Keep going, keep going, it’s only pain, just breathe and run, breathe, and fucking run!
He skids. Slips on blood and ice. Tumbles into the snow and hears the sound of paper tearing. Feels the flap of burned skin that was hanging, sail-like, across his chest, being torn away on unforgiving stone.
His scream is an inhuman thing; primal, untamed.
Get up, run, run . . .
Sobbing, he bites into the fat of his hand. Tastes his own roasted flesh. Spits blood and skin and bile. Petrol. Somebody else’s hair.
Not like this. Not now . . .
He tries to pull himself upright, but his naked, frozen toes fail to respond to his commands. He thrusts his ruined hands into the snow and pushes his body up, but slips again and feels his head hit the pavement.
Stay awake. Stay alive.
His vision is blurring. From nowhere, he finds himself remembering the television in his old student flat – the way the picture disappeared down a dwindling circle of colour in the centre of the screen, creating a miniature whirlpool of swirling patterns and pictures. That is what he sees now, his whole world diminishing. His senses, his understanding, are turning in a shrinking kaleidoscope of crimsons and darks.
Half-undone, almost broken, he raises his head and looks back at the grisly path his feet have punched in the snow. Miniature ink-bombs of blue-black blood, scattered haphazardly among ragged craters.
‘There! There he is! Stop him. Stop!’
The voices force him upright, boost his vision, his perception, and for a blessed moment he gathers himself and takes in his surroundings. Looks up at the Victorian terraces with their big front windows and bare hanging baskets: their ‘vacancies’ signs and joyless rainbows of unlit coloured bulbs.
His own voice: ‘Bitch, bitch.’
He realises he can hear the sea; a crackle of static and sliding stones, slapping onto the mud and sand beyond the harbour wall.
And suddenly he is adrift in a symphony of senses. Sounds.
He smells the salt and vinegar of the chip shop; the stale ale of a pub cellar. Hears the scream of gulls and the wet kisses of rotting timbers knocking against one another as bobbing fishing boats softly collide. Doors opening. Sash windows sliding up. Glasses on varnished wood. Faintly, the triumphant song of a slot machine as it pays out. A cheer. The rattle of coins . . .
He has taken no more than a dozen steps when his strength leaves him. He slides onto his belly. Feels the snow become a blanket. Deliriously, tries to pull it around himself. To make a pillow of the kerb.
Running feet. Voices.
A hand around his throat, hauling him to his feet. An impact to the side of his head. Perhaps a fist, perhaps a knee.
His teeth slam together: the impact a blade biting into wood.
Stars and mud, snow and cloud, boots and fists and the kerb against his skull, again, again, again . . .
He is drifting into the tunnel of shapes, now. Disappearing.
Everything is getting smaller. Darker.
All over. All gone . . .
The snow so soft. The dark so welcoming.
Fresh hands upon him. Hands, not fists. Soft. Firm, but tender.
Flesh on flesh.
A face, looming over him. ‘Look what you’ve done to him.’
A moment’s clarity, before the black ocean pulls him under . . . ‘Let him die. Please, let him fucking die.’
Monday morning. 9.16 a.m.
A small and airless room above the health centre on Cottingham Road.
Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, uncomfortable and ridiculous on a plastic school chair, knees halfway up to his ears.
He notices that his left leg is jiggling up and down. Damn! The shrink must have seen it too. He decides to keep jiggling it, so she doesn’t read anything into his decision to stop.
He catches her eye.
Stops jiggling his leg.
‘Aector, I’m not trying to trick you. You don’t need to second- guess yourself all the time.’
McAvoy nods, and feels a fresh bead of sweat run down the back of his shirt collar. It’s too hot in here. The walls, with their Elastoplast-coloured wallpaper, seem to be perspiring, and the painted-shut windows are misting up.
She’s talking again. Words, words, words . . .
‘I have apologised, haven’t I? About the room? I tried to get another one but there’s nothing available. I think if we gave that window a good shove we could get it open, but then you have the sound of the road to contend with.’
McAvoy raises his hands to tell her not to worry, though in truth, he is so hot and uncomfortable, he’s considering diving head-first through the glass. McAvoy was dripping before he even walked through the door. For two weeks it has felt as though a great wet dog has been lying on the city, but it is a heatwave that has brought no blue skies. Instead, Hull has sweated beneath heavens the colour of damp concrete. It is weather that frays tempers, induces lethargy, and makes life an ongoing torture for big, flame-haired men like Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, who has felt damp, cross and self-conscious for days. It’s a feverish heat; a pestilent, buzzing cloak. To McAvoy, even walking a few steps feels like fighting through laundry lines of damp linen. Everybody agrees that the city needs a good storm to clear the air, but lightning has yet to split the sky.
