The idlyllic English village below, complete with old fashioned telephone box , is unfortunately the location of a current murder investigation. The dead body of a local businessman, estate agent and wealthy landlord, Hugo Montbray, was recently discovered a local woods.
I’ve bene lucky enough to be able to interview somebody actually staying in the area (aside: she also happens to be a journalist, and may be no easy subject, but here goes…).
Lucinda Elliot; Cat, I believe you are currently involved in quite a ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ type adventure down in the cosy English village of Wintergreen. A family curse, no less. That is a bit spine chilling.
Well, I wouldn’t say I was involved, exactly. I mean, I just happen to be staying in a cottage not very far from where someone was found dead in suspicious circumstances. And yes, it would seem that there is a local legend involving a curse, but hey, I’m just a passive observer. It’s not my business to get involved, even if [she tries to look nonchalant as she flicks through a notebook] I’m a journalist and I’m always on the trail of an interesting story.
Hmm. I suppose the local detective, Jake Fernsby, isn’t it, has told you to be noncommittal about it. Or maybe as a professional journalist, you are a little reluctant to give anyone else a story? Well, I’m not a journalist; I’m a part time blogger and writer of gothic. But perhaps, these days it amounts to the same thing in a way.
But to revert to my previous line of questioning – sorry, I mean, friendly chat, trying to put characters at their ease the way I notoriously do – I do know that there is a legend about a family curse on the male line of the Montbrays, because in the bad old days of the squirearchy one of them seduced and abandoned one local girl too many, and she put a curse on him.
Hey, that’s a great story for Christmas! I want to read all about it.
All of that may be true, Lucinda. I couldn’t possibly comment about the status of the police investigation, not least because DI Fernsby is indeed playing his cards close to his chest. Besides, as you know, I’m off-duty at the moment and enjoying a quiet Christmas break with my family. I’m not planning to write a story about it, not even for the Festive season. [Looks thoughtful.] Unless, that is, it turns out to be a truly spectacular story of the type that I simply can’t ignore…
Anyway, the Montbray curse is well-known in the local area, so I won’t be treading on too many toes if I confirm that there is indeed such a legend. The Montbrays were always a colourful lot and, according to local gossip, if they weren’t cheating you, fighting you or stealing your money they were busy trying to sleep with you. Legend also has it that one of their many victims, a servant girl called Patience, invoked a terrifying curse upon the male Montbrays as revenge just before she hanged herself.
You’ve probably heard something like this before, which wouldn’t surprise me. Britain is full of these little myths, and few of them have any basis in historical fact. Interestingly, though, one Hugo Montbray recently met a sticky end, which some might take as evidence that the curse is still in effect.
Not that it’s any of my business, of course. As I said, I’m just here to enjoy a quiet Christmas…
Oh, come on. That cliché about the leopard is applicable here. No doubt Jake Fernsby was off duty when I saw him talking to you. The two of you seem to be getting quite close, one way and another.
[Blushing furiously] A policeman and a journalist? Are you serious? That would be a marriage made in Hell. And by the way, he wasn’t talking to me in any normal sense of the word. He was keeping tabs on me, just like policemen always do.
[Under her breath] You’re a fine one to talk…
Sorry, I didn’t quite hear that.
Nothing. Just clearing my throat.
Well, it’s true that I’ve met him on occasion. It’s impossible not to in a little village like Wintergreen, especially when he’s a world-class busybody.
[Sniggers.] It seems to me that journalists don’t like being interviewed themselves. [Returns to the attack] But you are, after all, actually staying in Stable Cottage, and while you can’t accuse your landlady Lita McQuoid of being the over imaginative type, rumours circulate that it is the very place where the tragic girl hanged herself so long ago, now prosaically converted into a holiday cottage.
Of course, you never know with these business people. Lita may have spread that rumour about herself, to attract custom from bold, adventurous types.
I’m not sure that Lita cares what kind of person stays there, as long as they pay the rent. Luckily, I’m not the superstitious type, so rumours about long-ago suicides don’t trouble me too much. I belong in a newsroom, not a gothic novel.
It is never safe for a character to say that; after all, your fate depends on your author, and I see that you may be even be involved in a series.
What, you weren’t aware that Mari Biella was writing your story as an exciting seasonal mystery novella available on Amazon at a highly reasonable price?
Ah, she’s terminated the interview. ..But you can get this excellent Christmas read on: