FRONT PAGE MURDER
A Crampton of the Chronicle mystery
It's December 1963 and Archie Flowerdew is sitting in a cell at Wandsworth Prison waiting to be hanged. On Christmas Eve. It's not exactly how he planned to spend the festive season. But, then, Archie was found guilty of murdering fellow comic postcard artist Percy Despart.
It seems there's nothing that can stop Archie's neck being wrung like a turkey's. Except that his niece Tammy is convinced Archie is innocent. She's determined he will sit down on Christmas Day to tuck into the plum pudding. She persuades Brighton Evening Chronicle crime reporter Colin Crampton to take up the case.
But Colin has problems of his own. First, that good turn he did to help out Chronicle sub-editor Barry Hobhouse has come back to bite him on the bum. Then Beatrice "the Widow" Gribble, Colin's trouble-prone landlady, needs him to sort out her latest faux pas - she's accidentally sent a Christmas card to her local butcher suggesting she's available for hot sex. And that's before Brighton cops clap Colin and girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith in jail on the charge of harbouring a fugitive from justice.
And, anyway, the more Colin investigates Archie's case, the more it looks like he is guilty… Pick up the third full-length novel in the Crampton of the Chronicle mystery series to get you in the mood for a murderous Christmas!
Front Page Murder e-book is on special offer until the end of December for 99p/99c
For readers who want to start the series at the beginning, there's a deal which includes Headline Murder, Stop Press Murder and Front Page Murder in e-book formats for £4.97/$4.97. This offer also closes on 31 December.
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Crampton of the Chronicle 3-book series on Amazon.com
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AN EXTRACT FROM FRONT PAGE MURDER
By Peter Bartram
My news editor Frank Figgis took a long drag on his Woodbine, blew a perfect smoke ring and said: "Have you ever attended a hanging before?"
"I once watched my mother put up some curtains in the outside lavvy," I said.
"The real thing is not so pretty."
"Neither were the curtains. She'd knocked them up out of old blackout material."
Figgis harrumphed. We were in the newsroom at the Brighton Evening Chronicle. It was a brisk December morning and only ten days until Christmas.
Figgis had stopped by my desk to let me know that it would be my byline - Colin Crampton, crime correspondent - on the story telling our readers that Archie Flowerdew had been hung by the neck until dead for the murder of Percy Despart.
"The whole business sounds a bit ghoulish to me," I said. "Especially as Archie is for the drop on Christmas Eve."
"At least you won't need to be in the room when the hangman pulls the lever and the poor sap falls through the trapdoor." Figgis stubbed out his ciggie and tossed the dog-end into my waste bin. "In the old days, reporters got to watch the show from a front-row seat."
"Instead, I'll be standing around outside the prison gates waiting for them to post the Notice of Execution," I said. "What's the point of that? We know in advance what the notice will say. It just feels like morbid curiosity."
"It's traditional. Hangings and Notices of Execution go together like Christmas pudding and heartburn," Figgis croaked. His sixty-a-day habit had left him with a voice which sounded like ancient bedsprings wheezing under the weight of a bouncing sumo wrestler.
"It's not traditional for Flowerdew," I said. "It's his first hanging. He doesn't get a dress rehearsal."
"The hangman does," Figgis said. "The day before, the hangman tests everything with a sack of sand about the same weight as the victim. He leaves the sack hanging overnight to stretch the rope. You could mention that when you come to write your piece."
"Any other gruesome titbits you'd like me to include?"
"Certainly not. This is a family newspaper. Just look on the hanging piece as the last chapter in a long-running story."
I nodded. It was certainly that. Since the day Despart's body had been discovered in his studio, the story had provided the paper with a string of headlines.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime mystery series, which features Colin Crampton, crime correspondent of the 1960s fictional newspaper the Brighton Evening Chronicle. Peter began his career as a reporter on a real-life local newspaper not far from Brighton. Then he worked as a journalist and newspaper editor in London before becoming freelance. He has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and Buckingham Palace. Peter's "Swinging Sixties" murder mysteries combine clue-solving with comedy - the laughs are never far from the action. Other books in the series, which has already logged more than 100 5-star reviews on Amazon, include Headline Murder and Stop Press Murder.