‘I thought you had enjoyed the last session. You seemed to warm up as we went along.’ She looks at her notes. ‘We were talking about your father . . .’
McAvoy closes his eyes. He doesn’t want to appear rude, so bites his tongue. As far as he can recall, he hadn’t been talking about his father at all. She had.
‘Okay, how about we try something a bit less personal? Your career, perhaps? Your ambitions?’
McAvoy looks longingly at the window. The scene it frames could be a photograph. The leaves and branches of the rowan tree are lifeless, unmoving, blocking out the view of the university across the busy road, but he can picture it in his imagination clearly enough. Can see the female students with their bare midriffs and tiny denim shorts; their knee socks and back- combed hair. He closes his eyes, and sees nothing but victims. They will hit the beer gardens this afternoon. They will drink more than they should. They will catch the eye and, emboldened by alcohol, some will smile and flirt and revel in the sensation of exposed skin. They will make mistakes. There will be confusion and heat and desire and fear. By morning, detectives will be investigating assaults. Maybe a stabbing. Parents will be grieving and innocence will be lost.
He shakes it away. Curses himself. Hears Roisin’s voice, as always, telling him to stop being silly and just enjoy the sunshine. Pictures her, bikini-clad and feet bare, soaking up the heat as she basks, uncaring, on their small patch of brown front lawn.
Had he been asked a question? Oh, yeah . . .
‘I’m not being evasive,’ he says, at last. ‘I know for some people there are real benefits to what you do. I studied some psychology at university. I admire your profession immensely. I’m just not sure what I can tell you that will be of any benefit to either of us. I don’t bottle things up. I talk to my wife. I have outlets for my dark feelings, as you call them. I’m okay. I wish my brain didn’t do some things and I’m grateful it does others. I’m pretty normal, really.’
The psychologist puts her head on one side, like a Labrador delicately broaching the subject of a walk.
‘Aector, these sessions are for whatever you want them to be. I’ve told you this. If you want to discuss police work, you can. If you want to talk about things in your personal life, that’s fine too. I want to help. If you sit here in silence, that’s what I have to put in my report.’
McAvoy drops his head and stares at the carpet for a moment. He’s bone-tired. The hot weather has made his baby daughter irritable and she is refusing to sleep anywhere other than on Daddy. He spent last night in a deckchair in the back yard, wrapped in a blanket and holding her little body against his chest, her fingers gripping the collar of his rugby shirt as she grizzled and sniffled in her sleep.
‘The rowan tree,’ says McAvoy, suddenly, and points at the window. ‘They used to plant them in churchyards to keep away witches. Did you know that? I did a project on trees when I was eight. Sorbus aucuparia, it’s called, in Latin. I know the names of about twenty different trees in Latin. Don’t know why they stayed in my mind but they did. Don’t really know why I’m telling you this, to be honest. It just came to me. I suppose it’s nice to be able to say something without worrying that people will think I’m being a smart-arse.’
The psychologist steeples her fingers. ‘But you’re not worried about that at this moment? That’s interesting in itself . . .’
McAvoy sighs, exasperated at being analysed by anybody other than himself. He knows what makes him tick. He doesn’t want to be deconstructed in case the pieces don’t fit back together.
‘Aector? Look, is there somewhere else you would rather be?’
He looks up at the psychologist. Sabine Keane, she’s called.
McAvoy reckons she’s divorced. She wears no ring but would be unlikely to have been saddled with a rhyming name from birth. She’s in her early forties and very slim, with longish hair tied back in a mess of straw and grey strands. She’s dressed for the hot weather, in sandals, linen skirt and a plain black T-shirt that exposes arms that sag a little underneath. She wears no make-up and there is a blob of something that may be jam halfway up her right arm. She has one of those sing-song, storytelling voices that are intended to comfort, but often grate. McAvoy has nothing against her and would love to be able to tell her something worthwhile, but is struggling to see the point of these sessions. He’s grateful that she learned to pronounce his name the Celtic way, and she has a friendly enough smile, but there are doors in his head he doesn’t want to unlock. It doesn’t help that they got off to such an inauspicious start. On his way to the first session, he had witnessed her involvement in a minor incident of cycle rage. It’s hard to believe in somebody’s power to heal your soul when you have seen them pedalling furiously down a bus lane and screaming obscenities at a Volvo.
