Friday Friends – from ‘The Rose Thief’ by Claire Buss.

The Rose Thief by Claire Buss is released today. If you enjoy Prachett-esque fantasy, this is a book you will love!

There was a bit of shoving and muttering as Ned pushed his way through the ranks. He didn’t have to look too hard to find the murder scene, all he had to do was follow the curious crowd. A fair number of the shifty looking men in nondescript clothing had come to make sure Two-Face Bob was actually dead. Certain people owed certain things and if his death were true, life had suddenly become a lot brighter. It only took one look to know for certain. One of Two-Face Bob’s faces stared lifelessly at the smog ridden skies above, both eyes missing. The other face, which incidentally remained on his head, attached to his body, had eyes popping, mouth open as if to scream, and a terrified look of fear and shock frozen in place. Someone had clearly taken a violent dislike to the man. Looking down at the separated visages of Two-Face Bob, Ned felt a flicker of unease surge in his stomach. It could be because he hadn’t eaten in the past twenty-four hours. Or it could be because Two-Face Bob had been to see him less than five minutes ago, claiming intel on the Rose Thief. Ned didn’t hold much weight with coincidences. The viciousness of the attack was unusual for the type of murder usually committed in the city of Roshaven. Put that together with Two-Face Bob’s extensive protection system of both magical and mundane origin and it was obvious.

‘He’s been ripped apart by a wraith,’ Ned muttered under his breath.

‘Care to comment, Spinks?’

Ned turned to his left, his heart sinking at the tall, willowy figure standing next to him. Mariah Neeps was… well she was a damn fine figure of a woman provided you never wanted to keep a shred of personal information to yourself. Neeps worked for The Daily Blag.

‘No comment.’

‘I’ll just elaborate on my Warlock theory then. Shouldn’t be too difficult. They had a ruckus with one up in Narborough a few months back.’ Neeps sucked the end of her recorder thoughtfully as she internally swept through the memorised headlines from her rival news bringer, The Chronicle.

‘They what?’ asked Ned.

But before Neeps could elaborate, Mrs Wicket barged her way through the crowd to stand in front of Ned. Her general shape and appearance were hard to identify thanks to the several flowing capes and feathered hats Mrs Wicket wore when she sallied forth. She was of the opinion that you can never have too much of a good thing and in her mind capes and feathered hats were the epitome of fashion. She was right, if she’d lived a hundred years ago. Still the capes and hats made her a local celebrity, the one person that simply everyone knew.

The bright orange feather on her highest hat was dangerously close to Ned’s eye. He attempted to sidle to the right slightly but was stopped by a podgy hand poking a sausage shaped finger hard into his chest.

‘What are you going to do about my safety, hmmmm?’ Mrs Wicket turned her head left and right, to make sure she had a suitable audience. Feathers whipped Ned in the face.

‘All citizens’ safety is a high priority Mrs Wicket, yourself included. My fellow catchers will be here shortly to seal the scene and a full report will be generated for the Emperor.’

May he live for ever and ever.’ The crowd chanted firmly, all eyes fixed on Ned.

With relief Ned saw, out of the corner of his eye, a bubble apparently floating aimlessly along. It was the scene sealer. No-one except thief-catchers would be able to pass through and anyone else in the way would be gently pushed out of the sealed zone. The residents of Black Narrows began grumbling but pushed backwards as the bubble descended. They’d all seen more than one scene sealer before. Whilst no-one had ever admitted to being trapped half in, half out, the rumour was that the fellow who lived down at the end, past our Marge’s boy’s girlfriend’s uncle’s, had indeed been spliced and had to stay that way for two weeks while a crime was solved. When he finally came out his left side was smaller than his right side and his fingernails had turned purple.

Claire Buss is a science fiction, fantasy & contemporary writer based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 setting her writing career in motion. The Gaia Effect, the winner of the 2017 Raven Award for favourite Scifi/Fantasy novel, was published in 2016 and Tales from Suburbia in 2017. In addition, Claire has contributed stories to two recently published anthologies Tales from the Underground and The Quantum Soul.


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