Book Jacket


rank 398
word count 42782
date submitted 19.11.2011
date updated 26.04.2013
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Crime
classification: moderate

The Color of Red (#1)

Jules Haigler

Sent to find a missing son and solve a gripping murder, Inspector Rouge uncovers a twisted family mystery. Dare to read what is red?


The story begins in the early 1940’s of Great Britain with the main character being an intrepid inspector with a unique colorblindness. Inspector Danforth Rouge sees only things that are red while everything else is in a world of black and white.

He is called to investigate a strange case of a missing young man whose father was recently murdered before his son's marriage. People suspect the young man to be the killer till other people start to mysteriously die. With no one to trust but himself and an obnoxious Constable, Rouge must probe deep into the lives of the family and friends to discover the true meaning of these deaths. As good as answers may appear, sometimes it is best not to know the truth-- for the truth may be worse than the reality. In this story of destructive secrets and plots of revenge a night of the murder unfolds into a twisted series of events that soon lead to a chase for survival and truth.

The final question becomes the mystery...What happens in candlelight?

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. . .

Twenty-three minutes had passed since Widow Percival’s sudden sickness. The commotion in the house had finally begun to lessen. Widow Percival was laid in bed and given medication. Miss Harris stayed by her side hoping her aunt would awaken. Dr. Redden said Widow Percival had passed out during her ordeal but would be fine. Everyone was worried and gossiping about what had happened.

The female servant having been delayed in helping get Widow Percival and Miss Harris comfortable left to check on the dessert. As she neared the kitchen, she found herself smelling something burning. She rushed into the kitchen surprised to see smoke coming out of the oven filling the small room. She coughed removing a pair of oven mitts from the table.

“Oh no,” she cried, “the apple crumble is burning.” The girl quickly opened the oven and while holding her breath removed the charred pastry. Turning on the facet she filled a small jug of water gently pouring it over the food. She rubbed her eyes stepping backwards towards the counter. The girl then opened a window to let the smoke and smell escape. “What to do now?” She looked around. “Where is that old woman? How could she let this burn? What will I tell the guests?” The girl sighed. “I guess I will have to make something quick. Where are those peaches?” Stepping over to the pantry, the girl tied an apron around her waist. She reached for the pantry door and opened it. A pair of bare feet shone brightly in the light. The toes pointed upwards, straight and still. The girl screamed as she recognized the face. The old maid lay there dead.

. . .

“Miss Chesterfield!” yelled Mr. Melrose as he exited the mansion heading towards the gardens. “Miss Chesterfield,” he called again. No answer. “Now where has that woman gone off too?” Mr. Melrose scratched his head. “Miss Chesterfield answer me.”Mr. Melrose approached the garden gate. “Miss Chesterfield,” he called. “Hello? Miss Chesterfield?”

From a distance Mr. Melrose noticed a bright red plumage sticking up over a small squared bush. He hurried over. “Miss Chesterfield, you need to return to the mansion.” No answer. “Hello? It is rude to not answer.” He stepped nearer. “Are you asleep?” Still no answer. “Miss Chesterfield?” Mr. Melrose rounded the bush.

The sight that he saw threw him backwards. “Oh my God,” he said clutching a tree. “Oh my God.” Mr. Melrose almost vomited. He tried to avoid looking at Miss Chesterfield, but the look on her face was too terrifying to turn away. Gathering his legs, he rushed back to the mansion crying, “Help! Miss Chesterfield has been murdered!”

Beyond the bushes staring wide-eyed into the sky, Miss Chesterfield did not move. She sat there in the breeze with her mouth wide open as if in a silent scream with birds pecking at her tongue. A broken teacup scattered the ground by her feet, and on the mossy bench Miss Chesterfield had etched in four letters with her fingernails. R O S E

. . .

“What in God’s name is going on?” demanded Goodwill as Mr. Melrose rushed into the house yelling, “Murder, murder! Miss Chesterfield has been murdered!” It had only been less than a minute after a female servant had screamed about the dead Margaret. The looks on all the faces in the room went tense with fear and confusion.

Rouge turned to a male servant. “Sir, I need to you gather the other servants and come with me.” Rouge then went to Goodwill. “Constable.”

“Yes, Rouge?”

“Go with Mr. Melrose to the garden and keep everyone else away until I arrive.”

“Yes, Rouge. Lead, Mr. Melrose.”

“This way, Constable.” The two men left. Miss Harris came running down the stairs.

“What is going on?” she cried. “Why is there so much yelling and screaming?”

“Go back upstairs, Miss Harris,” said Mrs. Norris, “you will be safe there.” Mrs. Norris followed Miss Harris up to Widow Percival’s room.

“What do you mean?” Miss Harris’s voice faded as she reached the top of the stairs. The small dog whimpered in her arms.

The room became silent. Everyone looked at one another clenching their teeth. Madame Scarlette scooted closer to Mr. Lancer, who poured himself another glass of whiskey. Mr. Norris broke the silence. “Inspector Rouge, what do we do now? There is a murderer among us.”

“Indeed there is. Come with me, Mr. Norris, and help me investigate the body of Maid Margaret.”

“What about Miss Chesterfield?”

“The dead can wait their turn. Come, come.”

Rouge, followed by a curious Mr. Norris, and a few servants carrying bed sheets walked to the kitchen. The smell of burnt pastry masked the smell of death. Appearing before the opened pantry door, two bare feet glowed in the light. Rouge called for a lamp, lit it, and placed it on the shelf inside. The maidservant’s opened eyes glistened as bright circles. Rouge stepped over the maid’s body. He crouched down brushing Margaret’s course hair off the floor. Blood was puddled underneath. Mr. Norris covered his mouth and turned his head as Rouge observed Margaret’s bloody skull.

“Severe wound to the back of the head. No signs of a struggle. Elongated blood streaks show her body was dragged.”

