Robert Craven - Author
Behind the Author
Irish author Robert Craven has always been passionate about writing and storytelling. He is an independent author of seven novels. One was a number one download on KOBO. He's self-motivated and driven to produce quality fiction. His personal blog and stories can be found on ABCTales.com. An active member of the writing community,
he writes regular features for Writing.ie.
Novels: The Eva series:
(Amazon.com / Smashwords / Kobo.com)
·(2020) Eagles Hunt Wolves - Winner of the Firebird 2021 book award
·(2016) Hollow Point
·(2014) A Finger of Night
·(2011) Get Lenin
(2018) The Road of a Thousand Tigers – best seller on Kobo.
(2017) The Mandarin Cipher
(2021) A Kind of Drowning
Zombie Bites - Red Rattle Books
Kobo Writer’s Life Podcasts - Podcast 117.
**** #TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow ****
in conversation with Dr Jacky Collins 2020
The Voice of Get Lenin
A KIND OF DROWNING
The man standing at the funeral in bubble-gum pink hair is P.J. Crowe. His career as a detective is in tatters - he's facing dismissal, vilified by the press and his wife's about to leave. Lying low in a small seaside town he spots a ‘Help Wanted’ ad in the kitchen of a local café. It offers him an escape from the public and his spiralling mental health - and it's where Thea Farrell worked – until she was found dead at sea.
And herein lies the problem: Thea was an Olympic medallist, silver for swimming and Crowe’s burned-out synapses are starting to join the dots – it wasn't his case, but his cop’s senses tell him that Thea wasn’t the drowning kind.
And the suspect may well be in the congregation.
©Robert Craven 2021
It was a Monday afternoon when Crowe met Clodagh Robertson. Mondays and Tuesdays were his days off. The library was an old schoolhouse restored back to its former glory. A blocky Church of Ireland edifice, the stones, laid in Victorian austerity, gave it a solid sense of purpose. From across the carpark, he watched Clodagh freewheel in on an old fashioned bicycle with a basket on its bars. She was wearing dark skinny jeans, a loose striped top, and a vivid yellow rain jacket with reflective stripes. Expensive like her Nikes. Crowe looked at his wrist and remembered he didn’t have a watch. She clicked past him to the door of the library and expertly wrangled the bike against the wall. One of Roscarrig’s sudden onshore breezes hoisted the rain jacket hood over her head, masking her voice,
“Sorry, could you repeat that?” asked Crowe.
“I won’t be a minute,” said Clodagh.
“I have all day,” replied Crowe.
Clodagh locked the bike, squatting lithely. Crowe found something else to focus on other than her long legs and deft fingers. She wrestled the jacket’s hood back against the wind and he got a glimpse of shoulder-length hair, a long nose, but not disproportionate to her features, a stubborn chin, a mouth set in concentration and small eyes. Every part of her seemed to be measured and focussed.
Crowe allowed her a few moments to open the doors, deactivate the alarm and switch on the overhead fluorescents.
The interior really needed candles to finish the effect, he thought.
It was only his second time ever in a library. Alison had read all the books to Cathal at night, she belonged to the local library’s book club. The more Crowe thought about Alison, the more he realised
A Kind of Drowning
that she was the kind of woman who seemed to think the planet would stop turning if she did. If her life were stopped at any point in a freeze-frame, Alison would be captured doing something ‘important’. Everything Alison did was ‘important’.
Including the Hospital Consultant.
He toyed with the old library card fished out of his battered wallet. It’s only company was his bank card, €20.00 and his driver’s licence.
“How may I help you?” asked Clodagh.
“My card won’t update on the Library website?” replied Crowe.
Standing at the opposite side of the desk that ran the length of the library he felt like he was shouting over a stockade.
Clodagh took the library card from Crowe. She tapped her keyboard. An industrial sized box of rubber bands, a stock of paperbacks and a lethal-looking stapler were nudged aside to allow elbow room. The word ‘gauche’ sprung to mind; the Librarian occupied more space than was allowed,
“I’ll need your address please?” said Clodagh.
“Sundrive Ave, Flat 3, Roscarrig Main Street,” he replied.
