sure we get there at a reasonable time. I understand dinner will be a pretty ‘intimate’ affair. That probably means no more than twenty five people.”

Mary looked at Phil, cocking her head. “Are you serious?”

“Oh yes, of course. Wait until you meet Mrs Wright. You’ve probably seen her in posh magazines. I’m not surprised he wants big cases. She’s very high maintenance.”

“What do you mean ‘Wait until you meet Mrs Wright’? And you also said ‘we’ would pick Ryan up? Am I invited too?”

Phil laughed. “Oh yes. Percy insisted I make sure you come. He wanted to show you his hospitality. And I think he’s determined to secure your services for future cases. He must have decided it gives him some advantage over the rest. You must come. Don’t abandon Ryan and me. It will be interesting. Plenty of material for your stories.”

“You’re right on that. But I must be back to work on Monday. I phoned them today.”

“No problem. We’ll leave after breakfast on Sunday. So, have you decided psychiatry is your future, then?”

Mary sighed. “I’m not sure. But at the moment it feels unfinished. I must see it through. Complete the training. Then I’ll decide.”

The ride to Mr Wright’s house, in Phil’s Jeep the next day, was very comfortable.

“I never knew you liked this type of car, Phil. I’ve always known you with more sporty models,” Mary said.

“It seems to be the fashion, at the moment—at least among the elite,” Ryan replied. “And one of our clients has a dealership and always offers a very good discount to the firm’s staff.”

“Ah…”

The house was impressive. A valet came to collect the keys from Phil to park the car. Mary tried to hide her shock. “It’s a mansion. I didn’t expect it to be this huge and posh. I’m sure quite a few European royalty members live much more modestly,” she said.

“Well, this is America. Modesty has never been in fashion here,” Ryan whispered in her ear.

Mrs Wright was younger than Mary had expected, although when Phil introduced her and they shook hands, Mary realised that perhaps nature had had some help.

“My husband told me you had been very helpful with the writer’s case. What a terrible thing, the death of that man, isn’t it? Oh, Wilma, darling—”

Before Mary had a chance to reply or say anything, Mrs Wright had already moved on and was chatting to a woman wearing an elegant black dress.

“Pierre Balmain, methinks,” Ryan said.

Mary looked at him surprised. He smiled. “All this shopping and looking at magazines with my sister has evidently had an effect on me.”

The evening was extravagant. The ‘intimate’ dinner ended up being a formal affair with nearly fifty people in attendance. Thankfully, Mary sat next to Ryan. The woman sitting to her left was a newlywed and seemed only interested in her husband. Mary chatted to Ryan and he entertained her with gossip about the people he recognised.

On Saturday, the ladies had a visit to the Spa organised, and that seemed to take up the whole day, between sauna, exercise classes, yoga, massage, hairdressing, lunch, make-up… Mary quickly became bored and, in the afternoon, she decided to escape and take a bus that left her a couple of miles from the house. She fancied a walk and the afternoon was beautiful. The place was extravagant and properties there were exorbitantly priced, but it wasn’t difficult to see why they’d choose to live there. Or to have a second home there. As she was approaching the house, she heard somebody running behind her. She turned to find Lance, sweating buckets. He was wearing shorts and a very light running top, but judging by his state he must have been running for a long time. He slowed down slightly to say hello.

“I’ll see you later. I don’t dare to stop. I’m not sure I’d manage to get going again.”

“OK.”

He carried on running. If anything, he seemed to speed up after leaving her. Mary had only seen him from a distance the previous evening, as he had been sitting at the other end of the table, on Percy’s right. She remembered Phil had made a sarcastic remark. “He’s seated at the right hand of our version of God, of course.” Mary had told him off for being jealous but had not paid Lance any attention after that, and she hadn’t bumped into him later either.

That evening was much more formal and grand. Mary felt terribly underdressed. She looked at her long black dress and her flat black ballerinas and sighed. She’d never managed high heels, and she hadn’t expected anything like that when she had packed her suitcase to spend a few days with Phil. She grabbed a black mantilla embroidered with flowers and wrapped it around her shoulders. Straightening up, she pushed out of the room, feeling like a gladiator jumping into the arena. The lions awaited her.

She met Phil and Ryan, who seemed to have been waiting for her at the top of the stairs. There were a lot of people in the reception area and wave after wave of rich and elegant people seemed to be streaming through the front door.

“Couldn’t we just escape through the back door? I’m sure nobody would notice we weren’t here,” Mary said.

Ryan smiled. “I think it’s too late, although I’m sympathetic to your idea. Don’t worry. You’re right, nobody will notice us, and we’ll be forgotten in a few seconds. There are too many important people here.”

They were briefly greeted by Mrs Wright and then directed towards a larger room, where people were distributed in small groups, being offered drinks and fed canapes. Percy waved at them from one of the groups, which consisted of men of a certain age, very smartly dressed and looking self-important.

“You don’t want to get on the wrong side of any of those guys,” Ryan warned Mary. She nodded.

