Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for Vivian Conroy’s cosy crime thriller A Testament To Murder. I’m going to be sharing so details about the book and then giving you a little sneak peak with an extract! So without further ado onto the point of the post!
Title: A Testament To Murder
Author: Vivian Conroy
Publication Date: 18th February 2019
Suspenseful from the first page to the last, A Testament to Murder is perfect for fans of And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, and Crooked House
A dying billionaire. Nine would-be heirs. But only one will take the prize…
At the lush Villa Calypso on the French Riviera, a dying billionaire launches a devious plan: at midnight each day he appoints a new heir to his vast fortune. If he dies within 24 hours, that person takes it all. If not, their chance is gone forever.
Yet these are no ordinary beneficiaries, these men who crossed him, women who deceived him, and distant relations intent on reclaiming the family fortune. All are determined to lend death a hand and outwit their rivals in pursuit of the prize.
As tensions mount with every passing second, retired Scotland Yard investigator Jasper must stay two steps ahead of every player if he hopes to prevent the billionaire’s devious game from becoming a testament to murder…
Malcolm said, “I could also leave some money to faithful servants like Jenkins, Dodo or Anna.”
Theodora shocked upright as if he had struck her across the face. How could he do this to her? Listed among the servants and mentioned in the same breath as Anna, who couldn’t have been in the household for long. But such a pretty young nurse was exactly the kind of person Malcolm liked to look at. If only she fell down the rocks one day and died…
Malcolm said, “I do appreciate loyalty and hard work. But I knew that you, the more logical choices as heirs, would not appreciate it and perhaps start lengthy claims to keep the money away from them. So I decided to do this strictly fair.”
Theodora scoffed inaudibly. Fair! Malcolm didn’t know the meaning of the word. If he had treated her fairly, she need not have done what she had. She needed not have become what she was.
Malcolm said, “Every night, when the clock strikes midnight and the new day begins, I will sign a new will. Leaving everything I own to one person. You will not know who that person is and he or she will only be heir to everything for the course of that one day. If I die during that day, that person will get everything. But as soon as the day is done and the clock strikes twelve again, I will change the will to make a new person my heir. You will each get a turn. You don’t know when it is your turn. You don’t know if I will die on your day. If I do, and I am indeed very close to death, you are rich. If I go on breathing and the time has passed, you have nothing.”
The word rang in Theodora’s ears. Nothing. Nothing!
Her hands clenched in her lap. She had always been the one left with nothing. When Malcolm’s first wife had died at last, he hadn’t looked at Theodora. He had found Cecily and married her, and because of her meddling he had even let Theodora go. She had lost her job, her nearness to him, Malcolm himself. She had always had nothing. Now it was time to get everything.
Her mind raced to understand what Malcolm wanted with this. Just a game? A wager? A chance for all of them if he lived long enough?
Who would he choose first?
Malcolm said, “I must explain the following to you. When I told my lawyer, Koning here, that I wanted to do this, he pointed out a danger to me. He said – and I hope that you don’t mind that I put it as bluntly as he did – ‘If you tell them this, they might think that by killing you they can get the inheritance.’”
Nobody spoke. Nobody acted indignant. They all waited as if he had just made a very interesting suggestion.
“I retorted and said, ‘How can they kill me if they don’t know if they will inherit?’ Koning said, ‘They can take a gamble. They can make a deal among each other.’ I said to him, ‘But suppose one of them kills me and then the will is opened and another is found to be heir, then the police who are called in to handle the murder case might think that that heir killed me. The person who didn’t harm me at all might be hung for my murder.’”
The silence was deep and icy now like the heart of December.
Malcolm said, “If I die and there is a suspicion of murder, there will be a police investigation. There will be officers here around the house looking for evidence. It can point at one of you or several of you. Maybe even all of you, as you can all have suspected the will held your name that particular day. But the police cannot lock up everybody present. They will focus their attention on one suspect. Will question, collect evidence, make an arrest, bring charges. And maybe that person persecuted will not be the real killer. So we have a couple of scenarios. Number one: I die a natural death and the person who inherits it all got it by chance. Just lucky. Number two: I die an unnatural death and the person who inherits it all is charged with my murder. Then he gets nothing.”
“If it can be proven that he killed you,” Howard Jones said.
They all looked at him.
Howard shrugged. “That’s a fact, isn’t it?”
Malcolm nodded. “Very astute. He gets nothing if the others can prove he killed me. If they can however prove no such thing, he might have killed me and still get away with everything I own. The entire inheritance.”
“But wait a minute,” Hugh said. “What if the person mentioned in your will on the day you die didn’t kill you, but the others point the finger at him or her anyway?” His voice trembled.
Malcolm said, “That’s possible, I admit. I’m taking a risk here – after all, I’m risking getting murdered – so you’ll also have to risk something. Being wrongly accused and perhaps even prosecuted and convicted.”
“That’s insane,” Howard said. “No one will want to be a part of this.”
Malcolm smiled at him. “Speak for yourself, Howard. If you don’t want to be a part of this, you can leave. Nobody obliges you to stay here. But I’m saying this: if you leave, I’m not filling in your name. I’m only filling in names of people who are actually staying here at the villa.”
Howard said, “That’s hardly fair.”
“Shut up,” Cecily said. Her voice rose. “If you leave, you don’t deserve any of the money.” Her eyes were wide and sparkly. “Are you going to start tonight, Malcolm?”
The way she caressed his name made red hot anger rush through Theodora’s veins. The little bitch. Suddenly acting like she loved him again. But she never had. Not even when she was still married to him. She had been carrying on with Howard behind Malcolm’s back. Theodora had seen them, watched them. She had taken photographs of them, meaning to send them to Malcolm. She never had, but she still had them. Perhaps they could be of some use now?
“Yes,” Malcolm said. “Tonight at the stroke of midnight I will sit at my desk and I will fill in the name of the first person.”
Theodora’s heart beat fast. What if it was her? What if Malcolm’s conscience spoke and he would fill in her name? Would he die in the next day?
Would she be sad if he did?
Or would it be a relief?
Perhaps only death could break the power Malcolm had over her.
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About The Author
Armed with cheese and chocolate, Vivian Conroy sits down to create the aspirational settings, characters with secrets up their sleeves, and clever plots which took several of her mysteries to #1 bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon US and Canada. Away from the keyboard, Vivian likes to hike (especially in the Swiss mountains), hunt for the perfect cheesecake and experience the joy in every-day life, be it a fiery sunset, a gorgeous full moon or that errant butterfly descending on the windowsill.
I think this one sounds brilliant and I’m looking forward to reading it! Let me know what you think in the comments!