Tuesday Thrillers – The Chalet by Catherine Cooper

I’m delighted to feature the exciting debut crime thriller, The Chalet, by author Catherine Cooper. Isn’t the cover eye-catching?

Blurb

French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 years later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

An exciting new debut for anyone who loves Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, and C.L. Taylor

Read an extract

December 1998, La Madière, France

I hate these kind of people. They come out here on holiday once a year with their brand shiny new Salomon this and K2 that and think they know it all. They’re so annoying. They know nothing compared to me.

‘So we want some virgin tracks today. Back country. Somewhere no one else goes. Somewhere a bit chal­lenging. Know what I mean?’ says one, his accent plummy and entitled.

Yes, I know what you mean. You think you’re it, just because you went on a few trips with your posh school and now your smart City job or whatever pays enough for you to come out skiing once or twice a year. Well, let me tell you, you’re not. That’s why you have to pay someone like me who actually knows what they’re doing to come with you as soon as you venture off-piste. For all your flash gear and trying to use the right lingo, you know nothing about the mountains. Nothing.

But of course I don’t say that. These are my clients, after all. Instead I say: ‘Yup, no problem. I know exactly the place.’

I smile, rictus-like, and answer their pointless, predict­able questions as we take the various lifts up to the very top. Yes, it’s fun living in a ski resort. Yes, I live here all year round. I lie about how long I’ve been here – I always do – that’s none of their business. No, I don’t have any plans to go back to the UK, etc., etc., etc. I love the mountains. They are my home. And my job would be almost perfect – if only I didn’t have to deal with clients.

It must be around a Force 8 wind as we get out at the top. The less confident of the two – I can’t be both­ered to learn their names – pulls a face as the wind slams into us. ‘Bloody hell, it’s freezing!’ he yelps. The other one, maybe a few years older, but it’s difficult to tell the way they are so swaddled up in scarves, claps him on the back and booms, ‘Don’t be such a girl! This is what it’s all about!’

I snap my goggles on, pull my hat down over my ears and click my boots into my skis. My two clients are still faffing around with their gloves. Hurry up! I scream inwardly. I’m freezing.

‘Hey,’ shouts someone in a logoed jacket, one of the annoying tour reps who seem to change pretty much every year, schussing to a stop next to me. ‘You taking these guys down the couloir?’

‘That’s the plan,’ I reply, not that it’s any of his business.

He pulls a face. ‘I hope they know what they’re doing.’ And I hope you know what you’re doing, is what he actually means.

I roll my eyes – he can’t tell as I am wearing my goggles. ‘I wouldn’t be taking them if I didn’t think they were up to it,’ I snap. ‘I’ve done the risk assessment and they’ve signed all the correct forms.’

‘Hmm. Well, they’re my clients too and it’s a lot of paperwork and hassle for me if there’s an accident,’ he warns. Like I care about his paperwork.

‘Guys!’ the rep, I think he’s called Richard, calls to his clients, who are finally putting on their skis, thank Christ. ‘You be careful down there, OK?’

‘Right-ho!’ the older one yells. ‘We ready for the off?’

Just then, my business partner Andy turns up. Not for the first time, I wish I’d set up Skitastic on my own.

‘Why are you here?’ I ask. Checking up on me, no doubt.

‘My clients have decided to call it a day. Too cold, for them, apparently. Shall I come along with you?’

I’d much rather go on my own – I don’t want Andy babysitting me and picking holes in the way I do things – but even I know I can’t say that and still look like a reasonable person. So I shrug and say: ‘If you like. Makes no difference to me.’

And off we go.

The visibility is appalling. It was bad enough at the top, but once we’re over the back, the wind blasts directly into our faces. As I predicted, my two charges are barely up to the task. They both ticked boxes saying ‘confident black-run skiers’ on the forms – yeah right. It’s already clear that that isn’t true. I told them this was back country, but it isn’t really, luckily for them. I knew they wouldn’t be able to cope with anything properly hard­core. ‘Couloir Noir’, as it’s called, isn’t actually a couloir at all, it’s just a steep, narrow slope. Officially it’s off-piste, but it’s about as vanilla as off-piste can get. As long as you know where you’re going, like I do, you start at the top of the chairlift and you pop right back out at the bottom of the chairlift, no major deal. No hiking, no putting on skins. Nothing much to be alarmed about at all. But because it’s at the top of the glacier, these losers can boast about how they went ‘down a couloir off the back of the glacier’ when they get back to their pathetic little offices or university or wherever it is they go when they’re back at home, which is all they want. I know their type.

It’s no surprise to me that they don’t look like they’re enjoying it in any way. Andy has hung back a bit, saying ‘I’ll pick up any stragglers’ and left me leading the clients. As one of them snowploughs and picks their way down, the other one bolts past me, thinking he’s something special because he can go fast, whereas in reality he’s simply out of control. It’s not big or clever, it’s downright dangerous. Andy races past me and I shout, ‘Make that guy wait! He doesn’t know where he’s going!’ but my voice disappears into the howling wind.

‘This is trickier than I expected,’ says the slower one.

He’s trying to sound confident, but I can hear a wobble in his voice. I know I should say ‘You’re doing great,’ but I can’t bring myself to do that, because, well, he isn’t. Being nice is Andy’s remit, not mine. That’s the only reason I have a business partner, I’m not that good at the being friendly bit, while Andy is. I’m just here for the mountains; as far as I’m concerned, the clients are a necessary evil. Andy does the client stuff: the showing them Mont Blanc, the boasting about how the mountains are our office, the going on about how we have the best job in the world and all that. So instead of offering the struggling skier some platitude like Andy would (or lying, if you will), I turn away and simply say: ‘Follow my trail. Stay close.’

We catch up with the other guy, who has mercifully had the sense to wait, but after a brief chat about the importance of skiing within your limits I set off again, faster than I would normally like to in these conditions, to make sure I stay ahead of him. He is not going to out-ski me – I am clearly the better skier here by a mile, as well as being in charge. They should be behind me, following my trail, like I told them. Why would they book me if they’re not going to do as they’re told?

Totally unhelpfully, Andy has disappeared again, who knows how far down the slope. I make a few more turns, faster this time to make sure the clients can’t overtake me again, and then look back to see where they are.

And by the time I do that, they’ve both disappeared.

It sounds exciting, doesn’t it? If you want to know what happens next? You can get a copy of the book here:

The Chalet is published by Harper Collins – RRP £7.99 with the e-book currently available on Amazon for 99p in the Monthly Kindle Deal. https://smarturl.it/The-Chalet 

About Catherine

Author bio

I am a freelance journalist living in the South of France with my husband and two teenage children. We moved from London in 2009 so that the children could grow up bilingual and we could all ski more, and to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.

I learned to ski on a school trip when I was 14 and have loved it ever since. The Chalet is set in a fictional ski resort in the French Alps which is a kind of amalgam of some I have been lucky enough to visit over the years. 

The Chalet is my first published full-length novel, though I have also written several (unpublished) thrillers for teens and a (what used to be called) chick lit novel set in TV production.

The Chalet is published by Harper Collins – RRP £7.99 with the e-book currently available on Amazon for 99p in the Monthly Kindle Deal. https://smarturl.it/The-Chalet 

Twitter

Facebook

www.catherinecooperauthor.com   

Thanks so much for popping in to talk to us today, Catherine. I hope your book flies!


Published by Bookouture on 23rd November. Now on preorder: Amazon: https://geni.us/B08GKRRPWHCover

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