Off topic on my own blog

As I am writing this post that title is exactly how I’m feeling. Jewel of the Thames just came out day before yesterday, and the book launch is on Friday, so most of my attention and writing have been focused on promoting it and the events around it. Thing is though, I had to share a bit about the new casebook I started while in France two weeks ago.

My husband has a thing for World War locations, so the first four days in France were spent travelling all over Normandy, from Vimy Ridge to Juno Beach. Suffice to say, as much as I enjoy museums and such, climbing into trenches and imagining the bloody warfare is not so much my cup of tea.

stairs
The stairs leading up and out of the mines and into the surprise attack!

That is until we got to Arras. If you don’t know the story (and don’t be embarrassed, I didn’t know it either), Arras was a key battlefront for the British/Allied forces. The Brits decided to take advantage of the chalk mines beneath the city to tunnel their way into the German’s backyard and catch them unawares. Yes, I believe it was as crazy as it still sounds.

What this meant was that a crew of mostly New Zealand miners tunnelled under Arras, linking up chalk mines for six months, averaging 80 metres a day. Their amazing hard-work eventually allowed for 24,000 troops to amass under Arras waiting patiently until they emerged in the early morning of April 19th, 1917 to begin the battle of Arras.

I got to thinking about these mines and all those men down there, and a story started to form in my mind about Brian Dawes finding himself trapped down here almost 14 years later in the abandoned passages. I’ve tentatively called it ‘The Constable’s Case’ and it’s told from his point of view.

In the order of casebooks, I’m placing it after casebook 10: Clear as a Bell.

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Writing a secret note … or how to feel really stupid for a half hour

Edward Larsson's runic cipher
Edward Larsson's runic cipher

I’ll let you in on a little secret: if I were in charge of cracking codes in the second world war, everyone on the Canadian side of the war would be dead.

I have the ‘code’ such as it is, I have the hidden message… why is it so hard to put that together?

This is what the hidden message needs to say:
Please send help. Being black mailed. Don’t know by whom. Don’t tell parents.
And if the ‘code’ is every fifth word, here’s what the message hidden in the rest of the note looks like:
Word word word word PLEASE word word word word SEND word word word word HELP word word word word BEING Word word word word BLACK word word word word MAILED word word word word DON’T word word word word KNOW word word word word BY word word word word WHOM word word word word DON’T word word word word TELL word word word word PARENTS.
A half hour later (30 minutes filled with cuss words in at least two languages):
Dear Elaine:
If it please you, remember to send some wedding photos to help me imagine attending and being with you. Did Rosie Black attend? She had earlier mailed that she intended to; don’t think you told me? Know that I miss you by the way, for whom else would I write?! Don’t stay away long, Elaine, tell Mr.Ridley that my parents request your presence here!
Love, Frannie
Oh, and then I realized that the second ‘secret word’ only had three letters between please and send. Aaargh!