Hi guys! Hope you are doing well. Today I am taking part in the blog tour for "The Mausoleum" by David Mark, organised by Love Book Group.
1967. In a quiet village in the wild lands of the Scottish borders, disgraced academic Cordelia Hemlock is trying to put her life back together. Grieving the loss of her son, she seeks out the company of the dead, taking comfort amid the ancient headstones and crypts of the local churchyard. When lightning strikes a tumbledown tomb, she glimpses a corpse that doesn’t belong among the crumbling bones. But when the storm passes and the body vanishes, the authorities refuse to believe the claims of a hysterical ‘outsider’.
Teaming up with a reluctant witness, local woman Felicity Goose, Cordelia’s enquiries all lead back to a former POW camp that was set up in the village during the Second World War. But not all Gilsland’s residents welcome the two young women’s interference. There are those who believe the village’s secrets should remain buried … whatever the cost.
Transcript 0003, recorded October 29, 2010
I didn't speak as she left. Just stood shivering and feeling wretched. I didn't like being such a weakling but Janet had always enjoyed seeing how long it took to pull my hair before tears came to my eyes.
I went back to tidying. Sorted the stuff into neat piles and took the dirty dishes to the kitchen. Put the map back in the tube without really taking any notice of the words or the place-names. I went to the kitchen and washed the pots and poured the milk away. Couldn't face upstairs. Didn't want to see the state of his bedroom or breathe in the aroma of an old man's privacy. Stayed downstairs. Made a pile of useful foods from the fridge and loaded them into a fruit box to take home. I could smell Fairfax in that kitchen no matter what I did. Could smell the man I knew and not the sloven who had left the filth in the other room. I had a sudden memory of him, leaning against the metal draining board, notebook in his hand, asking me questions about my memories of Dad. Memories of school. Of seeing the work crew from Camp 18 fixing fences out towards Low Row. His pencil was a blur. He looked happy and sad as he wrote, like he was enjoying it but knew the enjoyment came from a sad place if that makes any sense. He wrote to feel close to Christopher, but that was as close as he would ever get.
I spent a few moments in the pantry. There were jams in there from a decade back. I recognised my own handwriting on the damson jelly label from '61. There were tins of meat and trays of eggs. A barrel for biscuits full of crumbs. Tea. Tins of baked beans, stacked like mortars. A first-aid box, issued in wartime. I thought there might be plasters inside. Maybe gauze. I used to burn myself on the cooker a lot and if he had any spare ointment I knew where it would find a good home. I opened the box. The keys stared up at me like treasure. A great bunch of them, like somebody, would carry on their belt in a castle. Church keys. Crypt keys. Keys to the outbuildings in the church grounds. Maybe a whole minute went by as I stood looking at those keys. I'm not sure my brain has ever worked as fast. I don't even know where the impulse came from. I just suddenly had a flash of something I didn't know I knew, like when you look at your husband's crossword puzzle and somehow just know the answers to the questions and you daren't tell him in case he thinks you're calling him a fool.
I took the keys. They were cold and heavy and there was mud on the body of the biggest one. I slipped them into my sleeve. They made a bulge like a muscle and felt cold against my skin. I closed the door to the pantry, pulled on my coat, closed the back door and stood on the back step like a thief.