A Sad Christmas Tale

TOMORROW will mark my final signing of 2017 with WHSmith, back in my home city of Stirling, and I’m really looking forward to it.

This is also the last outing of my four stop Christmas 2017 tour and I’m delighted to say I followed up sales of 56 and 62 at Edinburgh Gyle and Paisley with a tour PB of 63 at Glasgow Argyle Street.

But while sales at Argyle Street were great there was one very poignant moment in the big smoke that really brought it home how lucky we are to have family around us at this special time of the year.

I was engaging an elderly couple in conversation and telling them all about my third book in the Thoroughgood Series: ‘The Longest Shadow’, which is based on the oldest unsolved murder in the Scottish Cold cases unit, the 1942 murder of a Wren called Gertrude Canning at Inverarary.

As I explained, the backdrop behind this murder was the Allies disastrous attempt to take the French Port of Dieppe and as an aside I asked if the couple had seen the film of Dunkirk, which I was lucky enough to view in the summer.

Subsequently I could see the lady was becoming emotional and she then revealed that she had not seen Dunkirk, nor would ever watch it, because her father had been one of the first casualties involved in the action there.

He had been a member of an Artillery unit charged with blowing bridges and laying cover as the BEF retreated towards the beaches and was tragically killed without ever making the sand dunes never mind seeing the white cliffs again.

What made it even more poignant was that the elderly lady had been only two when her father had left for France and had no memory of ever meeting him.

Tragically, she added that a fear of flying and water meant she would never make the trip to see her father’s grave in France….I must admit at this point I struggled to keep the tears back….

I love getting out there and talking to people and finding out what interests them and as we have just seen you never know what you will come across.

But the memory of that chat with the lady last week will stay with me forever and has certainly left me, at a time when sadly I have just lost my father-in-law, who was one of the most kind-hearted men I have ever known, with a fresh sense of perspective on what really matters.

So with Christmas almost upon us can I thank everyone who has bought copies of my books on my various signing tours with WHSmith, taken time to vote for me in The People’s Book Prize and taken the opportunity to have a chat with me, somewhere in the UK over this last year.

I’d also like to thank all the staff at WHSmith for their help and support over the 12months…it has been invaluable.

But…..if you are looking for a last minute Christmas present of a unique nature then why not head to WHSmith Stirling, in The Thistles Centre, between 11am and 3pmish tomorrow…I’ll be waiting!!!

Adios and the season’s best to you all!


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