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February 2020

17 Church Row by James Carol

Life has never been the same for the Rhodes family since the tragedy that occurred three years ago. In a devastating road accident, four-year-old Grace was killed, leaving her twin sister, Bella, so traumatised that she has refused to speak ever since. In an attempt to finally move on, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes move into a state-of-the-art new property, designed by the celebrated architect, Catriona Fisher. The house, with its ultra-modern security systems should be exactly what they are looking for, but what if it isn’t the safe place they think it is?

Well, this book has certainly given me pause for thought! From the start, I could understand the internal conflict felt by Nikki: should she stay at the house that holds so many memories of her dead daughter or should she move to 17 Church Row, a house that could surely protect her remaining child? As someone who has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Bella, the new property seemed a no-brainer and, for a while, all seemed fine. As the story progressed, it soon became apparent that there was a malevolent force in action, but who was behind it and what was their motive?

I think the scariest part of this book was that that the family became so reliant upon ‘Alice’ an artificial intelligence system that makes Alexa seem almost neanderthal. We see Alice making more and more decisions for the family, controlling their lives in every way, to the point where you wonder how far she will actually go. I found it quite unnerving to think that this sort of technology probably isn’t too far off in the future and how we rely upon the internet to do so many things already. What if this goes wrong? What will happen to society?

Most of the story is told from the perspective of Nikki, but some chapters are written by an unknown character who becomes more unhinged as the plot develops. I liked how we weren’t told who this is until much later in the book, making me constantly wonder who this could be. I have read numerous books with cold, calculating narrators but this is probably the one who has perturbed me the most.

17 Church Row is one of those books that draws you in instantly and holds your attention until the very last page. A fast-paced, exciting read that will certainly make you question the use of technology!

With thanks to Readers First for my copy.

 

The Sterling Affair by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

The death of a 92-year-old man wouldn’t ordinarily make the newspapers, but this was no ordinary elderly gentleman. Notwithstanding the fact that he appears to have committed suicide, there is another major problem: this man actually died in the 1940s. Tasked by a woman to investigate the real identity of the man who has been living under the name of her long-dead brother, forensic genealogist Morton Farrier finds himself involved in the shady world of 1950s espionage. Meanwhile, he has a problem of his own to solve when a close DNA match poses problems for the Farrier family.

As a family historian and a fan of genealogical fiction, I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s previous books centred around Morton Farrier. Farrier is a likeable character and it has been great fun to go with him on his professional and personal journey as he researches the family history of his clients whilst also trying to untangle his own complicated genealogy. The Sterling Affair, however, is a step up from the author’s previous offerings, mixing mystery, genealogy and espionage with ease and creating a genuinely enthralling story.

It is plain to see how much research has gone into this book as the author mixes fact with fiction making it impossible to see where one ends and the other begins. The Suez crisis is not a period of history that I profess to know a lot about and so I enjoyed learning about the events in the middle east and the involvement of Britain in its development. Told in two time frames, it allowed us to see events as they were unfolding in the 1940s/1950s and also Morton’s research in the present day. As always, Morton’s research was thorough and I liked reading about different sources that I (as yet) have not had the opportunity to use.

As well as the fascinating main plot, I was also drawn in by the plot regarding Morton’s own family. Just when you thought he couldn’t have any more skeletons in his closet, his DNA throws up an amazing twist, with a story line worthy of a book of its own. I hope that this is a case that the genealogist takes on as I would love to read the outcome in the next book.

The Sterling Affair is a gripping read, thrilling and educational at the same time. Highly recommended.

Take a look at my reviews of other books in this series:

The America Ground

The Spyglass File

The Missing Man

The Wicked Trade

 

 

**COVER REVEAL** Small Mercies by Alex Walters

Today I am pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal of Small Mercies by Alex Walters, the first book in a new crime series to feature DI Annie Delamere. Published by Canelo on 11th May, this looks right up my street!

A killer is sending a message – but for who?

DI Annie Delamere and her colleague DS Zoe Everett are off duty and enjoying a walk on the Peak District’s vast moorlands when they stumble across a mutilated corpse. The victim is unclothed and his tattoos indicate an affinity with the occult.

