Posts Tagged ‘mystery novels’

The early reviews are in for author Yvonne Crowe’s mystery-thriller novel Requiem for Ari: A Race to the death against their enemies, Book 7 in the Nicolina Fabiani Series, and the consensus is this may be the best book in the series.

 

Requiem for Ari: A Race to the death against their enemies (Book 7 Nicolina Fabiani Series) by [Crowe, Yvonne]

Early reviews excellent.

 

Book critic John Carlin says, “I love this series! The writing is so good you feel like you are right there with David, Lina, and Ari as they go through what can only be described as hell more horrific than anything most people could ever conjure up in there minds. The torture scenes are absolutely chilling.

“As is usual with Crowe’s style, she manages to make a teaching event of it as well by putting her considerable research about the Middle East on display. I love this, especially when coupled with the powerful writing she has.

“If you want entertaining reads, this whole series will do it for you, and this book might possibly be the best of the series. It allowed Crowe to take the characters to higher levels, and that is no trivial undertaking. Get it! Read it! You will love it!”

 

Requiem for Ari — the storyline:

The Institute always brings home its own.

Being an Israeli Katsa is a dangerous occupation. The tight knit teams form a bond as strong as that of a marriage. When one of David Baron’s unit is captured by Hamas operating inside Syria, he is faced with an impossible choice.

Risk his own life to bring Ari home; or play it safe now his wife Lina is pregnant with their first child?

Duty on the one hand, love on the other.

From Tunisia to the Golan Heights and Damascus. Lebanon to Yazidi Iraq. Their lives crisscross as David wages war, and Lina the journalist, covers it.

What choice will he make?

 

The author:

Yvonne Crowe is a successful New Zealand writer who enjoys writing provocative mystery/thriller novels. She has also conquered breast cancer with a natural therapy.

Yvonne Crowe

Author Yvonne Crowe.

You can visit Yvonne’s Amazon author page at: https://www.amazon.com/Yvonne-Crowe/e/B00AH2JACK/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

Requiem for Ari: A Race to the death against their enemies is available via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073WVBS2Y

 

********************************************

Advertisements

A solitary figure sweated profusely as he toiled away, unconcerned by the confined space of the basement he worked in or by the wooden floorboards that formed a ceiling just a metre or so above his head. Claustrophobia, it seemed, wasn’t an issue. Stretched out full length on the concrete floor, he worked by the light of a torch he’d left resting beside him. His full attention was on filling a hole, brick by brick, in a wall that dissected one corner of the basement.

It was a painstakingly slow process. He was a thinker and a planner, not a bricklayer or labourer. Even so, he understood the basics of bricklaying and he was blessed with a certain amount of natural strength, and this was helping him now. To protect his hands, he wore a pair of snug-fitting, black, leather gloves not unlike driving gloves.

A little research was all it had taken to familiarise himself with the rudiments of bricklaying. The upshot was he used quick-mix cement. Three parts sand to one part masonry cement. That’s what the supplier’s instructions had stated, but he’d added an extra spadeful of cement for good measure because he felt it needed that.

The instructions also advised using fine-grade masonry sand and fresh masonry cement preferably from an unopened bag. That he hadn’t managed because he didn’t want to be seen purchasing the product, and so he’d had to use what was available. And what was available was a half-used bag of course-grade masonry. Touch wood, it was doing the job – so far at least.

“Mix only what you need” the instructions had read. He’d estimated half a wheelbarrow-full would do it with some to spare, so that’s the amount he’d mixed. Because of the basement’s low head-clearance, he’d had to pour the mixture into buckets – six of them – and drag them one at a time to his cramped workplace.

Two extra trips had been required, including one to fetch a bucket of water. He was using the water to keep the cement from setting before applying it. The other trip had involved dragging the object he was now concealing from a room on the lower floor of the building directly above his head. That had required the most effort as the object weighed almost as much as he did.

