Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist blog tour @hkist @RedDogTweets

I’m delighted to be sharing an extract from Heleen Kist’s latest novel Stay Mad, Sweetheart as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Dylan Thomson from Red Dog Books for inviting me to take part.

Before I share the extract with you let’s take a look at what the book is about.

Stay Mad, Sweetheart by [Kist, Heleen]

BLURB

THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN INNOCENCE AND GUILT. AN EVEN FINER LINE BETWEEN JUSTICE AND REVENGE.
Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.
Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.
Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.

As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them.
But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?
A pacy suspense fiction novel with its feet firmly in the #MeToo era.

EXTRACT

1.

JUST ME, LAURA

 

A tear fell onto the page of my book in a star-shaped splotch. I wiped it with my thumb. The stationery cupboard’s dry, inky air tickled my throat as I sighed.

Those poor people.

The photocopier vibrated against my back, mirroring the movement of the novel’s train carriage, its heat evocative of the bodies pressed together, its persistent humming an echo of the stoic prayers uttered by the captives being transported to their final destination.

I hated to leave them, but my time was up. I waved the still damp page side to side and blew the coldest air that I could onto it. The translucent spot rippled the paper. I closed the book and held it to my chest, stroking its edges. It wasn’t the first one I’d ruined this way.

I heard giggling. The door clicked open. I froze. Restless rustling of fabric, the smacking wetness of lips, and baritone groans filled the tiny space.

Crap.

‘Hurry up,’ said a woman.

The man whispered, ‘Let me help.’

It may only have been seconds, but the intensifying moans suggested they were being well spent. I shrunk into my slot between the photocopier and the side wall, forced to listen to the unmistakable swoosh of skirt-lining against tights, the metal tear of a zipper, and the thud and tinkle of a belt buckle hitting the floor.

The room’s flimsy rear partition shook against my shoulder. Through a small gap I saw snippets of skin: her braceleted arms outstretched above their heads, the tips of his fingers digging into her wrist.

I looked away. Beside me, rattled pens rolled towards the edge of a metal shelf. I willed them to stay put.

Her voice again, breathless: ‘I have a better idea.’ She cooed, ‘Help me up.’

I stiffened. Up?

The man grunted. The photocopier creaked and a cascade of red curls fell over the side of the machine onto my head. Definitely Sally. But who was he?

I winced. I preferred not to know. But what if they saw me? They’d think I was some kind of pervert. Steeling myself for intense awkwardness, I cleared my throat. Twice.

‘What the…?’ said the guy.

The mass of hair bounced out of view.

My knees complained as I rose. ‘Sorry. I was reading.’

‘Oh my God, Laura, if I’d known…’ Sally hopped off the machine, clutching the panels of her blouse. She swooped down to pick up her skirt, not realising that swift move exposed me to a full-frontal of the newest data science recruit, his stunned face up top and trousers bunched around his ankles below.

My blush felt incandescent. I covered my eyes to let the interrupted love birds regain their modesty, the three of us developing an unspoken understanding that this never happened.

As the door closed behind them, I caught his worried murmur, ‘Do you think she saw it?’ and her replying with a chuckle, ‘If she did, it will have been her first.’

Though it was true, it was unnecessary. I crouched to retrieve the book from my rudely invaded personal haven. The guy’s head popped back in. I jumped, hitting my shoulder against the shelf.

‘Forgot to tell you.’ He smiled meekly. ‘Justin is looking for you.

THE FILTERED-WATER dispenser in the corridor provided me with much-needed cooling down. The heat receded from my cheeks but immediately fired up again as I saw the clock overhead and stress took hold: I was late.

How did I let time slip away? I grabbed my phone for my regular check-in with Emily, my best friend. The line rang out. I let out a high-pitched whine, torn between wanting to wait to try again and rushing to Justin’s supposedly mission critical meeting.

I walked on.

Five colleagues huddled ahead of me, deep in discussion, drawing flow charts with black marker pens on a long length of wall coated with a special, wipeable paint. One of them spotted me approaching; he nudged another. Their semicircle fell silent and broke open, revealing their work. Hopeful faces sought my contribution, my approval. I passed them with a brisk pace and my most courteous smile.

I dialled Emily again as I strode past rows of desks, their occupants tip-tapping away at their keyboards, their screens faded by the rays of a rare Scottish sun. This time, her line was engaged.

Please God, let them not have found her mobile number, too.

In the lobby, the multicoloured logo of Empisoft stretched across the surface behind the reception desk. Underneath, a shelf showcased our many technology awards, oversized engraved dust-gatherers bearing testament to our team’s hard work. Next to them, an embarrassingly large photo of Justin and me holding yet another trophy, my thin smile doing its best, my eyes missing the lens by a mile.

Liv stood watering the plant next to the visitors’ TV tuned to the non-stop horrors of the outside world. She dried her hands on her cardigan and flashed a motherly smile. ‘There you are. A dose of book time again?’

I nodded, ready to speed on, but my eyeline flicked to the sixty-inch screen. Adam Mooney, the Hollywood star, was exiting Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre and making his way down its stone steps. Saliva flooded my mouth in revulsion.

A sea of outstretched arms shoved microphones towards his angular jaw as reporters pelted him with questions. ‘How do you respond to calls for your arrest for sexual assault?’ I spotted errors in the closed caption transcription. Too many voices. But it perfectly captured his response: ‘No Comment.’

Liv stood at my side. ‘That’s a real tearjerker, isn’t it?’

‘What? You feel sorry for him?’ I asked.

‘No, your book. The concentration camps.’

‘Oh.’ I looked down at the blue-and-white-striped cover. ‘Yes.’

‘I do feel a bit sorry for him, though.’ Liv gazed back at the screen. ‘It’s so easy for this kind of thing to destroy a career. I’m not convinced he deserves to suffer like that.’

I spun towards the boardroom. ‘I don’t think he can suffer enough.’

2.

MY EMILY

The kettle beeped three times, the red numeric display showing the water had reached the programmed temperature of seventy-three degrees. Perfect for herbal tea, according to the manual.