McAvoy tries again.
‘Look, the people at occupational health have insisted I come for six sessions with a police-approved counsellor. I’m doing that. I’m here. I’ll answer your questions and I’m at great pains not to be rude to you but it’s hot and I’m tired and I have work to do, and yes, there are lots of places I would rather be. I’m sure you would too.’
There is silence for a second. McAvoy hears the beep of an appointment being announced in the waiting room for the main doctor’s surgery downstairs. He pictures the scene. The waiting room of sick students and chattering foreigners, of middle-class bohemians waiting for their malaria pills and yellow fever jabs before they jet off to Goa with their little Jeremiahs and Hermiones.
Eventually, Sabine tries again. ‘You have three children, is that right?’
‘Two,’ says McAvoy. ‘Youngest keeping you up?’
‘Comes with the job.’
‘It’s your duty, yes?’
‘Tell me about duty, Aector. Tell me what it means to you.’
McAvoy makes fists. Thinks about it. ‘It’s what’s expected.’
‘By everyone. By yourself. It’s the right thing.’
Sabine says nothing for a moment, then reaches down and pulls a notepad from her satchel. She writes something on the open page, but whether it is some clinical insight or a reminder to pick up toilet rolls on the way home, McAvoy cannot tell.
‘You’ve picked a job that is all about duty, haven’t you? Did you always want to be a policeman?’
McAvoy rubs a hand across his forehead. Straightens his green and gold tie. Rolls back the cuffs on his black shirt, then rolls them down again.
‘It wasn’t like that,’ he says, eventually. ‘Where I grew up. The set-up at home. The script was kind of written.’
Sabine looks at her notepad again, and shuffles through the pages to find something. She looks up. ‘You grew up in the Highlands, yes? On a croft? A little farm, I believe . . .’
‘Until I was ten.’
‘And that’s when you went to boarding school?’
McAvoy looks away. He straightens the crease in his grey suit trousers and fiddles with the pocket of the matching waistcoat. ‘After a while.’
‘Expensive, for a crofter, I presume.’ Her voice is soft but probing.
‘Mam’s new partner was quite well off.’
The psychologist makes another note. ‘And you and your mother are close?’
McAvoy looks away.
‘How about you and your father?’
‘Off and on.’
‘How does he feel about your success?
McAvoy gives in to a smile. ‘What success?’
Sabine gestures at her notes, and the cardboard file on the floor at her feet. ‘The cases you have solved.’
He shakes his head. ‘It doesn’t work like that. I didn’t solve anything.’ He stops. Considers it properly, shrugs. ‘Maybe I did. Maybe I was just, well, there. And when it was just me, on my own, when nobody else gave a damn, I ended up thinking I shouldn’t have bothered. Or maybe I should have bothered more.’
There is silence in the room. McAvoy rocks the small plastic chair back on two legs, then puts it down again when he feels it lurch.
After a moment, Sabine nods, as if making up her mind.
‘Tell me about Doug Roper,’ she says, without looking at her pad.
Involuntarily, McAvoy clenches his jaw. He feels the insides of his cheeks go dry. He says nothing, for fear his tongue will be too fat and useless to make any sense.
‘We only get the most basic details in the reports, Aector. But I can read between the lines.’
‘He was my first detective chief superintendent in CID,’ says McAvoy, softly.
‘And what? You’ve probably heard of him.’
Sabine gives a little shrug. ‘I Googled him. Bit of a celebrity policeman, I see.’
‘He’s retired now.’
‘And you had something to do with that?’
McAvoy runs his tongue around his mouth. ‘Some people think so.’
‘And that made you unpopular?’
‘It’s getting better now. Trish Pharaoh has been very helpful.’
‘That’s your new boss, yes? Serious and Organised Crime Unit, is that right? Yes, you mentioned her last time. You mention her quite a lot.’
McAvoy manages a faint smile. ‘You sound like my wife.’
Sabine cocks her head. ‘She means a lot to you?’
‘My wife? She’s everything . . .’
‘No. Your boss.’
McAvoy’s leg starts jiggling again. ‘She’s a very good police officer. I think so, anyway. Maybe she isn’t. Maybe Doug Roper had it right. I don’t know. I don’t know anything very much. Somebody once told me that I would drive myself insane trying to understand what it’s all about. Justice, I mean. Goodness. Badness. Sometimes I think I’m halfway there. Other times I just feel like I’m only clever enough to realise how little I know.’
