Ancient Law and Opera? Behind the Book: SONG OF THE DAMNED by Sarah Rayne

song of the damned

A macabre liturgy. A mysterious carving. An intriguing 200-year-old mystery for music researcher Phineas Fox to solve.

Having undertaken an assignment at Cresacre Abbey School, researcher Phineas Fox discovers that curious legends about the school’s past still linger, including the fate of a group of nuns who disappeared 200 years before. What happened to them? And who is the mysterious Ginevra, the shadowy figure whose true identity has never been known?

 

In this fascinating feature, author Sarah Rayne explains how old laws and modern opera inspired the plot of her intriguing new mystery, SONG OF THE DAMNED.

I wasn’t expecting to find I had combined an ancient law and opera for a book, but Song of the Damned, published in July 2018 UK and 1 December US, turned out to have both elements at its heart.

It’s not, of course, so very rare for opera and the law to meet up.  In Lohengrin Wagner invokes the laws of the Holy Grail as part of the plot, while, at the other end of the spectrum, Gilbert & Sullivan light-heartedly satirize the legal system for Trial by Jury, spattering it with cheerful quarrels over breaches of promise.

But it was a far older law and a much more modern opera that inspired the plot of Song of the Damned.

In 1953, Frances Poulenc composed an opera called Dialogues of the Carmelites.Sarah Rayne1

It relates the grim and emotionally-charged, true story of the imprisonment of sixteen Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution. They were captured because of their religious beliefs, and subsequently executed. The execution seems to have been an extraordinary piece of theatre – of which Poulenc makes full use. The nuns were forced to form a queue for the guillotine, and to mount the scaffold one by one, with the most junior novice being first.  As they waited for death, they re-affirmed their religious vows aloud, and sang various hymns (reports vary as to what the hymns actually were depending on which source you use).  The singing was punctuated by the relentless fall of the guillotine for each nun, their voices gradually diminishing as each was beheaded, until, at the last, only the lone voice of the Mother Superior was to be heard. And then there was silence.

This was a scene that had considerable impact on me. The dreadful inevitability of the massive guillotine blade swishing down – the helpless progression of the nuns towards it.  But then – as is frequently the way with novelists – I began to wonder whether there might be a plot to be found in the story.  Poulenc had already made use of it, of course, and so had one or two other people. A writer called Georges Bernanos wrote a screenplay around it, and the text of that was based on an earlier short story – The Last at the Scaffold written in the early 1930s by Gertrud von le Fort.

So it looked as if the fount had been squeezed dry. Or had it?  Supposing a plot could be woven from the left-overs? Supposing those original nuns could be given links with other nuns – maybe a small convent community in a rural corner of England… And supposing Phineas Fox, the music historian whose fourth outing this was to be, found a lost medieval ritual within a locally-written piece of music – a macabre ritual and a piece of music that could be traced back to those nuns…?

So far so good.  What about the setting, though?  As anyone who has read any of my books will know, I’m keen on atmospheric settings and I’m very keen indeed on houses and buildings with intriguing histories.

It was at that point in the deliberations, and in the early and difficult stages of drafting a plot, that I came across a fragment of a very old English law.

It happened by purest chance.  One afternoon having become lost in the depths of the countryside, I drove past a field with a sign on the gate saying, ‘Infanger’s Field’.

Infanger’s Field?

The English countryside is, it must be said, liberally strewn with strange and intriguing names.  Quite near to where I live is a village called Coven.  It’s an extremely nice place, but its name is always very deliberately pronounced ‘Coe-Ven’.  Purists carefully point out that the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon, cofum¸meaning either a cove or a hut, but despite that, there are occasionally dark mutterings suggesting that the place once had witchcraft associations, and that the pronunciation was politely slurred to hide that fact.

Then there are all those instances of Glue Works Lane and Slaughter Yard. There’s Pudding Lane where the Great Fire of London reputedly started in a baker’s shop. On the other hand, there are places whose names are open to interpretation, such as Cockshutt in Shropshire, which, despite sounding like a venue for a Carry On film, is likely to derive from fowl hunting activities.  Other names are satisfyingly rooted in the past: Oxford has Brasenose College and Brasenose Lane – supposedly from the Brazen Nose door knocker of the original sixteenth century Hall.  Incredibly, though, the city also once had the now-lost Shitbarn Lane, c.1290, which ran between Oriel Street and Alfred Street.

But Infanger’s Field? 