Emily drew a green tea bag from the overhead cupboard of her galley kitchen and plopped it into a brown-rimmed mug. She loved her gadgets, but had she known it was a required safety feature for the voice-controlled kettle to beep when ready, she would have sent the freebie back to her client. It was getting on her nerves. And her nerves were frayed enough.

Swirls of yellow liquid formed underneath the steam in her cup. Unable to find a clean teaspoon in the drawer, Emily fished the tea bag out of her brew with a chopstick pulled from last night’s microwaved egg fried rice. She threw the bag into the sink, onto a pile of its discarded kin, white-rimmed squares of thin, drying paper shrunk around increasingly mouldy lumps of leaves.

With the other end of the chopstick, she scratched behind her ear, stirring thick strands of unwashed hair. She returned the stick to the plastic container as though that small semblance of tidying made up for the surrounding week-worth of filth.

Emily shuffled to her armchair. Her fuzzy slippers stirred dust bunnies into the sunshine streaming through the living room’s large, Victorian window. She blew on her drink out of habit — from when kettles just boiled water to a throat-scorching one hundred degrees centigrade. A dribble of drool escaped her mouth.

The remote control for the TV was out of reach, where she’d hurled it last. That was okay. She’d seen enough. Too much.

But perhaps this time…

Her mobile rang, diverting her attention. But it, too, lay far away and her limbs were heavy. By the time she managed to propel herself forward, the ringing had stopped. She shrugged. Laura would retry later. She always did.

Emily took a tentative sip of her drink. The phone rang again. She groaned. The side table was covered with dirty crockery and technology magazines sticky with donutty finger marks, so she put her mug on the floor. It would mark the floorboards with a ring but sod the landlord.

She read the caller ID and her shoulders slumped. She slid the green strip aside.

‘Hello, Claire.’

‘How are you, Em?’ Claire’s voice wavered. ‘We haven’t heard from you at work.’

‘I’m … I don’t know.’

‘Listen, Darren was having a hissy-fit yesterday, stomping about the place, shouting about deadlines. I’m not sure how much longer I can cover for you… I mean, everybody knows you’re not really sick-sick.’

Emily flinched. No, she wasn’t sick-sick. But this didn’t have a name.

‘Anyway,’ Claire continued. ‘I’m calling because of the Empisoft conference. It’s only weeks away and I need your help. I’m not up to speed and I’ve got my hands full with my charity gig’s PR and coordination as it is.’

Emily suppressed a sigh. Her mind was a million miles from the office, but this was Laura’s company and the most important event of the year for them. ‘What do you need?’

‘I’ve sent you a long email with questions. Would you have a look, please?’ Claire asked.

Emily scanned the room. Where was her laptop? A black triangle poked out from below a blanket of newspapers and magazines on the dining table. ‘Will do.’

‘Honestly, Em, we need you back … and we’re all worried about you.’

Emily massaged her forehead. ‘I guess I could come in tomorrow.’

‘That’s great. But don’t rush-rush. Darren’s gym sessions don’t start until 8.30 now. I’m glad you’re feeling a bit better. See you tomorrow.’

‘Uh-huh.’

Emily rifled through her papers on the dining table, shoving aside print-outs of emails and letters from the council. She found her charger cable and the red sock she’d lost the week before. The TV remote by her feet lured her to have one more peek. She knew she shouldn’t, but she picked it up and took aim.

It was that dreadful women’s talk show. The one where the presenters fanned themselves when the resident Italian chef spoon-fed them tiramisu, the one that ensured guests stormed off to keep the viewers coming back.

Why was the dippy blonde on the right pointing and shouting this time? Emily upped the volume. She leaned closer, her body tensed.

How can you say non-verbal cues should be enough?’ the blonde demanded. ‘What is a non-verbal cue, anyway? A squirm? Does that count? Why not say “no” like a normal person?

The one with the over-white teeth replied, ‘We’re British. We’re polite. A firm “no” is too… punitive, like a slap in the face. When all we want to signal is to slow down.’

‘We can’t expect men to read minds, though,’ interjected the third woman, older, her lips puffed out with fillers

Emily stood transfixed. She knew it was wrong for her to be so unreasonably — unnaturally — drawn to the incessant coverage; but she couldn’t help it. It was about her. It was her harrowing encounter they probed, as selfishly as he’d touched her. They were lifting the lid off her life, as insensitively as he’d lifted her dress.

She bit her lip to channel the hurt; she needed to watch. Which way would it swing today? Would they see it her way? Would they see her? A person. A real, pulsing, sentient human being. Not some slab of meat offered for dismemberment, for them to pry apart her motives, her honesty, her morals — to judge.

Occasionally, throughout this whole ordeal, she’d catch a glimmer of hope through all the contempt, a sliver of validation. So the fascination persisted. She longed to understand what it was that hurled some to her defence and others to the edge of crazy.

Exactly.’ shrieked the first panel member on the TV. ‘I’m sorry, but in my day, you knew not to go to someone’s flat — or in this case a hotel room, which is even worse — unless you were up for it. This girl throws herself at a famous actor she’s only met that night and what? She expects him to read her mind? She can speak. She should’ve spoken up if she didn’t like his kisses or him performing oral sex on her. Quite frankly she should have left the minute she became uncomfortable.

Don’t you think there was a power dynamic at play that made it harder? I mean he’s Adam Mooney, for Christ’s sake.

She doesn’t work for him—

Emily zapped the screen into darkness. Enough. There was nothing new. Nothing that would make the haters hate less. Nothing that would make this ‘she’ they spoke of so callously feel uncorrupted again. Emily covered her mouth; felt a tear hit her hand. They knew her name. Why did they never use her name?

Questions she’d asked herself over and over swirled round in her head. Why hadn’t she just said ‘no’ that night? Why had she thought it a good idea to write her story and have it posted online? Why had she believed that blog when they said she’d remain anonymous? What an idiot. What a fool to think she would be a force for good, for girls’ empowerment, for healthy debate. It had been the worst decision of her life. And now nothing could turn back the clock.

