Author: Mark Edwards
Release Date: June 15, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realizes she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.
A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorizing his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.
But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.
“Chilling, fast-paced, and unpredictable. I couldn't put it down!”
—Robert Bryndza, author of THE GIRL IN THE ICE
“Another gripping read from Mark Edwards.” —Howard Linskey, author of NO NAME LANE
“Tight plot, engaging characters, beautifully drawn setting.…Another compulsive domestic noir from the British Linwood Barclay.” —Ed James, author of THE HOPE THAT KILLS
“Another compellingly twisty read from Mark Edwards. They just get better and better.” —Sibel Hodge, author of DUPLICITY
“A terrific, tense read with a great twist.” *
—Sarah Lotz, author of THE THREE
Even though it was a secluded spot and rain seemed unlikely, a tent had been erected over the corpse. Treading carefully on the stepping plates put down to preserve any important evidence, Imogen entered the tent, with just Emma behind her.
The woman was lying on her back, arms by her side, legs together, as if she were already in her coffin. As Pete had said, her eyes gazed sightlessly at the canvas overhead.
Scene of Crime Officers moved around the victim, taking pictures.
Imogen crouched beside the body. As with the others, there was no blood, no marks on the throat, no obvious signs of violence. The woman was in her late forties or early fifties, white, with mid-length brown hair that looked like it had been recently highlighted. Average weight, about five foot seven. Lightly made up, though the mascara around her eyes had smeared. She was a good-looking woman, well-groomed and wearing casual but expensive clothes: a pair of designer jeans and a light cashmere sweater. She wore white pumps on her feet. And Pete was right: she appeared to be smiling, her lips curled upwards at each corner.
Just like the others.
She wished she could roll up the woman's sleeve to check for what she was sure would be there, but she didn't want to risk incurring the wrath of Karen Lamb or do anything that would jeopardise this investigation.
She got to her feet, taking another look at the body and the grass around her.
'No drag marks,' she said. 'She was carried here. And no sign of a syringe of any other drugs paraphernalia. Just like the others.'
She left the tent, Emma at her heels, and turned slowly in a circle, scanning the perimeter. To the west and north, open countryside stretched as far as the eye could see. To the east, Imogen could see the town, and to the south, the streets where most of Much Wenlock's inhabitants lived, the houses a mix of new and old. Could the killer live there, within spitting distance of this place? It seemed unlikely. The three victims had been found at spots spread out across the country. There was nothing to suggest he was leaving them in his own backyard.
'He can't have carried her too far, not unless he's incredibly strong,' Imogen said. 'He must have parked somewhere nearby before entering the site.'
She closed her eyes and tried to picture it: the man she'd spent so many hours thinking about over the past few months, carrying this woman - like a groom carrying his bride over the threshold? Or over his shoulder? So far, they hadn't found signs of entry at any of the three scenes. It was as if he'd swooped down from the sky and placed his victims gently on the ground before taking off again. Her phone rang. She took the call, then turned back to Emma.
'That was the station. A guy in Ludlow's reported his wife missing. Five seven, brown hair with blonde highlights. He described her jewelry, too. It matches. Her name's Fiona Redbridge.'
She stepped back through the opening of the tent, hoping Karen would get here quickly so they could at least close the poor woman's eyes. Once more, she crouched beside the body, wishing again that she could roll up the sleeve of that blouse and check for the needle mark she was certain would be there.
Rising and leaving the tent, Imogen stopped as a movement in the middle distance caught her eye. Someone was standing in the field, just beyond the perimeter of the Priory. A man, dressed in black, too far away to make out his features. When she took a few steps towards him, he turned and began hurriedly walking away. Imogen approached one of the younger officers with orders to pursue him, but before she'd even finished speaking the man had vanished, as if he'd melted into thin air.
His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date.
Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.
Mark's website is: www.markedwardsauthor.com
You can follow him @mredwards