Mrs. Jones by B.A. Morton
Publisher: Taylor Street Publishing
Date of Publication: April 7, 2012
Number of pages:256
Word Count: 88.000
Cover Artist: Bradley Wind
A British girl with a secret.
A New York cop with a past.
And a mob that wants revenge
In the slickest, sexiest novel to come out in a long time, ruggedly tough and honest cop Detective Tommy Connell picks up an English girl, Mrs Jones, who claims to be the witness to a murder, and falls in love with her. Well, Mrs Jones, whoever she is, must be very attractive because an awful lot of people seem to want to get their hands on her if they can get her away from Connell's determined hands, including some organized crime boys along with the Feds.
Detective Connell definitely has his work cut out for him if he wants to end up with the body of Mrs Jones, dead or alive, that's for sure. All-in-all it's probably safe to say he hasn't a clue what is going on. It is probably equally safe to guess that Mrs Jones does. Not that 'safe' is quite the right word to use here.
1) Where did you get the idea for the novel?
2) Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
3) Which came first, the title or the novel?
I’ll answer the first three questions together. I was listening to Michael Buble’ singing Mrs Jones and I got to thinking about these two people with other lives and commitments, who meet, despite knowing they shouldn’t and fall in love in spite of everything. Being a crime writer, of course I had to add all kinds of secrets and complications to the mix and being a fan of the movies I quickened the pace and had my two main characters running for their lives. The Buble’ kindly provided my soundtrack as I wrote the book and the title Mrs Jones just seemed right.
4) Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Mrs Jones came second in the Yeovil Literary Prize, a UK literary competition, in 2011. It was the first competition I’d entered, so to be successful was a great surprise and honour. From that I was invited to attend the annual Brympton Festival as guest speaker and met some of my own favourite authors such as Alison Weir and Sophie Hannah.
5) What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
I’m currently reading a quirky little book that I picked up for my kindle, entitled The Midget’s House by Anita Bartholomew. It’s a spooky kind of romance, a little different and I’m enjoying it.
6) What was your first book that you ever wrote (very first one you wrote, not published)?
The very first book I wrote as an adult was a dark thriller. This was in the days of floppy discs and I’d all but forgotten about it, until quite recently when I discovered the dusty disc in the bottom of a drawer. I had to buy a gadget to enable me to download it to my netbook. I have to say the writing was atrocious, but the story had merit. I’ve just resurrected it and I’m enjoying bringing a decidedly bad leading man, back to life.
7) At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
It really depends on what they want. Some people just want my name and the date, others like it personalised. I don’t mind either way. I actually like the face to face contact with readers. I’m a bit of a chatterbox and like to hear about what else they might be reading and why they chose my book. I chat about the story, anything really to put people at ease.
Excerpt Chapter One
She answered the door on the sixth knock.
He knew that because he had counted.
Six knocks, thirty seconds between knocks, three minutes.
He’d raised his hand to give her the seventh, seeing as how seven was his lucky number and three and half minutes was as long as he was prepared to wait, but she’d beaten him to it. All the same, six knocks.
These weren’t palatial penthouse apartments, they were studios. What
had taken her so long? Delays in answering the door in this neighborhood were usually accompanied by the sounds of a hurriedly flushed toilet. On this occasion there was silence.
When the door finally opened, she left the chain on, which he supposed was sensible, but didn’t make his job any easier or quicker.
He had a hot date waiting. He checked his watch. If she was still waiting. Taking out his badge, he flashed it through the crack in the door.
“Ma’am, New York Police Department, Detective Connell.” He made an
effort to speak slowly and clearly, wondering if they were old folks and whether that could explain the delay in answering.
“You called in a report about a hit and run. I’d like to speak with you, ask you a few questions.”
He pulled his badge away just in time to avoid his hand being jammed as the door slammed closed. Rolling his eyes, he checked his watch again. She definitely wouldn’t be waiting now. She’d be on her way home and deleting his number from her phone. That was twice he’d stood her up; she wouldn’t be letting him make it three. And that was a shame - she was a looker, and no dummy either. No matter,
probably for the best in the long run.
He was about to give her the seventh knock, when he heard the chain being slid. Placing a hand on the weapon holstered under his left arm, he watched as the door swung slowly inwards. All he needed now was some geriatric cop-hater to come barrelling out with a sawed-off Zimmer frame, so he stood off to one side of the door, just in case.
Connell had drawn the short straw on this case. Everyone else on the squad had more important things to do on a Friday night than chase up old ladies who may or may not have seen an accident. He had more important things to do; he’d been on a promise, after all. But he was on dicey ground and his arrest rate was looking bad. He’d been spending far too much time on impossible cases and this looked like an
easy wrap. Find the old lady, confirm her statement and sign off on the case. Maybe his date would wait. Maybe pigs would fly.
“Honey, is your mom at home?” he asked the young girl who peered anxiously at him from behind the door. She was slender and pale, with a mop of unruly dark curls and wide dark eyes. Her feet, resting one on the other, were bare, her toenails painted a vivid pink.
She wore washed-out jeans with holes at the knees and a baggy grey Tshirt. Connell processed her slight frame in seconds and disregarded her. It was a necessary knack - identify and eliminate any risks - certainly in this neighborhood. “I’m looking for a … ” He pulled out his notebook and checked the name he’d scrawled down back at the station “ … Mrs.Jones, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones.”
The girl nodded, opened the door wide and he realized his knack for on-the-spot identification was slipping. She wasn’t a young girl; she was a young woman who looked like she hadn’t been sleeping too well and he knew exactly how that felt.
“I’m Mrs. Jones,” she said hesitantly in a soft, British accent. “You’d better come in.”
Connell wasn’t often surprised. In his line of work it was a necessary requirement to be unflappable and unshockable, or at the very least to present that image to the public, but she was definitely not what he’d been expecting. She was far too young for a start, didn’t look old enough to be Mrs. Anybody and she didn’t sound like the voice on the tape. The voice had been muffled, admittedly, but had sounded older and certainly not British. Either she hadn’t made the call or the voice had been deliberately disguised. He narrowed his eyes. The first of his inner alarm bells had just gone off.
He followed her into the room. If she wasn’t what he’d expected, then the room certainly was. It was typical of a thousand more in the neighborhood. Close your eyes, stick a pin in a map and you couldn’t fail to come up with a place like this. Short-term, low-rent housing where absentee landlords turned a blind eye and made a killing.
B.A. Morton is a British crime, historical and romance writer.
Her first novel is 'Mrs Jones'. The next in the series, 'Molly Brown', will be published during 2012.
She lives and writes on the Scottish Border.