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Maria of Gratz[3c]It’s Mother’s Day, a.k.a. Mothering Sunday, in the UK this weekend. In honour of this day — and as a mother — I’m making two of my ‘Just Woman’ books free for the weekend.

Find them at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XDXBB53

And at:

Conversation

Brother Jan dropped in for a chat.
‘Miss you.’
‘Miss you.’
‘What are you doing at the moment?’ I asked. ‘Still viceroy-ing?’
He nodded. ‘Probably forever.’ He paused. ‘At least — until this body wears out.’ He sighed heavily. ‘There’s no peace for the efficient.’
‘I know,’ I said. ‘Any fool can wield a sword, but hardly anyone can run a government department efficiently.’
He nodded. ‘I always thought that fame and glory went to the warrior. Now I find — what everyone needs is managers who can manage.’ (Another pause.) ‘Apparently I’m good at it.’
‘What a waste of a glorious knight!’ I said, smiling in sympathy.
He almost managed a Jan-ish mischievous grin. ‘The only sword I’m allowed to wield now is the ceremonial one. And that’s blunt — so even when I’d love to slice the Sved envoy in two, I can’t.’
‘You could bewitch him,’ I suggested.
This time he managed the grin. ‘His horse tripped and he fell off.’
‘So what is going on in Our Lady’s Land?’ I asked.
He sighed. ‘No doubt Adelheide will fill you in soon. Let’s not talk about it. What are you writing now?’
I showed him the current Just Woman story, and he shrugged: ‘Light-weight stuff. Not worthy of your pen, Helen.’
‘I needed something light-weight after the Retrogradus.’
‘It was pretty grim, wasn’t it?’ He sighed. ‘Too late, now.’
‘You got Karlot back.’
‘Yes — eventually.’ He shook his head as if to shake the thought away. ‘I’m still recovering. How’s the day job?’
‘Pretty grim. As you say — the glory and honour goes one way, but what everyone actually wants is managers who can manage. So I get the managing when my real skills are in wielding a pen.’
‘When you’ve finished with young Mirabelle’s current adventure,’ said Jan, ‘you must come back to us. We miss you and Adelheide wants you to see how well Jurgis is growing. And we’ve got plenty to report on the Rus and our other neighbours.’
‘I promise,’ I said. ‘Meanwhile: sing us a song, Jan. Something to hum when I’m far away.’
So he sang me a song, but it was too sad to write it down here. Poor Jan. He does hate being viceroy.
‘Even if you can’t get yourself out of the managing,’ I said, ‘you could see what you can do for me.’
He gave me a very Jan-ish look. ‘You be careful! You’ll end up as a “viceroy” too!’
Please, no …

Busby and Pearce 2I’ve just uploaded the fourth of the ‘Just woman’ stories on to Amazon Kindle: it should be available to read within 72 hours. This book continues the story from where The Woman of Gratz broke off: Maria is lying wounded at Thorney Manor, while Mirabelle, Leon and Raymond are on their way back to Curzon Street. But it will shortly become clear that they need to get back to Thorney Manor to rescue Maria from even more enemies.

Here’s the blurb:

October, 1924: it’s just four days before the General Election which will decide the fate of Britain. As Socialist, Communists, Liberals and Conservatives prepare to battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate, the beautiful Maria of Gratz is fighting for her life. It seems that every anarchist in Europe is conspiring to destroy the woman who was once their leader, and every European nation has a warrant out for her arrest. … with so many enemies after her blood, how can Maria survive the four days until the election?

Mirabelle Leicester and her husband Leon, aided by their friends Lucy Baines and the policewomen Busby and Pearce, take on the task of protecting Maria for four days in October: Shoot-outs, ambushes, attempted kidnap and daring escapes will be their daily life while they struggle to ensure justice for Maria and her past victims.

