Thrillers and Mysteries: 2017 Highlights

 

Feast your eyes on our selection of highlights from 2017! It’s been an extremely difficult task getting this list down to just eight, but if you love good thrillers and mysteries, the titles below come highly recommended – and not just by us!

thrill killTHRILL KILL by Don Bruns

Three murders, no apparent motive, but a can of spray gas known as Chill has been left at the scene of each crime . . . Beneath the carefree atmosphere of Mardi Gras, something very sinister is going on in this gripping Quentin Archer mystery.

“Even better than the excellent first book in the series, CASTING BONES!” Amazon reviewer

“Spell-binding” Cindy Fairweather, NetGalley

UK: buy here.    US: buy here.

 

deadly danceDEADLY DANCE by Hilary Bonner

A compelling psychological thriller and the first in a new series featuring Bristol detective, DI David Vogel. The discovery of the partially-clothed fourteen-year-old Melanie Cooke marks the start of a baffling murder investigation, where the revelation of a darkly complex secret shocks Vogel and his team to the core.

“Fully fleshed characters, a masterfully constructed plot, and a shock ending make for a gripping read” Booklist

“A very captivating read” Amazon reviewer

UK: buy here.    US: buy here.

mansionsTHE MANSIONS OF MURDER by Paul Doherty

October, 1381. A murdered priest, a missing body, stolen treasure: Brother Athelstan tackles his most difficult investigation to date when a series of disturbing discoveries lead him into the dark and dangerous world of the gangmaster known as The Flesher . . .

“Doherty keeps readers guessing and the pages turning with yet another intricately plotted whodunit steeped in history” Booklist

“Another great book, keep them coming!” Amazon reviewer

UK: buy here.    US: buy here.

copperON COPPER STREET by Chris Nickson

Leeds, England. March, 1895. The day after his release from prison, petty criminal Henry White is found stabbed to death at his terraced home on Copper Street, but Detective Inspector Tom Harper finds answers hard to come by in his latest challenging investigation.

“An outstanding entry in an excellent historical mystery series” Booklist Starred Review

“A huge 5* from me!” NetGalley reviewer

UK: buy here.    US: buy here.

 

spring breakSPRING BREAK by Gerald Elias

Reclusive, blind violin pedagogue Daniel Jacobus is invited to speak at a seemingly innocuous symposium on Baroque music at a prestigious music conservatory, but has no idea he is about to become enmeshed in an entrenched culture of sexual harassment and its cover-up at the highest levels. A timely and engrossing read which deals sensitively with one of society’s big issues.

“A very good entry in a reliable series” Booklist

“Terrific!” Amazon reviewer

UK: buy here.    US: buy here.

 

riverTHE RIVER BELOW by Bonnie Hearn Hill

When a mangled car is pulled from the river, containing bloodstains and a gun, Tessa thinks she saw a girl out on the riverbank. But her memory is failing; could this be the start of something more serious? Tessa’s friend Claire Barrett vows to work out what’s going on in this tale of suppressed secrets, fractured families . . . and murder.

“A haunting psychological thriller” Booklist

“Gripped me from beginning to end” Amazon reviewer

UK: buy here.    US: buy here.

 

9780727887559_FCVANISHED by Karen E. Olson

With a price on her head, computer hacker Tina Adler is determined to stay offline. But a chance discovery leads Tina to abandon her South Carolina hideaway and head to Paris in search of her old flame, FBI Agent Zeke Chapman. But someone is close on her trail in this tense and twisting thriller.

“This timely thriller is Alias meets Hackers – and you can’t get cooler than that” Hank Phillippi Ryan

“Exciting” Kirkus Reviews

UK: buy here.    US: pre-order here.

9780727887221LONE WOLF by Michael Gregorio

The discovery of a badly burned and mutilated body near Stansted airport leads the British police to Perugia, Italy, where park ranger Sebastiano Cangio is assigned to assist British detective Desmond Harris. Meanwhile, something monstrous is on the loose in the forests of Umbria. Could there be any truth to the rumours of werewolves?

