Sneak preview: Chapter 2 from our soon-to-be-released Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)

Posted: July 12, 2017 in SILENT FEAR novel
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For lovers of crime-thriller-horror novels with a touch of sci-fi here’s Chapter 2 from the upcoming novel Silent Fear — co-authored by the writers of The Orphan Trilogy, Into the Americas and White Spirit.

 

First, here’s the storyline in brief:

Detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the deaf in London. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world. When more deaf students are murdered, it’s clearly the work of a serial killer. The stakes rise when Valerie becomes the killer’s next target and the deadly virus claims more lives.

 

Silent Fear – Chapter 2

Valerie Crowther feigned exasperation as she allowed her deaf mother to brush a stray hair from the shoulder of her casual blazer in the dining room of the central London apartment they shared. “Don’t fuss so, mother,” Valerie communicated via sign language. She used one hand only. Her other hand was otherwise occupied, balancing an early morning cup of tea, which she valiantly tried to drink without spilling.

“Don’t complain,” her mother signed back.

It was a ritual they went through whenever Valerie was about to leave for work regardless of which shift she’d drawn. This was one of several comfortable routines they’d fallen into in the three years since Edith had sold her rural Oxfordshire home and relocated to live with her daughter.

The living arrangement suited both women. It suited Edith because she’d missed her daughter ever since her Val left home as a twenty-one-year-old to pursue a career in law enforcement, and it suited Valerie because her apartment had suddenly seemed empty after she separated from her husband of seven years. The old seven-year-itch syndrome – that was the reason she offered to anyone who asked why her marriage failed. Exactly whose itch it was she only ever divulged to her closest confidants.

“I must fly,” Valerie signed, draining her cup and picking up her iPad, briefcase and a bundle of documents. She cursed when she dropped her iPad on the carpet. Her mother stooped to pick it up, but recoiled when she saw the gory image of a badly burnt, very dead Jamie Lewis on the screen. Barely recognisable as a human being, his face was grotesquely contorted into a frozen grin.

Only now did Valerie remember she left the iPad on after receiving the call from her superior. The call came just before breakfast. It turned out the student’s body had been discovered only a short time earlier by a friend. The two students had scheduled an early morning run the previous evening. She quickly picked the iPad up and switched off the screen.

Valerie offered no explanation for the gruesome image to her mother, and Edith pretended she hadn’t seen it.

At length, Edith signed, “Be careful, my dear.” She worried so for her daughter’s wellbeing as she was ever-mindful of the dangers of her chosen profession, but for her sake she always tried to remain bright and breezy.

“I will,” Valerie signed with some difficulty as her hands were now rather full. She noticed her mother had become distracted. The older woman was looking at a framed photograph of her late husband, which occupied pride of place on the dining room mantelpiece.

Edith turned back to her daughter and signed, “Your father would be very proud of you.”

Valerie glanced at the photo and the father she’d never known, or couldn’t remember at least. A smiling, handsome-looking, thirty-five-year-old Doug Crowther stared back at her. His was an image his daughter and only child often studied. It was coming up thirty-two years since the heart attack that had so cruelly and unexpectedly taken him from them. She was only two at the time.

Edith smiled and signed, “You are a chip off the old block, my dear.” Her eyes glistened with emotion.

Valerie didn’t share her mother’s sentimentality where the Late Doug Crowther was concerned. She’d never known him. She’d never known what it was like to have a father so never allowed herself the luxury of dwelling on something she’d never had, or couldn’t remember at least. Not in her childhood, not now, not ever.

Valerie quickly signed, “Don’t forget your pills, mother.” She turned to leave, then, remembering the radio was still on in the kitchen, she hurried through to turn it off. It was of no use to Edith. Before switching it off, she caught the tail-end of a news report.

“Monkey Flu is believed to be considerably more virulent than the recent Ebola virus strain that broke out in Sudan earlier this year,” the newsreader said. “Meanwhile, a World Health Organisation spokesperson said today the search continues to develop an effective vaccine to combat this new flu strain, which is also known by the scientific classification, H7N7. Experts say–” Valerie switched the radio off, waved goodbye to her mother and then hurried out the door.

A minute later, from the dining room window, a wistful Edith watched her daughter drive off in an unmarked police car. Everything about Valerie filled her with pride. She looked back at her dear departed husband as it occurred to her that in the photo Doug was barely a year older than their thirty-four-year-old daughter. How she wished he was around to see their Val today.

Remembering her pills, Edith walked through to the bathroom, selected four colourful tablets – two from two different bottles – and downed them with a glass of water. It was a ritual she performed twice daily.

T.B.C.

 

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35626239-silent-fear

 

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