‘There’s a line in the report we have that says you take the rules very seriously. Can you tell me what you think that might mean?’
McAvoy holds her gaze. Is she making fun of him? He doesn’t know what to say. Is there something in the file about his adherence to the rule book? He’s a man who completes his paperwork in triplicate in case the original is mislaid and who won’t requisition a new Biro from the stationery cupboard until his last one is out of ink.
He says nothing. Just listens to the tyres on the bone-dry road and the sound of blood in his ears.
‘The report says you have lots of physical scars, Aector.’
McAvoy tries to be an honest man, and so does not reproach himself for the answer. He is okay. He’s as well as can be expected. He’s getting by. Doing his bit. Making do. He has plenty of glib, meaningless ways to describe how he is, and knows that were he to sit here trying to explain it all properly, he would turn to ash. At home, he’s more than okay. He’s perfect. With his arms around his wife and children, he feels like he is glowing. It is only at work that he has no bloody clue how he feels. Whether he regrets his actions. What he really feels about the corrupt and pitiless detective superintendent whose tenure at the head of Humberside CID only ended when McAvoy tried to bring his crimes into the light. Whether noble or naïve, McAvoy’s actions cost him his reputation as rising star. This gentle, humble, shy giant of a man was made a distrusted, despised pariah by many of his fellow officers. He was dumped on the Serious and Organised Crime Unit as little more than accountant and mouthpiece, expected by all to be chewed up and spat out by the squad boss, Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh, with her biker boots, mascara and truckloads of attitude. Instead she had found a protégé. Almost a friend. And at her side, he has caught bad people.
The burns on McAvoy’s back and the slash wound to the bone on his left breast are not the only scars he carries, but they have become almost medals of redemption. He has suffered for what he believes.
Sabine puts down her pen and pulls her phone from her bag. She looks at the display and then up at McAvoy. ‘We have half an hour left. You must want to get some of this off your chest.’
McAvoy pulls out his own phone to check that she is right, and sees that he has had eight missed calls, all from the same number. He pulls an apologetic face and before Sabine can object, rings back.
Trish Pharaoh answers on the second ring. Spits his name the only way she can pronounce it, with a mixture of sugar and steel. ‘Hector, thank fuck for that. We’ve got a body. Tell the shrink to tick your chart and let you go. You’re in fine shape. Let’s just hope your gag reflex isn’t. This one’s going to make you sick.’
Tick-tock, tick-tock, indicator flashing right. A bluebottle buzzing fatly against the back window. Horns honking and the drone of a pneumatic drill. Shirtless workmen lying back against the wall of the convenience store on the corner, egg-and-bacon sandwiches dripping from greasy paper bags onto dirty hands.
The lights turn green, but nobody moves. The traffic stays still. Two different radio stations blare from open windows. Lady Gaga fights for supremacy with The Mamas and the Papas . . .
A city in the grip of a fever: irritable, agitated, raw.
McAvoy checks his phone. Nothing new. Tries to read the sticker on the back windscreen of the Peugeot two cars in front, but gives up when the squinting makes his temples sweat.
Looks right, at the Polish convenience store: its sign a jumble of angry consonants. Left, at the gym with its massive advert for pole-dancing fitness classes. Wonders if any of the immigrants in this part of town have become champion Pole dancers . . .
He’s at the bottom of Anlaby Road, already regretting his decision to turn right out of the doctor’s surgery. He’s driving the five-year-old people-carrier that he and Roisin had settled on a month ago. There are two child seats in the back, leaving McAvoy constantly worried about being asked to chauffeur any more than one colleague at a time.
The lights turn green again, and he noses the car forward, into the shadow of a boarded-up theme pub. He remembers when it opened. A local businessman spent more than a million on revamping the building, convinced there was a need for a sophisticated and luxurious nightspot in this part of town. It lasted a year. Its demise could serve as a mirror for so much of this area. The bottom end of Anlaby Road is all charity shops and pizza parlours, cash-for-gold centres and pubs where the barman and the only customer take it in turns to go outside for a cigarette. The streets are a maze of small terraced houses with front rooms where a man of McAvoy’s size would struggle to lie down. Once upon a time, the people would have been called ‘poor but honest’. Perhaps even ‘working class’. There is no term in the official police guidance to describe the locals now. Just people. Ordinary people, with their faults and flaws and wishes and dreams. Hull folk, all tempers and pride.
