TA Belshaw: Murder At The Mill

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Murder At The Mill. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the blog tour and to SpellBound Books for providing the extract.

Blurb:

Introducing Twenty-one-year-old Amy Rowlings, a vivacious, quick-witted collector of imported American music, a movie buff and an avid reader of crime fiction.

January 1939 and the residents of the snow-covered streets of a small Kentish town awake to horrific news.


When young Amy Rowlings meets Detective Sergeant Bodkin at the scene of a robbery on the way to work at The Mill, one snowy, January morning, she is blissfully unaware of how much her life is about to change.
She is drawn into the murky world of murder when the body of Edward Handsley is found lying on the floor of the clothing factory. Edward, a libertine, philanderer, the son of George, the factory owner, a young man with many enemies, many of them female.

Bodkin is new to the area and accepts Amy’s offer to provide local knowledge but she soon becomes an invaluable source of information. When Adam Smethwick is arrested for the murder, Amy, a family friend, is convinced of his innocence and sets out to prove that the detective has arrested the wrong man.

Amy befriends Justine, the young, French fiancé of the elderly George, and soon discovers that it was not all sweetness and light in the Handsley family home. Meanwhile, back at the factory, Amy is sure that the foreman, Mr Pilling, has something to hide.

As the investigation proceeds, Amy finds that her burgeoning relationship with Bodkin is pushed to the limits as the detective becomes even more convinced that he has arrested the right man and while Bodkin relies heavily on the facts as they are presented, Amy has a more nuanced approach to solving the crime, born out of her beloved Agatha Christie books

Murder at the Mill is the first book in a gorgeous 1930’s cosy crime series .

AMY RETURNS ! – Death at Lychgate: the second Amy Rowlings book is out Christmas 2023

Extract:

Amy rushed into the factory and found the foreman in the stock room, tallying the different bales of cotton materials that the machinists would be working on that week.

‘Sorry I’m late, Mr Pilling, but there’s been a burglary over the road. There’s a detective at the staff entrance who would like a word with you.’

The foreman checked his pocket watch.

‘Ten minutes late, you know the rules, you’ll be docked fifteen and if it happens again this month, you’ll lose a full hour.’

‘But—’

‘No buts, no excuses. Get to your machine now or you’ll be docked thirty minutes and receive a verbal warning. You can make up for this morning’s tardiness in your lunch break.’

Amy walked quickly to the staff changing area, took off her big coat and hung it on a peg along with her hat. She took a pinafore from her locker and wrapped it around her body, tying it off at the back before pulling on a brightly patterned headscarf that had been made into a turban. Amy tucked the usual few whisps of hair under the headscarf, hurried through to the factory floor and slumped down on her seat, before letting out a deep sigh and reaching down to her side to pick out her first garment of the day.

‘It’s not like you to be so slack,’ said Dora, who worked the machine next to Amy.

‘I was assisting the police with their inquiries,’ replied Amy, knowing that it would be the talk of the workshop before morning break. She smiled to herself and slid the part-finished cotton dress onto the plate of the overlocking machine and pressed her foot onto the pedal.

Amy was a diligent, hardworking machinist and soon made up the time lost. When the bin on her left was almost empty, she called for the runner to bring her a new supply of dresses from the cutting room. By lunchtime her finished bin had been emptied twice and she was in front of her daily target.

To keep on the right side of Mr Pilling, Amy stayed at her machine for an extra fifteen minutes before heading off for lunch. By the time she reached the canteen, the other workers had eaten their sandwiches and were mostly sipping hot tea while they gossiped and lit cigarettes.

Amy bought a cup of tea and a buttered scone at the counter and not liking the smoky atmosphere of the canteen, she took her tray into the changing room, pulled a twice-read magazine from her locker and sat down to peruse the stills from the latest Hollywood movies.

After eating her scone, she stood up to shake the crumbs from her pinafore. There were a couple of stubborn ones stuck to her bosom, so she rubbed at them to shake them loose.

‘Let me give you a hand with that,’ said a voice she recognised instantly.

‘I’ll manage, thanks, Mr Handsley.’ Amy forced a laugh and brushed down her clothes again. Before she could turn to face him, his hands came around her sides and he squeezed hard on her breasts. 

‘You can call me Edward when there’s no one around. Ooh, you do have a nice pair, Amy.’ His breath felt hot on the back of her neck.

Amy struggled to move away but his grip was too strong. The next thing she knew, one of his hands had found its way up her dress.

‘GET OFF ME!’ Amy shouted and twisted in his loosened grip.

‘Come on, Amy, you know you like it.’ He pulled one leg back and kicked the door shut. His hand reached the bare area at the top of her stocking. She shoved her hips forwards before his groping fingers found their intended target.

‘Don’t struggle. You tried to defend your honour, so you can relax now. I won’t hurt you.’ His fingers pushed inside the elastic at the leg of her knickers.

Amy bent over and pushed her backside into him as hard as she could. Her movement caused him to lurch forwards, and as he straightened, her sharp elbow caught him in the throat. He fell back clutching at it, struggling to breath.

***

Murder At The Mill is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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