Professor Thomas Payne didn’t intend to wind up dead on his caving vacation, and in truth he wasn’t the victim. But proving his identity to the police becomes tricky after they pull his passport off the lookalike body.
Things go from bogus to baffling when a mysterious phone call at the crime scene leads to the arrest of the young scientist. His fate seems sealed when the victim’s fingerprints match the professor’s work visa.
Intervention by the police inspector’s daughter frees Thomas to search for clues to prove his innocence. So, it’s off around the UK with sculptress Terri, one jump ahead of the authorities — and running from his estranged sociopathic father. One slip and claustrophobia will be the least of their problems.
Thomas’ journey soon becomes as much about healing his troubled past as recovering his present self. Along the way, he’ll battle betrayals by his envious staff, romance the rebellious artist, and suffer harrowing misadventures at historic sites in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Travel — even to find yourself — was never so perilous.
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
“DEATH IS OVERRATED” had several influences, but the chief one was an old film called DOA. The protagonist is poisoned and has 48 hours before dying to discover who gave him the fatal dose.
I spun that idea into a scientist on a caving vacation who is accused – through mistaken identity – of killing himself. He has to prove he’s neither the victim nor the murderer. That combined with my insatiable travel bug led to the characters and plot of this romantic mystery story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Some of them are in my mind before I start, some are inspired by real life, others by an abstract idea I want to convey. When a fictional character takes shape in my novels I have an idea right away of his or her inner self. But as the story grows, the plot thickens and subplots are needed to let that character act according to a unique personality.
Excerpt from Chapter 12
“She opened her eyes again and searched discreetly for the man who had invited Thomas to the island.
She was determined to appear casual, to keep her observer off guard. But the strain of waiting was taking its toll. With every muscle taut, she was beginning to tire. Relax, girl, just relax, she told herself. He’ll get here. And his face will tell you somehow whether he’s the one who put Thomas in the path of the police by false implication.
She was glad now she’d stopped at a shop in Glasgow to pick up a change of clothing. The bikini top and shorts suited her purpose much better than her business suit. She flicked a look at the lowering sun and hoped she would still be glad in a little while. The weather in the Hebrides could change from bright to stormy on a whim.
She tipped her head back and slowly moved her face from one shoulder to the other, like a delphinium following the sun. But she took no pleasure in it this time. It was a feint so she could look around again without seeming obvious. She was sure she would recognize the man who sent the email, though she could not have explained why. She saw no one nearby.
Even during the summer, in late evening there were but a dozen people on the island that held Fingal’s Cave. This day, two were sunning themselves, but far from her. Most of the rest were clambering over the rocks, leaving the cave, trying to avoid slipping off the basalt columns and into the sea. A couple were already waiting at the shore. There was less ten minutes before the last boat left.
Terri debated whether she should check inside the cave. If she stayed where she was much longer she’d miss the boat and camping on Staffa overnight could be suicide. She looked at the dark clouds in the distance and judged that trouble was on the way. Then she measured again how low the sun was. She’d give him another few minutes to show.
When he didn’t, she looked at the boat anxiously, checking her phone’s clock for the fourth time. To avoid being reported by the tour boat captain she watched from behind a boulder as the boat left, then ambled back to her previous spot and lay down.
Unseen, a man lying on his stomach watched her from the flat, tan bluff atop Fingal’s Cave.”
Jeffrey Perren wrote his first short story at age 12 and went on to win the Bank of America Fine Arts award at age 17. Since then he has published at award-winning sites and magazines from the U.S. to New Zealand. He is the author also of Cossacks In Paris and Clonmac’s Bridge.
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