I dashed home to scour bookshelves and the internet.  The bookshelves yielded several indignant spiders, dispossessed of their homes, and a couple of dictionaries and encyclopaedia with ageing pages but legible information.  The internet provided several alternative spellings for the word and about 3,000 search results.

And it seems that the word comes from the Old English infangene-þēof ‘Thief seized within’ or ‘in-taken-thief’.  Infangenthief or infangentheof, no matter how you spell it, was, an Anglo-Saxon arrangement, supposedly from the time of Edward the Confessor – c.1003-1066, and one of the last of the royal House of Wessex.

It apparently permitted the owners of a piece of land the right to mete out justice to miscreants captured within their estates, regardless of where the poor wretches actually lived.  On occasions it also allowed the culprits to be chased in other jurisdictions, and brought back for trial.  The justice that was meted out was often extremely severe – there was no cheerful Gilbert & Sullivan principle of letting the punishment fit the crime in those days.

The privilege of exercising this law was granted to feudal lords, and inevitably to religious houses.  And later, when the Normans came barrelling in they made cheerful use of it as well.  It helped keep the rebellious Saxons in their place. The law fell more or less into disuse in the fourteenth century and all-but vanished from England’s history.  Except for the occasional name here and there.  Like Infanger’s Field.

Sarah Rayne3

I have no idea if it was a fragment from the past I encountered that day – perhaps a shred of some long-ago feudal baron who had named a field as a warning to miscreants.  And I’m doubtful if I could find the field again.

But there it was.  A long-ago storyline involving a group of nuns in the French Revolution and a macabre musical ritual.  And there, too, was the potential for an atmospheric house that could be given the name Infanger’s Cottage.  A house whose present-day occupants might find themselves forced to make use of the ancient law to guard the secrets that dwelled in the cottage’s foundations – secrets that stretched back to those long-ago nuns and the ritual that had been part of their mysterious story.

SONG OF THE DAMNED is published 31 July in the UK and 1 November in the US. Read more here.

 

 

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July UK/November US Editor’s Pick: THE SAVAGE SHORE by David Hewson

This month’s Editor’s Pick is from Kate Lyall Grant, Publisher.

savage

After a seven-year gap, we are delighted to announce that bestselling author David Hewson is picking up the reins again with Nic Costa, the Caravaggio-loving young Roman detective who first made an appearance in 2003’s A SEASON FOR THE DEAD. In THE SAVAGE SHORE, the 10th in the series, Costa and his team are taken far from their urban comfort zone when they’re sent to infiltrate the mob in a remote part of southern Italy.

Costa has been sent undercover to Italy’s beautiful yet remote Calabrian coast to bring in the head of the feared ‘Ndrangheta, who has offered to turn state witness for reasons of his own. Hoping to reel in the biggest prize the state police have seen in years, the Butcher of Palermo, Costa is aware the stakes are high. But the constant deception is taking its toll. Out of their depths in a lawless part of Italy where they are the outcasts, not the men in the hills, with their shotguns and rough justice, the Roman detectives find themselves pitched as much against one another as the mob.

A wonderfully vivid and absorbing read, steeped as it is in the rich culture, myth, history and geography of southern Italy, and brutally exposing the dark underbelly which lurks beneath the seeming rural idyll of the mountainous Aspromonte region, THE SAVAGE SHORE, with its twisty-turny plot, kept me gripped and guessing right to the end as to exactly who was double-crossing whom as the grand game of deception played itself out.

From the vivid opening scene involving a shockingly unexpected shoot-out at the Zanzibar inn, through the tension-filled scenes featuring the waiting Roman detectives, restless, nervy, bored and bickering, and the equally nerve-wracking episodes involving their undercover colleague Costa’s struggles to maintain his façade as a trusted member of the mob – the committed vegetarian having to grit his teeth and bear it as he must first harpoon and then consume fresh, raw swordfish – I was kept on tenterhooks as I wondered what exactly would happen as the final confrontation with the feared Butcher of Palermo loomed inexorably nearer.

If you enjoy a stylishly written, morally complex and intelligent thriller, where nothing is quite what it seems, THE SAVAGE SHORE is for you.

Find out more here.

#BookExtract: HUSK by Dave Zeltserman

Husk

Classic contemporary horror from the Shamus and Derringer-winning author of Small Crimes.

Charlie is a Husker on the prowl in the New Hampshire wilderness when he falls in love. But loving Jill means leaving the Husk clan, with its gruesome cannibalistic rituals – a hugely difficult task. It’s only in New York City that the secret to ending his terrible cravings may reveal itself – if it doesn’t kill him and everything he has grown to love first. HUSK is guaranteed to leave readers shaken, stirred – and chilled to the bone.