“There is a little bit of blood over here, inspector!” cried one of the male servants pointing at a teapot on the far counter.

“Murdered while she prepared tea and deserts.”

“What killed her?” asked another servant.

Rouge smelled Margaret’s wet sticky hair. It smelled of peaches. Rouge looked around the pantry. A broken jar lay on the floor; all the peaches had been eaten earlier. “She was bludgeoned by a jar of peaches. Then dragged to the pantry.”

“Absolutely revolting!” cried Mr. Norris. “Why would someone want to kill poor old Margaret? She never hurt anyone.”

“Ever action has a consequence, even the good actions. Someone wanted her dead.” Rouge closed Margaret’s eyes and spoke to the servants. “Take her out carefully. Treat her with respect.” Rouge then looked at Mr. Norris. “Go with them and phone the local police. Tell them we have a situation and to stay on standby if we need them.”

“Right away, Inspector.” Mr. Norris frowned looking at the body. “Poor old Margaret,” he said, “she did not deserve this fate. May God have mercy on us?”

The servants covered Margaret’s body and quietly removed her from the house. Watching from out of the kitchen window, Rouge spotted Mr. Norris returning with Mr. Melrose. Both men looked very distressed. Rouge having the urge to listen in on their conversation hid in the pantry’s darkness. The two men entered the kitchen.

“This is horrible,” said Mr. Melrose. “First Henry, then Margaret, and now Miss. Chesterfield. Whoever could be next?”

“I am not taking any chances. I plan to get my wife and leave town.” Mr. Norris rubbed his sweaty forehead. “I am starting to think Widow Percival was supposed to die as well.”

“My thoughts exactly. Someone must have put something in her tonic.”

Mr. Norris leaned against the kitchen counter lighting a cigar. “Who gave her the tonic?”

“Her niece, Miss Harris of course, but I remember Dr. Redden giving Miss Harris the bottle the other day from Henry’s stash in the medicine cabinet.”

“Dr. Redden is not one to hurt old women. He was also the one who administered the drug that saved Widow Percival.”

“That is true.” Mr. Melrose searched the cabinets for a glass. “Speaking of Dr. Redden, have you noticed the act he has been playing? He wants us to believe he loved and respected his brother. Such hogwash. The two men never got along. Ah, here is a glass.” He lifted two glasses out of the cupboard. “Would you like some brandy?”

“No, thank you,” answered Mr. Norris.

Mr. Melrose returned one glass began pouring brandy into the other glass. “Did you notice how Mr. Lancer was the only one who did not react surprised to Widow Percival’s ailment?”

“Yes, I did. That man always worries me. He has no emotion unless when he plays the piano.” Mr. Norris rubbed his head. “Why do you think someone want to murder Margaret? I can understand Miss Chesterfield but why kill the old woman?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, your wife did fetch water for Widow Percival when she went down. She was in the kitchen and could have easily murdered Margaret.”

Mr. Norris did not look happy. “That is my wife you are accusing. She would never hurt anyone.”

Alright, sorry. I did not know you were so sensitive.” Mr. Melrose tapped his fingers on the countertop. “What about that suspicious detective? He keeps asking about the rape of Eva Harrow.”

 “We should all be to blame for that incident. A bribed jury caused a guilty Henry Redden to slip free. We should have never given the man the upper hand. I remember Mr. Lancer was the lawyer for Miss Harrow and in the audience it was me, you, Miss Chesterfield, my wife, Widow Percival, and Dr. Redden. We bribed the judge and the jury as well as the witnesses to give false testimony and save Henry. Such corruption. Mr. Norris puffed out a plume of smoke.

“How were we supposed to know that nineteen years later it may be connected to as series of murders?”

“If that is the case, then we are all in danger. So far the ghost of Eva Harrow has claimed two of her tormenter’s lives and one failed attempt.”

Mr. Melrose swallowed the rest of his drink. “We cannot tell the inspector or the constable. Both would see to it that we go to jail for what we have done. We have all kept this a secret even Miss Chesterfield took it to her grave, and that means something.”

“How many more people are going to die before we too keep this secret to our graves?”

Mr. Melrose grabbed hold of Mr. Norris’s tie. The man’s arms rose in defense.  Mr. Melrose looked around; spying no one he continued. “No one, absolutely no one is to know, understood, or by God, I will kill you myself. I will lose everything, my job, my reputation, if word gets out”

“Understood,” stuttered Mr. Norris.

“Good.” Mr. Melrose let go turning to fill another glass. Rouge crept to the secret passage within the pantry. He figured he had heard enough and it was time to check on Goodwill at Miss Chesterfield’s body. He closed the secret door behind him.

. . .




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Andrea Taylor wrote 508 days ago

This is very good! I started to read as I always do when doing a 'review' for this site, waiting to see what my first impression would be (because this is how a new reader will judge all our work) and wham, I was hooked. Immediately and fully. Quite brilliantly executed. I loved the steps to death. So many feet etc. Very clever touch.
On my watch-list for shuffle in a week (just changed them) and highly starred.
The de Amerley Affair

faith rose wrote 663 days ago

Dear Jules,

I have just finished your first two chapters, and I definitely want to read more! If time did not constrain me this morning, I would curl up in a cozy chair and let myself be swept away into your marvelously mysterious world. This is amazing!

You have a tremendous gift to write. There is no doubt in my mind about this. I am stunned by the depth of wisdom in your characterization. Your descriptions of the characters show a deep understanding of the human spirit, well beyond your young years (ie: "time came to change a person inside and out" and "little to live for but much to lose").

I also love the suspense you have created in the opening with the "five feet from death," etc. This is so well done. The symbolism in the names and imagery is also so wonderfully written. You carefully display shades of red throughout this piece taking it to a whole new level of fine literature (ie: Inspector Rouge, Master Redden, Rose, Madame Scarlett, burgandy carpet, maroon waistcoat, mahoghany walls...) Wow! As a literature teacher, I can really appreciate this! :)

In addition, I loved the character descriptions of the people in attendance at the engagement party. I might be dating myself here, but "Miss Chesterfield" and "Widow Percival" gave me fond reminiscent memories of interesting characters I might find in the old game "Clue." :) Marvelously done and utterly unique.

I look forward to reading on, Jules. I am giving you highest stars today and will hold on my WL for now. A wonderful piece of very fine literature.

All the very best,
Faith Rose
Now To Him

CGHarris wrote 782 days ago

I read through the first two chapters and you have a wonderful gift for painting vivid pictures on the page. Your imagery is amazing. I am usually not a big fan of long drawn out description but I loved the way you put yours together. It read like poetry! Your dialogue is smooth and your narratives are spot on. This is truly a beautiful piece of writing. Thanks. High stars on this one.

Kate M. wrote 784 days ago

Just finished reading 4 chapters - only meant to read 2! I loved it. I love all the red names, even the soldier is dressed in red! Its a fun read, and reminds me of an Agatha Christie. Very cool! I didn't find any errors, typos, even awkward sentences...nothing! Great job, great writing. I'll keep it on my WL and read more when I have time! I have six starred it! :-) And I love the cover. The black and white is inspired- I'm assuming- by the detective's vision but it also subtly alludes to the time period.
Good luck!

RonParker wrote 85 days ago

Hi Jules,

While I did spot the occasional typo as I read this story, it is one of the better ones on this site. I haven't had time to read more than the first couple of chapters, but one thing that does intrigue me from your pitch is that the Inspector is colour-blind. I know the answer might be revealed later in the story, but how did he pass the medical to get into the police?


MC Storm wrote 354 days ago

Hi Jules:
I just finished chapter 3 and must say I'm hooked! Death is ten feet away 5 ft....and the owl. Little subtle hints, but so tastefully done. The suspense is cleverly spaced, I wanted to get to the death. This is a great thriller and plan on coming back to read more! High stars!

Nadina M. Ashwood wrote 355 days ago

Your story line is interesting and the setting is good. Your characters are unique and well thought-out. You have very good descriptive writing that sets a scene well. I would caution you regarding dialogue and keeping each character's vocabulary and speech pattern true to that character's background and personality. As writers, we mustn't let our own natural conversation creep into our character's. The period, nation of origin and current residence would influence their vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure. With that in mind you might re-read and re-word some of the dialogue. Personally, I read dialogue aloud (complete with differing voices and accents - yeah, sounds lika a party even when I'm alone!) and treat it like a play. The more I can get into the character; the more true to that character I can be.
This is a promising who-dun-it with plenty of potential as far as perpetrators and success.
I won't touch grammar or punctuation since you are currrently doing the editing and a rewrite.
Thanks for an enjoyable 5 chapter read.

Keri Kern wrote 355 days ago

Hi, I've only read the first chapter so far but loved it and will definitely be reading more.
Well done.
Great atmosphere
T A Wheller

Keri Kern wrote 355 days ago

Hi, I have only read the first chapter so far but found it intriguing and well worth backing. Will be reading more.
T A Mehrtens

Seringapatam wrote 373 days ago

Jules, I can see the comments below and also see the talking points you have started. Thats a good thing. I think you have a talent to tell a story and are very good with this genre. Descriptions are off the scale and very detailed indeed. I can actually see this doing very well. I wish you luck.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

Grafton wrote 395 days ago

Claw review- The color of Red #1 ch1-4

Short Pitch- good hook- Dare to read what is Red- sparks my interest.

Long Pitch- good short synopsis of the story, leaving the reader wanting to know more.

Plot- Frankly I started out wanting to critique the story, but was drawn in to the story and truly entertained. Again the plot is well driven. Your character development is good, the reader wants to understand more. You provide the right amount of conflict and suspense to move the story along. The descriptions of the settings and characters were spot on. I can't find much to critique, and will come back to read further. Good Thriller and mystery- High rating- Mark Stone.

Truth One Note In wrote 398 days ago

You've been CLAWED!lol
Images! Images!
You have a gift for bringing your images to life. From the opening I could so easily see vividly the house, the man, and the flashbacks.
The feeling of the unknown death was eerie and made my skin crawl. It was like watching an old black and white scary movie, where you can see the outline of something yet nothing is there to really see.
The poor man's life seems so tragic, the reader is sort of drawn to him.
Not a visible flaw.
Suspenseful and page turning. I started the second chapter and liked it but can't say too much since I only read a little.
I wish I could read more today but I can't.
Be back soon.
Toni [Cavern of Time]

Andy M. Potter wrote 398 days ago

CLAW review.

Hi WIR, I read the opening 4 chapters. I find this reminescent of great British mystery writers such as Christie or Conan Doyle, both in tone and characterization. I'll declare my personal bias at the outset: I'm not a big fan of omniscient narration. Having said that, this tale unfolds nicely on its own terms.

I saw some very minor edits that may strike a chord. if not, pls ignore. as ever, take what works and toss the rest. ;)

-two floors below his feet- maybe just -two floors below-

-no one was there only the ...- maybe use comma or dash: -no one was there, only the ...-

--causing the man-- maybe --causing him-- the more formal ''the man" tends to distance a reader from the action.

--its light appeared to dim- ?maybe -too dim-- or "its light dimmed."

--he thought he no longer recognized himself-- the reader might not need this. it is apparent from the previous sentences.

on a macro narative arc note, the 'countdown' to death might be a little overdone. 20 ft, 10 ft, 5, 4,
3 etc. maybe leave out a few markers?

--wheels huffed and puffed-- strictly speaking, wheels don't huff. maybe --the engine huffed ...--

--important looking briefcase-- maybe hyphenate the adj --important-looking--

--While unbutttoning his coat ...-- does the reader need this detail?

