Monday, July 17, 2023

Death at the Caravan Park by Susan Willis - Book Tour

Death at the Caravan Park

Clive Thompson heads for Whitley Bay caravan park to finish writing his novel. He’s never had a caravan holiday before and is warmly greeted by the manager, Liz Mathews, who lives on the park. She is single and cares for her ninety year old mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Clive meets the people in neighbouring caravans and has an amazing view from his veranda over the sea to St. Mary’s Lighthouse. However, Audrey goes missing during the night and Liz is beside herself with worry.  The police are out looking for her, but disillusioned by their efforts, Clive begins his own investigations.  

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There is news that the police have found a body down on the causeway leading to St. Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay. My sleuth, Clive Thompson has joined, Liz the manager from caravan park whose Mam is missing. They are bundled into a police car and hurtle down to the scene.



The car park is busy. Another two police officers are pulling tape in blue and white stating, POLICE DO NOT CROSS, around the whole of the area and instructing drivers to reverse and turn around out of the car park.

A crowd has gathered on the other side of the taped area which makes me scowl. What is it they want to see? I read somewhere about accident or suicide tourists. These are people who mill around longing to see dead bodies or traumatic events. I think this is ghoulish and know I wouldn’t be interested to see the remains of an old woman’s dead body. But obviously these people do because now I’ve seen this scene - I know Audrey is dead.

It amazes me how quickly bad news spreads so fast but nowadays it is because of social media. I can see the crowd holding up their smart phones trying to get closer photographs and know there’ll be images of the causeway and the barriers already on Facebook and Twitter. What is it that interests people in tragedy and accidents? It’s a well-known fact that drivers often cause more mayhem when they slow down to stare at road traffic accidents.

I look ahead at the sea and remember how cold it was when I waded through it up to my ankles. Audrey would have to be superhuman to survive for any length of time in that temperature. The policewoman slows down and drives a little way along the narrow road to the start of the causeway path. 

Liz is swearing and fumbling trying to undo her seatbelt which is entwined with the strap of her shoulder bag.

The policewoman says, ‘Please, Ms Mathews just stay in the car until I come back and find out what’s happened.’

Liz almost growls. ‘My name is Liz, and I’m not staying anywhere – I have to see her!’

I hear the policewoman tut, but I help Liz with the belt, and we climb out of the back of the car together.

Liz starts to run, and I keep up with her calling all the while, ‘Liz, wait! Please just slow down!’

But there’s no stopping her and my heart is pounding as I hurry alongside and down the path. Another length of police tape is across the top of four old steps on the side of the causeway path. An older police sergeant is standing guard with his back to the sea, however, his torso fills most of the opening to the top step.

‘Hey,’ he shouts, ‘You can’t go down there.’

Liz swears at him and then cries, ‘I’m her daughter and I have to be with her!’

He is short and broad but holds her arm firmly. I can tell he’s not hurting her although she’s struggling against him like a wild cat. He stands to the side still holding onto Liz. And that’s when I hear her howl like an animal at the sight before us.

I don’t mind admitting that my legs feel like jelly and my knees begin to knock. Although I have written about dead bodies, I’ve never actually seen one. I swallow hard as bile rises up in my throat.

Audrey’s head is lolled back on the top step. She looks almost ethereal with a white, blotchy, puffed-up face. From what I remember she had a thin craggy face - now it seems twice the size. Her eyes are half open as if she is looking down to the sea, and her lips are huge and pale blue. There are bits of seaweed tangled in her hair which has come out of the tight bun she’d had when I met her.

Liz sobs and pleads with the sergeant. ‘But I just want to sit on the step and cuddle her?’

I can see him melt a little and loosen his hold on her arm. ‘Sorry, pet, but we can’t let you. It’s what we call a crime scene, and no one is allowed down there until my boss arrives with the coroner.’

Licking my dry lips, I try to explain how our feet might contaminate the scene and, how we can’t touch anything especially not Audrey. I see Liz’s knees buckle as huge racking sobs escape from her mouth. I take her other arm and between me and the sergeant we catch her before she falls to the ground. 

Author Bio –

Susan is a published author of eight novels and six novellas with short stories published in Women’s Weekly magazines. She is now retired from Food Technology and scribbles away in County Durham. Writing psychological suspense and cosy-crime novels with strong, lovable North East characters, is her passion. Last year, she brought us, Clive’s Christmas Crusades, set in York. Following the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, Susan wrote six Curious Casefiles which is now published by Northodox Press. She has incorporated up-to-date issues: poor mental health in a kidnap scene, the perils of social media, and an intruder on Skype.


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