Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook.
As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require. A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.
This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.
Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!
Forget sending postcards saying ‘wish you were here’ - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.
There is a review today on http://shelovestoread.weebly.com/
Read on for the second exclusive extract of The Guestbook, released on Valentine’s Day. The first extract can be found onhttp://thischickreads.wordpress.com/
8th – 14th March
Oliver Butterworth. Black
I’m here to kill someone and I’m not leaving until I’ve done it.
I’m thinking of using a scythe, with a jagged serrated edge. Though I don’t want my victim to die too quickly, it needs to be slow and painful, it needs to be bloody. I want her to see her blood drain out of her, slowly, agonizingly feel her life force ebb away. I want her to beg for her salvation. I want that tough hard exterior to crumble in the last pitiful minutes of her pathetic life. I want to see her cry.
My best laid plans continue to go awry. As devious as I am in trying to catch my prey, she is as cunning at evading me. I almost respect her for it. Almost.
Oh Olly, you do make me laugh. It’s good to have you back. You do realise how this will look don’t you, or is that your intention? I’ll have the police on me for harbouring a criminal. If they come for me, I’m taking you down with me. There’s no honour amongst thieves.
Careful Annie, or I may have to kill you.
Oh please do, I’ve been begging you to kill me off for years. The bloodier and messier the better. Could you chop off my head and tear out my innards? Could you gouge out my eyes and keep them about your person as a memento? You could have a whole box of eyes left over from your victims. Oh and could you write some message on the walls using my blood? My brain could be the full stop. I’d love that.
I bet you would you sicko. Now leave me alone. I came here for some peace and solitude, not to be bothered every five minutes by the dodgy landlady next door. If you disturb me again I really will consider ripping out your heart and letting you watch as it beats feebly in my bloody hands.
Promises, promises. Come for dinner tonight, don’t shut yourself away for the whole week, I’ve missed you. If you come I promise to be good and quiet for at least a day.
Right, that’s it, you’re in for it now. I need a big knife.
I have one. You’re welcome to come round and borrow it.
After dinner with my sister-in-law I feel much better about the murder. We talked things through and she gave me some great ideas on how to commit the perfect crime. I now know how I’m going to dispose of the body too. No one will ever find her. Claudette Montana is going to die tonight. I will not rest until she is lying in the ground.
Claudette Montana? Really? Please kill me off, not her.
I am not killing you off. I’ve told you before, Annie Butterworth just isn’t sexy enough to be in one of my books. Annie Butterworth sounds like an old granny with fluffy slippers and someone who wears cardigans no matter how hot it is. Why do you think I changed my name to Oliver Black? Oliver Butterworth would be smoking a pipe and sucking on his Werther’s Originals, he certainly wouldn’t be the number one crime writer in Britain, nay the world.
You think a lot of yourself don’t you? And yes, I’m well aware I’m not sexy enough for you.
Are we still talking about the book here? Let’s not go down that weird road again. Besides you were in my last book, you obviously didn’t look hard enough.
I was not, I would have noticed that.
Try the very front of the book.
What’s this? The Great Oliver Black having writer’s block? Surely not.
Sophia Lorenzo. Cleaner.
Oh Annie. Please tell me, with all your money, why you still haven’t got yourself a decent cleaner yet? Why do you still have this old bag hanging around like a bad smell?
Oliver Butterworth, don’t think you are too old to be put over my knee. Sophia
Oh Aunty Sophia, are you still mad that I killed you off in Behind Closed Doors.
I was more bothered that you made me into a prostitute.
High class escort actually, I couldn’t resist. Besides Sophia Lorenzo is a much sexier sounding name than Annie Butterworth.
You dedicated your last book to me!! How did I miss that? I can’t believe you did that. That’s… Thank you.
Oh don’t get all soppy on me. Jeez if I knew it was going to get this reaction I would have dedicated it to my local Chinese take-out, who kept me fed through the duration of the book.
And Sophia, it wasn’t so much writer’s block, more murderer’s block. I had made the character of Claudette so clever, underhanded and cunning that she wouldn’t fall for the plots and ploys of Maxwell Hunt. I also needed to make sure the reader would feel sympathetic towards him, they had to want Claudette dead almost as much as he did.
