What better way to while away these dark November days than by reading some gritty crime fiction and, if you need some inspiration, then do check out NI crime author Kelly Creighton’s latest novel – Problems with Girls. Kelly herself is a guest blogger today, so I’ll hand you over to her …
Thank you for having me over on your blog.
I’d like to share the opening pages of Problems with Girls with you.
PWG is book 2 in the DI Harriet Sloane series set in East Belfast. Book 1, The Sleeping Season, was released in March. Problems with Girls sees DI Sloane about a year and a half later. It is now May 2018 and Harry’s personal life has changed dramatically. In work she is investigating the murder of a young female political activist called Chloe Taylor. Over the course of the story, Harry and her colleagues in Strandtown PSNI discover that there is someone out there specifically targeting young women, hence the title of the book.
I hope you enjoy the extract.
Extract from Problems with Girls:
It is early evening. We are coming home.
Flying over the lights of London, past the horizon of clouds that looks like a mouth, lips parted. Flying away from the glowing teeth of an orange sun. I am the only one awake for the turbulence warning. I grip my armrest and wish I’d ordered that glass of Merlot. I don’t know when I became so afraid of flying.
The young boy in front, whose unselfconscious burps have been the elevator music of this flight, is my distraction. He reaches his hand back and pulls the shutter down on my window. The snap awakens Rowan. The plane dips then straightens, less obviously this time. I breathe my relief into Rowan’s dry fragrant head. He doesn’t know we are not on the ground anymore, that we are no longer in America, no longer in England.
‘We’re almost home,’ I tell him, although he is not listening but is looking at the iPad while we fumble in the sky again. I open my shutter to look out at the clouds. Jared is asleep on Paul’s knee. Paul is sleeping too. He hasn’t even felt that turbulence.
Rowan reaches for his twin, paws at his hand. I encourage him to sit back. He is strapped to my lap by the loop around my seatbelt. Who are they kidding that this will save anyone, if it needs to?
The woman who has dozed beside me cuts across to look out at the clouds. ‘That was hairy,’ she says in a soft Northern Irish accent.
‘I hate flying,’ I say.
‘I can tell. Did the babies like the big smoke?’
‘We were in Florida,’ I say. ‘My partner suggested we do this for their first birthday. One last hurrah before I go back to work after maternity leave.’
‘That’s nice,’ she says and smiles at Rowan, who lifts his head from my chest to look at her. He smiles coyly, both hands coming up to hide his face.
‘Sweet boy,’ she says.
The plane plummets, this time waking Paul. ‘What’s happening?’ he says.
‘Turbulence,’ the woman says.
Paul rearranges himself, holds onto Jared as he fixes his shirt. ‘At least this flight is short,’ he says.
Most of the people around us are without children. They are in business suits and reading papers, tapping on laptops or sleeping, and gradually waking. The woman beside me wants to talk, trying to distract me. ‘I haven’t been home in years,’ she says.
‘Where are you from, originally?’ I ask her. Anxiety creeps up on me.
‘Belfast. Have lived in London for thirty-odd years,’ she says.
Jared wakes. He cries, was already asleep when we boarded and now he doesn’t know where we are. I keep looking at Paul for reassurance, but he is dealing with the baby. The woman beside me takes my hand in hers. ‘It will be over soon,’ she says.
‘I know,’ I say. But I let our hands stay like that.
Soon I see the festive lights of the runway, then we are on home ground, then collecting baggage at the carousel. I get the boys into the double buggy and leave Paul to wait for our cases when I see the woman struggling with a suitcase. No one else seems to want to help her.
It is heavier than I would have thought. It takes both of us.
‘Oh, thanks for that,’ she says.
I realise I haven’t asked her a thing about herself. ‘Are you back for business or pleasure?’ I ask, much calmer now.
‘Neither,’ she says.
‘Well, good luck.’
‘Good luck to you, too.’ She nods at the babies who are fussing, pulling hats off one another. She laughs mildly and walks off.
Paul joins me and we carry on through the airport, to the car park, to our car.
Outside it is close and warm, cloudy with a chance of rain. Our people carrier looks like a stone at this time of day. How different things will be now, I think, setting Rowan into the car seat, and Paul, putting Jared into his. We start for home.
I pull down my visor, look in the mirror to make sure everything is as it should be. But I hardly recognise any of this. Least of all, myself.
Check out Kelly’s website: https://kellycreighton.com
Friday Press: https://fridaypressbooks.com