Sneak preview: Chapter 5 from our soon-to-be-released Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)

Posted: August 1, 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 5 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 5

In the corridor, Valerie and her superior stood side by side, in total silence, waiting for a lift to arrive. The lift doors finally opened and Bennett allowed his subordinate to enter and then followed her inside. The chief hit the Ground Floor button. Before the doors could close, a male student joined them.

“Beat it,” Bennett ordered. “This lift’s full.”

When the student didn’t respond, the chief appeared ready to physically eject him.

Valerie intervened, tapping the student on the shoulder. When she had his attention, she advised him via sign language the lift was required for police business. The student looked annoyed, but exited the lift without argument.

When the lift doors closed, silence prevailed once more.

“Where are we going?” Valerie asked.

“You’ll see soon enough Val…ah…Detective Crowther.”

Valerie took the hint and shut up. The only sound was the hum of the lift descending. As it bypassed the third floor, she caught Bennett observing her in the shiny mirror surface of the lift’s interior. He quickly looked away. Surreptitiously observing him, Valerie thought he’d put on a few extra kilos in recent months. But he carried himself well. His height and build enabled him to hide the extra weight better than most, and he was in pretty good shape for someone his age.

How old are you again? Forty-eight? Forty-nine?

Looking at him now, she could understand why the single girls at New Scotland Yard vied for his attention – and why some of the married girls did, too. Ruggedly handsome, his greying short-back-and-sides haircut was a little too severe for her liking, but she had to admit he still passed muster.

Out of the blue, Bennett said, “I’m going to introduce you to Wandsworth’s chancellor.”

Valerie didn’t respond.

“You’ll like him, he’s a real hoot,” the chief added.

The lift lurched as it arrived at its ground floor destination. Bennett pushed a button, preventing the doors from opening. He turned to Valerie. “We can talk better in here,” he explained. “Okay, fill me in on what you know.”

“Is that an order, Chief?” The look on his face left her in no doubt it was. Putting personal feelings aside, Valerie proceeded to relate everything she’d observed and everything the forensic guys had told her. Her delivery was impersonal, unembellished and totally professional. “Victim’s name, Jamie Lewis. Age, twenty-one. Likely cause of death, burns. Time–”

“Are you saying he was alive when he was set alight?” Bennett interjected.

“Most likely. He received a violent blow to the head prior to being set alight, but it’s unlikely it was delivered with sufficient force to kill him. The autopsy will no doubt confirm that, and it will confirm whether the residue found in his ears is wax.”

Bennett motioned to Valerie to continue.

“Time of death, between ten and midnight last night. Highly combustible accelerant used. Burned hot and fast, but the fire burnt itself out before it could spread. The perp disabled the smoke alarm hence no alarm being sounded. No witnesses, no suspects.”

“Security camera footage?”

Valerie shook her head. “All the fourth floor’s cameras conveniently malfunctioned.”

“Inside job, you think?”

“Maybe.” Valerie still wasn’t convinced about that, and she refused to allow herself to fall into the trap of making any assumptions.

“Murder-arson, eh? The perfect crime.” Bennett looked at her. “Anything else?”

“Conjecture only.”

“Give it to me.”

“The wax residue indicates candles were placed in each ear, which possibly points to a hate crime against the deaf or else some kind of bizarre ritual.”

Bennett considered that. “Or maybe that’s what the perp wants us to think.”

“Exactly.” Valerie punched the Open Door button.

The lift doors opened and Valerie followed Bennett to the chancellor’s office beyond reception.

The ground floor was noticeably busier now. In addition to students and staff members coming and going between lectures, Valerie noticed a number of outsiders, including cleaners and visiting tradespeople.

“I’ve asked the chancellor to provide names and contact details of everyone who visited the building in the past twenty-four hours,” Bennett said as if reading his subordinate’s mind.


See recent blogs for earlier chapters.

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