Death in Malta
by Rosanne Dingli
Today we bring you an excerpt from Death in Malta. This is the first in our special feature on author Rosanne Dingli. Keep an eye out next month for another of Rosanne's books.
Disillusioned and depressed, Gregory Worthington sets off from Perth in search of inspiration. He arrives in Malta full of resolve to reignite a flagging writing career. Quaint surroundings, the potential of a love affair, and the antics and warm-heartedness of villagers he befriends fuel his imagination, but his writing brings him more disquiet and confusion than he could anticipate.
What is inspiration, and what is the reality behind the disappearance of little Censinu Mifsud, a ten year-old boy who was never found? There is a twenty year-old secret in the village, one Worthington resolves to unravel, to turn into a novel, despite warnings from a retired doctor and the antagonistic parish priest. They are ambiguous about his involvement with a young Maltese woman, but are very clear about one thing: the author has no business nosing around his old rented farmhouse, looking for clues and disturbing the past.
Poignant and moving, punctuated by comical scenes and passionate interludes, Death in Malta is a powerful novel of love and loss, disappointment and dislocation – curiosity and consequences.
Why was Gregory Worthington always reminded of the fact it was Friday by the arrival of Katie at his front door? She marked the passing of the weeks, her presence a calming influence. She was hardly needed so often. The house was clean except for a faint dusting of white limestone powder from the quarries.
Gregory let her in with a nod, looking at the carefully ironed and folded pile of his own clothes in her basket. She had given his front door her usual strenuous knock, belying any forthrightness immediately he opened, by lowering her eyes and stepping past him lightly as he held the door open.
‘Today I wash the floors of the front rooms,’ she said. ‘And I take all rugs and mats onto the roof for a good shake.’
He nodded again: she knew best what needed doing. The tiny figure, with straight dark hair knotted sensibly at the nape of the neck, strode purposefully to the kitchen where the ritual assembly of cleaning materials, brooms, brushes and cleaning rags began.
Gregory would leave her to it and ensconce himself in the writing room, knowing they were safely out of each other’s way. She knew now not to disturb him or to offer to clean the wild incomprehensible mess that worsened with each day of writing. Balled up paper, perforated edges torn off computer pages, pencil sharpenings, and torn envelopes bearing unmistakable red and blue airmail edging littered the floor. The cardboard box Katie provided for his rubbish lay in a corner conspicuously empty, surrounded by badly-aimed paper balls.
He had hardly scribbled one line when the telephone started to ring, followed immediately by sharp rapping from the knocker on the front door. He knew Katie would not attend to either, so stood up reluctantly and picked up the phone first.
‘Thank you, thank you. I’ll come in on Monday,’ he said quickly into the receiver. A bookshop in Sliema had unearthed the book on architecture he was seeking. ‘Thank you, but there’s someone at my door.’
He put down the phone, regretting having to be so short with the obliging man on the other end, who had embarked on a lengthy explanation of how the book was found.
The insistent rapping was so like Katie’s mother’s he prepared himself mentally for a conversation during which he would be informed in no uncertain terms of certain procedures of housework or the organisation of clothes.
When he opened the door to the blinding sunlight in the lane, he saw the figure of a small female stranger, whose face was hidden by the brim of a large straw hat. She stood with her back to him, looking towards the top of the steep street, so he had to attract her attention, giving him the immediate feeling of being at a disadvantage.
‘Um – hallo? I mean … Good morning.’
The woman turned as if startled; as if it had not been her persistent rapping that brought him to his door. Large sunglasses obscured the small face, framed by perfectly cut shoulder-length red hair.
‘Good morning, Greg.’ She removed the glasses and looked bemusedly into his face.
Praise for the Book
"This is a novel of great power and imagery." ~ Diana M. Hockley
"Once there, he uncovers an unsolved mystery that becomes the basis for his new book." ~ Wendy K
"Death in Malta is a great read - I actually had trouble putting it down." ~ Ebook Week
About the Author
Sought by an international audience for prize-winning short stories and intricate novels, Rosanne Dingli has published fiction successfully for over 25 years. Most of her body of work is available in paperback and ebook.
This author's fiction centres around the classical Arts, such as painting, music, and literature. She also uses locations and their allure to anchor her stories and give them substance.
Rosanne is the author of a number of books, including The Hidden Auditorium, Camera Obscura, and According to Luke. She is now writing full-time after retiring from teaching in 2009. Her out-of-print short fiction and poetry is once more available in handy easy-to-read volumes that do not cost the earth.