03/10/2017
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Under the Microscope extra: Murder in Morocco

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Read James McCreet's suggested rewrite of a reader's cosy mystery novel

Murder in Morocco: original

I was not looking forward to Christmas. Not that I ever did, even as a small child, but this year, things might turn out to be more difficult than ever. If it were not for my mother, I would seriously consider never going back home again.
It was gone seven when I eventually managed to trundle into the village. I turned into Mile End Lane and pulled up outside the last but one house. Making sure that I closed the ironwork garden gate properly – best not to provoke Aunt Maud’s wrath before I was allowed inside – I barely had time to ring the bell before the door was thrown open and my mother stood, eyes shining.
‘I thought I heard a car.’
She stood on tiptoe to kiss me and held me in a surprisingly tight hug given her small, seemingly frail stature.
‘Sorry I’m so late, Mum. I’ve had to crawl all the way from Cambridge because of this fog.’
‘Well you’re here now. Let me take your coat. You look frozen, poor darling. I expect you’d love a cup of tea. I’ll go and put the kettle on. Leave your bag there and go in and say hello to everyone before you take it up.’
A stiff drink would be more to my liking. ‘Thanks, Mum. That would be great.’
I fixed a smile and pushed open the living room door.
Aunt Maud, the eldest of the four Hamilton sisters, sat in the armchair by the fireside. ‘You’re here then.’
I went over and bent to give her a peck on the cheek and, in the process, managed to knock over her walking stick which clattered on the tiled hearth.
After a sharp intake of breath, she said, ‘Your mother’s been expecting you since mid-afternoon.’

 

 

Murder in Morocco: MCCREDITED
I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas. Not that I ever had, even as a child. If it hadn’t been for my mother, I probably wouldn’t have returned home again. That year in particular, I had a sense that things would turn out to be more difficult than ever.
It was gone seven when I eventually managed to make it through the fog-bound traffic into the village. I passed the Norman church tower and the damp stone walls before turning into Mile End Lane and pulling up outside the last-but-one house. The fields beyond were milky opaque.
I closed the ironwork garden gate properly to avoid Aunt Maud’s wrath. My hand was barely on the bell before my mother opened the door with a sherry glisten in her eyes.
‘I thought I heard a car.’
She stood on tiptoe to kiss me and held me in her tight hug. Frailty was something she chose depending on the situation.
‘Sorry I’m so late, Mum. I’ve had to crawl all the way from Cambridge in this fog.’
‘Well you’re here now. Come in. Let me take your coat. I expect you’d love a cup of tea. I’ll go and put the kettle on. Leave your bag in the hall here and go in and say hello to everyone before you take it up.’
A stiff drink would have been more to my liking. ‘Thanks, Mum. That would be great.’
I fixed a smile and pushed open the living room door.
Aunt Maud, the eldest of the four Hamilton sisters, sat in the armchair by the fireside. Her glasses reflected flames. Her mouth was a thin scarlet line above three powdered chins. ‘You’re here, then.’
I bent to kiss her lavender-scented, sunken cheek and knocked her walking stick clattering to the tiled hearth
A dramatic tut and a sigh from Aunt Maud. ‘Your mother’s been expecting you since mid-afternoon.’

Read the full critique in the November issue of Writing Magazine, available here

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