Guest Author Marni Graff: A Short Novel Excerpt

This is a guest post by Marni Graff. Marni is the author of the Nora Tierney mystery series–set in the UK–and co-author of Writing in a Changing World. Her books can be bought at or at

Nora rounded the corner of Bowness Bay; her gaze flitted across the shallow water along the pebbly shore. A few yards ahead, the tip of an overturned green scull caught her attention; it was wobbling up and down at the stony shore, disturbing its neatness.

As she came abreast of the scull, the next slopping wave nudged it higher onto the pebbly shingle. Without pausing, Nora left the path and reached out to pull on the scull’s tip to keep it on shore. Someone would be looking for it later today. She was surprised when it barely budged, and she heaved harder, throwing her small frame into the effort. It must be filled with sand and water, she thought, and tugged harder. There was a sucking sound, and suddenly the scull slid up the bank, knocking Nora off balance and onto her knees on the damp sand. She was abruptly opposite the swollen, glassy-eyed face of a very dead man, partially covered in muck. He lay curled on his side, half-hidden by the scull. There was a greenish cast to his skin, mottled with gouges and missing pieces of flesh. His swollen, purple lips grinned grotesquely at her; one eye socket was empty. The distorted features shifted with the next wave.

Nora’s stomach roiled, and her breakfast threatened to come back up. She sucked in air and gasped. Then she heard her own screams echoing across the water as she realized the dead man was someone she knew.


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