Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from River Clyde! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that River Clyde packs quite a punch, that it’s lyrical and always beautiful even when it turns ugly, and it’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever read.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
Mired in grief after tragic recent events, state prosecutor Chastity Riley escapes to Scotland, lured to the birthplace of her great-great-grandfather by a mysterious letter suggesting she has inherited a house.
In Glasgow, she meets Tom, the ex-lover of Chastity’s great aunt, who holds the keys to her own family secrets – painful stories of unexpected cruelty and loss that she’s never dared to confront.
In Hamburg, Stepanovic and Calabretta investigate a major arson attack, while a group of property investors kicks off an explosion of violence that threatens everyone.
As events in these two countries collide, Chastity prepares to face the inevitable, battling the ghosts of her past and the lost souls that could be her future and, perhaps, finally finding redemption for them all.
Ready? Alright, let’s get to Glasgow!
THE FIRST ONE TO MOVE IS DEAD
I just kept following the road, the old, tall tenement build- ings left and right, with their dummy windows. Now there’s this cemetery on a massive hill. At the entrance there’s a sign, on the sign it says Necropolis. City of the Dead. Someone’s sprayed Beware of the Dead on a brick wall. Maybe, I think, I’ll get on better among the dead than among the living.
The late-afternoon sun tears a hole in the clouds and pours yellow light over statues and gravestones, the stones stretch up to heaven, and so do I, a bit at least, the light casts my shadow on the asphalt, and I look like my head’s covered in briars, but I reckon that makes me fit into the landscape pretty well. Some gravestones here are in a pretty similar state, hairstyle-wise; there’s one, for instance, where the ivy’s broken through the adornments, the moss has eaten its name, and its overall situation is slanting but stable.
Most of the monuments are missing something.
On some it’s only a tip, but others are missing whole sections, there are broken fruit baskets and laurel wreaths, a lot of the gravestones have simply fallen over. Some Lord Somebody, sitting high on a plinth donated by a few of his friends, has a nose missing. The rain, the wind and the weather gnaw away at the stones, nature chips away at everything, she makes her way back bit by bit just as soon as the people are out of the way, she takes over all that shit and opens her own pop-up shop.
A bee flies around my head, possibly looking for some- thing that can only end in disappointment, the whole city is spread out at the foot of the cemetery hill, for a brief moment I feel like Bruce Wayne up on some skyscraper rooftop, like someone who’s looking out at their past, their present and their future all at once, and is caught up in everything, as much in the then as in the now and in the day after tomorrow.
And then he suddenly appears, between a still-proud, undamaged obelisk and a fallen gravestone, right next to a small temple with a very Grecian air. He stands there in the light and looks at me, I look back. His antlers aren’t exaggeratedly big, he’s not a royal stag, but he has every right to be proud of what’s growing out of his skull there. His coat gleams reddish in the sun, he’s already a touch grey around the nose.
‘Hey, yourself,’ he says.
‘I didn’t know what else to say,’ I say.
‘I know,’ he says.
‘Do you live here?’ I ask.
‘No,’ he says. ‘I’m just out for a stroll.’ ‘Very wise,’ I say.
‘Your hair almost matches mine,’ he says. ‘True,’ I say, ‘that’s interesting.’
‘Very interesting. Do come by again.’
‘We’ll see,’ I say, ‘perhaps.’
‘Well then,’ he says, but doesn’t budge from the spot. ‘Well then,’ I say.
We stay where we are and stare into each other’s eyes, if I didn’t know better, I’d say: the sun sets and rises again in the time we stand around there.
‘OK,’ I say eventually, ‘the first one to move is dead, is that how it works?’
He looks around, his antlers sway, it’s almost like he tilts his head slightly.
‘Sick joke,’ he says.
‘Wasn’t meant as a joke.’
‘Oh right,’ he says.
‘Where I come from, it’s just a thing people say.’
‘Oh right,’ he says again. ‘And where do you come from?’
‘Does that matter?’ I ask.
‘No,’ he says, ‘it doesn’t actually. Not here.’
‘Great place,’ I say.
‘The best,’ he says.
‘Do you smoke?’ I ask.
‘Me too,’ I say. ‘But now I’m in the mood for a cigarette.’ ‘Go on then,’ he says. ‘Smoke one. It’s all the same in the end.’
‘Because we all have to die one day.’
‘Correct,’ he says.
I’m not sure, but I get the feeling that he’s smiling. ‘So,’ I say, ‘see you later then, or whatever.’
‘See you later,’ he says.
I pull the packet of Lucky Strikes, which I bought earlier for a sackful of money, out of my jacket pocket, open it and stick a cigarette in my mouth. By the time I’m ready to light it, the red deer has vanished.
Ready for more? No worries: River Clyde is out now in digital formats and paperback, both of which you can order directly from Orenda Books.