 

The second book in my ‘Just Woman’ parody-0f-Edgar-Wallace series will be free to download for Amazon Kindle this weekend, Friday to Sunday.
Mirabelle5 London, 1924: Europe is still reeling in the aftermath of the First World War. The birth of cinema, dance music, fashion and motor cars for the masses is opening up a brave new world of opportunity, where old barriers of privilege crumble and anything seems possible.
But across the continent, Fascism and Communism confront each other, while working men and women struggle to keep a roof over their heads.
When bold, sassy young Mirabelle Leicester left her bankrupt little farm in Gloucestershire to seek work in the great metropolis of London, she met the Three Just Men and swopped a life of rural tranquillity for high adventure.
Every day now brings new surprises and fresh challenges for Mirabelle as she and the Just Men strive to impose justice where the law has failed.
On a quiet morning when only Mirabelle is at home, a client arrives with a tale of attempted poisoning – but is she hiding an attempt at blackmail? Is a discarded cufflink enough to connect a man with murder – and when a suspected murderer is murdered, should Mirabelle intervene? A factory owner asks for help in identifying saboteurs – but when it turns out that his factory is really a sweatshop, does he have some darker plan in mind? A romantic moonlit walk becomes a criminal investigation when Mirabelle and her husband Leon witness a building accident, and reveal a network of local council corruption, forgery and blackmail.
In her battle against injustice, Mirabelle finds many allies: the resourceful and fearless housemaid Lucy Baines, the policewomen WPCs Busby and Pearce, and the redoubtable Nurse Wilson. But when the mysterious Maria of Gratz threatens the Just Men at their very heart, even Mirabelle is baffled.

Mirabelle5thumb

After some problems following Amazon’s Cloud failure earlier this week, I’ve uploaded books 2 and 3 of ‘The Just Woman’ series to Amazon Kindle: these are the sequels to The Flat in Doughty Court. With echoes of the golden age of crime and thriller fiction, they don’t set out to be great literature. I wrote them as a fun read for myself, friends and family, and hope that other readers will enjoy them too.

Freebies

The Flat at Doughty Court is free this weekend! Find it on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XBNPSBD (Amazon UK) and https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XBNPSBD (Amazon UK), etc.

Sassy young Mirabelle Leicester drives in fast cars, shoots at bad guys and brings criminals to justice — every young girl’s dream!

The Flat cover 2.

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Whatever happened to the brave, sassy Mirabelle Leicester after she escaped from the clutches of the evil Doctor Oberzohn at the end of Edgar Wallace’s 1924 novel The Three Just Men? Where did she and Leon Gonsalez go after they drove off in Leon’s big fast car? A girl as resourceful as Mirabelle was certainly not going to let her hero get away from her … Edgar Wallace never told his readers what Mirabelle Did Next, so this story sets out to follow her and Leon to her aunt’s flat at Doughty Court in Bloomsbury to find out. More than eighty years after the great mystery writer’s death, we explore where this indefatigable pair might have travelled after they left Edgar Wallace’s pages.

Maria of Gratz[3c]While we’re on the subject of my parodies of Edgar Wallace thrillers: I’m now revising the third in the series, hoping that my Amazon Kindle account will be repaired soon so that I can upload it. (The Amazon Kindle people are looking at it for me to work out why book two in the series won’t upload — it’s side-loaded on to Kindle readers but won’t upload on to KDP.) The third story in the series gets into some real history rather than the vaguely early 1920s background of The Flat at Doughty Court and The Girl from Heavytree Farm. Here’s the blurb:

Terrorism, violence, starvation and war threaten the world. Oppressive governments are springing up around the globe, led by unscrupulous men bent on world domination. On the streets of Britain men and women go about their lives in fear: of unemployment, poverty, terrorism and war. It seems that just a small spark of protest could set off a powder-keg of revolution.

It could be today: but it’s 1924.

Maria of Gratz, former leader of the Anarchist group the Red Hundred, has returned to London. It is now sixteen years since Maria and her Red Army brought terror to Britain, and only the Four Just Men were able to stop her. In revenge, Maria betrayed George Manfred, the Just Men’s leader – and fell in love with him.

George sent Maria away to seek a new life – but now she’s back, fleeing from the forces of law and order and her fellow terrorists. George seems to trust her, but his two colleagues Raymond Poiccart and Leon Gonsalez do not — and neither does Leon’s young wife Mirabelle Leicester. With the British economy in crisis and the General Strike just over the horizon, Maria’s rabble-rousing skills look set to stir up revolution in the streets and disaster for the country. Can Raymond, Leon and Mirabelle stop Maria from destroying Britain, and their leader George?

The story ends with the famous Zinoviev letter, which was published four days before the British General Election in October 1924 and arguably led to the defeat of the Labour Government (Wikipedia gives a summary of it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinoviev_letter ) But the letter was a forgery — so who forged it? And why? Along with car chases, intrigue and shoot-outs, The Woman of Gratz presents an explanation to this historical mystery.