Today I’m delighted to be sharing an extract from The Cinderella Plan for my stop on the blog tour. It is presented with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to the publisher who provided the extract.
James Salisbury, owner of a British car manufacturer, plows his “self-drive'” car into a young family, with deadly consequences. Will the industry, poised to launch these products, close ranks to cover things up? If it is proved that James was driving the car he may go to prison. But if he is found innocent, the business he has spent most of his life building, and his dream of safer transport for all, may collapse. Lawyers Judith Burton and Constance Lamb team up once again, this time to defend a man who may not want to go free.
This extract is from the early part of my story. The reader has recently been introduced to James Salisbury, charismatic, visionary CEO of British car manufacturer, SEDA (Self Drive Autonomy). Here he is complaining to his younger, former beauty queen wife that further obstacles have been placed in the path of the introduction of his autonomous cars to the UK.
James was standing at the wash basin in his ensuite bathroom at 2am. He was not a vain man, but there were definitely two additional lines radiating out from his left eye, which he had not noticed before and, following his jaw line down, he questioned if that was the beginning of a double chin. He stepped onto the scales and squinted at the reading. No. Still exactly twelve stone. That didn’t necessarily mean everything was precisely the same, though. He knew that he might have lost some muscle tone recently and it could easily have been replaced by body fat…
…Settling back down underneath the covers, he let out a deep sigh.
‘What is it?’ Martine asked, her hair splayed out across her copper-infused pillow, her latest aid to clean sleeping.
‘Nothing. Just can’t switch off,’ James replied, gazing at the ceiling.
Martine turned over, shuffled her body in closer and ran her fingers down his arm.
‘What are you so worried about? Are the others causing trouble?’
‘They’re all after what they can get for themselves.’ James leaned back against the velvet headboard. ‘Jeremy, he’s the insurance guy. He’s going to be allowed to make a killing by keeping premiums at current rates when no one will ever have an accident, but he wants more. Will, he’s the cyclist, he gets big investment in cycling lanes, but he’s still not satisfied. He wants all lorries banned during daylight hours. Alan, he’s the minister, he must love it when Peter reports back. Divide and conquer. He doesn’t even have to try. We do it for him.’
‘And what is it you want?’
‘What I’ve always wanted. To sell my cars. To improve people’s lives.’
‘So why aren’t they all on your side? What you want will benefit millions of people,’ Martine said.
‘Alan doesn’t see it that way, apparently. I could sense he wasn’t happy when I spoke at that committee meeting at the House of Commons last week. Oh, there was lots of effusive thanks and “We love you for taking all these risks and having a vision”, but then some counter-terrorist idiot spoke after me and convinced them all that autonomous vehicles were awful, because they could be hacked and taken over and that people’s personal data could be stolen. Now Alan wants to send someone to vet our data controls. God, Peter sounded just like Tony Blair today, going on about “national security”. Spineless, they are. No trust. No imagination. No vision.’
‘Well, no one could compare with you.’
‘You might just be my only fan at the moment.’ He stroked her arm. ‘If only we could have some progress, something tangible, anything, rather than all this delay. There was a moment, at the government meeting, when I thought I had them. I thought they felt it too. Embrace the positives. Eradicate the negatives. The whole room was rising with me. But as soon as I left and the next guy came and talked “terror” and “opaque systems” it was all washed away. I might as well have never existed.
The Cinderella Plan is available from Amazon.
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