“Gregorio offers up a nightmarish plot, white-knuckle suspense, and believable characters in this gripping thriller” Booklist

“A cracking thriller” Mike Ripley

UK: buy here.    US: buy here.

 

 

 

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December Titles Out Now . . .

December pub

If too much turkey, wine and braving the Boxing Day sales has left you in recovery mode on the sofa, we might just have the perfect remedy for the post-Xmas slump: our December titles! Engross yourself in our new mysteries and thrillers, out today in the UK (1 April 2018 in the US), and available to purchase on Amazon using the links below.

MIND OF A KILLER by Simon Beaufort

1882. Following up a story about a fatal house fire, newspaper reporter Alec Londale discovers that the victim’s death was no accident. But why would someone murder a humble shop assistant and steal part of his brain? Alec is about to uncover evidence of a shocking conspiracy that reaches the highest echelons of Victorian society in this absorbing historical mystery.

More details and purchase on Amazon here.

BAD COPS by Nick Oldham

Two murders, apparently unconnected . . . neither case solved. Six months later, following a desperate plea from a chief constable, Detective Superintendent Henry Christie finds himself travelling across the country to carry out an urgent review of the two killings. His investigations will plunge him into a terrifying world of murder and corruption. How bad can it be when backs are against the wall? Henry Christie is about to find out . . .

More details and purchase on Amazon here.

WHISPER THE DEAD by Stella Cameron

Will appeal to fans of M.C. Beaton and Midsomer Murders.

Construction of a new housing development is already causing the residents of Folly-on-Weir concern when pub owner Alex Duggins is confronted by the terrifying scene of a construction trailer on fire and a man desperately trying to break the door down. Alex and her friend Tony Harrison are soon drawn into a major murder investigation whose tentacles will reach right to the heart of the tight-knit Folly community – and into Alex’s own past . . .

More details and purchase on Amazon here.

FALSE PRIDE by Veronica Heley

Bea Abbot’s plans for a peaceful weekend are disrupted by the unexpected arrival of one of her clients bearing a brown leather briefcase full of expensive jewellery. Magda Summerleys has been working as a housekeeper for wealthy art expert Lucas Rycroft who, she says, entrusted her with the briefcase for safekeeping – and who seems to have disappeared without trace. Bea is soon drawn into the tangled affairs of the dysfunctional Rycrofts . . . and events quickly begin to spiral out of control.

More details and purchase on Amazon here.

MILE HIGH MURDER by Marcia Talley

Maryland State Senator Claire Thompson has co-sponsored a Cannabis Legalization Bill and wants Hannah to be part of a fact-finding task force that testifies before the Maryland State Senate. Before long, Hannah is in Denver, Colorado – the Mile High City – staying at a B&B with a group of pot pilgrims and medical refugees, some of whom, like her, are on a mission for information. But when one of the group is found dead, is Hannah about to get ‘high’ on murder?

More details and purchase on Amazon here.

LOCK 13 by Peter Helton

Henry Blinkhorn drowned when his boat capsized in the Severn estuary. So how come his photograph appears on the front cover of The Angler six years later? The insurers who paid out a small fortune on his death have asked private investigator Chris Honeysett to track down the elusive Mr Blinkhorn and prove he’s still alive. But Honeysett is sidetracked from the investigation by the sudden disappearance of his life drawing model, Verity Lake, and it soon becomes clear that someone else is on Honeysett’s trail. Who are they . . . and what are they really after?

More details and purchase on Amazon here.

#BookExtract2: LOST VOYAGE by Pauline Rowson

Lost Voyage by Pauline Rowson book jacket

Art Marvik, former Royal Marine Commando, is surprised to receive an unexpected summons to meet Helen Shannon, a woman he helped on his first mission, in the middle of the night. When a body is discovered in her flat, Marvik is convinced that Helen is being framed for murder, but why and by whom? 