While Annie is put in charge of the case her long-term partner, MP Sheena Pearson, is confronted by a group of far right extremists. Rather than back down Sheena chooses to stand her ground – and almost pays for it with her life.

As more bodies are found, Annie is under pressure to prove her worth. But with one eye on her personal affairs can she catch a murderer and still keep her loved ones safe? And are the killings the work of a deranged mind – or a cover for something even more chilling?

Buy link: Amazon

With thanks to Sophie Eminson and Canelo.

**BLOG TOUR** The Sinner by Martyn Waites

Living in witness protection, ex-undercover police officer, Tom Killgannon, finds himself summoned back to work by a local task force headed by DS Sheridan. His mission puts him inside Blackmoor prison, where he is tasked to befriend Noel Cunningham, a child killer, to try to ascertain where he has hidden two of his victims’ bodies that have never been found. A prison is a dangerous place at the best of times, but Tom’s life is put at risk when he is identified by Dean Foley, a convicted gangster who was put away thanks to his testimony. Realising that this is not going to end well, he tries to contact DS Sheridan, but is unsuccessful. What is the real reason for him being put inside the prison and will he make it out alive?

The previous book in this series, The Old Religion, received great plaudits and so I was pleased to be able to take part in the blog tour for the follow up, The Sinner. Although there are some references to events that occurred in The Old Religion, knowledge of what has gone before is not essential and this can be read as a standalone.

From the start of the book, I found myself totally invested in the character of Tom Killgannon. Placed in the witness protection scheme and seemingly enjoying his life, there was a definite air of foreboding when he was asked to take part in another undercover operation. Tom should have listened to his instincts as he could not have envisaged what was going to happen during his time in Blackmoor. Martyn Waites paints a very bleak picture of life in prison, corruption being rife, creating an incredibly unsafe environment for the prisoners. It was fascinating to see how quickly Tom became accustomed to incarceration, and it was easy to see why mental health issues among prisoners are so high.

There is so much happening in this plot, both inside and outside of the prison. While Tom is trying to discover Dean Foley’s motives and attempting to get the information required by DS Sheridan, he’s also worrying about the people he cares about the most on the outside. Pearl and Lila are great characters, and I enjoyed seeing these women come to the fore when danger presents itself.

For me, the most fascinating part of the book is the relationship between Tom and Dean. Through flashbacks, we get to find out about the events that put Dean in prison, and we also see why he would certainly bear a grudge against Tom. There is a definite ‘cat and mouse’ element between these two characters and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the inevitable showdown.

The Sinner has a tight plot and is a great thriller that became even better as the book progressed. Just when I thought everything had concluded, Martin Waites hit me with a superb twist that I hope will be explored in further books. This is a great read and I recommend it highly.

With thanks to Zaffre Books and to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour.

 

 

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

Dr Ruth Galloway has left behind her beloved Saltmarsh and is now teaching at St. Jude’s College, Cambridge, where she is now living with her daughter, Kate, and partner, Frank. Norfolk pulls her back, though, after convicted murderer Ivor March tells DCI Nelson that he will reveal the whereabouts of the bodies of two missing women, but only if Ruth can do the dig. Reluctantly, she agrees, conducting the dig in a place said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, figures who lure people to their deaths. As the case progresses, more questions begin to be asked: Why was March so insistent that Ruth be the one doing the digging and is, like Cathbad believes, March actually innocent of the crimes he has been convicted of?

It is fair to say that Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite authors and so The Lantern Men was one of the books on my most anticipated list for 2020. Ruth, Nelson, Cathbad and the rest of the characters in this wonderful series have become like old friends, and I could not wait to see what has happened to them since the previous book, The Stone Circle. Well, it’s safe to say that a lot has changed! Ruth has left her job, taking up a new appointment in Cambridge and living with her partner, Frank. We also find Clough working with another police force and Nelson enjoying being a father again, to his two-year-old son, George. It’s not long, though, before Elly Griffiths ‘gets the band together again’, as they investigate the deaths of the women.

