Extract from Fatal Solution by Leslie Scase

Fatal Solution by Leslie Scase once again sees Inspector Thomas Chard confronted with a murder in bustling Victorian Pontypridd.

On the face of it the case appears unremarkable, even if it isn’t obviously solvable, but following new leads takes Chard into unexpected places. A second murder, a sexual predator, industrial espionage and a mining disaster crowd into the investigation, baffling the Inspector and his colleagues and putting his own life at risk as the murderer attempts to avoid capture.

Once again Leslie Scase takes the reader back to a time and place where, despite the pretensions of Victorian society, life is cheap and passions strong. His research brings Pontypridd vividly to life, and historical events drive along the plot of this page-turning story of detection, as Chard navigates a way through the clues and red herrings, and a lengthening list of suspects, towards the poisoner.

Atmospheric, authentic, Chard and the reader are left guessing until the final page.

Our featured extract begins on page 24 of the novel, with Inspector Chard and his colleague interviewing local residents in the wake of a fire…

‘This is Mrs Griffiths who discovered the fire,’ said Scudamore by means of introduction.

‘Very pleased to meet you Mrs Griffiths, I am Inspector Chard. I hope you might be able to help me with my enquiries.’

‘Only too pleased to help. There’s not much that I don’t know,’ stated the woman confidently. ‘Not that I’m a gossip mind,’ she added.

‘Thank you. Now when did you notice the fire?’

‘Well, I had noticed old Mr. Jones go up the road, hadn’t I? Poor old soul, it’s the dust on his lungs, he hasn’t been well for ages. It takes for ever for him to get to the end of the street.’

‘What time would that be?’

‘Sometime after five o’clock then wasn’t it?’

‘Can you be more precise? I mean you must have been out on the street yourself so what time did you set off ?’

‘My old man has a bad cough so I was off to see Mrs Evans, wasn’t I?’

Chard was becoming irritable. ‘Very well Mrs Griffiths, why were you going to see Mrs Evans and how does that help us establish the time?’

The woman looked at Chard as though he was simple minded. ‘I was going to Mrs Evans to get something for my old man’s cough like I said. We don’t have enough money for doctors around here do we? We all have little gardens and grow our own natural remedies. I was short of a few bits and bobs so I was going to get some dried herbs from Mrs Evans. That’s how I know what time it was.’

‘What was the time?’

‘It was definitely sometime after five because I saw Mr Jones. I told you that didn’t I?’

Chard grimaced and decided a different tack.

‘Very well, did you notice anyone else about at the time?’

‘The light was very poor, but yes. There was Mrs Davies out with her little boy, horrible little thing as he is. Always pulling jibs.’

Chard glanced at Constable Scudamore who assisted by saying, ‘pulling faces, sir.’

‘Then there was Mr Phillips from the grocer’s shop, going about his business. He had his window smashed the other day, didn’t he? Now then, we also had Mrs Evans.’

‘The one that you were going to see?’ asked Chard.

‘No, different Mrs Evans. We have four in our street. There was someone I didn’t know, a scruffy looking man in a long coat. There were two men talking together, but they were too far away to see properly. Then young Tommy Jones, he is nearly twelve so will be down the pit soon.’

‘Is that all?’

‘Apart from Mrs Pearce’s children, she lets them run riot you know, not that I’m one to talk.’

Chard turned to Constable Scudamore. ‘Tomorrow morning trace everyone this lady has mentioned and see if they know anything.’

‘Can I go now?’ asked Mrs Griffiths.

‘Just one or two more questions. Did people get on with Mr Hughes, I mean was he popular?’

‘I am not one to cleck on others,’ said Mrs Griffiths hesitantly.

‘She means tell tales,’ added Scudamore helpfully, for even after a year Chard was still unfamiliar with the local idioms.

