If you missed some of my earlier blogs, I’d like to introduce you to Scott Chevalier this week – star of my upcoming mystery due for release on 6th December…
As an Aussie ex-surf champ-turned-model, first impressions are, he’s a bit of eye candy for the ladies. But scratch below the surface, and it turns out that Scott’s no dummy, and has picked up a host of bush skills over the years from his time spent with his grandfather up in the bush in Queensland.
Unfortunately, when Scott inadvertently stirs up a media storm one day, his contented life in his Australian homeland looks like it’s in jeopardy!
To cut a long story short, his agent calls in a favour and devises a way for him to duck out of the media spotlight – at least for a while. And before he knows what’s hit him, Scott’s agreeing to go over the other side of the world to a cold little island called England. The good news? He’s hosting a TV show based on his bush skills and campervan lifestyle – and the director’s daughter isn’t all that bad, either!
KILLER CLIMATE is the first book in the new Campervan Bushman Mystery Series, and this week’s Sneak Peek sees Scott within days of arriving in the UK. In this prologue extract, he’s chilling out at the home of his producer before he heads off to his first shoot for the new TV show.
But before that, here’s the blurb, so you can get an overview of the book…
Book 1 in the Campervan Bushman Mystery Series
A Mystery with an Edge of Humour,
A Sense of Adventure and
A Hint of Romance
Ex-surf champ and model, Scott Chevalier, isn’t just a pretty face!
With an enviable campervan-surfie lifestyle, and a handful of impressive bush skills learnt from his grandfather, producer Frank Buckler sees great potential in the young Aussie and hires him to host a British TV show called The Campervan Bushman.
Unfortunately, things don’t start out too well when Scott arrives on location in England. One minute, he has to contend with the freezing North Sea, and the next, he’s in danger of being reported for popping off the local wildlife.
When things hit rock bottom and the director dies, no one suspects it could be anything but an accident – at least not to start with. But as the evidence begins to mount, Scott realises that the cold English climate isn’t the only killer around.
KILLER CLIMATE has an edge of humour, a sense of adventure, and a hint of romance – a story not to be missed!
* * * *
He seemed to have it all – a lean muscular physique, handsome tanned features, dazzling blue eyes and a natural, unwittingly-disarming manner to match. No wonder Scott Chevalier was a highly-paid surfing model back in Australia, Sheila Buckler thought as she looked out of the kitchen window and watched their delectable house guest dozing against the bough of a tree in her garden.
The twenty-something was wearing board shorts with a blue and white flower pattern, and pleasantly naked from the waist up as he lay back contentedly soaking up the sunshine, wisps of shoulder-length fair hair protruding from beneath his Akubra bush hat.
With looks like that, it was a given that he’d make a hit in the TV show he was going to be filming with her husband’s production company. What did Frank say they were going to call it again? The Campervan Bushman or something? In any case, he seemed to have talked about nothing but Scott since he’d met him in Australia. How the young man had been a surfing champ and drove round in a purple vintage campervan. How his grandfather up north had taught him a load of bush skills and all about bush foods. All of which Frank was keen to get him weaving into the show. It all sounded rather intriguing.
As far as Frank was concerned, he’d struck entertainment gold and couldn’t wait for the crew to start filming. Which was just as well, Sheila thought. His company, Young Sheila Productions, was struggling financially, just like everyone else’s. He was always moaning that it was getting harder and harder to make ends meet when it came to working in the entertainment industry these days. Why didn’t he just retire early and be done with it? But she knew he wouldn’t give it up. He lived and breathed his work. Always had. Even now, he was out wheeling and dealing, getting things ready for the show. His latest pet project.
Sheila continued to look out of the window as she lifted the jug of ice-cold fruit punch to fill the glass tumblers on the tray in front of her. She might be a middle-aged housewife who’d put on a few pounds over the years, but she still felt like a spry teenager sometimes, she thought, her heart skipping a beat or two. Oh, she knew she shouldn’t ogle like that, but somehow, she just couldn’t wrestle her eyes away. Anyway, no one else was around and Scott’s hat was over his face, covering his eyes, so who would know? Didn’t hurt to sneak a peek, she told herself as her eyes drifted over the sumptuous lines of his sun-kissed form.
Sheila jumped when she felt an icy-cold wetness on her fingers, and looked down to see punch pouring over the sides of the glass. “Ohhh!” she moaned, snapping out of her reverie and frantically grabbing at the kitchen towel roll on the wall.