--Rouge tapped his fingers on the table-- maybe --R's fingers tapped the table--

--contemplating about-- maybe just --contemplating--

--while the some woman-- --while some women-- ?

I like the 'red' theme: rouge, redden, rose, scarlette. well done.

best wishes, andy

Sneaky Long wrote 448 days ago

Club Agatha Critique - "The Color of Red #1"

Hi Jules,

I was anxious to read your chapters since I am writing in the same genre. I went straight to your book from Club Agatha and read four chapters. I did not see your profile and the fact you are rewriting until after I read. So I will not go into nit-pics or sentence structure. I like your opening and your detective. You describe him well and he has a bit of mystery about him. I felt the doctor was a bit strange in his demeanor and the language he used. In part, he did not come across as an educated man with his flippant remarks - "you don't want to piss him off." I get that he is a wanna be but he has practiced medicine for thirty years and has been to formal receptions before. Anyway, I like your descriptions of the characters and the tension between the detective and the doctor. You let us know the doctor is not all he seems to be and the shady character he hangs around with.

All in all, I like your set up and the plot you are laying out. Good luck with this and your rewrite. Stars and watch list.

Sneaky Long

Andrea Taylor wrote 508 days ago

This is very good! I started to read as I always do when doing a 'review' for this site, waiting to see what my first impression would be (because this is how a new reader will judge all our work) and wham, I was hooked. Immediately and fully. Quite brilliantly executed. I loved the steps to death. So many feet etc. Very clever touch.
On my watch-list for shuffle in a week (just changed them) and highly starred.
The de Amerley Affair

Sanchez Lovers wrote 594 days ago

Dear Jules,
Wow! So young and so full of stories!
I also looked at your paintings and I am thrilled by your art. My fav are Ant Hill and Bookkeeper.
Back to your story. I find you are painter either with words. You created a wondeful mystery and it is hard to believe it is your first draft. Thank you for sharing your work!
6 stars from us!
PS: Great cover :)

Odette67 wrote 610 days ago

Hi, I have just read up to the end of chapter 3. I am really enjoying it. The writing flows well, the descriptions are great. I particuarlly love chapter 2 when death is 4 steps closer then 3..... really fab, made the hairs on my arms raise. very atmospheric.
A little editing is needed. mind you mine is worse i think.

Couple of things take them or leave them... Chapter 2 - this man (i felt the man works better) Also felt Inspector should be with capital I, also in chapter 3 - The madam... doesnt work for me either madam Scarlett or madam, Other than these trivial things, its a great read. will carry on later tonight.

If you have time please give mine a look over. neither are murders Off the Rails is the one i really want moving upwards right now, so any pointers i will take on board.

many thanks

Kate - off the rails

Casimir Greenfield wrote 610 days ago

Agatha Club:

I can see just what the writer intends in the telling of the story, but as before, it is the syntax that leaves me with the odd feeling that I am reading the reflection of the story in a mirror. Each sentence is strangely constructed and that breaks the flow of the writing for me, so that the style constantly intrudes.

I have dipped into each of the writer's works and I realise that this is his style. I hate to be less than positive, but it was the writing rather than the story that left me feeling uneasy. I feel I may be a lone voice here. I remember that the writer found my own work difficult to even remember, let alone enjoy, so it may just be that we are both missing the point.

But, I'd rather be honest in my comments, and while there is much to praise, I was left a little dazed and confused.

Abby Vandiver wrote 611 days ago

Club Agatha Chapter Two

I read Chapters 2 & 3 The cahptes were good. I thought it was too much description in the beginning with the discussion of the victim walking down the hallway. It was kind of confusing. Other than than you set this mystery up very well, very "Clue" like with everyone who was at the party and a little background. I saw the camara going to a flashback showing each guest as the good docter told of the party attendees. Very good. The last conversation between Lancer and the doctor was intriguing but a little confusing, too. No one was killed with a knife (so far) so this killing again does not compute.

I think that the pitch is misleading when it says "a boy." Although, it doesn't say how old he is (although his father appears to be very old), he is old enough to get married.

I do think that Inspector Rouge already has an idea of what happened. I love a good detective.

Good job.


Hyperion wrote 626 days ago

Club Agatha Round two.
I have read chapters one and two, as we passed like ships in the night before in round one.
To see in only red or black and white may well be a curse or a gift, but not one I would accociate with a detective?

But this is the world of strange imaginings and I will suspend incredibility and look into your story with reason and curiosity. I do not comment on your use of English or Grammar but will confine myself to readability and its publish-ability.

What I found were quite a few plot holes and a great deal of telling of the situations and the emotions of your protagonists. I would much rather have experienced the feelings of the dark corridors and empty rooms as the victim went to his fate and meeting with the murderer.

I liked the post-war setting, but the attitudes and voice would be very different from modem day parlance and the use of 'Piss off someone jangled with me somewhat as did the actual murder.
Moreover, I believe that if a gun is held at the head, the bullet will-blow half the head off and everything would be splattered in gore and blood, including the murderer.

Therefore, I feel that there are quite a few plot holes that threw me out of your story. Whilst I liked the scene setting detail, some of them did not ring true. Why would there be dead flowers in the vase if he did not value such things?

Perhaps the choice of Rouge for a name for your main protagonist carries the red theme a little two far, and I very much doubt that a colour blind man would never find a position in the police force, even in the 1940 's?
In chapter 2/3. We come to the meeting in the pub, here you introduce various people who will be red herrings or have a motive for murder.

I found this exposition very long, and the introduction of direct dialogue quite confusing. and you certainly need a break between Rouge leaving the scene and the meeting between Lancer and Redden.

However, I liked the hook at the end where Lancer is shown to be a killer if not the murderer?

Having looked at my notes and comments I see now that I am treading a different path from my other reviewers, and this reads a quite a negative critique, and for that I must apologise and trust you will treat it in the way it is intended, to be helpful and constructive.

