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Moffat the Magniloquent along the Mississippi

What happened to Moffat? Did he reach the Americas? Indeed he did.

It is some years later and Moffat is broke. Having spent any ill-gotten gains soon after his arrival, he has been scraping a larcenous living, much as he did when resident in London before the events described in Gibbous House. Having tired of the East, Moffat heads south.

Moffat catches a stagecoach for St Louis where he meets and murders a riverboat gambler, assuming yet another false identity. He takes a riverboat downriver to New Orleans, gets involved in poker games, meets famous Missouri figures and some old “friends”.  Moffat observes the contradictions and injustices of the (barely) Antebellum South and becomes involved in a plot to free some slaves and acquire some silver for the Underground Railroad. This being Moffat’s adventure nothing and no-one is what they seem. His new identity is as much a burden as an escape, since everyone expects something of “Anson Northrup”. Along the way Moffat meets the famous Marie Laveau and some of her acolytes. Despite himself he learns more about the Jedermanns and his own strange resistance to the passage of time, notwithstanding his sybaritic lifestyle.

Can Moffat move the silver from the New Orleans Mint with the help of freed slaves? Who is Compair Lapin? Can Moffat trust him? An already complex plan meets obstacles at every turn as Moffat, Miss Pardoner and others attempt to get both as far north as they can.

Moffat remains magniloquent, murderous and quite possibly more impulsive than ever.

No Good Deed is for people who loved Gibbous House, who love an adventure story with a difference and for the people who asked me whether there was a sequel. Moffat is a less cowardly Flashman stumbling upon history, whilst failing to notice it happening, being too busy gratifying his latest desire.

I confess that I wrote No Good Deed because I wanted to know what happened next too.

Ewan Lawrie is the author of Gibbous House, also published by Unbound. He is an editor for the writers’ web-site, ABCTales.com.

Whilst serving 23 years in the Royal Air Force, including 10 in Cold War Berlin and 12 more flying over the rather warmer conflicts that followed, Ewan began writing. In the main this was to pass the time during long, boring flights over desert countries. After a while, this way of killing time developed into a passion.

Nowadays he spends his time in the south of Spain, inland from the Costa Del Sol. He enjoys an occasional beer in bars where no-one speaks English at least not to him, in case they end up in his notebook or somewhere worse.  When not doing this he is writing, but occasionally he teaches English to Andalucians and other hispanophones.

He has had stories and poetry published in several anthologies. A poetry collection is currently being collated for publication by Cerasus Poetry. No Good Deed is his second novel.

Naturally this left me in the company of the fellow in the extravagant waistcoat. I suggested a brandy, and he informed me that nothing we might buy in the establishment would truly deserve the name. He winked and said that he had something special in his room upstairs. I demurred, saying that I hardly knew him. He looked a fine figure, perhaps ten years younger than I. At least, if I had not but recently travelled by stage coach. It was important that I consider what this man saw in his regard of me. A man of around forty five - though I looked nearer my true age that day – vigorous, if a little tired. Clean-shaven , still yet blessed with a head of hair. I wondered if I had judged his interest correctly.

            He did not seem unduly discommoded by the rebuff.

            'Better stick to the whiskey, sir... or we could try a beer?' he enquired.

            'A capital suggestion, my throat is still  as dry as dust.'

            He ordered the beers with a click of his fingers. We were standing alongside a long counter that served as the bar. There were tables in rough deal aplenty, but few were occupied. The majority of trade was carried out at the bar. Of the occupied tables, one had a game of cards in progress and at the other two military fellows in a grey uniform were sprawled insensible across it. My companion eyed me over his glass,

            'Long way from home.'

 It did not sound like a question. I answered, after a fashion,  nonetheless.

            'Somewhat.'

            The beer was light and tasted nothing like the porters and ales of home. I made pretence of clicking my fingers, ensuring that this gesture was not seen by the man behind the bar. The man in the waistcoat clicked his own and we were provided with two more glasses of the gold-coloured liquid.

'I am indebted to you, sir. I did not catch your name, earlier.' I said.

            'Didn't give it, is why.'

            I held out my hand and gave the name, 'Moffat.'

            He looked at the hand for a moment, then shook it.

            'Anson Northrup.'

            He was of a size with me, perhaps larger, due to the fact that I cut a more slender figure since arriving in the Americas.  He asked me what had brought me to the New World.

            'Necessity,' I said.

            'The mother of invention, it's a fact.'

            Evidently he was a man of few words. We took several more of the beers. They had no more effect on myself than a cordial. As for the other he became a little more animated, but not a great deal more talkative. Even so, I was able to convince him that he had inveigled me into his room and not vice-versa.

            We passed an enjoyable hour and it was with some regret that I used a yellow scarf to choke the life out of him. I assumed his clothes and saw with regret what little money he had in his purse. His body I folded into a chest and covered it with my dusty attire. I took the only other item in a room, it was a bag, about the size of a sailor's bag although it had handles for transportation. It had been fashioned from a violently patterned oriental carpet. It was a hideous thing, but what was a man without baggage?  Looking around the room, I thought again that it was a pity our acquaintance had been so short.

Still, as he himself had said, ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’ and besides, such a personage must surely be wedded to the Father of Lies.

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Friday the 13th

Saturday, 14 April 2018

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What a day to start a project that needs a bit of luck! Today is the morning of the 14th and 10% of the novel's target has been reached. Of course, this morning's news is that Trump and pals have sent aircraft into Syria with the aim of "dismantling" the regime's chemical weapon capability. So far Russia (Russia? Haven't they been too unimportant to spy upon since 1994, when the Air Force sent…

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