Shortly afterwards, the head of the National Marine Intelligence Squad, Detective Chief Superintendent Crowder, asks him to investigate the disappearance of a salvage vessel, the Mary Jo, which went missing in 2003.  As he delves into the past, it becomes clear that Marvik faces a desperate battle to keep Helen and others safe from a ruthless assassin – one who will stop at nothing in order to protect the secret of the Mary Jo’s last voyage from ever being exposed.

Read the second extract from LOST VOYAGE, the compelling third entry in the Art Marvik series . . .

Marvik once again went over his boat. All was secure. No one had entered it. He swallowed a couple of strong painkillers, then froze as he felt a movement on the pontoon. He steeled himself in readiness. His cabin lights were on. He couldn’t see who it was, only an outline of a dark-clothed figure. There was nowhere to hide. Besides, he wouldn’t hide anyway. This was what he had anticipated. He knew who his visitor was. Had he come alone, though? Had he come with the intention of killing him?

Marvik’s senses were on full alert for the smell of petrol, the placing of an explosive or the thud of an incendiary device which could be lobbed on to his boat, resulting in a massive fire. He might just have time to leap off the side into the sea.

His heart was beating fast, the adrenaline pumping. He’d left the cabin door open but he didn’t go outside. Instead he climbed silently and swiftly on to the fly bridge, keeping low. Here he had a good view of the pontoon. There were two of them. The bulkier one wore a peaked sailing cap rammed low down over his forehead, dark trousers and a sailing jacket. He nodded to the leaner, bare-headed man beside him, also dressed in dark clothes. The lean man climbed carefully on to the rear of Marvik’s boat and stealthily made his way around to the cabin door while the other man stayed on the pontoon. Marvik saw him glance rather nervously in both directions and back at the pontoon from where he’d come, towards the car park.

The boat rocked gently as the man entered the helm. Marvik could hear him breathing and sensed him searching it. Was he armed? Then he heard the soft footfall on the steps that led to the upper helm where Marvik crouched. As the head appeared, then the upper torso, Marvik launched himself on it and within a second had the man’s neck in a tight armlock before the bastard could blink or cry out. The heavy-duty torch in the man’s right hand – not brought for illumination, Marvik thought, but for striking – clattered to the deck.

‘You really should get some practice in,’ Marvik growled in the man’s ear as he gripped his arm and wrenched it up his back. ‘Now, do you want me to break your neck or your arm, or shall we go down and invite your mate to come on board?’

Marvik’s grip tightened. The man’s eyes bulged in a face which was rapidly turning blue as the oxygen was being severed. He managed to blink acceptance of the offer and Marvik picked up the heavy torch then thrust the man down the stairs ahead of him on to the deck, still holding him by the neck and in an armlock. Marvik called out to the bulkier man on the pontoon who had already seen them and had started nervously. ‘You’d better come on board, Royden, or would you rather I break your mate’s neck?’

‘No. I’m coming,’ Royden hastily replied and scrambled on board.

Miss the first extract? Read it here.

LOST VOYAGE by Pauline Rowson is out now in the UK and USA, and published in eBook. For further information on the Art Marvik marine thrillers, Pauline Rowson and her work, please visit our website here.

 

 

The Inspiration Behind LOST VOYAGE by Pauline Rowson

 

“A nice balance between thriller and puzzler” Kirkus Reviews 

Lost Voyage is the third instalment in the Art Marvik marine thriller series by Pauline Rowson. Here she talks about the story behind the book and the lost ships that inspired her.

How do you find a ghost ship once the trail has gone cold? And how do you locate it if it has been lost in the frozen seas of the Arctic? These were two questions that sparked the idea for the third in the Art Marvik mystery series, Lost Voyage. It also fitted neatly with the fact that Marvik’s late father, Dan Coulter, had been a renowned oceanographer with a special interest in the Arctic and it had been at the Arctic where he had met Marvik’s mother, Eerika, a marine archaeologist while working on a joint expedition with Norway in 1989.

