46. 12 Days of Clink Street: 'Murder on Track' by Stephen Childs

Sunday 11 December 2016

I was very kindly asked by Rachel at Authoright if I would like to take part in the festive 12 days of Clink Street blog tour, and of course I was thrilled to accept! The advent calendar below details what is featured on which blogs over the festive 12 days, if you'd like to catch up with any of them you can check it out below:

 Unfortunately, I have not received a copy of Stephen's Murder on Track in time for posting a review, however I did ask Stephen to write me his interpretation of Christmas with his characters, which I enclose below. I love how they are adjusting to their new lives in Australia, yet still holding fast to Christmas tradition despite the change of climate and environment. I especially liked the festive visit by kangaroos!

Dec 26 1889, Guildford, West Australia.

Our first Christmas in the Swan colony was so very different to those I remember from England, yet I find myself growing most fond of this strange land. 

Christmas day found the weather extremely hot. My brother, Bertrand; my fiancee, Mr Ridley Dunning and myself had all been invited to supper with our neighbours. Mr and Mrs Wallace have become true friends rather than mere neighbours. They arrived from England six years ago and still very much understand the love we have of the festive season. We were greatly looking forward to our evening with them. 

The surprises began early when Ridley arrived before we had eaten breakfast. I hadn’t expected him until luncheon so was most excited to see him. He arrived in a covered carriage carrying the largest picnic hamper you have ever seen. He then produced beautifully wrapped gifts. Such finesse for a man! We opened our gifts over breakfast. I received a fabulous opal broach set in a gold mount. Truly unexpected. I believe I am truly blessed to have such a man by my side.

Ridley then insisted we embark upon his surprise journey. Bertrand became awash with excitement. I was so glad of the distraction, this being our first Christmas since Father died. 

We travelled up the riverbank for a while then turned in to the most delightful open grassed area. There, on a spot beside the water under a large willow tree, we set up our picnic. 

Ridley had prepared cold chicken sandwiches and potted pork in aspic, with egg salad and lettuce on the side. He followed this with a delicious strawberry tart. All his own work, he told me. I was most impressed.

Across the river we spied grape vines growing on taught wires stretched across grassy paddocks. Ridley informed us that the owners were making wine. Very good wine apparently. Then, like magic, he produced a bottle. How delightful it was, and so refreshing in the heat.

We had a gorgeous day. Bertrand took off his shoes and paddled in the river. I could barely muster any energy in the heat, but grew more relaxed as the day progressed.

An added surprise was seeing some kangaroos. They came out of the bushes not fifty yards from where we sat. The oddest of animals, they have large hind legs and use them to hop along at terrific speeds. This was turning into the oddest Christmas day, but I was enjoying it. 

We set off for home as the sun began to lower. It remained so hot that I burned my hand on the carriage seat. 

Ridley drove us directly to our neighbours. His strange grin should have warned me of further secrets to be revealed, but I was so hot I just needed to get out of the sun. 

Upon entering the house I was quite taken aback. We were treated to the most amazing sight. A huge fir tree held pride of place, laden with colourful candles, ribbons and baubles. An ornately set out table bore intricate decorations, more candles and a Yule log covered with palm tree fronds in place of holly.

And in the corner, in all that heat, Mrs Wallace had made up the biggest fire her grate could handle. It looked wonderful and so reminded me of home. The only thing missing was the winter cold.
Thank you to Stephen for providing me with the above content. You can find out more about his novel Murder on Track, and about the author himself below:

On Track For Murder
Travelling from England to Australia in the late nineteenth century, Abigail Sergeant and her brother,Bertrand, are looking forward to their new life. Leaving behind the prejudices that would likely have seen Bertrand committed to an institution before he reached adulthood, Abigail hopes their new life will offer freedom and security.But what awaits them on the shores of the Swan River dashes any prospects of a blissful life. A murder is committed and Abigail's family is thrown into turmoil. The evidence is damning. Only the guilty would be found standing over the body clutching the bloodied murder weapon. But something is not right. Police are convinced they have their killer. Abigail is certain they are wrong. As their one potential witness is missing, Abigail persuades the detective to allow time for a search. But that time is limited. Chasing across Western Australia with a reluctant Constable Dunning as her chaperone, Abigail is determined to uncover the truth. If only she had an inkling of what that may be. Through deception, kidnap, sabotage and arson, Abigail finds a resolve she didn't know she possessed. Her understanding of mechanical principles surprises everyone, as does her tenacity. She turns out to be a capable young woman. But is that enough to save an innocent from injustice?

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About Stephen Childs

Born in Ealing, West London, Stephen Childs immigrated with his family to New Zealand in the 1970s. He has enjoyed a long career in the film and television industry. After a serious health scare in 2005, Childs’ view of life changed. He briefly went into politics as a parliamentary candidate in the national elections, standing against the now New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key. The drive to pursue new challenges prompted Childs to relocate to Western Australia, where he now lives in Joondalup, north of Perth, with his family and two cats. In his spare time, Childs enjoys exploring the great Australian outdoors and studying genealogy.

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