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Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café by Richard Dee
Andorra Pett has left her old life behind. But has she only swapped one set of problems for another?
Andorra’s on the rebound. Her only thought is to get a world away from her cheating ex. With her best friend Cy in tow, she invests her meagre savings in a run-down cafe. Never mind that it’s on a space station orbiting Saturn, or that Andorra is accident-prone and can’t make toast without a recipe and a video. Surely running a cafe can’t be that hard, right?
Unfortunately, her dreams of a quiet life are not to be, she’s bought into a mystery, trouble is just around the corner.
When the body of the previous owner is found in the freezer, Andorra’s plans hit some turbulence. She quickly finds that the dead man had enough information about the darker side of station life to embarrass a lot of people, they all want to know what he knew. And she’s in the way.
Andorra needs to find out where he’s hidden his book of secrets. Before anyone else does.
One of local residents must know more than they are letting on. As the body count begins to rise, can Andorra turn her luck around in time to catch the murderer before they strike again?
After all, she might be the next victim.
The answer to this cozy mystery is out of this world!
A guest post by Andorra Pett.
The trouble with being famous is that you never get a minute’s peace. Even though most of what I’d done wasn’t on Earth, news travelled. The worst of it was, whenever they mentioned me, they had always got it wrong. Which meant wearing a lot of dark glasses and non-descript clothes whenever I ventured out in public. And having to explain what had really happened so many times.
In case you hadn’t worked it out, I’m Andorra Pett, but you can call me Andi.
There I was minding my own business, enjoying a quiet coffee in Greenwich when some strange man came over and sat at my table. He didn’t say hello, offer to buy me a coffee, or do anything remotely civilised.
“Are you Andorra Pett?” he said it as if being me was some sort of crime.
I looked at him, “what if I am?”
“Andorra Pett is supposed to be that wonderful crime fighter from Saturn,” he said. “If you were her, I’d ask you one thing, how do you do it?”
I sighed, ‘here we go again’ I thought. “Why do you want to know?”
“I’m a journalist, on the local web-news channel,” he said, “you used to have a shop around here, it’d be nice to get a bit of background.”
“I’m not talking about anything that might get me in trouble, including what happened on Saturn, Mars, and the Moon.”
“Fair enough,” he said. “I’d rather talk about what everyone else has ignored so far.”
That interested me, “And what’s that?”
“I want to know about the real Andorra, what you were like growing up.”
He was right, nobody had ever wanted to know that before. They were all about how I caught whoever, or was I frightened when such-and-such had happened? I hadn’t really wanted to talk to him, but this was different. It was my chance to set the record straight.
“OK,” I said, “get me another coffee and I’ll tell you my life story.”
He returned with a large cappuccino and placed a small tape recorder on the table. “Away you go,” he said, “from the beginning.”
I took a deep breath.
I’m Andorra Pett, the second daughter of Charles Wilson Pett and Magdalena Pett (nee Sloane). It sounds posh, well my father, bless him, was a diplomat and worked all over the place. Hence my name, it’s where he was stationed at the time, enough said! My older sister is called Argentia, not because dad couldn’t spell Argentina but because there was all that trouble. Which also saved her from being called Malvina; so maybe it was a lucky escape for her. She’s my big sister and I should love her but… that’s another story.
We grew up all over the world, moving around every year or so when I was young as dad’s posting changed. It meant that we had little education; we were just left to get on with it. My sister was five years older and like a lot of older sisters took delight in making me look stupid. For a long time, I never knew that you held both chopsticks in the same hand, it took me a while to forgive her for that one! The one constant in my life was Maisie, the daughter of dad’s assistant. She was the same age as me and we were inseparable, always in trouble and always laughing.
Then one day, the worst day of my life up to then, I must have been about seven, I was taken to a school. We had returned to London and the only school that would take me (and Maisie) at short notice was a convent. It was full of people who seemed to know each other. I was the strange girl, the one who didn’t know anything and didn’t fit in. I hated it at first; everyone was cleverer than me and knew all sorts of things. I had to sit still, be quiet and listen. I was so relieved at the end of the day.
