K-chik: the lock gave two distinct metallic clicks and we entered the holiday cottage. Outside the day was dying and a streak of orange pasted the horizon above the town. The cottage was nothing more than a tiny one-bedroomed terrace, but from the window lay the estuary, sparkling a rainbow of lights reflecting from the water-front restaurants, stretching out into the vast and darkening sea.
An affair years before leads Meg into an adventure ending with success and catastrophe. "Meg ran with abandon, uncaring of kerbs, of hedges overhanging the pavements, disregarding cars, crossing junctions, running until her legs ached and she collapsed, heart pounding, onto a bench looking down at the dark water of the river. Her hair a mess from the rain, she gasped for breath. ‘It can’t be. He would never have hurt anyone,’ she sobbed. Yet he had hurt her, not in her body, but with the long lonely hours she had waited for the telephone to ring, pretending to her husband she was reading a book, to his pleasure as he thought her ill-read; fearing he would ask her about the book on which she had no opinion or interest. Her then husband was not Oswald, it was her first marriage to a much older, professor of a subject so arcane she had never understood its purpose, the husband that had left her a childless widow at thirty-five. The picture on the screen was ‘Danny’, she knew it in her heart. Only she called him Danny, the young man who had come to the university knowing nothing of life, shy and nervous, whose delicate fingers could spin a cricket ball to such effect he was in the university team from the moment the coach saw him bowl a few balls in the nets. Danny, that far-off figure seen from her picnic place on the boundary on warm summer days; yes, he had hurt her when he took up with the rich set and went off to heaven knows where with nubile young things ogling the lovely stranger that had come to town..."
"I killed my little brother. When he was two, and I was six, I crept into his bedroom and suffocated him with a pillow while he slept. ‘No you didn’t, Nadine,’ said my mother, ‘It’s a dream.’ ‘It’s a dream about guilt,’ my psychiatrist said, patting me on the knee. ‘You mustn’t blame yourself, my dear, it wasn’t your fault.’ On Tuesdays, I go to the Community Clinic for my weekly meeting with parents who are thought to present a risk to their children. Publicly, it’s called a ‘parents’ support group’ so they have a cover story when they come into reception. But these mums and dads are under no illusions; they watch me scribbling notes and know my risk assessment will dictate their future. If they give the right response, the courts may grant them a family life; the wrong answers and they won’t see their children again; something in between and they could get one afternoon a fortnight at a contact centre where, corralled by cuddly toys, they will try to engage their little strangers in a parody of play, under the watchful eye and busy pen of a social worker. While this process grinds slowly forward, the children who are being protected will metamorphose into sullen teenagers with unmet needs who will probably follow the pattern of their parents, having children of their own who will be in need of protection; and the cycle will start again..."
Dan has persuaded Amanda to accompany him on a cruise of the Faro Islands, to see the eclipse. But are they being followed? In this chilling tale, we find Dan must make hard decisions, in order to safeguard his marriage. "It’s our first night on board so we dress for the occasion: me in my best bib and tucker, and Amanda wearing her plungiest neckline with the white gold pendant I bought her for Christmas. We’ve barely sat down to dinner when I hear, ‘I don’t believe it!’ which makes me think of that character on TV, but the chap bouncing towards us looks too young to remember the sitcom. He stops in front of our table and smiles at Amanda. When she doesn’t speak I look at her and see she’s staring down at the table. The skin on her neck is a mottled pink. Perhaps she’s seasick; but we’ve barely left Newcastle and the North Sea is like a millpond. Thinking this must be an acquaintance of hers, I stand up and hold out my hand. He grabs at it with a sort of damp, two fingered slide, saying, ‘Felix, you must be Dan,’ while his eyes slip over me and back to Amanda..."
The Strawberry Girl
Meet, for the first time, David Good, Private Investigator. Plying his trade in 1980s South London, the PI with pliable morals, a taste for blondes and a full-on sense of humour, turns out to be a big softie as he takes up the challenge of sorting out yet another domestic mess. Having discovered that one Alice Jones, a young woman with a well-developed taste for strawberries, has a varied and not entirely honest life, he quickly finds himself wrestling with emotions he’d prefer would go away. As it is, they leave him confused and struggling to work out what he should do with the woman. Join Good on this little jaunt through South London and ask yourself what you would do next.
The School Run
I heard the sirens in the night. I said this to Annabel Grainger’s mum later that morning, as we both stood outside what remained of the primary school. She was looking across the car park at the smouldering rubble of the old red brick building, dismay etched upon her face as I struggled to remember her name.
Sealed With a Kiss and Other Crime Stories
‘Sealed With a Kiss’ is a collection of ten crime-based short stories covering topics including a social media reunion that doesn’t end as expected; a chance meeting in a bar with tragic consequences; wife-swapping with a difference; a teapot that delivers a cocktail of death; the heightened senses of a young sergeant sniff out the criminal; somebody at the library has something other than reading on their mind; a volcanic eruption scuppers best-laid plans; a gamble to replace misappropriated funds that doesn’t pay off; an old lady who mistakes people and doesn’t appear to know what she’s doing; and a flash of light for an over-bearing partner.
Stealing the Dark
Jane A Adams
He removed the book from the evidence bag and lay it down on the wooden table of the interview room. It was, he thought, a sad little volume, filled with the faces of the long dead, stiffly posed and their eyes gazing from the book at a world at a world so changed it made him wince to think of it.
J A Pritchard
A macabre and dark psychological thriller, ‘The Shadows’ tells the story of Jack, a young and disturbed mobster, living in a hellish world where he is fighting to find answers, fighting to find out what happened in a past that he dare not speak of. With rivals wanting him dead, and his grip on reality ever weakening, Jack must seek to save his life and save his mind before he descends into madness or is buried in his grave. “This is not a normal time, and this is not a normal place . . .”
The arrival of DS Stephen Forest on her doorstep, takes Grace by surprise. A police investigation into the murder of a local surgeon, and a middle-aged, middle class woman living in rural respectability, seem unlikely to be connected, an impression DS Forest appears to share, at least initially....