For in essence this is a very well crafted murder mystery in the best traditions of the genre. If you wish to adopt the telling mode of the story lines perhaps it could be read as a report, but I rather fear that this will not sustain the reader for long.

All the very best with it, Ray jones,(MIB)

S.C. McGillicuddy wrote 628 days ago

Jules, this is an amazing read and I really like the story that you have here. You have brilliant description skills and you catch the reader's attention immediately. You start out with a powerful and thrilling beginning and your detailing skills makes it all the more better. I'm a little surprised that this book has not rose through the ranks quicker than it has been. You definitely deserve the editor's desk. Chills are sent down the reader's body when they see this beginning. You worked really hard on this book. High stars!
Second Shadow / Whitechapel

gr84ll wrote 628 days ago

Club Agatha Round two:
I have nothing to say after reading this, other than it is going to go up on my bookshelf! You have done an amazing job! I love this story, you display the characters so well! I'm humbled in your presence! Well done! 6 stars!

gr84ll wrote 628 days ago

Club Agatha-Second round;

I still love this, and went ahead and read chapter one again... Your intro is wonderful, full of intrigue and suspence as death "inches closer" unseen! I note a few minor things you might want to consider...
Chapter One:
2nd Para: The first line didn't make sense to me... (might be me... usually is LOL)
4th Para: Should read "Above the flowers 'hung'.... "
5th Para: I think you should drop the word "stepping" in the last line; the line before has him noticing by the creak of the door he has stepped in...
Some paragraphs are indented, some not... no biggie, certainly didn't interrupt my enjoyment one bit! I'll move on to Chapter two...

Shepback wrote 628 days ago

Club Agatha Critique.

This reads like a typical Agatha Christie mystery. I've read two chapters and I love the way you have set up the whole scene. You have described the partygoers beautifully and obviously they immediately become suspects. I also like the way that you keep reminding us of the colour of red by mentioning all different shades of the bright colour...Rouge, Redden, burgundy, maroon and so on.
I want to read more.

Emma B wrote 628 days ago

So sorry, for some reason i forgot to mention that i thought the argument between the nephew and Rose, the dialog, and the way you write it from the uncles point of view was really well done. it wanted to affect me and did, as i could really see them through the crack as if i was Dr Redden.

Emma B wrote 628 days ago

Club Agatha

Steady, strong and clever. your writing is like your MC. I like his style and honesty.
Your descriptions of the people at the party are wonderfully written and i can see the detective getting to meet them all which will be a pleasure to read.
"Soon my friend, we will kill again." Great line for the end of a chapter. His brother was shot though, so it he wasn't talking about that kill. Another mystery. Mr Lancer sounds intriguing, and dangerous.
Strong Chapter, Emma

Lenny Banks wrote 628 days ago

Hi Jules, I read chapter 7. You have an excellent descriptive skill, I get an impression you enjoy murder mysteries and enjoyed writing this a great deal. The characters are very interesting and you create an air of suspense describing the events. The dialogue was very good ,and I felt like I was watching a tv drama. Well done.

Kindest Regards and Best Wishes
Lenny Banks - Tide and Time: At The Rock.
I would appreciate a return read if you are able to find time. Thanks.

Cupcake xx wrote 629 days ago

Club agatha critique: chapter two:

I found myself even more enthralled in chapter two. I like your writing, and the character interaction was very enjoyable.
I would however, say that I found when she struck the boy a little unbelievable. Maybe make a dialogue tag of her yelling, and maybe take out 'reached out' - you could replace that for something like 'her hand thrashed out'? Just a suggestion.
But nonetheless, this chapter was very enjoyable.


Lena M. Pate wrote 630 days ago

Club Agatha Critique;
What a splendid mystery and fabulous characters. The intrigue you built in the first chapter counting off the feet to his death was brilliant to building suspense. The flow from scene to scene leads the reader through twists and turns not anticipated. The twist at the end of Chapter two that the brother that hired the detective is one of the bad guys was unexpected and a good catch to lead the reader to turn the page. Well penned!

Fire Your Imagination wrote 630 days ago

Agatha Review
I am on here in the hope I get honest feedback. Because I value this, I give my reviews in the same way. I hope you can appreciate that and view the following as such.
Overall I felt the gloom and threat and the atmosphere building nicely. Your style reminds me of Agatha Christie's Poirot. In fact, it would make a good script for a TV drama of this type. I love the way you have death coming closer by the measurement of feet.
But, as I said above, I want to be helpful so you can improve on what you have done. I have given examples, and why I think they need looking at more closely.
1st Para:
'An owl screeched outside of a window, a gloomy reminder that Death was nearby.' Why would an owl screeching indicate that death was nearby?
At first, I thought there were two people moving down the corridor. Is this the impression you wanted to give? If so, it perhaps doesn't fit with the fact that the murderer came into the study through a secret panel.
4th Para
'Next to the burning candle, an ornamental vase filled with dead flowers sat.' This is an example of several sentences that are badly constructed. Maybe this should this read: - 'Next to the burning candle sat an ornamental vase filled with dead flowers.'
5th Para
'Darkness greeted him beckoning him to enter. 'Does darkness beckon? It is apt to repel most people.
'The recognizable creak of the closing door made the man realize he had stepped into his study.' As he used the key for the study, wouldn't he already know where he was?
6th Para
'From the window a full moon shone brightly behind the clouds bathing the room in a soft pale glow.' You have contradicted yourself about the room being dark.
8th Para
'Looking down, the man sighed as he noticed his scuffed shoes.' Would you be able to see scuffs on shoes in what is being portrayed as either darkness or very poor light?
9th Para
'An untrimmed beard grew on his wrinkle dominated face, a mark left by the harsh world.' Mark would indicate just one wrinkle - should it be marks?
10th Para
'If age did not catch you, Death surely would.' I am not sure this makes sense. It is the same thing really.
The Letter
'Dear Inspector,
My dearest apologies for summoning you at short notice, but a depressing matter has befallen my family. I was recommended by a friend to contact you as, I have heard, you are good at solving a mystery. My brother was murdered yesterday, shot from behind in the head. Since his body was not found until the early morning, I suspect the murder happened near the end of the party the night before.' I think the dearest is too personal for a letter of this type - maybe replace with 'earnest'. Big assumption by the writer about when he thought the murder took place just because it was found in the morning. Maybe this is a clue; otherwise, I think it needs amending.
Quick Fire 'others'
You can't be 'slightly average' - you are either average or you are not.
Observing the R on the briefcase appears unnecessary - if it is a clue, then leave, otherwise remove all such extras.
'treaded' across the room should be 'trod'
You use 'popped' too often - try replacing one or two.
Quaint means 'Charmingly odd, especially in an old-fashioned way'. Your use of it to describe the town is at odds with the gloomy picture you paint.