She rubbed her face to loosen the tension and filled her lungs slowly. Must try to move on. Maybe work would help after all?

The itch behind her ear didn’t let up. She scratched it once more and scooped her hair into a messy bun, wincing as the rank-smelling bobble she’d been carrying around her wrist all week passed her nose. Once the bun was secured into place, she knotted the belt of her bathrobe and strode to the table.

The computer broke free from its surrounding papers and magazines with a single yank. She watched the disturbed pile wobble and slip to the ground in a colourful spread. Emily cleared more space on the table, flicking crumbs of who-knows-what into the void with the back of her hand.

There.

She sat down. The laptop whirred into action, the screen’s static attracting a plague of dust. She clutched her sleeve and rubbed it away.

A thump by her door.

She listened for more, the back of her neck tingling. She hoped, of the two things it might be, that it was her neighbour coming to check on her again. But no knock came. Her stomach dropped.

Shit.

She shook her head. Ignore it.

The waterfall background on her screen was meant to be a serene, calming image but all Emily sensed when she looked at it was the thunderous pressure of the water on her head, its silvery foam enveloping her, the absence of air — drowning.

With a slight tremble in her finger, she inched the mouse towards her email. At the top of her inbox was Claire’s red-flagged message: Help! Questions for Empisoft conference.

Emily breathed a wisp of relief when she saw that the fifty-odd other messages were business-related and all from people she knew, including one from HR she’d check out later. She mentally blew a kiss to the IT chap who’d assured her he would filter out all the hate mail, so she wouldn’t be confronted with it.

Her brain wouldn’t focus. She re-read the same piece of text five times. The planning around the annual conference of the city’s most celebrated high-growth start-up was a challenge, sure, but she knew that wasn’t the real problem. It was the thought of returning to work, to the stares, the whispers. They’d had to get extra security at the office when she’d been identified as the anonymous woman behind the incendiary blog post; a daily hassle no one appreciated.

For the best part of two hours, she resolved logistical issues with the catering and stupidly constrained parking around the large conference venue. No reason Claire couldn’t have handled those herself.

Emily’s cramped thighs begged for movement. She got up for another cup of tea, leaving the previous one cold, iridescent plaques lining the surface like an oil slick.

As she passed the front door, she remembered the earlier sound. Despite alarm ringing in her ears, she pulled at the knob.

On the landing lay a medium-sized box, addressed simply to The Bitch. Emily peered over into the stairwell of her tenement, knowing it was pointless. Whoever had finagled access to her building would be long gone.

The box didn’t weigh much, but its content sounded solid when shifted. She carried it inside, her pulse throbbing in her temples, her teeth clenched.

She walked straight to the kitchen, flipped open the stainless-steel lid of her bin, and shook the ‘gift’ out of the box. The large purple dildo fell atop layers of gloopy plastic film pried from ready meals. Underneath, she could still see the fat, curved tip of the other veiny, flesh-coloured sex toy.

Emily smacked the metal lid down and crumpled onto the tiled floor. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her body convulsing with each staggered sob.

She couldn’t do this anymore.

 

Publisher: Red Dog Press

Publication date: 19th November 2019

Print length: 330 pages

If you would like to purchase Stay Mad, Sweetheart, you can do so by clicking on one the following link below. 

Amazon UK

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Sign of the Cross by Glenn Cooper blog tour #extract @GlennCooper @blackthornbks

I’m delighted to be bringing you an extract from Sign of the Cross by Glenn Cooper as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Holly at Blackthorn Books for inviting me to take part.

Sign of the Cross (Cal Donovan Thrillers) by [Cooper, Glenn]

BLURB

Abruzzo, Italy: a young priest suffers the stigmata of the crucifixion.

The Vatican, Rome: the Pope calls on Harvard professor Cal Donovan to investigate the truth of the priest’s claim.

Berlin, Germany: a neo-Nazi organisation believes the priest is the key to an earth-shattering secret. A secret that can be used as a deadly weapon.

When the priest is abducted, a perilous race against the clock begins. Only Cal can track down the ruthless organisation and stop it, before an apocalyptic catastrophe is unleashed.

EXTRACT

ONE

Syria Palaestina, 327

The relentless Jerusalem sun had baked the earth hard as stone. Despite the midday heat, the leather-skinned laborers swinging heavy picks dared not break their cadence. The lady was close by, watching their every move, listening to the musical pings of iron striking the hard concretion.

She sat, shaded by her tent, on a flattened mound of detritus overlooking the excavation. Unsmiling Roman soldiers stood guard at each corner of the open-sided enclosure. These men and their comrades, who encircled the site with a ring of steel, were no ordinary legionnaires, but an elite cohort of centurions chosen by the emperor himself. It was not as if there were specific threats against the lady’s person or even a general sense of menace. In truth, most of the people of Jerusalem were supportive of her actions and appreciative of her generosity to the poor. But there was no room for a cavalier error. One malcontent with a sling could have wrought disaster. This was the emperor’s mother, an empress in her own right.

Flavia Iulia Helena Augusta.

The tavern girl who was consort to an emperor, Constantius Chlorus, and birthed a greater one, whom history would come to know as Constantine the Great. The man who defied centuries of Roman tradition, sweeping aside the gods and embracing Christianity.

If Constantine did the sweeping, then Helena was the broom.

So enamored was she with this young Christian religion, that at the age of near-eighty – when most noble women in extreme dotage were being carried from room to room in comfortable Roman villas – spry Helena was making pilgrimages to distant lands in search of the relics of Christ.

Arriving in the holy city of Jerusalem with her entourage, she astonished the ordinary populace by walking among them in their markets and churches, asking what they had learned from their ancestors about the location of Christ’s tomb and Golgotha: the site of his crucifixion. The oral history was strong. Three hundred years in a land so ancient and rich in storytellers was but a grain of time. Now, two years into her expedition, the end was in sight and Helena’s success was staggering. She had churches built on the site in Bethlehem, which she deemed to be that of Christ’s birth, and on the Mount of Olives, the place of his ascension. These discoveries were but a trifle compared with the enormous task at Calvary: the site most often mentioned by locals as Jesus’s burial place. Two hundred years earlier, Emperor Hadrian had undertaken a reconstruction of Jerusalem following the violent and destructive Jewish revolts. At Calvary, he covered the mound with earth and erected a large temple to Venus and it had fallen to Helena to take that building down, block by block.

