WARNING – contains spoilers for books 1 & 2
Check Mate: Book 3 of Friendship Can Be Murder.
“…the heroine is completely without morals…You really should not like her, but you find yourself wishing her every success in her increasingly bizarre schemes and personal entanglements”
“Outstandingly witty, daft, exciting and so enjoyable!! This is the best book I have read in a long time. Exquisite!!”
“…enables the reader to enter into the twisted world of the main character … reading her journal … you take voyeuristic pleasure in her inner thoughts, plans & audacious exploits”
At the end of book 2, Cressida Barker-Powell-Hopkins was fighting for her life in hospital after being mowed down by her former best friend, now arch-nemesis Monica in a hit and run murder attempt. When Cressida finally wakes, she vows vengeance in this, the third book of the Friendship Can Be Murder series.
But she’s still recovering from her injuries, she’s got a limp, is feeling depressed, and her murdering skills are a bit rusty. To make things worse, her arch-enemy seems to have moved house. What on earth can Cressida do now? Fortunately she knows people who know people.
As her loved ones rally round, Cressida gets her mojo back and gets back on the trail of her former best friend, and as ever, confides her plans and schemes to her journal.
Will she ever get back to reading Vogue with Billie? Why are dead flowers coming to the house?
Want to know more? Here’s an extract:
Check Mate : Friendship Can Be Murder – Book 2 (extract)
I swung myself round on the ledge and peered in at the window. Warm, rose-scented damp air met my skin. With delicate sweeps of my hands, I felt around, and after moving one or two things out of the way, a toothpaste tube from the feel of it and a hairbrush and a mug bearing a toothbrush, I began to slide forwards into the bathroom. I felt another bottle a bit too close for comfort and moved that away, the smell of minty freshness reminding me to deal with the mouthwash later. Still edging forward virtually in slow motion with one foot outstretched, I encountered the porcelain of the basin, and allowed myself to slither into it, steadied for a moment, then gripping the edge of the sink, I stepped carefully down onto the floor, and had to resist the urge to do that thing the Pope does and bend to kiss the ground in blessed relief at my safe arrival.
I paused for a moment to allow my eyes to adjust to this deeper darkness, and once I found the bath, sank down on the side of it to allow my jelly legs a few moments of recovery before leaving this sanctuary to complete my mission. I saw now that the door was open, and beyond the bathroom, the hall was dense deepest black. No sound came to my ears.
In the doorway I paused again, to get my bearings and to allow my thumping heart to calm. I eased the bathroom door almost shut, and with a quick flash of my torch, checked around the room. I determined that I could easily doctor the mouthwash, both the open one and the new bottle I found in the cabinet. I tipped away about a quarter of the contents of the open one down the sink and added the same amount of the ethylene glycol-rich anti-freeze I had brought with me in fizzy pop bottle.
Then I filled the syringe, and pushed the needle into the plastic near the lid of the new bottle to make a hole. I squeezed out a good inch and a half of mouthwash and then topped the level up again from the syringe. I replaced the new bottle and ran a dribble of water into the sink to wash away any traces.
I felt pretty pleased with myself. I’d made almost no noise and caused no disturbance. My confidence rocketed. This plan was going to work! Intelligence and sheer audacity had won the day! I collected my stuff and shoved it into the back-pack. Time to find that kitchen.
It’s not easy finding your way around someone else’s house in the middle of the night. It takes forever to go anywhere as you have your hands stretched out in front of you, and you have to feel each step of the way. The last thing I wanted was to bump into a shelf of ornaments or fall down the stairs.
By the time I had finally reached the kitchen, I was mentally and physically exhausted. My whole body ached. My limp was worse than usual after all that I’d subjected my knee and hip to. And my head was pounding.
But I courageously set my discomfort aside and got to work. I had brought with me a tiny plastic funnel—I’m nothing if not organised—and obviously before I even got into the house, I had put on a pair of my trusty heavy-duty latex gloves, with a spare pair in my pocket in case of disasters.
I put the can of anti-freeze on the drainer, with the funnel next to it. I crossed to the fridge and noticed that I was finding my way pretty well considering it was dark, obviously, though not as dark in the kitchen as on the landing and stairs. As I opened the fridge, I was dazzled by the light that came on and momentarily panicked, shutting it again to allow my retinas to recover for a few vital seconds.
There were a number of useful items in the fridge that I knew I would be able to ‘enhance’. For example, the plastic container of leftover peach slices in syrup. I added a little splosh to that. Not too much due to the slight bluey-greeny colour of the anti-freeze that would be a dead giveaway in large quantity.
Then there was a large carton of orange juice. I put quite a bit in that. And a plastic bottle of cola—almost full, I put some in that. Milk, obviously, I couldn’t do much with. Yoghurts—various berry flavours, I managed to insinuate a little into each of those with the aid of my trusty syringe, then shook them gently to encourage a good mix.
There was half a jar of tomato paste, the stuff you whack into pasta dishes, that was the perfect medium for my little additive, and the strong tomatoey-garlicky flavour should easily mask any weird sweetish taste of the anti-freeze. And the bottle of vodka, I put some in that. And another plastic tub, again half-full (I’m such an optimist!) this time with minestrone soup, another great food in which to conceal a healthy dose (or not!) of ethylene-glycol.
After a quarter of an hour, I had poisoned almost everything in her fridge, and a few items not in the fridge. I felt exhausted but happy, a huge weight off my shoulders with having finally achieved my goal.
Now I was ready to leave, and I groaned inwardly at the thought of having to get back out of the bathroom window, onto garage roof, etc. The whole rigmarole in reverse.
I carefully put the lid back on my antifreeze and gathered up all my little bits and pieces and stashed them securely in my backpack. I noticed a slight tear in the finger of one of my gloves, so I put on the new pair, and shoved the discarded ones into the backpack along with all my other stuff.
The kitchen clock showed the time as 2.05am. Backpack now on my back, I sneaked into the hall and paused. All was silent. My eyes quickly made sense of the deeper darkness here and I began to make my way back up the stairs.
Then—a light snapped on in the hall above me—flooding the stair-well with light, dazzling me!
I heard the soft sound of footsteps on carpet. I couldn’t move. No sooner had I thought to myself ‘what if she…’ than I heard the bathroom door close and the tiny bolt was pushed across. My escape route was cut off.
I turned, knowing I wouldn’t have much time. In my imagination I could see the footprints in the sink, the items on the sill all moved up to make room, the window standing wide. I had no time!
I bolted for the front door—it was nearest—and fumbling, I found the key and turned it. My fingers snatched at the handle and I wrenched it open, launching myself through the gap as right behind me, there came the sound of someone pounding down the stairs, screaming my name.
I ran. I ran as I had never run, not even in the 100-metre dash at school when the honour of the Lower VI Girls was at stake.
She screamed behind me but I didn’t dare to look back.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this extract.
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all content is copyrighted © Caron Allan 2013