Book Title: A Turbulent Peace
Author: Paul Walker
Publication Date: July 2022
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Page Length: 305 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Following the armistice, Mary Kiten, a volunteer nurse in northern France, is ready to return
home to England when she receives a surprise telegram requesting that she report to Paris.
The call comes from her Uncle Arthur, a security chief at the Peace Conference.
Within minutes of arriving at the Majestic Hotel in Paris, Mary hears a commotion in the
street outside. A man has been shot and killed. She is horrified to earn that the victim is her
uncle. The police report the attack as a chance robbery by a known thief, who is tracked
down and killed resisting arrest.
Mary is not convinced. Circumstances and the gunshot wound do not indicate theft as a
motive. A scribbled address on Arthur’s notepad leads to her discovery of another body, a
Russian Bolshevik. She suspects her uncle, and the Russian, were murdered by the same
To investigate further, Mary takes a position working for the British Treasury, headed by J M
But Mary soon finds herself in the backstreets of Paris and the criminal underworld.
What she discovers will threaten the foundations of the congress.
This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited
Universal Link: mybook.to/ATurbulentPeace
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Paul lives in a village 30 miles north of London where he is a full-time writer of fiction and
part-time director of an education trust. His writing in a posh garden shed is regularly
disrupted by children, a growing number of grandchildren and several dogs.
Paul writes historical fiction. The William Constable series of historical thrillers is based
around real characters and events in the late sixteenth century. The first two books in the
series – “State of Treason” and “A Necessary Killing”, were published in 2019. The third
book, titled “The Queen’s Devil”, was published in the summer of 2020.
Travel forward a few hundred years from Tudor England to January 1919 in Paris and the
setting for Paul’s latest book, “A Turbulent Peace”. The focus of the World is on the Peace
Conference after WW1 armistice. Add a dash of Spanish Flu, the fallout from the Russian
Revolution, and you have a background primed for intrigue as nations strive for territory,
power and money.
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/PaulWalkerbooks
I slowed in the foyer, gasping to catch my breath. Two men stopped their conversation and
stared. Other eyes were on me as I crossed the foyer, up a few marble steps, and down a
corridor to room number 28. I knocked and waited a couple of seconds before trying the door
handle. It was open. I edged into the room, calling his name. His bedroom door opened, and
John came out hoisting up braces over his shirt.
‘Mary, what is it?’
‘Please John… please come with me. It’s urgent. I’ll explain on the way.’ I picked up the
khaki jacket hanging over the back of a chair and handed it to him. ‘You’ll need your
overcoat as well.’
‘Where… just a minute. Wait.’
Too slow. I grabbed his arm and pulled him. Desperation must have shown on my face
because he submitted to my urging, slammed his door shut and wrestled with his coat as he
followed. He caught up and matched my steps as we arrived at the exit.
‘Where are we going?’
‘It’s only a few minutes away.’
‘What about him?’
‘In trouble – I think. Come on.’ I tugged at his arm, and we broke into a run.
We stopped by a haberdashery before the junction with Rue Lauriston.
‘Now, tell me what’s going on,’ he said.
‘I think a plan has been laid to harm Mr Keynes in some way.’
‘Harm him – how?’
‘I’m not sure.’ I grabbed his coat and guided him towards the shop window. ‘I’ve seen a
group of men… they seemed to be conspiring… to lure him….’
‘You’re not making a lot of sense, Mary.’
The shop was still open, and we were too conspicuous in the light. ‘We need to move into the
shadows. Shall we - can we pretend we are a couple?’
‘My pleasure.’ He smiled and crooked his elbow, allowing me to slip in a gloved hand. ‘Sir
Basil told me about your meeting this morning.’ I started to respond but stopped myself, and
all that escaped my mouth was a puff of air. Now was not the time. I inclined my head as an
encouragement to move on, and we strolled down the street until the doorway in Rue
Lauriston came into view. I stood with my back to the wall, grabbed the lapels of John’s
overcoat and pulled him closer.
‘Not too close; I need to be able to see the other side of the street.’