A string quartet played by one of the doors to the terrace and after listening to them for a while, Mrs Wright announced that it was time for dinner. She guided her guests to a different room to the one they had dined in the previous night. This one was much larger and she called it the ‘banqueting hall’. Ryan and Phil found their name places very soon after they entered the room. Ryan waved goodbye to Mary with a sad expression. Her place was well past the centre of the table.

She didn’t know the man to her left, a Mr Winston who, after introducing himself, wasted no time before returning to his conversation with a stunning blonde woman sitting next to him. The man opposite her told her he was called Peter Matthews and was an old friend of the family. He seemed mostly interested in his food. The woman sitting next to him, Stella Roberts, lost interest when she discovered that Mary wasn’t married and had no kids. Mary turned to the door and saw Lance come in. He sat on her right. That wasn’t his assigned place, as Mary had noticed that the name written there, Mr Blake, was unfamiliar to her.

“Won’t you get into trouble?” she whispered.

“Oh, nobody will dare to make a fuss. And I know Mr Blake. He definitely won’t say anything.”

He was right. A middle-aged man arrived and walked to the only space left, near the top of the table, not far from the hosts. He looked at the name-card, lifted an eyebrow, looked at Lance, who replied with a smile and a nod, and then shrugged and sat down.

“You were right,” Mary whispered.

Lance only nodded. The meal started and Mrs Roberts seemed to find Lance much more interesting than Mary, trying to engage him in several topics of conversation. He was polite but didn’t expand upon or appreciate her efforts, whilst he chatted amiably with Mary. As they were finishing the main course, the woman tried again. “So, I hear you are working with Percy in the case against that famous writer…Fenton? What a terrible thing, to be harassed just because you’ve become famous. It must be dreadful.”

Mary couldn’t help herself. “Dying is quite terrible too.”

“Greed always gets punished,” Mrs Roberts stated.

“What do you mean?” Mary asked. She had no idea what Mrs Roberts meant.

“Well, surely that man was trying to blackmail the author, insisting that he’d stolen his story to make him pay for it. All these people are so used to getting paid off to avoid a scandal… Good for Fenton for not putting up with it!”

Mary noticed Lance was visibly shaking and remembered his reaction when Percy had told them Miles Green had died. The lawyer’s face was pale but his neck was red and a vein pulsated on his brow.

“How dare you presume to know what happened? What makes you think you have a right to talk ill of the dead? Your arrogance knows no bounds. Shut up before I forget you’re supposed to be a lady,” he blurted out.

Mrs Roberts looked at him, her eyes open wide and her mouth agape too. Lance folded his napkin, mumbled an apology and stood up, leaving the napkin on the chair as he walked out of the room.

“What was that about? I’d heard such nice things about him from Percy,” Mrs Roberts said. Mary knew the question was not addressed at her and avoided her gaze. After the dessert, they were all invited to the terrace to see the firework display. Mary saw Phil and Ryan walking towards her, but felt curious and rushed to get out of the hall before anybody caught up with her. She walked around the building and finally found Lance sitting on a stone bench, at the back of the house, alone. The floor in that area was covered in tiny stones and the noise of her steps made Lance lift his head.

“Sorry. I didn’t want to disturb you but I wondered if you were OK.”

He smiled, with a sad expression in his big blue eyes. He moved to one end of the bench, making room for her.

“Thanks.”

They sat in silence for a while. Finally, Mary said, “I know this is none of my business, and feel free to tell me to get lost if you want, but…I noticed your reaction to the news of Miles Green’s death the other day, at the firm.”

He slowly lifted his gaze and fixed it on hers.

“I don’t work for Mr Wright, and I have nothing to do with the case, as Fenton refused the assessment. I just couldn’t help but notice and wonder. You seemed more worried about the alleged victim than about your defendant. I’m not going to tell you to trust me because I’m a doctor. I’m just a curious bystander, forever intrigued by human nature.”

He visibly let go, as if crumpling in front of Mary’s eyes. “It’s all…a mess, really. And it’s my mess. You see, Mr Wright has this fantasy in his head about me being a sleek type, a fantastic lawyer and a rough diamond. Well, rough is right. I come from a little town in Minnesota. Don’t ask. Only people within a thirty mile radius even know where it is. My parents worked hard all their lives to give my sister and me a good education. My sister is now a primary school teacher, very happy. And I… I studied hard, and I watched every movie, every TV series, and read every novel with lawyers on it. Successful lawyers. Even before I knew the law, I knew how to play the part. I was only interested in flashy cases, in tagging along with the big names when they were working, and in doing things that would give me the reputation I needed to make it to the top. But I had to do pro-bono work too. I tried my hardest to shift it to the other lawyers and to trainees, but I couldn’t avoid it completely.

