If you missed my interview with talented author Christopher D Abbott, then you can catch it here, and, as promised in the post, here is a sample taken from his novel; Sir Laurance Dies.
Sir Laurence was a decorated soldier in the Great War, and a hardnosed businessman. He was also a man of whom everyone was a little afraid. So when he boasted to Doctor Straay about his expert knowledge of crime fiction and requested that Straay spend a weekend at his country estate, the detective had reservations.
What began as an absorbing evening of drinks, conversation, and card games, soon turned into a horrific scene of murder. Fiction would soon give way to fact and in this game, the game of murder, Doctor Straay was the expert…
Straay had said nothing during the entire interview after the Major’s comment about the war. When the Major, grumbling, finally left, Drake turned to him.
‘You all right?’
‘Yes I am. I was just pondering a question.’
‘Who the culprit is eh? Or how our stiff Major doesn’t like being kicked out?’
‘No, why was Major Heskith so insistent that Sir Laurence was murdered when all the facts and evidence, in so far as we’ve allowed it known, clearly point to suicide?’
‘Yes he did seem stubbornly fixed on murder. Fact!’
Straay laughed. He put his little notebook into his pocket and pulled out a fresh packet of cigarettes.
‘He has an intransigent and bigoted attitude, I fear. It’s the kind of attitude that gives the British a bad name abroad, I’m sad to say.’
‘What does intransigent mean exactly?’
‘His refusal to compromise, his inability to abandon any extreme position or attitude. I see him as a superficial character, we don’t get any sense of the man beneath; he is just… flat, one-dimensional even.’
‘That does sum him up perfectly then, stiff upper-lip. Still, you can’t deny the man survived the War. That must have affected him.’ Drake said with more compassion than he actually felt.
‘One shouldn’t forget that,’ Straay acknowledged. ‘The Major reminds me of a patient I once had to help in a hospital in Holland. He was a war veteran too.’ He lit the cigarette, took that important first pull, and slowly exhaled before continuing.
‘In every respect he seemed perfectly sound, except once a day we would find him in the cleaning cupboard with the lights off, smoking. He would say it was because he preferred the solitary of a cubicle, where he could have a cigarette in peace. I decided early on that he liked these small dark places because they reminded him of the trenches; it was his shelter against whatever enemy he perceived was after him. I believe that I was that enemy. He wouldn’t admit it. He would often awake in the middle of the night in tears, afraid to go back to sleep and always be drawn into the same horrific nightmares where he would relive the experiences of the war. His biggest fear was he would end up in some institute for the rest of his life. He created a fictitious world around him, where odd behaviour was transformed into normal behaviour. He was also intransigent. I never gained his trust. I was convinced that he would do himself harm, but I was a junior doctor at the time. My superior was an incompetent man who was not interested in my inexperienced observations.’ Straay shook his head.
‘What happened to him?’
‘When they released him, he found a dark place and cried one last time. They found him dead. He’d pushed a bayonet through his eye, into his brain.’
‘That’s awful!’ Drake was seriously shocked.
‘What I’m trying to say here is this; the Major is showing similar signs. He has an almost one-dimensional view of the world around him. It’s possibly a symptom of war fatigue. We aren’t going to learn much from him because he’s shut the real world out; only what he sees now and what he thinks now are relevant to him. That is how I see this man.’
Drake understood. ‘How do we reach the real man?’
‘Well, that will be a challenge. One I shall relish. Breaking into the “psyche” of a man like Major Heskith is something I am extremely good at, if I do say so myself.’ He smiled slightly.
‘You okay about that war reference?’
Straay waved a hand. ‘It’s an attitude I’m used to, we Dutch are made of far sterner stuff.’
Drake wasn’t going to argue. He didn’t know that many Dutchmen, but he thought Straay had been rattled by the Major, just a little.
‘I think it’s time we interviewed the next person,’ Drake turned to the constable at the door.
‘Go and get Lady Agatha, Jennings.’
Christopher D. Abbott has a background in human behavioural studies. Having worked in IT, communications, safety and health, and sales, he has gained a good understanding about people and their behaviours. This has led to his interest in psychology. For many years, he has been an avid reader of crime fiction. Christopher has taken creative writing courses and from this, his ambition has always been to publish a character driven crime story, in the style of the great Agatha Christie. Christopher loves quirky characters, such as Rodney David Wingfield’s Inspector “Jack” Frost, along with Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The Idea of Doctor Pieter Straay, his Dutch Criminal Psychologist, came about by integrating the qualities he admired best in the three previous characters.
Christopher grew up in England and moved to the United States in 2010. He currently resides in Connecticut. He loves to write and play music, which has been as much of a passion for him as writing is. He also enjoys cooking and is currently working on his next Doctor Straay novel.
You can grab your copy of Sir Laurence Dies from Aamazon, and one thing is for sure, you will not be sorry that you did. You can also find Christopher online at: