Blind people should be able to listen to the Blind Sleuth Mysteries. Then there are all those who prefer listening to reading, they are many and can no longer be ignored. Of course the text-to-speech function is enabled on all the Kindle and Epub versions of my books, but listening to a “robot voice” is certainly not ideal. On the other hand, proper audiobooks read by professional speakers are very expensive to produce, and for a series with so many titles the investment would be prohibitive.
That’s why I was glad to find an intermediate solution in the form of Google’s “auto-narrated” books. With a little help from some very advanced technology (AI, anyone?) these productions do not sound soulless, they’re even astonishingly lively, although there are some issues that need to be solved “manually”. I hope to fine-tune those in due course.
These audiobooks have the advantage of being inexpensive, and I’m even offering three titles for free: D for Daisy, First Spring in Paris, and The Nightlife of the Blind. Listen to them and decide if you like the result.
1943: D for Daisy
World War II. After bombing Berlin in the winter of 1943-44, a Lancaster landed at its base in England and a member of the crew was found dead. His young wife concluded that he had been murdered. But Daisy Hayes was blind since birth, so who was going to listen to her? In the mayhem of the bombing campaigns, who even cared? That is why she had to find the murderer on her own.
1946: First Spring in Paris
In 1946 Daisy and her friend Beatrice decided to move to Paris, where some exciting developments were taking place: existentialism, free love and all-night American jazz in the cellar clubs on the Left Bank. But the one thing a blind sleuth didn’t expect, was to be pitted against a serial murderer, as she stumbled on a very disturbing crime scene.
1952: Honeymoon in Rio
In 1952 Daisy Hayes, blind since birth and newly wed to a pilot, took off to South America on her honeymoon. But an engine of the Super Constellation her husband was flying broke down: was it sabotage? They were grounded in Rio for repairs, and soon uncovered a murderous plot. In the end Daisy’s very life was threatened by an elusive arch-criminal.
1956: Cockett's last Cock-up
Inspector Cockett was due to retire, but then a corpse was found in a cell of his own police station. Inspector Manson, the colleague who had to investigate the case, seemed to think that he, Nigel, was the culprit. Just because he was the only person who had the key! So Nigel phoned Daisy Hayes, the only sleuth he knew who could solve the case.
1960: Murder on the High Sea
While doing a short stint as a masseuse on an ocean liner, Daisy Hayes had to deal once again with an impossible crime. A corpse was found floating on the open ocean ahead of the RMS Histria and retrieved from the water. Then it turned out to be the dead body of a first-class passenger. Impossible! Or not? Our blind sleuth couldn’t wait to find out.
1964: The Desiderata Stone
Daisy Hayes was a blind sculptress, invited to the Vatican Museums in 1964 to study archaeological artefacts by touch. In AD 64 a blind masseuse working at the baths in Rome overheard some important men plotting to set fire to the city and seize power. 1900 years later, Daisy uncovered her mysterious message from antiquity: the Desiderata stone.
1967: Blind Angel of Wrath
1967 in Swinging London, Daisy Hayes, blind sleuth extraordinaire, had to go looking for a fifteen-year-old hippie girl who had disappeared. But when she found her, she herself was taken prisoner by the girl’s kidnapper. So she had to free herself from the manacles of a sadistic rapist. A gruesome story, be warned.
1972: Berlin Fall
In 1972 Daisy had a patient who worked for MI6. And she was planning to visit Berlin with her old friend Margery, chemistry researcher at King’s College. Without even knowing it Marge had an indirect connection to a high-ranking communist party boss... Unwittingly the two ladies got mixed up in a dramatic spy plot that did not turn out the way the spymasters on both sides of the Wall had envisioned.
1984: The Nightlife of the Blind
It can be thrilling to meet an old friend by chance. In 1984, aged sixty-one, Daisy Hayes met her old classmate Janet, blind like her. But then Janet asked, “Remember the night Vicky died? I’ve always wanted to know: did you push her down the stairs?” Thus accused of murder, Daisy was forced to go rooting into a distant past, with shocking results.
1986: Daisy's Pushkin Duel
Christmas Eve of 1952, Daisy stumbled on a murder just being committed. She bumped into the culprit and the victim died in her arms. But at first the killer got away with it because the witness was blind. In 1986, during a stay in Zermatt with her old friend Beatrice, Daisy met him again, and that was when her “Pushkin Duel” finally came to a head.
1989: Daisy and Bernard
In the summer of 1989 the Iron Curtain was unravelling and Daisy Hayes had just retired. But then she was summoned by the police to testify about a baffling and gruesome murder. While they took her to Scotland Yard, the old blind sleuth reflected that, although she knew nothing about the case, it would be hard to prove her innocence without revealing the two murders she had committed—in a distant past.
1992: The Desiderata Gold
In 1992 Daisy Hayes got a letter from an archaeologist about a mysterious message that had been dug up in Rome. With Morag, her deaf friend from the ‘project’ in 1964, she set off for the Eternal City and went looking for an ancient gold cache, hoping to solve a new mystery, and even more to reconnect with Desiderata, her soulmate from antiquity.
AD 67: The Desiderata Riddle
The quest for Desiderata, started in Rome in 1964, now leads to the German town of Trier, where Daisy Hayes and bishop Contini team up again to continue their research. In AD 67 Desi’s friends the Christians went through yet another period of persecution, and the blind young woman found it hard to decide on who’s side she wanted to be and what she intended to do with her life. Would she find love?
AD 76: Desiderata's Lost Cause
In AD 76, at a time when the Church counted only a few thousand believers rather than untold millions, the first elected Pope was brutally murdered, and the very survival of the faith was at stake. But killing a man was not even a crime according to Roman law! Desiderata, professional “seeker of justice”, was entrusted with this daunting challenge: how to solve a murder case in a world where homicide is seen as a purely private matter.
1990's: Back to Africa
When Daisy visited her son in prison, Jonathan told her about an old man serving a life sentence for a crime he hadn’t committed, and begged his mother to look into it. The facts had taken place in Zambia long ago, when it was a British colony, so Daisy started her investigation among ex-colonials living in England. But soon she had to go looking for the disturbing truth in the African bush.
1990's: The Icarus Case
While Daisy and Darren were hanging out at a small airfield, tragedy struck the Icarus skydiving club: a parachute failed to open and one of their new friends fell to her death. So Daisy had to help the police solve an intractable mystery: how could her chute have been sabotaged, as they were always kept under lock and key in a special shed?