The venerated Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem was Helena’s constant companion, spiritual advisor and it was he who had chosen the spot for excavation, once the ground was laid bare. A team of pick and shovel men (Syrians and Greeks for the most part) led by the foreman, an unctuous Syrian named Safar, had soon found an old, Jewish-style rock-cut tomb. Safar helped Macarius descend a ladder into the excavation pit and when the old bishop returned to Helena’s side he tearfully proclaimed it to be the Savior’s very tomb. Weeks later, at a nearby location, the diggers unearthed three sets of decayed and petrified timbers. Lifted from the pit and laid out for Helena’s inspection, she and Macarius joyfully declared them to be the crosses of Christ and the two thieves. But which one was Christ’s?

Macarius proposed a solution to the vexing problem.

Pieces of each cross were taken to the bedside of a cachectic woman dying from tumors in her belly. Firstly, one piece of wood was placed in her hand. Nothing happened. Likewise a second piece had no effect. But the third piece was miraculous. Clutching the splinter, her color went from yellow to pink and the swelling of her belly receded. She sat up, the first time she had been able to do so in ages and smiled.

They had found the True Cross.

Now Helena had one final quest before she could bundle up her relics and journey back to Rome. She sent the diggers back into the pit to find the nails of the crucifixion.

‘Will there be three or four?’ she asked Macarius.

The bishop sat beside her in the tent. ‘I cannot say, my lady. Some executioners preferred a separate spike for each ankle. Others speared both ankles with a single one.’

‘I do wish they would hurry,’ she said. ‘I am an old woman.’

The bishop dutifully laughed. He had heard her say the same countless times.

Down in the pit and hidden from view, Safar watched his men scrape away at the earth beneath the spot where they had found the True Cross. His keen eye spotted something. He pushed the nearest man aside and continued the task with his handpick. Digging on his knees he exposed a large spike, black with oxida¬tion. It was as long as a man’s hand, quadrangular, with an intact, flat head. He was about to pull it out when his eye settled on a black dot a short distance away and soon he had exposed a second nail, this one shorter, with a broken tip. Then a man several feet away called out to him in Syrian. He had unearthed another nail and while Safar was cleaning along the shaft he noticed yet another trace of black. Soon four nails were exposed. The last one was missing half its head, apparently sheared off in its insertion or removal from the cross.

‘The lady will be pleased, no?’ the worker said to Safar.

‘I am sure she will be most pleased,’ Safar said, looking up at the pale sky. ‘Her work is done. She will leave us now.’

‘Will she give us coins?’ the worker asked.

‘She will give me a bag of coins and if you keep your mouth shut then I will give you a nice share.’

‘Keep my mouth shut about what?’

‘She will receive three nails only.’

‘What of the fourth?’

‘That one is mine,’ he said, pointing to the last found, the one with the broken head. ‘I have long endured laboring under the yolk of a woman.’

‘She is an empress.’

‘She is still a woman. This is my reward for the indignity. Besides, it is broken and she will accuse us of causing the damage. I will sell the relic. If you talk, you will die poor.’

Safar used his pick to loosen the dirt around the fourth nail, until he could pry it out. He greedily closed his fingers around it to feel its heft but he loosened his grip at once. There was a tingling sensation in his wrist, a slightly unpleasant warmth, and he quickly shoved the nail into the front pocket of his robe.

The other worker climbed from the pit and ran over to Helena’s tent.

‘Safar has found the nails, your majesty!’ he declared.

Helena’s wrinkled face lit up at the news. ‘How many?’ she asked, as Safar approached. ‘Three or four?’

Safar gave her a gap-toothed grin. ‘Three, your majesty. Only three.’

If you would like to purchase Sign of the Cross, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones 

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Retriever of Souls & Children in Chains by Lorraine Mace #extract #giveaway @lomace

I’m delighted to be bringing you an extract today from the first two books in the DI Sterling Series, Retriever of Souls and Children in Chains. Lorraine’s books are published by Accent Press. Lorraine is also giving away a paperback copy of Children in Chains. To enter the competition all you need to do is leave a comment at the end of the blog post and I’ll choose one winner at random. The deadline to enter is midnight Friday, 22nd March 2019. Good luck!

Retriever of Souls: A gritty and positively compelling crime novel (DI Sterling Book 1) by [Mace, Lorraine]      Children in Chains: The much anticipated follow up in the dark and gritty DI Sterling crime series by [Mace, Lorraine]

Retriever of Souls

The first title in a dark and gritty crime series. 

Brought up believing that sex is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victim’s souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

Children in Chains

The second gripping instalment in the DI Paolo Sterling crime series. 

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is determined to shut down the syndicate flooding Bradchester’s streets with young prostitutes.

When a child is murdered, Paolo becomes aware of a sinister network of abusers spread across Europe, and spanning all levels of society. But Joey, the shadowy leader of the gang, always seems to be one step ahead in the chase.

Has Paolo come up against a criminal he cannot defeat?

 

RETRIEVER OF SOULS – EXTRACT

“Please, no. Oh God. No more. Please.”

Excited by her pleading, he pounded his fists into her face. He craved release, but couldn’t give in. Not yet. Not while she could defile him. Only when her swollen lids meant she could no longer see did he allow himself to take her throat between his hands and free her soul.

He waited for her death throes to pass, then relaxed his grip and moved down the bed to suck and caress her breasts. His heart pounded. Now. He had to move now before it was too late. Shifting position, he straddled her body. Arching his back, he emptied his hatred onto her breasts.

Shuddering, he slid from the bed and fell to the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “So sorry, so sorry, so…”

His throat constricted. As tears flowed, he screamed. Thrashing wildly, he knocked against the chair holding the woman’s clothes. Her tights fell across his neck and he panicked, clawing himself free.