Although Ivor March has been convicted of the murders of two of the women, doubt is soon cast as to his involvement when there is a new development. Ivor was definitely a charismatic, unnerving character, but was he a murderer? There were certainly plenty of people (mainly women) keen to see his conviction quashed, and Elly Griffiths has done a great job in introducing a smorgasbord of potential suspects, each one of them connected to March through his involvement with a local artistic commune. These characters were all suspicious in their own right, and I spent the book trying to figure out who, if any of them, were involved.

One of the things I enjoy most about this series is how archaeology and modern police forensics work hand in hand and this is certainly apparent is The Lantern Men. I love how archaeologist Ruth appears to be at her happiest when up to her knees in soil, yet worries about her appearance whenever Nelson is around! The relationship between these two characters is as complex as ever and with more and more people seemingly aware of their connection, this leads to some uncomfortable moments for them both.

I had no doubt that I would enjoy this book, but The Lantern Men managed to exceed my already high expectations. Heart-stopping in moments, this is an excellent addition to an already superb series. I look forward to seeing where Elly Griffiths takes Ruth next.

With thanks to Net Galley and Quercus for my copy.

Take a look at my reviews for the rest of this series:

The Crossing Places

The Janus Stone

The House at Sea’s End

A Room Full of Bones

Ruth’s First Christmas Tree

A Dying Fall

The Outcast Dead

The Ghost Fields

The Woman in Blue

The Chalk Pit

The Dark Angel

The Stone Circle

**BLOG TOUR** Blood on His Hands by Ian McFadyen

Today, I’m pleased to be one of the blogs featuring on the tour for Blood on His Hands by Ian McFadyen, the latest book in the Carmichael series. I really like the sound of this so, hopefully, the blurb and the extract will whet your appetite too! If it does, you’ll find a link at the end to win a copy of the book.

The Blurb

When a stranger enters DI Carmichael’s local church, with blood on his hands claiming to have committed a murder, Carmichael and his team are quickly summoned.

And when the man disappears, as mysteriously as he arrived, with few clues to his identity, where he came from and where he went, Carmichael quickly realises that all may not be as it seems.

The conundrum becomes even more puzzling when, in less than 24 hours, a corpse is discovered in the boot of a Bentley car down a quiet country lane.

As the body count rises Carmichael and his team remain confounded as to who is behind the murders and what motive they have for taking so many lives. In this, the eighth gripping murder mystery from the pen of Ian McFadyen, the author once again captivates the reader with an array of beguiling characters tightly woven within an intriguing, skilfully scripted plot.

It will keep you guessing right until the end…

 

The Extract

DC Rachel Dalton manages to locate the agent of Geoffrey Brookwell, an actor found murdered in the small Lancashire village of Moulton Bank. DI Carmichael is otherwise engaged, so Dalton is instructed to conduct the interview alone.  

Rachel Dalton looked up at the large clock that hung behind where Anna Montgomery was sitting; it read 12:35pm.

“I’m afraid Inspector Carmichael has had to rush off on another case,” she explained, “so it will be just me.”

The absence of Rachel’s superior didn’t seem to bother Anna Montgomery, who just gave a faint shrug of her shoulders.

“I’m more worried about the time,” she replied. “I’ve only got about thirty minutes, then I’ll have to be off, so I can get back to Manchester for my two-thirty meeting.”

Rachel Dalton looked up into Anna Montgomery’s eyes and smiled.

“How long have you been Geoffrey Brookwell’s agent?” she enquired.

“Just over fifteen years,” replied Anna.

“And what sort of actor was he?” continued Rachel.

“A mediocre one,” Anna replied immediately and without any hint of remorse. “He had one reasonably long run about ten years ago as Dr Damien Hook in The Cumbrian Way, which lasted about three years,

but since that ended, he’s not done much. A few voice-overs and adverts, but other than that, zilch.”

“I see,” remarked Rachel, who paused for a few seconds. “And when did you last have any contact with Geoffrey?” continued Rachel.

“I haven’t seen him in months,” replied Anna, “but we spoke the other evening.”

“When was that?” Rachel enquired.

“It was Monday evening,” replied Anna. “He called me at about 5:45pm. He was very excited about some big role he reckoned he had in the bag.”

