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Gobbelino London & a Scourge of Pleasantries – Chapter Two

We’ve got about a day before the book turns our world – and us – inside out.
We’ve totally got this. I hope.

Edit: A Scourge of Pleasantries has been out for a while now, obviously. So while this means you don’t get to experience the magic of pre-ordering, when the title pops up all unexpected and smug-like on your ereader on launch day, it does mean you can grab your copy in ebook or paperback from your favourite retailer now. Happy reading!

Lovely people, it’s almost launch day for Gobbelino London & a Scourge of Pleasantries! Have you grabbed your pre-order yet? It’s only 99p for the ebook until midnight Thursday (UK time, and it probably won’t be as accurate as that, but, you know. Around there) then it’ll be back up to full price, so grab it while you can!

Of course, you might not yet be convinced that you want to read about a feline PI and his human sidekick. That’s okay. I understand. Which is why you can read the first chapter here, then pop back to read chapter two below.

Happy reading, lovely people!

“What’ve we got?”

“Tigers. Snakes. Alligators. Tears in the skin of the universe.” Susan shrugged. “I think I saw a kraken in the sink, too.”

Find a missing book. That was the job the woman in the Doc Martens gave us.

Easy money, right?

Only now it seems she’s actually an ancient, powerful sorcerer, and the book is a Book of Power that doesn’t want to be found.

It wants to tear reality apart at the seams, and it’ll use anyone it can to do it.

So now we’ve got one spectacularly displeased sorcerer, a hungry, still-missing book, a dentist with bad hygiene, and a neighbourhood having some reality issues to deal with.

Plus about a day before the book turns our world – and us – inside out.

We’ve totally got this.

I hope.

GOBBELINO LONDON BOOK ONE excerpt cats snark urban fantasy cozy mystery funny kim m watt

Gobbelino London & a Scourge of Pleasantries

Chapter Two – Money for Nothing

“Someone’s here,” I said. They couldn’t be going anywhere else, surely. Not with that old money scent. I mean, I’m not saying our clients are loaded, because they aren’t, but the visitor didn’t smell like the sort of person who went to woo-woo doctors, or as if they’d be employing Mrs Smith’s tarot-reading and crystal-ball-gazing expertise. And unless someone had a rich relative come to gloat at them, we were the only other destination in the building.

“You recognise them?” Callum put an old receipt in his book to mark his place and swung his overlong legs off the desk, already reaching for the cricket bat in the corner. That’s the sort of clientele we have. Not old money.

“No. Someone … I don’t know. Something’s off.” As I spoke, there was a sharp knock on the door. It was a no-nonsense, let’s-get-on-with-things knock. We didn’t have frosted glass in the door, like in those PI shows on the TV, because the building mixed residential and business. So it was a crappy hollow door like any other, not even a peephole to check on things through, and the knocking was clear and immediate. For no reason I could explain, I suddenly wished Callum had locked it again after Mrs Smith had left, and that we could just sit here still and silent, unanswering, until the unseen visitor gave up.

“Come in,” Callum called, giving me a puzzled look. I was a bit puzzled myself. The fur on my spine was rippling like the visitor was bringing a terrier in with them, and my nose was full of the sticky musk of that perfume even before the door opened. It felt like it was clawing its way down my throat and through my sinuses, drowning everything else, swallowing every other scent. I didn’t like it, really didn’t like it, but I couldn’t have said why any more than I could have said why pickled eggs fill me with horror.

It’s a thing, okay? And I will never understand why Callum insists on having them every time we go to the pub for curry night. The results of that particular combination are truly disastrous in a small office, too, which does nothing to endear them to me.

The handle turned, and we both stared at the door as if expecting something monstrous to jump through. I’ve seen plenty of monstrous things. Callum has too, in fact, but what we saw in the early days he probably put down to withdrawal or a bad trip or something. We don’t talk about that stuff. Some memories are best left where they are.