“And then, a couple of years ago, I had to represent Miles Green. He’d tried to bring a case against his abusers. He was the first one who dared to speak, although he wasn’t the only victim. Once he had the guts to talk, plenty of others followed suit. He was a very shy and insecure man, despite having been in the army, but he felt better for pursuing it. And then, as the hearing approached, I had a chance to assist in a case that was sure to get media attention and left Green’s case to a very junior colleague who had to take it to court. Not only that, but I accidentally misplaced some of the evidence. If I had been there it wouldn’t have mattered, as I would have realised and sorted it, but my colleague didn’t know, and I hadn’t even briefed him properly.

“The judge threw out the case, due to lack of evidence, and Green’s abusers went free. I never owned up to my mistake, and as a result my junior colleague didn’t finish his placement and quit law. And Green…I’m sure that if his abusers had gone to prison and the pressure and harassment had stopped, he wouldn’t have gone after Fenton, and he would still be alive. The news of his death the other day brought it all back. And then Wright makes me defend that man…”

“You can’t blame yourself for Green’s death. You didn’t kill him.”

“But I’m defending his killer! And it was my fault that his abusers went free!”

“Blaming yourself is not going to help him or his family. Perhaps there might be something practical you can do to help…”

His eyes opened wide and his lips curved slightly. “You’re right. And I know just the thing.”

The noise of the fireworks intensified and he stood up, offering her his hand and pulling her up. He took her arm and directed her towards the terrace at the back of the big hall where everybody was watching the fireworks. Phil and Ryan joined them.

Phil had to speak quite loudly to make himself heard with all the noise around them. “Where were you hiding?”

“I just needed a walk and a bit of fresh-air, and I met Lance at the back of the house.”

“Look at that!” Ryan pointed at a big purple cascade of light illuminating the whole sky, and that was the end of the conversation.

The next morning, while they were having breakfast—a much more informal affair:  people ate whenever they got ready and went downstairs, rather than having a set time, and only the overnight guests attended—Ryan said, “I bumped into Lance this morning. I woke up early and decided to go for a walk, and as I was coming back, Lance was putting his suitcase in the trunk of his car. I asked him what he was doing, leaving so early, and he told me he had to go, that there was something very important he had to do. Ah, and he said to say goodbye to you guys.”

“The big case must have gone to his head,” Phil said.

“I think you might be mistaken,” Mary said.

Phil looked at her and tutted. “I’m disappointed in you, Mary. I would never have thought you’d fall for his performance.”

Mary smiled. “He might surprise you yet.”

In case you need to catch up with the previous chapters, you can do it here:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Rather than give you the description, you can have a look a read and preview it directly from here:

And a few links:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER PAPER

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

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Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings Writing samples

#FREE Chapter 4 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

We’re getting close to the publication. I’m going through the final corrections of the Spanish version now. Today I bring you chapter 4of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings. And don’t miss the ending of the post, as I have a surprise if you want to listen to me on the radio this afternoon (26th January).

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Chapter 4. The Assessment

Mary and Phil arrived at Wright and Partners at eight forty five. Phil formally introduced Mary to Maggie and showed her the kitchen cum staffroom, where the coffee-making facilities were.

“There are always some soft drinks and juice in the fridge too. I know you aren’t overly fond of coffee or tea.”

Mary nodded.

“Will you be OK here? You can wait in Maggie’s office, if you prefer.”

“I’ll be fine. I imagine I’ll get to see more people here.”

“True. If you get bored, just come over. We’ll be in the same meeting room where we interviewed Mr Fenton on Saturday. I’m pretty sure Mr Wright wouldn’t mind, but I’d rather if he suggested it himself. We might be discussing other cases too…”

“Don’t worry. I have my book,” Mary shook her copy of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. She had wondered about taking a different book with her, but she was enjoying the novel, and it seemed fairly appropriate. And she didn’t have long to go. She planned to read The Darkest Night next. She’d count it as research, and she was sure she could add it to the expenses of the case. Of course, that was if they were planning on paying her, which she hadn’t even thought of asking. They didn’t seem to need to make any savings but appearances might be deceptive.

Tania entered the room, wearing a short red dress and even more make-up than on Saturday, or at least that was Mary’s impression. As she didn’t usually wear make-up, she was aware that hers might be a biased opinion.

“Oh, hi! Mary, isn’t it? This must be very weird for you, used to mad people and all that. Although I guess plenty of…what do they call them? Oh, yes, ‘the worried well’ also go and visit psychiatrists, don’t they? If you ask me, they must be a bit nuts if they choose to go and see a psychiatrist. No offence.”

“None taken,” Mary had to bite her lip to not burst out laughing. Phil was right. Tania didn’t strike her as lawyer material.

Tania prepared a tray. “It’s for the morning meeting. Aren’t you coming?”

“No, there’s bound to be confidential stuff discussed that I shouldn’t be party to. I’m here for the assessment.”

“Oh well, as long as nobody tells the clients it should be OK. But, to be honest, these meetings…they can go on and on forever, discussing some silly thing. You’re probably better off here. See you later!”

“Do you need a hand?” Mary went to stand up and help Tania with the heavy tray.

“Oh, no, don’t worry. My mom always says I’m strong as a horse. And my father always corrects her. ‘As a mare, dear, as a mare.’ They’re a funny couple, my parents. Well, I’d better go, before they notice their coffees are missing and start moaning.”

