#BookExtract: THE DEBT by Glenn Cooper

the debt

While browsing the Vatican libraries, Cal Donovan uncovers a 200-year-old secret that could bankrupt the Catholic Church. Unearthing evidence of a crippling 25-billion-euro loan, Cal must intercede with the Sassoon family to whom the sum is owed. But who can be trusted? If Cal isn’t careful, he’ll find more than his own life at danger . . .

A two-hundred-year-old secret, billions of euros and the Catholic Church: the new religious conspiracy thriller featuring Cal Donovan is here!  Check out the intriguing book extract below. 

Pascal Lauriat didn’t much look like a modern man. Perhaps it was his rather dainty, graying goatee and thin mustache and his insistence on always wearing all the entitled regalia of his position as cardinal secretary of state that made him look little different from all the old portraits of cardinals of past centuries that lined the Vatican walls. As soon as he returned to his office following his private meeting with Pope Celestine VI he summoned three of his colleagues for a debriefing. Cardinals Malucchi and Cassar arrived first followed several minutes later by Cardinal Leoncino, the influential Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, who entered and closed the heavy doors.

Mario Leoncino had patches of vitiligo on his face, and flushed as he was from his brisk walk across the Vatican grounds, the pale patches seemed whiter than usual.

‘Well?’ he demanded. ‘How did it go?’

‘He was quite animated,’ Lauriat said. The other men laughed at the way the Frenchman puckered his mouth, as if he’d just sucked on a very sour lemon. It wasn’t that Lauriat disliked the pope. On the contrary, on a personal level he had always found him charming and indeed quite disarming. They had been peers, of course, not so very long ago. Cardinal Aspromonte had been at the helm of the Secretariat of State when Lauriat was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. In those roles, the two men had gotten along famously, often sharing meals and Curia gossip. Lauriat had thought that he had known the man and had, in fact, voted for Aspromonte in each of the ballots at the conclave that elevated him to the throne of St. Peter. Beyond that he had lobbied for him. Aspromonte had, in turn, rewarded the French prelate with a promotion into his old job.

‘Worse than we feared?’ Cardinal Cassar asked. The unsmiling archbishop of Malta was fit and trim, a competent golfer who always seemed to be on the verge of locking his hands and simulating a swing.

‘I’d say so,’ Lauriat said. ‘He had a new report from the auditors he plans to preview with the C10 and then formally present to the economic council. He ranted and raved about it. He even waved it over his head like a banner. He has a flair for the dramatic.’

Malucchi, the vicar-general for the Diocese of Rome, was well on the way to becoming as corpulent as the pope. He lowered himself onto one of Lauriat’s good chairs and began to grumble. ‘The auditors,’ he spat, saying the word as if it were a venereal disease. ‘They’re more pious than the priests. The Church faces unprecedented challenges and here is the pope obsessed with money. Always profit and losses, assets and liabilities, these infernal balance sheets. In every instance he imagines the worst. To him all is corrupt. What he doesn’t understand, he sees malfeasance. This obsession seems to take precedence over bedrock concerns about tradition and faith. You’d think we elected him head accountant, not Vicar of Christ.’

‘Where did all this come from?’ Leoncino asked in exasperation. ‘Does he really wish to turn our Church over to green-visored men at counting tables? Our friend, Aspromonte, did a marvelous job hiding his true tendencies from us all these years, even when he occupied this very office. I never would have voted for him if I’d known.’

‘Well I didn’t vote for him, not even on the final ballot,’ Cassar sniffed. ‘You had my votes, Pascal.’

Lauriat tilted his head and returned something of a smile. ‘What’s done is done. We have our pope and we must do what cardinals in the Curia have always done. We must be a buffer against unhealthy tendencies. We must blunt the damage. Celestine is not infallible in matters of governance and administration. He is but a man all too liable to fumble in the dark. He has neither the time nor the aptitude to fully understand the intricacies of all our financial institutions and practices and their historical role providing ballast for the ship of state. It will take longer than his lifetime for his new councils and commissions to penetrate all the veils. Remember, we have seats on the economic council and Mario and I were able to wheedle ourselves onto the C8, his council of cronies, and turn it into the C10. Nothing happens without our knowledge. When Celestine is gone, we will turn the page. The papacy is self-righting. The pendulum will swing.’

‘God willing,’ Malucchi said, reaching for a pastry.

THE DEBT is out now in the UK and from 1 May in the US. Read more here.