An overall observation, and assumption, if you like, is that you have tried to use more complicated and varied words and mechanisms for effect, but that they don't come naturally to your style. Write from the heart and, as many writers would advise, as though you are speaking to someone. Your writing will then be natural, flow a lot better and be less contrived.

I hope these observations have been useful.
Good luck

Ghosty wrote 630 days ago

Club Agatha ch2-

Jules, I really am enjoying the development of your characters and plot. It's nice to see that everyone is becoming a suspect and they're not what they are trying to convey to Rouge. But the clever Inspector Rouge's unique view isn't missing a trick. Very well written once again, the last line is quite chilling and is a great hook. Can't wait to read on.

Cupcake xx wrote 631 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

Reading the first chapter of your book was a truly mysterious experience: I was enthralled by the mystery and subtle action you have woven into this so far. I was also dazzled by the word you have created so far.
Your writing is extraordinary, and the words you have chosen are very well thought out and put in. I was truly taken in by the world and the narration you used so far.

The imagery as well is commendable, and I really enjoyed it.
I will be reading further!


olga wrote 631 days ago

Club Agatha Crit.
Chapter 2 is an intriguing beginning to your story. This is full of promise of mysteries yet to unfold. It collars the reader from the first sentence. There are some editing nits that need attention...
'....shivered in his shoes....' I would suggest that you could say what you mean here. This does not create a visual clue as to his state.
'....his elderly eyes appeared....' Seems that his eyes are not part of his body the way it is written.
'....a room emerged....' Suggest the room emerged as if you say a room emerged it's not the same room but somewhere else.
I have only listed a few of the nits here.
All the best with this.

SDFrears wrote 632 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

I liked the way you used distance to illustrate how close death was and then counted down. I would have liked the character to see the attacker rather than just be shot from behind. Just so we could have a small hint as to who it may have been. When he reaches for his keys it may have made more sense to to write 'he cursed his old age as he reached for the keys before opening the door'. As bending down to pick something small up would be hander than just turning a key.

Overall a really good first chapter. The tension builds well and leaves you with questions.

Declan Conner wrote 634 days ago

Club Agatha

The opening creates an immediate sense of foreboding. There follows some excellent descriptive narrative. I like the four feet and three feet from death. I would have liked this to be continued as a device to add to the suspence in the way that a ticking clock works, although not doing so, took nothing away from the story. Good hook at the end for the reader to turn the page.

I am assuming that your book is to be targeted at the US market and not the UK market in view of a small number of American words usage, that would seem out of place to the British.

Stephen Hilling wrote 637 days ago

Club Agatha critique

I love the first chapter of this! The way you personified Death was chilling and expertly written. You built up suspense as the chapter progressed and there is a real depth to the story already. Your language flows so well that I was swept along and I found it truly absorbing. This is just the sort of story I would happily pay to read so it easily warrants a place on my shelf. Excellent.

Stephen Hilling
Chasing Shadows

PaddyNemesis wrote 637 days ago

Club Agatha
I love the opening couple of pages, very taught and brings out the mystery in a very succinct way.
Is there irony with the Inspectors name?
Looking forward to Chap 2

alphabetsailor wrote 639 days ago

Interesting start. Can't imagine how he figured out the wine type...???????????

Valerie T wrote 642 days ago

Club Agatha Critique
The opening paragraphs introduce an antique, chilling atmosphere. Many questions are introduced that create a mystery, as someone else noted, very reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.
The vintage atmosphere continues as the Inspector is introduced. The descriptions are very rich but I found the dialogue a little stilted. I also questioned the possibility of the Inspector's name reflecting his colour-blindness unless the name is not his actual family name but one he chose for himself. Perhaps this is explained in a later chapter.
This is a very good beginning and promises an interesting read.

John Bayliss wrote 644 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

"The Color of Red" has the potential to be a good novel; however I am afraid I do have a few issues with this chapter. The good news is that I think that they are all points that can be easily fixed.

In the opening section, many of the sentences are the same length; this starts to get a little monotonous after a while, and makes it a tedious read. It would be much easier to read if you varied the length of the sentences a little.

In this section, the question that I had to ask myself was: why does Redden need a candle? Is this set in the distant past, before electricity? Is there a power cut? I realise from your pitch that the novel is set in 1940: but, at that time in England, all but the most isolated of houses would have electric light. To blunder around in the semi-dark seems a bit silly, unless there is a good reason for it. If there is, then the reader needs to be given a hint of what that reason is, at least.

There is a line: "Behind him, a sudden noise echoed" What sort of noise? A bang? A shriek? A cough? A creaking floorboard? If you don't tell the reader what sort of noise it is, then they cannot imagine it. Also "echoed" suggests a loud noise with reverberation, which doesn't seem right to me.

A couple of technical details: in England, the police in London are always known as the "Metropolitan Police" (or "the Met" for short); they would never be called the "London Police". Also, the garment that Americans call a vest, the English call a waistcoat. In England, a vest is the garment worn under the shirt.

