I’m a sucker for a cat, so when I spotted this fabulous cover I had to have a sneak peek at the debut novel. Luckily the author was happy to share an extract (scroll down).
Theo Duncan is just an ordinary student. Except he also happens to be the son of the Prime Minister, Will Duncan. When the parliamentary mace is stolen from inside the Houses of Parliament, Theo is determined to help his dad get it back. But he can’t do it alone. And when help is offered, there’s a problem. It comes from the new girl at school, Sammy Jhor, who’s a supporter of the opposition party.
Theo and Sammy form an unlikely team to spy on government officials, sneak through the corridors of Downing Street and pursue the thief through the Palace of Westminster. But when the evidence points to suspects at the highest levels of government, finding the thief could threaten Will Duncan’s leadership.
Can Theo and Sammy put aside their differences to find the mace – and the thief – before the government is brought to its knees?
So here is the extract
When Theo decides to go to the Palace of Westminster to investigate the theft of the mace, he’s surprised to meet Samira Jhor on his way in. Sammy, the new girl at school, was also present during the theft of the mace. Theo knows her as a rule breaker and he isn’t pleased to find her muscling in on the plans he has made for a tour with Rupert Spencer, the government’s Chief Whip.
As Theo approached the entrance to Portcullis House, he heard running behind him.
‘Hey!’ someone shouted behind him.
He turned around to find Samira catching up to him, out of breath.
‘I waved at you from the bus, but you didn’t see me,’ she said between puffs.
‘What are you doing here?’ he said.
‘I could ask you the same.’
Theo fought the heat rising in his cheeks. ‘Working on my Citizenship project.’
Theo suspected she was just saying that because he had, but he didn’t dare challenge her. Was she there to investigate the missing mace too? Her mum had thought she would try to get involved and here she was. She didn’t look like she was there for something as serious as investigating a crime or even for school work. She had changed out of her school uniform. The hems of her long black trousers were ripped, the torn ends trailing on the ground. Her long-sleeved black top was pulled down over her hands with holes for her thumbs to poke through, just like her school jumper. A silver chain necklace swung down almost to her stomach. She had scooped her hair into a loose ponytail. A piercing through the top of her ear was now visible, but her red streaks were mostly hidden. She looked like she should be at a gig.
‘Well?’ she said.
‘Come on,’ she replied with an impatient sigh.
The whole wall of the building was glass, with a revolving glass door. Theo caught sight of his reflection in the window and stood up taller. He glanced at Samira as she pushed into the revolving door, wondering how he was going to get rid of her. Without thinking, he followed behind her into the revolving door and they got caught in the same tiny cubicle. Samira scowled at him over her shoulder then pushed on the door. It didn’t move. Theo leant over the top of her and pushed. He was so close that the hair in her ponytail tickled his chin. They scuttled around quickly as the door gave and propelled them forwards.
They stumbled out with a clatter. Samira turned deliberately to glower at him. He shrugged in what he hoped was an apologetic manner.
A security guard waited for them at the end of an airport-style security scanner. They loaded their bags into trays and pushed them on to the conveyor belt towards the scanner.
‘So what are you really up to it?’ Samira asked quietly.
‘If you say so.’
Theo bristled. He was on the point of asking her what she was up to, but she went on ahead, out of whispering range.
As Samira went through a metal detector, Theo searched behind the wall of glass separating them from the main hall. It was a glass-covered piazza. Light from the glass ceiling bathed the people congregated below, their heads bent together, talking intently. It streamed through the trees that lined the middle of the space, creating dappled shadows on the creamy stone floor. It looked like a Mediterranean town square.
Rupert waved at him from the other side – he was on time. Like the last time, he wasn’t wearing a jacket. Theo suspected this was part of his look. It was a ‘man of the people’ look, unlike his dad’s, who was always formal, to suggest leadership and competence.
‘Hi, thanks,’ Theo said as he reached Rupert. ‘This is Samira,’ he said, as she came up behind him.
‘It’s Sammy actually,’ she said.
‘Pleasure,’ Rupert replied. ‘Are you coming on the tour as well?’
‘No,’ Theo said as Samira said, ‘Yes.’
‘I’ve got somewhere to be first. I’m meeting someone.’ She started to hurry away. ‘I’ll catch up with you later.’
Theo watched her with a deep scowl. Who could she possibly be meeting?
The first mystery for me is where does the cat on the cover come into the story? I’m pretty sure it must feature so I reckon any cat loving youngster will lap this up (get it? a cat themed joke – I feel like Basil Brush here – boom boom!) Anyway, I never discuss politics, so I’m going to stay on neutral ground on that point.
About the author
Sarah Lustig grew up in London and went to school in Westminster, with politicians’ children. Her experiences at school and interest in politics inspired the idea for the Westminster Mysteries series. Mystery in the Palace of Westminster is her debut novel. She has been a book editor for nearly 15 years and now lives in Buckinghamshire, where she spends her time reading, writing and pottering on her balcony garden.