It is technically Tuesday. 3.27 Tuesday morning to be precise. But Claudette has been killed. I feel like singing ‘ding, dong the witch is dead’. I have cracked open a bottle of Whin Hill Cider to celebrate but may sneak next door and top up my celebrations with some of Annie’s amazing trifle.
Note to self: When breaking into your sister-in-law’s place either go blindfolded or call out to make sure she is decent first. I don’t know who was more shocked when I walked in to find her stark naked tucking into the trifle. Admittedly we’re experiencing one of the hottest springs since before dinosaurs roamed the earth but still, one should wear a robe when wandering about downstairs.
Why should I wear a robe in my own house? Normally my guests don’t just take it upon themselves to wander into my house and help themselves to my food. That’s not part of the service. Besides you have seen me naked before.
Yes. You’ve put on weight since the last time.
Oh my god! Thanks very much!
Annie! You know very well that I meant that as a good thing. You were a bag of bones the last time I saw you. I’m so glad you’re eating properly again now.
Nag, nag, nag.
I’m just saying, what I saw in the light of the fridge for those brief seconds was damned sexy.
Sexy enough to be in one of your books?
If you won’t kill me off how about making me into a murderer instead?
Annie Butterworth, blonde hair, blue eyes, face like an angel, cast as an evil murderer, who would believe it?
My sister-in-law has gone mad. Maybe the grief of my brother dying has finally got to her and it’s pushed her over the edge. She tried to kill me three times yesterday.
The first time she leapt out of a cupboard with an axe. Scared the bloody crap out of me, but only because she was screaming like a banshee. When I turned around and saw Annie brandishing an axe in her little flowered blouse and denim shorts with those stupid oversized sandals she loves so much I burst out laughing, hardly the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.
The second time a quiche appeared in my kitchen with a packet of rat poison next to it. The quiche tasted amazing, Annie always could cook.
I had to give her points for trying on the third attempt. I woke to find her straddling me, dressed head to toe in a black leather cat suit, her hair slicked back, her eyes lined with black and a knife pressed to my throat. I must admit she did look mean, but I was too busy trying not to be turned on to be scared of her. Quite frankly if she had killed me then I would have gone with a huge grin on my face.
Annie, I know you just don’t have it in you to be a killer. I’ve seen you stop the car for a frog to cross the road. You didn’t even have the guts to use a real knife, you had a spoon handle pressed to my throat.
I didn’t want to hurt you. I could be believable as a killer, just you wait and see.
Annie may be a better killer than I thought. Last night I nearly died laughing.
She had made a dummy by stuffing old clothes with newspapers, a head out of an old melon and fastened it all together to look like a body then wrapped it in a black bin bag. Just as it was starting to turn dark she went out to her front garden, and in full view of the rest of the village, dug a hole to bury the body. She obviously wanted to raise suspicions and prove that people would think she was capable of such a thing.
She was in luck. David Lambeth, the local constabulary, was driving past and he stopped when he saw her digging. I think she nearly did a little victory dance that he would ask her what she was doing and to explain the body shaped bag on her front lawn. But without a word, David went to the shed, grabbed another spade and helped her to dig the hole only stopping once to clarify how deep she wanted it. I laughed so much I think I ruptured something inside.
Even when I told him I wanted the hole six feet deep he didn’t bat an eyelid. I did relent in the end and told him I’d finish the hole the next day. He’s coming round later to help me finish it off.
I’m being kicked out today. Apparently a paying guest is more important than family.
You can stay in my spare room, you know that. I promise not to jump you.
I’d prefer to keep the boundaries a bit stricter, after last time.
I’ll be back for the grand re-opening of The Painted Plate. Take Care Annie, Sophia, take care of her.
I will. Don’t stay away so long next time. Sophia x
Tomorrow is Publication Day for The Guestbook!!! Join me onhttp://fromfirstpagetolast.wordpress.com/ to listen to me talk about the inspiration for The Guestbook and onhttp://theloveofagoodbook.wordpress.com/ there will be another review.
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Now YOU can get involved too, here is our very own Guestbook online, take the time to visit and leave a comment, join in the fun and tell us what you thought of your experience. Meet new friends or be nosey and see what others have got up to before you!