Creepy mythology combined with romance and a fascinating lead character – award-winning author Dave Zeltserman’s brilliantly imagined, danger-filled tale is a horrifyingly compelling read. Enter Charlie’s dark world by reading the extract below . . .  

Jill had mentioned shortly after I’d picked her up that she was working on a graduate degree in psychology, and now she was telling me how she had almost majored in English literature, and that books were one of her early loves. This led to a discussion of some of her favorite recent books (mostly a one-sided discussion, but I didn’t mind.) I’d only read one of them. An allegorical fable about a man who takes on his ancestral duties of weeding by hand a field each day, believing if he doesn’t, the world will end. I’d gotten the book from a man I’d picked up while driving through Boston. He’d been walking alone on a darkened street, and I took the opportunity at the last second to swerve the van up onto the sidewalk, crippling him. In less than a minute I had him in the back with the others that I had already picked up, and less than three minutes after that I had him secured in a burlap sack and was driving away without anyone being aware of what had happened. Much later when I had gotten around to reading the book, I discovered from the photograph used on the book jacket that the man I’d taken was the author. Maybe he was walking around Boston with a copy of the book he had written because he was planning to give it to an acquaintance, or maybe he had another reason. Whichever it was, I never had a chance to ask him, same with missing my opportunity to question him about several things in his book that had left me wondering about their true meaning. I was so absorbed listening to Jill’s insights that I only half paid attention to her as she also directed me through a maze of streets once we entered Queens, and it took me by surprise when she pointed out the three-story brick building up ahead and on my right as where she lived . . .

Want to read more? HUSK is available now in the UK and from 1 September in the US. More details here.

Behind the Book: THE LUCIFER CHORD by F. G. Cottam

lucifer chord

Researcher Ruthie Gillespie has undertaken a commission to write an essay on Martin Mear, lead singer and guitarist with Ghost Legion, the biggest, most decadent rock band on the planet, before he disappeared without trace in 1975. Her mission is to separate man from myth – but it’s proving difficult, as a series of increasingly disturbing and macabre incidents threatens to derail Ruthie’s efforts to uncover the truth about the mysterious rock star

 

What happened to Martin Mear? Is he really set to return from the dead? Ruthie’s attempts to answer the questions that quickly became lodged in our minds while reading THE LUCIFER CHORD, along with a number of terrifying twists and turns, had us on the edge of our seats. What inspired this dark tale with a paranormal edge? 

The central character of the novel is Ruthie Gillespie, who first appeared in my novella The Going and the Rise (available to download free at fgcottam.com). She also features prominently in my Colony trilogy of novels. I thought she had earned a stand-alone. And I’d wanted to write something themed around the rock industry’s most excessive period for a while. With their extravagance and retinues, the rock gods of the seventies were like medieval monarchs. No one would get away with it in the era of smart phones and YouTube and it’s fascinating. Although there was profound decadence in that scene, there was also a kind of innocence. I wanted to get that paradox across.

My usual method is to write a novel over a pretty intense 10 to 12 weeks, but this one wasn’t so straightforward. I wrote 30, 000 words in 2012 and lost interest because my researcher wasn’t a sufficiently compelling central character. Last spring, I gave her mission to Ruthie and from the first (re-written) page, the story seemed to possess much more impetus and intrigue. She’s a woman readers root for.

Her subject, Martin Mear, was an enigma even to himself. Someone describes him as a Russian doll of a man. He compartmentalized his life in a way that made him different to everyone who knew him. He was a challenge to write I greatly enjoyed. And though the paranormal occurs in this novel, it does so in subtle and ambiguous ways. My characters endure experiences they try afterwards to rationalize, often uncomfortably and without much conviction, but they do it anyway, because that’s human nature.

THE LUCIFER CHORD is available from 31 May in the UK and 1 September in the US. Read more here.

 

Did you know? Catherine O’Connell, author of THE LAST NIGHT OUT: Danger, Beefeater Gin and Gone With the Wind…

Last night out

Six friends. A bride to be. One murder. Too many secrets.

After drinking too much at her bachelorette party, Maggie Trueheart wakes up in bed with a stranger – then a phone call brings the devastating news that her friend Angie was murdered some time after they parted ways the night before.

Maggie’s friends are questioned by Chicago homicide detective Ron O’Reilly, who is sure some of them are lying. As the clock ticks down to the wedding day and more shocking secrets are revealed, can the killer be stopped before there is another victim?

