Over the last few weeks, my Bloodhound Books novels have had something of a makeover. Their names have changed (Copycat became The Copycat, while Play became The Watcher), and my own name has changed too. In a world where female authors are excelling in their chosen genres, it felt like the right time to shift away from the neutral C.S. and, for the first time ever, use Charlotte on the front cover of something.
In March the third and final installment of the DI Melanie Watton series will arrive. Before then, though, there's a huge amount of promotional material to look forward to, including Bloodhound Books' Daily Deals which currently sees The Copycat available on Kindle for just 99p.
So, to get you in the mood for a weekend read, I thought I'd push the boat out with a little preview from the book. Here's one of my favourite extracts from DI Melanie Watton's first story:
"DI Melanie Watton stepped over the police-tape cordon that surrounded the playing fields. The PCs in charge of manning the barrier batted back the crowds that tried to follow her through. There was a medley of photographers and reporters bound up with bloodthirsty civilians. Whatever their motivations, everyone was trying to get a good look at the scene of crime officers, the police constables, the arriving detectives. It was always the same, Melanie thought; where there was tragedy, there were happy onlookers.
She tried to drive out her distaste for the madding crowd as she walked closer to the incident tent, erected, Melanie assumed, over the body that was being examined. She cast a look around the surroundings – grey skies and muddied grounds from days upon days of rain – and she had to admire the determination to keep the crime scene clean, although it seemed likely that irreparable damage had already been done. As she approached the final cordon – a smaller, closer circle of trust that existed around the immediate crime scene – she was given overalls and shoe covers. From the corner of her vision, she spotted DC Chris Burton, manipulating herself into the same attire that Melanie had just been given.
‘I didn’t realise you were here already,’ Melanie said, leaning down to hook a plastic casing around her black boot.
‘I rushed. Early bird and all that.’ Chris sounded jovial as she zipped together her torso’s white plastic covering. She had always hated this gear. At her first crime scene, Chris had joked that the overalls made her feel like she was tucking herself into a body bag. It had been met with laughter by the team at the time, but she’d never quite escaped the feeling. She smoothed down the front of her suit and glanced at her boss who was zipping up her own protective gear.
The two officers made their way towards the small tent, housing the woman that had brought them all here. There was a hive of activity to pass through on their way though. Overalls continued to scour the surrounding areas, scraping samples from different parts of the playing fields, collecting whatever maybe-evidence they could find.
‘I’ve got something!’ one voice shouted and while Chris’s attention was pulled to the SOCO in question, Melanie stayed her course, pushing through the loose flaps of the evidence tent and arriving at the foot of a young woman – her skin mottled, her clothing muddied, and her life quite clearly extinguished.
‘I didn’t think anything in the world could get you away from that lab,’ Melanie said, crouching down to the hooded figure sitting cross-legged on the wet ground. ‘To what do we owe this honour?’
George Waller pulled down his medical mask revealing a pale face that was trying, but failing, to force a smile.
‘Truthfully, I wish I hadn’t bothered.’ Hands flat on the floor, he levered himself into a standing position and assessed the body splayed out before them both. ‘Suffocation, I’d guess, hence the bag.’ He pointed to the clear wrapping, still secured around the woman’s neck. ‘She struggled, hence the state of all this.’ He pointed to her parted legs, her widespread arms.
George shook his head. ‘I’ll know more when we’ve got her back at the lab, obviously, but cause of death is fairly clear. Time of death will be difficult, due to,’ he faltered, waved an arm beyond the tent as though gesturing to the general state of the world rather than the October weather. ‘As I said, we won’t know the fine details until we’ve had a proper look, and we won’t have a proper look until…’ he trailed off again. It looked as though something was troubling him but without more information, Melanie couldn’t guess at what.
‘What’s so bad about this one, George?’ Melanie knew how she sounded, but she didn’t have the patience to soften herself with a trying case already laid in front of her.
‘A couple of things, really.’ George crouched down to his open kit case. ‘Firstly, there’s this.’ He handed Melanie a clear evidence bag that contained a square of paper, no bigger than a few inches, on which was a handwritten message: Remember me?"
To find out what happens next, why not treat yourself to a Kindle download for the weekend? The Copycat is available just here.