Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Burnout by Claire MacLeary and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all!
About the author:
Claire MacLeary lived in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Fife, before returning to her native Glasgow. She describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies.
About the book:
“My husband is trying to kill me.” A new client gets straight to the point, and this line of enquiry is a whole new ball game for Maggie Laird, who is desperately trying to rebuild her late husband’s detective agency and clear his name. Her partner, “Big” Wilma, sees the case as a non-starter, but Maggie is drawn in.
With her client’s life on the line, Maggie must get to the ugly truth that lies behind Aberdeen’s closed doors. But who knows what really goes on between husbands and wives? And will the agency’s reputation – and Maggie and Wilma’s friendship – remain intact?
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Burnout, by Claire MacLeary
The woman leaned in. ‘I’ll get straight to the point. I think my husband is trying to kill me.’
Wow! Maggie jolted upright. That’s a first!
She struggled to maintain eye contact whilst her mind worked overtime. If their initial telephone conversation was anything to go by, this Mrs Struthers promised to be a profitable new client for the agency. But a threat on her life? That was a whole new ball game.
Maggie re-lived the dressing-down she’d had from DI Chisolm earlier that year when she got herself involved in an active murder investigation. What on earth was she going to do now?
Maggie took another squint at Sheena Struthers. Small-boned. Short hair. Good skin. Not much make-up. Pretty in an old-fashioned sort of way. And ages with herself, she reckoned, or thereabouts. In short, the realisation hit home, like Maggie in another life.
Poor woman looked a bag of nerves: eyes staring, fingers picking relentlessly at her cuticles. Almost as fraught as Maggie had been when she’d first picked up the reins of her husband’s private investigation business. Still, the woman would be frightened, wouldn’t she, if someone really was trying to top her?
‘That’s a very serious allegation, Mrs Struthers,’ Maggie continued.
‘Sheena, please.’ The woman opposite pushed her cappuccino to one side.
They’d met in Patisserie Valerie in Union Square. Maggie had passed it often enough but never been inside. In her straitened position, she couldn’t afford to stump up nearly three pounds for a cup of something and the same again for a pastry. But the easy parking suited both her and her prospective client, and the cafe was low-key, more private than Costa Coffee or Starbucks.
‘Sheena.’ Maggie started to smile, then, remembering the subject matter, hastily rearranged her face. ‘On what grounds, might I ask, is this allegation based?’
Lord, would you listen to yourself? Since becoming a PI, Maggie had schooled herself to think like a detective. Now she was beginning to talk like one.
‘Just a feeling, really. It’s hard to explain, but…’
‘It’s this time of year.’ She cut the woman off mid-flow. ‘The run-up to Christmas puts a strain on the most solid of marriages.’ What she wouldn’t give, now, to have a man at her side, strain or no.
‘You’re so wrong.’ Sheena Struthers looked her straight in the eye. ‘I’ve done my homework, Mrs Laird. Looked into other agencies, in Aberdeen and further afield. For one thing they’re much too big. You’ll appreciate that in my situation…’ She cast a furtive glance around the cafe. ‘Discretion is paramount. With companies that size, one can never be sure.’
‘But the police,’ Maggie interjected. ‘Shouldn’t you…?’
‘My dear…’ Keen brown eyes gazed into Maggie’s own. ‘One gets the impression they’re stretched enough, don’t you agree?’
Maggie offered a non-committal, ‘Mmm.’
‘And besides,’ Mrs Struthers insisted, ‘you must realise that any police involvement could endanger my marriage.’
For the second time that afternoon Maggie was caught on the back foot. Make your mind up, woman: your marriage or your life? ‘Oh, yes,’ she murmured, ‘I see what you mean,’ though she was at a loss to follow this line of reasoning.
‘Nor could I take the matter to a solicitor,’ Sheena Struthers continued. She leaned in close, dropped her voice. ‘My husband is an accountant, you see. Moves in rather a closed circle. And Aberdeen, it’s small enough, still. Word gets around,’ she looked to Maggie for reassurance. ‘Doesn’t it?’
‘It certainly does.’ Maggie buried her nose in her cup. She knew only too well what the woman was alluding to. The police were as much a closed circle as any other professional body.
‘From what I’ve heard, you are a person of some integrity. And operate outwith,’ she raised a questioning eyebrow, ‘what one might loosely call “the establishment”. In short, Mrs Laird, your firm seems the perfect fit.’
Oh, to Hell! Maggie had intended to bring the meeting to a close. Now she’d let this Struthers woman take control. She straightened in her seat. ‘It’s kind of you to say so, but I really don’t think I’m the right person.’
‘You will help me, won’t you?’ Sheena reached across the table, clutched at her arm. ‘Please?’
Burnout, by Claire MacLeary is published by Contraband. Available as an ebook from 8 March, price £5.99. Available in print from 29 March, price £8.99.
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