I decided to conduct further research – desk-bound, I hasten to add, rather than physically embarking on an expedition to the Arctic. I’ll leave the tough stuff to my fictional characters.

I discovered that historically difficult to access, the Arctic Ocean once viewed as a remote and barren landscape has now become the fastest warming region of the globe because of climate change. On current predictions the entire Arctic Ocean will become ice-free in the summer sometime in the coming decades. This will bring with it a huge impact for marine life far beyond the Arctic region and will therefore affect our environmental, economic and political landscapes. It’s a scary scenario. But rather than choosing to focus on global warming and climate change for the story behind Lost Voyage, I thought of the ships lost in the ice over the centuries, and that if (or rather I should say when) the Arctic becomes ice-free, how many lost ships would it reveal?

So my search for ships lost in the Arctic Circle began, metaphorically speaking that is. There was the fascinating story of the SS Baychimo, which, after disappearing off the north coast of Alaska on 24 November 1931, was found, ice-packed, a few days later forty-five miles south of where she had been lost. After several months, she was again spotted, this time three hundred miles to the east. There followed numerous sightings over the next few years and she was boarded by various people in different locations – a group of Eskimos, explorers and in 1939 by Captain Hugh Polson, wishing to salvage her. But the creeping ice floes intervened and the captain had to abandon her. She was again spotted in 1962 and 1969 frozen in an ice pack. In 2006, the Alaskan government began work on a project to solve the mystery of ‘the Ghost Ship of the Arctic’ and locate her, whether still afloat or on the ocean floor. She has not been found yet.

Then another lost ship caught my eye and my imagination, the MV Lyubov Orlova, a Russian cruise ship, which went missing in the Atlantic. The luxury liner was being towed to the Dominican Republic from Newfoundland, Canada, to be scrapped when the towing ship battling against howling winds and ten-feet waves tried in vain to hold on to her. They failed and the cruise ship was left to drift. It was feared sunk and leaking toxins into the ocean. Several attempts have been made to locate her – all have failed. It’s just one of many ships that have gone ‘astray’. In fact, no one really knows how many ships are floating on the high seas or how many are lying beneath it.

From further research into ghost ships and the marine salvage industry the idea of a plot line for Lost Voyage started to crystallize. A salvage tug, the Mary Jo, is detailed to tow a Russian cruise ship out of Newfoundland to Britain for recycling in 2003, the time when a trans-Atlantic row was raging over the disposal of thirteen American toxic warships destined for Hartlepool in the UK for recycling. The warships, which had lain in the James River in Virginia for decades, contained hundreds of tonnes of hazardous substances, including asbestos, heavy diesel, mercury, lead-based paints and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Four were eventually dismantled at Hartlepool.

In Lost Voyage, the salvage tug the Mary Jo never reaches her Newfoundland destination. She is lost until someone claims to have found her over a decade later, in the present day. It is a claim that leads to a trail of deaths because the secret of the Mary Jo must never be revealed. Marvik, working undercover for the UK’s National Intelligence Marine Squad (NIMS), is tasked to discover what that deadly secret is, and in so doing track down and stop a ruthless assassin.

LOST VOYAGE is available to purchase here.

Find out more about the previous two titles in the Art Marvik series,  SILENT RUNNING and  DANGEROUS CARGO.

 

 

 

Gerald Elias on SPRING BREAK

 

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My primary goals in the Daniel Jacobus series have been to write entertaining stories, provide a glimpse into the multi-faceted world of classical music, and give lay readers a good beginners’ listening list of some of the world’s greatest music. I’ve generally shied away from wading into political or broad social issues. When I started writing Spring Break I knew it was going to take place in a music conservatory and that a murder would be committed over some bone of contention, of which there are enough to make complete skeletons. I hadn’t determined who the victim or murderer would be, or the motive.