Advertisements

The stars are aligned for THE ALMANACK by Martine Bailey!

 

The Almanack

Following a summons from her mother, Tabitha departs London for her home village only to discover that her mother has drowned. Determined to uncover the truth of her death, Tabitha consults her almanack which reveals her mother’s terror of someone she names only as ‘D’. With time running out, will Tabitha bring her mother’s killer to justice?

THE ALMANACK has landed! Martine Bailey’s intricately plotted and thoroughly enthralling new historical mystery featuring the stars, riddles and brutal murder is already receiving high praise from fellow writers. We’re feeling the love!

“Martine Bailey has done it again: impeccable research, compelling riddles and a highly intelligent narrative. Another gem of a book from this wonderful author. As clever and beautiful as a tapestry.”

Rebecca Mascull, author of The Wild Air and The Visitors

“Memorable characters, a compelling mystery, authentic riddles – The Almanack totally drew me into its gripping world.”

Alison Layland, author of Riverflow

“A richly-textured novel as full of riddles and mysteries as the Almanack it takes its name from. In Bailey’s Thomas Hardyesque world nothing is as it seems and everything shifts, including time – I was spun and played with and I loved every minute.”

Catherine Hokin, author of Blood and Roses

“Fabulous! Ingeniously plotted, hauntingly atmospheric murder mystery that satisfied on multiple levels and left me begging for more.”

Deborah Swift, author of A Divided Inheritance and the Pepys’ Women trilogy

“An intricately plotted thriller with incredibly well-drawn characters and fascinating historical facts, The Almanack also examines the nature of time and destiny, the conflict of science and superstition in eighteenth century England. A murderously dark and delightful 5-star read.”

Melissa Bailey, author of Beyond the Sea

“What a thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing read! The Almanack is an entertaining blend of mystery, romance and historical novel. I was enthralled by the riddles and puzzles and missteps that the author wrong-footed us with, leading us through many twists and surprises to a satisfying conclusion.”

Paula Brackston, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter

 “Vivid, sinister and enthralling with a stunning twist – The Almanack gripped me from the first page and did not let go.”

Louisa Treger, author of The Lodger and The Dragon Lady

The Almanack will have you in its grip until you breathlessly turn the last page to solve the final riddle.”

Tessa Arlen, author of The Lady Montfort and The Poppy Redfern series

 

THE ALMANACK is available now in the UK and from 1 May in the US. Read more here.

Visit Martine’s website here.

LOUISE’S CROSSING by Sarah R. Shaber: meet government girl Louise Pearlie!

louise27scrossing

Following a reassignment to London, government girl Louise Pearlie journeys across the Atlantic. She is joined by an eclectic group of passengers, including a widow whose husband mysteriously died on the outward voyage three months earlier. After a corpse is found on deck, Louise must race to expose a brutal killer before the ship docks in England.

LOUISE’S CROSSING is the seventh mystery in the gripping Louise Pearlie historical mystery series. Author Sarah R. Shaber lifts the lid on this quick-witted, independent young heroine who lives a perilous life during the Second World War. 

It’s 1942, and Louise Pearlie, a young widow, has come to Washington, DC to work for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA.  There she learns that a college friend, a French Jewish woman named Rachel Bloch, is trapped with her family in Vichy France. Unable to trust her colleagues, Louise risks everything, including her life, to help Rachel escape the Nazis.

Even more challenging to me than the work needed to set a book in the past was discovering just who Louise was as a woman and a person.  The early 1940s was a time most of us wouldn’t want to live in.  Women were old maids if they didn’t marry by their early twenties.  If they wanted a career they were told they couldn’t have that and a home and family, too!

By 1940 the Depression was ten years old, jobs were scarce, and much of what we consider necessities didn’t exist. Imagine living without antibiotics and birth control!

“Colored” people were second-class citizens confined to demeaning occupations, married women were subservient to their husbands, and in Europe Hitler had begun his conquests.

Louise, a young widow, lived with her parents in her old bedroom, completely dependent on them, with little hope of escape.

Then the war came and everything changed.  The men left town to join the military and Louise got a job.

My boss was a simple man, who tended to say the same things over and over again, in case you didn’t grasp his meaning the first few times. “Louise,” he would say to me, “you ain’t like most women.  You know how to keep your mouth shut.”  I could have reminded him that the last three people we’d fired for talking to much were men, but I knew how to keep my mouth shut about plenty that had nothing to do with military secrets.