“Really,” replied Rachel. “Is it normal for actors to get a role without it going through their agent?”

Anna Montgomery shook her head. “It does happen,” she conceded, “but it’s very unusual, particularly with actors who have low profiles like Geoffrey.”

“So, what role was this?” Rachel asked.

“I’ve no idea,” replied Anna. “He was being very guarded about it, but he said that it was a major role with a big producer, that he’d been given an advance, and he was doing an improvisation for one of the scenes

with another actor, on location, the next day.”

“And what did you make of what he told you?” Rachel enquired.

Anna Montgomery held the palms of her hands upwards, as if to emphasise her bewilderment.

“Geoffrey wasn’t one to fabricate things,” she remarked, “but it all sounded a bit unusual to me. Which is what I told him.”

“But he gave you no more details about this audition or the nature of this big role?” Rachel remarked.

“None whatsoever,” replied Anna. “He assured me I’d get my agent fee but refused to elaborate any more.”

“I see,” replied Rachel. “And that was the last time you spoke with him?”

Anna nodded. “Yes, that’s right,” she replied.

“Did he mention anything about intending to go to church on Tuesday?” Rachel enquired.

“Church?” replied Anna Montgomery, her shocked voice loud and shrill. “Absolutely not. I know for a fact that, like me, Geoffrey was an atheist. What on earth would he be doing going to church; and

on a Tuesday, too? I thought that lot did their thing on Sundays.”

 

About the Author

Ian McFadyen lives in Bishops Stortford, Herts and has published seven books in the Carmichael series so far. McFadyen has built up a strong following and is particularly well supported by library borrowers – being positioned in the top 10% of most loaned authors in the last few years. Favourably mentioned alongside Wilkie Collins and Colin Dexter, McFadyen’s titles are all available in paperback and on kindle.

Social Media Links – Facebook.com/ianmcfadyenauthor & Twitter @ianMcFadyen1

 

Purchase Links

Book Guild: https://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop-collection/fiction/detective/blood-on-his-hands/

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-his-Hands-Dci-Carmichael/dp/1912881942

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/blood-on-his-hands/ian-mcfadyen/9781912881949

Foyles: https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/blood-on-his-hands,ian-mcfadyen-9781912881949?term=9781912881949

Blackwell’s: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Blood-on-His-Hands-by-Ian-McFadyen-author/9781912881949

WHSmith: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/blood-on-his-hands/ian-mcfadyen/paperback/9781912881949.html

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Blood-on-his-Hands-Ian-McFadyen/9781912881949

 

Competition!

Giveaway to Win 5 x Paperback copies of Blood on His Hands (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494341/?

 

 

 

The Body in the Snow by Nick Louth

When a trainee CSI goes out for a run one early, snowy morning, the last thing she expects is to be is a witness to a barbaric crime: the body of a woman is found, bludgeoned to death by a passing cyclist. The victim, Tanvi Roy, is something of a celebrity and, thanks to her food empire, is one of Britain’s richest women. Due to the complexities of her work and family life, DCI Craig Gillard must delve deep into her past to find a motive and, hopefully, the killer.

The Body in the Snow is the fourth book in the DCI Craig Gillard series and although there are a few references to the previous book, this would only really be noticeable to anyone who has read it so this can definitely be read as a standalone.

Again, Nick Louth has constructed a complex plot, this time revolving around a wealthy Hindu family and the conflicts between the traditional way of doing things and the desire of the younger generation to move with the times. In a book with so many characters, it would be easy to get lost, but each one is so well-written that this is never the case. The abundance of characters helped to create a proper ‘whodunit’, each person seemingly having their own motive for wanting Mrs Roy dead.

The Body in the Snow is definitely a police procedural in that, as well as the main focus of the plot being on the investigation, we also get to read about the forensics involved in the case. I enjoyed reading about how, at the start of the story, Kirsty Mockett, the trainee CSI, fought to preserve evidence using less than orthodox techniques.

As someone who has read the previous book in this series, I was unnerved by the mentions of a particular character and look forward to seeing if this person plays a role in what looks like an excellent fifth installment, my appetite being whetted by the inclusion of an extract at the end of this book.