Callum does see things other humans don’t, though. He has magic in his skinny bones somewhere, and he accepts a talking cat without question, as well as the fact that the only reason other cats don’t talk to him is that they’ve got nothing to say. And while we don’t seek them out, when certain other aspects of magical Folk surface, he just goes with it. That kind of says everything that needs to be said about his level of comfort with the – for humans –  unusual. And probably quite a lot about his ability to fit into normal human society, too.

But it wasn’t a monster at our door, which should have felt like more of a relief than it did. It was a woman with rain beaded in her thick dark hair and a dubious look on her face. She looked at the sign on the door, which proclaims G & C London, Private Investigators, in gold lettering on a black plaque. It’s classy. Callum got it in return for helping a printer move house. Although, admittedly, it looks a bit out of place on the stained door with its splintered, roughly repaired bottom (another unhappy client kicked it), and might give people a slightly skewed impression of our base of operations. Her gaze shifted from the plaque to Callum, who still had one hand on the cricket bat, and to me sitting straight upright on the edge of the desk.

“Mr London?” she said. “Gobbelino London?”

“Callum,” Callum said.

“I was told to look for Gobbelino London,” she said.

“He’s my partner,” Callum said. He refuses to call me boss, even though I’m blatantly the senior figure around here. “Business partner,” he added, rather unnecessarily, I thought.

She obviously realised she was dealing with the junior business partner, because she said, “Can I talk to him?”

“I’m afraid not,” Callum said. “Gobbelino doesn’t deal with people directly. He’s very reclusive.”

“I see.” She sounded unconvinced, and looked again at the plaque, as if to reassure herself she was in the right place. Callum shoved his paperback under a flyer for a car boot sale, which wasn’t exactly a great leap upward in the image we were projecting.

“We work all cases together,” he said. “Whatever you tell me, you tell him.”

True enough, since I was sitting right there, breathing that heavy perfume and trying to get the hair on my back to calm down. It wouldn’t. My tail was starting to go now. Why? She was right there in front of me, just some human in skinny jeans and a quilted coat who’d slipped with the perfume bottle. Maybe she forgot to shower this morning or something. She didn’t look like the sort of person who forgot much, though.

She sighed. “Alright. I suppose.” She came in, closing the door behind her, and glanced at me again. For just a moment I thought her eyes were wrong, then the thin grey light of the afternoon outside hit them and they were perfectly human, blue as … something blue. Periwinkles, or whatever. Or is that a kind of shellfish? I don’t know. I’m not good with flowers. Or shellfish, although I like a nice mussel when I can get one.

“Please have a seat,” Callum said, waving unnecessarily at the sole chair on her side of the desk.

She did, inspecting it before she sat down like she thought there might be the previous occupant’s bodily fluids still decorating it. Rude. We might run a slightly rough ship (through no fault of our own, I might add), but it’s a clean one. And that one time the guy bled everywhere we replaced the chair, anyway. And it was totally not our fault.

“How can I help?” Callum asked, steepling his fingers. He probably thought it made him look serious and mature, but it just made him look like he was about to play that kids’ game – you know the one. Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, down it comes and crushes all the people. Or whatever. Although probably no one plays that anymore. You lose track over the course of a few lifetimes.

The woman folded her hands in her lap. Her jacket was open, and the jumper underneath looked soft and expensive, like it’d pill under your claws and collect cat hair like mad. It made my paws itch. “Are you sure I can’t talk to Gobbelino?”

“This is how we work, I’m afraid, Ms …?”

“Ms Jones will do,” she said. Callum didn’t question it. Lots of people don’t use their real names when they come in. No skin off our chins. Or tongues, whatever. We’re interested in who the customer pays us to be interested in, not the customer themselves. So she could call herself the High Ruler of the Purple Ascot Ponies and we’d still take the case. She glanced at me again, her face expressionless, and I returned her gaze flatly. “Alright,” she said. “I was told Gobbelino London was the one to talk to, but if this is how it works . . .”

Callum opened one of those big yellow notepads, put her name and date at the top of a page, and said, “Whenever you’re ready.”