When I found out I had to go back again, I was shocked, “but I’ve been to school,” I said. Argentia slapped me around the back of the head, “you’re going to have to go lots,” she laughed, “you’ll still be going when you’re sixty.”
“I’ll show you,” I tried to hit her but she danced away, “I’ll have learnt enough by the time I’m fifty, see if I don’t.”
“This is brilliant,” Marcus said, “don’t stop, we need more.”
I also found out that you couldn’t trust everything you heard, the other children would tell me things and when I repeated them at home I got shouted at or sent to my room with no tea. But then I discovered that all the bullying and nastiness could be stopped if you made people laugh. And if you made them laugh about you because you acted stupid, well that was even better, people suddenly wanted to be with me. I developed a way of hiding any knowledge I’d acquired by being silly.
But I did find out that I could draw and paint. Especially cartoons of teachers. That got me into lots of trouble, but it made me even more popular. Then, one day I was investigating the cellar of the house we were in and found a load of old paint tins. They were rusty and uninspiring but when I opened them the colours fascinated me. I played around, mixing them up and splashing them on the walls. I got permission and decorated my room, at first it was hard but as I practised it got easier.
Then it became a regular thing, I used to decorate my room every month or so, with things that I found in the cellars and sheds of the places we were living in. Rusty, half-filled tins of paint and old pieces of fabric I could cope with and make something from. I would hide away for days getting it right and then hold a grand opening, showing everyone my latest colour scheme.
I managed to amaze everyone, including myself, when I left school, I went to art college, where I learnt how to design clothes, dye fabrics and met my best mate Cy. Poor, long-suffering Cy, he’s still with me now, except he’s swapped making clothes for making cakes. Back then, we didn’t know how things would work out.
“I always wanted to open a clothes shop,” he told me, over a boozy lunch by the river. “How do you fancy it?”
To cut a long story short, AC Couture was born, Cy was tailor and cutter and I was the designer, Maisie was there too. We concentrated on fashion that was six months out of synch with everyone else; working on the theory that as you could never get any clothes for the season you were actually in; we might be able to make a living doing just that.”
I stopped to finish my coffee. Marcus was laughing, “that’s brilliant,” he said. “But if you were doing that, why head off to Saturn?”
That was the bit I didn’t really want to talk about, betrayal by your best friend and the love of your life was never pretty. Maybe it was a bit much, going so far away but I had wanted a new start. Anyway, it was a while ago, so much had happened. I was over it and had come to accept that it had led me to where I was now.
“Long story, I said, “and I’m not talking about that, let’s just say I had my reasons. I don’t think I want to say any more.”
“Fair enough,” he said, turning the recorder off. “Thank you, I’m glad I met you today and got the lowdown on the real you. Now I have to go.” He got up and walked away. He’d got what he wanted, now he was off. Story of my life.
“Make sure you tell everyone the truth,” I shouted at this departing back. “I’m just an ordinary girl, who ended up being in the wrong place at the right time.”
He waved his arm as he threaded his way through the tables, I wondered if his final article would be anything like what I had just told him. My shouted remark had made people look my way.
“Isn’t that Andorra Pett?” I heard one of them say.
Here we go again.
About the Author
Richard Dee is from Brixham in Devon. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then he went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.
He has also worked as an Insurance Surveyor, Lockmaster, Harbourmaster and Ships Pilot, taking over 3,500 vessels up and down the Thames, passing through the estuary, the Thames Barrier and Tower Bridge.
Since the publication of his first Science Fiction novel, Freefall, in 2013, Richard has written another twelve novels, a textbook and a selection of short stories. He has been featured in several anthologies, including 1066 Turned Upside Down, Connections and Tales from Deepest Darkest Devon.
He writes Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures and also chronicles the exploits of reluctant amateur detective Andorra Pett.
Richard is married with three adult children and five grandchildren.
Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi
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Thank you for featuring my book, and Andorra, on your blog. I hope everyone enjoyed finding out a little more about the real her.