Thursday, 16 January 2020

Her Last Goodnight by Michael Scanlon - Blog Tour


Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum, I have an exciting extract from the newest crime novel by Michael Scanlon, Her Last Goodnight.

Her Last Goodnight

Eddie stands at his door anxiously waiting for her to arrive, touching the box in his pocket for luck. He doesn’t hear the footsteps behind him until it’s too late…

Detective Finnegan Beck is called to a violent crime scene – a remote house near the rural Irish town of Cross Beg – where a dog lies whimpering beside his beloved owner’s body.

At first it looks like a burglary gone wrong. But Beck spots something his colleagues didn’t. The victim, Eddie Kavanagh, was wearing his smartest clothes. He’d brushed his hair. And, on closer inspection, a small velvet box containing an engagement ring is discovered in his pocket, along with a letter to a nameless woman, which seems to suggest she’s in danger.

Those who knew Eddie have no idea about a female friend though – there’s been no one in his life since a girl who he’d loved and who’d broken his heart decades before.

So who was the woman Eddie was waiting for? And did his connection with her ultimately lead to his murder? When a beautiful young woman is then found beaten to death, murdered exactly as Eddie had been, Beck has to ask – is the danger over? Or is it just beginning?


Extract 


Prologue

The rain plopped through the leaves, dripping down onto the old man’s head, ebbing across his
deeply creviced face to the tip of his chin and, finally, to the ground. But he didn’t notice. He didn’t
notice anything, his mind too preoccupied replaying memories in crystal-sharp clarity, as if they were
of yesterday. A gust of wind threw needles of cold against his skin. Old age had made his body feeble
now, sensitive to chills. But he paid no notice to that either. It was the memories that tormented him.
Memories of love and loss, and mostly of Emily Tuffy, the only woman he had ever loved… until now. 

The older he became, the even clearer those memories seemed. Of the Lilac Ballroom, just outside
Cross Beg, as real as if it were before his very eyes, its grey walls rising out of the boggy ground.
Despite its
pretty name, it had been an ugly building, with a high rectangular wall to the front, a long flat roof to
the back and a row of small dirty windows all around. Nothing but a damp cavern, except on Saturday
nights when it was transformed, when the crystal globes turned, reflecting the spotlights with cascades
of twinkling orbs that shimmered across the mass of heaving, sweating bodies beneath. A thousand
people or more filled the Lilac on those Saturday nights, and they travelled there by bus and car, bicycle
and foot, in wind and rain, from every corner of the county. 
But the Lilac Ballroom was nothing but a ruin now, the roof long since caved in, its walls covered in ivy
and wild brambles. 

Eddie sighed, and thought, If only I could go back. 
He closed his eyes and imagined he saw her again. Emily Tuffy, standing on the opposite side of the
hall. It was summertime, the ballroom like an oven. She wore a green summer dress, black shoes, the
lights glinting on the silver buckles, and her hair held up with a single pin. He had been able to feel the
heat beneath the fabric of her dress as they waltzed, his hand secure on her waist, lost in the moment he
had waited for all week. It was only a matter of time before he would ask her to marry him. But Eddie
was a cautious man, and first he had to be sure of his job at the meat plant, and that his father would
sign over the farm as he’d promised. Then, when all was in order, and only then, would he ask. 

He knew now, with the value of hindsight, he shouldn’t have waited. That had been a mistake. Because
he had lost her. She had gone to America, fed up with waiting. He should have asked, should have
followed his heart, and trusted that everything would work out. If only I could go back. But he could
not go back. It was too late for that. He shook his head, trying to untangle his jumbled-up thoughts. But
now he had a second chance. Was it possible? The thought was enough to allow him a slight smile. He
felt it in his pocket, reassuring himself with the touch of the small velvet-covered box. Once more he
smiled. A second chance? Maybe. Just maybe, it was not too late. 

Today he would not make the same mistake. Today he would take his chance. Today he would ask her –
oh, what a beautiful creature she was – to be his wife. Yes, she was younger than he, by many years it
must be said, but it could be her second chance too, to escape the misery of her life. No longer was he
worried about getting a job in a meat plant, like he had when he’d been courting Emily. He had been
prudent with money. Some even said he was rich. More than anything, he wanted to change her life, to
make a difference, and he knew he could do it. He could do it, if given the chance. In return, all he
wanted, for however long he had left on this earth, was an end to this terrible loneliness, to be able to
share the love that was in his heart, to be able to bring happiness to another’s life, and so add meaning
to his own. 

The wind stirred, bringing with it a memory. He and Emily had taken the bus to Clifden, eaten in the
Café Continental, on the first floor of a building by the square, from where they could see the harbour
and the
sea beyond. They had eggs and sausages with a big pot of tea and thick slices of soda bread. Tourists
were amongst the diners, the different languages spoken a reminder of the great world that existed
beyond the horizon. She had told him then that he was the sweetest man in the whole wide world, the
type of man any woman would want to spend her life with. 
‘You remember that time?’ she said. ‘When I was poorly and you came to see me. There was a terrible
storm, but still you came. You brought leeks, carrots and mutton. You made it into a broth because I
couldn’t eat.’ She had leant over the table and kissed him full on the lips. 
He had loved her more than anything. He understood now that look on her face, her big brown eyes
tender and questioning… When? It was the time, she was communicating to him, to ask her to marry
him. He did not know it then, but he knew it now. He had made the mistake of thinking that Emily
Tuffy would wait forever. 

She did not. 
And it was then he heard it. He turned slightly, peering back over his shoulder, caught a fleeting
glimpse of… something, long and black, moving fast through the air towards him, so fast. Like a bird,
but without wings. Closer now, almost upon him… He closed his eyes, braced for the impact. And he
thought of Emily Tuffy, her pretty face, but no longer smiling, instead staring, a spectator, helpless,
watching… 

Whack! 
He heard the dull sound and with it came the searing pain to his face and mouth. He made a short noise
in response, a low, anguished oommpph. He crumpled to the ground, and there was a loud crack as his
old hip broke in two, and with it a shooting pain so intense it momentarily overwhelmed the pain he felt
in his face. He lay there, his left leg at a grotesque angle. But he did not make any other sound. He tried
to, but nothing came from his shattered mouth. 
His vision began to dim, the force of the blow to his face rupturing the minute blood vessels behind his
eyes. But then he felt he could see it again, that black shape, moving towards him. Fast. So fast… And
once again he saw Emily Tuffy, her arms reaching for him. 
Whack. 
And again…
Whack.
And again… 

Whack.

How brilliant does that sound! To read more about it, don't forget to check out the rest of the tour -



About The Author


Michael Scanlon is a civilian employee of the An Garda Siochana (the Irish police force), but a life threatening undiagnosed illness that struck while travelling in Spain in 2014 has rendered him on long term sick leave. He is married to Eileen and has a daughter, Sarah. He lives in the countryside outside the town of Ballina in County Mayo. The town has arguably the best salmon river in Europe, called the Moy.


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