The instructions had also recommended the addition of lime to the mixture – “to bond and strengthen the stonework you are building,” according to the supplier’s instructions. He didn’t have any lime, and that had bothered him initially. Now, as he saw how well the cement was bonding with the bricks, he relaxed a little. Easy, he thought. Like falling off a bike.

He was quite proud of his trowelling technique. It improved with the laying of each brick, but it was tricky and he found he had to focus.

“Hold the trowel at a ninety degree angle,” he’d been advised, but he had quickly discovered ninety degrees was a bit too ambitious in the confined space. It wasn’t as if he could work standing up. Lying down, seventy degrees or thereabouts was the best he could manage with the trowel, but that was sufficient.

The main challenge, he’d discovered, was ensuring the quick-mix cement in the buckets didn’t set before he could apply it. Premature setting was only avoided by regular application of water, which he dispensed by using his trowel to transfer small amounts from the water bucket to the other buckets and then giving their contents a good stir. It required some effort, and despite the basement’s cool temperature he found he was sweating more with each passing minute.

Ever so gradually the hole in the brick wall grew smaller as he laid more bricks.

Despite what was at stake, he worked at a leisurely pace, all the while thinking. That was something he did a lot these days. Thinking, that is.

The hole was now so small he could hardly see the object he was concealing. Only the deceased’s face was visible, covered by the transparent plastic bag he’d used so effectively to cut off the other’s air supply just thirty minutes earlier.

He smiled at the memory of the deceased’s final moments. Those last seconds when the young man had recognised his attacker and realised he was about to die.

Beautiful…poetry in motion…slow motion.

Oh how he loved the exhilarating, orgasmic-like feelings he’d experienced as the life of another was snuffed out. He willingly embraced them as he relived the moment. It was as if the helpless young man before him was still dying.

Studying the deceased now, or what he could still see of him at least, he recalled how he’d laughed uproariously just before death came to his victim. The visuals replayed over and over in his mind. He remembered how the veins in the young man’s eyeballs, face and neck appeared to burst as he was deprived of air, and how fragile he’d looked – like a child being tortured.

The icing on the cake had been when he’d used his hands to communicate a final message via sign language. He could still see the look on his victim’s face when, seconds before death came, he realised what was being communicated to him. It was a look of total horror, which was somehow more accentuated when viewed through the transparent plastic bag. That had made this killing even more satisfying.

What he had communicated was simple yet definitive: “Game over!”

As he relived what happened, it felt like every cell in his body was jumping for joy. It was as if his very DNA had been created for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill.

He had been planning the murder these past six months. In fact, he’d first thought of killing him years ago, but it required time for those thoughts to solidify into a plan – a concrete plan in more ways than one.

Now that he’d acted, he wondered why it had taken him so long. It wasn’t as if he was afraid or anything like that. He’d delayed because he couldn’t decide exactly how he wanted the young man to die. Bludgeoning, shooting, stabbing, poisoning, gassing, drowning had all been considered. Finally, he’d opted for suffocation. Why? He couldn’t really say. Certainly he wanted to watch him suffer. And he wanted to prolong his suffering. But stabbing or poisoning or any number of methodologies could have achieved that.

Looking at him now, the killer knew he’d made the right decision. The deceased’s tortured face seemed distorted inside the plastic bag that covered his head, and his sightless eyes still registered the intense fear he’d experienced in his final ghastly moments.

Studying him in the torchlight, he felt his manhood hardening beneath him. He removed one of his gloves then, raising his pelvis off the floor, he reached down and began pleasuring himself, all the while looking at his victim.

Satisfaction arrived quickly and he groaned as he came.

Recovering his composure, he donned his glove and resumed working.

It wasn’t long before the hole was completely bricked over. He shone his torch on the wall and inspected his handiwork.

Perfect.

The newly laid bricks aligned flawlessly with the older bricks. That was no accident because he’d used identical surplus bricks the building’s owner had thoughtfully left in the basement. Finally, he cleaned up, removed his gloves and then began crawling back the way he’d come, taking his buckets and work tools with him.

As he departed, he knew he’d need to kill again. And soon. He had to experience those wonderful feelings again.

