RUBY HEART by Cristelle Comby
A new adult mystery
When elderly client Doris Hargrave informs private investigator Alexandra Neve that her beloved antique ruby heart necklace has gone missing for the second time in a period of over sixty years, Alexandra knows this is no ordinary jewellery theft. The ruby heart is a family heirloom and the only thing that connects an ailing Mrs Hargrave to her parents, who were murdered during the Holocaust.
To solve the case, Alexandra and her business partner, blind history professor Ashford Egan, must sift through obscure Holocaust documents to find out the truth. It’s that way that they learn of a secret World War II-era love affair which could hold the key to all the answers they are looking for. Meanwhile, Egan is under immense pressure from the university to quit his private investigating business, and Alexandra is afraid that a man she trusts will leave her. Again.
When Alexandra begins to receive anonymous threats and her flat is vandalised, this all becomes personal. Knowing that there is someone out there to hurt her, Alexandra vows to find that elusive ruby heart if it’s the last thing she ever does.
I’ll concede that entering the local hangout of a street gang on your own, when you’re a twenty-four year old girl armed with a bottle of pepper-spray and a lot of good will may not be the most intelligent plan ever. True.
I could have taken Egan with me; probably should have taken Stenson with me and at some point today I’ll most likely regret not having just stayed at home in bed. Nevertheless, I walk in, with my head held high, and my black Converse trainers stomping on the concrete floor in my best attempt at steady and decided steps. My hair is tied in the usual way, and the plait bounces over a red leather jacket that is too hot for the season but that I believe gives my look a cool edge. I also decided to forgo blue jeans and chose to wear black denim trousers instead for this mission.
I walk to the bar of the little joint — Eddy’s counter, the neon sign outside used to spell, but someone smashed the ‘o’ and the last two letters a few years back — and sit on a stool.
‘What can I get ya?’ the barman — a middle-aged, lean and balding, Texas-born guy — asks, with his back to me.
‘G&T if you would be so kind, Eddy,’ I order, steadily.
The man turns around rapidly. He eyes me, up-and-down, for a full minute, before offering me a bright smile. ‘Alexandra Neve, I never thought I’d see you round here again.’
I smile back, my jaw relaxing fractionally.
‘How long’s it been?’ he wonders, in his southern States drawl.
‘About four years,’ I reply, my smile faltering at the thoughts the words stir up.
Eddy’s smile stays strong. ‘One Gin and Tonic comin’ right up, kiddo.’ He moves to the left and prepares my drink.
‘So how you been?’ He asks, dropping ice cubes in my glass, and holding it out to me.
I take a long gulp before answering. ‘Good.’
‘Walking the narrow path, eh?’ he asks, with a wink.
I nod. ‘You know me.’ I give the place a good, long look. ‘Can’t say the same about you.’
There are two groups of men seated in the room. One group of four, two tables from the entrance door. One group of three, seated on the opposite side of the bar, by the window. All the patrons are men and they’re all dressed in dark colours. There’s a generally heavy and menacing vibe to the whole place…
Eddy shrugs. ‘You know how it is. Business is business. They pay, I serve.’
I give him a wry smile. ‘Do you still have the same clientele?’
‘Mostly.’ His expression grows serious again. ‘What’cha doin’ here, Alexandra?’
‘I’m looking for someone.’ I take one of my business cards and hand it out to Eddy.
‘Private investigator,’ he whistles. ‘Didn’t see that one comin’. Weren’t ya gonna go to university or somethin’?’
I shrug. ‘Didn’t turn out as I’d planned.’
AN INTERVIEW WITH CRISTELLE
-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?
As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always had millions of ideas floating about my head and, a few years ago, I finally got the courage to start writing a book. My first novel, Russian Dolls, was published earlier this year, in March. Book two of the same series, Ruby Heart is hot of the press.
-What genre do you write?
It’s a crime novel — private detective story, to narrow it down — in the New Adult collection.
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
Never give up! A writer’s life is a difficult life. It’s made up of loneliness, grammar terror, editing overdoses. But, the feeling you get when you open the parcel which contains the proof of your next book makes it all worth it.
-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?
I enjoy Heroic Fantasy and Urban Fantasy a lot. It’s far from what I write, and allows me to really disconnect from reality; it’s my little daily breath of fresh air.
-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
There’s a little something I published last year titled 5 Seconds of Joy and the Aftermath: A Short Story of Nearly Nothing. I wrote it tiny piece by tiny piece over 5 years. It’s a strange story, a man’s last seconds of life… almost nothing, yet quite a lot. I treasure this booklet and love every line of it.
Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.
Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.
She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.
Ruby Heart is her second new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.
I wouldn’t have done that at twenty-four. Won’t do it now at twenty-five either. Lol
And don’t forget to comment for a chance at a prize.
Cristelle will be awarding a signed paperback of Ruby Heart plus a signed copy of book 1, Russian Dolls, to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY)
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