Cait Morgan here, just checking in with you before I head off to Amsterdam – a wonderful city steeped in history and art . . . and with lots of excellent restaurants. Just my cup of tea! I haven’t been there for many years – not since the days when I was a student at university. This time, Bud and I have booked a hotel; last time I had to rough it. How rough? Let’s just say that my boyfriend of the time and I almost split up because of it!
The plan was we’d keep costs down by camping in a small tent we’d borrowed for the summer, and both get jobs peeling bulbs. Yes, in case you didn’t know, the tulip/hyacinth etc. growers in Holland lift all the bulbs from the fields in the summer months, then hire casual labor to peel the damaged stalk-ends and outer coatings from them so they are ready to be stored – all clean and shiny – before being replanted for the next season. Having done a bit of research (not enough – though, in our defense this was long before the Internet would have made it a good deal easier to find out relevant information) we reckoned we’d both be able to pick up jobs, work all week, then enjoy our time traveling about The Netherlands - including taking jaunts into Amsterdam - at the weekends; we were due to be there for eight to ten weeks.
However, that’s not what happened. At all. First off, we had another couple tag along with us – they had their own tent and we all agreed four people pitching in for food costs etc. was a great idea. However, when we arrived in the bulb-field area of Noordwijkerhout, the weather was “unseasonably wet”. (That’s a nice way of saying the rain lashed down every day and the campsite turned into a muddy quagmire.) This resulted in there not being as many casual jobs as there usually were so, while the two female members of our foursome managed to get work, the men didn’t. The poor things had to lie around doing nothing all day, while I and my “new chum” sat peeling the skins off thousands of tulips, which are grown in sandy soil that’s rich in dung. Yes, dung. Lovely.
For each bushel we cleaned we were paid a pittance – though at least the more you peeled, the more money you were paid, so I got really fast at peeling bulbs…much faster that She Who Should Remain Nameless (not fair to her to give you her name). Lo and behold, at the end of the first week we all four had a right old argument about why it wasn’t fair to split the money she and I had been paid four ways; I’d made twice as much as her because I’d peeled twice as many blessed bulbs!
My friends in the department of criminology at the University of Vancouver, where I’m now a professor of criminal psychology, tell me the fingerprints that “grew back in” would be exactly the same as those I had before. Isn’t the human body amazing?
|Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (from their website)|
Anyway – this time it’s all going to be different. Like I said, Bud and I have a nice hotel booked and we’re likely to have a good amount of time to visit galleries and enjoy long, leisurely meals basking in the summer sunshine. We’re going because his Uncle Jonas asked us to – the slight complication is that Uncle Jonas is dead, and we’re supposed to do something with an old iron key he arranged to be sent to Bud after his death . . . but it can’t be that complicated to follow a dead man’s last wishes, can it?
You can find out just how complicated Cait and Bud’s trip to the Netherlands gets in THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE, the seventh Cait Morgan Mystery. It’s published on April 5th – and you can find out more about the book, read what early readers have said about it, and even pre-order it, here: http://cathyace.com/cait-morgan/
Cathy Ace’s criminal psychologist, and overindulgent-foodie sleuth, Cait Morgan, has stumbled upon Corpses with a Silver Tongue, a Golden Nose, an Emerald Thumb, Platinum Hair, Sapphire Eyes, a Diamond Hand and a Garnet Face (April 2016) during her globetrotting. Ace’s other series features the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency (one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish, and one English) who solve quintessentially British cases from their office beside a stately home deep in the Welsh countryside. BC bestselling author Cathy Ace won the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery for The Corpse with the Platinum Hair.