Hello, friends. It’s been a ferocious week (long story, won’t bore you). Among other things, I’ve been making corrections to the typeset, copy-edited version of Rivals in the City, which will be published in the UK by Walker Books this June. (June! Hurray!)
There are 299 pages, of which this is the first:
That’s a bit of a tease, isn’t it? In fairness, I should really give you a legible taste of the first few paragraphs. Here it is, and I’ll be back next week to talk about the editorial and revision process. I hope you enjoy it!
RIVALS IN THE CITY
Saturday, 13 October, 1860
The streets of London
It was a miserable day for a walk: sleety, frigid, dark. Nevertheless, Mary Quinn and James Easton, Private Detectives, were out for a ramble about Bloomsbury, bundled against the penetrating drizzle, straining to distinguish people from lampposts in the dense fog that swamped the streets. Mary’s skirts were soaked to the knee and much heavier than when she’d first set out. Their boots were thick with mud.
Mary smiled up at James, squeezing his elbow a shade tighter. “Isn’t this delightful?”
He laughed. “Unalloyed bliss, apart from the rain, the wind, and the bitter cold. Can you still feel your fingertips?”
She wiggled them experimentally. “A little. Could you tilt the umbrella towards me, please? It’s dripping on my shoulder.” James complied and they paced on, past a sodden, shivering boy wielding a broomstick taller than he was. “Wait a moment, James.” But she needn’t have spoken. James was already turning back, pressing a coin into the crossing-sweeper’s unresisting palm. He murmured something and gave the child a gentle pat on the shoulder, urging him to movement.
Mary watched the boy stumble away, a slight figure swallowed by the dark smog. She shuddered. It was like a heavy-handed morality play, to which there could be only one conclusion.
James returned, offering his arm once more. “Where were we?”