A man is murdered with quiet efficiency on his doorstep. A strange emblem left behind suggests a
gang killing but when more bodies are found with the same emblem, and one of them a cop, DCI
Doug Stirling’s investigation takes a sinister turn.
But what linked the victims in life, and now in death?
When more deaths are uncovered, miles away and years apart, but all with the same emblem left
behind, pressure mounts on Stirling. Is it the work of the same person? If so, why are they killing
again, and why here? One thing is clear. The killer is highly skilled, ruthless, and always one step
ahead of the investigation. Is someone feeding information to them?
Working in a crippling heatwave with too few investigators, too many questions and not enough
answers, when wild media speculation of a vigilante at work sparks copycat attacks, demonstrations
for justice and with politicians fearing riots, Stirling needs a result – fast!
Meanwhile, Stirling’s private life is falling apart, not helped when Lena Novak of the National Crime
Agency is assigned to his team. But is she all that she seems? Things could not get worse. Stirling
takes a call from a retired cop. Things just got worse!
As Stirling closes in on the killer he finds the killer’s trademark inside his home – he is being targeted.
Tanner had said earlier that chief officer teams across the country were bracing themselves for increasing
social unrest. In the dogdays of a long hot summers there was always increased concern of inner-city riots
being sparked by a real or perceived injustice, underpinned by simmering societal discontent, and almost
always followed swiftly by mindless copy-cat violence fanning out across the country. Despite the
Parliamentary recess, raw political pressure was increasing daily as politicians with an eye to the imminent
party conference season took pot shots at each other, and in the late evening programmes, the “chatterati”
was wringing its hands about the social drivers of vigilantism. More interesting, or worrying, were the many
opinion polls revealing broad public empathy for the action being taken against paedophiles and other
offenders if the justice system would not, or could not, stop them from causing harm.
He went to the window and stared out across the lights of the town, wondering how long he would
remain in control of the investigation. Pearson and Tanner were under pressure to appoint someone of
higher rank than his. Pearson himself, probably. It would be pointless window-dressing but if he failed to
detect the murders soon, he knew they would have to bow to pressure. His late evening conference call
with them had been tense, to say the least. Tanner’s usual calm, unflappable manner was fraying.
Ministerial pressure was rattling everybody and although it wasn’t spoken of, Stirling guessed the Police
and Crime Commissioner was standing on their tails. Despite the pressure on himself, Stirling had left
the conversation glad to be at the coalface, and not at the mercy of political imperatives.
“So, the nation awaits, Stirling,” he thought to himself. He parted the blinds and peered sideways down
the street at the media crews now permanently camped outside the station. Stirling understood and
supported their duty to report but his personal experience at the hands of the media had left him
distrustful of the “fourth estate”.
Stirling let the blinds swing back into place and pulled his jacket from the back of the chair. Swinging
it over his shoulder, he switched off the desk lamp and went into the incident room where he switched
off some lights but leaving a couple on, for the benefit of those outside. Taking a last look around the
empty room, he pondered why he was still here, alone, at midnight, when he could be in bed beside
Ayesha. He momentarily savoured the thought of her soft warm rump filling his lap and realised he had
forgotten to call her.
Angry with himself, he muttered a sharp expletive and headed for the exit door. He was half way
through it when a telephone started ringing somewhere behind him, causing him to hesitate. He was
tempted to answer it but with the thought of a few hours’ sleep urging him on, he waited for the divert
service to cut in. When the ringing stopped abruptly he turned away again but had barely taken a step
when the phone started ringing again. His professional conscience got the better of him.
Framing a bollocking for whoever had failed to divert the phone, he re-crossed the room. Halfexpecting it to be a journalist, he snatched up the receiver and was about to speak when a man’s irate,
accented voice began.
‘Allo? I must speak with the man in charge.’
Thank you, Ray Britain and Damppebbles Blog Tours
About the author
Ray Britain’s second novel ‘Forgotten Lives’ follows closely on from ‘The Last Thread’ (2017) with a
new investigation for DCI Doug Stirling, the toughest of his career.
As a police Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led specialist investigations. He was also a Hostage
& Crisis Intervention Negotiator – a voluntary role – responding to hostage situations, many firearms
incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily. His roles took him to
the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, receiving Commendations in recognition for his
Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader at the heart of a complex, fast moving investigation with
all of its uncertainties, stresses and frustrations, and of the dark, bitter sadness’s of people’s lives.
Ray also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office, London, and with the City of
London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate.
When not writing, Ray might be found mountain hiking, following rugby, skiing, reading, sailing, or
generally keeping fit..
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3fvjmtg
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3kYeT3u