And off she went. Mary chuckled and went back to her book. A few minutes later she felt as if somebody was watching her. When she looked up she found a young man, at least four or five years younger than Phil and her, standing next to the sink, looking at her. He was wearing a beautiful grey suit, a very fine turtleneck jumper of darker grey, and black leather shoes that screamed hand-made. He was tall, seemed very athletic, and had a beautiful face, like a Greek sculpture. Perfect profile and deep blue eyes. Blond wavy hair. He smiled and, as Mary expected, his smile was also perfect. The best money could buy, no doubt.

“You must be Mary,” he said, reaching her in a couple of long strides and extending his arm. He had a firm handshake. “Maggie told me you came on Saturday and were present at the interview with Mr Fenton. I couldn’t be here. Family matters. I’m Lance Mayfield.”

“Yes, I imagined that.”

He nodded. “And I understand you’re going to assess Mr Fenton to rule out any mental health problems. Your insight will be very useful, I’m sure.”

“Thanks. I might not be able to clarify matters much, but considering the circumstances of the case, it should be interesting.”

“No doubt. Unfortunately the victim is in no fit state to be assessed now, but perhaps he should have been a long time ago and this unfortunate incident would have been avoided. It’s a shame that nobody intervened, or at least not in a constructive way, before things got to that point…” Lance went quiet, as if deep in thought. After a few seconds he jolted and smiled, back from wherever his mind had taken him. “So, you like to read… I used to read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, but these days I don’t have much time. The last book I read was, well, The Darkest Night. For research purposes. It’s not my usual type of book, but it’s quite good. And very realistic and detailed.”

“I was thinking of reading it next. It might help give me a better picture of Mr Fenton.”

“They say all authors write themselves into their books, consciously or unconsciously,” Lance said, nodding.

“I’ve read the same,” Mary added.

“Is Phil being a good host? I’m still discovering the city myself. I’m a newcomer. But if you’d like to see something or go exploring, I’d love to keep you company.” He flashed his winning smile again. And now that he was closer, Mary noticed he had dimples. Of course—he would, wouldn’t he?

“Thanks. You’re very kind. Aren’t you going to miss the meeting?”

“Oh, I had a meeting elsewhere this morning. Don’t tell anybody, but Mr Wright is interested in expanding and sent me to talk to one of my connections, Mr Timmins, who runs his own firm, mostly to do with property and finances. He wants to arrange a meeting and see if he could convince him to bring his firm in, but thought it would be better to test the waters first.”

Mary looked up at him. She didn’t know if all his friendliness and sharing of information was for her benefit, or if this was how he was with everybody. She didn’t know why, but another scene of House of Games came to her mind. The one where Mike (played by Joe Mantegna) is telling Margaret (the psychiatrist, Lindsay Crouse) the basics of the confidence game. He explains that the conman makes it work by taking the victim (or ‘mark’) into his or her confidence. Perhaps she was too cynical about lawyers, but couldn’t help but think that Lance was very smooth, and she understood well why Phil wasn’t terribly fond of the firm’s new acquisition.

Mary smiled. “Did it go well, then?”

“Oh, he was very receptive. I’m sure if the offer is good enough he’ll be more than happy to join Mr Wright’s firm. It must be nice to be your own boss, but having the support of a big firm can be handy if things don’t go according to plan.” He went quiet and seemed to be lost in his own reveries again.

Mary looked at him, wondering. He didn’t look as if anything had ever not gone according to his plans. But perhaps he was a very good actor. “Yes. It’s quite risky to have to shoulder all the responsibility.”

Lance shook his head and smiled again. “I should be getting back to my office. But don’t forget to think about what I told you. I’d love to go exploring with you. I’m sure we’d make a winning team. A psychiatrist and a lawyer!”

He left the room and Mary thought she had enough with one lawyer in her life. And she suspected that Phil was of the same opinion with regards to psychiatrists.

She went back to her book and a while later, when she had just finished reading the last sentence, as if perfectly timed, somebody coughed, trying to get her attention. She looked up. “Mr Fenton.”

“Hi. Mary Miller, isn’t it? Doctor…Mary Miller.” Although Mary wasn’t surprised, Fenton must have thought she was, because he added, “There wasn’t anybody at the desk in reception when I left on Saturday. I just checked the registry.”

Mary found it a bit odd. “Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that was the first time you’d come to the offices of Wright and Partners. I assume the other people must have been introduced to you before we arrived but…”

“You assume wrong. Mr Wright introduced himself and told me it was a preliminary meeting, as there had been no decision made yet as to who would take on my case. He said we were waiting for some more members of the team. And then he went back to check his notes.”

Mary looked at him, expectant.

“You see? I’m an author. And I love the research part of things. I had checked out all the information I could find about the firm and its staff. And you were nowhere to be found. That’s why I had to check. Then I understood why you took such a stance when I made a comment about the actions of people—”

“…suffering from a mental illness,” she finished.

