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The Page 69 Test - Read the extract from DI Andy Horton, DEAD MAN'S WHARF

Dead Man's Wharf, Inspector Andy Horton crime novelThe first I heard of the Page 69 Test was when a member of the public approached me in a bookshop where I was doing a book signing and said she always applied it when deciding which crime novel to purchase. She didn’t buy one of my novels so I’d obviously failed to reach her exacting standards, whatever they were! I can't recall which crime novel it was or when but I have applied the Page 69 Test to some of my crime novels including the Inspector Andy Horton procedurals, A KILLING COAST (7) and SHROUD OF EVIL (11). This time, as it is January and DEAD MAN'S WHARF is set in January I've applied it to this crime novel. You can read the extract below, but first a bit of background to the novel.

Horton and Cantelli are called to a nursing home where an elderly resident, suffering from dementia, claims she's been attacked by an intruder. Horton is ready to dismiss it as senile ramblings until he discovers that her room-mate has died, the dead woman's belongings are missing and her son, convicted for armed robbery, has been found dead in his cell. Coupled with a series of threatening telephone calls to a television personality, and a mother's conviction that her son's death on Christmas Eve was no accident, Horton finds he is caught up in a complex investigation that has far-reaching international implications. With the pressure on to find a killer, and hampered by his belief that his bosses are lying to him, Horton discovers that he's stepped into a web of intrigue, deception and corruption that stretches back into the past.

The Page 69 Test - Dead Man's Wharf  Extract, an Inspector Andy Horton crime novel

Horton pushed back the door to the custody cell block and the heat hit him like a bomb blast. Along with it came the smell of sweat, dirt, shit and something indefinable to anyone but a police officer.
‘Has someone died in here and no one’s bothered to check?’
‘Sorry, sir. Two junkies brought in this morning. Haven’t had a chance to put them through the sheep dip yet.’
If only, Horton thought.
‘Oh, and DCI Bliss was asking for you, sir. Wants to see you as soon as you come in.’
Now what? Who had complained?  Knocking first, then entering her office, he drew up startled. She was clearing her desk. Her usually pale skin was flushed, but it wasn’t with anger because Horton could see that under her crisp exterior she was secretly very pleased with herself.
‘I’ve been seconded to the Performance and Review Team,’ she said without preamble. ‘I shall be working out of headquarters for the next three months helping to review best investigative practices.’
God help us all, thought Horton, but took care not to let his feelings show. They say that every cloud has a silver lining and at least she’d be out of his hair.
‘As from tomorrow you will resume command in my absence. Superintendent Reine’s instructions.’
Ah, so not hers and clearly against her wishes. Well good on Reine. Perhaps he wasn’t such a stuffed prick after all. ‘I’m being made up to acting DCI?’ he asked.
She eyed him incredulously.
‘So it’s the job without the pay or the rank,’ he added bitterly. He might have guessed.
Cramming the last of her files into her overcrowded briefcase, and straightening up, she said, ‘Detective Constable Harriet Lee has been assigned to help you. She starts tomorrow and will be here on secondment for a while.’
He hadn’t heard the name before. She wasn’t from this station. ‘How long is a while?’
‘Until the permanent appointments are announced.’
Which would be at the end of January. ‘Where’s she from?’
‘Headquarters. I’m told she’s a highly respected officer.’
Yeah, but not operational, Horton thought, and did she have any experience in criminal investigations? He had been hoping for PC Seaton or PC Kate Somerfield on secondment. It was just his luck to get a paper pusher. He followed Bliss into the corridor where she paused. He couldn’t mistake the triumphant gleam in her eyes. He guessed this was her dream come true. But why had she been plucked from here to be set down in HQ? She’d only been a Detective Chief Inspector one month, and here for about the same length of time, so hardly long enough to make a name for herself. Perhaps it was that e-mail that had impressed the powers that be: C.A.S.E. = Results. He had no idea what the CASE stood for but it looked as though Bliss had got a result all right.

Dead Man's Wharf the fourth in the DI Andy Horton crime series by Pauline Rowson

'Rowson turns out an exemplary procedural.' Starred Review Kirkus (USA)

Available from all good booksellers in paperback, as an ebook, on Kindle and Kobo, in Large Print and as unabridged audio book narrated by Gordon Griffin.

'Gordon Griffin's delivery enhances the story's setting, the Solent area of the south coast of England, with its atmosphere of mist and the scent of the sea. As gruff Inspector Andy Horton uncovers fact after fact concerning the mysterious deaths at a nursing home, the scope of the crimes only seems to grow. Griffin makes us feel the pain and terror of hidden violence. It's a moving portrayal.'  D.R.W. AudioFile Magazine

DEAD MAN'S WHARF is also available for loan in libraries in the UK, Commonwealth and the USA.

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JANUARY 9TH, 2021 @ 6:10:16 GMT

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