“Have you a recent utilities bill or confirmation of this address?” she asked
“I’ve just moved here. Gallagher Estates are the letting agent,”
“I know Derry, so I don’t think that’ll be a problem. Done. All updated,”
A Kind of Drowning
She handed back the card. Crowe noticed she hadn’t an engagement or wedding band.
“My son says that I seem to have an aura around tech. It doesn’t like me,” said Crowe.
He found everything these days an immense challenge – cash transactions, shopping lists, washing up and cleaning. It was as if the reboot in his skull was caught in a loop.
“Scan your card first and then the book’s barcode. On the back there,”
“I know what a barcode looks like,” said Crowe.
As he ambled around the shelves, Crowe found himself looking at her. Through furtive aisles between the shelves, he watched her movements. She looked like a city girl who through bad luck had wound up here. A star too bright for this backwater. Crowe brushed against a shelf and dislodged a volume. It dropped onto the aged wooden floor with a resounding boom.
‘fuck’. The expletive drifted across the library’s beams. Then with the gait of a fossilised T-Rex, Crowe disappeared amid the shelves.
Two old ladies clanged open the library’s doors and frog-marched themselves in with shopping bags full of returns. They waved at Clodagh who coldly smiled back.
Crowe scanned the shelves, the spines offered very little by way of identification. Block red fonts caught his eye, but he had no idea about the authors. A-Z, he worked backwards and forwards. He had no idea what he was doing. This began a spiral of unexpected anxiety. Occasionally in the maze, he’d meet the two septuagenarians. They stood their ground, not giving an inch if he had to squeeze past them.
A Kind of Drowning
He caught some of their mutterings that hung in their hair like the virulent miasma of an old woman’s kitchen,
“I see it’s that Robertson one… back at home again… terrible; husband threw her out – the drink you know…Just like the mother – couldn’t keep a man…”
He spotted Clodagh taking a book from the returns shelf and walking towards him.
“I’m sorry to ask, but can you recommend something?” he asked.
Clodagh stared at him,
“Have you a genre in mind?” she asked.
“Not sure,” replied Crowe.
“What do you like to read?”
“Nothing too demanding?”
“Nothing too demanding might be sports, sports biography? Shelves just behind you.”
She seemed keen to get on with things. An innate impatience with the general pace of life hung around her.
“I like a good adventure; a page turner,” said Crowe.
It sounded hackneyed and Clodagh’s expression said it too. He imagined her mind mouthing page-turner, filed beside ‘unputdownable’.
“Well…, the author’s names might help. Child, Forsyth, Maclean, Patterson…? If its classical, Dickens, Wells, Conan Doyle,
A Kind of Drowning
Childers, Melville… We have a great selection of Irish writers, contemporary, though you don’t strike me as romantic fiction.”
Hilarious, thought Crowe.
She side-stepped between the shelves and disappeared. Out of desperation, Crowe decided ‘C’ was the best guess. He trailed around behind her.
She was already gone. He crouched low scanning the lower shelves, he spied a Cornwell, some forensic thriller. He thumbed the pages but felt the font was too big. Is this what retirement felt like? He picked a dog-eared Lee Child and ambled over to the dangerous machine. He scanned the book out without setting all the alarms off and spun on his heel,
“Appreciate your help, thanks,” he said to Clodagh.
She looked up and nodded absently.
Crowe shuffled out of the library, clinging to the book under his arm.
The Real Story
The great Jazz bass player, Steve Swallow once observed his career was 50% listening, 50% playing, like this discipline, writers too should immerse themselves; inhabit the world of reading and writing. Steven Spielberg always watches John Ford’s seminal work, ‘The Searchers’ before loading a strip of film, every writer too should have a ‘go-to piece’ for preparation; as in the words of the great American poet Kenneth Koch, “You can’t lose anything of yourself by being influenced by a poet, no matter how strong. All you can do is learn from him [or her] how to do it. Just like by imitating the hand movements of great pianists.” Like Mr. Swallow, I listen and write and listen and write and listen and write, only after careful preparation. Like all good bakers, we work to avoid flat cakes…
My best seller, THE ROAD OF A THOUSAND TIGERS was a no 1 download on Kobo.
You can find this and my KOBO books here @KOBO
His latest novel EAGLES HUNT WOLVES is OUT NOW!
photo - courtesy of Ger Holland http://www.gerhollandphotography.com/