Title Bail Up
Age and Genre Adult, Historical Mystery
Word Count 70,000
I am looking for a home for a historical murder mystery, “Bail Up”, complete 70,000 words.
In the 1860s, New South Wales had a bushranger problem. These bold knights of the road held up banks and bailed up travellers. They robbed gold escorts and raided homesteads. They were immortalised in song, story and painting. Except for Dan. He so badly wants to be notorious and have songs sung about him, but robbing gold escorts is a bit beyond him. He prefers to bail up travellers, on foot, who look like they won’t put up a fight. He has many cold nights and hungry days, but the police aren’t interested in him. No one wants the price that isn’t on his head. The only men chasing him are creditors.
Until a police sergeant is found stabbed to death, and the bloody footprints lead straight to Dan’s door. Now the police do want him: to hang for murder. His only chance of proving his innocence is to find the true killer. Armed with nothing but his wits– So he’s doomed. But maybe with the help of his new allies, Hannah, a young lady in search of adventure until her father’s money runs out, and Red, the world’s laziest stockhorse, he can avoid the police, find the killer and even earn a bit of notoriety along the way.
First 250 Words
The sun threw long shadows onto the road, striping the dirt with the narrow trunks of the trees. Dan crouched, waiting, listening for the sounds of wheels and hooves pounding that dirt. The land about was quiet, as if the weight of morning dulled sounds. There, the warble of a magpie, and there, a cow calling to its friends, and when he listened carefully, the nearby creek splashing over rocks.
“I need to piss.”
Dan looked at the man crouched beside him. “Right now?”
“Yeah, I’ve been waiting and waiting.”
He knew how this worked. As soon as Harry moved out of position, the coach would appear. If he told him to wait, the coach wouldn’t come. Dan pulled out his watch. Ten past five. Still? Possibly he’d forgotten to wind it.
“All right, but don’t leave your spot.”
“There’s no one to see you.”
“What about you and Joe?”
“If we were in camp, you wouldn’t care.”
“But we’re not, we’re on the road and mail coach is coming.”
If it hadn’t already been. Dan pushed his hat back and scruffed his hair. Down the road a bit, Joe sat staring off towards the hills. He couldn’t even hear this conversation.
“I’ll close my eyes,” Dan said.
Maybe that satisfied Harry, because he didn’t argue and there was a rustling as he moved about.
“Dan!” came Joe’s cry.
His eyes opened. There at the end of the road, where it came out of the hills, was a cloud of dust moving towards them.