Lloyd & Hill Books
- Births, Deaths and   Marriages/Death in the Family
- Scene of Crime
- Picture of Innocence
- Plots and Errors
- A Shred of Evidence
- Verdict Unsafe
- The Other Woman
- Murder...Now and Then
- The Murders of Mrs.Austin and   Mrs.Beale
- Redemption/Murder at the Old   Vicarage
- Death of a Dancer/Gone to Her   Death
- A Perfect Match
Other Books
- Record of Sin
- An Evil Hour
- The Stalking Horse
- Murder Movie
Writing as Elizabeth Chaplin
- Hostage to Fortune
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UNLUCKY FOR SOME (Lloyd and Hill #13)

My eighteenth novel, published by Macmillan 2004/Fawcett (Ballantine) 2005

February 13th: what seemed like Wilma Fenton’s lucky night, when she scooped her biggest-ever win at bingo, turned out to be the night she died at the hands of someone lurking in the dimly-lit alleyway leading to her flat. And what seems to be a lucky break – there was an eyewitness to the whole incident – turns out to be a complication, for the man who saw the murder committed is Tony Baker, a well-known journalist and TV personality who, almost twenty years ago, single-handedly tracked down a serial killer who had eluded the police. Did Baker see more than he claims? Does he want to beat the police to the punch again?

And what seems like a minor complication turns out to be the trigger for a deadly chain of events, as the man the media will come to call the Anonymous Assassin publicly threatens to kill again and challenges Baker to catch him before he does. In the full glare of the national media, Bartonshire police mount a huge, force-wide hunt for the killer, with Detective Chief Inspectors Lloyd and Hill and their hastily constituted ‘small executive team’ spearheading the investigation.

Faced with a series of apparently motiveless killings and an increasingly hostile press, Lloyd and Hill, still learning to cope with the personal challenges of marriage, an energetic two-year-old daughter, and a live-in mother-in-law, are tackling their most difficult professional challenge yet. There is no shortage of ‘little puzzles’, and what with the psychological profiler, the amateur sleuth, the keen trainee detective and Lloyd himself, no shortage of theories to account for them.

By the time the final little puzzle presents itself, and they are able at last to sort out which of these events is cause and which effect, a lot of people’s lives will never be the same again.

Aren’t you tempting providence with that title?

Yes, I know – look what happened to Hostage to Fortune. But it is the thirteenth Lloyd and Hill, and I wanted to call it that before I ever knew what it was going to be about.

So how did the plot evolve?

The title did the trick. It’s the old bingo-calling nickname for number thirteen, and I started playing around with the other well-known bingo calls – legs eleven, two fat ladies, one little duck and so on. And I wondered if I could construct a plot round them. Or, to be more specific, I wondered if I could use them to flesh out the very bare bones of a plot that I already had. And that’s what I did. In the end, I worked in the nickname for all ninety numbers. If I couldn’t use them as part of the plot, I put them in dialogue or narrative, or used them as names for various business enterprises, etc. I was left with a handful that I couldn’t place anywhere that they would just blend in, but I thought of a way round that, too. If you’re interested, click the link to go to the list of British bingo calls. Looking at it before you read the book won’t give the plot away, but you might want to wait until you’ve read it. See how many you can spot!

Were you pleased with it?

Yes, in the end I was, but there were times when I didn’t think I’d ever get it to work out. It remains to be seen whether my readers are pleased with it. I hope they are, but whatever their verdict, I will report on it in due course.

OK – due course has been and gone. So how was this one received?

Very well, by and large. It got some really good reviews in the US papers and starred reviews in US literary journals, but to the best of my knowledge there were no reviews at all over here (not even from readers on Amazon UK), which is unusual. But a lot of people wrote to me to say how much they had enjoyed it, so that was good.

No complaints?

Not from the people who wrote to me. There was the odd mention on Amazon that the perpetrator wasn’t that difficult to spot, but I wasn’t particularly trying to hide that from the reader. In fact, I gave very serious thought to letting the reader in on who was doing it from the start, because the puzzle in this case was not so much whodunit as how the police were going to prove it. In the end, however, I went for the traditional whodunit framework because I felt that would be more acceptable.

Any more?

There were one or two complaints from readers on Amazon that the motive for the killings wasn’t strong enough. I feel that I made it clear from early on that the motive was simply to get away with it, that the killings were entirely motiveless. Serial murder often is – who knows how many people Harold Shipman murdered for no reason at all other than that he could?

And there was a complaint that the police were falling down on the job by not arriving at the truth sooner, which I really can’t accept. The police don’t have the reader’s advantage of knowing that the perpetrator has to be a prominent character in the book – as far as they are concerned, it could be anyone at all. The perpetrator is on their list of suspects from the start, and is arrested as soon as they have the evidence to warrant that course of action. Even in fiction, the police can’t arrest someone just because they think he or she is a murderer – they do have to back up that belief with something that ties them into a place and time. And yes, I am using ‘them’ in its singular, non-gender-specific sense, for which I now have the permission of the Oxford English Dictionary, so there!

One more thing – is Lloyd getting soft?

I’ve had one or two people concerned that Lloyd’s acceptance of his mother-in-law and Judy’s promotion over him indicates that he is no longer the Lloyd of old, which is true to some extent. He has finally got what he wants, with the added bonus of a toddler on whom he dotes, and he has had years of Judy training him not to fly off the handle at the least provocation, so yes, he is happy, and he isn’t as ready to pick a fight as he was. And he says the situation at home and at work doesn’t bother him in the slightest. But he is still Lloyd, and he still tells lies, so don’t believe everything he says…

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