Two important steps:
First, both “The Cosy Knave” and “The Charity Shop” do amazingly well in the USA. My knave has been on the Kindle top 10,000 a couple of times lately, and I don´t think that is so bad for a debut. And I can see that several customers choose to buy them both.
Second, I have finished a very rough draft of “Anna Märklin´s Family Chronicles”. There is a long way to go, but I hope to be able to publish it around September, probably under a new and shorter title. It is a traditional Scandinavian mystery. Darker and more serious than my Knavesborough universe, but not exactly hard-boiled or fast-paced.
If a couple of you want to assist me by beta-reading it, I would be very grateful.
Prologue – July 2007.
It was already mid afternoon. Anna fed the washing machine and the tumble dryer again and made up her mind that if she folded her creased canvas trousers very carefully, they would look much better when she fished them out of her bag at her mother´s. A fly in a bottle was what she was. Her waistband told her she had already lost a kilo or two this month, but with everything the way it was, she wasn´t even able to enjoy it. She checked the kitchen wall clock for the umpteenth time within a few minutes. Should she wait until Lars came home so she could cross-examine him about when he had last seen or heard their neighbour? No, she´d rather not. He didn´t like being involved in that kind of thing.
Out in the hall she fumbled for Karin´s spare key. It had its place on one of the last pegs of the coat rack. She had to remove most of their coats before she was able to dig it out because she had been so certain it was hiding behind her grey raincoat. She used to leave the key there, and she had a clear image of her hand with the coat, and the key dangling back and forth against the rack. But she must be mistaken. She put it on the palm of her hand and studied the small metal object while she considered if you were allowed to lock yourself into your neighbour´s flat if you didn´t have some sort of agreement. Was it even legal?
Without a sound she locked herself out of her own flat. She´d better forget all about her mindless excuses; she had to do this. As Karin´s parents didn´t intend to do anything, Anna could not report her neighbour missing without any reasonable grounds. She tapped on Karin´s door a couple of times. She didn´t want their downstairs neighbours to hear her, but it would be too embarrassing to unlock the door and stand there, face to face with a wondering Karin.
No answer. It was as quiet in the flat as on the landing outside. She stuck the key in the hole and turned it around as if she were practicing for the regional championship of burglary. Without considering why, she left the doors wide open behind her while she penetrated Karin´s property.
The living room was nice and tidy apart from the dull sheen of dust and the withering wisps on the windowsill. It was too late to save Karin´s lush pot plants.
The room was a mirror image of Lars and Anna´s living room, and she knew each and every piece of furniture and ornament almost as well as she knew their own stuff. Apart from the huge sofa, Karin´s things were not expensive as she had never been able to hold on to money, but she kept her flat in meticulous order and had a certain style though it did not necessarily coincide with Anna´s taste.
Anna sneaked towards the kitchen step by step, hardly breathing. Karin´s kitchen was much simpler than the living room, functional and without trimmings or knick-knacks; this was just intended as a place where you could produce food. She had planed the floorboards just like in Anna´s kitchen, but she had never got beyond that, she had not even thrown out the ancient terrazzo worktop with the three loose gas jets in cast iron. Karin did not invite guests into her kitchen so it hardly mattered what the room looked like.
Anna kept her eyes on Karin´s spice rack. It hung precisely at her eye level which meant around one hundred and sixty centimetres above the floor. Tiny glass cylinders with basil, cardamom, curry, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, thyme, all written in flourishing letters. If you discounted the tall salt and pepper mills in beech wood, Karin´s modest collection of spices were lined up in alphabetical order with uniform army green forage cap screw tops. Anna didn´t know how long she had been breathing through her mouth. She forced herself not to look at the floor.
How on earth could it have come to this? Her brain could not fathom what was down there.
Basil, dill, marjoram, oregano… Anna had to rest her hand on the cold worktop for a moment until her feet understood that she wanted them to turn around and dart out of the flat. Now she had every reason to call the police, but she couldn´t do it in here. Thank God that at least there had been no blood!