Louise knows how to get along, to conform to what’s expected of her, but deep inside she revels in the independence her paycheck gives her and challenges the prejudices of her time, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell us what she thinks.

At first Louise thinks she’s just doing her patriotic duty by working for the government, but soon she realizes that she loves her new job and her life in a boardinghouse near Dupont Circle. She lets herself be attracted to Joe, a Czech refugee she knows nothing about.  To sympathize with Madeleine, the daughter of the boardinghouse’s colored cook, who’s searching for a job with a future.  She has adventures she never dreamed of.  Men, including a suave attaché from the French embassy, ask her on dates.  She discovers martinis. She goes to a society party and meets Clark Gable. She gets promoted at work. She dreams of having her own apartment and a car.

Louise finds herself growing into the kind of woman who can take on the dangerous job of helping a dear friend escape from the Nazis and ultimately, to bring a killer to justice.

I realized as I wrote this book, after interviewing women who lived through this war, that Louise and women like her were our mothers and grandmothers.  What they did for their country, and for women, made us all who we are today.  I understand more about myself than I did before meeting Louise, and I hope you will want to meet her, too!

LOUISE’S CROSSING is available now in the UK and from 1 May in the US. Read more about this title and the series here.

 

 

 

#BookExtract: DEVIL’S FJORD by David Hewson

9781780291123_fcNew District Sheriff Tristan Haraldsen is looking forward to a peaceful semi-retirement in the beautiful yet isolated Faroe Islands. But when the suspicious disappearance of two boys leads to the discovery of a series of dark secrets, Haraldsen comes to realize that this may not be the rural paradise he imagined…

 

 

This standalone thriller from David Hewson uncovers a dark reality hidden within the wild beauty of the Faroe Islands. Meet Sheriff Tristan Haraldsen in an extract below…

He was on the roof of their little cottage mowing the thick and umber turf, briar pipe clenched tightly in his teeth, happy and a little lost in his own thoughts, when his wife called from the front porch to say the killings were on the way.

‘Tristan! Grind! Grind! Are your cloth ears listening? All those cars a-tooting in the village! They are here! You must come! Come now, man. Oh what a time to be mowing the roof! What will people think?’

A strong man of fifty five. Not tall, not short. Not fat, not thin. Clean-shaven with a good head of sandy-coloured hair edging towards grey. It went with a friendly, freckled face, pale since Haraldsen was by trade and nature a man for the office, never the country. Eight weeks out of police headquarters in Tórshavn. A civilian latterly responsible for systems, newly-retired on medical grounds – his mild cardiac arrhythmia failed to pass the adjusted health diktats put in place by the government health officer – he had now only the part-time job of District Sheriff for the fishing to occupy a few working hours each week.

‘I do not hear you moving, husband.’

It was a sunny September day. A brisk easterly wind from the Atlantic buffeted Tristan Haraldsen as he went about his work on the shallow turf roof of the cottage. Four fat sheep grazed in the back yard next to a flock of white and brown chickens picking for worms in the grass. Out on the water, framed by the two high cliffs on either side of the fjord, past the line of snag-toothed rocks called the Skerries, a small flotilla of multi-coloured boats dotted the bright horizon. Fishermen often gathered at the mouth of the snaking, narrow inlet to the Atlantic from which Djevulsfjord took its name, searching for cod, haddock, redfish and mackerel, anything they could catch and transport down to the market in Sørvágur for ready cash.

The vessels flocked together, like sharks slyly closing on the prospect of prey. This was the end of summer. The season the pilot whale pods were on the move, coming close to land. He was the District Sheriff. It was time – the first occasion – to earn his keep.

DEVIL’S FJORD is available now in the UK and from 1 May 2019 in the US. Read more here.

Who Am I? THE ALMANACK author Martine Bailey discusses the ancient art of the riddle

The Almanack

1752, Midsummer. Following a summons from her mother, Tabitha Hart departs the pleasures of London for her home village only to discover that Widow Hart has allegedly drowned. Determined to uncover the truth, Tabitha consults her mother’s almanack which reveals cryptic notes describing her terror of someone she names only as ‘D’. With time running out, can Tabitha solve the almanack’s riddles and bring her mother’s killer to justice?

Who am I? Martine Bailey’s captivating new historical mystery starts with this intriguingly titled riddle, and these mind-spinning puzzlers are a recurring theme at the start of each chapter. How many will you solve? Martine discusses the curious art of the riddle!

