Cross Check: Friendship Can Be Murder: Book 2

WARNING: contains spoilers for book 1!

Cross Check: Book 2 of the Friendship Can Be Murder trilogy.

Readers said:

“…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”

“This is the funniest story I’ve read in a long time. We follow along as Cressida helps family and friends solve some annoying issues. How does she do that, you ask? Murder, pure and simple…sometimes not so simple. The ending of this book two of the series is dramatic for all, but especially for Cressida.”

Cressida Barker-Powell, spoiled society girl and recent widow is back, and back with a vengeance. She is making a list and cross-checking it twice. If you’re on her list, you’re dead. No ifs. No buts. No maybes. She’s making the world a better place for the few people she cares about, and if someone’s got to die to make that happen, so be it.

But with a new man in her life, a baby on the way and two small children to care for, it’s not easy to fit in her murderous activities. At the same time, she yearns to be a better person for the sake of her impromptu family. If only she could just get rid of a few more unpleasant people, then she could get back to being the earth-mother and matchmaker she knows is her true gift.
Find out just how Cressida juggles poisonings and suffocations with ante-natal clinic appointments and the school run in this, the second book of the trilogy.

Just as in the first book, Criss Cross, Cressida uses her journal to plot murder and analyse her feelings.

Buy Cross Check: Book 2 of the Friendship Can Be Murder trilogy now for a dark, humorous tale of murder, revenge and choosing the right outfit for a dastardly deed.

What to know more? Here is a short extract:

I barely had time to sit down with my hot chocolate when she said, as if she’d been brooding on it for a long time and couldn’t hold back a moment longer, “So how easy would it be to hire a hit man, do you think?”

Back to that again. As I looked at her, she added, “Also, how much do you think they’d charge, because I could only go up to about £5,000. By the way, you’ve got a marshmallow moustache.”

For God’s sake!

“Henrietta,” I began, “we’ve already gone into this…” but she interrupted, still agitated, turning to face me, and clutching my hands.

“I’m desperate, Cressida. I’d do anything to help Mavis and get rid of that odious man. You have no idea what it’s like, day after day, the strain we’re under. I can’t do it anymore. All I want is to spend the rest of my life with the woman I love.”

“Well you won’t be able to do that if you’re in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, will you?” I said waspishly. Nabbing a teaspoon and giving it a wipe on the hem of my Paul Smith shirt. (I’ve just been such a scruff since I found out I was pregnant but of course the great thing is, here in the country, it doesn’t matter how bad one looks as no one here has any fashion savvy anyway.) I began to clear a path through the rapidly deflating aerosol cream to the gooey marshmallow raft afloat on the sea of hot chocolate. Yum!

“Only if one gets caught. I shouldn’t get caught,” Henrietta declared in her nice grammar.

“Of course you would, Poppet,” I said. “Because the police would simply ask the killer who put him up to it in exchange for a reduced sentence. So of course he’d blab. Unless you kill your assassin to shut him up. In which case, if you’re going to go to that much trouble, you might just as well go the whole hog and kill the bastard yourself to begin with. In which case why hire a hit man in the first place? Cut out the middle man so to speak.” I paused for a moment, confused. How many cases did that make?

She sat for a moment with a hand shielding her eyes, apparently absorbed in a study of the surface tension of her rum and OJ. A droplet ran down her cheek. I couldn’t resist the urge to pat her knee and say softly, “Chin up, Henrietta. Something will turn up.”

I’d already offered her a ‘loan’ for the amount Mavis needed, not that I’d dream of taking any repayments off the old girls, but Henrietta had hotly refused it in no uncertain terms.

That really only left me with one alternative.

We nursed our drinks in silence whilst Henrietta pulled herself together a bit and then she reached into her bag and pulled out a crumpled envelope.

“Here,” she said, presenting me with it, “that’s the latest epistle from His Majesty. I’d be interested to know what you think. See if you can think of anything we can do about it. I suppose we shall have to get a solicitor involved.” She got up and went to the loo, and I opened the envelope and drew out the letter.

It read simply:

‘“Mavis (no ‘Dear’, I thought. How rude!)

‘“I need that money. It’s no good you telling me you can’t raise £45,000, you must have it tucked away somewhere, or if not, I’m sure your old dyke has some savings. You’ve got another month to get it back to me. I need it by then because that’s when Linzi and I are getting married—August 16—and I need the money to put down a deposit on our new apartment as my house won’t be sold in time. In any case, you owe me. You’d better not let me down again, I don’t want this to get nasty, and trust me, neither do you!


He didn’t want it to get nasty? What did he call this? I shot a quick glance towards the Ladies to make sure I was safe and I quickly scribbled down his name, ‘Simon Meesham’ and his address from the somewhat garish letterhead. I do hate it when tossers have ‘From The Desk Of…’ printed at the top of a letterhead, it’s so ostentatious; usually employed by people for whom ostentation should be banned. It might just as well say ‘This piece of A4 has touched the hem of the garment of the Apostle Paul and is therefore a sacred relic.’ I put the letter back in its envelope and placed it next to Henrietta’s drink. At that moment she returned, looking a bit red around the eyes. Poor old bat.

“Well?” she demanded.

“He’s a bastard, all right,” I agreed. “I suppose it’s possible a solicitor could make out a case for intimidation or something, based solely on the tone and language of this one letter, but there’s no overt threat. I don’t think you’d get anywhere if you did try to pursue it. Anyway, a solicitor would cost you a packet.”

“Which I don’t have.”

“Which you don’t have,” I agreed. “Drink up. I’ll get another one in. Then we’ll go back to the churchyard and listen to Mavis mangling Bach.”

She dashed away a few residual tears and swilled down the last of her drink. I waited at the bar for our next round, and glanced back at our table. She was sitting there, gazing down at the floor, shoulders hunched. She suddenly seemed so old, so frail. Her skin pulled tightly across her cheek bones, but sagged on the jowls and under the eyes. I had never noticed her age before. She seemed smaller, and a bit defeated. I hated to see her like this. I realised suddenly she might not have many years left. What was it to live each day knowing it might be your last? I mean, we all know accidents can happen to anyone at any time, irrespective of age. But the reality is, the older one gets, the closer one draws to death. And Henrietta is pretty old. I couldn’t deny her the last happy weeks slash months slash year of her life.

So, as I turned back to smile at the barman and to take our drinks from him and hand over my cash, I made my decision. It was time to plan my trip to that mythical place, Hemel Hempstead.


Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this extract.

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all content is copyrighted © Caron Allan 2013