I am taking part in the #blogtour for Gordon Kerr’s THE PARTISAN HEART today and I’m delighted to be able to share an extract with you:
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Italian Alps,1944. The Resistance is fighting a bitter battle against German forces on the treacherous mountains of the Valtellina. Eighteen-year-old Sandro Bellini falls in love with the wife of his Commander. No good can come of it.
London,1999. Michael Keats is mourning the death of his wife, killed in a hit and run accident in Northern Italy. His discovery that she had been having an affair devastates him and he sets out to find the identity of her lover.
That journey leads him to the villages of the Valtellina, where he becomes embroiled in a crime of treachery and revenge. The brutal repercussions of the war are still reverberating, and as Michael uncovers the truth of his wife’s affair, he reveals five decades of duplicity and deception
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gordon Kerr was brought up in the Scottish new town of East Kilbride. After graduating from Glasgow University, he lived in France before working in the wine trade in London for 18 years. He next worked in bookselling and publishing. He has written numerous books in a variety of non-fiction genres – wine, history, biography, true crime, humour, art, poetry and travel. He has a wife and two children and lives in West Dorset and southwest France
The Partisan Heart – Gordon Kerr Extract
As he got ready to head into town, however, it nagged at him, tugging at his thoughts. Whenever he tried to push it to one side it would return, like one of those irritating flies that can plague you in a hot climate. You swat them away and within a minute or two they return to buzz around your food or drink. How had the hotel come to connect Rosa with this item of clothing? It was unlikely, after all, that there was another combination of names like hers in the country – Rosa Keats – and, apart from that, how would they have come into possession of her address?
‘Hello, Lighthouse Inn, Mary speaking. How may I help you?’ The voice was soft and musical. He asked to be put through to ‘J. Stewart’ and explained the reason for his call. ‘Well, Mr Keats, the thing is . . .’ – there was hesitancy in J. Stewart’s voice because the delicacy of the situation had suddenly made itself very apparent to her. Husband receives man’s jacket in post. Jacket doesn’t belong to him but has been left behind by male companion of his wife. ‘. . . The point is, we were quite certain the jacket belonged to Mrs Keats’s companion because we had the room refurbished shortly before their stay, but found out after they left that the plumber had made a right mess of some of the pipes and water was leaking down onto the ceiling of the room below. When the bed was moved to lift the floorboards, we found the jacket.’ She hesitated, before adding nervously, ‘But, of course, there might be some other explanation.’ There was a silence at the other end. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, eventually.
Surely not, he thought. Oh, Rosa, surely not. There must be some kind of mistake. Ten minutes after he had hung up, he was staring out of the window watching the world go about its business as if nothing had happened, as if everything had not just taken a step in the wrong direction. He had been too embarrassed to pursue the matter further with ‘J. Stewart’ and sensed that she was relieved when he brought the brief conversation to an abrupt close.
They had her address. She had evidently given them that, unashamedly; had had no fears at all about being found out. God, she had been having an affair! What a quaint, oldfashioned way of putting it, he thought – ‘an affair’. Someone else, the owner of this fine, expensive, Italian- tailored jacket, had been screwing his wife. His first instinct was to pick up the phone and speak to someone, find someone who would tell him what he wanted to hear, that he was being paranoid, that this was all some silly
mistake. He started to dial John’s number, but stopped after his finger had angrily pushed three numbers and replaced the receiver, realising that it would mean nothing. What could John do to reassure him? No. Even if he was just being paranoid, he somehow had to prove it. Tears of sadness and frustration began to form in the corners of his eyes. As if the grief and the hurt of her death had not been enough, now he was losing her life as well, was losing all the intimacy of the time they had spent together.
He pressed his face to the glass of the window, his breath spreading mist across it, and moaned like a sick animal. ‘Oh, dear God, Rosa, how could you . . .?’ The cold November rain splintered on his windscreen, the wipers sweeping furiously from side to side, but failing to make much of an impression on it. The heavens had opened
up at Preston and he had been slowed considerably. Lorries, whose sides shouted about the glories of frozen chips or nappies, sped north showering his BMW with spray every time he overtook them, adding to the tiredness that was making the drive so difficult.
He hardly knew why he was doing this, driving to Dumfriesshire in the hope that he could prove that it was all some kind of mistake. It was so important to him that he
prove that this was, indeed, the case. If he couldn’t, then the last few years of his life would be completely invalidated. The relationship into which he had invested a vital part of himself would crumble into dust and where would that leave him? Just the thought of it filled him with horror.
The alternative was, of course, to just let it go. Put it down as some bizarre error. Some confusion of identity. Some mistake on his part. Or some miscalculation by Rosa. Perhaps someone had stolen her credit card. Sure, she had not told him it had gone missing, but, of course, she didn’t tell him everything. Perhaps she had just forgotten. They were busy people. There were days when she would be working at the studio until late into the night and he would be fast asleep by the time she came home and flopped into bed. His hours were equally unstable and they had often been like ships that passed in the night, or kissed on the stairs, one coming home, one just going out. Perhaps in the midst of this frenetic existence she had just forgotten to pass on the tiny domestic detail that her card had been stolen in the underground or she had left it
at a restaurant and now someone else was using it fraudulently.
This thought had sustained him from Birmingham to Manchester, to the extent that he had come close to turning the car round and heading back to London. But it was no
good. He knew she would have cancelled it if it had been lost or stolen and, therefore, it could not have been used by anyone else. No, he had to somehow make it certain in his mind one way or the other. To go back home and have to live with this doubt was unthinkable. He had left the motorway some miles back and, after following the A75 for a distance that made him think he had…