Riddles are one of the oldest forms of wordplay, from inscriptions on Ancient Babylonian tablets, to puzzles in Tolkien and Harry Potter. A riddle is a question – Who Am I? – composed in a puzzling, obscure way. This play with hidden meanings struck me as the perfect theme for a murder mystery in which my heroine must unmask a killer. I loved researching riddles and picking one for each chapter – along with fifty solutions, of course.

Here is a riddle from the book written about the book’s heroine, Tabitha. It is based on an old English tradition of mildly lewd riddles. Any ideas?

A vessel has she,

As round as a pear,

And sweet and moist in the middle;

’Tis bordered by hair,

And love does flow there

In my dreams – pray you solve me this riddle.*

 

THE ALMANACK  is available  from 31 January in the UK and 1 May in the US. Find out more here.

Visit Martine’s website here.

* The answer (of course) is an eye!

 

 

 

#BookExtract: FALSE MOVE by Matt Hilton

false move

Ex-cop Aaron Lacey is on the run from Elite Custodian Services, who will stop at nothing to track him down. His daughter reaches out to her old schoolfriend, Tess Grey, for help, but when Tess’s mother urges her to stay away from Lacey, she begins to question why. Tess and Po need to figure out who can be trusted and what secrets they are hiding.

For cops (and ex-cops) like Aaron Lacey, death could be just around the corner – and sometimes it is . . . Check out this extract from Matt Hilton’s pacy and uncompromising new Tess & Po thriller! 

When he was a cop, Aaron Lacey regularly joked that if he knew where he was going to die, he’d damn well steer clear of the place. It was one of those throwaway remarks you made when engaged in a job where death was a possibility at any time, and usually earned him a snort of cynicism from folk who shared a similar outlook on their career choice. Alas, Lacey didn’t possess the power of precognition, no more than any of his colleagues did. Besides, most of the time they didn’t get a say on where their latest call took them, and sometimes the destination turned out to be their last. Mikey, Lacey’s best buddy despite their twenty-year age difference, and senior patrol partner for over seven years, sure as hell wouldn’t have chosen to die in the aisle of a convenience store, lying in a pool of spilled coffee and blood. If Lacey had his way, he sure as shit wasn’t about to perish lying among the weeds and trash of a vacant lot on the Boston side of the Neponset River either. Sadly, the odds for a quiet death in a comfortable bed, surrounded by his loved ones, were severely stacked against him . . .

FALSE MOVE is available from 31 Jan in the UK and 1 May in the US. Find out more here!

Editor’s Pick February UK and June US: THE MAUSOLEUM by David Mark

This month’s Editor’s Pick is THE MAUSOLEUM by David Mark.

mausoleum

With THE MAUSOLEUM, a gripping and atmospheric psychological thriller set in the wild lands of the Scottish borders, we are delighted to welcome highly-acclaimed crime writer David Mark to the Severn House list.  Formerly the crime reporter for the Yorkshire Post  and The Sunday Times-bestselling author of nine police procedurals in the DS Aector McAvoy series, with this literate, riveting standalone, David Mark has embarked on an exciting new direction in his writing.

The novel opens in an isolated rural churchyard, where disgraced academic Cordelia Hemlock is grieving the loss of her son, taking comfort among the ancient headstones.  When lightning strikes an ancient crypt, she catches a glimpse of a freshly-interred body which has no place among the crumbling bones surrounding it. But when the storm passes, the body has vanished – and the local authorities refuse to believe the claims of a hysterical ‘outsider’.  Teaming up with a reluctant witness, local woman Felicity Goose – the only other person to have seen the body – Cordelia’s enquiries all seem to lead back to a former Prisoner-of-War camp that was established in the village during the Second World War.  But not all Gilsland’s residents welcome the two young women’s interference.  There are those who believe the village’s secrets should remain buried . . . whatever the cost.

What I particularly loved about THE MAUSOELUM was, firstly, its richly evoked, isolated rural setting and the taciturn yet intriguingly complex characters who inhabit that remote region.  The novel is set in the real village of Gilsland, which straddles the border between Cumbria and Northumberland, and is situated on Hadrian’s Wall – the Ancient Roman wall which divides England and Scotland (and was George R R Martin’s inspiration for The Wall in Game of Thrones).  A place of great historical significance, the area is infused with ancient myth and legend, and this richly atmospheric backdrop forms a core part of the tension-fuelled, complex plot which David Mark weaves around it.