But as I worked through my rough draft, those question marks became exclamation points as, one after another, institutions of higher education became the subject of front-page headlines in highly publicized cases of sexual violence on their campuses. It didn’t matter whether it was a major Ivy League university or a church-administered one. Sexual harassment remains a doggedly tenacious epidemic in our general culture, and no less so on college campuses where, literally, one is presumed to know better. With the setting of Spring Break already established, I felt compelled to address this issue head on.

When drunken frat boys and campus sports heroes rape female students, we wring our hands but chalk it up to bad upbringing or aberrant behavior or extra testosterone or the reason-numbing effects of binge drinking. We decry it but can, to some degree, understand it. But when such crimes are committed by revered university profes­sors, how do we explain that away? Misunderstandings? If a professor can’t discern the difference between right and wrong, who can? Is it that difficult?

We are now engaged in a raging national debate regarding sexual misconduct that goes far beyond the college campus. High-profile men in the entertainment industry, in the media, in government, have been outed for sexual misconduct ranging from an unwanted kiss to pathological pedophilia. Even this is but the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, sexual misconduct in the workplace – in offices, in hotels, in factories, in athletics, in the armed forces – has yet to be fully exposed. And it goes even beyond the workplace. Women do not feel safe from harassment or being groped simply walking down the street, sitting in a bus, or going to a park.

When students and former students have come to me with stories of being victimized by members of my profession, the most important thing I can do is help them regain their ability –which has been so violently compromised – to trust someone, anyone. I try to provide that trust and support. In a society that has no difficulty talking about violence but is unable to openly discuss sex, especially sexual predation, it is no wonder that women are only now coming forward and with such difficulty and with such courage.

We cringe in disgust when Catholic priests are exposed for abusing children. We are outraged when male-dominated cultures of so-called Third World countries relegate women to second-class status. We recoil in horror when marauding mercenaries in Africa rape women as their reward and as a tool to terrorize the populace into submission. Why is it, then, in our supposedly advanced democracy, we’ve continued to tolerate sexual violence throughout our society, and more specifically in Spring Break, on college campuses? To claim we haven’t tolerated it is simply denying reality. The abuse persists, adminis­trations continue to place the prestige of their universities ahead of the well-being of their own students, and the justice system continues to bend over backwards to protect the rights of the accused to the point of victimizing the victims. Why is it we do not demand change? Is it because we’re in a state of denial that ‘the greatest country in the world’ may be no better than the lowest of the low? I don’t really have answers to those questions. I wish I did, but what I at least can do in Spring Break is provide food for thought, and hope that sharing the message will help advance a constructive dialogue for change.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gerald Elias

 

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Click here for more information on SPRING BREAK and PLAYING WITH FIRE, both in the Daniel Jacobus mystery series.

Jingle those bells! Our December titles out soon . . .

Dec wordpress

We’re feeling oh-so-jolly this month with an array of fantastic new reads! Our December titles are available to purchase in the UK from 29 December, and here’s a sneak preview of what to expect:

 

MIND OF A KILLER by Simon Beaufort

1882. Following up a story about a fatal house fire, newspaper reporter Alec Londale discovers that the victim’s death was no accident. But why would someone murder a humble shop assistant and steal part of his brain? Alec is about to uncover evidence of a shocking conspiracy that reaches the highest echelons of Victorian society in this absorbing historical mystery.

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

BAD COPS by Nick Oldham

Two murders, apparently unconnected . . . neither case solved. Six months later, following a desperate plea from a chief constable, Detective Superintendent Henry Christie finds himself travelling across the country to carry out an urgent review of the two killings. His investigations will plunge him into a terrifying world of murder and corruption. How bad can it be when backs are against the wall? Henry Christie is about to find out . . .

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

WHISPER THE DEAD by Stella Cameron

Will appeal to fans of M.C. Beaton and Midsomer Murders.

