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Limelight by Graham Hurley - Book Tour

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Life is dangerous. No one survives it. Enora Andressen makes a series of mind-blowing discoveries when her friend disappears.

Actress Enora Andressen is catching up with her ex-neighbour, Evelyn Warlock, who's recently retired to the comely East Devon seaside town of Budleigh Salterton. The peace, the friendship of strangers and the town’s prestigious literary festival . . . Evelyn loves them all.

Until the September evening when her French neighbour, Christianne Beaucarne, disappears. Enora has met this woman. The two of them have bonded. But what Enora discovers over the anguished months to come will put sleepy Budleigh Salterton on the front page of every newspaper in the land

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Enora Andressen is en route to Prague to scatter the ashes of her one-time lover, screenwriter Pavel Sieger. Enora has only a carry-on suitcase for her brief visit, and the contents include Pavel’s ashes. Malo is Enora’s son. 

We’re on the slipway off the M23, heading for the airport. When he drops me off, Malo gets out and helps me retrieve my suitcase from the Audi’s boot. At the kerbside, he looks me up and down. I’m forty-two years old. I’m clad entirely in white, a simple, body-hugging dress in soft mohair that Pavel adored. I toyed with wearing black in view of the occasion but that, I know, would offend him deeply.

‘Audition, Mum? Is that it?’ Malo grins, giving me a hug. ‘You look great. You’ll knock ’em dead.’

Knock ’em dead? I give him a wave as he accelerates away, and then step into the terminal building. I have more than an hour in hand, but I always like to get through security before settling down. The queues snake back and forth through a maze of ropes and we shuffle slowly forward until it’s my turn to hoist my suitcase on to the belt for the X-ray machine. As I step through the security gate and raise my hands for a pat-down, I’m aware of the woman in charge of the machine looking hard at the image on her screen. She stops the belt and looks up to summon a uniformed guy who I’m guessing is her supervisor. Then her perfectly lacquered fingernail descends lightly on the screen. Look, she’s saying. Just there.

Shit, I’m thinking. Pavel.

I’m right. As my suitcase emerges from the machine, it’s lifted from the belt and put to one side. I identify it as mine and confirm that no one else has had a hand in the packing.

‘Open it, please.’ This from the supervisor.

At his invitation, I lay everything out for inspection. My washbag. A towel. A light jacket for the evening. A silk scarf in blues and deep reds I especially treasure. A battered copy of a John Updike novel I acquired in a charity shop. Spare undies, plus a pair of comfortable Nikes for a brief walking tour I plan for tomorrow morning. The supervisor is interested in none of this. Instead, his eyes have settled on the container I picked up from the undertaker. I think the supervisor’s Pakistani, but he could be Indian. Early middle-aged. Nice hands. Single gold ring. London accent.

‘What’s in there, madam?’


‘What?’ His eyes flick up to my face.

‘Ashes. What’s left of a good friend of mine.’ I start to explain about Pavel, and his passion for Prague, and the mission that will take me to the Charles Bridge, but he cuts me short.

‘Can you prove that?’ he asks.

‘Prove what?’

‘That these are his ashes? They could be anything. They could be combustible.’

‘They were combustible. That’s the whole point. We cremated the poor man.’ I nod at the container. ‘And that’s what’s left.’

‘But can you prove it? Do you have a death certificate? Something from the crematorium?’

‘No.’ I shake my head. I have no paperwork. I should have thought this thing through, I tell myself. I should have come prepared.

‘Open it, please.’

I unscrew the lid of the container and he bends to peer inside, careful to avoid touching this object. His body language gives him away. He’s disgusted, and it shows.

He lowers his nose, takes a precautionary sniff, recoils at once.

‘No,’ he says.

‘No, what?’

‘No, you can’t take it on the flight. We need to get it analysed.’ He gestures at the line of waiting passengers. ‘We have a respon­sibility here. It could be anything.’ One of the passengers, a young woman, nods and whispers something to her partner before gathering up her infant son.

‘Like what?’

‘Like some form of explosive. These things happen. You wouldn’t believe what people get up to.’

‘You think I want to blow the plane up? With me in it?’

‘I’ve no idea, madam. But it’s a risk we can’t take. Like I just said, it could be anything.’

‘But it’s not anything,’ I insist. ‘It’s Pavel.’

‘You say.’

‘I say.’

The supervisor shrugs and checks his watch. He has a trillion people to get through to airside, and his decision is made.

‘You’re serious?’ I ask him. ‘I’m making this special trip to scatter the ashes and I’ve got to leave them here?’

‘Yes. I’m afraid that’s pretty much it. Unless you’ve got some form of proof that they are what you say they are.’ He pauses, trying to soften the bad news. ‘Why don’t you just go anyway? Prague’s a lovely place. Especially this time of year.’

‘But there’ll be no point. I can’t scatter ashes I haven’t got.’

‘I’m afraid that’s your problem, madam. We’ll give you a proper receipt, of course. The process should take a couple of weeks. We can courier the container back to you but I’m afraid there’ll be a charge.’

‘And the test? The analysis?’

‘We may be able to offer you a discount on that. I’ll have to check.’

I’m getting angry now but the passengers behind me are beginning to stir. I’m an actress by profession, and while I’m no stranger to public performance, this particular script is starting to wear thin.

‘I’ve changed my mind.’ I reach for the container. ‘I’ll scatter him somewhere else. Anywhere round here you might recommend?’

My sarcasm is wasted on the supervisor. He makes a dismissive gesture towards the container and turns away. Poor Pavel, I think, screwing his top on again, and then repacking my suitcase.

Author Bio –
Graham Hurley is an award-winning TV documentary maker who now writes full time. His Faraday and Winter series won two Theakstons shortlist nominations and was successfully adapted for French TV. He has since written a quartet of novels featuring D/S Jimmy Suttle, and three WW2 novels, the first of which – Finisterre – was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. The first three titles in the Enora Andressen series, Curtain Call, Sight Unseen and Off Script, are also available from Severn House. After thirty years in Portsmouth, Graham now lives in East Devon with his wife, Lin.

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