I'm sorry if this seems a little negative, but these points can be corrected without too much trouble.

Best wishes and good writing, John.

alphabetsailor wrote 645 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

I have finished your two chapters. I think there is an overuse of "The Master" in the first segment that could be fixed. When he is opening the door, you depict his frailty of his hand shaking, but you have him grabbing things- just seemed odd to me; grabbing is a powerful move, I don't associate it with being frail.

I wonder if the first segment shouldn't be a prologue or first chapter... just a thought.
The color blind inspector, how could he note the color of vests and such if all he sees is red?! That threw me off.

All that aside, good descriptive writing and definately a good murder mystery in the making. Looking forward to reading more.

Tarzan For Real wrote 648 days ago

Jules having seen "The Maltese Falcon" with Humphrey Bogart, "China Town" and "The Two Jakes" with Jack Nicholson, and read everything by Edgar Allen Poe and James Lee Burke, I must say your novel is a great inclusion into their league.

First and most important, compelling characters and dialogue so sharp I just cut myself on it. It's in-your-face urban realism specific to that era's violence. That's the strongest part of this novel.

The lagniappe or added bonus is tightly woven worlds that are detailed well. I am highly recommending you compare your work to a master at this, Edgar award winner, James Lee Burke.

Plot twists with subtle clues and transitions are flawless. You could foreshadow and kick up of the humor. The narrative more than compensates though.

I'll get in more reading of your novel and go over it with a more critical eye to help you.--JL "The Devil Of Black Bayou"

Dantes wrote 649 days ago

Club Agatha,

Hi Jules.

I liked the style you're going for, it's redolent with atomosphere and chill. This is key to the book and on that basis it has alot of potential. I can't really comment on the plot so much as it's only the first chapter but Iiked the slow intro, the sinister build up. Over all it had a macabre quality. Herein lies your difficulty. I've read some of the comments below and I tend to agree on the areas for improvement (but I see your dilema). The highly sylised wrting gives the narrative a certain antiquated feel to it and this is how the atmosphere is created. It's kinda Edgr Alan poe -esque. But at the same time it can get a wee bit clumsy here and there. A few mixed metaphors and inconsistent turns of phrase... e.g) ...shadow.. ghost made of smoke (don't all ghost look like they're made of smoke/ mist?) very early doors. But otherwise there were some really good and expressive sentances... once a person of great dignity , he was now an empty shell.... nice, really nails the essence of the character! It's a tough call but not somethign to be overly concerned about as it's just a case of polish and a little restraint here and there. A nip and a tuck. Not too much though or it would ruin the narrative voice, which has potential.

Hope this input helps.

Cheers D

Katie Ridley wrote 650 days ago

Hello, I've just read your first chapter and loved the drama of it; especially the separate sentences of how far away Death is. Very atmospheric and detailed and the last line makes you want to read on to the next chapter to find out. Well written. Good luck.
Katie Ridley, 'The Last Message'. x

Danielle_Boo wrote 651 days ago

I put your book on my watchlist. I look forward to reading it soon!

Elizabeth Buhmann wrote 651 days ago

Club Agatha review:

Hi. I wasn't sure if this was working properly -- is the first chapter just the one question, what happens in candlelight? I was just sort of puzzled by that. Anyway, I read chapter two and treated it as chapter one.

It's a very mysterious and fantastic setting you've got, like something Edgar Allen Poe might conjure up, with the dark hallways and dead flowers curling up ready to catch fire, musty tapestries and old books. I wondered what year it was. Later there is reference to early 20th c buildings; but much of the story read as though set well before that.

I like the classic sort of plot set-up: a will to be made, a nephew not wanting to marry the woman picked out for him, a party, a gun and the old man is dead and the boy has disappeared. Then the wily detective makes his appearance. Sounds like the makings of a good tale.

Some word usages are strange -- light that "drapes" --strange to say that the "creek" (creak) of hinges "made the man realize he had stepped into his study." But it is a highly imaginative piece, with many unexpected and intriguing details, like the odd way the inspector is dressed. Most definitely a mystery!

RW Andrews wrote 652 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

Having just read the first chapter of The Color Red I found it to be extraordinary. Fantastic start to a book by all means. Looking forward to reading more.

Very interesting concept and good character developement. I appreciate how you paid attention to details in descibing the entire scenario.

gr84ll wrote 652 days ago

Club Agatha Critique:

After reading your first Chapter, I am hooked. You set your scene and pace your character with a tone of emminent doom, (3 feet from death)... One little nit pik; "had become wrinkled his appearance"... this needs to be fixed. Your plotting of the death scene is wonderful, and I will be back to read more. For now I am adding you to my wl. Good luck with it, Jacque (Upside Down)

katemb wrote 652 days ago

Club Agatha review

I like your title and think the concept of a detective who sees only in black, white and red is very good. Your first chapter gets down to business very nicely - it sets up the murder, the missing son and introduces your detective. As a reader I feel that you have an interesting plot. I enjoyed the old fashioned feel of the house - the candelight, secret passages etc. In the murder scene I initially thought the line 'five feet from Death' was a touch melodramatic, but then I liked the way you used that again - it might be worth making your capitalization consistent.

Some of the writing worked for me and some lines didn't. Here are some notes which I hope will be of use.
'He stood paused to the spot' - this made me wonder if English is your first language. Rooted? Frozen? Although both might be cliches.
'His skin drained of color wrinkled his appearance' - I"m not sure that makes sense.
'Neither hesitant nor fearful of consequence did the finger cease its mission to squeeze the trigger' - can a finger be either fearful or hesitant? This sentence took me out of an otherwise very dramatic moment.
'He was a stranger to himself' - no idea what that means - borders on melodrama and is telling, not showing.
'entered the business of private investigator for reasons his fellow constituents would not say' - who are the constituents?

