“Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.
Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?
In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.
At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done.
Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.”
I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer today, and this post is packed full of delightful things for you. I have an extract from the book, a link to a free download of the author’s previous book and a giveaway to enter. See, I’m really spoiling you today! My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for allowing me to publish this extract from his book today.
“Big Paul was sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage. He was walking his dogs out over Minch Moor and the spring sunshine was unseasonably warm. As he walked, he was unconsciously playing fetch with his dogs. Ant would retrieve the scabby old tennis ball from the undergrowth and trot back to Paul with it in his mouth; Paul would extract the slobbering article from the dog’s soiled mouth and mindlessly throw it overarm, whereupon Dec would take up the chase, find the ball and bring it back. The three participants all knew their roles and played them on auto-pilot – the only difference being that whilst the dogs were having a rare old time of it, Paul was otherwise occupied. Whilst they happily snuffled and frolicked in the heather, weeing up against the small conifers, Paul had other things on his mind.
Well, one other thing.
Paul and Shirley had been a thing for over a year now and whilst all was lovey and, indeed, dovey on the surface, even Paul’s atrociously underdeveloped senses were picking up signs that Shirley was dissatisfied at the moment. What the problem was, and what he could or should do about it, however, were issues which completely evaded him.
He ran his mental slide rule over the problem at hand. First off, he obviously couldn’t ask her what the problem was. Noooo. Schoolboy error. Asking a woman what the matter was merely opened you up to an accusation that you were insensitive, unfeeling or insufficiently engaged in the relationship. A man should know what the problem was – since, usually, it was the man that was the problem.
On the other hand, maybe he could resolve the situation by buying her some flowers. Didn’t even matter, then, if the problem was real or all in his imagination. Flowers would fix it, if it existed; if it didn’t, she would love them anyway. What woman doesn’t love flowers?
That’d sort it. If he had money.
Flowers were expensive and right now Paul had a minor cashflow problem. Again. Buying flowers was a ten pound solution to a five pound problem. He tried to recall when he’d last bought Shirley flowers. Her birthday, was it? Shit! Had he missed her birthday? No, that was September the somethingth. He made a mental note to see if he could somehow pry free the actual date from her later.
Anniversary then? How long had they been together now? He couldn’t recall buying her anything for an anniversary, or celebrating one with her. And he’d have remembered if Shirley had proudly presented him with a card and a gift one day only to discover that he had no clue what was going on. He’d not forget a real dignity-stripper event like that.
So there was still time. Cool! He didn’t know how much time, right enough, but he wasn’t too late. That in itself was a novelty he was prepared to relish while it lasted. Pleased with this mental exertion, he corralled his dogs off the moor and onto the track heading down to the car park. So, if their anniversary was coming up. And he had no money. What exactly was he going to do?
“No.” Cullen had said.
“Neither a borrower or a lender be.”
“But it’s only a few quid! I’ll pay you back.”
“That is not the point.”
“Well, what is the point?”
“I’ve just told you.”
“Aw, fuck.” Paul’s huge shoulders heaved beneath his black T-shirt. “You realise this’ll ruin me and Shirl?” Cullen remained impassive while Paul rumbled around the sink and poured boiling water from the kettle. “It’s alright for you. You don’t have a partner. You don’t have to consider anyone ‘cept yourself. Me and Shirl – we’ve got a good thing going here. Don’t want to fuck it up.”
“In that case you should have thought about buying her an anniversary gift.”
“I have! That’s why I need the money.”
“Beforehand.” Cullen emphasised. “It’s called budgeting. Planning. Thinking ahead.”
“I am thinking ahead.” Paul slopped a mug down in front of Cullen. “I’m thinking of what it’s like trying to find a potential partner once you’re past forty.”
“By a considerable margin.”
“Alright, Methuselah. I’m still younger than you.”
Cullen regarded the muddy liquid in the mug in front of him. “I didn’t want tea. You know I don’t drink tea.”
“Well I’ve made it now so get it down you.”
Cullen took a sip and grimaced. “What is this?”