Fucking whore!

“God forgive me,” he sobbed. “She made me. Forgive me, God. Forgive me.”

Crawling to the corner cupboard, he opened the door and reached for the scourge. He braced himself, then flicked the nine-tailed lash, the tiny spiked ends digging into his flesh.

Each strike lifted him closer to purity, until he collapsed. Exhausted, he slept.

He woke at first light, ready for the next stage. Filling a bowl with water, he brought it to the bed, then scraped under each of the woman’s nails before washing most of her body in the warm water. He swabbed above and below her breasts, careful not to disturb his gift, the sign of her salvation. From under the bed he brought out a small black leather casket. He removed a fine-toothed comb and ran it through her pubic hair, placing the loose hairs in the envelope he’d already marked with a number four.

Retriever of Souls can be purchased from the following link below.

Amazon UK

 

CHILDREN IN CHAINS – EXTRACT

Joey held the blade against Edona’s neck. A tiny line of red trickled down, collecting on the edge of her blue sweatshirt. He didn’t want to kill her. She’d always been one of his best money earners, still looking like a schoolgirl even though she was almost twenty.

“Make the call,” he whispered. “Make the call and you can live.”

He could feel her trembling against his body as he pulled her closer.

“Make the call,” he repeated.

She nodded and dialled. Her fingers shook so much Joey wondered if she’d hit the right buttons. He’d know when the call was answered. His head was close enough to hers to hear the ringing tone and then the copper’s sleepy voice.

“Sterling.”

The call had obviously woken him. Not surprising. It was five in the morning.

Joey released the knife just enough to enable Edona to speak. If she tried anything stupid, he’d put an end to her before she had chance to betray him again.

 “It’s me. I …”

Joey touched the knife gently against Edona’s neck; a reminder of what they’d agreed.

“I’m listening,” Sterling said. “What have you got for me?”

“Some girls, they come tonight.”

“Where? What time?”

“I not know what time, but they bring them to motorway. Change van in car park outside restaurant and shop.”

“Tell me who is bringing them in. Who are you working for? I can protect –”

Joey took the phone and ended the call.

“What a kind man! He wants to protect you. It’s a bit too late for that, Edona. I wonder what else you’ve told him. I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out. Not that it matters to you now, but I’ve always been very fond of you. What I have to do to you breaks my heart.”

“No hurt me. Please no. You say me, I make call, you forgive.”

“And you believed me? Shame on you, Edona. I could never forgive such a betrayal. You’ve been working against me for too long now. I’ve heard you telling the young ones that they’d get free, someday.” He laughed. “You’re such a fool. For girls like you, someday never comes.”

He felt her tears dripping onto his hand.

“Ah no, don’t cry. I don’t like to have my girls crying. No more tears.”

He pulled the knife across her throat. As the blood spurted, he pushed her away, smiling as her body tumbled into the foundation pit.

“Edar, Bekim!” he called to the two men waiting by the car. “Cover her up.”

They moved forward and began shovelling rubble and sand. Joey watched for a while, but soon got bored. He went and leaned against the car until Bekim signalled for him to come back and approve what they’d done.

He looked down into the pit and smiled. There was no trace of Edona. He glanced at his watch. It was now five-thirty. The concrete was due to be poured in three hours’ time. Perfect.

“That’s cleared up that loose end. I’d wondered how Sterling seemed to know so much, but without you two pointing her out, I’d never have guessed it was Edona. Good work,” he said, smiling at the two men. He passed her phone to one of them. “Get rid of that, Bekim. Make sure it can’t be traced back to us. Right, let’s get everything in place for tonight’s delivery. Now that we know Sterling will be on the other side of town, the transfer will be, as the Brits like to say, a piece of cake. I wonder what the fuck that means, a piece of cake.” He grinned. “Talking of cake, it’s time for breakfast.”

Children in Chains can be purchased by clicking on the following link below.

Amazon UK

 

 

A Killer’s Alibi by William Myers Jr extract @WilliamMyersJr

I’m delighted to be bringing you an extract today from William Myers Jr new novel A Killer’s AlibiWilliam Myer’s first two novels in the Philadelphia Legal series have been bestsellers with the first book A Criminal Defence hitting the number one spot on the Amazon bestseller list. But before I share the excerpt, here’s what the book is about.

a killer's alibi

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When crime lord Jimmy Nunzio is caught, knife in hand, over the body of his daughter’s lover and his own archenemy, he turns to Mick McFarland to take up his defense. Usually the courtroom puppeteer, McFarland quickly finds himself at the end of Nunzio’s strings. Struggling to find grounds for a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a well-known killer, Mick is hamstrung by Nunzio’s refusal to tell him what really happened.

On the other side of the law, Mick’s wife, Piper, is working to free Darlene Dowd, a young woman sentenced to life in prison for her abusive father’s violent death. But the jury that convicted Darlene heard only part of the truth, and Piper will do anything to reveal the rest and prove Darlene’s innocence.

As Mick finds himself in the middle of a mob war, Piper delves deeper into Darlene’s past. Both will discover dark secrets that link these fathers and daughters—some that protect, some that destroy, and some that can’t stay hidden forever. No matter the risk.

A KILLER’S ALIBI

Prologue

Eight are with him at the table. His three best friends: Vinny Itri, Dominic Ricci, and Geno Moretti. Four guys who work for his father: Bruno, Dave, Tomasino, and the guy everyone calls “Pits” because of his pockmarked face. And, of course, his father: Big John.

It’s his twelfth birthday, March 15. Outside, the night is bitter cold, the South Philly streets covered in ice and snow. Inside, Alighieri’s is cozy. And it’s all theirs, Big John having persuaded the owner to close the restaurant for the private party—a big favor to grant on a Saturday night, as his father has reminded them all.

The older men amaze the boys with ribald stories, everyone guf­fawing over “Three-way” Wendy Mancini and “Pass-around” Patti Peregrino. The mobsters shift gears eventually and trade veiled tales of “jobs” they’ve done, the boys recognizing the word as code for one type of illegal activity or another.