Construction of a new housing development is already causing the residents of Folly-on-Weir concern when pub owner Alex Duggins is confronted by the terrifying scene of a construction trailer on fire and a man desperately trying to break the door down. Alex and her friend Tony Harrison are soon drawn into a major murder investigation whose tentacles will reach right to the heart of the tight-knit Folly community – and into Alex’s own past . . .

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

FALSE PRIDE by Veronica Heley

Bea Abbot’s plans for a peaceful weekend are disrupted by the unexpected arrival of one of her clients bearing a brown leather briefcase full of expensive jewellery. Magda Summerleys has been working as a housekeeper for wealthy art expert Lucas Rycroft who, she says, entrusted her with the briefcase for safekeeping – and who seems to have disappeared without trace. Bea is soon drawn into the tangled affairs of the dysfunctional Rycrofts . . . and events quickly begin to spiral out of control.

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

MILE HIGH MURDER by Marcia Talley

Maryland State Senator Claire Thompson has co-sponsored a Cannabis Legalisation Bill and wants Hannah to be part of a fact-finding task force that testifies before the Maryland State Senate. Before long, Hannah is in Denver, Colorado – the Mile High City – staying at a B&B with a group of pot pilgrims and medical refugees, some of whom, like her, are on a mission for information. But when one of the group is found dead, is Hannah about to get ‘high’ on murder?

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

LOCK 13 by Peter Helton

Henry Blinkhorn drowned when his boat capsized in the Severn estuary. So how come his photograph appears on the front cover of The Angler six years later? The insurers who paid out a small fortune on his death have asked private investigator Chris Honeysett to track down the elusive Mr Blinkhorn and prove he’s still alive. But Honeysett is sidetracked from the investigation by the sudden disappearance of his life drawing model, Verity Lake, and it soon becomes clear that someone else is on Honeysett’s trail. Who are they . . . and what are they really after?

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

 

#BookExtract: BAD COPS by Nick Oldham

 

BAD COPS by Nick Oldham is the twenty-fifth title in the Henry Christie series, which sees Detective Superintendent Henry Christie agree to travel across the country to the fictional region of Central Yorkshire to carry out an urgent review of two killings. What Henry doesn’t realise is that he’s about to be plunged into a terrifying world of murder and corruption – one where he’ll discover just how bad some cops can be when their backs are against the wall . . . Check out this preview below!

‘Who’s the guy?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘In that case, you need to find out and then do what you have to do.’

‘What the hell does that mean?’

‘You fucking know – sort it, sort him, sort them . . . I don’t have time for this shit just now.’

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Runcie ended the call on her iPhone with an angry stab of her thumb and hissed the word, ‘Tosser.’ She slid the device back into her trouser pocket, wiped the grimy sweat from her forehead, caught her breath and then gathered her ponytail at the back of her head, slid off the elastic band, bunched her hair and fitted the band again.

She had wanted to take the call from Silverthwaite, but it had come in at an inopportune moment to say the least. With her nostrils flaring wide, she looked down at the unmoving form of the man at her feet lying splayed out, face down on the painted concrete floor of cell number six in wing two. It was her favourite cell because, despite its low number, it was situated furthest away from the custody office.

A pool of blood was spreading wide from the man’s crushed face on the non-porous surface.

Runcie swore and squatted down on her haunches, reaching out with the index and middle fingers of her right hand to check for a pulse in the soft flesh just under the man’s chin in the carotid artery.

It was still there. Weak, but there.

‘Is  he still alive?’ Runcie rose stiffly to her full height, her knees popping. She was a tall, rangy woman, just under six feet tall without heels, so she usually wore flats to work. She eyed the man standing opposite her on the other side of the prostrate guy, noticing his suit, like hers, was splattered with flecks of blood.

”Course he fucking is,’ she said.

‘What do we do now?’ The man, older than Runcie, wiped his face, which was also blood-spattered, stretching his tired features.

Runcie’s face twitched. Under her calm exterior, her mind was racing, working out the angles, the possibilities, thinking about what she had in place for eventualities like this – a man beaten half to death in a police cell.

