As this is quite a lengthy and comprehensive Blog Tour, the designated content for my spot is a pre-chosen extract, which really helps to get the storyline into context, especially when read in conjunction with the premise. Why not check out some of the other tour participants, who may be able to join up a few more of the dots for you…
Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’. The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.
Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed.
Will Becky avenge her family or join them?
When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, Pat enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District.
His short stories have been published in several books, including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
Pat took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition, with Ghostie Men. His work has been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt Essay Prize and the Bridport Prize.
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OPENING LINES – CHAPTER THREE
Becky drained her gin and tonic, fished out the lime and sucked on it. The bar was chrome-plated and poorly lit; everything shone, but without any real brilliance. It reminded her of a dingy public toilet. It was Monday-night-quiet and the big screen in the corner was turned over from a football match, at her request. There were no complaints from the sparse clientele. Becky braced her elbows on the bar’s uncomfortably clinical surface, waiting for her part of the show.
On screen, the presenter perched on the end of the desk, clipboard held loosely in his hand.
‘Now’, he said, ‘we have a special report on the twentieth anniversary of one of the most notorious unsolved crimes in the modern era. We take you back to a fine May day in the South of France. A family of five have just arrived at a holiday cottage in the picturesque Grange aux la Croix valley. An idyllic spot … but one which would bear witness to unspeakable horror’.
Becky gestured with her glass towards the barman. He frowned and reached for a fresh tumbler.
Back on the big screen, the image dissolved into a long shot of deep green pasture with a white cottage at the bottom right.
’11th May 1999. And the Morgan family have arrived for a holiday in the South of France at the picturesque cottage, Les Deux Chevaliers’.
Becky smiled at the parade of figures on-screen, It was them, but not them. A boy with fashionably unkempt hair and modern trainers, young, but still much too old to be Howie. He was followed by a tall poppy of a Goth – Clara. This girl had a stud through her nose, red streaks in her hair and thick black eyeshadow, which Clara never had. But the vintage Motley Crue T-shirt – Shout at the Devil, with pentagram, slashed above the navel – was correct and proportionate.
The man representing her father was way too stout, while the woman playing her mother was too plain, although the hair colouring was a perfect fit.
The on-screen Becky looked a little too young.
‘I guess I was 11′, she muttered, handing the barman some cash and sipping a fresh G&T.
Then Becky – the real Becky – appeared in silhouette, with her face pixelated out. The text at the bottom of the screen read, ‘Actor’s voice’.
‘It was a beautiful day’, said the actor. ‘We’d been out on a boat, and it seemed like we had the whole world to ourselves. But … we didn’t’.
The next shot established it was night time. The cottage was brightly lit, as seen from a distance. Then a dark figure stepped in front of the camera, blocking out the light.
Becky nearly spilled her drink.
At that moment, someone sat down on the stool next to her, his face a beige smudge on the brushed chrome bar. Becky ignored him, watching the ersatz Morgan children saying goodnight to their mother and father.
‘Artistic licence’, she muttered. ‘Mum didn’t wear pyjamas’.
The man next to her scratched his chin and said, ‘Oh, strewth. I remember that case. horrible. Family that got done in France, wasn’t it?’
Becky glanced at him. He was in his late thirties, chubby, with a fringe combed down at both sides to disguise the slow retreat of his hairline. He still had today’s work clothes on – a battered jacket, his tie loose, top button undone….