‘There was a certain look, a tilt of the head, a glint in the eye… he could always tell.‘
It is a pleasure today to welcome back Julie Anderson, author of the Cassandra Fortune series, with an extract from Oracle, Book 2 in the series. Published on May 5th with Claret Press, Julie joined me a few months back with a wonderful guest post entitled ‘Beware the Ides of March’ which you can read HERE
‘Oracle is about justice, from the brutal, archaic form of blood vengeance prevalent in early human societies to modern systems of law and jurisprudence, set in the context of a democracy. This is the law and equality under the law which allows democracy to thrive and underpins the freedoms and safeguards for individuals within it. The story is interlinked with Greece’s past, as the ancient cradle of democracy and source of many of western ideas of government, but also to its more recent and violent past of military strongmen and authoritarianism in the twentieth century.
Oracle also considers, in the form of a crime thriller, the politicisation of the police and the justice system and how that will undermine justice, especially following the banning of Golden Dawn, the now criminal organisation which wrapped itself in the mantle of politics. It touches on the new academic discipline of zemiology, the study of ‘crime’ through the prism of the harm it does to people, especially those without power.’
Please continue reading where you will discover more about the Oracle, Julie Anderson and a brief extract. I do hope you enjoy!
[ About the Book ]
Near the ancient Temple of Apollo, young idealists protest at a European governmental conference. Inside, business lobbyists mingle with lawmakers, seeking profit and influence. Then the charismatic leader of the protest goes missing.
The next day a body is discovered, placed like an offering to the gods. One day later a recent, broken corpse is found at the foot of the cliffs from where blasphemers were once tossed to their deaths.
As a storm closes in and strange lights are seen on the mountain, power at the conference centre is cut off and all are isolated. No one trusts anyone else. Is a killer stalking the corridors? Or are primal forces reaching out from the past? Like the cryptic Oracle of Delphi, Cassandra Fortune must supply the answer before the conference is over.
And before more die.
[ Extract ]
Cassandra Fortune jolted awake.
The soft leather seat and the powerful purr of the engine had lulled
her into a doze, but now the engine had stopped. Through the tinted
windows she saw a forecourt beneath a floodlit concrete canopy, but
dark, moving shapes obscured the light. People. They were surrounding
the car and pressing up against the glass. There was a pounding on the
roof above her head.
What? What’s the hell’s going on?
With an oath the driver shoved his door open, allowing in a rush of
icy air, accompanied by the sound of shouts and yells. Seconds later her
rear door was opened.
Cassie slung her satchel and handbag over her shoulder and began
to climb out of the car, clutching her laptop case close to her chest. She
placed her palm against the heavy door, anxious that it wouldn’t be
forced closed and trap her, but the driver held it open long enough to pull
her out into the mass of bodies. It slammed shut behind her. Together,
they struggled through the chanting mob in the direction of the brightly
lit glass entrance doors.
The glow from the building was the only light to be seen. Beyond
the forecourt was absolute blackness. High on the slopes of Mount
Parnassus the European Cultural Centre nestled snugly in the middle of
its own illumination, glistening in the surrounding darkness. Now it was
Cassie felt someone grab at her upper arm and yank her sideways.
She yelped and pulled back, gripping the precious laptop even tighter. In
the confusion she couldn’t see who had hold of her, there were too many
people crushed together, faces straining. A shouted order sounded harsh
above the din and the grip on her arm slackened. Now the movement of
the crowd changed direction, carrying them forwards. The driver battled
his way, swearing and shoving, to one side, dragging Cassie in his wake,
but the attention of the crowd had shifted and no one bothered them
further. They stood beside a concrete pillar and watched.
The besiegers reached the glass doors, which shook at their pounding,
but didn’t open. A knot of people formed, creating a battering ram to
try and gain entry. Within, Cassie could see other people, youngsters
dressed in jeans and camouflage jackets, struggling with Centre staff.
Protesters. More instructions rang out as a large man in combat fatigues
strode forward. Older than many in the crowd, a leonine mane of unruly
brown hair framed a strong, bearded face. He wore a determined, if
sardonic expression as Cassie watched him. She knew a man in charge
when she saw one.
With a hiss the glass doors suddenly slid open and jeering
protesters spilled into the high-ceilinged hall. Those already inside were
clinging, limpet-like, to whatever they could grasp, wooden banisters
or brightly upholstered furniture. Men, some in kitchen whites, were
trying to drag them towards the doors to eject them into the night.
High-pitched screams of protest sounded as fingers were prised loose,
chairs screeched, sliding across the floor tiles, all the sounds amplified
by the rough stone walls. Slipping into the reception, Cassie ducked
behind her half-raised arm, fearing that missiles would soon start
The protesters seemed to take heart as their reinforcements
arrived, but the blare of a police siren caused anxious looks, dismaying
them all. A battered police car drew up beneath the canopy on the
forecourt next to the limousine, its flashing lights fracturing the darkness.
Those demonstrators still hovering outside decamped at speed into the
From the car a heavy-set man in his late forties, his dark hair streaked
with grey, stalked into reception. He wore a protective police gilet and
carried a wooden baton. Two black-suited men with walkie-talkies
strapped to their belts ran around the side of the building to join him.
Security detail. Is the Minister here early?
More men wearing kitchen whites arrived to help the Centre
security staff haul protesters away. They took much greater care than
the two ministerial security men, who were far less gentle. Cassie
winced as one of them brought an elbow down sharply on fingers which
clutched a wooden sofa arm, causing their owner to shriek in pain as she
was pulled away.
Purchase Link ~ Oracle
[ Bio ]
Julie Anderson is an author and writer, who worked for many years in Westminster and Whitehall for a variety of government departments, including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This informed her first successful political thriller, ‘Plague’. She is currently writing the third in the series of novels featuring civil servant investigator Cassandra Fortune. The second ‘Oracle’ is published by Claret Press on 5th May 2021
Julie is Chair of Trustees of Clapham Writers, the charity responsible for the annual Clapham Book Festival, an annual celebration of reading in south London which will take place this year on 16th October.