Title: Box of Bones
Author: Peter Morfoot
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 3 April 2018
I am delighted to have an exclusive extract for today’s stop on the blog tour for Box of Bones, the third novel in the Captain Darac series by Peter Morfoot.
First, it might help to have some idea of the what to expect from Box of Bones.
It is Carnival time in Nice, and for three weeks the boulevards are alive with dancers, jugglers and musicians. Amid the colour and pageantry, a man suffers a fatal fall – the first in a series of suspicious deaths.
Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle is sure the answer lies in the mystery surrounding a daring bank heist, supposedly resolved years ago. But the reopening of the case rattles his usually equable relationship with his boss, and soon the safety of his friends, his colleagues and his family is at stake.
Shots rang out. Bullets whining and ricocheting all around them. Darac was the first to react. ‘Take cover!’ he shouted, shepherding the others.
Bullets pitted the stonework as they huddled behind the tomb. Flowers exploded in a fragrant shower of petals. Caught in the line of fire, the man in the black coat ran for cover, falling twice in the process. Using the wall as a shield, the shooter was firing from the street that ran around the far side of the cemetery.
The shooting stopped.
Darac stood. The stèle had been ravaged, his mother’s forename obliterated. He started to run as hard as he could toward the wall. A chorus of voices went up.
‘For God’s sake!’
He kept running. At any second, the shooter might reappear, firing at him point blank. He kept running. A car door slammed in the street beyond. An engine started and powered away. Darac vaulted the wall. The car, a grey Renault Mégane, was already making the turn into the street that led past the cemetery’s main entrance. He ran on – his own car was parked next to the gates. He could be away and after the Renault in seconds. He ran hard around the corner. His quarry was still in sight. And then, another car burned away from the kerb, a red Citroën with a redheaded woman at the wheel.
‘What is she doing?’
As the shooter went to overtake, the Citröen jagged hard into his path, trying to ram the near-side flank, but the momentum was with the Renault. The Citroën cannoned off into a line of parked cars and stopped dead. The stricken Renault lurched and snaked but, missing everything else, continued along the street. Darac arrived at the Citröen as Julie Issert, thrown on to the passenger seat by the impact, grabbed the steering wheel and pulled herself up.
‘Are you alright?’ Darac said, breathing hard as he yanked open her door.
‘I heard shots and then he came screaming around the corner.’ Her words flew out in a single rapid burst. ‘I had to do something…’
Staring intently at her, he reached in and turned off the engine.
‘Are you alright?’
‘Yes, yes. Was anyone—?’
‘No one was hit, madame, okay? No one.’ He jetted a glance toward the end of the street. The Renault was braking for the turn. ‘Let’s get you out.’ She didn’t show any sign of injury, moving freely. The Renault was nearly out of sight. ‘I have to go now.’
Leaving her at the kerb, he jumped into his own car and tore away. In the rear-view mirror, he saw Martin jog through the cemetery gates. Arms outstretched, Julie went to meet him. As they were about to embrace, Darac made the turn and they disappeared.
He put out an APB call, then leaned on the horn and hammered the throttle. No feel for the racing line, he drove on pure adrenaline, missing walls, parked cars and street furniture by centimetres. Darac lost sight of the Renault.
Slow down to go faster, he remembered. And think, think, think. Initially, the road layout offered two escape routes for the shooter. The decisive junction was less than four hundred metres away. A roundabout. Which exit would the shooter take? A right would allow the Renault to double back to town; left led on to the open road to Cagnes. Hoping he would have caught the shooter before he needed to make the call, Darac pressed on. And there was another possibility, he realised. The shooter might abandon the car altogether. Perhaps it had already been ditched.
Brake lights flared ahead of him. Darac’s heart beat a little faster. Was it? Yes, it was the Renault. Darac pressed harder, the car dipping and snaking along the twists in the road. Two hundred metres to the junction. Another glimpse of the brake lights. He was gaining. Who the hell was the shooter? He couldn’t think of anyone with a grudge that strong against him. A hundred metres to the roundabout. The road straightened. Darac could see the Renault clearly now. He could read the number plate. With fifty metres to go, he was almost on top of it. Left or right?
The Renault attempted both, feinting right before jinking left. Too fast to make the turn, it took off, flipping and somersaulting into the grassed area in the centre of the roundabout. Darac skidded to a stop and got out. Was the shooter still alive? Still holding the gun? Darac ran in a zigzagging crouch to the driver’s door.
Concerns about stopping a bullet evaporated with one glance.
About the Author
Peter Morfoot has written a number of plays and sketch shows for BBC radio and TV and is the author of the acclaimed satirical novel, Burksey. He has lectured in film, holds a PhD in Art History, and has spent thirty years exploring the life, art and restaurant tables of the French Riviera, the setting for his series of crime novels featuring Captain Paul Darac of Nice’s Brigade Criminelle. He lives in Cambridge.
Praise for the Series
“Will delight fans of international crime.” Booklist
“Brilliantly captures the sights, smells and attitudes of Southern France.” Shots Magazine
“A gripping, complex, and fluently told story.” Alison Joseph
If this post has piqued your interest, why not visit the other stops on the blog tour and read a bit more about Box of Bones. Details are listed below…