When 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.