Style and the Solitary

Today I am delighted to host an extract from Miriam Drori’s new crime novel, Style and the Solitary, published tomorrow (26 April) by Darkstroke.

In Style and the Solitary, the man accused of committing a murder in a Jerusalem office is unable to speak up for himself, or to speak at all to authority figures. But in this extract, the chief inspector doesn’t know that, yet. He’s hoping he can wrap this case up quickly, because… Well, you can read it for yourselves.

“Hello, love,” Chief Inspector Barak Elad said to the phone in his hand. “Look, I’m really sorry… Yeah, I know, but something came up… Shira, believe me, I wish I could. But this one’s serious. Look, if you can do all the packing, I’ll try to get back in time, but I can’t promise… Yeah, I’ll do my best.”

Barak returned the phone to its holder a little too hard and spoke to the woman at the other desk. Rachel Paran. “She’s fed up. I don’t blame her. I promise her a holiday and then I tell her I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it. And it’s not as if it’s the first time. Honestly, I don’t know why she stays with me, but she does.”

“You’re lucky. But she’s lucky, too. She knows you do what you can.”

“Haven’t you ever wanted to settle down with someone?”

“I’m married to my job. I don’t think I’m cut out for bigamy.”

Barak shrugged, scrutinising his colleague. Short hair, never painted her nails or dressed up – not even for parties. Always in straight trousers and flat shoes, even when that wasn’t uniform. Very good at her job, yes. But she missed that extra something, that umph that made a good detective excellent. Being married to the job was probably the reason. She didn’t easily take on other personas when necessary. Too much the professional police officer.

For Barak, there was room for both in his life – his wife and family, and his job. Emotionally, physically, neither could be fully satisfying without the other. But one part of family life was impossible: making plans. Everything he did with Shira had to be spontaneous. That’s what got her down. It wasn’t fair on her. He would make it up to her. Definitely, absolutely, no question about it. He loved his wife even more than his job.

“Eilat, wasn’t it?”

Barak nodded. “Sea, sun, beach, luxury hotel, vibrant nightlife. And snorkelling. We were both looking forward to that. We just wanted a week away from all the tension. Is that too much to ask?”

“Why don’t you let me handle the case?” asked Rachel.

“I don’t know. This is a murder. I’ll tell you what. If I can get him to admit it all now, it should go smoothly after that. Then I’ll leave it to you.”

“I hope it works out.”

A message buzzed through. “Prisoner ready and waiting.” Barak stood up. “Wish me luck.” He placed his lips around an imaginary snorkel and made swimming movements with his arms on his way to the door.

About Miriam

Miriam Drori is the author of several novels and short stories. Her latest novel, which launches on 26th April, 2021, is her first crime novel, set in her home town of Jerusalem.

When not writing, Miriam enjoys reading and (when permitted) hiking, travelling and folk dancing. Miriam is passionate about raising awareness of social anxiety.

Miriam can be found on her website and blog as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere. Do follow her for news of events, including an exciting joint online book launch in early May. She’s also considering an online party on launch day.

Both paperback and ebook versions of Style and the Solitary can be ordered now from Amazon.

Health and Safety

I thought I’d share this bit of fun I wrote at Holmfirth Writers last week. The theme was ‘health and safety’, so I tried to imagine the most difficult circumstances in which to be a Health and Safety officer. The piece takes the form of a dialogue between two former Chinese officials who now find themselves in the court of a certain Mongolian warlord ….


Wang Chu, may I speak with you?

Of course, Li Feng, it’s a pleasure to see you, and good to see another Chinese face. Who would have thought a year ago that you and I would find ourselves here? What strange times we live in.

And yet, we survive, despite everything. How wise was the decision to surrender rather than resist? We have seen with our own eyes the fate of those who chose to fight.

Indeed! And how extraordinary that we should both now be performing the same roles we fulfilled for the old emperor in the service of our new master. It is to his credit that he recognises the benefits of Chinese administration.

That brings me to the purpose of my visit. I am here to see you in your professional capacity.

Excellent! How may I help, Li Feng?

I have experienced a significant downturn in my job-satisfaction.

I’m sorry to hear that. Are you under-employed? Do you feel that you lack a role in the new administration, perhaps?

On the contrary, there is a great deal of work to be done. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that the activities of the Mongol Horde present unprecedented Health and Safety challenges. And between you and me, Wang Chu, current practice leaves much to be desired. I recognised this at once on taking up this post, and threw myself energetically into research. Five weeks ago, I completed my 82 page report,  with 31 recommendations and an action plan to address them. Quite frankly, I feel it’s the best work I’ve ever done. It’s after completing the report that my job satisfaction has plummeted.

Did the Great Khan take issue with your report? Reject your findings?

Not exactly. He simply leafed through the pages in a rather cursory way and said “very good.”

Well, that’s a positive response, isn’t it? Surely he was endorsing your report?

Wang Chu, you know as well as I do that the Great Khan is illiterate. I offered to talk him through the main findings one by one, but he simply waved me away. I held out hopes that he would get someone to read it to him and summon me again, but I’ve heard nothing. And all the signs are that it has been completely ignored. I visited the site of the last siege. Ground covered in blood, dismembered limbs and heads everywhere. I was appalled. Think of the trip hazards! Not to mention the fire risk. Flammable materials, unprotected naked flames. Half the city was already on fire. And as for sharp object hazards, don’t get me started. I feel I’ve been wasting my time, Wang Chu, I really do. May I speak in confidence?

Of course! Nothing you say goes beyond this tent.

Between you and me, Wang Chu, [leans forward and whispers] I think the core of the problem is that … Ghengis Khan does not take Health and Safety very seriously.

Yes, Li Feng, I feel I understand your situation. But why not see this setback as a challenge. One you may yet overcome, with patience and persuasion. And it may help to compare your situation with that of those less fortunate.

Such as?

Such as myself. Unlike you, I really don’t have a proper job here. You are only my second client in seven months. The first was a captured general who was about to be impaled on a stake – I must admit, I struggled to bring out the positives in his situation. Otherwise – absolutely nothing. It seems that the Mongol Horde has no use for a wellness counsellor. 

pic: Mark Cartwright. Licensed under

Still Waters?

I’m thrilled that one of my poems, Still Waters?, is featured in the current (May 2021) issue of Writing Magazine, where it is expertly analysed by Alison Chisholm. The magazine is available here (or in W. H. Smiths, etc).

I thought I’d share the poem itself here too:

Still Waters?		

The air falls silent; trees stand 
motionless above the facing shore.
Their twins that hang below it
are still swaying – ever so gently –  
to the quiet singing of the pool.

I throw a stone
and watch it smash those trees 
to splinters. Rings of light
flow outwards, disintegrating
softly on the shore.

Each ring is fainter; 
in time, the patient trees
reconstitute themselves,
becoming whole again
but not quite still: those waves, 
no longer visible, have been absorbed
into the music of the pool, its memory
of every stone I ever threw.