The time has come to reveal the cover of my next novel.
It’s the second of my Andorra Pett Series, following on from Andorra Pett and The Oort Cloud Café, although you don’t need to have read that one first, this is a self-contained adventure. You can get a taster here if you’re interested.
The title is Andorra Pett on Mars, which kind of gives the plot away, here is the back cover blurb,
Andorra Pett has left the Oort Cloud Café; she’s back on Mars, a place she vowed she’d never visit again.
She’s gone back for her friend Maisie’s funeral. Everyone thinks it was suicide but the more she learns, the less sure she is. Things don’t add up and she realises that the whole story doesn’t make sense. Something else is going on and the questions soon multiply.
Why would Maisie kill herself if she’d just had good news? Why is Andi being followed? What was the mystery bequest?
When she begins to find the clues that Maisie has left for her, it becomes a race against time. Andi must work out what’s going on and hope that she can get out alive.
What could possibly go wrong?
And here, in full glowing colour, is the front cover, designed by the amazing Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics.
as a teaser, here’s an extract. Whilst on the way to Mars, Andi and Cy learn more about Maisie’s demise.
“What have you got there?” Trevor looked aghast at the plate that Cy was rapidly emptying. I had seen the prices of extras like these on the room service menu so I could sympathise. Little did he know that I would be having the same later, even though I was full of dinner, as a before sleep snack. “Do you know how much they cost?”
“Yes,” said Cy. “You said you were paying, is that a problem?”
Trevor shook his head, even though you could feel his pain.
Cy stopped chewing for a second. “OK, fill us in with a bit more detail than yesterday.”
“We had an apartment in Tharsis,” Trevor began. “A nice one, Maisie was working in one of the old folks’ homes, she had got herself qualified as a nursing assistant to make a few extra credits and for something to do.”
That sounded like her, always caring for others. I swiped a prawn from Cy’s plate and he swatted at my hand. Too late, I crunched the crispy batter it was cooked in; it was delicious.
“How long had you been on Mars?” I asked. It had been a year since I had last seen either of them. A year ago, there had been the falling out and me and Cy had left London on the journey that would take us to the Oort Cloud Café.
“Eight months,” he said.
“Why go to Mars?” Cy joined in, talking around a mouthful of samosa. Flaky pastry fluttered and Trevor pulled a disgusted face.
“We both wanted a change,” he said. “London was… not the same as it had been.” He sounded surprised. As if all that could have happened and things had somehow remained the same.
“Carry on then,” I encouraged him, before either of us got all maudlin.
“There was one old bloke she really got on with,” he continued. “He used to be some sort of celebrity on Earth, I never found out what. Anyway, that was when he was working, now he was old and knackered. He seemed to have money though, the home wasn’t cheap and he had a private suite and a personal chef. Maisie did lots for him, washed him, helped him get around, she gave him his drugs, all the usual stuff. The day before she…” he stopped as the memory made him well up. “The day before, he told her something important. She said that it was going to make her very rich.”
“What was it?”
“She never said. I was asleep when she came in that night, she was on late shifts and I only found out in the morning, I was running late and she said that she would tell me all about it when she got back that night. She was really excited; it was her last shift before a few days off. I said I’d wait up, cook her a meal.”
How romantic, he had never cooked me a meal.
“I thought that maybe he would be leaving her something in his will, I don’t know; she said that he had no-one. And then the next thing I know, I’m at work, it’s mid-afternoon and the care home is on the phone asking if she was sick because she hadn’t turned up.”
“How did they find her?” Cy asked.
“The locator on her phone,” he said. “It showed that she was outside. I called the police and after they found it they sent a vehicle. On the way to her signal, they found her Rover, it was empty. They carried on and saw her sitting up against a rock, fully suited. It was only when she didn’t answer that they got her into their Rover and found that her oxygen was empty.”
There were so many questions I wanted to ask. I’d be better off making a proper list but I’d let him finish first.
“She looked so peaceful, like she would wake at any moment. The doctor examined her and said that she was full of sleeping pills. She would have been asleep well before the oxygen ran out.”
Cy popped another canape into his mouth and made appreciative noises, Trevor winced. “Do you have to keep doing that?”
Cy looked at him. “No disrespect,” he said, “but I’m hungry. Did she go outside a lot?”
“A few times, she wanted to see the rock formations at a place called Hensens Ridge, apparently they’re beautiful, one of the other nurses was telling her about them. You can go and camp in a plastic dome or something but she said it would be more fun if we didn’t go on the organised tour, just did it ourselves.”
“Did you go with her?”
He shook his head. “No, I’ve been really busy with work and I never got the chance, with her on shifts she often worked weekends and had days off in the week. But I promised her that I would go when she was fully certified. Lately, we had hardly been seeing each other. I think she was going out for something to do.” He looked sad. “I’ve made a mess of things haven’t I?” he said in a whisper. “I didn’t pay her enough attention.”
Probably, I thought, but that didn’t mean that Maisie would just go off and kill herself, there had to be more to it than that. I could see that Cy was about to remind Trevor of some of the things he had done to me in his pursuit of money, Trevor felt the energy as well.
“So to start with, we need to know what the man told her,” I suggested, trying to defuse the tension. Although it seemed unlikely, maybe he had set off a train of thought that had made her slip up, do something dozy like I would have. Or maybe… no, that was too silly.
“He’s on his last legs,” said Trevor harshly. “That’s why I had to rush you back so we can speak to him before he croaks. They wouldn’t let me see him; maybe you’ll have more luck.” He sounded arrogant, less in grief than entitled, as if the man had insulted him by refusing to share. He made it seem like the poor old man was acting selfishly by being close to death.
“Perhaps if you’d been polite and asked nicely?” suggested Cy. I thought that was a bit provocative. Trevor gave him a look but didn’t react.
“Is there anything you’re not telling me, Trevor?” I didn’t like the sound of this, I could smell fish and it wasn’t the prawns on their dainty skewers, it was a great big rancid old cod dumped in the middle of the cabin. I liked it less and less as I found out more. The way he had been all over me until he had got what he wanted, his attitude in general, it was starting to grate.
He looked at me. “No, Andi. I swear I just want to know the truth, so I can put her to rest in my mind. The police organised the funeral and all the paperwork, I couldn’t cope with dealing with the solicitor. If I thought for one moment that it was my fault, do you think I would come to you, the one person who would blame me, who already blames me?”
That was a fair point; the blame bit was about the only thing he had said so far that I could rely on.
“Alright then, but if I find out that you haven’t told me the whole story, I’ll make you sorry.”
“I’m already sorry,” added Cy, crunching another prawn.
The novel is in the last stages of production, with an expected publication date, for both paperback and eBook, at the end of April.