After over two years in the planning, writing, editing, waiting phase, Dark Lake is finally released. Today you can pick it up in eBook and audio formats. Paperback (available for pre-order) will release on October 9th. Here is the blurb, extract and links to the book trailer I made, the audio extract my publisher made and the buy links for Amazon UK and Amazon US. It's also on iTunes and Barnes and Noble and direct from Pelican Book Group.
Archaeologist Dr. Lou Fitzgerald is used to unexpected happenings, and they don't usually faze her. After surviving a childhood disability, and dealing with an unfair boss, Lou has learned the art of rolling with the punches. But when she arrives at Dark Lake, what was supposed to be a simple archaeological dig is beyond even her wildest imaginations.
Land owner Evan Close has his own reasons for keeping the secrets of Dark Lake, and this attractive interloper is a menace. Her precious dig threatens to bring his house of cards tumbling down around him, and he feels helpless to stop it.
It soon becomes apparent there are dark forces at work, and Lou's simple assignment turns into a mystery. Solving that mystery comes with a steep price.
Evan Close eased back onto the plush red leather sofa in his London office and lifted the glass of whiskey from the silver tray on the side table. He had very few vices, but this was one of them. The amber liquid sparkled in the late afternoon sunlight. His nerves had been on edge since the phone call after lunch, and now he was tauter than a violin bow.
He had spent years building up Xenon, his civil engineering company, and had finally begun to reap the rewards from years of hard work. And he now stood on the cusp of losing everything.
Thanks to Varian Sparrow. There was a family connection somewhere in the past. He and Varian were cousins several times removed, but he didn’t pay any attention to that. The less he and Varian had to do with each other the better, as far as he was concerned. Especially now Varian was sending a woman to dig into a past he needed kept buried.
He could have done the research into this woman by himself, but that was why he paid other people. Besides, he’d had work of his own to do. A new tender was up for grabs, and he had to polish his pitch and make sure his offer was better than anyone else’s. Files were spread out over the table in front of him. Facts, figures, running costs from his other projects, including the jewel in his crown—the Thames Barrier.
The tap and the door opening occurred simultaneously. He glanced upwards. Only one person had the authority to do that. And it wasn’t his secretary either. He nodded to the tall, dark haired man standing opposite him. “So, what do we know about her, Ira?”
Ira Miles, his head of security, opened the file and handed Evan a photo. “Quite a bit.”
“Take a seat.” Evan studied the picture as Ira folded himself into the chair on the other side of the coffee table.
The woman in the photo was pretty. Long black hair, sparkling blue eyes, dimples in her cheeks, and perfect teeth that shone. She appeared young, but he didn’t suppose she was.
“Her name is Dr. Louisa Willow Benson Fitzgerald. She’s thirty-two and was born in Southampton. She won swimming gold in the Para-world championships thirteen years ago in the four hundred meters freestyle, setting a new world and commonwealth record in the process. She gave up swimming to pursue a career in archaeology. B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., ending up as one of the top archaeologists in her field.” He paused and looked expectantly at Evan.
“What did I miss?”
Evan groaned. “That’s a terrible pun. Even by my standards. Go on.”
“Her father, Robert Benson, died when she was twelve. Her mother, Nichola, was remarried five years later to an American pilot, Jack Fitzgerald. He’s now the general in charge of Nellis Air Force Base. Dr. Fitzgerald has two siblings from that marriage, a brother, Robert, aged fourteen, and a sister, Emily, who is twelve. She took her stepfather’s surname when he adopted her. Before that, she and two friends ran away. According to what I discovered they sparked a worldwide search after they left Southampton on board a cabin cruiser. They were finally found seven months later on Agrihan where they’d been shipwrecked.”
Evan raised an eyebrow and snatched the offered paper as he snorted in disbelief. “Really? And Agrihan is where exactly?”
“It’s part of the North Marina Islands in the Pacific. That’s a distance of around seven-thousand, two-hundred and twenty miles from where they set off. And that’s going as the crow flies east to west. Though I imagine they’d have gone west to east, so the mileage could be out by a fair few miles.”
“Hmmm. And these kids were how old?”
“Dr. Fitzgerald was fifteen; her friends Jim and Staci Kirk were seventeen and thirteen respectively.”
Evan tossed the paper to the side, discounting the story as totally implausible. “Yeah, right.” He swallowed a generous sip of the whiskey and waved a finger over the top of the glass. “Go on.”