She put her hands on her hips.

‘Let’s think.’ She invited the man – his name was John Saul and he was a detective constable – to consider. ‘We have a man lying on the floor in front of us, who we strongly believe of being the man who abducted and raped four children and murdered them, burying their bodies in the woods . . .’

‘Yet he denies it,’ Saul pointed out insipidly.

‘Oh, he did it, he fucking did it,’ Runcie stated with exacting certainty. ‘So I think this: he’s been in police custody, been released without charge after interview, decided he can take no more and, in a fit of despairing remorse, he tops himself . . . What do you reckon to that scenario?’

A smile quivered on Saul’s lips. ‘All fits,’ he agreed. ‘Just a bit of a problem.’ Saul looked down at the man’s body, which shuddered slightly as a moan escaped from his mouth.
Still very much alive.

Runcie nodded. ‘You got your two p’s?’ she asked. Saul nodded. ‘How many prisoners    are along this corridor as we speak?’

‘Four, I think.’

‘OK, you sort out the CCTV while I speak to the custody officer.’

The two detectives backed out of the cell, closing the heavy, steel-clad door with a gentle clunk. They walked quietly down the cell corridor, Runcie pausing at each cell that was occupied, easily identifiable as all empty cells were left with the doors wide open. She put her eye to each circular, toughened glass peephole just above the inspection hatches and peered into each cell.

Saul had been correct. Four prisoners in total. Two were laid out on their benches, sleeping soundly. The other two were awake, both sitting on the benches, their legs drawn up. As Runcie’s eyes appeared at the holes, each man looked up at her. One stayed seated; the other rose and crossed to the door, but Runcie did not stay to talk.
She and Saul entered the custody office where the single sergeant on duty was making entries into custody records, keeping them up to date. Her name was PS Anna Calder and she eyed the detectives warily as they split.

Runcie approached the sergeant while Saul went to a small office behind the custody desk.

The young sergeant looked strained as Runcie leaned on the desk.

‘The cameras are going off for five minutes,’ the DCI said. ‘That pesky intermittent fault.’

The sergeant’s throat rose and fell visibly as she seemed to swallow something approaching the size of half a house brick. ‘Why?’ she whispered huskily.

‘We’re taking him out . . . so he needs to be booked out, released with no charge,’ Runcie explained.

‘OK,’ Calder said weakly. It was now clear that her mouth had dried up as she swallowed and licked her lips.

Runcie reached across and gripped the woman’s shoulder, grasping her epaulette, which displayed the shiny sergeant’s stripes. ‘Don’t worry, lass . . . it’s all under control.’

She arched her eyebrows and nodded reassuringly. ‘Get his property out and his custody record and get it signed out to him.’

‘I’ll need his signature.’

‘Just mark it, “refused to sign”.’ DC Saul appeared from the back office and gave Runcie a quick thumbs up: the CCTV cameras covering the custody suite had been dealt with. The sergeant unlocked and opened the prisoners’ property cupboard and removed a large, sealed polythene ziplocked bag with the name Sowerbutts on the label. She broke the seal, tipped the few contents on to the desk and made the entry in the record as instructed. Runcie watched her calculatingly. ‘On the custody record itself, put an entry to the effect that the prisoner has been interviewed, denies all offences and, until further evidence is uncovered – or otherwise – has been released without charge. You know the wording.’

The sergeant nodded and complied with a shaking pen.

Runcie looked at Saul. ‘Two-pence pieces?’

Saul shuffled a handful of the copper-coloured coins out on to his palm, four of them and a small ball of Blu-Tack.

Runcie smiled conspiratorially. ‘You know what to do with them.’

He disappeared into the cell corridor.

Runcie followed a few moments later, then both entered the cell of the injured man.

Saul hoofed him over on to his back and recoiled slightly at the vision of the man’s smashed and flattened face, damaged beyond recognition. ‘Shit. He’s a mess.’ He blew out his cheeks.