‘To be truthful, for I cannot tell a lie, Mr Hughes was not a particularly pleasant man. The only person who got on with him was his wife, and he was besotted with her.’ continued Mrs Griffiths. ‘No one else had much of a good word to say about him and he had been very mean spirited of late.’

‘So Mr Dixon told me,’ said Chard.

‘There’s another grumpy bugger. Those two didn’t get on at all. Why are you asking though?’ asked the woman with keen interest. ‘Do you think the fire started deliberately? You can tell me. I won’t tell a soul.’

‘We are keeping an open mind Mrs Griffiths so I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions. Thank you for your help.’

Turning away the inspector led Constable Scudamore out of earshot. ‘If this is murder then it doesn’t make sense. By the sounds of it he was unpopular but why not just slit his throat one evening? Why do it in daylight and then burn down the workshop?’

‘No idea sir,’ answered the constable, rubbing his chin.

‘There is evil here Constable, I can feel it in the air, but I will uncover it, you mark my words.’

Fatal Solution is available as a paperback or ebook on the Seren website

Buy the first Inspector Chard mystery, Fortuna’s Deadly Shadow, as an ebook: £7.99

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Bring a glass of wine or your favourite tipple and join us on Tuesday 25th May at 7:30pm for the online launch. Leslie will be in conversation with Matt Johnson and we’ll host an audience Q&A. Register for free via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/154383153167.

Friday Poem – ‘Instructions for the Coastal Walk from Clarach to Borth’ by Lynne Hjelmgaard

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Instructions for the Coastal Walk from Clarach to Borth’ by Lynne Hjelmgaard from her collection A Second Whisper.

A Second Whisper is Lynne Hjelmgaard’s moving new collection in which she looks back upon her life in New York, Demark, The Caribbean, and London. There are elegies to her late husband as well as to her mentor and partner, the renowned Welsh poet Dannie Abse, who died in 2014. Her lyrics are precise, warm in tone, and suffused with optimism for the future.

“The pictures that Hjelmgaard paints with words are… akin to pale watercolour…a quiet soundscape of inner thoughts and emotions…” – WriteOutLoud

 

A Second Whisper is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Watch Lynne read her poem A Second Whisper on our Youtube channel:

Friday Poems – ‘Harp/Telyn’ by Philip Gross and ‘Telyn’ by Cyril Jones

This week’s Friday Poems are ‘Harp/Telyn’ by Philip Gross and ‘Telyn’ by Cyril Jones from their new bilingual collection Troeon : Turnings. The book also features letterpress designs by the artist Valerie Coffin Price.

To turn, to dig, to plough, to upset, to translate… Bend, lap, journey, time… The Welsh word troeon unfolds meaning after meaning. In Troeon : Turnings, two poets confident in their own traditions meet in the hinterland between translation and collaboration – Cyril Jones from the disciplines of Welsh cynghanedd, Philip Gross from the restless variety of English verse.

Troeon : Turnings is available on the Seren website: £12.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Friday Poem – ‘A Rosary’ by André Mangeot

This week our Friday Poem is ‘A Rosary’ by André Mangeot from his collection Blood Rain which was published in February 2020.

Resonant, complex, rich in heft and texture, these are mature poems that grapple with serious themes. Beautifully crafted, and partly inspired by the poet’s love of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, they address the natural world, its endangerment and other pressing global issues from multiple perspectives, and with great lyrical power.

‘A thought-provoking book for turbulent times.’ – Matthew Caley

Blood Rain is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Click below to see a video of André reading his poem ‘Bellwether’:

Friday Poem – ‘The Reed Flute and I’ by Abeer Ameer

This week our Friday Poem is ‘The Reed Flute and I’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile. Abeer recently featured on an episode of the Babble podcast which can be listened to here.

Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.

 “…these poems remind us that even in the darkest times, there is light, and there is love.” – Katherine Stansfield

Inhale/Exile is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Watch Abeer read ‘The Reed Flute and I’ on our Youtube channel.