Fast-paced, suspenseful, full of unexpected twists and turns and appealing, complex characters, this compelling psychological thriller got us talking in the office, and we’re pretty sure that fans of Marian Keyes and Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood will be as gripped as we were. Time to find out more about the extremely talented Catherine O’Connell!

Things you might not know about Catherine:

  • I was held up at gunpoint once and grabbed the gun by the barrel. Luckily, the incident had a positive outcome.
  • I was a ski bum after college.
  • I used to work for the importer of Beefeater Gin and I’ve been in the Tower of London drinking gin with the Beefeaters after hours.
  • I’ve also slept in the room at L’Hotel where Oscar Wilde died.
  • I worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

One word: WOW. But what about her favourite books?

  • Gone With the Wind. It’s all about Scarlett O’Hara and her uncrushable spirit.
  • Angle of Repose by William Styron. The American West in the 1880s.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  • Hawaii by James Michener.
  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence.

 

THE LAST NIGHT OUT is available from 31 May in the UK and 1 September in the US. Read more here.

 

Editor’s Pick June 2018 UK/October 2018 US: CRUISING TO MURDER by Mark McCrum

This month’s Editor’s Pick is CRUISING TO MURDER by Mark McCrum.

cruising

CRUISING TO MURDER is the second title to feature Francis Meadowes, a crime-writer sleuth who suddenly finds himself embroiled in murder – again – when he takes up the enviable opportunity to lecture on the history of crime writing aboard the Golden Adventurer as it cruises down the West African coast.

As someone whose only experience of a cruise was a slightly underwhelming, seasick-inducing trip on the Hull to Amsterdam route some years ago, I was a little unsure as to whether I’d be grabbed by the story and the ship setting, but I needn’t have feared – my worries were shattered as I found myself eagerly turning the pages.

It’s Agatha Christie at sea – if you’ve read and enjoyed DEATH ON THE NILE, I highly recommend you add this to your reading list. McCrum has created a number of charismatic, entertaining and well-realised passengers, all equally appealing in their own way: from opinionated, retired surgeon Klaus to mischievous elderly widow Eve and beautiful American aid worker Sadie. And the action is not confined to the cruise liner. The day trips on land bring the exotic, stunning African backdrop and local traditions vividly to life, as well as providing a few plot twists. I also enjoyed seeing Francis venture below decks, leaving no stone unturned in his quest to find out which one of his inimitable fellow passengers is guilty of murder, while the book also provides a fascinating – if slightly concerning – insight into what happens when a death occurs at sea.

Francis must navigate choppy waters if he is to uncover the truth, but you’ll be left feeling anything but seasick reading this glorious rollercoaster sea ride. The finale was markedly tense and provided a brilliant twist that I hadn’t seen coming . . . It’s safe to say that I won’t think of cruises in the same way again!

CRUISING TO MURDER is available from 29 June in the UK and 1 October in the US. Find out more here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Know? GRANDGHOST by Nancy Springer

downloadBeverly Vernon’s life is transformed thanks to a discovery in her backyard . . .

Beverly Vernon, children’s book illustrator and mother of two childless adult daughters, is finding it difficult to settle in rural Florida, where she fills her days painting the portrait of a longed-for imaginary grandchild. But everything changes when she uncovers the bones of a young child in her backyard, and unexplained phenomena starts taking place within her home. Who was the child? And is she being haunted – or is she going mad?

 

Heartwarming, intriguing and utterly compelling, we quickly fell in love with the wonderfully quirky Beverly Vernon and her quest to get to the bottom of the ghostly goings-on in her Florida home – and we’re pretty sure you will too! But what’s the story behind Two-Toed Tom, the alligator mentioned in the book? 

I was thrilled to discover that the setting for GRANDGHOST, an area in the north central Florida panhandle, is haunted by a legendary alligator as long as a telephone pole, a diabolical reptilian killer with fiery red eyes that shine in the dark. They call him Two-Toed Tom. For decades he has roamed the swamplands, slaughtering sheep, cows, mules, and occasionally young humans, leaving at the scenes of his carnage his distinctive footprint. For generations the child-killing monster was hunted, with tantalizing sightings but no joy. Bullets seemed not to faze him. Even destroying an entire swamp with dynamite failed to get rid of him. Although Two-Toed Tom has outlasted several crocodilian lifespans, his giant two-toed tracks continue to be found, so apparently the lives on . . . as a malevolent and hungry phantom?

