The Silence Before Thunder

There was no sign of Eleanor’s phone. But if it had fallen onto the rocks it would have broken up and been washed away on the tide. Jo looked closer towards the rocks near the cliff. There was a cigarette butt there though. That was odd. Eleanor hadn’t smoked in decades and Frank had given it up years ago too.

She glanced back up the cliff, frowning, then walked slowly out to where the sea lapped the shore, disturbing a pied wagtail which fluttered to bob further along the beach. The tide was still ebbing but couldn’t have far to go. Waves edged and hissed over a fine gritty sand which was only visible for a short while either side of low tide.’

This is an extract from my new novel: The Silence Before Thunder. I like to be able to smell the sea when I write about it, to hear the surf as it bubbles up the beach and the cry of the gulls wheeling overhead. When I read I want to feel the same things - though I don’t want pages of description to carry me there; a few words dispersed through the story is all it takes.

I write multi-layered mysteries, character driven stories with a strong sense of place. They don’t fit neatly into a genre: they aren’t murder mysteries or hard-boiled crime; they aren’t romances either though there are always meaningful and often complicated relationships in them. They are tales of intrigue and obsessions and family secrets but always with some mystery behind it all. So how to reach the readers who are most likely to enjoy them? It’s a problem for anyone publishing a book and it’s difficult for readers too: the choice of books out there is bewildering.

There is the title of course, though most titles convey little of the contents of a book and intrigue more than inform. And the cover blurb in both what it says and the way it says it should give a clue to the nature of the story.

But I think the cover is the really important part, the best hint of what you might be getting - the mood of it, the colours, the fonts, the imagery, they all send subtle messages about the book contained within. And each author has a brand. When you see the cover of one of the books of a favourite writer, you usually recognise the style of it and that’s reassuring; you will be investing your time and money in something you are likely to enjoy. With so many demands on our time and our pockets, I think that’s important.

I’m thrilled with the cover Rachel has designed for The Silence Before Thunder. This story is set on my home ground in the South Hams of Devon. A literary festival; an author who falls mysteriously from her clifftop garden; the suspicious behaviour of supposedly old friends - these are all ingredients in this absorbing and suspenseful new story. Rachel’s cover has captured the sense of place and the mood of the book and it also fits neatly with the style of my previous novels. Perfect. Hopefully readers old and new will find it helps to guide them in their choice.

The Silence Before Thunder is my fourth novel and has just been published. It is widely available in both paperback and ebook format across multiple platforms. For more information about my writing, to read sample chapters or for links to retailers, please visit: Or I can be contacted at