If you haven’t read any of this series, I can highly recommend them. Take a look at my reviews of other Nick Louth books:

The Body in the Mist

The Body on the Shore

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy.

Monthly Round Up: January 2020

And so a new year begins! Thanks to Net Galley, I’ve been able to get hold of advance copies of some of the books I’ve been looking forward to, so February promises to contain some good books!

Books I’ve Read

The Penmaker’s Wife by Steve Robinson

A woman escapes her life in London, starting a new life in Victorian Birmingham with her young son. Despite managing to move up the social ladder, she soon realises that a past can never stay hidden, leading to some very disturbing circumstances.

 

The Stranger’s Wife by Anna Lou Weatherley

Two women, both in very different abusive relationships, each find a way to bring their suffering to an end. This is a great story featuring the very likeable detective Dan Riley.

 

The Other People by CJ Tudor

A man is informed that his wife and daughter have been killed, but how can this be when he’s just seen his daughter being driven down a motorway? His determination to find the truth leads him into a shadowy underworld and some very shady characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

 

The Sinner by Martyn Waites

Ex-undercover police officer, Tom Killgannon, finds himself drawn back into his former role when he is asked to find the whereabouts of the undiscovered bodies of a convicted killer. The only problem is, this means him going inside the prison, posing as a prisoner, and soon he comes across a face from the past. This is a great thriller; my review will feature as part of the blog tour.

 

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! by Gill Sims

The third in the series sees Ellen dealing with a potential divorce, teenage children, a dog who isn’t exactly Instagrammable and chatty chickens who clearly dislike her! Some very funny scenarios which had me laughing out loud!

 

 

Books I’ve Acquired

Cold Case Jury presents its most confounding crime yet: Poisoned at the Priory.

1876. When the newlywed barrister Charles Bravo ingests a rare poison, all evidence suggests suicide. But in one of the most infamous inquests of all time, a coroner finds it to be an unlawful murder. So, we must ask, what is the truth?

The fourth book in Antony M. Brown’s popular Cold Case Jury series picks apart this notorious case that gripped Victorian Britain – and continues to spark debate to this day. Why did Bravo refuse any help, even when going through agonising pain? Was his wife, with her scandalous past, to blame? Or perhaps it was her former lover, eager to remove his usurper for good… or another sinister hand, moving silently?

In Poisoned at the Priory, Brown compiles the evidence and creates dramatic reconstructions of four main theories of how Charles Bravo may have died – including Agatha Christie’s solution, in her own words, for the very first time.

But was Christie correct? What’s your verdict in this spellbinding case?

 

If someone was in your house, you’d know … Wouldn’t you?

But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare: the murder of their daughter.

The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.

One by one, people from Paige’s community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?

Was it an intruder?

Or was the murderer closer to home?

 

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.

Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

In BURIED, it’s time to meet DC Jack Warr as he digs up the deadly secrets of the past . . .

 

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?

 

It was always going to end in trouble. But how did it end in murder?

A murdered beauty queen. A town full of secrets. Who killed Jenny?

Jenny Kennedy appears to have it all. She’s the perfect daughter, the popular girl at school and a successful beauty queen. But then Jenny is found dead in a murder that rocks the small town she grew up in to the core.

Her estranged half-sister Virginia finds herself thrust into the spotlight as the case dominates the news and is desperate to uncover who killed Jenny. But she soon realises that maybe Jenny’s life wasn’t so perfect after all.

The truth is that Jenny has more than a few secrets of her own, and so do her neighbours… What really happened that night?

 

I can’t wait to read the Lynda la Plante book – she’s been one of my favourite authors for some years. My next read is The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths – I can’t wait to see what happens to Ruth Galloway next!

**COVER REVEAL** Rabette Run by Nick Rippington

I’m really pleased to be able to share with you the cover for Nick Rippington’s latest book, Rabette Run. Described as, ‘Alice in Wonderland…With tanks and guns’, this is a standalone psychological thriller. I’ve also got an extract which, hopefully, will whet your appetite!

The Blurb

EMERSON RABETTE has a phobia about travelling on the underground, so when he is involved in a car accident his worst nightmare is about to come true.

