Blog tour: The Partisan Heart by Gordon Kerr
Hi there, and welcome to my stop on The Partisan Heart‘s blog tour.
It’s a huge honour to have been invited to take part in this tour, and I’m so excited to be sharing a brilliant extract from Gordon Kerr’s newest release with you.
As usual, I’ll share some more information about The Partisan Heart before we dive into the extract:
The death of his wife has left Michael Keats bereft and the subsequent discovery of her adultery devastates him. Michael resolves to discover the identity of her lover. That journey leads him from London, to rural Scotland and back to the Italian Alps where stories from the present intertwine with another illicit love affair between a partisan and a villager during the darkest days of World War II. It marks the unravelling of a complex story of treachery and revenge as he uncovers five decades of duplicity and deception.
The Partisan Heart is Gordon Kerr’s first non-fiction book, set partly in 1944 and partly in 1999 and providing a fascinating insight into the Italian Civil War, which was fought from September 1943 until the German surrender in 1945.
Ready to read that extract? Well, here we go…
He had left the motorway some miles back and, after following the A75 for a distance that made him think he had gone too far, he came to the small town of Annan. Traffic was bad – it was early evening and the road was filled with people returning home from their day’s work. He should have been doing the same himself, of course, but had phoned Harry, his boss at the Evening Post, this morning to say that he could not get back for another couple of days. Harry had reassured him that it was fine, but Michael had picked up just a tinge of irritation in Harry’s voice. Probably just having a tough day, he thought, but just the same he reckoned it would be unwise to push his luck. At Annan he stopped to get petrol and peered in the dark glow of his interior light at a hotel guide that gave directions to the Lighthouse Inn. He pulled out of the petrol station, rain still spattering on the car windows and follow the sign for the coast road.
About seven miles later, the village he wanted was signposted to the left. It was dark by now and the road was narrow, barely wide enough to take two cars abreast. At least the rain had eased off, however, and the sky was beginning to clear, revealing a bright quarter moon scudding between the clouds.
He came to a village, which consisted of little more than a few houses and a shop, as far as he could see, and then followed the road along what appeared, in the dark, to be a rocky coastline. Then he saw a sign bearing a line drawing of a lighthouse with a beam spitting out of it on all sides. It announced that the Lighthouse Inn was one hundred yards further down the road on the right.
The Lighthouse Inn was an old sandstone building with an empty car park outside. It stood alone, staring grimly out to sea, its slightly lighter outline showing through the darkness. He took his overnight bag from the back of the car, the wind pulling at the car door as he struggled to shut it. He bent into it and ran the few paces to the hotel entrance.
The roar of the wind disappeared suddenly as he closed the door. He placed his overnight bag on the floor and stood there gathering himself, running his hand through his windtousled hair.
The Lighthouse Inn took its name seriously, indeed. Its walls were covered in framed photographs and paintings of lighthouses of every description. The window ledges held models of lighthouses, large and small. In the far corner was what he took to be the working of an old light – huge cogs interlinked and levers stuck out at irregular points. Ropes hung the length of the walls and had been stuck onto the bannisters of the stairs. The overall effect was that of a concept carried too far.
He approached the desk which, like every other surface, was edged with rough rope. The only sound was the cracking and spitting of a large fire, which roared into a huge chimney to his right.
“Hello?” He said hesitantly, before repeating it, almost shouting. “HELLO!”
He then turned and surveyed once again the bits of lighthouse that surrounded him.
A distant door opened and the sound of a familiar piece of music emerged – the theme tune to some TV soap or quiz show, he couldn’t quite remember. TV wasn’t really his thing.
“Good evening, sir, welcome to the Lighthouse Inn.”
She was about twenty-five or so, attractive with blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and wearing a blue skirt and a similarly-coloured jumper. Her skin had a slight glow about it, the glow that comes from sitting too close to a good fire.
“Good evening. I’d like a room, please.” He put his bag on the floor and rubbed his hands together to get some feeling back into them after the iciness of the wind outside.
“Would that just be for the one night, sir?” she said, handing him a form on which were spaces for his name, address and credit card details.
“Yes, I think so,” he replied.
“Well, if you change your mind and want to stay longer, it won’t be a problem. We’re a wee bit quiet at the moment.” Her Scottish accent was soft and precise and she had a slow, lambent smile that, when it flickered across her face, struck him as being well worth the wait.
“Is Mrs Stewart in tonight?” he asked, handing her the completed form and reaching into his pocket for his wallet so that she could swipe his credit card.
“Oh no, Jacquie went home ages ago, but she’ll be in early tomorrow morning.” She handed him his key, directing him to the first floor and added. “Enjoy your stay… Oh, and if you’re hungry or want a drink, the bar’s open.” She indicated a doorway to his left, under the stairs. “The restaurant’s closed tonight, but I can do you a toasted sandwich and some salad, if you want.”
“Thanks, I think I might just take you up on that,” he replied, smiling. “Give me fifteen minutes to freshen up.”
“See you in fifteen minutes then,” she said, filing away his form and letting another of those smiles drift across her face.
The hotel had an out-of-season atmosphere. It felt as if it were in hibernation. Needless to say, his room persisted with the lighthouse theme. The walls once again provided a photographic record, it seemed, of every lighthouse in the world and the window was round like an enlarged porthole. Nonetheless, it was clear, comfortable and quite spacious. He emptied his bag, laying the jacket he had been sent carefully on the bed. He showered quickly and changed into a fresh shirt and pair of black jeans before heading downstairs once again in the direction of the bar.
The girl was behind the bar, pulling at one of the pumps and emptying the results into a slops pail that stood in the sink. The walls around her were decorated with still more pictures of lighthouses and mysterious brass items – pieces of the workings of lighthouses sat on shelves.
“Hello!” she said cheerily as he entered, “I hope everything’s alright with the room?”
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of The Partisan Heart, it’s available in all good bookshops and on Amazon now.
About the author:
Gordon Kerr worked in bookselling and publishing before becoming a full-time writer. He is the author of several non-fiction history titles but this is his debut crime fiction. He was born in East Kilbride and went to Glasgow University. Having worked in London for many years he now divides his time between Dorset and Southwest France. His band, Elsie at the Piano, will be releasing a single, The Partisan Heart, with lyrics written by Gordon Kerr, to tie in with publication. Move over Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, there’s another singing crime writer in town…
A huge thank you to Muswell Press for inviting me to get involved with this blog tour. Make sure to check out the earlier posts on the tour – it’s been running for a couple of weeks, and there have been some brilliant bloggers involved.