Secondly, I loved the fact that the narrative is seen from two very different but equally compelling female viewpoints in Cordelia and Felicity (I think the author captures both female narrative voices quite brilliantly, which isn’t always an easy trick to pull off for a male writer).  David Mark makes both woman wholly believable – Cordelia, the well-educated Oxford academic who has fled to Gilsland to escape a personal scandal, and Felicity, a garrulous young housewife who has never travelled beyond the Scottish borders where she grew up – as well as the initially unlikely friendship that grows between the pair as they join forces to uncover the truth behind the body in the crypt.  Chalk-and-cheese as they are, personally I found Cordelia and Felicity so well-drawn that I found myself completely wrapped up in their stories and rooting for them both all the way.

I would recommend THE MAUSOLEUM to anyone who enjoys an atmospheric, literate, unusual and compelling thriller: fans of Louise Penny, Elly Griffiths and Stephen Booth should particularly enjoy.

THE MAUSOLEUM is available from 28 February in the UK and 1 June in the US. Read more here.

 

Quick Questions with… Glenn Cooper, author of THE DEBT

Cal Donovan is back! Find out more about THE DEBT, Glenn Cooper’s new fast-paced thriller below, and learn some intriguing things about Glenn himself as he answers our Quick Questions!

While browsing the Vatican libraries, Cal Donovan uncovers a 200-year-old secret that could bankrupt the Catholic Church. Unearthing evidence of a crippling 25-billion-euro loan, Cal must intercede with the Sassoon family to whom the sum is owed. But who can be trusted? If Cal isn’t careful, he’ll find more than his own life in danger…

the debt

 

Any previous or unusual jobs?

Lots of jobs! I started as an archaeologist with an undergraduate degree from Harvard. I met my wife – my boss’s daughter on a dig in the UK where I was doing my thesis research on the early stone age. I veered off into medicine and became a specialist in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, then veered again into biomedical research at pharma and biotech companies. Another veer took me into business and I became the CEO of a large, publicly traded biotech company in Massachusetts where, in my spare time, I dabbled in screenwriting and film production – my production company has done three features. At the time I sold the biotech company to a bigger fish, I had just published my first novel, LIBRARY OF THE DEAD. When it went on to sell over two million copies in 30 countries and hit the top-10 lists all over Europe I decided to make writing my (hopefully) last job.

Are you a member of any professional organisations/societies?

The group that I enjoy the most is the Sarasota, Florida, Liar’s Club, a group of professional writers that has been meeting continuously since the 1950s when it was formed by John MacDonald of CAPE FEAR fame. Meetings center around cut-throat games of liar’s poker but it’s all about hanging out with other writers.

Any cities/regions/locations you have connections with?

Before moving to Sarasota I was a New England guy but the never-ending winters finally got to me. Palm trees, sea birds, and white-sand beaches are quite the tonic. Turns out you don’t have to suffer to write.

What is your proudest achievement?

Proudest non-writing achievement? 45 years of marriage to the woman I met when I was 19.

THE DEBT is available from 31 January in the UK and 1 May in the US. Read more here.

#BookExtract: NIGHT WATCH by David C. Taylor

9780727888679_fcNew York, 1956. Two bizarre deaths occur under suspicious circumstances. But before Detective Michael Cassidy can begin investigating these cases he is threatened by an unknown man, for reasons which are unclear. Are all three incidents connected? If so, will Cassidy live long enough to find out before his would-be assassin claims his life?

 


NIGHT WATCH is the third thriller to feature detective Michael Cassidy. The extract below is from the end of the first chapter, where Karl and Magda Brandt deal with a man from their past . . .

(Warning: violence)

Magda appeared from the darkness behind the man. She had discarded her shoes and was moving quietly. Whatever she is doing, I must keep him looking at me, Karl thought. He must not see her. ‘Who the hell do you think you are yelling at me like this?’ He used his best command voice, one that had cowed subordinates for years. ‘I’ve told you, you have the wrong man. I’ve never seen you before in my life. Go away. Go away! Are you an idiot?’ Karl took a step forward.

Leon hesitated. The doctor was a big man, and he looked fit, and Leon was weak and broken. The idea that the man might get away made him want to weep. He fumbled with the knife, and finally managed to open it.