A middle-aged graphic designer and father of one, Emerson’s entire future depends on him reaching an important business meeting. Without an alternative method of transport, he has to confront his biggest fear.

Things immediately go wrong when Emerson’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder kicks in and his fellow passengers become angry at the way he is acting. Thankfully a young woman called Winter comes to his rescue and agrees to help him reach his destination.

Once on the train, she thinks her job is done. What she isn’t prepared for is Emerson taking flight after reading a message scrawled on the train’s interior.

It simply reads: ‘Run Rabette Run’.

Extract

PROLOGUE

HE was sneaking a glance at his daughter in the rear-view mirror, listening to her talk about college and friends, when their blue family estate was broadsided by the Jeep.

Time suspended before a tsunami of shattered glass crashed in and he lost control of the steering wheel. The airbag deployed and the seat belt cut painfully into his shoulder as it absorbed the strain of his 15-stone bulk before boomeranging him back into place. What was left of the windscreen retreated as his body reacted like the lash of a whip and, in his confusion, he experienced that eureka moment… ‘Ahhh, whiplash!’

As the car skidded across the road he was dazzled by a kaleidoscope of bright lights – neon advertising boards, shop windows and street lamps. When his eyes adjusted it was as if he was watching everything in slow motion: A couple he had noticed walking hand in hand moments earlier ran in different directions, while a newspaper seller deserted his pitch, money pouch flapping against his pounding legs. Further along, a dapper-looking bloke in tweeds seemed in two minds which way to flee before settling on the safety of the Underground steps.

The visions tumbled from his mind as the car completed its 360-degree spin and he finally locked eyes on his assailant. Marooned in the stationary Jeep, the dark-haired woman stared through the windscreen vacantly, a thick stream of blood meandering down her face from a garish wound above her eyebrow. Devoid of expression, it seemed the shock had vacuumed all thought from her brain.

As soon as she appeared, she was gone, the car continuing to spin. Facing the pavement again, the driver’s attention was captured by what he thought was a bundle of blankets and rags in a shop doorway. With alarm he noticed startled eyes staring out from a face swamped in facial hair. ‘Get out of the fucking way!’ the driver mouthed as he realised one of London’s street dwellers was totally oblivious to the approaching danger.

The car made jarring contact with the kerb and suddenly it was the driver who was spinning, like a sock in a washing machine. His head bumped against the ceiling, his left arm smashed against the twisted metal of the door and his right leg sent jolts of electrifying pain through his nervous system.

Finally, the fairground ride from hell came to an abrupt halt, the car thudding against something hard. The heap of tangled metal that was once a solid and protective shell settled slowly back in an upright position, bouncing like one of those gangster rides with hydraulic suspension that featured in American movies. This wasn’t America, though, this was twenty-first century Britain and he wasn’t a teen gangster, just an ordinary Joe going about his boring, routine business.

New sounds invaded the void left by the disintegrated windows: horns blowing, tyres screeching, glass crunching, people screaming. His ears slowly acclimatising to the noise, he then detected an unfamiliar ticking and saw steam pouring from the bent and buckled bonnet. Performing calculations in his head, he tried to work out how much this entire calamity might cost him. What would the insurance company say? Was there any possibility the vehicle wasn’t a write-off and did his policy contain the use of a courtesy car? How the hell was he going to get to work? What the hell was he going to tell his wife?

Shit, his daughter!

‘You OK back there, honey?’

There was a pause during which his heart skipped a beat.

Then…

‘Yeah, I think so. I’ve a… pain in my tummy.’

Superficial damage. Nothing serious. Thank God. Relief flooded through him.

‘You?’ she asked.

‘My leg’s killing me but otherwise…’

His thoughts were interrupted by another sound. Looking to his left, he was surprised to see the passenger window still intact. Outside, a man in a navy-blue uniform and cap gesticulated wildly, but it was hard to make out what he was saying. The driver felt as if his head was submerged in that slime kids found all the rage.

Still, at least he was conscious enough to interpret the police officer’s manic, hand-waving gestures and detect the urgency in them. Shaking his head to free himself from the gloop, he felt needles of pain attack his nervous system as he shifted sideways, utilising every muscle necessary to reach out and press the button which released the window.