The lights change again, and McAvoy finally edges into Walliker Street.
Second gear. Third.
He is at the crime scene before he can get into fourth gear. There are three police cars blocking the road, and a white tent is being erected by two constables and a figure in a white suit. Pharaoh’s little red convertible is parked next to a forensics van, outside a house with brown-painted bay windows and dirty net curtains pulled tight shut. Next door, a woman in combat trousers and a Hull City shirt is talking to a man in a dressing gown in the front yard. McAvoy fancies they will have already solved the case.
He abandons the car in the middle of the road and reaches into the back seat for his leather satchel. It was a gift a couple of years ago from his wife, and is the source of endless amusement to his colleagues.
‘Hector. At last.’
McAvoy bangs his head on the doorframe as he hears his boss’s voice. He looks up and sees Pharaoh making her way towards him. Despite the heat, she has refused to shed her biker boots, though she has made a few concessions to the weather. She’s wearing a red dress with white spots, and has a cream linen scarf around her neck, which McAvoy presumes she has placed there to disguise her impressive cleavage. She is wearing large, expensive sunglasses, and her dark hair has a kink to it that suggests it dried naturally on the hot air, without the attentions of a brush.
She looks at her sergeant for a moment too long, then nods. ‘No suit jacket, Hector?’
McAvoy looks at himself, neat and pressed in designer suit trousers, waistcoat, shirt with top button done up and his tie perfectly tied in a double Windsor. ‘I can pop home if . . .’
Pharaoh laughs. ‘Christ, you must be boiling. Undo a button, for God’s sake.’
McAvoy begins to colour. Pharaoh can make any man blush but has an ability to transform her sergeant into a lava lamp with nothing more than a sentence or a smile. He has refused to wear a white shirt since she told him she could see the outline of his nipples, and has yet to find a way of looking at her that doesn’t take in at least one of her many curves. He raises his hands to his throat but can’t bring himself to give in to slovenliness. ‘I’ll be fine.’
Pharaoh sighs and shakes her head. ‘All okay at the shrink?’
He spreads his hands. ‘She wants me to have more problems than I have.’
‘That’s what she’s paid for.’
‘Came as a relief to get your call.’
‘You haven’t seen the poor lass yet.’
Together they cross the little street, passing a closed fish and chip shop that appears to have been built in the front room of one of the terraced houses. The row of houses stops abruptly and behind the wall of the last house is a large parking area, its concrete surface broken up and pitted, and the beads of broken glass on its surface testament to the fact that this is no safe place to leave your car.
The forensics tent has been pitched on a patch of grass beyond the car park, behind a small copse of trees that stand in a dry, litter-strewn patch of dirt. Behind it is the railway bridge that leads over the tracks to another estate.
‘Brace yourself,’ says Pharaoh, as she lifts the flap of the tent and steps inside.
‘Take a look.’
A forensics officer in a white suit is crouching down over the body, but he stops taking photographs and backs away, crablike, as McAvoy enters the tent. Breathing slowly, he crosses to where the corpse lies.
The victim is on her back. The first thing that strikes him is the angle of her head. She seems to be looking up, craning her neck so as not to see the ruination of what has happened to her body. Even so, her expression is one of anguish. The tendons in her neck seem to have stretched to breaking point and her face is locked mid-scream. Her mouth is open, and her blue eyes have rolled back in her head, as if trying to get away.
McAvoy swallows. Forces himself to look at more than just the wounds.
She is in her late fifties, with short brown hair, greying at the roots. She is wearing black leggings and old, strappy sandals that display bare toes with nails painted dark blue. Her fingers are short but not unsightly, with neatly clipped nails and a gold engagement ring and wedding band, third finger, left hand.
Only now does he allow himself to consider her midsection. His bile rises. He swallows it down.
The woman’s chest has been caved in. The bones of her ribs have been snapped, splintered and pushed up and into her breasts and lungs. Her upper torso is a mass of flattened skin and tissue, black blood and mangled organs. Her white bra, together with what looks like the remains of her breasts, sit in the miasma of churned meat. For a hideous moment, McAvoy imagines the noise that will be made when the pathologist disentangles them for examination.
He turns away. Takes a breath that is not as deeply scented with gore.
He turns back to the horror, and flinches.
Though it shames him to have considered it, McAvoy finds himself in mind of a spatchcocked chicken; split at the breast and flattened out to be roasted.
