Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Songs of Innocence by Anne Coates! My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for the invitation to join.
I have an extract to share with you all but first, here is what Songs of Innocence is about.
Author : Anne Coates
Title : Songs of Innocence
Series : Hannah Weybridge #3
Pages : 320
Publisher : Urbane Publications
Publication date : May 24, 2018
A woman’s body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend’s horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn’t want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.
The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.
Rory was at his desk going through some page proofs. He’d had to clear a space among the piles of press releases, newspapers and half-empty coffee cups. He smiled as Hannah approached him.
“What?” she asked.
“You’ve got that look about you.”
“Which is, ‘I’m just about to ask some questions and it might just lead us to a major story’.”
“Don’t hold your breath then.”
She felt relaxed with Rory who had always supported her and gave her enough leeway to find herself in whatever she was researching. “But I do want to run something past you.”
“Excuse me, Ms Contributing Editor, you don’t have to do that.” From someone else that comment may have sounded snide but Hannah knew Rory had been pleased at her new contract, and, she was sure, had had some influence in instigating it.
“Fancy lunch later?”
“Half an hour?” Hannah nodded and went back to her desk to make a cuttings request: anything on arranged marriages, disappearances of young Asian girls and unexplained or unusual suicides in the Asian community. Something about Amalia’s death and Linda’s absentee pupil niggled. Were they both part of a bigger picture?
They were early so managed to get a table in the corner of the Pen and Ink public house. Rory ordered a pint of best for himself, white wine for Hannah and some ham sandwiches. Their usual fare. While they were waiting for their order to arrive, Rory produced a photocopied cutting. It was dated two days previously from South Africa. Hannah’s vision blurred as the name Gerry Lacon jumped out at her.
Rory put his hand over hers. “He’s dead, Hannah. It’s been reported as natural causes but reading between the lines it looks like he was got at. That was always on the cards given his track record over there.” He smiled. “And it could be some people need to clear the decks before Mandela gets sworn in on Tuesday. Anyway, one less demon to haunt you.”
Hannah took a gulp of the wine. Dead. Gerry Lacon, the man who had held a gun to her baby’s head. The man who had ordered Caroline – and the others – killed. Poetic justice perhaps? For a moment she thought of Sarah, his wife. Had they divorced? She had no idea. No good dwelling on the past.
She realised that Rory was obviously waiting for her to say something. “Thanks. As you say one less demon…”
Their sandwiches arrived and between mouthfuls Rory filled her in about Judy Burton and her plea to George – no one called Georgina this to her face – to return to London. She obviously wasn’t enjoying her exile in Scotland.
“Oh, I thought she would have found her Celtic roots by now.” Hannah winked. “I thought she’d find Scotsmen in kilts irresistible.”
Rory looked about to choke.
“At least I don’t have to make that decision,” Hannah said.
“And what decisions do you have to make, then?”
Hannah stared across the bar. For a moment she thought she saw Paul standing there, looking across at her. She blinked and he was gone. In his place was a man who vaguely resembled him.
“You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Maybe I have.” Hannah finished her wine. “Another?” Rory asked and she nodded, glad for his departure for a few moments. Maybe it was the mention of Judy, which had conjured up Paul’s image.
“So – decisions,” he said returning with their drinks.
“A friend of mine who’s a teacher told me about how some young Asian girls are being taken out of school to look after members of their families. Some, it seems, are being forced into arranged marriages at a very young age.”
“Sounds right up your street. What’s the problem?” “Not sure I should involve myself and the newspaper.” “Why? These girls are British citizens. Don’t they deserve your support?”
Hannah was surprised at Rory’s reaction. “What do you know about this then?”
“More than you may think. A cousin of mine married into an Indian family. Don’t get me wrong, her in-laws are great but neither she nor I would say the same about some of the extended family.”
Hannah sipped her drink. “Well I’ve called the cuttings service, so I’ll see what comes up there.” Hannah circled her glass over a damp patch on the table. “There is something else.”
“Knowing you, Hannah, there always is.” He grinned at her.
“There was a drowning in my local park. A young Asian girl. The police wrote it off as suicide but the family was convinced otherwise. The aunt asked me to look into it and a second post mortem suggested that she may have been coerced into drowning herself.”
“Sounds a bit far-fetched. Why did the aunt contact you?”
“She’s a trustee of the charity Celia Rayman set up in Liz’s memory. Apparently she recommended me.”
Rory finished his beer. “Well she could have done worse. Why don’t you write that story first? Seems we have a scoop – such as it is. It obviously hasn’t been picked up anywhere.”
“No, the local press only reported the suicide. Also, a valuable and distinctive ring has gone missing – I have good images of that and it may jolt someone’s memory.”
“Good.” Rory finished his pint. “Any plans for the weekend?”
“Seeing friends and being an attentive mother. You?”
“Need you ask?” Hannah looked at him blankly. “West Ham are playing Southampton and I have tickets. But for now it’s back to the coal face.”
“Is this guy for real?” John, one of the younger news reporters was shaking his head.
Hannah looked up from the cuttings she was studying. “Who?”
“His name is Peter Marks. He is, apparently, a private investigator, who would like to discuss some possible news story ideas.”
“Oh yes.” Rory had walked back into the office. “And what might they be?”
“He says he has intelligence on how security services in South Africa infiltrated a high security prison in order to perpetrate a revenge killing.”
Rory looked across at Hannah whose face had drained of colour. “Well I don’t suppose that was too difficult to effect given the resources of the NIS.”
“This guy Peter Marks reckons he was part of the team.”
“Does he now?” Rory was leafing through a battered leather Filofax he’d retrieved from his desk drawer. “Thought so. He’s also a bit-part actor and singer… okay John, arrange a meeting with him and see what he’s got to offer.”
John looked bemused.
“We’ll pay him for exclusive rights to his info and it’ll go into the vault, but we won’t tell him that, of course.” Hannah could feel her face redden. Her own story had been spiked. Caroline’s story. And Gerry Lacon had been part of that. She had to shake herself to remember that they had not spiked her exposé about the trafficking of Somali girls. That one had been reported… Eventually.
But at what cost?
If this extract has you hooked, then you’re in luck because Songs of Innocence is available to buy and you can pick up a copy right now!
Reading and writing has been Anne Coates’ passion for as long as she can remember. Instilled and inspired by her mother and by the Deputy Head at her secondary school who encouraged her hunger for reading by granting her free access to the books not yet in the school library, and she feels still grateful for this, in her eyes, amazing privilege.
After her degree in English and French, Anne moved to London to stay. During her career she worked for publishers, as a journalist, writer, editor, and translator. The birth of her daughter, Olivia inspired her to write non-fiction books, such as ‘Your Only Child’ (Bloomsbury, 1996), books about applying to and surviving university (NeedtoKnow, 2013), but also short stories, tales with a twist, and stories exploring relationships, published in two collections by Endeavour Press (2015).
The sometimes strange places Anne visited as a journalist often made her think “What if…” And so, investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge was born… The Hannah Weybridge series currently consists of three books, all published by Urbane Publications: ‘Dancers in the Wind’ (2016), ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ (2017), and ‘Songs of Innocence’ (2018).
Anne Coates lives in London with three demanding cats and enjoys reading, going to the theatre and cinema, wining and dining.