She sighed. “Something has been stolen from me. A book. A family heirloom.”


“To me, yes. Very much so.”

“Any idea who might have taken it?”

She tapped her fingers on the back of her other hand. “My ex-husband. There’s no way anyone else would have known where it was.”

“So you’d like us to confirm he has it?”

“I want you to get it back.”

“Um.” Callum bounced the end of the pen on the notepad. “Request he give it back, you mean?”

“No. I don’t want you to talk to him. In fact, I explicitly forbid you from making contact with him. I want you to steal it back.”

Callum and I exchanged glances, and I arched my eyebrow whiskers slightly. She explicitly forbade us? A) weird, and b) no one forbids a cat anything. It just doesn’t work. That’s like a law of the universe. Although my tail was still so pouffed out it was starting to ache, which gave me an uneasy feeling that if anyone could forbid a cat something, she might just be able to. Somehow. I wished I could get through the stink of that perfume to what was underneath.

Callum scratched his chin, stubble rasping under his bitten nails. “Well, we can’t just go around stealing—” He broke off as the woman took a fat envelope out of her bag and set it on the desk, opening the top. I craned around to see, and, yeah. Stuffed with notes. My colour vision’s a bit wonky, but the size said they weren’t fivers.

“The book is not – and can never be – his. I want it back. I do not wish to involve the police. I do not want to know details. And I insist that you do not contact him in any way. I will pay well for the inconvenience. Can you handle that?”

Callum tore his gaze off the envelope. “Ms Jones,” he started, and she put another envelope on the desk.

“In there you will find details of the book, photos of my ex-husband, and specifics of where he works and lives. All you have to do is find the book and hold it for me until I contact you.” She tapped the envelope of money. “This is a 25 percent deposit. The rest will follow once I have my property.”

Twenty. Five. Percent. There was at least a couple of months’ rent in that envelope alone. Salmon and roast chicken and clotted cream, here we come.

“That’s rather over our normal fees, Ms Jones,” Callum said. I glared at him. Old Ones take him. We were going to have to have words regarding the fact that sometimes overcharging is absolutely fine. Like, for instance, when the client wants to give you money. Not that it was exactly a problem that had come up before, admittedly.

She shrugged. “Call it a bonus. The money is not an issue. Getting my book back as quickly as possible is. I’d like you to prioritise this case over all others.” She glanced around, and I could hear the if you have them as clearly as if she’d said it aloud. Rude, but accurate.

Callum didn’t answer right away, and I examined the woman. She had fine features, nothing extraordinary. Long fingers with silver rings scattered on them, and small silver stars glittering in her ears. She carried herself like someone who knew she didn’t need permission to take up space, and like she’d be having words with anyone who suggested otherwise. She was wearing high Doc Marten boots with extra buckles that didn’t quite go with the quilted coat, which was the sort of understated casual that screamed Hunter wellies and hunting parties. Her handbag was monogrammed and cavernous enough she could have been carrying one of those yappy little dogs in it. She wasn’t, thankfully. Or not that I could tell. I couldn’t smell anything under that cloud of musky perfume, and it still felt like a smokescreen. Scentscreen? I sneezed, and she glanced at me, eyes narrowed. Not a cat person, clearly.

“Is there anything we should know?” Callum asked finally. “That’s a lot of money for a book. Even a family heirloom.”

“He doesn’t sleep with a machete under his pillow, if that’s what you mean,” she said. “And the book’s not filled with recipes for crystal meth.”

Callum gave a strangled sort of snort, then managed to get himself under control. “Well, Ms Jones, you have a deal.” He extended a hand over the table and she looked at it, then took it and locked gazes with him.

“Don’t read the book,” she said. “It will be in a wooden box, as described, so just leave it in there. Don’t take it out of the box. In fact, don’t even open the box. It’s private.”

Callum frowned. “Of course not.”

“I mean it,” she said. “I’ll know if you do.”

What, was she going to fingerprint the thing? But Callum just nodded and said, “No problem.”