He stared at her for a few seconds and finally dropped his gaze. He sighed and looked up again. “What’s the idea, then? That we go over the details of all the incidents with Mr Green so you can come up with a likely diagnosis of what was wrong with him? How is that going to help?”

Mary couldn’t lie. Even if the firm was the one requesting her services, to her, the ‘client’ was Fenton, and lying to your client is hardly the best way to enter a therapeutic, or at least a diagnostic, relationship. “No. That’s not it at all. They thought it would be a good idea if I assessed you. Of course, you’d need to be in agreement.”

His eyes opened wide, to the point where his eyelids seemed to have retracted into the eye sockets. “Assess me? Why? Do they think I’m mad?” he asked, raising his voice.

She shook her head. “Perhaps we should talk about this somewhere else. It’s not very private.”

He nodded and left the room. He came back a few minutes later and stopped right in front of her. She looked up at him.

“I went to talk to Maggie. She showed me to a small reception area. She assured me it would be empty. We can go there.”

“It might be better to wait until Mr Wright and his team finish the meeting.”

Fenton tried to laugh but it sounded like a bark. “Lawyers are a necessary evil. From that to trusting their explanations… They’re handy for dazzling the other party, but if we’re going to be talking about a psychiatric assessment, I think a psychiatrist is the right interlocutor.”

Mary shrugged, giving up. Either he would agree to the assessment or not, but it would be an interesting exercise in getting to understand how his mind and his emotions worked, although he appeared very calm. She stood up and followed the author to a small room with four easy chairs, a small coffee table and some magazines. Opposite the door, where a window would normally have been, there was a rather large aquarium. The blue light coming off it seemed to hypnotise them for a little while. Eventually Fenton pointed at one of the sofas, and once Mary had sat on it, he took a seat on the sofa opposite. Mary realised the writer liked to be in charge and was trying to manipulate the ‘characters’ and the ‘setting’ as he would in one of his novels.

“So…why assess me?” His tiny grey eyes were piercing hers.

When talking to patients who were unwell or fragile, Mary tried hard not to upset them by being too direct or bringing up subjects likely to disturb them before she’d got to know them well; but there was nothing like that in the writer’s case. Blunt might be the way to go. After all, he was a professional author, and she was unlikely to be more adept with words than he was. “The violence you used seems quite extreme. When your neighbours found you, they had to physically prevent you from carrying on hitting him when he was already unconscious on the floor.”

“He was inside my building! He’d stop at nothing!”

“Mr Fenton—”

“Call me Oliver.” His tone had gone back to normal in a fraction of a second, as if he had an on-off switch. Very peculiar. Mary nodded. “You must understand, Mary… Can I call you Mary?” He looked at her and she nodded again. “This wasn’t an isolated incident. Yes, from the moment my book became a bestseller and it appeared everywhere, all kinds of people have been pestering me. Readers who want some memento, or an autograph, groupies who will follow the latest thing—whatever it might be—others who hope to steal a bit of the limelight by getting close to someone known, paparazzi, reporters… But they normally got tired or stopped when they’d achieved whatever they were looking for. But this man, no. He had neither rhyme nor reason. The others didn’t frighten me. One expects such individuals. But not somebody like him.”

He didn’t appear frightened, but Mary nodded.

“When I got downstairs to leave the building…”

“Sorry. Before we get to that—”

“Don’t tell me you’re going to ask me about my parents and my childhood and all that nonsense? Come on! Well, if you must know, my mother was an elementary school teacher for many years, and now she’s the headmistress. It’s a Catholic school, St Mary’s, but no, I’m not religious, and I wasn’t brought up a Catholic. And my father runs a car dealership. General Motors. I have an older brother, Tom, who customises cars, and a younger sister, Ellie, who’s studying to be a teacher. No abuse in the family, neither sexual nor physical, no substance abuse, no domestic violence, no divorce, no suicide. I enrolled in and dropped out of several degrees: Architecture, Philosophy, Law. I started writing articles for the student newspaper at college, and then carried on writing features for the local newspaper. And the stories got longer and longer. And my sex life is perfectly fine,” he concluded, with a gasp when he finally stopped to breathe.

“Thanks for all that, although it’s not what I was going to ask you. Yes, it would form part of a full assessment, but you haven’t agreed to it yet. No, what I was going to ask you was if you could tell me exactly what Mr Green had done before that worried you so much. How long ago was your book published?”

“Eight…no, nine months. It came out on a Monday but there had been a fair amount of interest already. My agent and the publishing company had managed to get some pretty important writers and reviewers to read the book and publish their reviews within the first week of launch. There was a lot of speculation about how much of a change had been made to the location and the circumstances. You must have heard about the accusations and the allegations about the clergy and the sexual abuse of youths in some places. Yes, people wondered. They asked me for a few interviews… The New York Times, ABC, Sky News. Oprah chose The Darkest Night as the September book for her book club. And that pushed it to the top. Everybody was talking about it. And that’s when it started.”

“So, Mr Green appeared for the first time in September, then.”

