Friday 25 March 2016

BLOG TOUR - Two Evils by Mark Sennen

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Two Evils by Mark Sennen. I was thrilled to be asked by Helena Sheffield from Avon Books to take part with some other fab book bloggers.

I've got an extract from Two Evils and the lovely Kate from @BibliophileBookClub had yesterday's extract on her blog which you can read here.

A missing boy. A brutal killer. D.I. Charlotte Savage is ready . . .

DI Charlotte Savage has been warned to lay low. After a string of high profile cases, her infamous reputation precedes her.

But when a vulnerable child goes missing, for Savage, it’s too close to home. She’s not the kind of detective who can sit back and watch events unfold.

Then a second child is snatched – echoing a terrifying incident that happened over two decades before. It soon becomes apparent that there is a more chilling motive behind the disappearances.

History looks set to repeat itself. It’s down to Savage to seek out the cold blooded killer. Before it’s third time unlucky. Before it’s too late . . .

Extract from Two Evils.........

Chapter 2

Derriford Business Park, Plymouth. Monday 19th October. 3.30 p.m.

A throng of reporters clustered round the entrance to the coroner’s court as Detective Inspector Charlotte Savage emerged. Rob Anshore, Devon and Cornwall Police Force’s PR guru, drew the reporters’ attention to the person following close behind and ushered Savage away.

‘Let the Hatchet deal with this, Charlotte,’ Anshore said. ‘She’s prepared a statement in response to the inquest verdict with the official line. You know, sadness, condolences, and all that crap to start with, moving on to the utmost confidence in her officers bit to finish.’

The Hatchet. Otherwise known as Chief Constable Maria Heldon.

Heldon was a replacement for the previous Chief Constable, Simon Fox. The late Simon Fox. Fox had killed himself using a vacuum cleaner hose, his fifty-thousand-pound Jaguar, and a one-pound roll of gaffer tape. Savage had been the one to find him sitting there stone dead, a cricket commentary playing on the car radio an unlikely eulogy for a man whose idea of fair play had been to try to kill her.

Inside the courtroom she’d presented her own account of the events leading up to Fox’s death and her testimony had, thankfully, been accepted at face value. The coroner had listened to all the witnesses and weighed the evidence and after due consideration he’d arrived at a verdict of suicide. Summing up, he’d said Fox had been living a tangle of lies and deceit which had included friendship with a corrupt Member of Parliament who himself was involved with a group of Satanists. Ultimately Fox’s precarious mental state had led him to believe there was no way out other than to top himself.
Savage and Anshore stopped a few metres to one side of the entrance and they turned to watch as Maria Heldon dispatched the reporters’ questions with curt, defensive replies.

‘Chalk and cheese,’ Anshore said, gesturing at Heldon. ‘Simon Fox was a media charmer. Knew how to play the game. He was a decent man. Pity he’s gone.’

Crap, Savage thought. The real reason for Fox’s troubles was that he’d been prepared to break the rules, ostensibly to shield his son, Owen, from prosecution. Some years ago Owen had been involved in a hit-and-run accident which had killed Savage’s daughter, Clarissa. Fox had used his position as Chief Constable to obscure his son’s tracks, but Savage reckoned he’d done it more out of concern for his own career than any love for his son. She’d discovered the truth thanks to help from a local felon by the name of Kenny Fallon and some out-of-hours work by DS Darius Riley. She’d confronted Owen Fox and foolishly put a gun to his head. The lad had confessed it hadn’t been him driving the car, but rather his girlfriend – now wife – Lauren. Owen had also told Savage it had been his dad who’d decided to cover up the accident in the first place.

‘Simon Fox was a disgrace to the force,’ Savage said, trying to remain calm. ‘He let power go to his head.’

‘Really, Charlotte, I’m surprised.’ Anshore wagged a finger. ‘Don’t you have any sympathy for the man’s mental condition?’

Savage didn’t answer. Clarissa’s death had badly affected her and her family. Jamie, her son, had been little more than a baby at the time, but Samantha – Clarissa’s twin – continued to feel Clarissa’s absence as much as Savage and her husband, Pete, did. Fox’s actions had compounded the misery. His death had brought about a resolution of sorts, but nothing would bring Clarissa back. The moment when Savage had seen her child lying broken in the road would stay with her forever. The worst of it was that Savage had had to keep everything bottled up. Aside from herself, Fallon and Riley, no one knew the real truth behind Fox’s downfall or Savage’s unorthodox investigative approach. Nevertheless, Maria Heldon could smell a rat.

‘You know what they’ll say,’ she’d said when she’d questioned Savage about Fox’s death. ‘No smoke without fire.’

Well, there was fire, plenty of it, but Savage wasn’t about to tell Heldon anything of the spark which had set the flames alight.

‘Anyway, bet you’re glad the whole thing is over,’ Anshore said, sounding conciliatory. ‘Can’t have been pleasant finding Foxy in the car like that. All gassed up and turning blue.’

