Hello there everyone! Thank you so much to Ofelia for letting me drop in today to tell you all about my latest release.
The Quid Pro Quo is the second in the Bradfield trilogy, although it will stand alone. It’s set a few months after the end of The Fog of War and stars Walter Kennett, Sylvia’s friend, and Simon Frost, a detective who comes to Bradfield to investigate a murder. It’s a gay, historical, paranormal, romantic murder-mystery with a m/transm couple set in rural England in 1920.
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of the main characters, Simon Frost!
Born: 1885, Taunton, Somerset.
Profession: Police Detective.
Smokes: Does not smoke.
Drives: Has the use of a police Crossley 20/25.
Lives: Rooms in a boarding house in Taunton where he’s lived for years. His sister keeps nagging him to move back into the family house, but he likes his independence.
Appearance: 5’11”, thin, brown hair, light brown eyes, aesetic face, has a limp from being hit by shrapnel in the war.
Personality: Quiet, perceptive, thoroughly decent sort of person. Has come back from the war to his work as a detective with a gammy leg and a deep desire not to have anything exciting happen to him ever again. Likes to read. Used to play football, but his leg means he can’t any more.
Simon took a long time to come together as a character. To begin with he was simply a foil for Walter (who I wrote about at Nell’s blog yesterday). And then he began speaking with his own voice and wouldn’t shut up. For a quiet man, he had an awful lot to say.
At the end of the day, he’s thoroughly ordinary. He does his job because he believes in it. He’s not exclusively a murder detective, Taunton doesn’t get enough of that sort of crime to need one. But he handles what murders they do get; and he is painfully aware that it’s his job to give these people a final chance to speak and the dignity and justice of the truth. He doesn’t have much time or patience with people who have an agenda that runs antithetical to that.
As far as he’s concerned, everyone has secrets; but some secrets are more deadly than others. Some secrets you can leave alone because they’re not hurting anyone. Others need to be exposed to the light so that justice can be done. Some of the conflict between him and Walter in the story come from their disagreement about what secrets are necessary to expose and which can be safely left to lay quiet.
He has a good relationship with his family. His sister and his brother-in-law run the family ironmonger’s shop and look after his dad—his mother died a few years previously—and he sees them regularly. He’s got a nephew he regularly goes to watch playing football now he can’t play any more himself.
He’s in constant pain from the healing wound in his leg. Some days it’s really bad and he thinks there might be shrapnel stuck in it. Walter is always on at him to get Sylvia to look at it…she’s good with wounds, he says…but Simon hasn’t quite got there in his own mind yet. His wartime experience was banal in the sense that nothing happened to him that didn’t happen to millions of other men. He just wants to put it behind him and move on.
He doesn’t have any hopes of finding a bloke to have any sort of permanent relationship with, he just wants to do his job well, spend a bit of time with his family, occasionally go to the pub with his friends and sleep well at night.
Some of the things he finds out when he visits Bradfield in the wake of a peculiar murder mean the sleeping well at night is off the cards for a while! I really like him as a person. He’s just…straightforward. I spend a great deal of time creating complex characters with enormous hang-ups and it was lovely to be able to write someone who was essentially very boring (IN A GOOD WAY, PLEASE BUY MY BOOK! 😊) and normal!
The Quid Pro Quo
Village nurse Walter Kennett is content with his makeshift found-family in tiny Bradfield. However one midsummer morning a body is found floating in the village duck pond, dead by magical means.
Detective Simon Frost arrives in Bradfield to investigate a inexplicable murder. The evidence seems to point to Lucille Hall-Bridges, who lives with doctor Sylvia Marks and nurse Walter Kennett at Courtfield House. Simon isn’t happy—he doesn’t believe Lucy is a murderer but he’s sure the three of them are hiding something. In the meantime, the draw he feels toward Walter takes him by surprise.
Walter is in a dilemma, concealing Sylvia and Lucy’s relationship and not knowing how much to tell Frost about the paranormal possibilities of the murder. He isn’t interested in going to bed with anyone—he’s got a complicated life and has to know someone really well before he falls between the sheets. He’s taken aback by his own attraction to Detective Frost and angry when Frost appears to twist the spark between them to something transactional in nature.
Will Walter be satisfied to stay on the periphery of Lucy and Sylvia’s love affair, a welcome friend but never quite included? Or is it time for him to strike out and embark on a relationship of his own?
The second in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe. Stands alone. Transm/m couple.
As Simon was replacing the device on the telephone table a pretty young woman put her head out of a door at toward the end of the hall. “Sylv!” she said, “Do you want tea? I’ve boiled the kettle.” and then when she realised he wasn’t who she thought he was, “Oh, I do beg your pardon! I thought you were Dr Marks!”.
“She’s still in the surgery,” Simon nodded across the hall.
The woman emerged into the hall. “Lucille Hall-Bridges,” she said, extending a hand. “I’m a friend of Sylvia’s. I help with the house.”
Simon took her hand in his. Her grip was sure and warm. “Detective Frost,” he replied. “Nice to meet you, Miss Hall-Bridges. She had a recent bruise running from her jaw to just below her eye, entering the black-and-purple stage.
“I’ve made a pot of tea,” she was saying. “I don’t know whether anyone will want any, but I do like to feel useful and tea is so…normal-making, isn’t it?”
He nodded, slightly bemused at her chatter. “Yes, indeed,” he said. “Very normal.”
She gave a perfunctory tap on the surgery door, opened it and disappeared inside without waiting for a response. “Sylv, Walter, I’ve made tea. Would you and your detective like to come into the drawing room?” Her voice faded, presumably as she joined them in the examination room.
There was a pause. Then, “Oh!” he heard her say. “Oh.” She sounded a little shocked. “What’s happened to her hands?” she asked.
“Scraped on the bottom on the pond I think,” Simon heard Dr Marks say. “She was face-down in the water.”
“Oh.” Miss Hall-Bridges’ voice was small. “Sylvia…there’s…she’s…I can feel…do you think…?” Her voice trailed off and Dr Marks spoke over her, clearly away they might be overhead.
“Let’s not worry about that now, shall we? The policeman is sending her down to Taunton to a postmortem. You go and take the tea-things into the drawing room. We’ll just cover her up.”
About A. L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.