‘And a rapist, a child molester and murderer,’ Runcie reminded him.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ he conceded.

‘You take his shoulders, I’ll do the legs.’

Saul was a very long-in-the-tooth detective, just short of the f ifty mark, but was still a big, handy man with good strength across his chest and shoulders. He slid his hands under the prisoner’s armpits and heaved him up while Runcie grabbed his ankles. They began to manoeuvre him out of the cell and down the corridor, carrying him between them like a roll of carpet, leaving a smear of blood the full length of the passageway.
As Runcie shuffled along, she checked each occupied cell and saw that Saul’s two-pence pieces were still in place, effectively blocking each peephole in which the coins were a perfect fit, held in place by the Blu-Tack.

Best, she thought, to have no hostile witnesses.

BAD COPS by Nick Oldham is published 29 December 2017 in the UK, and in eBook and in hardback in the USA on 1 April 2018. For further information on Nick and his work, please visit our website here.

Five Things You Should Know About Marcia Talley . . .

Marcia Talley is the author of the brilliantly entertaining Hannah Ives mystery series. MILE HIGH MURDER comes out 29 December and is the sixteenth title in a series which remains ‘as fresh as the day it was born’ (Booklist on Tomorrow’s Vengeance – title number thirteen!). Murder can’t stop following our wonderful Hannah around . . .

1. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but spent the first eighteen years of my life bouncing about the planet as the eldest of five daughters of a career Marine officer. We never lived anywhere longer than two or three years. Dad was the son of Christian missionaries and spoke, read and wrote Chinese as his first language, so we were always getting stationed abroad where Chinese was spoken. I began elementary school in Tsingtao, China and my high school years were spent in Taipei, Taiwan. The one constant in my life during those chaotic times – I attended third grade in three schools – was the library, my consolation and my refuge. Perhaps that’s why I became a librarian, working in school, corporate and government libraries for a career spanning more than thirty years.

2. My mother was an avid mystery fan, and a charter subscriber to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, so mysteries were always around the house. I was also a great fan of that old television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and am grateful that although it appeared on TV late on a Sunday night (a school night – gasp!) I was allowed to stay up to watch it . . . I think my fondness for short stories with quirky endings can be traced back directly to Mr Hitchcock. I’ve written more than a dozen short stories so far, several that have won Agatha and Anthony awards and have been included in anthologies edited by New York Times best-selling authors Lawrence Block, Elizabeth George, Laura Lippman, and Anne Perry.

3. Fans of my Hannah Ives mysteries will be surprised to learn that I am also a serial novelist. I write novels with other women. TWELVE other women. How could this happen to a good little girl from Cleveland, Ohio? Naked Came the Phoenix and I’d Kill for That are set in a luxury health spa and an exclusive gated community, respectively. For the uninitiated, let me explain that serial novels are written in round-robin style: one author writes the first chapter then passes it to the second who picks up the story where the first author left off, then passes it on to the third, and so on . . .

4. Some years ago, I appeared on the cover of the magazine Women & Guns. Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you the whole story. I’ve never owned a gun, so I was surprised to discover that – out on the rifle range, at least – I was a fairly decent shot. My husband hung one of my paper targets – with the bullet holes clustered in all the right places – on the steps leading down to the basement of our Annapolis home in the hope that it will discourage burglars.

5. I don’t recommend getting breast cancer as a way of helping you decide what you want to be when you grow up, but for me, the diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy and chemotherapy were a wake-up call. It gave me permission to quit a grueling one-hour-each-way commute to Washington DC for a job closer to home. I’d always wanted to be a novelist, and as I faced my own mortality I thought, if not now, when? Thirty years later, I am the author of sixteen published novels (whose heroine is a breast cancer survivor), two collaborative novels (with twelve other women), and more than a dozen short stories. Who’da thunk it?

Want to know more? Visit the author’s website or click here for information on the Hannah Ives series!