GRANDGHOST is available now in the UK and from 1 August in the US! Find out more here.

#BookExtract: CROSS MY PATH by Clea Simon

cross my path

Care’s reputation as a private investigator is growing and clients are beating a path to her door. An elderly woman seeks Care’s help in finding out what happened to her brother. Blackie senses he’s met this woman before, sometime before he became a cat. But who is she – and what is their connection? At the same time, a dockworker asks Care to find a colleague who’s gone missing, and the investigation takes a disturbing new twist . .

 

Private investigator Care is riding on the wave of success, but is she about to come crashing off? There are twists and turns aplenty in this absorbing new mystery featuring our favourite feline, Blackie! Check out this extract from the start of the novel . . .

Something is amiss. I can feel it in my guard hairs. In my whiskers, flared to catch the slightest vibration. Something has gone wrong.

I wake with a start, blinking as I take in the scene before me. A rundown office, its only furnishings a torn sofa, a battered desk, and two bookshelves, nearly bare of books. A girl sits at the desk, scratching away with a pen. A young woman, really, curves beginning to soften her spare frame. No, there is nothing to be feared here. Nothing is out of place. Nothing has changed since I lay down to rest, only moments before. It was a dream that woke me. A recurring nightmare of three shadows – men – who loom, waiting, as I sink into oblivion. Into death. But they are not here. We are alone, the girl and I, and my eyes begin to close once more.

Then – a silhouette. A visitor stands in the doorway. It is her arrival, her gentle knock on the door, that must have woken me, but she is no nightmare figure, nothing like the ghouls who haunt my sleep. She is female, frail. A skinny thing in rags who rushes forward, oblivious of me, seated here and watching.

‘Thank you.’ The woman is sobbing, she’s so grateful. Grabs the girl’s hand between her two bony ones, as if to press home her words. As if they were in a throne room instead of this spare chamber, two flights up. ‘I can’t begin to . . .’ She breaks off to breathe, her wide eyes more eloquent than her words. ‘Thank you so much.’

‘It’s nothing,’ the girl – Care – responds, as my own ears pitch forward at the echo. As if unconsciously aware, she catches herself and corrects, her voice mature for her years. ‘You’re welcome, I mean. It is what I do. I find things. Do the needful. Locate that which is lost. Right the wrongs, the ones I can.’

I hear her words and relax. This is her creed, inherited from her mentor, which she’s reciting now. The words rote, but memorable, explaining her profession to the world in a way that will be understood and repeated. That will be shared with others. For it is her trade that has brought this woman here, in recognition of a task completed.

‘You did! You found him.’ The woman’s acknowledgment confirms my memory. She wipes her tears with one hand, still holding Care’s with her other. ‘I had thought that he was lost.’

Releasing the girl at last, she rummages through her garment, locating a pocket hidden in the oversize skirt’s ragged folds.

‘No, really.’ The girl holds up her hands. ‘It’s not necessary.’

She means what she says, the demurral in her tone as well as gesture. Even my casual appraisal sees the truth. Care has, at this point, more than the poor woman who stands before her, and her concerns, for the moment, do not involve either sustenance or shelter. But her words are to no avail, and when the woman finally fishes out the coin, its edges chipped away, the girl accepts it, as she would a grand prize. The woman’s dignity is at stake and is more to be valued than this one degraded coin. Although her senses are not acute as mine, even the girl can see how solemn the woman appears as she hands the penny over. How sincere.

‘My boy would have been lost without you,’ she says, her voice calmer now. Hushed. ‘He would have been taken – shipped to the islands, or worse.’

Care nods. There is nothing left to say. She did rescue the boy, who had been taken, press-ganged into service, completing the job for which she was hired, as she has now several times since I have come to join her. But even as the woman turns to go, her departure marked by more tears and pronouncements of gratitude, the girl stays silent. Something weighs on her, I see.  Some burden not alleviated by the retrieval of one small child.

I watch her, and I wait.

 

 

CROSS MY PATH is out now in the UK and 1 July in the US. Find out more about this title and the Blackie and Care mystery series here.

Behind the Book: HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT by Mary Ellis

hiding

On the run from a troubled past, Kate Weller, the newest member of Price Investigations, covers her tracks, changes her name and takes a case in Charleston, South Carolina, where she can hide in plain sight.