They feast.

“My boy reaches manhood, we eat like kings,” says Big John.

The waiters bring plate after plate, starting with the antipasti: meats, cheeses, and peppers; prosciutto, provolone, and Sicilian olives; stuffed portobello mushrooms; mussels; steamed clams in spicy mari­nara sauce; calamari stuffed with crabmeat. For entrées, the crew orders perciatelli Genovese, linguine and claims, penne alla vodka, fettuccini Alfredo, pork chops Milanese, and osso buco di vitello. Big John orders the special—pasta with Italian gravy and meatballs—and makes clear he expects his boy to order the same.

He does as his father suggests, though his mouth is really watering for the branzino.

His stomach full to bursting, he unbuttons his pants even before the waitstaff brings out the desserts: tiramisu, cannoli, semifreddo, tar­tufo. There will be no cake.

“Fuck cake and candles,” Big John says. “This ain’t a kiddie party. Right, boy?”

“Right,” he answers.

The real dessert, he knows from Geno, will come later. Geno is the oldest in his group, having turned twelve the month before. His father, not as well-off as Big John, put out a big spread at home. Then, after everyone left, he took Geno to a motel near the airport.

“When I opened the door,” Geno told him and Vinny and Dominic, “there she was, smiling on top and bottom.” As Geno told it, he didn’t let up until the sun rose, and the woman told him he was “amazing” and “the best” and “You’re going to break some hearts in your time, that’s for sure.”

The waiters clear the table. The owner comes over, thanks Big John for hosting such a special occasion in his restaurant. No check is ten­dered or asked for.

He and his father walk outside, and his eyes water in the frigid air. He has on a heavy winter coat, long-sleeve shirt, undershirt, and wool pants his mother bought him for the occasion, but he’s still freezing. Big John just has a fall jacket over a short-sleeve shirt, and it seems he could stand outside all night and not mind it one bit. It amazes him how tough his old man is. In so many ways, they couldn’t be more different. Big John is five nine and weighs two hundred pounds, not an ounce of which is fat. His father’s head is starting to go bald, but everywhere else he’s covered with thick black hair, and he has a perpetual five-o’clock shadow. The old man has an overhanging brow, a fat nose, and a jaw so square it looks like his head was carved from a block of wood.

He, on the other hand, is 120 pounds soaking wet and has a thin nose and sharp jawline. The only things they have in common physi­cally are their dark eyes, which turn into black pits when they’re angry.

His friends pile into Dave’s car to be driven home. The last to get in, Geno, glances back at him and gives him a thumbs-up. Earlier in the night, Geno had given him four Trojans, saying he’d be disappointed if he didn’t use them all.

Bruno gets in the driver’s seat of Big John’s Cadillac, and his father takes shotgun. Tomasino waits for him to get in the back seat, then slides in beside him. He’s thinking Bruno, Tomasino, and Pits will get dropped off, after which Big John will take him to the motel. But the car leaves their neighborhood with all the grown-ups still inside, and they make their way to I-95 South, then to Route 1 West.

He’s starting to get nervous now, because he’s thinking his father’s crew are all going to be waiting around while he’s with the woman. Maybe in the next room . . . maybe listening in.

What if I mess it up? Will she tell them? Will they laugh at me?

His father wouldn’t laugh. Big John would be pissed if he didn’t perform, especially if his men were there to hear it.

The drive goes on and on, the men seeming to grow quieter as they get closer to wherever they’re going. After they turn off the main roads, they go from one winding country road onto another, a single lane in each direction. It is pitch-black—no moon, no stars, and hard to see outside—but he senses the roads are lined with farm fields.

Finally, they turn onto a dirt road. Up ahead, in the Caddy’s head­lights, he sees a second car, a dark sedan, pulled over to the side. Bruno pulls the Seville up behind it, and Big John orders everybody out.

The air here is even colder than in the city, and his eyes sting as soon as he gets out of the car. No one is saying anything, so he doesn’t, either, simply follows the four men into the field, keeping his head down and using their bodies as shields against the wind. They walk for a while until he hears two voices ahead. Actually, three voices, but one sounds muffled.

Big John, Bruno, Tomasino, and Pits stop, and he stops behind them. His father looks back at him, waves him forward.

“Come on,” he says in his gravelly voice.

His heart is beating a mile a minute as he steps forward. He knows what his father does for a living—sort of, at least—and he guesses what he’s about to see even before the men move aside.

The man is on his knees, his hands bound behind his back, his mouth wrapped with duct tape, his face a battered mess. He is naked. There is a large hole in the ground to his left. To the kneeler’s right, two men stand. One of them leans on a shovel. Watching them shiver, he realizes that it must’ve taken them hours to dig the hole in the frozen ground.

“Come up here, son,” Big John says, grabbing his arm and pulling him closer. “You see this guy? He stole from me. And that means he stole from you. And from your brother and from your mother, too.”

He looks at the man, who looks up, tears and terror in his swol­len eyes. The man mumbles something through the tape, but it’s indecipherable.

“The real reason he’s here, though? I trusted him. He led me to trust him. You see, son, he was one of our own. And that means he didn’t just steal from us—he betrayed us.”

Big John stares into his eyes, and he can tell his father is looking to make sure that he’s getting it.

He nods.

“You know what happens to a Judas, don’t you?”

He nods again, and his father reaches into his jacket and pulls out a gun. He’s seen it before. It’s a .38 Special. A revolver with a cylinder that holds six bullets. His father told him all about it one night at the kitchen table. “You see this?” Big John had said as he cleaned and oiled the weapon. “Some people say dog is man’s best friend. I say bullshit. This is man’s best friend. You take care of this, it’ll take care of you.”

Big John holds out the gun now. And only then does it hit him what this is all about, what his father has brought him here to do. His jaw starts to drop, but he stops it. He takes a deep breath, then accepts the gun. For all the times his father has let him see the weapon, he’s never let him hold it. He’s surprised at the weight of it.

