Excerpt & Interview: Murder at Midnight by John Ukah

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | | | | |


Murder at Midnight

by John Ukah
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Alex Simpson, an ex-police officer, decides after a bout of typhoid fever to take a break in a serene and therapeutic environment. The last thing he expects is to be called upon to solve a murder at the Kinging Guest Lodge. But that is what happens, when the delectable and vivacious Maria Marshall is found dead in her bedroom at midnight.

The gallery of characters living at the guesthouse and thrown into the mix, do not make his task of solving this chilling and brutal murder any easier …

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But I was inclined to think that if Mrs. Marshall was making up the stories, the people concerned could easily refute them; instead she always seemed to have them in a very tight spot.
“Let’s leave all that,” I said. “Let’s get down to why you are really here.”

As Maria pouted and fluttered her beautiful eyelashes, I found it difficult to concentrate on what she was saying. She was a very beautiful young woman. I am sure I must have mentioned that before. I was utterly entranced by her radiating beauty. Her perfume was so heady, that it made me want to hold her close. I had to shake my head from side to side, several times in order to clear my mind.

“You see, Mr. Simpson, let me take a hypothetical case of Ayuba and his wife, Amina. I’m only being hypothetical, you understand?”
I assured her that I understood and she continued. “Now if Amina was found dead at the bottom of a cliff, from which she had apparently jumped, having suffered some emotional traumatic event and the Police are satisfied that it was suicide and close the case. But somehow I discovered a letter that shows that Ayuba was the one who asked her to meet on the cliff, to discuss certain things, which she knew that he had done but which Ayuba did not want her to tell anyone else and for which he may have decided to push her over the cliff, to shut her mouth. What should I do with the letter? Because although the letter was written by Ayuba to Amina, asking her to meet him there, it still is no proof that Ayuba kept the appointment with her or that he pushed her.”

I was quiet for a few moments. Although she said it was hypothetical, it was obvious that to me that she knew some secret which was troubling her. Yet, she wanted to protect somebody. Was it her mother or Nagoth?
“If I were in your shoes, Maria, I would hand over the letter to the Police, even if they have closed the case. If there is anything to uncover, they will do so. But even if they don’t act on it, you would have done your lawful duty. Otherwise, you may be suppressing useful information.”
“I thought you might say something like that,” said Maria, with a deep sigh. “But what if I am in love with Ayuba and I don’t want him to feel that I have betrayed him by going to the Police? Couldn’t I confront him with the letter and hear what he has to say, first? She was starting to get really worked up about this so-called hypothetical story of hers. I wondered about the identity of the person she was trying to protect.
“Maria, if Ayuba did push Amina off the cliff and you confronted him with such evidence, as the purported letter, it could be dangerous for you. If he has killed before to shut somebody up, he will do so again.”
“But if he loved me, he would explain everything to me,” said Maria, still pouting.
I could see that she had already made up her mind to confront the person that she was protecting. She only needed me to back up her decision. But that, I could not do. Working with the story at hand, it was a dangerous step.

“Why don’t you tell me the whole story, maybe I could offer more concrete advice?” I prompted.
“Well you see, it was yesterday. I heard a noise in my room, like a rat scurrying around. It had disturbed me, all through the night. So, I decided to search for it. I went over to my chest of drawers and … I …” she suddenly clamped her hand over her mouth.
“What is it?” I asked.
She looked frightened. “I don’t think that I should tell you any of this, Mr. Simpson. I think I should go now.” She stood up and adjusted her skirt.
I reached out and held her left hand. She seemed so confused and scared.
“You can confide in me, Maria.” I stood up. She looked at me with those bewitching and beautiful eyes. We stood in close proximity and maybe that was what made touching her not such a good idea. A pulsating stream of electricity ran through me, as we held hands. I think she felt it too. I could not tell if I drew her into my arms or if she walked into them. We were suddenly in each other’s arms and in her eyes I gleaned a need to be comforted. I didn’t know what was troubling her but it had her completely unsettled. I yielded to a sudden impulse. I lowered my head and kissed her waiting lips. Her lips parted as mine met them.


About the Author:

John Ukah is a seasoned banker and Associate of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ACMR). He is a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, where he was listed as University Scholar. He also holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA).



Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
My name is John Ukah. I am a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, Benin City. I am a banker and an Associate of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ACMR). I wrote my first book (Murder at Midnight) with a pen.
How did you realize you wanted to write?
I have always kept a personal journal. There was no conscious decision to be a writer. Writing has always been a part of me.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Books by Stephen King, James Patterson, Jeffery archer, John Grisham, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, and Dean Koontz.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?
I won’t change anything at all.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The hardest thing is making time or space for my writing. I work in a bank. Life happens and other things distract or compete for my time.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am working on a detective thriller. It is a testimony on the bogey of love-life amidst confusion and value misjudgements. It affirms the point of duty on young men and women to make the right choices with their eyes open. The story is a saga of love, pitiful criminalities, investigations, assumptions and deceits.
What book are you reading now (or the last book you read)?
I am reading Igoni Barrett’s ”Love is power, or something like that”.
If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would spend the day with Mrs. Marshall and find out all she knows about the people around me. She has a knack of finding out an awful lot about people. She keeps an ear to the ground.
Has your career as a banker and business man influenced your writing or the stories you tell?
It gives my stories a certain hue because I meet people from all walks of life in the course of my banking and business interactions.
Favorite food?
I don’t have any. I am not a finicky eater.
Favorite Movie?
‘Limitless’ featuring Bradley Cooper.
Last song you listened to:
Smokey ‘Changing All The Time’
Dragons or unicorns?
Dragons
Superpower of choice?
Invisibility
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn't so?
Some people think ALL murder mysteries are the same.

What is the most important thing that people DON'T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?
All murder mysteries are NOT the same. Authors have signatures. The storytelling style and characters offer variety and excitement.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I invite the readers to enjoy the rich insights provided by the intriguing gallery of characters, and the interesting dynamics between them, which is at the core of this whodunit thriller.
How is the best way for readers to connect with you and learn more about your books?
Facebook: www.facebook.com/john.ukah Twitter:@JohnUkah


Thank you John for answering my questions! I hope ya'll enjoyed reading the excerpt and John's answers.

Will you be adding Murder at Midnight to your TBR? Any other questions for John? Let me know below!




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