He was confident he wouldn’t have long to wait; his master plan was already in motion.

#

Want to read more? The Silent Fear  paperback is available now via Amazon; the Kindle ebook can be pre-ordered now and will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on October 31.

 

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/

 

Silent Fear, which is set in a university for the deaf in London, is dedicated to the many millions of deaf people around the world.

Scotland Yard detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the Deaf in London, England. 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 becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives.

 

See what the critics are saying:

★★★★★ “Can you hear me now? What a great story! I didn’t figure out who the killer was until the last chapter, and it still had a surprising twist! I had to read the book in one sitting!”-bccopanos

★★★★★ “Whoa! What a ride. Excellent book, well constructed, and with brilliant delivery. Great to have a female lead character who is: clever, resourceful, and adaptable. And love requited – or is it? Loved it. The re-romance of the central characters was engaging…(a) bewitching book.”-Jonno

★★★★★ “Spellbinding! I couldn’t put it down…The characters are very realistic and are described so well, they take root in your mind and become alive. The plot has so many twists and turns. Just as you think you have it figured out, they throw another twist in which sets you off in a different direction.”-P. Blevins

 

**********************************************

 

Feisty Detective Valerie Crowther kicks some serious butt when she takes on a serial killer and a killer virus in Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes), the new release thriller they’re all talking about.

 

Detective Valerie Crowther

Meet First Class Detective Superintendent Valerie Crowther, of New Scotland YardValerie has been assigned to investigate the murder of a student at Wandsworth University, a learning institution for the deaf in London, England. 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 becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives.

Fortunately, our Val knows how to look after herself — as the following excerpt from Silent Fear  demonstrates. (To set the scene, our heroine is attacked by rebellious deaf students intent on escaping the deadly quarantine they’ve found themselves caught up in)… 

…The door burst open and Cassidy and his three mates piled into the room. They headed straight for her. The Mohawked One was closest to her, and she could see he wasn’t here for a friendly chat. There was murder in his eyes.

Valerie dropped her phone without pausing to end the call and she reached for her Taser.

Not there!

She realised too late she’d left her Taser on the desktop. She realised also that Cassidy had seen the electroshock weapon for his eyes were now locked on it and he changed direction slightly to grab it. He was closer to it than she was.

Valerie gambled. She gambled that Cassidy wouldn’t know how to disengage the Taser’s safety mechanism – a recent design improvement in the latest model – and she gambled she could subdue him and his mates before he worked out how to disengage it.

As Cassidy grabbed the Taser, Valerie turned her attention to the next in line. That happened to be Wolf who was almost upon her.

The detective deftly stepped to one side and employed a judo throw, using the big Swede’s forward momentum to send him flying across the room. He hit the wall headfirst, and was momentarily stunned.

Unbeknown to anyone in the room, Kent was now filming all the action through the open door. Hillary was beside him, microphone in hand, describing what she was seeing.

Out of the corner of Valerie’s eye, she could see Cassidy lining her up with her Taser.

Please let the safety be on!

She couldn’t remember whether she’d left the safety on after charging the weapon that morning.

There was no time to think about that now for Warne and Harris were onto her.

Valerie backed up furiously as she tried to keep the two Colonial boys at arm’s length. Warne and Harris were both big bastards – not as big as Cassidy and Wolf, but big nevertheless – and they were both swinging wild punches in her direction.

Cassidy meantime was cursing as he unsuccessfully tried to activate the Taser.

When the detective felt the edge of the desk at her back, she threw herself forward, elbows raised out in front of her. In the heat of battle, she preferred elbows over fists. She’d learned the hard way a female’s small fists were more likely to suffer damage than achieve anything of note if used in anger. Especially a slim lightweight like herself. However, her elbows – bony and sharp as they were – could cause some real damage with little risk of injury to herself if used the right way. And so it proved.

