He’s watching… He’s waiting… Who’s next?
Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.
As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person? Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong? Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim. like stories that keep you on the edge of your seat then this is for you’ ‘Kept me guessing right up to the end’
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a powerful crime based thriller with a likeable female detective, and an authentic setting and details. The story features some unpalatable scenes, which I did not enjoy reading. They are however essential to the progression of the characters and the plot but be warned this is not an easy book to read.
The detail and the plot are well- written and the pacing fast and suspenseful. There are many criminals at work and a multitude of crimes for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues to solve. The characters are realistic, although as you would expect in this type of story not always likeable. The plot is well thought out and believable and it’s difficult to solve the crimes.
A suspenseful, menacing crime thriller with authentic police procedures and believable characters and plot, worth reading.
Guest Post – Sarah Flint:- The Power of Paperbacks
As a child, one of my favourite trips was to the local library in Carshalton. It’s only a small village library and I was allowed to walk there alone from quite a young age. I would regularly take out my maximum four books to be read avidly in my allotted time. The children’s library was always fun and noisy with regular clubs and other activities – but the adult library was almost completely silent – and it was with wonderment and reverence that I was occasionally allowed to enter.
It opened up a whole new world to me, a world that looked, sounded and smelt different; one where adults would glide silently between rows of colourful, well-thumbed books, that in turn opened up the world to them.
It is a sphere that children still love to inhabit, if we, as adults give them the chance.
Physical books are visual, inviting, and appeal to the senses. If they are placed in shop windows, or at the entrance to transport hubs, you cannot help being drawn to them, wondering whether they can transport you to a place far away from the mundane.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle too, but there can be nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a glass of wine – or in bed with a mug of hot chocolate, or, even better, on a sun-lounger with a cocktail in hand – and starting to read the opening sentences of a new book. The initial pages are turned rapidly, slowing slightly as the story ebbs and flows until the chunk of pages on the right-hand side grows thinner and thinner and the speed at which it disappears hastens to a sprint finish. When that final line is read and the covers of the book snap shut, the satisfaction is palpable. The book moves on, into the hands of the next person, on to the shelves of a hotel, a charity shop, a second-hand book shop. I’ve even seen old telephone kiosks decked out as ‘bring and borrow’ libraries.
It is hugely gratifying and addictive to hear about a great read and then actually have the means in your hands to share in its contents.
Technology is fantastic and has opened the doors, particularly for the younger generation, to so many different experiences – but nostalgia is still alive and kicking. People still love the feel of a book in their hands, the sight of a classic car trundling down the road, the crackling melody of an old 78 rpm record revolving on a deck.
I am a child of the 60s. I have watched the world change and develop beyond belief in the last fifty years and I embrace technology because it is the way forward, but sometimes it does feel a little insular. So many people are glued to their mini screens these days that communication becomes impossible. The back of a Kindle or laptop gives no insight into the world within it, whereas the cover of a book entices people to enter and devour its contents.
I will never forget the sight of my sister’s paperback on the shelf of my local supermarket; how excited I was to see a customer pick it up! I wanted to shout out loud that my very own sister had written it. It was exactly the motivation I needed to try writing myself, and I have never looked back. I love eBooks because they are so accessible, transferrable and straightforward, but my dream has always been to get on to a train or a bus, enter a cafe or station and see somebody reading one of my books. That is why it means so much to me, to be published in paperback.
With any luck, that wish might soon be granted!
Judging by the latest development, maybe it hadn’t been going as well as he’d claimed.
Charlie checked which member of the office had dealt with the family. It was Colin. His desk was the other side of the room to hers. She got up to speak to him. He was the straight, white, middle-aged male member of their team, similar in age to Bet but as opposite, in every other way as was possible. He was divorced and now single, with barely any access to his two children, who had been taken off to Ireland by a vindictive ex-wife years ago. Thin, tight-lipped and sad, he had a dry sense of humour and made it his business to look after the rights of all fathers and their children. He worked tirelessly with social services, going above and beyond what was normally required to ensure each child could know both parents. Charlie fully expected to see him on TV one day, dressed up as Superman swinging from Big Ben. What he didn’t know about family law was not worth knowing.
He was poring over his computer screen, his face serious.
‘Colin, have you got a minute?’
He looked up and nodded.
‘Do you remember dealing with a family called the Hubbards? Quite recently?’
He leant back frowning, before rubbing his chin with thin fingers.
‘Yes, I do. It was a couple of months ago.’ He scratched his chin again. ‘If I remember rightly, Julie Hubbard, the wife, had her wrist broken by her husband. She said she’d tripped and broken it in a fall but then refused to co-operate any further. One of their sons, Richard, said that his father had done it.’
‘I think I know who I’d believe.’
He shrugged. ‘Everyone thought the same, but what can you do? Richard phoned the police each time. He wanted to give evidence but Julie refused to let him and he did everything his mother asked. With just the one juvenile son as a possible witness, it was pretty much impossible to prove. Why do you ask?’
Charlie thought about what Colin had just said. For a young boy, Richard had certainly been brave, going up against his dad like that. The kid was protecting his mother in whatever way he could. Maybe Keith had started bullying him too because he resented the way he defended his mum. Maybe that was why Julie left and had only taken him. Ryan was certainly less vocal. Maybe Ryan was safe and she’d only had the time and resources to take one? There were too many maybes.
‘Because Julie and Richard Hubbard are the mother and son that have gone missing.’
Colin frowned and shook his head.
‘Really? Though I have to say I’m not surprised. I always thought there was something strange going on. The boy would plead with his mum to leave his father, but she just wouldn’t; it was as if she had another agenda. On the last occasion I saw them, Richard was literally begging her to leave Keith, but she whispered something to him that I couldn’t hear and he shut up straight away and seemed happier. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’d been waiting until the time was right.’
‘But why not take the other son, Ryan, too?’
‘He kept out of it really. Didn’t want to get involved. I think he sided with his father a bit more.’
‘So did he have a good relationship with Keith then?’
‘He probably had to because he didn’t have as close a relationship with his mother as Richard did.’
‘So what would be your gut feeling? Do you think Keith Hubbard could be responsible for Julie and Richard’s disappearance?’
Colin pursed his lips and looked straight up at Charlie.
‘I wouldn’t like to say. He is a nasty bastard and could easily have done something, but you know what some women are like. It wouldn’t surprise me if Julie Hubbard hadn’t been planning this all along.’
With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.