Excerpts

  • Miranda Twist Once In A Blue Moon

  • Mark Bardwell Dylan and the Deadly Dimension

  • Mikka Haugaard Maxim’s All Night Diner

  • Emily Critchley Notes On My Family

  • Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic. When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.

    Sue Bentley We Other

  • Chapter 1 THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS DANNY BOUYGUES WAS probably the happiest child in England, until the night his parents were arrested for breaking into the Tower of London and stealing the Crown Jewels. It was the most spectacular crime in history. First, the thieves crossed the wide grassy moat. Then they scaled the high battlements, eluding dozens of infrared security cameras and laser motion detectors. Silently, they sneaked past the medieval Beefeaters and the modern soldiers armed with the latest machine guns. Undetected, the thieves broke into the Jewel House and defeated

    the best burglar alarm ever invented. Somehow they opened the massive bombproof steel door to the vault and, once inside they sliced through the inches thick unbreakable glass to reach the priceless treasures within. The thieves stole everything. Everything! The gold and platinum crowns encrusted with diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires, some the size of swans' eggs. The golden orbs, the swords and spurs, the sceptres, the sacred spoons, the royal armills and Her Majesty's favourite garters. The Queen was not amused. Carrying their precious plunder, the thieves left as

    stealthily as they had come. They closed and locked the vault, re- crossed battlements and the moat, and vanished into the London night. The police were completely clueless. Only a handful of the world's greatest super-thieves were brave and clever enough to carry out the daring midnight raid. But all the usual suspects were either in prison or in hospital or dead. And the prime suspect was all three at the same time. A few months earlier, Barry 'Ice Pick' McSweeny's reckless plan to steal the lions from London Zoo had gone tragically wrong. The lions did not want to be stolen and

    they ate most of him. The bits of Ice Pick the lions did not swallow were sent to Wormwood Scrubs prison, where they survived just long enough to expire on the very night of the Crown Jewels burglary. The police were tempted to question him anyway, but they knew it was a waste of time. Ice Pick came from an infamous family of London crooks who had robbed and murdered since the first Queen Elizabeth was on the throne. And no McSweeny – alive or dead – would dream of helping the police with their enquiries. Which left the unusual suspects. And none were more unusual than Mr and Mrs

    Bouygues. No one suspected Danny's parents because it was impossi- ble to imagine two people less likely to be the world's greatest super thieves. The Bouygues – it is pronounced 'Bweeg', although most people said 'Boo-Geez' or even 'Bogey' – lived in a rose-covered cottage near the perfect English village where they ran the village restaurant, which was probably the most spectacularly unsuccessful restaurant in the history of restaurants. 2 The problem was Mr Bouygues' cooking. It was too good. Much too good. Because Mr Bouygues was, without any shadow of

    doubt, the greatest chef ever to wield a wooden spoon. Especially a wooden spoon that he had carved himself from a broken toilet seat. Mr Bouygues liked to reuse and recycle. ‘Waste not want not’ was Mr Bouygues' motto. Well, one of his mottos. Mr Bouygues was a wizard in the kitchen. He was so amazing he created stupendous feasts using ingredients other chefs threw away. Like rotten carrots turning to orange mush and raw potato peelings (preferably black and slimy) and withered apples hollowed out by wasps and tubs of margarine sprouting green and purple fungus. And when he used

    fresh vegetables, Mr Bouygues always chose the ones that were crawling with bugs. ‘Why?’ Danny had asked one lunchtime as he was watching a fat lime green caterpillar munching on his cabbage. Across the plate, a herd of baby slugs were hard at work on Danny's broccoli. ‘Because butterflies know their veg,’ replied Mr Bouygues, patiently. Patiently because Mr Bouygues was always patient. Unlike most other parents, Mr Bouygues had never smacked Danny, not once. And he did not shout either, or scream, or threaten dire punishments, no matter how dreadful the thing was that he had

    just caught Danny doing. Not even when he caught Danny lighting a large bonfire in his bedroom. Even then Mr Bouygues did not explode like any normal parent would. Oh no. 3 Patiently, Mr Bouygues explained why lighting a bonfire in your bedroom was not the most sensible way to toast marshmallows, even if you had opened the window to let the smoke escape. Then, patiently, Mr Bouygues helped carry the logs and kindling and the cans of petrol downstairs and into the back garden. And there – at a safe distance from the house – Mr Bouygues patiently taught Danny how to build

    a variety of different types of bonfires suitable for every camping situation: the classic teepee bonfire, which is the ideal fire to sit around telling stories; a pit fire when it was too windy for a teepee; and the right sort of fire when you are lost in a Siberian forest in midwinter and the mercury's frozen solid in the thermometer and your breath turns to ice crystals that flutter to the ground with a soft tinkle. 1

    Chris Hallatt Wells King Bones