For my regular readers, these are some special posts this week as part of a pitch contest I'm providing feedback for.
For participants, welcome to my blog! I'm happy to host you and excited to see what kinds of stories you've written. Please remember that only the author of this piece and the participating judges are supposed to comment. All other comments will be deleted.
Title: Dead & Buried
Category and Genre: Adult, Historical Mystery
Word Count: 90,000
Will Dwyer is a police constable and a convicted thief, but that's common in Van Diemen's Land, where the police are poorly paid and the labour force consists mostly of convicts. He is tired of being looked down on for being a felon, no matter how hard he works. When he has to take charge of an outlaw found dead in the bush, Will is subjected to one dismissive comment too many. He resolves to find killer, even if it takes him into parts of town he's been warned off, and once he apprehends them, he'll earn himself a pardon and be just as good as the free men who sneer at him.
Nobody wants to help Will investigate. Not his partner, not the rich man who found the body, and not his new friend Luke, whose scorn inspired the quest. But Will persists, trudging through the streets and taprooms of Hobart Town, until his investigation uncovers a secret that endangers Luke and negates the work he has so far down. Faced with increasing self-doubt, Will has a choice: continue his fruitless quest at the risk of betraying his friend, or stick to patrolling the streets and accept that those that look down on him are right.
First 250 Words:
I am a constable at Hobart Town. On the morning of the fifth of November, I was in the taproom of the Duke of Wellington when I saw a crowd coming down the street, following, as best I could tell, a man with a horse. Not a man on a horse, but a man walking beside a horse.
Above them, the sun shone bright in a blue sky, another day of no rain with not even a wisp of cloud. In here, in this tap-room, it was shaded and cool, even in the doorway, and the mug of ale in my hand was just a mouthful from being full. A waste of good coin to put it aside now, and if I waited long enough, there was always a chance whoever was actually on duty would arrive to take care of the crowd.
I wished they'd hurry.
"Something has your interest there," said a deep voice. A stool scraped over the floor and then the big hulk of Pete Woodrow joined me in the doorway, or behind me, there not being enough room for both of us. "That's quite a gathering up the road. Shouldn't you be bothering them, lad?"
The mug I held was smooth under my fingers, the ale within would be just as smooth as it slide down my throat, its warmth spreading out through the rest of my body. After being roused from my bed at some unholy hour this morning, I deserved this.