Title: LAST DANCE AT THE ROTHESAY PAVILION
Author: MYRA DUFFY
Genre: COSY CRIME/MYSTERY
Commissioned to write a history of the Rothesay Pavilion, Alison Cameron returns to the Isle of Bute. When a skeleton is discovered during the building renovations, the past casts a long shadow over the present. Who wants long-forgotten events to remain secret? And is Alison in danger if she tries to find out?
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your partners for the last waltz.’
Jacky, the Master of Ceremonies, wrested the mike from its stand with a flourish born of long experience and strolled to the front of the stage, before turning to the orchestra to give the signal for the music to start. There was a hum of excitement as the dancers, gathered chattering in little knots around the room, began to move on to the floor, swaying in time to the haunting notes of Now We Say Goodbye.
The music died away in an arpeggio of mournful notes, followed by a burst of rapturous applause. Jacky lifted his hand for silence. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t need to tell you this is the last dance at the Rothesay Pavilion. No, don’t look so unhappy. It’s only the last dance for a little while. And when this building opens again the transformation will amaze you.’
He moved back, replaced the microphone on its stand and added, ‘Now it’s time to say goodnight, goodbye and thank you.’
As the dancers slowly left the hall, laughing and gossiping, the lights dimmed little by little until the hall was in complete darkness.
Jacky tugged at his collar. He would miss this place, not only because of the loss of income. Nowhere else he worked gave him quite the same feeling of excitement as this Art Deco building that was the Rothesay Pavilion. But there was much to look forward to. In no time at all he’d be back here once again, hosting the grand opening.
But that was before they found the skeleton.
As the ferry MV Bute from Wemyss Bay swung round into the calm waters of Rothesay Bay to dock at the pier, I went out on deck to catch a first glimpse of the Rothesay Pavilion, sitting on the far side of the town. Would the commission I’d secured to write a history of this building be the opportunity for a new career?
We were still too far off to see the plaque announcing the date of 1938 when this square-set, stone building had been completed, but its curved windows, angular lines and twin balconies below a flat roof gave the clues to its design era.
I drove off the ferry, busy with cars and foot passengers, to join the traffic heading for Rothesay, the main town on the island.. It was the start of the summer school holidays in Scotland and already many families were taking advantage of this spell of good weather for a trip to the Isle of Bute, located conveniently close to Glasgow.
The only set of traffic lights on the island was at green and within a few minutes I’d found a space in one of the bays immediately outside the Pavilion front entrance.
Even at first sight, there was no doubt the building was in serious need of a makeover. The paint was peeling from the metal window frames, the fabric of the building pitted and cracking. The Atlantic weather, winter storms and driving rain had taken their toll on the once splendid edifice. The task of returning it to its former glory wouldn’t be easy, but what a striking venue it would be once restored.
The building seemed deserted, deathly quiet, even a little forlorn. The place had a hushed and expectant air, waiting for the work to begin, but there was a faint smell of coffee in the air, so someone must be around.
As I was considering my next move, the door on the right, the main office, suddenly opened and a portly man middle-aged man came out.
He looked startled. ‘Thought I heard something,’ he said
I moved forward. ‘I’m Alison Cameron,’ I said, holding out my hand.
He grasped my hand pumped it up and down vigorously, making me wince slightly. ‘I’m Ewan Flisch,’ he said, with only the trace of a smile.
‘I’ve come to meet Gerry Nutall,’ I said. ‘We’re going to discuss my project to write a history of the Pavilion.’
He frowned. ‘Gerry didn’t say you were coming today.’
‘Is there a problem? I made the appointment a couple of weeks ago.’
‘Not at all. But I’m in charge of the Pavilion renovation project.’
Before I could utter another word he said, ‘Access to the Pavilion will soon be limited, so it’s as well you’ve come now. I’ve responsibility for the place while the organisation of the renovations goes ahead....’
Several times I opened my mouth to speak, trying to find a gap in the conversation.
He sat down abruptly. ‘I’ll help you as much as I can, but there will be plenty of people on the island better able to give you stories about the place in its glory days.’
This was the moment to jump in. ‘Can I have a look around, to get a feel of the building?’
‘Mmm,’ he said, leaning forward. ‘I have to do a bit of clearing up here. The Pavilion manager has been recruited to a new Tourism Bute project and I’m the person on the island responsible for everything meantime.’ He obviously still had some concerns I didn’t fully appreciate his status. He stroked his luxuriant moustache again. ‘Health and Safety issues – I’m sure you’ll understand. There have been a few problems already…like bits of concrete falling off. One only narrowly missed me last week. Gave me a real fright, I can tell you.’
‘Sorry to hear that, but I assure you I’ll be careful.’
He fiddled with a paperclip on his desk. ‘There are other problems you know nothing about,’ he said.
I said, standing up, ‘I’ll come along tomorrow morning.’ Best to meet firmness with firmness.
If he was upset by my sharpness, he gave no sign. He gazed at me for a moment as though unsure what to say. ‘As long as you don’t hold me responsible for anything that happens.’
I laughed. ‘Of course not.’ After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Why is your featured book a must-read?
A unique Art Deco building on the Isle of Bute provides the setting for intrigue and mystery.
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 42 books featured in the Mystery and Suspense Bookish Event: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775071 Open Internationally. Runs August 11 – 17, 2020. Winner will be drawn on August 24, 2020.
As a child, Myra lived opposite the local library, an exciting location for someone who loved to read. Soon she was inspired to write her own novels. One still survives, though at 900 words might prove too short for today’s market!
At thirteen she won a writing competition organised by a national newspaper. The prize was a puppy – something that certainly wouldn’t be allowed nowadays.
After some years teaching in Madrid and in London, Myra returned to Scotland and a career in educational management.
During this time she continued to write and be published, mostly in non-fiction. But success with short stories encouraged her to return to her first love – fiction. The House at Ettrick Bay is the first in her cosy crime series of eight novels and four novellas set on the Isle of Bute, just off the west coast of Scotland.
Myra Duffy divides her time between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute. She has family connections to the island stretching back several generations.
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