Kate sets about trying to locate her adopted client’s natural siblings, only to find more questions than answers. Meanwhile, her new landlord is sticking his nose into her case. Surely Eric Manfredi should focus on whatever competitor is bent on ruining his family business. But when Eric’s father is arrested for murder, can Kate find the real culprit before a killer from her own past tracks her down?

We’re excited to introduce private investigator Kate Weller in the first of the brand-new Marked for Retribution mystery series! What makes Charleston the perfect location for an investigator on the run? Mary Ellis takes us Behind the Book . . .

Since I had to take my Florida insurance investigator on the run, I thought the coastal city of Charleston would be a perfect location. All those narrow cobblestone streets, ancient oak trees shrouded in Spanish moss, and hordes of tourists would give Kate plenty of hiding spots. After all, that’s what I marveled over on my first trip to the three-hundred-year-old city that launched the American Civil War. But after my second or third trip, I saw a different Charleston. I saw a sophisticated blend of old and new, young and old, rich and poor, a place where the twentieth century set roots between the stately planters’ mansions and grew like ivy up their brick garden walls. The city’s historical past was never walled off like a museum, but has been re-energized by each new generation that lives there. Its population is a diverse mixture of doctors and lawyers, students and professors, artists and waiters, thriving amidst the horse-drawn carriages and haunted history tours.

My story involves two fiercely competitive Italian restaurants and a feud that refuses to die . . . that is, until one of them is murdered. When I needed a location for a pivotal scene between my murder suspect and his son, I chose Shem Creek Park, just across the Cooper River from downtown. Shrimp boats still venture out each morning (in season) to cast their nets in the Atlantic Ocean and then sell their fresh catch at the dockside market, just like fisherman have done for a hundred years. The young and the old . . . the new generation replacing the previous.

Charleston also has several slow-paced barrier islands, where the residents’ privacy is protected from outsiders on both sides of the law. I selected Kiawah
Island with its palm trees, sandy beaches and luxurious mansions, for the home of my fictional murder victim. I had so much fun staging the pivotal climax amid such splendor and grace in an area where location becomes one of the book’s characters.
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT introduces private investigator Kate Weller in the first of the brand-new Marked for Retribution mystery series as she tries to stay one step ahead of her past while hunting for a killer.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT is published 30 April in the UK and 1 August in the US. Find out more here.

#BookExtract: THE RED HAND OF FURY by R.N. Morris

Red Hand of Fury 4

June, 1914. A young man is mauled to death by a polar bear at London Zoo. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from a notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.

Following a third attempted suicide, DI Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men to discover why they took their own lives. What does a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand, signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process?

“Silas Quinn is a superb, complicated and brilliantly realised detective and   THE RED HAND OF FURY is a wonderful addition to a gripping series. Don’t                hesitate!” 

William Ryan, author of The Constant Soldier

We couldn’t agree more – this supremely dark historical mystery had us gripped from start to finish! Here’s a little taster of what THE RED HAND OF FURY has in store . . .   

They stood Quinn in the showers, stripped and shivering. The skin of his body was as grey as newsprint, except where sores broke out in angry clusters.

‘So. Silas Quinn, as I live and breathe. I’ve been following your career, Silas. You’ve been doing well for yourself since the last time you was in here. Quite the celebrity. What’s that they call you in the Clarion? Quick-fire Quinn? Marvellous, the way you managed to make something of your life. Who would have thunk it? Not me, I confess. I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t think you’d last five minutes on the outside. Thought you would go the same way as your old man. Topped himself, dinnee, if I remember rightly? But look at the state you’re in. It’s all turned to shit, by the looks of it. Never mind. You’ve come back to us now. Back where you belong. Back home, you are, Silas. We’re your family.’

Quinn let out a small whimper. A bubble of snot formed over one nostril.

Stanley curled his lip with distaste. ‘Get the clippers. He’s crawling with lice. The fucking dirty bastard.’

He assumed the privilege of shaving Quinn himself. He held the clippers at arm’s length and allowed the shorn clumps of hair to fall over Quinn’s naked body and on to the stone floor. If a strand found its way on to his apron, he would deliberately nick Quinn’s scalp. Whenever this happened, Quinn would tense and wince and let out a brief yelp of pain. For that he was punished with a sharp tap of the clipper head. He quickly learnt to stand immobile, his whole body cowed in a pose of submission.

When he was completely shaven, Stanley turned the shower on and stepped back.

The water was cold. Quinn began to scream. He sank down to his haunches and tried to cover his head with his arms.

 

 

 

THE RED HAND OF FURY is available now in the UK and from 1 July in the US. Find out more here.