I am thrilled to be a part of the Blog Tour for Old Cases New Colours by Madalyn Morgan and I have an exclusive extract from the book
Old Cases, New Colours (A Dudley Green Investigation)
Sick of working in a world of spies and bureaucracy, Ena Green, nee Dudley, leaves the Home Office and starts her own investigating agency.
Working for herself she can choose which investigations to take and, more importantly, which to turn down.
While working on two investigations, Ena is called as a prosecution witness in the Old Bailey trial of a cold-blooded killer who she exposed as a spy the year before.
An extract from Chapter Twenty-six of Old Cases New Colours
Intro: Mr Derby-Bloom, the father of a friend of Ena’s, dies suddenly while recuperating in a nursing home after a knee operation. Ena’s friend, George, asks Ena to look into her father’s death as he was fit with no underlying health issues and she thinks his death is suspicious. This extract is the second time Ena meets the nurse who looked after Mr Derby-Bloom.
‘Thank you for seeing us again, Nurse McKinlay. I was wondering if we might ask you a couple more questions?’
Nurse McKinlay smiled. ‘Of course.’
‘Did Mr Derby-Bloom say anything before he died.
She looked at Ena thoughtfully and then her eyes widened and she took a long slow breath. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘he did.’ She turned to George, ‘I’m sorry. I was so upset when you were last here, I forgot.’
Ena looked at George. ‘Do you remember what it was he said?’
The nurse looked up at the ceiling as if the words were written there. ‘Yes, but I didn’t hear everything he said. He was speaking German.’
‘Are you sure it was German?’
‘Yes, quite sure.’
‘Try to remember what the words sounded like.’
Nurse McKinlay looked thoughtful. She took a shaky breath and said, ‘I didn’t understand him at first because what he said didn’t make any sense.’
‘Could he have been hallucinating?’
‘No, I’m sure he wasn’t. He reached out and took my hand. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, so I leaned over him and put my ear near his mouth. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone speak German and I didn’t catch the first couple of words, but it sounded like, sie hat mich getötet. Then, I’m sorry, he’d gone.’
George took a sharp breath, looked at Ena and then at the nurse. ‘Sie hat mich getötet?’
‘Yes. He spoke quietly, but that was definitely what he said.’
‘And in English?’ Ena asked.
‘She has killed me,’ George said. ‘Who did he think had killed him?’
Before the three women had time to discuss the meaning of Mr Derby-Bloom’s last words, the nursing home’s manager, Mrs Sharp, opened the door.
‘Before you leave, Miss Derby-Bloom, would you pop into the office? She left without waiting for George to reply.
‘It’ll be the fee for Dad’s stay here,’ George said, ‘I won’t be long.
When George had left, Ena gave Nurse McKinlay a card. ‘If you think of anything else, anything at all, however insignificant you think it might be, would you telephone me on this number?’
‘Yes, of course.’
‘I see from your badge you’re a registered nurse. Jeanie.’
‘I was with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry during the war. I began nursing in 1937. I was one of the first recruits to train at the Nurses Preliminary Training School. Not all the hospital matrons approved of the training. Most preferred their nurses to learn on the wards, which I did eventually. It was a good foundation course, though. Two intensive months in the training school and we learned everything from medical and nursing theology to anatomy and physiology. But it isn’t the same practising on life size dummies.’
‘No. It must have been very different when you began working with real patients?’
‘It was. I spent two years on the wards and when war was declared I joined up and became a FANY.
‘And, do you mind me asking where you learned to speak German?’
‘Not at all. My first overseas assignment as a FANY was just after the Russian invasion of Finland in November 1939. I was one of forty FANY drivers in a convoy of ten ambulances that went to Norway. We arrived after the fighting in February 1940 but stayed on to help evacuate the hospitals and the refugees from Karelia.’
‘Finland would be cold at that time of year,’ Ena said.
‘February is the coldest month of the year. It was between minus five and minus ten most nights, but we were too busy to think about it. It was in Finland that I learned to speak German. I worked with an Austrian doctor who had spent ten years as a surgeon in Germany. He was fluent in German and English - and the languages of the countries that border Finland - Russian, Norwegian and Swedish. When I got back to England, a friend who had returned from Scotland as a driver with the Polish fighting units told me about an organisation that trained people with languages as wireless operators. She went off to work in a grand old manor house in Banbury, and because I understood German I was sent to the east coast to listen to conversations between Luftwaffe pilots and the top brass giving the orders.’
Ena had been an engineer making small discs and dials for coding and deciphering machines at Bletchley Park and Henry, already at Bletchley Park, worked on top-secret codes, so Ena knew how important jobs like the one nurse McKinlay did were. ‘An interesting job,’ she said.
‘We coordinated what the wireless operators sent back with what we heard the pilots say, and the girls in the map room were able to plot their route within a mile, sometimes less.’
‘I remember my husband telling me that the RAF was often given information that enabled them to stop the Luftwaffe over the Channel?’
‘It must be gratifying to know that the work you did, stopping bombs from being dropped on factories and homes, saved lives.’
‘I suppose it was. I didn’t think about it at the time. None of the girls did. We just got on with it. I had learned Morse Code and hoped that with my knowledge of German, I’d be sent overseas to work as a wireless operator, but it didn’t happen.’
‘Your contribution to the war effort was of huge importance,’ Ena said. ‘I’m sure many operations were foiled because the RAF had information in advance of German air strikes.’
Nurse McKinlay smiled.
Ena liked her. She was easy to talk to. Now, Ena thought, would be a good time to ask her about the staff and the other residents in the nursing home.
I was brought up in a pub in a small market town called Lutterworth. For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be an actress and a writer. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live with so many characters to study and accents to learn. I was offered Crossroads the first time around. However, my mother wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job that I could fall back on if I needed to, so I did a hairdressing apprenticeship. Eight years later, aged twenty-four, I gave up a successful salon and wig-hire business in the theatre for a place at East 15 Drama College and a career as an actress, working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.
In 1995, with fewer parts for older actresses, I gave up acting. I taught myself to touch-type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau and began writing articles and presenting radio.
In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, I moved back to Lutterworth. I swapped two window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write. Since then, I have written nine novels. The first four, The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, tell the stories of four sisters in World War 2. My current novel, Old Cases, New Colours, is a thriller/detective story set in 1960. I am writing Christmas book - Christmas Applause - and a Memoir; a collection of short stories, articles, poems, photographs and character breakdowns from my days as an actress.
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