She nodded back, short and abrupt, and let go of his hand, then got up and plucked one of the business cards from the cracked holder on the desk (they were printed in neat black lettering on matte white card. Classy stuff, just like the sign. And from the same printer. It had been a big move, and a rather urgent one). “I’ll call you in a few days.”

“Is your number in here?” Callum asked, tapping the envelope. “In case we have questions?”

“No,” she said, and let herself out the door, pulling it shut in a swirl of chilly, musky air. We listened to her boots fade down the corridor, then Callum went and checked she was actually gone.

“You too, huh?” I asked, trying to groom my fur back into place.

“That was odd, right?” he said, coming back to the desk and tipping the money out to count it.

“Dude, my kitty senses are on fire,” I said.

“Any thoughts?”

“None,” I said. “That perfume just drowned everything. I can still smell it. I mean, she seemed pretty well human. But that whole outfit was so … perfect. Or almost perfect. Like she was trying to look like the polo set but didn’t quite have everything for it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe that was just her dressing down to appease the commoners. Maybe she’s a rich eccentric with a disproportionate affection for old books.”

Very disproportionate,” he said, stacking the notes in front of him. There was more there than we’d made in the last month. Hell, the last six months.

“Well, never look a Trojan horse in the foot, or whatever.”

He frowned at the neat pile of notes. “Mouth. And maybe. But this can’t be legit, G. Not this amount of money.”

“Not up to us to decide that. She wants her book back. Seems pretty straightforward to me.”

He poked the money like it might bite, then sighed. “I suppose. You want some salmon?”

“Thought you’d never ask.” I thought about it for a moment. “What the hell’s a Trojan mouth, then?”


We ate well that night. Callum went out and bought fresh salmon for me, plus some cat milk and a handful of shrimp, although our neighbourhood being what it is, they weren’t exactly straight off the boat. They’d probably been in the corner shop’s freezer for about three years, if I was realistic about it. I didn’t care. Yeah, I might have a bad stomach in the morning, but what’s life if you can’t spoil yourself now and then?

Callum didn’t join me – he went across the hall and invited Mrs Smith out for a slap-up dinner down the local Chinese. I’d have gone, but I don’t like it there. They get really huffy about me coming in, and act like I’m going to shed on the buffet. To be fair, I probably would do exactly that if Callum would just look the other way for long enough, but that’s only because they were anti-cat first. Cute of him to take our dotty but devoted neighbour out, I know, but you’d think he’d have a human closer to his own age he could splash the cash on. He seemed pretty disinterested in most people, though. Fair enough. Each to their own, and more shrimp money for me. Plus, you never know how a new human’s going throw out the delicate balance of a partnership.

I scoffed salmon and shrimp and fell asleep with my belly comfortably full, curled on top of the microwaveable cushion I’d liberated from a pet store last winter, promising Callum it was reject stock I’d found in the bin. It was soft and warm and glorious, and I barely looked up when he came home in a whiff of cigarette smoke and spiced sauces, and unfolded the armchair.

“Good night?” I mumbled at him.

“I went back to the buffet four times,” he said, and yawned. “I ate seven spring rolls and two servings of deep-fried ice cream.”

“Awesome,” I said, and fell asleep again.

In my dreams, the musky perfume crept around me like a fog, yellow and poisonous, and someone walked just out of sight, their boot heels hard and dull on the tattered ground. As much as I ran, I couldn’t catch them. And behind me the world crumbled to darkness.

GOBBELINO LONDON BOOK ONE excerpt cats snark urban fantasy cozy mystery funny kim m watt

Lovely people, who’s your favourite detective or investigator – one two legs, four, or other? Let me know below!

I hope you enjoyed that sneak peek into the world of Gobbelino London, PI. If it tickles your fancy, just jump to your favourite retailer and get some more snarky feline trouble in your life!

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Happy reading!

a scourge of pleasantries, books, chapter one, Gobbelino, Gobbelino London, new releases, urban fantasy

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