“Well, no, not exactly. That’s when my life changed completely. My agent sold the rights to make a movie. It’s all being kept very hush-hush, but big names are interested. And he also sold the rights to the serialisation of the novel to a chain of newspapers, country-wide. My life spiralled out of control. I was about to take my exam to become an accountant, but it no longer seemed necessary.

“I moved to a new apartment and a big book tour was organised. I visited all the big cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Miami… Universities requested me as a speaker; several charities wanted me as their figurehead… It was mid-January when Mr Green appeared for the first time in my life.”

Mary calculated. That meant it had been around four months ago, but under three months of persecution, if one took into account when the incident had taken place. Not that long a period of time, but it could feel very long if one was the victim of persecution and harassment.

“At first he didn’t seem dangerous. He just started appearing at all the bookshops, libraries, wherever I was going to give a talk. He always sat on the first row but never asked any questions. Mike, my agent, was the first one to notice him. He thought it was peculiar. It didn’t matter how far we travelled, he’d be there. But just there. Sitting and listening. Sometimes he’d take some notes. But I had no idea what for, as reporters always tried to get one on one interviews and would talk to Mike. He simply sat with the public. I joked that perhaps he was a writer trying to learn something. He seemed so intent.”

The author stopped and fixed his eyes on the aquarium. “What a strange existence, don’t you think? Living your whole life inside a box, at the mercy of a puny human being and his or her whims. When they turn on the light it’s day. If they switch it off, it’s night again. For them, it’s probably a whole universe and we’re their god.”

“Probably. What happened next?”

He sighed. “This is tedious. I’ve explained it millions of times. One day, after he’d been coming to the events for several weeks, out of the blue, he came to me with a book for signing. When he was in front of me, he threatened me. And from that moment on, he kept doing the same, everywhere I went. We banned him and warned the security guards not to let him in, but he wouldn’t stop. He wore disguises; he would sneak in through the back door…”

“What exactly was the nature of his threats? Did he threaten violence?”

“I’ve told the same story many times. I’m sure it’s written down somewhere in the file. But, anyway…he told me he knew my ‘secret’ and he would ‘ruin’ me. Mike can bear witness to it. I think he has. He was next to me.”

“What secret? Did you have any idea what he was talking about?”

“At that point, no. Of course not. I have no secrets, at least nothing that could ruin me or be of any interest to anybody else. Later on, he told me that he knew I had used his story without his permission and I had no right to do that. I told him I had no idea who he was but he insisted. He wouldn’t leave. I had to call security and they had to drag him out, kicking and screaming. Actually kicking and screaming. But that didn’t stop him and he kept coming back. We tried the usual, even an injunction, but nothing seemed to deter him. And things escalated. He started shouting, threatening me, telling me he would talk to the media and reveal how I had exploited his life for my benefit. All complete madness. I’d never seen that man before.”

“Did he ever mention how he thought you had got hold of it?”

“He mentioned something about ‘bastards’ selling the story. He’d go into a rant every time he started talking about that. The only words I could make out were ‘therapist’, ‘school’ and ‘police’. My assumption is that he thought somebody he must have told the story to, some professional, must have spoken to me. But I’ve never given any details about how I got hold of the story. He doesn’t even look like the man in question!”

“What makes him think it’s his story then?”

“You’re asking the wrong person. I have no idea. I guess it’s possible that more than one person has gone through similar experiences.”

“And you said you made some changes to ensure that the real person would not be identifiable.”

“Yes. It’s all nonsense. Of course it’s not him. He’s a lunatic. Or mentally disturbed, whatever is the correct way to catalogue him.”

“Perhaps some of the details were the same.”

“Perhaps. But I can’t help that and it’s not my fault. I wasn’t the abuser. And I didn’t write about him. Or about…” He stopped suddenly, as if he had said too much, looked down and then, after a few seconds, fixed his eyes on Mary. “As you can see, this is nothing to do with me. It would be a waste of your time—and mine—to proceed with a full assessment. I sleep well, I eat like a horse, my mood is fine, other than the stress due to the case. I have never heard voices—”

“Not even your characters?” Mary asked.

He chuckled. “I am perfectly capable of distinguishing my imagination and my creativity from somebody or something trying to control my brain or talk to me. No. I have no strange ideas, unless you consider self-defence and wanting to survive and live another day a strange idea.”

Mary seemed to have hit a wall. There were many other things she would have liked to ask, and some things she wasn’t very convinced of in Fenton’s account, but she didn’t believe she could justify pursuing that course of action. The writer was looking at her with a placid expression, convinced that he had won. As Mary opened her mouth to say something, although she wasn’t sure of what, the door opened, giving her a reprieve. Mr Wright’s head peered in. “So here you are. Maggie told me you wanted somewhere private to talk. Could you come with me? I have something I must communicate to everybody involved in the case.”