“I’ve told you. It’s a nice hot cup of tea. Get it down you.”
“Hmm. Let’s not be so free and easy with the noun tea here, shall we?”
“Thought you said you didn’t drink tea?”
“I don’t.” Cullen put the mug down. “And I’m not going to. I think what we have here is… a cup of hot. Let’s just leave it at that, hmm?”
“Everyone’s a critic.” Paul snarked. “Look. My point is, once you get past forty, finding a potential partner… it’s like trying to find a parking space in Sainsbury’s. They’re either taken, handicapped, or w-a-a-a-a-y out there.”
“Like I said. Thinking ahead. You should try it sometime.”
“Thanks, pal. Thanks a fucking lot.”
Cullen sighed and looked at his friend thoughtfully. “You know what you should do?”
“No.” Said Paul. “What?”
“Trust the soup.”
Trust the soup was Paul’s unofficial motto. His official motto was: Ah, That’ll do.
What trust the soup boiled down to was: don’t worry, be happy, something will turn up, the universe will provide and everything will be alright, you’ll see. Paul had, it was true, come to rely upon this to the extent that he repeatedly pushed the very fabric of the universe to its limits, in attempting to fulfil its duty to provide. But it usually came through, so Paul continued to push, while the universe continued to heave and sweat and toil and still, somehow, deliver. If Paul had been a reader of management theory (or, come to that, a reader), he would have realised that what he had managed to do – very successfully – was outsource the need to worry. To the point where the outside observer might even replace the term outsource with the verb abdicate.
He unlocked his van and slid the door open for his dogs to leap in but only Dec obliged. He sat obediently on the dirty towel, draped over a couple of bags of finishing plaster, while Paul did his best to wipe most of the mud off his legs and belly.
“Ant, mate?” Paul looked round. “Here boy!”
When the dog didn’t materialise, Paul gave a loud whistle and looked back up the hill to see if he had absently left him stranded somewhere on the trail. He heard a series of barks behind him and turned to spot a tail stump wagging excitedly in the bushes at the edge of the hard scrabble area.
“Mate!” Paul shouted, but Ant resolutely stayed put. Paul let out a deep breath, pointed at Dec to stay, and strode over to the bushes.
Ant was scratching around in the dirt and when Paul pulled him away he saw a glint of gold shining up through the soil and brambles. He reached down and picked up a dirty sack with a torn neck and peeled back the sacking to reveal a large silver trophy on a mahogany base. It was inscribed The Ladies Cup, Melrose Rugby Club and some smaller cursive writing that Paul’s eyesight couldn’t make out.
Ant returned his nose to the shallow hole and continued scrabbling and scooping earth back between his hind legs.
“Mate! Come away. I think you’ve found the treasure.” He reached down and grabbed Ant by the collar, dragging him out of the bushes while the dog continued to resist. When Paul had wrestled the determined creature back into full daylight he saw more gold glinting in the dog’s mouth. He held Ant’s snout and put his fingers into the dog’s mouth to prise its teeth apart. What dropped into his grimy hand was a necklace on a gold chain. The pendant on the necklace was a gold disc with S S on one side and a centred H on the other. Paul flicked it with a finger and the small disc spun quickly round, creating the appearance of a single side bearing the initials SHS.
Well, bugger me, thought Paul. SHS. Shirley Harriet Simpson.
The soup had truly outdone itself this time.”
If this has whetted your appetite for more, you can order your copy of the book here.
And if you would like to take advantage of a free download of Mark’s previous book, Dirty Barry, you can find that link here.
As if all that wasn’t enough, we have a giveaway of 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, all you have to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below.
Please note this a UK only giveaway. The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer. There is no cash alternative. The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018. Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn.
To read some reviews of The Good, The Bad & The Rugby and other great content, check out the rest of the blog tour on the poster below:
About the Author
Mark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.
The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.
Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.
He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla panna cotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.
He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.
And mashed potato.
He really doesn’t like mashed potato.
Connect with Mark:
Facebook: Mark Farrer