‘We need to make this convincing,’ he whispered in my ear. I gave him a playful punch on
the chest. ‘Seriously, Mary, are we talking mortal danger here or some form of practical
‘It’s not a practical joke. Wait…’ I noticed two figures walking this way on the other side of
the street. One had a long, loping gait that I was sure belonged to Keynes. ‘He’s coming.’
I peered around the other side of John. I couldn’t see either of the hard men.
‘Don’t look behind you. Another ten seconds, and we’ll cross the road and follow him.’
It was the blond young man with Keynes. They were sharing a joke. Animated. Close. Then,
I think I understood.
‘Come on, let’s go.’ I took John’s hand and crossed the road. We were only fifteen paces
behind Keynes as they headed for the door in Rue Lauriston. Blond man slowed, searched in
his pocket and produced a key; smiled, put the key in the door.
‘Stop!’ My voice; harsh, discordant, unexpected, in the night air.
Keynes turned and stared, open-mouthed. Blond man froze, looked at me, glanced left, then
right. I let go of John’s hand, walked to Keynes, started to speak - and felt rather than heard
the noise – a crack like a whiplash; thin; fierce; brutal. A gunshot. Was I hit? I sensed
something on the back of my neck, my shoulders. I turned slowly, all motion sluggish and
deliberate. John had fallen, crumpled on the cold paving, mouth wide, shouting; surprised.
The noise was faint, distant. I knelt and stretched out my hand, not quite reaching him.
Then, a sudden rush of movement, feeling and hearing. Too quick. Too loud. Blood. I had
blood on my hand from John’s wound. Voices shouted. John said something. ‘Gun.’ His gun
was in its leather holster. I unfastened it, took the gun, flicked the catch. Then, still kneeling,
I swivelled to my right. He was there, one of the hard men, a dark shape, aimed - at me. I
pulled the trigger and fired; once, twice, three times. He fell.
I stood. Keynes was motionless. His blond companion ran. Another man stepped out of the
shadows and followed him. A dozen yards back in the other direction, a man was on the
ground, arms outstretched, and one leg bent under the other. Had I shot and killed him? Me?
I heard footsteps behind. People edged closer, peered at the body. I closed my eyes and
clenched my fists to clear my mind so that I could tend John’s wound. He was holding his
right shoulder. I knelt and moved his hand. He drew a hard breath and grimaced. The injury
was high in his shoulder, and it looked as though the bullet may have broken a bone.
Thankfully, there was an exit wound and a fair chance the injury would be clean and free
from infection. I lifted my head and shouted, ‘Docteur. Hopital. Rapidement,’ to anyone who
would listen. I would have to staunch the bleeding, but what was I to use?
‘John, help is coming. First, I will have to put something on your wound.’ He nodded his
head and gritted his teeth. ‘If I can stop the bleeding, you will mend.’
I stood, unbuttoned my coat, then lifted my skirt and tugged at my petticoat. No, that
wouldn’t do. I scrabbled in my bag and retrieved a knife. I cut and tore until the bottom half
of my petticoat was free. More cutting until I had lengths of cloth I could use to wrap his
shoulder. I pulled at the sleeve of his overcoat. No good, I couldn’t do it alone.
‘Help me, Mr Keynes… please.’
Keynes’ body seemed to shudder with surprise at my words. He took off his coat, threw it on
the ground and lowered himself on to one knee, so he was able to tug at John’s overcoat and
jacket sleeves while I supported his shoulder. After much painful pulling and yelling, I was
able to get at the injured shoulder and could see the exit wound.
‘Good news, John. It’s a clean injury.’ He attempted a smile that didn’t quite make it. I
looked at Keynes. ‘Brandy or whisky?’ He nodded, produced a small silver hip flask. I
dribbled contents on the entry and exit wounds, then handed it to John. He gulped three or
four mouthfuls before I prised it from his fingers and returned to Keynes. Then, it was a
question of wrapping as tightly as I could around John’s shoulder while trying to minimise
I finished by tying a rough sling to hold his injured arm. I checked my handiwork, kissed him
on the forehead and announced, ‘Bravely done, John. That should do the trick.’