The car’s electrics made an uncomfortable, whirring sound as the glass slid down a few centimetres then stopped. Jammed. He continued pushing the button, but the internal workings were badly damaged. He watched as a gloved hand slipped through the gap at the top of the door and exerted pressure. There was another crunching noise and the window dropped to around halfway, the brute force almost certainly rendering the mechanism irreparable. Not thinking straight, his first reaction was one of anger and his mind made calculations about how much compensation he should claim once he was back on his feet.

The police constable battled gamely to get his point across amid a deafening ensemble of alarm bells and sirens. ‘We need to get you out of there, sir. No need to panic, but we have to make you safe before we can get the paramedics to check you over.’

‘Sounds serious, Dad,’ said his girl.

‘Thanks, Sherlock, always the optimist.’

‘What was that?’ The officer’s face seemed blurred as the driver tried to focus.

‘Sorry, it’s my ears…’ he shouted, the frenzied effort to make himself heard betraying his underlying fear. ‘I can’t… Is the car going to explode?’

‘Umm, I sincerely hope not, sir, but there is a lot of fuel around, the engine’s smoking… It’s best to err on the side of caution. We need to get you a safe distance away in the unlikely event that things escalate. The fire brigade will be here in two ticks and they’ll bring it under control in no time. Until then…’

‘Not sure I can move to be honest, son. I think my leg’s trapped.’

‘Ahhh.’ The policeman nodded. ‘Can you have a look around – see what the problem is? You might be able to free it. On second thoughts, hold on, I’ll come around to your side and see what I can do.’

Appearing at the driver’s window, he then brushed aside fragments of glass and leaned through, peering into the gloom of the footwell. ‘O… K,’ he said slowly. He wasn’t very good at disguising his feelings. It was serious. ‘We have a bit of a problem. A lump of metal appears to have wedged itself in your leg. I’m guessing it will take special tools to get you out of there.’

Shit! The Jaws of Life. Only the other day he had been watching a TV programme about the fire service and the equipment they used to cut people free from road traffic accident wrecks. The jaws had saved many lives, but the name alone was enough to send a shudder rippling through his damaged body. The sirens in the distance were getting louder as they announced their urgency to the world. Blue spinning lights roamed the darkness of the car’s interior, before a more permanent red glow encroached on the shadows. Was it getting hot?

‘Ahhh…’ said the officer.

There were snapping sounds followed by a crackle. Random memories of an old advert for cereal entered the driver’s head: snap, crackle, pop. Twisting as best he could, the driver realised the noise was being created by flames eating into the car’s paintwork. ‘No!’ he muttered through clenched teeth. Damn, he’d just forked out a small fortune on a touch-up job after some local punk had dug a thick groove right along the passenger’s side with a coin or a key.

‘Uh oh!’ said his daughter, looking over her shoulder. ‘They’re going to get us out of here, aren’t they, Dad? I’m scared.’

‘Stay calm,’ he replied, wishing he could practice what he was preaching. ‘I’m sure it will be fine. The fire brigade is on their way and will be here shortly.’

‘Ahh, they’re here,’ the policeman announced on cue, relief evident in his tone.

Moments later the driver heard a new voice, the accent pure Cockney. ‘Stay calm, sir, and we’ll have you out in no time.’

The driver twisted in the direction of the person speaking and another wave of pain rolled through him. On the periphery of his vision he could make out a tall man with a pointed jaw in a fire brigade uniform.

‘What seems to be the trouble, eh? Let the dog see the rabbit.’ The fireman leaned inside. ‘Rrrr…igh…t,’ he said before shouting some instructions to the rest of his crew.

Suddenly, the car was plunged into darkness. The driver guessed it was being buried in that foam the fire services used to bring a blaze under control. It felt strangely comforting to know they weren’t going to be burnt alive. Another sound, a screeching, grating noise soon invaded the car’s interior, setting his teeth on edge.

‘Cool!’ muttered his daughter as sparks sprayed through the roof. Moments later the metal was peeled back like the lid on a tin of tuna, bright lights invading the space, making them cry out and shield their eyes.