“Curse that Poldark!” she muttered to herself as she dabbed at the tray, trying to mop up the mess. Her romantic imagination ran wild enough, what with all those romance novels she read. But with that Poldark show on TV now, a nation of women’s passions had been fervently aroused – and she and her friends at the Women’s Institute were not immune. They’d talked of nothing else since the riveting Cornish drama had first aired. Forget about exchanging jam recipes! There were more important things on the menu. Like what a dish that lead actor, Aidan Turner, was, for starters… And just when was he going to get that shirt of his off again and reveal those rippling ab muscles? The whole thing had got them all in a fluster.
Now, having Scott around as a house guest, Sheila could’ve sworn her hot flushes were getting worse. Or perhaps it was just her imagination – the effects of the summer heat. She wasn’t sure.
Sheila finished mopping up, straightened herself and put a flat hand to her chest, pausing to take a deep breath. She then brushed back her short, ash-blond hair, smoothed down her apron and started again. This time, she avoided looking out the window and concentrated on the task at hand; and when she’d finished, she removed her apron, donned a lacy, wide-brimmed sun hat and took the tray outside.
“Thought you might like a drink,” she said as she stepped out from the patio doors and wandered across the clipped lawn towards Scott. Scott slowly lifted his hat and looked up from beneath the brim to get his bearings, and saw Sheila approaching with a tray.
“Oh, thanks, Mrs Buckler,” he said, lifting the hat onto his head now and taking a glass from the tray as she leant down to him. “My throat’s as dry as a dead dingo’s donger.” He took a swig of the cold thirst-quenching drink and licked his lips. “Didn’t realise it was going to be this warm over here – not that it’s a heatwave, exactly,” he added, lifting the glass up and flashing her a smile of thanks.
“Yes,” she said, flapping the front of her flowery, round-necked dress, hoping to cool down as she blushed at his handsome gaze, “it does seem rather hot today.” Scott seemed completely oblivious to the effect he had on his host.
“I really appreciate you lettin’ me stay here for a day or two,” Scott said.
“That’s all right, Scott,” Sheila replied. “In fact, it’s nice to have visitors these days, now that the kids have flown the coop. Ryan’s in his thirties now and he still hasn’t managed to settle down. Gone travelling round Australia – staying with Frank’s relatives at the moment – “bludging off his rellies”, Frank’s always moaning. And Lucy finally got married last year – the apple of Frank’s eye, she is. So it’s just me and Frank rattling round in this big old house in the suburbs now,” she said wistfully. “Anyway, I know you’ll be off soon to do your filming up north with Frank’s crew, but you’re welcome here any time.”
Scott nodded gratefully but said nothing, hoping he wouldn’t need to be in England for too long. The only reason he’d agreed to come over in the first place was because things had gone ever so slightly pear-shaped back in Australia. Somehow, what had started out as an innocent rally with his best mate at Bondi had ended up with them engaging in a raging wrestling match on the beach. And the next day, pictures of his contorted face, mid-brawl, were splashed all over the front pages of the national newspapers and doing the rounds on the internet.
As far as Scott was concerned, the whole thing had been blown way out of all proportion. It was just a falling out with a mate, for Christ’s sake. But according to his long-time agent and family friend, Rip Vanderbilt, the whole affair was fast becoming the media shit-storm of the year – in Australia at least. He knew how bad publicity like this could ruin careers like Scott’s. He’d even had calls from merchandise companies saying they wanted to disassociate themselves from the jovial surfing icon who had become a household name.
Rip advised Scott that the best thing now was to lay his head low – “just until the dust settled”. Whenever that would be, Scott thought. Reluctantly, he agreed to meet up with Frank Buckler, one of Rip’s old Aussie mates who happened to be over, visiting family in Sydney.
Although Frank’s main venture was the small film production company he owned and ran in London, he was renowned for sniffing out raw talent, developing it and milking it to the full – a sort of showbiz talent scout. And although Rip had initially hoped Frank could pull a few strings back in London – maybe wangle Scott some modelling work over in Europe where he wasn’t known – Frank saw other potential that Rip had missed.
What Frank envisioned was a show he’d sell to a UK TV network – a show based around Scott’s natural abilities – for a start off, he loved travelling about in his little old VW campervan, Delilah, and he’d been a surfing champion several times since he was in his teens. But what impressed Frank most was learning that Scott had spent a lot of time in the bush with his grandfather, learning how to hunt and forage for bush tucker as well as picking up a whole load of other bush skills.