“She has a prosthetic left leg due to injuries received when she ran away. No more details on that. She’s sidestepped the question on every interview she’s ever given. If it is a matter of public record, it’s been well and truly sealed. Her reputation as an archaeologist is formidable. By all accounts, she’s like a dog with a bone, as the cliché says. Once she starts uncovering something, she keeps going until she’s found all the answers. There is a list of her papers and so on attached to that document I gave you.”
Evan shifted on the sofa, a gnawing starting in the pit of his stomach. “Is she a threat?”
Ira shook his head. “She is ambitious, but a threat? I’m not sure. We’ll need to keep a close watch on her.”
Evan drained the whiskey and held the glass up to the light. “Why send her?”
“It’s a rhetorical question. I was wondering why Varian would send her when it’s in his interests to keep the past buried. It’s something we need to address in the not too distant future.”
He rose and set the glass down. Crossing to the large picture window, he glanced at his reflection, pushing his fingers through his hair. Then he gazed out at the streets of London several stories below him. The Thames glinted in the sunlight. “I need to get up there. I’ll take the jet. Pack for several days, and I’ll do the same. Make the usual arrangements for us to be met at the airport and leave the file with me. I want to read it.”
Ira nodded, placed the folder on the desk, and headed to the door.
Evan crossed back to the desk and held down the intercom. “Janet, I’m heading up to Dark Lake for a week or so. Can you arrange to have the jet on standby? And ask the manor staff get the house ready. I’ll be there first thing.”
“Yes, Mr. Close.”
Evan released the intercom, and then grabbed his briefcase and placed it carefully on the desk. He’d paid good money for the black leather with gold trim and didn’t want to damage it. He strode to the filing cabinet and drew the key from his jacket pocket.
He ran over the files until he reached D. Then he removed every file pertaining to Dark Lake. What was Varian Sparrow playing at? Yes, the water levels in the lake were low. But that had happened before and would happen 1 again. Just like at the Ladybower Dam several years ago. It didn’t mean anything. Did it?
He couldn’t take the risk. The secrets of Dark Lake had to stay buried in the past where they belonged. The problem was, this archaeologist, this Dr. Louisa Fitzgerald dug up and exposed the past for a living.
She had to be halted, one way or another.
If it was the last thing he did, he had to stop her.
Interview with Lou Fitzgerald and Evan Close.
Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
Lou – “I’m Lou and this is Evan. I’m an archaeologist and he’s a rich bloke who owns his own business and a huge house in the country.”
Evan - rolls his eyes before answering. “I run my own company, yes. I’m a civil engineer and I oversee the upkeep of several dams across the country.”
Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there?
Lou – “I go where the work takes me, so a hotel room. Usually. My parents are in the States. My stepdad is a general in the US Air Force and Mum moved to be with him after they married.”
Evan – “I have a flat in London and a house in Dark Lake. I don’t have much in the way of family. Unlike Lou.”
Lou – “Hey, you have Ira. He’s always around. And he’s pretty handy with that gun of his.”
What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know?
Evan – “Well Lou's quirk is she never does as she’s told.”
Lou – “And Evan is just plain bossy and annoying.”
What obstacles did you have to overcome in order to reach your Happily-ever-after?
Both exchange a long look.
Lou – “We have a happily ever after?”
Evan – “Ummm… spoilers. Sorry.”
The first time you saw each other, what did you think? Was it ‘like at first sight’?
Lou – chokes on her glass of water.
Evan – “Uh, not exactly. But like I said earlier…spoilers.”
Lou – “Be honest. You didn’t want me anywhere near your dam or your lake. If you could have put me on the first train out of there you would have.”
Evan – “Only you drove. So that wasn’t an option.”
Lou – “Honestly, I think he’s just jealous. You see I’ve already been in three books—the Signal Me series by the same author—and Evan wasn’t in any before this one. He also got painted as kind of a bad guy at one point. Whereas me?” She swishes her long hair over her shoulder. “I’m just the heroine again.”
Evan scowls – “At least you came out of this story in one piece.”
Lou glares at him – “That’s mean. And actually, it wasn’t quite that simple.” Zips mouth closed. “Sorry. Spoilers.”
If you could pick someone to play you in a movie of this book, who would you pick?
Lou – Shona McGarty. She currently plays Witney in Eastenders.
Evan – Tom Mison. He was in Sleepy Hollow. The TV series not the film.