A mystery for cat lovers and cozy fans, SAY GOODBYE TO ARCHIE concerns an unconventional case of murder in the idyllic English village of Woodley. Who could have killed a renowned writer’s muse and beloved companion? Scottish barrister Rex Graves takes the train down from Edinburgh to the East Sussex coast to find out. Novella (20,000 words, British spelling).
By #1 Kindle bestselling author of "Christmas Is Murder," published by Midnight Ink.
~SAY GOODBYE TO ARCHIE~
* * *
"It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that Archie passed away in the early hours of this morning. A small ceremony will be held at the Poplars on Sunday. RSVP"
“You must go, Reginald,” Rex’s mother said in her genteel Edinburgh dialect. Summer rain spattered the panes behind the net curtains of the front parlour, where they were taking tea. “Archie meant the world to Patricia. And you know I can’t travel that far.”
“Even if we went down by train?”
His mother was terrified of public transport, but driving hundreds of miles in a car proved even more of a problem for her. Rex really didn’t want to go by himself. He didn’t want to go at all. Patricia Forsyth was a batty old lady, a boarding school chum of his mother’s from before the advent of television. His mother had had him late in life, as had Patricia her own two children.
“No, son, you go on my behalf. I’ll telephone Patricia with my regrets.”
“How old was Archie?”
“Eighteen. A good age for a cat. But that won’t help ease her grief. He was her muse and constant companion, her reason for being.”
“She has two children, doesn’t she?”
“Constance and Charles,” his mother supplied, buttering a scone.
“I met them once at a funeral.” Rex hadn’t been very taken with them, but then funerals were not the best places to form opinions of people, he supposed.
“In the last letter I received from Patricia, Archie was in fine form and had received a clean bill of health from the veterinarian. So his sudden death has come as a tragic shock to her.”
“Aye, it’s hard to believe he’s gone,” Rex commiserated, helping himself to another cup of tea.
Archie was an institution. He had featured under an alias in so many illustrated children’s books Rex had lost count. There had been Claude the Narcissistic Cat, Claude the Contemplative Cat, Claude the Inquisitive Cat, Claude the Clandestine Cat, Claude the Comedic Cat, and the list had gone on.
Patricia Forsyth, an erstwhile teacher of English at a girls’ private school in Edinburgh, had retired to the warmer climes of the south coast of England, where she lived in a village outside of Eastbourne. Inspired by Archie, she had dreamt up the Claude the Cat series to instruct precocious young children in the use of polysyllabic adjectives. Claude was a multifaceted cat who partook of various adventures reinforcing the meaning of the (insert) descriptive word in the title. The series had become highly popular and lucrative, helped by the winsome portrayal of Claude in elegantly stylized illustrations, not dissimilar to le Chat Noir immortalised in posters advertising the late nineteenth century cabaret of that name in Montmartre.
By virtue of her beloved pet, Patricia had helped develop the vocabulary of tens of thousands of children in English-speaking countries as far away as New Zealand.
Rex’s mother dabbed at her lips with the white linen napkin. “Patricia said on the phone she feels she can never write another Archie story again.” Everyone knew her all-black, medium-haired domestic breed had served as the model for Claude.
Rex wondered how many alliterative titles could have been left. “Perhaps now she can round off the series with Claude the Cremated Cat.” His facetiousness derived mainly from his irritation at having to go all the way to the Sussex coast to attend a pet’s ceremony; not that he was not sympathetic to Patricia’s loss...