And now, here he was, signed up to feature in Frank’s brainchild, The Campervan Bushman Show, with filming running over the next several weeks during the British summer. He’d only been here five minutes and already he was missing his camper. The only time he was parted from it was when he went out into the bush with his grandfather in Queensland – there was no way that sort of vehicle would weather the terrain up there.
When Scott had shaken on the deal to come to England, Frank had agreed to ship the van over for him. Now he was reneging on his promise and spinning him some story about it maybe being a problem to get it through customs in time for the show. It would be easy (and no doubt less expensive, Scott thought) to pick up a van somewhere just before filming anyway, he’d said.
How on earth did he manage to get talked into going half way round the world to stay on a freezing little island like England? Scott wondered. He would’ve been quite happy going back up to north Australia to avoid the press. But Rip could be more than a little persuasive at times. Ah, well, he thought, maybe he was right. A new environment, some fresh experience – it might do me the power of good. And he had to admit that the last few days had turned out to be much warmer than he would ever have expected of the place. Still, he certainly wasn’t planning on hanging around. Once the dust had settled back in Australia, he was back off home.
His attention was distracted by a creature moving out from behind a bush. A cat stalking a bird on the grass. About to pounce and snare it in its claws. Instinctively, Scott pulled his catapult out of his back pocket and launched a stone at the cat.
Sheila jumped at the sudden movement, and heard the missile whisking by. She turned in the direction he’d fired to see a black cat dropping to the ground. A sparrow, which it had failed to capture, thanks to Scott’s intervention, flapped its feathers and flew off as fast as it could.
“Ooh, my goodness!” Sheila cried, the tray rattling in her hands. The jug wiggled and almost slipped off but she moved just quickly enough to save it.
“Sorry to make you jump, Mrs Buckler. It was just reflex,” Scott said apologetically.
“Ahh…” she flustered.
“Looks like we’ve found the culprit who’s been killing off your garden birds, though,” Scott said, putting an optimistic spin onto the situation.
“Err, he’s not dead, is he?” Sheila replied, putting a hand to her chest when she saw that the cat wasn’t getting up.
“Nah, only clipped him. He’s just taking a cat-nap, y’might say,” he flashed her a wink. “Should wake up in a while.”
[END OF SNEAK PEEK]
If you can’t wait till then to read more, and you haven’t yet picked up Part One of the book (as mentioned in a previous blog), you can get it as a FREE PDF download – no need to sign up to anything – just click to visit the Campervan Bushman page of my website and scroll down for the download link.
SPECIAL PREORDER OFFER!
I wanted to do something special for my more enthusiastic readers, so if you preorder KILLER CLIMATE (links are on the website or in Part One) you’ll not only get it at a discount, but you’ll also be getting a SPECIAL, AUTHOR-SIGNED copy of the book. Note that this will be removed right after the book’s launch!
If you’d like to read Scott’s backstory and find out what drove him to become The Campervan Bushman in the first place, you can download WIPE OUT, the series prequel, for FREE when you sign up to my New Releases mailing list. Just click here or on the link below to get started.
By the way, rest assured, when you sign up, you WON’T get flooded with emails, your details are kept confidential, and you can unsubscribe EASILY at any time. What you will get is news on my upcoming book releases, subscriber-only discounts & giveaways, and any other cool stuff that might be on offer.
FAUX REVIEWS by PSEUDO-CELEBRITIES
Finally, here are just a few of my infamous ‘faux reviews’ of the spurious kind for KILLER CLIMATE…
Having been stirred into buying an RV motorhome after reading Alannah’s Campervan Capers books, I decided to give this little fiction story a whirl. Well, hey, not only has she succeeded in inspiring me big time once again on the campervan front, but this mystery is just bursting with the kinds of adventures we should – quite frankly – be featuring in my Mission Improbable movies!
Scott might come across as a surf bum, but those of us who know him take our bush hats off to him. He can teach ya a thing or two about flavourin’ up a crocodile steak, I can tell ya… Although, of course, crocs are a protected species nowadays, so I don’t go hunting for them any more… Honest!
Crocodile Dundee (‘Mick’ to his mates)
You’ll find more ‘rave reviews’ like that at the end of KILLER CLIMATE.
Well, I do hope you’ve enjoyed this Sneak Peek and will join me again next week for another peek behind the curtain in case you haven’t got round to reading Part One!