Some Crime for Christmas

Today I’m delighted to host an extract from Hunter’s Rules, the latest novel by crime author Val Penny, due to be published by Darkstroke in early January.


“Well, I have just one more surprise for you.”

“Another one? Oh, Hunter,” she said.

“I’ve booked the honeymoon suite here for us tonight, and if everything has gone according to plan there should be a bottle of champagne chilling there for us. Shall we go upstairs and check?”

Hunter and Meera continued walking towards the elevators, and he pressed the button indicating they would be going up. They stood close together, gazing into each other’s eyes, but it was not long until the furthest lift arrived. They shifted slightly towards those doors and made room for anybody getting out.

Nobody got out.

A young woman lay motionless on the floor, and the inside of the car was drenched with blood.

“Oh God, not another one,” Hunter said. He stared at the raw flesh in the sockets where the girl’s eyes should have been. What kind of monster would choose to murder someone this way? He turned away from the horrific sight of the young woman’s butchered face. He gagged. Then swallowed the bile. He daren’t contaminate the crime scene with his own vomit.

Meera knelt beside the victim and felt her wrist. “Hunter, this one is still alive. Call an ambulance. Do it now!”

Hunter immediately went into professional mode. He stepped a few yards away from the scene and called the ambulance. The soles of his shoes were covered in blood. Then he phoned Fettes police station. Desk Sergeant Charlie Middleton answered.

“Police Scotland, how can I help?”

“Charlie, the eye thief has struck again.”


A bloody scene brings Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans to an abrupt end.

A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has life changing injuries, but she is alive. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two women who previously died.   Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify her assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes? When Hunter is identified as a suspect in the crime, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

Author Bio – Val Penny

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

Hunter’s Rules is the sixth book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series of novels. Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the rest of this bestselling series set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke.You can also start at the beginning of The Jane Renwick Thrillers with The First Cut.

Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Doctor T

Today I am very happy to host a piece from Jonathan Wonham’s new prose poetry collection, Vulgar Variants. You may recall that a few months back its predecessor, Ordinary Others, was also featured here. The book is illustrated by Suzanne Smith.

Doctor T

Former research scientist at the nuclear defence agency Doctor T was a happy active fellow always running everywhere no time to waste was one of the favourite sayings of Doctor T an expert on the dynamics of nuclear fission Doctor T had one day woken from an apocalyptic vision of the fruits of his own research and decided to become a physics teacher now Doctor T no longer wore a radiation suit instead he wore a brown tweed jacket and a checked shirt he had a trim moustache and a trim waist he was all over a very trim figure Doctor T always progressed all over school with haste the children liked Doctor T mainly for his mistakes for example the time when Doctor T was demonstrating the mechanical advantage of pulleys and lifted himself on a swing by standing on it Doctor T pulled his legs out from under him and cracked his nut on the linoleum Doctor T was a hard nut to crack he lay on his back some minutes when Doctor T came round he told the class to wake up and follow him one of the favourite sayings of Doctor T was wake up and follow me to the bunker Doctor T usually said this to his own kids in the wee small hours one of the achievements of Doctor T was to build his own small bunker three hours distant from home somewhere on the west coast where the post-apocalyptic air would be fresher the kids of Doctor T nowadays hated to wake up and hear wake up and follow me it meant a three hour drive to the west coast in the old and very safe car of Doctor T followed by a weekend in the cold underground chamber where the wife of Doctor T made the best of it reading the kids books and cooking meals from long life rations Doctor T only wished for them all a long life listening attentively to news on the long wave radio to see if the imminent threat had passed Doctor T had passed his whole life listening to various ultimatums dropped from on high now Doctor T had his own ultimate defence against whatever might come out of the sky and being a physicist and somewhat of an expert on plutonium Doctor T had worked out the required thickness of concrete above his head the required speed to cross the country in his very safe car Doctor T found the whole situation kept his mind very much alive although a little distracted and hence the mistakes made by Doctor T that kept the children so well amused like when he uncorked the mercury in his trouser pocket it was just an accident said Doctor T it wasn’t like he had just blown up the nuclear test facility.


You can find out more about Jonathan’s work via his Facebook page.

Vulgar Variants can be purchased for £ 5.00 + £ 1.50 P&P
By Cheque to : 105 Benslow Lane, Hitchin, Herts, SG4 9RA
or by PayPal payment to (please use friends and family option)
Remember to include postal delivery address

News, Poem and Story

Two pieces of good news today.

Firstly, I’m thrilled to announce that Maytree Press will be publishing my second poetry collection, provisionally entitled LifeTimes, in 2022 (having published my first, Sea Without a Shore in 2019). I don’t know exactly when yet – it may be in the latter part of the year. But nevertheless, I should give you a taster, shouldn’t I? This one seems appropriate for the time of year:

Christmas Card Friends

Do my words hang in corners
by snow-covered trees 
and the unremarked faces of angels?
Do you look for my messages,
old secrets gift-wrapped in rhyme?

I choose pictures with meanings
and couplets that recast the spell.
I send you magic:
you send me ‘Joyeux Noel’.

I share the same greeting 
with old friends from school
whom you pass in the street without knowing
yet my lips touch the rubber-stamped 
crosses that never touched yours.

Long ago, we were lovers;
for me, even old love transcends
the dead sheets of paper
that pass between Christmas card friends.

Secondly I'm also delighted to have a story (also with a festive theme) on the Fairlight Books website.

pic: James Petts. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0