He feels Pharaoh’s hand on his shoulder, and looks into her face. She nods, and they step outside the tent.
‘Bloody hell, Guv,’ says McAvoy, breathlessly.
He breathes out, slowly. Realises that the world has been spinning a little, and waits for the dizziness to pass. Forces himself to be a policeman.
‘What sort of weapon does that?’
Pharaoh shrugs. ‘I reckon we’re after a bloke on a horse, swinging a fucking mace.’
‘That can’t have been the cause of death, though, can it? There must be a head wound, or a stab somewhere under all that . . .’
‘Pathologist will get to all that. All I can say for certain is it wasn’t suicide.’
McAvoy looks up at the sky. It remains the colour of dirty bathwater. He feels the perspiration at his lower back and when he rubs a hand over his face it comes away soaking. Although he knows nothing about the life of the woman in the tent, the little he knows of her death makes him angry. Nobody should die like that.
Pharaoh nods. ‘The lot. Was only a few feet from the body.’
‘She was found a couple of hours ago. Bloke on his way to get the morning papers. Saw her foot sticking out and phoned 999.’
‘Regular CID can’t have had a look, then . . .’
‘Came straight to us.’
Pharaoh makes a blade of her fingers and waves them in front of her throat, suggesting he cut short his questions. As head of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, Pharaoh is used to the infighting and internecine warfare that pollutes the upper strata of Humberside Police. Her unit was established as a murder squad, set apart from the main body of detectives, but budget cuts and personnel changes have left the team with no clearly defined role. At present, Pharaoh and her officers are loosely tasked with investigating a highly organised criminal outfit that appears to have taken over most of the drugs trafficking on the east coast. Its emergence has coincided with a marked spike in the incidents of violent crime, and both McAvoy and Pharaoh know for certain that the gang’s foot soldiers are responsible for several deaths. Their methods are efficient and brutal, their favoured weapons the nailgun and blowtorch. Pharaoh’s unit have locked up three of the outfit’s significant players but so far the information they have managed to glean about the chain of command has been pitiful. Ruthless, efficient, single-minded and worryingly well informed, each tier of the gang seems to be insulated from the next. The soldiers have little or no knowledge of who gives them their orders. It is an operation based on mobile phones and complex codes, which has recruited a better class of muscle through a combination of high reward and justified fear. ‘This is down as gang-related?’ asks McAvoy, incredulously. It is the only way the crime would have come straight to Pharaoh. Pharaoh gives a rueful smile. ‘She runs a residents’ group.
Spoke out at a recent public meeting about street dealers ruining the neighbourhood.’
McAvoy closes his eyes. ‘So what do we know?’
Pharaoh doesn’t need to consult her notes. She has already committed the details to memory.
‘Philippa Longman. Fifty-three. Lived up Conway Close. Past Boulevard, near the playing fields. There’s a uniform inspector from Gordon Street with the family now. Philippa worked at the late shop that you passed driving in. Was working last night, before you ask. And this would have been on her way home. Somebody grabbed her. Pulled her behind the trees. Did this.’
‘Our next stop, my boy.’
‘Bloke who found her?’
‘Still shaking. Hasn’t got the taste of sick out of his mouth yet.’
‘And we’re taking it, yes? There won’t be a stink from CID?’
Pharaoh looks at him over the top of her sunglasses. ‘Of course there will. There’ll be a stink whatever happens.’
McAvoy takes a deep breath. ‘I’m supposed to be prepping for court. Ronan Gill’s trial is only a month away and the witnesses are getting jumpy . . .’
Without changing her facial expression, Pharaoh reaches up and puts a warm palm across McAvoy’s mouth. He smiles, his stubble making a soft rasp against her skin.
‘I have a hand free for a kidney punch if you need it,’ she says sweetly.
McAvoy looks back at the tent. Sees, in his mind’s eye the devastation within. He wants to know who did it. Why. Wants to stop it happening again. Wants to ensure that whoever loved this woman is at least given a face to hate.
He wishes the bloody psychologist were here, now. It would be the only way she could ever understand what makes him do a job he hates. Wants to tell her that this is what he is. What he forces himself to be. Here, at the place between sorrow and goodbye.
Excerpted from Sorrow Bound by David Mark. Copyright © 2014 by David Mark.
First published in Great Britain in 2014 by Quercus Editions Ltd, 55 Baker Street, 7th Floor, South Block, London, W1U 8EW. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided by Pan Macmillan Australia solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.