Fenton stood up, while Mary just looked on. She wasn’t really involved in the case, especially now that the writer had made quite clear what his opinion of the possible psychiatric assessment was. But Mr Wright didn’t know anything about it and gestured for her to follow him, impatient. Mary was convinced that Mr Wright wasn’t accustomed to being kept waiting. Ever. She stood up and followed the two men. She speeded up, managing to get by Mr Wright’s side. “Mr Wright—”

“Call me Percy. After all, you aren’t one of my employees.”

“Thank you. Percy…Mr Fenton isn’t keen on the assessment—”

“That’s of no consequence at the moment. Just go to the meeting room. I’ll go and find Lance.”

Mary stood in the middle of the corridor, wondering what was happening. She saw Phil by the meeting room door and walked towards him. “What’s going on? I was talking to the writer, who, by the way, is less than keen on having an assessment of his mental state, when Percy turned up and said he had something to ‘communicate’. Do you have any idea what all this is about?”

Phil shrugged. “None. We were just going through the cases in the meeting, like every morning, when Maggie knocked at the door, came in and whispered something in his ear. And then he stood up, told us we could leave and should meet him there again in fifteen minutes, and left. It’s the first time something like that has happened since I’ve been here. And from the expression in everyone else’s faces, it’s the first time for them too.

“You see, according to Percy Wright, these morning meetings are the key to the firm’s success and they are sacred. They can’t be disturbed or interrupted. So whatever is going on must be pretty big.”

Mr Wright arrived, followed by Lance Mayfield, who flashed a smile in Mary’s direction before following the boss. Phil and Mary went in too. Steve, Tania, Ryan and the client were already siting inside.

“Shall I go to call Maggie?” Steve asked, half-rising from his chair.

“No, no. That won’t be necessary. She has quite a few things to deal with, and she’s aware of what we’re going to discuss.”

In the silence that followed, they all looked at each other. Mary noted Mr Wright’s use of pause for dramatic effect. Perhaps it was true that being a good actor could be very helpful in a career as a lawyer.

“Sorry for having to interrupt the meeting like that, but I had some very grave news that I had to check… No, don’t worry; it’s not about me or my family. Nothing like that. It’s about the case. That’s why Mr Fenton is here too. In the early hours of the morning, the victim of the case, Miles Green, passed away.”

There was a collective gasp. Mary looked at the writer, but other than opening his tiny eyes slightly, he showed no other outward evidence of any emotion. As she turned to look at Phil, something caught her eye. She noticed Lance’s hand right was shaking uncontrollably as he tried to grab the glass of water in front of him, to the point that he gave up and hid both his hands under the table. She looked at his face. He looked so pale and gaunt that Mary wondered if he was physically ill and worried that he might collapse.

“Do they know what happened?” Steve asked.

“They aren’t a hundred per cent sure but suspect a brain haemorrhage, most likely as a consequence of the…alleged assault,” Mr Wright said.

“And now?” Steve asked.

“Now? Well, I guess they’ll change the charges. Perhaps you should reconsider that assessment, Mr Fenton—Oliver,” Mr Wright said, turning to look at the author.

“I can’t see why the fact that the hospital didn’t know how to look after Mr Green should mean that I have to undergo a psychiatric assessment. Do you think there’s anything wrong with me?” Mr Fenton asked, turning to look at Mary.

She sighed and looked straight at the writer, although she could feel everybody’s eyes on her. Then she looked at Mr Wright. He nodded in the author’s direction. “It’s evident he doesn’t think there’s any point in doing an assessment, and I know that without his cooperation there isn’t much you can do. But honestly, what do you think?”

“I can’t say I’ve had a chance to conduct a detailed interview, and I have had no access to any medical records or anybody else’s corroborative information, but from what Mr Fenton has told me and what I had observed, no, I wouldn’t say there’s any evidence that he is mentally ill or disturbed to the point of not being aware of the consequences of his actions. But my examination isn’t thorough enough to stand up in court—or anywhere else, for that matter. It’s more of an educated opinion than anything else.”

The writer nodded.

Mr Wright said, “It’s good enough for me. I think we have many other things to worry about and quite a different trial to prepare for, now. Mr Fenton, if you are in agreement, I’d like Mr Mayfield—Lance—to be in charge of the case. He’ll have plenty of support from the team, and I’ll personally supervise him, and officially the case will be listed under my name. You shouldn’t let his young age worry you. I trust him implicitly.”

Mary looked at Lance. He had fixed his eyes on the white piece of paper in front of him and his hands remained out of sight. He finally stood up, slowly, and extended his arm towards the writer. The lawyer seemed to have managed to get his emotions under control; other than being slightly pale, he appeared as sleek as usual. Fenton stood up and shook his hand.

“Well, I guess that will be all. Let’s get to work. If you have any ideas on how to formulate the case, do share with Lance or me. And I hope we can count on you all if we need an extra hand.”

Everybody nodded and stood up. As Mary followed Phil towards the door, Mr Wright put his hand on her shoulder. “Sorry about that. I’m sure it would have been helpful to have a full assessment, but there’s nothing we can do at this point.” He looked at the door and, once he saw Fenton was out of hearing, he added, “He’s very stubborn. But I guess that’s not a mental illness. You’ll be compensated anyway. And hopefully we will have occasion to cooperate more fully in the future.”

