The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.
As three more sex workers in the Black Country are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.
At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what at first looks like a tragic abandonment soon takes an even more sinister turn.
When another young woman goes missing, the two investigations bring the team into a terrifying, hidden world, and a showdown puts Kim’s life at risk as secrets from her own past come to light.
As Kim battles her own demons, can she stop the killer, before another life is lost?
Black Country: Christmas Day
Lauren Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen-storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid onto her bare feet dangling over the edge. The cold breeze nipped at her wiggling toes.
The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over. By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters from the pound shop and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection. From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.
Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean. Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and housed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.
There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.
But today a peace settled around the estate, giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queen’s Speech.
Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a glass of gin in her hand. Her one concession to the event was the line of tinsel wrapped haphazardly around her neck as she stumbled from the living room to the kitchen for a refill.
Lauren didn’t expect a present or a card any more. She had once mentioned the excitement of her friends. How they had enjoyed presents, laughter, a roast dinner, a chocolate-filled stocking.
Her mother had laughed and asked if that was the kind of Christmas she wanted.
Lauren had innocently nodded yes.
The woman had clicked the television to the Hallmark Channel and told her to ‘fill her boots’.
Christmas meant nothing to Lauren. But at least she had this. Her one piece of Heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.
She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.
How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?
She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan.
She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.
She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.
She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.
And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.
She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.
Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.
Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro, gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.
Lauren took a deep breath and exhaled. In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.
She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.
She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.
She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her.
This is a series of books that you really need to get reading if you haven’t started them already. And if you’re already a big Kim Stone fan, you can order Broken Bones by clicking on one of the following links below. I have no doubt whatsoever that it is going to be a bestseller.