#BlogTour Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray
@Urbane Books @ClioGray #LoveBooksTours
Scottish Mystery series book 1
by Clio Gray
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Deadly Prospects is book 1 in the Scottish Mystery series. 1869, Sutherland, Scotland. For years the people of this remote area of the Highlands have lived a hard life. Now a local Gold Rush has attracted the Pan-European Mining Company to the area, and Solveig McCleery is determined to re-open the Brora mines and give the population the riches they deserve. But when work starts on re-opening the mines, the body of a prospector is discovered, and odd inscriptions found on stones near the corpse. Before the meaning of these strange marks can be deciphered another body is discovered. Are these attacks connected to the re-opening of the mines? Will Solveig’s plan succeed in bringing peace and prosperity back to the area? Or has she put in motion something far more sinister?
STOROFSHVOLL, ICELAND 8.43 A.M. SEPTEMBER 2ND 1855
The air smelled of snow, though Lilija Indridsdottir doubted it could be so, for surely it could not fall so early, not when the ground below her feet was so warm she’d taken off the clogs she’d been wearing and slung them on a string about her neck. She looked for the dog, who was nowhere to be seen, wondered why there were no chickens pecking and chafing about the yard. She went out to the cattle to give them their feed, found them all snorting and snuffling together at the back end of the paddock, apparently unwilling to come forward as they usually did to greet her, remaining there even when she’d lugged out and loosened several bales of summer straw, scattering it enticingly about their feeding trough.
‘Hi!’ she shouted in encouragement, and ‘Hi!’ again, but the usual scrum was unforthcoming, and the cattle stayed resolutely where they were, milling about as much as they were able in the confines of the crowd from which they seemed unwilling to break free, hooves pawing restlessly at the mud and spilt faeces, bodies jittery and jumpy, eyes large and white-rimmed when they raised their heads. Something must have spooked them; she understood this, and looked around her, but saw nothing out of the ordinary – no strangers, no foxes, nothing. She shrugged, and left them to it, went off towards the rye field to inspect the stooks. Even at this distance she could see the huge flocks of greylags and pinkfooted geese that had settled upon the field, milling and moving restlessly, rustling like the wind through autumn leaves. At their farthest end was a line of whooper swans, white necks erect, yellow bills upturned, their melancholy calls soon drowned out by the increasingly shrill crescendo of the heckle and cackle that was beginning to break out amongst the geese as they stirred and shuffled and yet did not take to wing. Again she looked about her, looked up into the sky, searched for eagles, for harriers, for anything that might have given all these animals such alarm.
Her eyes traced the lines of the hills that surrounded the valley, and then she saw it, saw the great dark burst of ash that was coming out from Hekla’s summit, rising like a thundercloud, bright flicks here and there of burning embers and pumice, moving and dancing in the currents made by the heat that was coming up from beneath. She stared at the silent spectacle, a quick short gasp escaping her lungs as her blood began to thud beneath her skin, her mouth as dry as the straw she had just loosened for the cattle, her hands shaking, moving involuntarily towards her throat. The darkness moved as she watched it, grew and spread, went up in a great plume above Hekla’s craggy neck, a sound like breaking thunder just then reaching her ears, and that was when she ran, her clogs flying off from her neck on their string as she covered the ground, realising only now why it felt so warm beneath her feet, cutting her soles on the stones and gravel as she ran and ran, the sounds of her livestock now unbearable, the shrieking of the cattle, the grackling of the geese which all of a sudden rose up and shook the air with the concerted effort of their wings, went up as one, went as a throng, before starting to separate into desperate single ribbons as one phalanx met another, and the superheated ash began to darken their outspread feathers, caught their wings alight as they tried to navigate the unfathomable darkness that had descended upon them with no moon, no stars to guide them, and one by one, they began to fall out of the sky.
About Clio Gray
Clio was born in Yorkshire, spent her later childhood in Devon before returning to Yorkshire to go to university. For the last twenty five years she has lived in the Scottish Highlands where she intends to remain. She eschewed the usual route of marriage, mortgage, children, and instead spent her working life in libraries, filling her home with books and sharing that home with dogs. She began writing for personal amusement in the late nineties, then began entering short story competitions, getting short listed and then winning, which led directly to a publication deal with Headline. Her book, The Anatomist’s Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker 2015 and long listed for the Bailey’s Prize in 2016.