Anshore was a media guy, so he could be forgiven for not knowing about the finer details of carbon monoxide poisoning. Fox hadn’t been blue, in fact he hadn’t even looked dead. Just a trail of drool trickling from his mouth alerted Savage to the fact something was wrong.

As for pleasant? Well, worse things had happened.

They walked away from the court towards the car park and as they approached her car Savage turned back for a moment. Maria Heldon had finished speaking and the reporters had shifted their attention to the next group to emerge: Owen Fox, his wife, Lauren, and their solicitor. Owen had jet-black hair like his dad, but his facial features were softer. Lauren was blonde, her hair matching the curly locks of the baby in her arms. Both parents were early twenties, not far off the age Savage had been when she’d had the twins.

‘A difficult time, hey?’ Anshore said, following Savage’s gaze. ‘Tough for the family.’

‘Tough?’ Savage held herself stock-still, bristling inside once again. She wished Anshore would shut up, wished she was away from here. ‘I guess you could fucking say so.’

With that she wheeled about and headed for her car, leaving Anshore standing open-mouthed.

Detective Superintendent Conrad Hardin had been at the inquest too. He’d listened to three days of evidence replete with a myriad of unwholesome revelations about Simon Fox. Now, back in his office at Crownhill Police Station with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits, he could finally relax. The past few weeks had been a nightmare, but at least, he thought, his own officers had come through with flying colours. DI Savage in particular had handled the situation with a coolness he’d rarely seen in a woman.

Hardin reached for his tea and slurped down a mouthful. A stack of mail formed an ominous pile next to the plate of biscuits. He took the first piece of mail from the pile, promising himself a biscuit once he’d dealt with three items. The white envelope had been addressed in block capitals, with his full name – without rank – at the head. A first-class stamp sat in the top right corner and was franked with yesterday’s date. The letter had been posted in Plymouth.

He noted the details without really thinking about them, the result of half a lifetime as a detective, but when he opened the envelope his interest was piqued. The letter inside had been handwritten in a Gothic script with eloquent curls and flowing lines. The Fs, Ps, Qs and Ys were nothing less than calligraphic perfection. This, Hardin thought, was somebody who thought presentation was as important as content.

Having read the first few lines, he was swiftly disabused of the notion. The content was waffle and he’d barely skimmed through half the letter before dismissing the message as the mad ramblings of somebody who needed psychiatric help.

Hardin stuck his tongue out over his bottom lip, as he always did when he was deep in thought. The letter had been addressed to him personally and began in an overly familiar fashion.

Dear Conrad …

He paused and started from the beginning again, once more struggling to make any sense of most of the content. However, towards the bottom of the page a line stood out.

How about your sense of duty, PC Hardin? What about your sense of respect? Do you have any left? Are you ready to repent?

PC Hardin?

It was a long time since he’d been a police constable. For a moment Hardin smiled to himself, memories flooding back. He looked up from the letter, his eyes drawn to the map of Devon on the wall. He’d started out at Kingsbridge nick, what – twenty-five, thirty years ago? Things had been very different then. He’d patrolled the town on foot, the lanes and nearby villages on a bicycle. If he was lucky he went out with a colleague two up in a squad car. Stopped for lunch in a sunny layby with a view of the sea. Back in the eighties the area had hardly entered the twentieth century. A few drunks, the occasional burglary, some Saturday night argy-bargy after closing time. So different from the inner-city problems he had to deal with now.

He stifled the smile and bent to the letter again.

You probably won’t recall me, but you must remember what happened all those years ago. When you were just a bobby on the beat. Before you became a DETECTIVE. Who could forget that face in the photograph?

Of course he remembered. The event was imprinted on his memory. He’d pushed the details as far back into the recesses of his mind as he could, but every now and then an echo came sliding to the surface, like a body rising bloated from the depths of a lake.

How about your sense of duty, PC Hardin?

Duty? He’d done his duty back then. Ever since, too. What was this joker hinting at? Were they trying to scare him? Was this some kind of blackmail scam or a threat, even? He’d put away dozens of criminals in his career, many of them dangerous, and yet it seemed unlikely the letter was from one of them. No professional felon would act in such a way.

A prank then. A prank or a madman.

He read the final paragraph.

Last time you failed them and you failed me too. Back then you obeyed your superiors and followed orders, but now we’re going to start afresh. We’re going to play a game, PC Hardin, and this time we’re going to play by my rules.

Hardin shook his head and then refolded the letter and placed the piece of paper back in the envelope. Really he should report this, get John Layton and his CSIs up here to examine the thing. By the book was Hardin’s motto. He tapped the envelope with a fingertip and stared at his name, wondering how he could possibly explain the circumstances to Layton. He shook his head once more and sighed. Then he opened one of his desk drawers, popped the letter in, and slid the drawer closed.

I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into this from reading the first 2 extracts from Two Evils and you can get a further extract tomorrow.

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