A missing student. A gunned-down detective. A woman in fear for her life. All three are connected somehow.
Detective Inspector Carl Sant and his fellow officers get on the case. But what links the disappearance of a university student, the death of an off-duty police sergeant, and a professor reluctant to help them solve the case?
Their only clue is a sequence of numbers, etched by the police sergeant Dryden on a misty window moments before he breathed his last. Soon it becomes clear that Dryden’s clue has brought the past and present into a head-on collision with the very heart of Sant’s profession.
Racing against time, D.I. Sant must find out what’s behind the mysterious events – before the bodies start piling up.
The following extract is from Chapter 6 of CHLOE: LOST GIRL. It’s from the point of view of a middle-aged woman whose previous life as an investigative journalist is coming back to haunt her in her present-day role as a police informant.
She had never been more terrified.
Her bedside clock told her it was four a.m. She’d tossed and turned all night, not a wink of sleep. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. What nightmares would greet her if her brain switched off a moment too long?
Murder. She had murder on her mind. That policeman had been targeted. Assassinated. That meant…
A plume of flame blinded her, bullet exploding from the gun, knocking her over into numb blackness.
They were coming for her.
Wiping her forehead, she stilled her gasps and looked over to the phone. Considered calling the police. How could she even begin to explain what she knew? The risks far outweighed the benefits. She trusted no-one.
Had anyone followed her on that lonely walk home? Her stare went through the wall, head shaking. They could have struck her down there and then. Her shoulders heaved. A feeling, a sureness, wiped away all the moisture from her eyes.
They knew where she lived.
They’d been waiting, toying with her. Monitoring her every move. And now they could pick her off. Easy prey.
She had to move. Fast. No time to collect her things. Just get out. Lose herself in the crowd.
She grabbed all the loose money she could find, dashed to the bedside table and knocked the lamp over, hand hovering over a clutter of personal items. She watched her shaking hands, mouth open. Grabbed the keys and left.
Walked out of her flat – and fell. Hard. Landed with a thud. The agony took her breath away as she pressed hands to ribs. It felt like being impaled by a brass poker. She’d forgotten about the parcel, was looking at it, thinking… My ribs. Bruised or cracked? It hurt like hell. She tried to get up, stumbled, fell again.
She inhaled deeply, stretched her legs out and used her feet to rein in the parcel. At first she couldn’t budge it. Christ, it could’ve been full of bricks for all she knew. A glance at the address label stopped her breathing once more.
The name on the box. The name no-one was supposed to know.
Her real name!
She gawped and came up for air. Hit herself, hoping this… a bad dream? The punch to the cheek landed home.
She scanned the corridor, aware of the eight floors of her dingy council block she had to descend, and saw no-one. Nothing felt out of order. She took another gulp of oxygen and tried to get to her feet, but the pain pulsed down her ribcage as she tried to twist it straight. She’d done some damage. Permanent damage. This was bad. It would be three hours before the neighbours got up. Shouting for help would be madness.
Throat tight with a sob, her watery gaze drifted to the parcel by her feet. What on earth was inside and who had sent it? Only a handful of people alive knew her by that name.
Tension, vibrating her entire frame a moment before, eased from her face, hands. Could the sender be her precious girl, the most special person she’d had the pleasure to care for? Did Chloe send this? If so, she’d spent a queen’s ransom on the courier service. Sunday paid double if not triple.
Why the urgency? Welled tears broke and ran, face taut in thought. She suspected what the parcel contained. Knew the importance of it. But why send it now? This was the evidence she revealed to that poor policeman. She’d even written down the address where he could find it. It was meant for his eyes. Or the eyes of someone equally trustworthy. Someone with the power to bring down the infrastructure under which they served.
She’d promised the evidence to him. Sergeant Dryden… he would never receive it.
Sprawled on the floor, she tried and failed to lift the hefty weight. Shuffled it closer, inch by inch, until at last she could pick at the seams with her trembling fingers. It took her several minutes to prise away the tape and staples, hampered as she was by the soreness of her ribs, sheer determination keeping her going, desperate to get at what was inside. Its value would be worthless to the unknowing and unaffected, but to those who’d fought against corruption and discrimination in the highest ranks of society, what lay inside was immense, awesome, priceless.
One final tug of the cardboard casing and she’d be in. She ripped across the upper flaps and wrenched them apart, gripped the rim of the box with both hands outstretched and tipped it slowly towards her.
Peeped inside. And then she let go.
Her instincts were right. She should have trusted them. The optimist inside her had been fooled.
‘Again!’ She looked at her fist, thoughts of self-harm recurring.
The box was full of bricks.
At that moment she registered something in the corner of her eye. She turned and looked up at a man wearing black gloves and a broad smile. But she only saw the gloves as they came down level with her neck, grabbed hold of her, then tightened their merciless grip.
Thank you, Dan Laughey and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Dan Laughey is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University where he teaches a course called ‘Youth, Crime and Culture’ among other things. He has written several books on the subject including Music and Youth Culture, based on his PhD in Sociology at Salford University. He also holds a BA in English from Manchester Metropolitan University and an MA in Communications Studies from the University of Leeds.
Dan was born in Otley and bred in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, a hop and a skip away from the Leeds setting of his Chloe novels.
His crime writing was purely academic to begin with. He’s written about media violence and tackled the age-old concern about television and video games influencing patterns of antisocial behaviour in society. After years of research and theoretical scrutiny, he still hasn’t cracked that particular nut.
He’s also written about the role of CCTV and surveillance in today’s Big Brother world, the sometimes fraught relationship between rap and juvenile crime, football hooliganism, and the sociocultural legacy of Britain’s most notorious serial killer – the Yorkshire Ripper.
All in all, Dan’s work has been translated into four languages: French, Hebrew, Korean and Turkish. He has presented guest lectures at international conferences and appeared on BBC Radio and ITV News in addition to providing expert commentary for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.
Social Media Links
Twitter: @danlaughey – Facebook: fb.com/laughey
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07PDLDS7N
US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PDLDS7N