Big John nods at the kneeler, then steps back. Taking his cue, he moves up to the guy.

He can’t hesitate, can’t let himself think about this. If he does, he knows he won’t be able to do it. He raises the gun to the back of the man’s head and pulls the trigger. The recoil is stronger than he expected, and it pushes his hand and arm up into the air.

It takes all his willpower to keep his knees from buckling, to keep from throwing up. To keep from bursting into tears.

“Dirty Judas,” he says. Then he calmly turns to his father and hands him the gun.

Big John’s mouth spreads into a grin.

He watches his father put the gun back inside his coat, then reach out to pat his head. More than anything, he wants to smack away his father’s hand. But of course he doesn’t, just smiles as he tousles his hair.

“Now you’re a man,” his father says, reaching down to shake his hand.

He shakes with Big John, then with the other men as they move forward to take their turns.

“Good job,” says Tomasino.

“Good man,” says Bruno.

“Your son’s got a heart of stone,” Pits says to Big John.

Big John Nunzio is beaming now.

They all stand still for a minute, watching their breath turn to steam. Then his father, Bruno, Pits, and Tomasino lead him back to the Cadillac while the two other men kick the body into the hole and start shoveling.

He’s numb the whole ride back. He tries to think about school, basketball, the girl with the red hair in homeroom whom he has a crush on—anything not to face what he’s just done. But he can still feel the solid weight of the gun in his empty hand. The man’s whimpers and the crack of gunfire resound in his ears. The smell of the man’s fear is fresh in his nose, as is the ripe stench of his evacuated bowels.

Every now and then, his father glances back at him. After the third or fourth time, he says, “Hey, Dad, what was that veal Dave had? It looked good. You think Mom can make it?”

Big John smiles. “I’ll find out what it was, bring some home for your mother to cook.”

He smiles back, his guts roiling at the thought of eating anything ever again.

Later that night, his old man comes into his room, sits on the bed. He pretends to be asleep, acts like his father woke him up.

“You made me proud tonight, Jimmy. You knew what had to be done, and you did it. And you didn’t hesitate, which looked good.” Big John pats his knee, gets up, walks toward the door. Then he turns around. “It gets easier. What my old man told me my first time. And he was right. But I guess I don’t even need to tell you that. You’re a natural. You got the heart for it.”

He waits for two hours, until long after Big John and his mom and his brother are sound asleep. Then he goes into the bathroom and throws up everything he ate that night. And when he’s done, he crawls back into bed and cries himself to sleep.

If you would like to purchase A Killer’s Alibi, you can do so by clicking on the following link below.

Amazon UK

About the Author 

W. Myers Author Pic Closer-up High Res

William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 best-selling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut novel. Once you pick up his legal thriller and best-selling novel, A Criminal Defense, it becomes obvious he is not new to the intricacies of the legal profession. Open A Criminal Defense and you’ll find yourself lost in a labyrinth of deceits and hidden agendas, a world where everyone has a secret. You never know what is going to happen next or when the plot is going to take another unexpected turn.
Don’t miss his second book An Engineered Injustice which debuted in January 2018. You’ll really feel what it’s like to be a young attorney in the trenches, beating the streets, against all odds. His third novel, A Killer’s Alibi debuts in January 2019.

Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, Mr. Myers inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. From there, Mr. Myers started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

The Good Teacher by Rachel Sargeant blog tour #extract @RachelSargeant3 @KillerReads

I’m delighted to be sharing an extract with you today from The Good Teacher by Rachel Sargeant as part of the blog tour. But before I share the extract with you, let’s have a look at what the book is about.

The Good Teacher: A gripping thriller from the Kindle top ten bestselling author of ‘The Perfect Neighbours’ by [Sargeant, Rachel]

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Some people deserve to be taught a lesson…

A gripping thriller with a shocking twist, from the Top Ten Kindle bestselling author of The Perfect Neighbours. This riveting story about a murdered teacher is perfect for fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR.

Even the good have to die.
A beloved teacher is murdered and left in a ditch beside a country lane. His wife is found beaten and gagged in their suburban home.

Even the best schools have secrets.
New detective Pippa Adams learns that the teacher ran a homework club for vulnerable pupils. But what did he really teach them?

Even the perfect family has something to hide.
When Pippa scratches the surface of the school community, she meets families who’ve learned a shattering lesson. And finally uncovers the good teacher’s darkest secrets…

EXTRACT

Hello, everyone. Thank you, Jacob, for inviting me on your blog. I’d like to share the opening pages of chapter two of my new book The Good Teacher where I introduce my lead detective, DC Pippa Adams.

I scramble up the metal staircase inside the south entrance to Penbury Police HQ. Late. Should have taken the car instead of waiting for the bus, but I was flustered enough without getting behind a hot, sticky steering wheel. I try taking the steps two at a time, but the thick woollen tights drag on my knees. Unseasonal legs, and slow, but ladder-free at least. I tried my best with my mother’s honey blush tights, but the minute I tore open the packet and the two bits of beige nylon flopped down, I knew they were designed for an underfed ten‑year‑old. And that was before their accident.

I up my pace and clamp my shoulder bag to my side – my one act of rebellion against Mum’s restyling efforts.

“Now all you need is a briefcase,” she trilled at the end of our shopping session.

“But I have to be approachable, Mum – a friendly face serving the whole community.”

“Really, Pippa, darling, you sound like that rather grand lady officer they keep interviewing on the local news.”

I swelled with pride when Mum made that comparison. I haven’t met Superintendent Chattan yet, but I’ll settle for having half the poise the woman exudes in her television appearances.

At the top of the stairs I slow down, trying to get my breathing under control. My bag’s heavy, too much fodder inside. Pink lipstick from Mum, change for the bus home, tissues, sweets, apples, the Penbury CID Induction Pack and a small handmade card in joined-up writing: Good Luck, Sis. Love Jamie.