Magda was close now. She could smell him: horse and sweat. She removed the pin that held her hat to her hair. The pin was four inches long and slightly flattened like a blade. It was topped by a large fake pearl that gave her a good grip. She examined the back of the man’s head. It had been a long time since she had studied anatomy, but she had a fine, retentive mind. She saw the spot she was looking for, above the dirty collar of the man’s jacket. She drove the pin hard up into the hollow at the base of the man’s skull. She twisted the steel and probed. The man stiffened. The steel blade in his brain locked his legs. He tried to turn but could not. ‘Hold him,’ she commanded.

Karl grabbed the man’s wrists and squeezed.

Magda pulled the pin out, and the man sagged a bit and whimpered. She stabbed the pin back in at a different angle. The man bleated and jerked, and the knife fell from his hand. ‘Hold him tight.’

Karl hugged the man, pinning his arms. The man’s breath was thick with onions and decay. His eyes were wide and staring. His mouth stretched in agony, and his body shuddered and twitched as Magda twisted the steel in his brain. Karl noted the parchment of the man’s skin, the broken veins in his nose, the gray stubble on his cheeks. He looked past the man to Magda. Her brow was furrowed with concentration. She held the tip of her tongue between her teeth, the way she did when she was working out a knotty problem.

Magda pulled the pin out and jabbed it in again. Leon Dudek bent backward like a bow, and his face strained toward the sky. He quivered as if electrified. The pin cut something fatal. His head slumped onto Karl’s shoulder and Karl let him down onto the pavement and crouched to feel his neck for a pulse. ‘He’s dead.’ He stood up. ‘Well done, darling.’ He kicked the body lightly. ‘What did you use?’

‘My hat pin.’

‘I wouldn’t have known where to go in with it. I’ve forgotten so much since medical school. You’re a wonder.’ He took her in his arms. She could feel their hearts racing together, and he felt the heat rise in both of them. ‘We better go.’

‘I have to find my shoes, and my hat fell when I took out the pin. You should take his wallet. They’ll think it’s a robbery.’ She stood on tiptoes to kiss him.

In the glow from the streetlamp her eyes were bright, and to Karl she looked beautiful.

NIGHT WATCH is available from 31 January in the UK and from 1 May 2019 in the US. Read more here.

#BookExtract: SILENT FOOTSTEPS by Jo Bannister

9780727888648_fcWhen does a secret admirer become a stalker? When people start dying? For Constable Hazel Best, the pivot point is the attack on her friend Gabriel Ash. That’s when she focuses all her ingenuity on finding her sinister new admirer. In the end, though, Hazel must deal with the stalker alone. And more than her own life will depend on the outcome . . .

 


We’re thrilled to see friends Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash return in their sixth mystery, SILENT FOOTSTEPS. The extract below is from chapter 12, when Hazel realises that her secret admirer has moved beyond leaving gifts on her doorstep . . .

It was all so stupid. None of it made any sense. Not the death of Trucker Watts; not the involvement of Leo Harte; not the advent-calendar visits of her secret admirer. They made no sense considered as separate episodes, and even less as parts of a greater whole. And her friends wanted her to feel threatened by this nonsense? Hazel was damned if she would. No one had any reason to harm her. The only one who might conceivably have borne her some ill will was Trucker, and he was no threat to anyone now.

She turned on her side, drawing the quilt up under her ear; sleep remained elusive. She couldn’t think why. She’d been tired enough when she fell into bed, and morning was still hours away. She found herself listening, although there was no sound from the street to disturb her rest. Even Mrs Burden’s Alec, who had a habit of singing Gilbert & Sullivan on his way home from the pub, liked to be tucked up with his cocoa before midnight. Perhaps there was a stray dog raiding bins just on the edge of hearing. Perhaps there was a fox. They were getting bolder, becoming more urbanised, all the time. Perhaps . . .

That wasn’t a dog, it wasn’t a fox, and it wasn’t a sentimental Glaswegian claiming to be three little maids in an improbably high falsetto. And it wasn’t as far away as the street. There was someone in the house.

Hazel’s first instinct, the one that came from that primitive part of the brain shaped in a time when human beings were not top of the food chain, was to freeze. Her muscles cramped up so rigid that she had to fight them as if there was another person holding her down. But if someone had broken in here intending her harm, she had to move. She had to not be where he expected to find her. She had to be ready to fight back.

SILENT FOOTSTEPS is available from 31 January in the UK and from 1 May 2019 in the US. Read more here.