In this series, we invite our Crime Cymru authors to showcase an excerpt from one of their books. This week, Sally Spedding gives us a taste of the thrilling opening to the fourth book in her Delphine Rougier series, set in France’s Ariège department.
‘La min i sém. Lo zyé i ramas.’
(‘The hand sows the seed, the eye reaps the corn.’)
It’s summer, and holidays are in full swing. Yet in France’s spectacular and historic Ariège department, terror still lurks amongst its beauty. Where a shocking secret concerning young French citizens from Réunion, its distant colony – ostensibly sent several decades ago to help re-populate that and other parts of France – waits to be uncovered.
Little did those innocent victims realise their intended fate. Too many years later, on Monday 9th August 2010, after one of them, Maurice Doucet, now aged forty-one, employed by a boulangerie in La Chapelle-de-la-Sarthe to deliver early morning baguettes to its customers, is deliberately killed while cycling through a deliberately treacherous oil spillage, does other wickedness comes to light.
Will newly-promoted 27 year-old Delphine Rougier and fellow Lieutenant Alonso Diaz, navigating his way through a tricky relationship with his fiancée, together with their boss Colonel Serge Valon with whom she’d enjoyed a more than close friendship, uncover this toxic nest of vipers? Or will more personal matters take their toll?
Read and be chilled…
Monday 9th August 2010. 08:00 hrs.
The busy cyclist smells danger before he sees it, but still turns sharply into the Allée de la Résistance on the first of his special errands, where too late, a black pool of diesel fuel lies smeared across the rutted lane. It chokes his nose, his throat, his lungs, while that early sun’s vicious brightness between the overgrown plane trees, blinds his eyes.
His bicycle’s lightweight front wheel suddenly slides from right to left out of control, causing his special bag containing a baguette about to be delivered, to slip from the handlebars. Struggling to keep his balance, he feels a sudden, hard knock from behind toppling him from his saddle to be mown down and crushed like so much scrap. His muted screams from a mouth filled with oil, fall on deaf ears.
“Got you, vermin!” yells a shrill, mad voice while someone else whose face is also partly hidden, drags him upwards into a different darkness, cursing his slippery weight.
“Merde!” he shouts before slamming the rear doors shut, and that vehicle’s screaming revs bear his killers away as a vivid, sunlit bay of pure, white sand segues into the cyclist’s fading view. The sun rising over the Indian Ocean, highlights two people he still loves from too long ago. His parents, dead for ten years, whose old, warm hands never again held his…
The victim’s throat closes on the choking oil. All breath gone. His pulse slows then stops, but not before the sudden sting of steel against his neck, while in the leaf-laden branches overhead, once the van is gone from view, a gang of quivering, greedy crows swoop downwards for rich pickings.
To discover more of Sally’s books, follow the link here to her Amazon page.
While you’re here, don’t forget the amazing new Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, Wales’ first ever international crime fiction festival, which will be making its home in Aberystwyth in spring 2022. And if you can’t wait until then, we’re staging a ‘taster’ festival online this year, completely free, from 26 April to 2 May 2021. To find out more, just join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @GwylCrimeCymruFestival and @CrimeCymru.