Rushing along the narrow corridor past the glass-panelled general office, I tell myself I’m not all that late, but I catch sight of four heads already barricaded behind high in-trays and jumbles of phone consoles and computer screens. I break into a trot and wonder which workstation mine will be. What if my new colleagues don’t rate me? Being late on day one isn’t the best way to win them over. They might not speak to me – I hate silences. Hopefully I’ll be out on the road most of the time.

I touch the buttons on my jacket. Too formal? Another idea of my mother’s. Now you don’t have to wear that ghastly uniform anymore. After trouble with toothpaste spatters, I had to change out of her pink lace blouse selection into a royal blue T-shirt, an old favourite. It looks good with the jacket – so long as I don’t undo the buttons to reveal its full glory. If the weather forecast is anything to go by, I’ll have to boil.

Through the chipped double doors, across the stairwell and into the corridor beyond, I reach a line of varnished wooden doors, each bearing a nameplate. I stop before the first one: Detective Inspector Liz Bagley. I re-check my jacket buttons.

I’m about to knock when the door flies open and two unsmiling figures appear. One I recognize as Mike Matthews, the sergeant from my interview panel. But it’s the woman with him who seems more familiar. A mass of dark hair, toned face and full red lips. DI Bagley or Cher?

“You’re late, DC Adams,” she says. A small woman, she has to tilt her head to meet my eye. Her black curls quiver. The fierce northern accent is pure Rottweiler.

“I’m sorry, I …” I wrack my brain for a plausible explanation that doesn’t involve Colgate or laddered tights. “I, ma’am, well, I …”

Bagley steps through the door and forces me aside, barking her orders at high speed. “There’s been a murder and an assault. Almost certainly connected. You go with DS Matthews. He’s your supervising officer. He’s meeting Forensics at the assault scene.”

She breezes past, short strides, high boots, dancing gingham skirt, and stops at the far end of the corridor to lob Matthews an afterthought. “I’ll be on Martle Top, but try and manage without me.”

 

Thank you Rachel for inviting me to join the tour and for providing the extract of the book to share.

Publisher: Killer Reads

Publication date: 14th December 2018

Print length: 221 pages

If you would like to purchase The Good Teacher you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

Dying Truth by Angela Marsons extract @WriteAngie @bookouture

I’m really excited to be able to share with you the opening of Angela Marson’s new novel, Dying Truth which is book number eight in the Detective Inspector Kim Stone series. With thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to take part.

Dying-Truth-Kindle

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How far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead.

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable – whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim.

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price.

The utterly addictive new crime thriller from the Number One bestselling author – you will be gripped until the final shocking twist.

 

EXTRACT

 

Prologue

Saturday 7.52 p.m.

Kim knew that her left leg was broken.

She pulled herself along the path on her hands as the stone bit into her palms, shards of gravel embedding beneath her fingernails.

A cry escaped her lips as her ankle turned and pain shot around her body.

Sweat beads were forming on her forehead as the agony intensified.

Finally, she saw the light from the building as three familiar shapes hurtled out of the doorway.

All three of them headed towards the bell tower.

‘Nooo…’ she cried, as loudly as she could.

No one turned.

Don’t go up there, she willed silently, trying to pull herself towards them.

‘Stop,’ she shouted out as they entered the metal doorway at the base of the tower.

Kim tried to still the panic as they disappeared from view.

‘Damn it,’ she screamed with frustration, unable to reach them in time.

She gathered all her strength and pushed herself up to a standing position, trying to drag her broken leg behind her as though it didn’t exist.

Two steps forward and the pain radiated through her body like a tidal wave and brought her back down to the ground. She gagged as the nausea rose from her stomach and her head began to swim.

She shouted again but the figures had disappeared from view and were now in the belly of the tower, behind solid brick, mounting the stone steps to the top.

‘Please, someone help,’ she screamed, but there was no one to hear. She was a good eighty metres away from the school, and she had never felt so helpless in her life.

She glanced at her wrist and saw that it was three minutes to eight.

The bell was due to be rung bang on the hour.

The fear started in the pit of her stomach and grew like a cloud to fill her entire body.

She struggled forward another agonising step, dragging her useless leg behind her.

Torchlight illuminated the top of the tower.

Damn it, they were already there.

‘Stop,’ she cried again, praying that one of them would hear her even though she knew her voice wouldn’t carry that distance.

The shafts of light moved furtively around the tower balcony ninety feet up in the air.

She saw a fourth figure amongst the three that were familiar to her.

The watch on her wrist vibrated the top of the hour. The bell didn’t ring.

Please God, let them get down.

Her prayer was cut off as she heard a loud scream.

Two people were hanging from the bell rope, swinging back and forth, in and out of the torchlight that darted around the small space.

Kim squinted, trying to identify the two silhouettes, but they were too far away.

She tried to regulate her breathing in order to shout again, even though she knew no kind of warning would help them now.

Her worst fears had been realised.

‘Please, please…’ Kim whispered as she saw the bell rope swing back and forth once more.

One figure was snatched from the bell rope as the second continued to swing.

‘No,’ Kim screamed, trying to carry herself forward towards them.

The fear inside had turned ice cold, freezing her solid.

For a few seconds time stood still. The saliva in her mouth had gone leaving her unable to speak or shout.

Kim felt the ache that started in her heart when the remaining figure and the swinging bell rope disappeared from view.

Her ears suddenly filled with a blood-curdling, tortured scream.

But no one else was around.

The scream came from her.

 

Woah, that has given me chills. I can’t wait to read the rest of the book. And if you’re hungry to read it as well, you can pre-order the book by clicking the link below, it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle on publication day which is the 18th May 2018.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

Broken Bones by Angela Marsons Extract

I’m absolutely delighted be able to bring you the opening extract from Angela Marsons latest novel in the DI Kim Stone series, Broken Bones. This is an absolutely terrific series which I can’t get enough of. But first, before I share the prologue, let’s have a look at what the novel is about.
Broken Bones: A gripping serial killer thriller (Detective Kim Stone Crime Thriller Series Book 7) by [Marsons, Angela]
BLURB

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?

PROLOGUE

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.

Amazon UK  Amazon Us  Kobo