By Stevyn Colgan
Two aristocrats. One fortune. A geriatric circus. A tale of greed, deceit and incontinent elephants.
Publication date: August 2021Buy
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Benelli’s Circus is on its last legs. The performers are geriatric, bookings are scarce and the owner, Benjamin Ellis, desperately wants to sell up and retire. However, thanks to a legal loophole, he can’t do so without his performers’ consent. And they won’t give it because the circus is all they’ve ever known.
Meanwhile, Berkeley Cockering, the Viscount Morbridge, is similarly frustrated. Despite being joint owner of a village, a brewery and several farms, he cannot sell a single property and realise his fortune without the agreement of his older sister. And she would rather die first.
Lady Marcheline Cockering is proud of her family’s long history but feels justifiably aggrieved that her greedy younger brother has inherited the title. To add to her frustration, Berkeley has no interest in tradition or duty and resolutely refuses to settle down and produce an heir. So when he suffers a heart attack, Marcheline decides that it’s up to her to save the family name. She must have a son and she sets out on a quest to find a suitable father.
However, Berkeley’s near-death experience has galvanised him into action. He will get his inheritance by any means necessary and he embroils Ellis and his tottering, threadbare circus in a wicked plot to foil his sister’s plans. If all goes well, he’ll get his hands on his inheritance and Ellis will be rid of the millstone that is his circus. However, their actions soon attract the attention of disgraced former Detective Inspector Brian Blount who sees one last chance for redemption ...
First came A Murder To Die For. Then The Diabolical Club. And now, Stevyn Colgan serves us up a third dose of savagery and slapstick among the green fields and picturesque villages of South Herewardshire.
Clowns were harmed in the making of this book.
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Stevyn Colgan is the author of nine books, a former police officer and oddly spelled Cornishman. And, for more than a decade, he was one of the ‘elves’ that research and write the multi award-winning TV series QI and he was part of the writing team that won the Rose D’Or for BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity. He is a popular speaker at UK and international events such as TED, QEDcon, the Ig Nobel Prizes, Latitude, the Hay Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe and many more. He has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows including Freakonomics, Saturday Live, Do The Right Thing, Ex Libris, No Such Thing As A Fish, Eat Sleep Work Repeat and Josie Long’s Short Cuts. He is the co-host of the We’d Like A Word podcast and his first novel, A Murder to Die for was nominated for two awards.
Berkeley woke up with a thumping headache and pins and needles in his left arm. He felt as if someone had pushed him through a combine harvester.
His alarm clock told him that it was near 2.30am. What time had he passed out? His argument with Marcheline had been at around 10pm so he couldn’t have slept for more than three or four hours. The decanter, which he knew had been three quarters full, was empty. And, more worryingly, he couldn't move his left arm. Panic gripped him. Was this the prelude to another heart attack? He rolled over onto his side and found that someone was in his bed and lying on his arm. That was why he had pins and needles. But who could it be? And how had they got into his bed? As far as he was aware only he and Marcheline had been in the house and it was hardly likely to be his sister. The only other person who had keys was Mrs Shandcreek and for one awful moment he imagined her naked under the bed clothes. Had Meg taken advantage of his inebriation to seduce him? He didn’t feel like he’d been seduced. To start with he was still fully clothed and nothing seemed to be unzipped or unbuttoned. And besides, Meg rarely came to the house after 7pm as she ‘knew her place’ and respected their privacy. No, she’d be tucked up in bed in her home in one of the estate’s twin gate houses. So, who was in his bed? Surely not someone from the village? The choice of possible bedfellows in Shapcott Bassett was somewhat limited and mostly septuagenarian and he hoped to God he wasn’t being stalked by some predatory older woman. Cougars, they called themselves. Tentatively, he reached over and pulled the sheet back from the head of his unexpected guest and found himself face to face not with a cougar, but with a sleeping Bengal tiger.
His first reaction was to scream, but he bit his lower lip hard and squeakily broke wind instead. Screaming might upset the big cat. And what a big cat it was lying there on its side, the skin around its mouth pulled back into a grimace revealing three-inch long yellowed and dagger-like teeth. The tiger twitched and snarled in its sleep, presumably dreaming primæval dreams of hunting down some soft, fleshy prey to despatch with those terrible jaws.
- 19th August 2021 The End ... ?
So here we are. Publication day! And what an extraordinary journey Cockerings has gone through.
It's gone from an exam question to a short story to a novel of many titles and even more versions. And then, even though it was the first novel of mine that Unbound accepted, it had to wait in line behind A Murder To Die For and The Diabolical Club. But now it's here! And I've so enjoyed seeing your…6th August 2021 Aaaargh!
I spent a bit of time signing copies of the book yesterday and they'll be winging their way back to Unbound for distribution very shortly. It looks as if you'll be seeing your books very soon.
However ... while looking through the books I suddenly noticed a mistake.
It's not Unbound's fault. It's down to me. But it's easily sorted.
If you read A Murder To Die For and/or The…20th July 2021 Just one more month to go!
In just one month's time - August 19th - Cockerings is released into the wild. I know that you've been patiently waiting a long time to see this one in print. Believe me, I've waited a lot longer!
Back in the 1990s I shared an office at Hendon Police College with a mate called Chris Hale (to whom this book is dedicated). We were members of the Met Police's training and curriculum design team…15th June 2021 Cover Up!
Hello lovely people that made my book happen.
Yes, Cockerings is now close to publication.
And YOU did that. YOU!
That's the power of Unbound. It puts the power to create new books into the hands of readers rather than risk-averse publishing accountants.
Give yourselves a hearty round of applause. If I could hug you all, I would.
So ... the book is released into the wild on 19th August…
These people are helping to fund Cockerings.
Richard W H Bray