When the landlord of The Cork and the Bottle ends up dead in a puddle of blood on the floor of his own pub, the case seems clear. The teen burglars who broke into the pub to steal the contents of the till are the culprits.
But there are things about the case that just don’t add up. And eventually, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd begins to suspect that the killers are to be found much closer to home…
Read an excerpt.
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Some background information:
- The Cork and the Bottle is a short story of 4400 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- Like Old Mommark’s Tale, The Iron Border and Seeing Red, this story was written in response to the eight-hour e-book challenge instigated by Joe Konrath and continued by a bunch of people at KBoards. For information about the eight hour e-book challenge, see this website run by Donald Rump.
- The Cork and the Bottle was directly inspired by one of those crime shorts still found in the backpages of German magazines, which were my earliest exposure to the short story form and inspired me to write short crime fiction in the first place. In this case, I read a crime short with a similar premise in a gossip mag of my Mom’s and expected it to go in a totally different direction than it did. Since I thought the solution I’d come up with was rather good, I decided to write it myself.
- I changed the setting (Britain rather than Germany) and most of the details (the business where the murder takes place is a pub rather than a coffee shop) and voila – an original story.
- I collect interesting names of pubs, coffee shops, restaurants and other businesses. When I needed a name for the pub in what was then still an untitled crime short, I consulted that list and quickly settled on The Cork and the Bottle, which also became the title of the story. The fact that the murder weapon is a bottle makes the name and title even more appropriate.
- When Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd reads the killers their rights, she uses the official wording used in England and Wales.
- The cover image is a stock photo by Polish photographer Patryk Specjal.
- The original cover, which may be seen here, featured a stock photo by a photographer only known as crazed. I changed it to match the series branding for the Helen Shepherd Mysteries.