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Book Blast: Bridge at the Beach (A Clyde Smith Mystery #4) by Garrick Jones

Book Details:

Book Title: Bridge at the Beach (A Clyde Smith Mystery #4)

Author and Cover Artist: Garrick Jones

Publisher: Moshpit Publications

Release Date: April 12, 2024

Genre: Crime Thriller

Themes: Sowing one’s oats; Finding Mr. Right; Acceptance in community; Historical fiction; Crime Fiction; Detective Fiction

Heat Rating:  2 flames 

Length:  134 000 words/ 392 pages 

It is part of the Clyde Smith Mystery Series, but does not end on a cliffhanger.

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Clyde’s idyllic afternoon in the surf with his mates is interrupted by the news that there’s been a quadruple suicide in an apartment overlooking the beach.

Two of the deceased are the parents of Barry Wilkinson, one of Clyde’s childhood friends, a man he hasn’t seen since Clyde donned the khaki and left for war. Wilkinson engages Clyde to discover the identity of a mysterious woman who has been left a huge sum of money in his father’s will. 

On the surface, what appears to be a straightforward case evolves into a complex story of deception, lies, violence and murder. Relationships are tested, new ones formed and Clyde discovers that those connections that seem unrelated are closely linked behind a veil of secrecy.

The early summer of 1957 is a time in which Clyde nearly loses everything he holds dear—his own life included—all because of two couples who died while playing bridge at the beach.

My awareness of Harry’s arrival was having my swimming trunks pulled down to my ankles then a grinning redhead surfacing between Mark and me.

“Take your foot off my cozzies, Jones,” I said, trying not to laugh and vainly struggling to pull them back on.

“Did he pants you?” Mark asked.

“Yes, and if it wasn’t for you, Mark,” Harry said, “I’d be twirling them over my head and racing him to the beach.”

A large wave slapped us in the face; we’d been so busy laughing none of us had spotted it.

“I’ve ordered a float for Mark,” Harry said to me. “Do you think you could pick it up while I chat with my favourite dick?”

“Don’t take him out too far,” I replied, smiling at Harry’s purposeful innuendo. Mark’s eye-roll was slight, but noticeable.

“I’m not totally clueless, Clyde. I know he can’t swim. I just want to show him how to use the float and see if we can’t catch a few waves.”

“All right. See you in a bit.”

I put my shoulder into the next decent breaker and body-surfed to the beach. I recognised the lad in charge of the float rentals. We locals called them floats or floaters, but to visitors they were known by their brand name: Surfoplanes. The long black rubber blow-up surfboard-type things were very popular with people from the western suburbs who weren’t used to swimming in the ocean. They were very cheap: only sixpence an hour to hire.

“How’s it going, Barney?” I asked. “I thought you were working for my mate Craig at his pool these days?”

“Nice to see you, Mr. Smith,” he replied, his eyes fixed on the front of my swimmers. “When are you going to wear those sexy yellow speedos I keep hearing about?”

“You know I’m taken, Barney, and you get to see me naked nearly every morning at the pool …”

“Yes, but somehow the way men fill out their cozzies and imagining what’s hidden in them is far more alluring than the bare truth … not that you’ve got anything to worry about on either count, Mr. Smith.”

I shook my head at his wink and was about to ask him sarcastically how he knew what the word “alluring” meant when I heard someone call out my name.

“Here, take your float, Mr. Smith,” Barney said. “I just need to nick off for a second.”

It was when I turned that I understood Barney’s sudden disappearance. “Hello, Clyde,” the policeman said.

“Gidday, Dave. What brings you down to the beach … and in uniform?”

“Looking for D.S. Dioli. He told me this morning at work that he was having a half day off and spending the afternoon at the beach with you and your mate Luka Praz.”

“He’s in the water. Want me to get him for you?”

“Bloody hot day like this, I’m tempted to take my clobber off and go fetch him myself.”

“Problems at work?”

“Yeah, bad one, Clyde. Four dead. Looks like a suicide pact.”

I whistled softly. “Where?”

He turned and pointed to the north end of the beach. “Baden Street, number five, top floor.”

“What, the Wilkinsons’ place?”

“You know them?”

“Sure thing, Dave. I hauled Sidney Wilkinson into the nick countless times just after I first started. Petty stuff, mostly: handling stolen goods, moneylending, associating with known criminals. He was the lowest of the low back then, but out of the blue opened a jewellery shop up at Peter’s Corner and seemed to have gone straight. Suicide? You said there were four dead?”

“I don’t know much about it yet. But the D.I. told me to bring D.S. Dioli in; he wants him on the case.”

I snorted. Typical of Brendan, telling Mark to fuck off and take a break because he was annoyed with him, next minute calling him into work by sending a constable on the first half day Mark had taken in ages. Although Brendan was a very close friend, when it came to business there were very strict lines never to be crossed that sometimes challenged our friendship.

“Are we still on for tonight, Clyde?”

“Of course we are. Last revision on forensic procedures, after which you’ll piss in your detective’s exam on Thursday morning.”

“What will I bring?”

“Just yourself. I’m cooking Moroccan food. Harry will be home at half six—he’s in charge of dessert—and we’ll eat around half past seven if that suits you.”

“Thanks. I owe you one.”

“You owe me more than one, Dave. But seeing I used to babysit you when you were a toddler, I feel you’re part of the family. Now, I better go get Mark.”

“Clyde …”

“Yes, mate?”

“There’s another personal thing I want to talk to you about sometime. Can I take you out for a bite to eat or for a beer sometime?”

“Why not tonight over dinner? Harry’s trustworthy.”

“I’d rather it be just between you and me.”

“Trouble with Katie?”

“Well … sort of, but as I said, it’s personal.”

“Any night but Wednesday, Dave.”

“Thanks, Clyde.”

As I ran down the beach with the float under my arm, I glanced up over the north end. Had I not been looking for them, I may not have noticed how many cars were parked outside number 5 Baden Street.

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From the outback to the opera.

After a thirty-year career as a professional opera singer, performing as a soloist in opera houses and in concert halls all over the world, I took up a position as lecturer in music in Australia in 1999, at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music, which is now part of CQ University.

Brought up in Australia, between the bush and the beaches of the Eastern suburbs, I retired in 2015 and now live in the tropics, writing, gardening, and finally finding time to enjoy life and to re-establish a connection with who I am after a very busy career on the stage and as an academic.


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