“Thanks, Percy. And don’t worry. There’s no need for compensation. I didn’t really do anything.” Mary didn’t know why, but she decided she didn’t want to be in Mr Wright’s debt. She followed Phil to his office and closed the door behind her.

“I knew he’d give the case to Lance. Teacher’s pet. Oh well, perhaps it’s better that way. I can’t say I feel very positively disposed towards Oliver Fenton.”

“How is that? I thought everybody deserved a defence.”

Phil sighed, dropping on his chair. “Yes, of course. But it’s always helpful if you believe your client and they are vaguely likeable. And I can say, with hand on heart, that I find him neither believable nor likeable.”

Mary nodded. “Yes. I agree with you on both counts.”

“Did he say anything of interest to you?”

“Nothing I could put my finger on, but there are things that don’t seem to fit. No, it’s officially none of my business. But I still intend to read his book… Mr Green’s death is very sad. And we never got to hear his side of the story, not independently, anyway.”

“That’s true.” We were quiet for a few seconds. Finally, Phil said, “Do you have any plans, or do you want to stay around and we can go for lunch later?”

Mary checked her watch. “No, thanks. It’s too early. I had a long list of things I wanted to do, and places I wanted to visit, and I had put them on the back burner because of this, but now I’ll have time. I have museums to visit, and I want to wander around the park again, take the ferry and go to Long Island… And if you fancy, I’ll try to get half-price tickets and we can go to watch another show later in the week.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“See you later.” Mary left the firm and set off on her adventures in the Big Apple.

If you want to catch up with the three previous chapters, here are the links:

Chapter 1 

Chapter 2 

Chapter 3 
If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave a few more details and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER PAPER

And if you want to get a taster of the book, you can check here:

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK! 

Ah, and I wanted to share the post I did for Lit World Interviews yesterday as I explain that I’m doing my own programme in Penistone FM this afternoon (26th January form 5 to 8 pm, GTM) just in case you can join me. All Welcome!

http://wp.me/p4XFVw-1ge

 

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Guest author post

Guest author Gem Thomas talks about himself and his novels

Illustrations de The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,...
Illustrations de The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi all: I’m Olga and as I’ve been promising you I’m going to be bringing you authors as guests to my blog once a week. I am leaving them tell you in their own words what they think any readers would like to know.

My first guest is Gem Thomas, who is indeed a Gem and real character. See what you think and support his work! I for one I’m fascinated by his new project!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is GEM. And I am a writer and can firmly state that my recent work is above all the rest in the UK and US.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?

Live it up. Have fun.

3. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?  

I first started writing when I was a child. I created all types of fiction. Action stories were my favorite. All the time, superheroes would be fighting villains in my stories. I recall writing what is now called fan fiction. At the time, I did not know of this genre. It was my story about another boy who floated down the Mississippi river, next to Tom Sawyer. I stopped writing so much in high school. By college, I was too busy to write fiction. After college, I finished my first novel in September of 2010.

4.How did you choose the genre you write in?

I cover many genres and plan on moving into more, once I am clear of my newest novel. The Strong Roads Series are historical-fiction works. I went to Hawaii right after college to learn more about myself. While in the local library, quite early in my adventure, I learned about an amazing tale of the Spanish being in Hawaii centuries before Captain Cook. I was immediately intrigued. I always enjoyed learning about world history so, I was able to turn this legend into a narrative. I am excited to say I am the first person to have done this.

5. Do you want to talk about your newest work?

My newest novel is titled Strong Roads: Blues and Greens and Blood. It is the continued story of the main character in sixteenth-century Hawaii. What interests so many people, I think, is the potential of it being a true story. My main character is made a high chief by the aristocracy and he falls in love with an even higher-classed woman. Their relationship breaks social norms. Then, war erupts in the Island and their lives are forever changed. I combined ingredients from literary classics and am pleased to share it with everyone. But, what I am doing different is releasing it in a digital format. Readers will be able to tap a character’s name and hear how it is pronounced in the ‘native’ tongue of Ancient Hawaii. This is only possible, because of modern technology. Everyone will enjoy the story and love the interactive medium it is told in.

6. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Yes. I have a crowdfunding campaign. I am raising money for advertisements associated with the release of Strong Roads: Blues and Greens and Bloods. Indiegogo.com is hosting the project and allows for international contributors, which is perfect because my story is able to be enjoyed in the international scene, especially throughout Spanish-speaking countries. There are plenty of rewards for everyone that donates to my crowdfunding project. www.gemthomas.com has information.

Thanks!

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Just a reminder of the details of my own book:

The link to The Man Who Never Was is:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TWRT22

You can access the book trailer for The Man in my author’s page in Amazon, or directly in U-tube but if you wish to use links, please use the one above:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/qvUitFG2D20

Next Friday, author Simon Jenner will be my guest. I can’t wait!

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