Today I am lucky enough to be co-hosting the first stop on this extensive Blog Tour and once again thanks go out to the lovely Vicky at Aria Fiction for bringing things together and the ever efficient NetGalley for providing the download facility.
If you enjoy reading the extract I am sharing, why not visit some of the other Blog Tour participants, over the coming days. I know they would be pleased to meet you and there are sure to be a varied and comprehensive selection of posts, with something to please everyone.
‘BROKEN DOLLS‘ (DC Charlotte Stafford #4)
A baby lies abandoned amongst the rubbish; her tiny face as white as alabaster, her body as stiff as a miniature doll.
A young prostitute lies beaten, her figure lying like a mannequin on the frozen concrete, her blood spilt, her life ebbing away.
As DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford and her boss DI Hunter struggle to identify the victim from the violator their hunt brings them to the crack houses of Lambeth, littered with damaged people, their lives scarred by tragedy and violence, most broken beyond repair.
As further lives hang in the balance Charlie must enpower the weak to speak out against those who seek to cause harm.
But can a broken doll ever truly be mended; or will the wounds of the past, fashion the events of the future?
She continues to work and live in London with her partner and she has three older daughters.
Sarah is a lover of ice cream and marmite – but not together!
Sarah is currently ‘seeing off’ (her words, not mine) breast cancer, so I am sure that your comments and reviews will help her along the way.
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If you have a passion, feed it. Sometimes the passion will wane and you won’t have time for it. Sometimes it will flourish and you won’t have enough hours in the day to harvest it. If it takes twenty years, so be it. Whatever happens though, if writing is something you love, don’t give up. If ‘it’ happens you will be the happiest person on earth. If ‘it’ doesn’t, it will still be a great legacy, if only on your own bookshelf at home.
As my contribution to this extensive Blog Tour, Aria Fiction and Sarah Flint, have asked that I share this extract from ‘Broken Dolls’
The doctor held out his hand and Hunter shook it firmly. He was similar to Hunter in nature; straight to the point and with no frills, but he was the exact opposite physically; tall, lean, fit and with a thick head of hair. Charlie had crossed paths with him both professionally and off-duty, whilst running, most recently in her first triathlon. She stood to one side, not quite sure whether to offer her hand but deciding in the end not to. They knew each other well enough to dispense with formalities.
‘Hi, Dr Finch,’ she said instead. ‘It would be good to know if it was a boy or girl.’
Hunter nodded. ‘We need life pronounced formally, but try not to move the body any more than is necessary. Photos have been taken, but the forensics team are yet to start. I’ll arrange for the coroner’s officer to sort out the removal once everything is concluded.’
Dr Finch dipped his head and pulled on his gloves. Carefully he peeled the towel back, completely exposing the tiny shape. It was a baby girl, clearly dead for some time; her body, just over twelve inches in length, silent and still like a fragile white doll. Gently he placed a stethoscope on her chest, the pad of the scope covering far too much of her little frame than seemed right. Charlie watched as the doctor completed his checks with a tenderness that moved her almost to tears. He needed to do the tests before formally pronouncing life extinct, but it was clear the job was difficult.
Finally Dr Finch straightened, looking at them both. ‘Well it’s female. Life pronounced extinct at 22.05. She is premature and I would estimate from her size that she’s probably around the twenty-six to twenty-eight week mark of gestation, but that can be confirmed at the full examination. By this stage of pregnancy her lungs and digestive tract should be pretty much fully developed, but, in the absence of any medical assistance, she would have struggled to survive, if, indeed, she was able to breathe independently at all.’
‘So could she have survived if the mother had been in hospital?’ Charlie asked immediately.
He turned towards her. ‘It’s difficult to say. She’s on the very limit of survival. If she was very lucky and had medical intervention straight away it’s possible, but it’s also likely that she would have had some pretty severe medical issues to contend with.’
‘How long has she been dead?’ Hunter stepped forward, peering towards the baby.
‘I can’t say, I’m afraid boss, much as I’d like to help.’ He bent towards the body with a thermometer. ‘Rigor mortis is difficult to assess in infants and children, and even though she looks fully formed she’s still technically a foetus. Newborn or pre-term babies have very little muscle mass and as it’s the amount of lactic acid in the muscles that cause rigor mortis, it’ll be extremely difficult to determine when exactly she died. Judging by her appearance and temperature though, I would say that she’s been here for some time.’
‘Are we talking hours or days? Just so I know how long to go back for hospital checks. We need to find the mother.’
‘More likely days, but I really can’t say Hunter. What I can say is that the mother will have gone through full labour. The chances are, as you rightly intimate, she’ll need medical assistance.’
He pulled the towel back over the tiny girl, gently covering her body, as if tucking her into a cot. Charlie was again touched by this small act of humanity. They started to walk back towards their cars, pausing briefly to leave their protective suits, overshoes and gloves with the uniformed officer at the cordon. Hunter stopped to issue further instructions, while Charlie and Rob Finch went ahead.
She waited while the doctor opened the boot of his car and placed his briefcase carefully beside a pair of running shoes and an overflowing holdall, from which a towel and pair of swimming goggles spilt.
‘Dr Crane at the path lab should be able to tell you more when he’s done the post-mortem, Charlie. Hopefully you’ll get the identity of the mother from a DNA test on the dried blood on the baby’s head. I’m presuming that must be the mother’s as there are no obvious injuries to the baby.’ He paused, before slamming the boot shut and explaining further. ‘The mother’s blood supply is totally separate to that of the foetus so it will have different DNA, although the blood type might be the same.’
Charlie watched as Rob Finch folded himself into the driver’s seat, turning towards her with a frown.
‘You need to find the mother, Charlie. We don’t know as yet how this baby was miscarried and it’s highly likely her life could be in danger if any kind of infection sets in.’
Charlie pursed her lips. It was a thought they’d acknowledged earlier, especially should the baby have been forcefully removed. If the mother wasn’t tracked down swiftly, then potentially they could soon be investigating two deaths, rather than just the one.