That last one, leads me into the question I'd have for you about point of view. You have an omniscient narrator, quite in keeping with the style of story you are telling, but I feel that there is tendency for it to make your writing distant and possibly slightly artificial. Here's an example line:
'The Inspector's arm lowered and a shadowy head lifted allowing the morning light to drape over his face.' I'd be more drawn in if it was something like: 'The Inspector lowered his arm, lifting his head from the shadows. Morning light draped his face and he blinked (or something).' In that whole section with the Inspector and the brother, if you could have the observations come more from Rouge's pov then that would lead me into learning about his character, rather than you telling me what he is like.

So for me the big strengths here are plot and setting. I suspect you have a good character too and like to see you shift more into his point of view.

The Licenser

Writer in Red wrote 652 days ago

Thank you for the detailed critique. I like a few of your suggestions and will be looking into how I can change some sentences here and there. Sorry you found it difficult to read.

Agatha Club Critique:

There are some good ideas at play here, but the strange inverted writing made it a nigh on impossible to read. I found it slightly disconcerting that the first 'chapter' consisted of nothing more than the title and feedback comments. Not great Authonomy protocol. But I did read on.

I almost always comment on the 'feel' of a book and leave the typos and grammar to more eagle eyed readers, but the phraseology was so strikingliy odd, that I found myself stumbling over every single sentence.

I contstantly felt the need to paraphrase: 'the dark figure drited in and out of the light like a ghost made of smoke...' would have enticed me further. This is my reworking of the end of the one of the opening sentences.

Almost every sentence seemed to be written the wrong way round and didn't quite mean what the author wanted them to mean.

Because of the genre, we 'know' what the author intends, but I dont read in this genre and the writing, although full of atmosphere, just felt wrong.

All of the sentences are convoluted and disturbed throughout, but sadly, not in a good way. I wanted to take each phrase and turn it on its head so that it did mean what the writer intended.

So, the writing dominated here. I found it dificult to read the story.

Another example I had to re-write in my head: 'The transparent paper glowed for a moment, the room beautifully illuminated as the will was engulfed in fire.' Well, it reads better for me. So throughout this awkward read, I found myself paraphrashing constantly to make any sense of the narrative at all.

The first and only chapter I read could do wiith a serious edit. That old stand-by - the read aloud. I think if the author read each word out loud, the awkwardness of the writing would soon become apparent.

I write these comments simply to help the work to become what it obviously can. I hope you understand that I only have the writing at heart and there is no negativity in my comments, just the desire to get the writing right!

Much to praise in the story ideas, but an extremely hard book to read.

Casimir Greenfield wrote 652 days ago

Agatha Club Critique:

There are some good ideas at play here, but the strange inverted writing made it a nigh on impossible to read. I found it slightly disconcerting that the first 'chapter' consisted of nothing more than the title and feedback comments. Not great Authonomy protocol. But I did read on.

I almost always comment on the 'feel' of a book and leave the typos and grammar to more eagle eyed readers, but the phraseology was so strikingliy odd, that I found myself stumbling over every single sentence.

I contstantly felt the need to paraphrase: 'the dark figure drited in and out of the light like a ghost made of smoke...' would have enticed me further. This is my reworking of the end of the one of the opening sentences.

Almost every sentence seemed to be written the wrong way round and didn't quite mean what the author wanted them to mean.

Because of the genre, we 'know' what the author intends, but I dont read in this genre and the writing, although full of atmosphere, just felt wrong.

All of the sentences are convoluted and disturbed throughout, but sadly, not in a good way. I wanted to take each phrase and turn it on its head so that it did mean what the writer intended.

So, the writing dominated here. I found it dificult to read the story.

Another example I had to re-write in my head: 'The transparent paper glowed for a moment, the room beautifully illuminated as the will was engulfed in fire.' Well, it reads better for me. So throughout this awkward read, I found myself paraphrashing constantly to make any sense of the narrative at all.

The first and only chapter I read could do wiith a serious edit. That old stand-by - the read aloud. I think if the author read each word out loud, the awkwardness of the writing would soon become apparent.

I write these comments simply to help the work to become what it obviously can. I hope you understand that I only have the writing at heart and there is no negativity in my comments, just the desire to get the writing right!

Much to praise in the story ideas, but an extremely hard book to read.

mikewriter wrote 653 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

This is classic old school murder mystery. How appropriate to be reviewing under the banner of Club Agatha. It is good and I like the red mofif, but I have a few constructive comments that I hope will be useful to you. Overall, it's a bit overwritten for my taste, but that's the style you've chosen so it's not a complaint. There is a small detail that troubled me. When Master Redden drops a 'slim' key it falls 'hard' against the burgundy carpet. Doesn't seem right as Master Redden's feet made little sound on the carpet. 'A mysterious hand invaded the light, in it was a gun' - two sentences or at least semi-colon. 'Logging' - think you mean 'lodging'. 'Urgent bereavement' - do you mean unexpected or untimely?

Just nits. Overall good and atmospheric and a good setup.

Good luck with your work.

(Milk and More)

Greenleaf wrote 653 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

I've read this before, but it's been awhile. I'm back for a critique of the first chapter for the Chapter One competition of Club Agatha for mystery/crime writers. I love the 1940's Great Britain setting and the shadowy mansion. The setting, characters, and speech patterns, along with the writing style, reminds me of a classic Agatha Christie or P.D. James book. You even fooled me into thinking you were British. You've done a great job.

Susan/Greenleaf (Provenance; Chameleon)

Emma B wrote 653 days ago

Club Agatha

Your writing is clever and complements your story and scene.
The characters are unusual and wonderfully described. The detective intrigues me, I'm looking forward to getting to know him better and find out how 'only seeing red' changes/ differs the way he views the mystery, and finds the truth.
'more secrets than bugs' I thought this stood out, and i really liked it. Good, strong start.