Friday Poem – ‘Why the Brazilian Butt Lift Won’t Save Us’ by Tishani Doshi

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Why the Brazilian Butt Lift Won’t Save Us’ by Tishani Doshi from her forthcoming Bloodaxe collection A God at the Door.

Photo taken for Vogue India

Tishani is taking part in an event at the Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival this afternoon from 2pm! There’s still time to register to hear her reading alongside Joe Dunthorne. Register here.

A God at the Door is available to pre-order via Bloodaxe books

Register for Poetry Friends: Tishani Doshi and Joe Dunthorne at the Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival here

Friday Poem – ‘On Allt yr Esgair’ by Christopher Meredith

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘On Allt yr Esgair’ by Christopher Meredith from his newly published poetry collection Still. In a unique publishing event, Still is published simultaneously with Christopher’s tragicomic short novel Please. Both are available on our website now.

Christopher Meredith’s new poetry collection Still, uses the title word as a fulcrum to balance various paradoxical concerns: stillness and motion, memory and forgetting, sanity and madness, survival and extinction. Lively and thought-provoking, this is a beautifully crafted, humane and intelligent collection.

“Lyrical, always surprising, Meredith ‘fixes stillness’ in absences here. His perfect ear tunes in so precisely – especially to the natural world, it’s ‘edge of sense’ – we are left haunted á la Frost, by a deep lonliness in the human condition.” – Paul Henry

Two book deal – purchase both Still and Please for the discounted price of £15.00.

Don’t miss the launch of both books at the Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival from 12pm on Sunday 18 April. Register for free via the festival website here. You only need to register ONCE for access to the entire four-day weekend.

Friday Poem – ‘Slave Bangle, Wales’ by Maggie Harris

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Slave Bangle, Wales’ by Maggie Harris from the pamphlet Poems from the Borders. Maggie recently won the Poetry Wales Wales Poetry Award judged by Pascale Petit.

Poems from The Borders is part of Seren’s pamphlet series celebrating the spirit of place. Featured poems range from “the spine of the A470”, through Monmouthshire, over the dramatic Brecon Beacons, and also through the Black Mountains towards Hay-on-Wye, towns in Herefordshire and Radnorshire and along rivers, the Wye and Severn.​

Poems from The Borders is available on the Seren website: £5

Maggie’s short story collection Writing on Water is available on the Seren website: £8.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ by Grahame Davies

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ by Grahame Davies from his collection Lightning Beneath the Sea which is currently £4.49 in our half-price spring sale.

Earlier this week we launched Grahame’s new book Real Cambridge, the latest addition to the Seren ‘Real’ Series.

Lightning Beneath the Sea is the first collection of poems in English by Grahame Davies, featuring the work that he has honed over the years as he has read them at literary festivals, conferences and events world-wide.  Well-known for his prize-winning Welsh-language poetry and fiction, and for his scholarly non-fiction.  He brings a native warmth, an intimate, conversational tone, and a raised civic awareness to these poems.

Lightning Beneath the Sea is currently available for £4.49 in our half-price Spring Sale

Browse our website for more fantastic half-price deals. Sale ends Sunday 28 March.

Grahame’s newest book Real Cambridge is available for £9.99

Friday Poems – ‘Penny’ and ‘Glasffrwd’ from TROEON : TURNINGS

This week we have two Friday Poems from TROEON : TURNINGS, the new bilingual collaboration between poets Philip Gross and Cyril Jones and artist Valerie Coffin Price. ‘Penny’ by Philip Gross and ‘Glasffrwd’ by Cyril Jones.

To turn, to dig, to plough, to upset, to translate… Bend, lap, journey, time… The Welsh word troeon unfolds meaning after meaning. In TROEON : TURNINGS, two poets confident in their own traditions meet in the hinterland between translation and collaboration – Cyril Jones from the disciplines of Welsh cynghanedd, Philip Gross from the restless variety of English verse.

TROEON : TURNINGS is available on the Seren website £12.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.