‘Sorry, mate, it’s got to be done,’ advised the fire officer. ‘Once we’re inside, we can hopefully remove the obstacle that’s holding you in place and get you out of there. Second thoughts, the best thing we can do, looking at it now, would be to remove the door, together with your good self. It should be easier to cut you free elsewhere, rather than in the midst of this, um, chaos. When we get somewhere a bit less volatile the medical people can assess the problem and hopefully free your leg from the door.’

As he said this, for the first time the driver realised that up until now the darkness of the footwell had prevented him taking a closer look at his injury. Shielding his eyes from the glare, he glanced downwards. A thick metal shard was protruding from his leg and a dark, sticky substance soaked his trousers. The limb looked like a theatrical prosthesis in a zombie apocalypse movie, the foot at a right angle to the rest of the limb.

He experienced an unfamiliar dizziness and passed out.

GLOVED hands grasped the limp body and gently carried it to the stretcher. The patient felt a needle entering the soft tissue in his arm and after that remembered little, sliding into unconsciousness as he murmured her name. The paramedic whispered to one of the fireman.

‘What did he say? Sounded like a name? Jane, was it? I think he said something about a daughter. Was there anyone with him?’

‘Nope,’ replied the fireman. ‘He was all on his lonesome.’

A colleague arrived at the paramedic’s shoulder. ‘Right, best get him to intensive care, lickety spit,’ said the new arrival. ‘I hate to be the prophet of doom, but it will be touch and go if he survives the night.’

The Cover

About the Author

NICK RIPPINGTON is the award-winning author of the Boxer Boys series of gangland crime thrillers.

     Based in London, UK, Nick was the last-ever Welsh Sports Editor of the now defunct News of The World, writing his debut release Crossing The Whitewash after being made redundant with just two days notice after Rupert Murdoch closed down Europe’s biggest-selling tabloid in 2011.
On holiday at the time, Nick was never allowed back in the building, investigators sealing off the area with crime scene tape and seizing his computer as they investigated the phone-hacking scandal, something which took place a decade before Nick joined the paper. His greatest fear, however, was that cops would uncover the secrets to his Fantasy Football selections.
Handed the contents of his desk in a black bin bag in a murky car park, deep throat style, Nick was at a crossroads – married just two years earlier and with a wife and 9-month-old baby to support.
With self-publishing booming, he hit on an idea for a UK gangland thriller taking place against the backdrop of the Rugby World Cup and in 2015 produced Crossing The Whitewash, which received an honourable mention in the genre category of the Writers’ Digest self-published eBook awards. Judges described it as “evocative, unique, unfailingly precise and often humorous”.
Follow-up novel Spark Out, a prequel set at the time of Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands War, received a Chill With A Book reader award and an IndieBRAG medallion from the prestigious website dedicated to Independent publishers and writers throughout the world. The novel was also awarded best cover of 2017 with Chill With A Book.
The third book in the Boxer Boys series Dying Seconds, a sequel to Crossing The Whitewash, was released in December 2018 and went to the top of the Amazon Contemporary Urban Fiction free charts during a giveaway period of five days. A digital box set, the Boxer Boys Collection, came out in September last year.

       Now Nick, 60, is switching direction feeling that, for the moment, the Boxer Boys series has run its course. His latest novel, Rabette Run, will be released in the Spring and Nick says, ‘It is a gritty psychological thriller with twists and turns galore. Think Alice in Wonderland with tanks and guns.’
Married to Liz, When Nick isn’t writing he works as a back bench designer of sports pages on the Daily Star. He has two children – Jemma, 37, and Olivia, 9.

Links: 

Website: www.theripperfile.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/buckrippers

Twitter: @nickripp

Instagram: @nickrippingtonauthor

Where to find Nick’s books…

Amazon Author Page in the UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nick-Rippington/e/B0135YST78

Amazon Author Page in the US:

https://www.amazon.com/Nick-Rippington/e/B0135YST78

Buying Links:

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B084D3TT36

USA https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084D3TT36

With thanks to Sarah Hardy from Book On The Bright Side Publicity & Promo.

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