Valerie’s sudden change of direction placed her exactly between Harris and Warne, and her extended elbows connected simultaneously and with considerable force with the foreheads of each student. Warne was out to it before he hit the floor. Harris, who was now on his hands and knees and evidently wondering where he was, was sent into Disneyland with a well-placed kick to the side of his head.

Valerie turned too late to avoid being hit by Cassidy. He’d given up on trying to activate the Taser and had decided to sort the detective out the old-fashioned way – with his fists.

The blow caught Valerie on her cheek. If it had caught her flush, it would have sent her through the wall or flying out into the corridor. As it was, she’d had enough foresight to ride the blow, throwing her head and bodyweight to one side so that the force of the punch was greatly diminished. Even so, it rattled her teeth and sent her crashing to the floor.

When she hit the carpet she saw stars, but she still had the presence of mind to roll over and over toward the near wall to distance herself from her attacker. As she rolled, she saw two things of interest. One caused her concern, the other gave her hope.

By the far wall, she saw that Wolf was now on his feet and on his way to help Cassidy subdue her; and on the carpet by the wall she saw her Taser. Cassidy had evidently thrown it there when he found he hadn’t been able to operate it.

The gang leader saw the danger too late. He lunged at Valerie to stop her, but she was too quick. In a flash, she grabbed her Taser, disengaged the safety, aimed the weapon at Cassidy and fired. The two barbed electrodes, or probes, stopped the gang leader in his tracks. He fell to the floor, twitching violently, as electricity coursed through him.

Hillary and Kent were catching all this live through the open door. The reporter was still talking into her mic and her cameraman was still filming the mayhem.

Valerie, who was now back on her feet, knew she should apply the voltage for the recommended thirty seconds to ensure her attacker was fully immobilised, but she didn’t have thirty seconds. She had no more than five seconds before Wolf was onto her.

A blow from the big skinhead sent the Taser flying out into the corridor. The blow had been meant for Valerie’s head, but she’d blocked it with her right arm. Which was just as well because the force of the blow spun her around and left her arm completely numb.

Fighting one-armed now, she ducked and weaved as Wolf lashed out at her with his fists and feet.

Meanwhile, Cassidy had recovered from his brief but painful Tasering, and he was coming for her, too.

All the combatants had to step over and around Harris and Warne who were still out cold. They weren’t all that was out of place. The room by now was a mess. The desk, fans, couch and chairs had been upended, the mirror and other items had been broken, and Valerie’s spare clothes and other personal effects lay scattered about.

Worst of all, from Valerie’s perspective at least, the expensive fish tank had been shattered, and Nemo the Angelfish, Bennett the Puffer Fish and other tropical fish lay flapping and gasping on the carpet. Nemo gasped his last when he disappeared beneath a size 12 shoe.

Bill Prescott, who had finally checked his phone messages and retrieved the detective’s urgent message, appeared in the doorway. Shocked, the portly guard ran to Valerie’s aid. He grabbed Cassidy in a headlock and dragged him out into the corridor where the two ended up wrestling, kicking and cursing on the floor.

Screams could be heard coming from startled staff members who had been alerted to the commotion.

Valerie by now was nearly spent. Gasping for breath and fighting one-handed, she copped another blow – this time on the mouth – from Wolf. The Swedish student grabbed her and pushed her backwards onto the desktop. Then he placed his hands around her neck and began to throttle her.

The detective fought back, but it was a losing battle. She was feeling faint and her efforts to resist grew weaker.

The bugger means to kill me!

 

Silent Fear  is available now on Amazon’s Pre-order Program at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/ and will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on October 31.

The paperback will be published by early October.

ARCs (advance review copies) of Silent Fear  are available now. Interested? Leave your email address and a bit about yourself (for security reasons) and we’ll email a pdf of the novel to you.

 

**********************************************

 

For lovers of crime-thriller-horror novels with a touch of sci-fi here’s Chapter 1 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 1

London, like the rest of England and most of Western Europe, was unseasonably hot. Summer had only officially arrived a week ago and already the capital’s maximum temperatures had topped 29°C. Forecasters were predicting the nation’s record high of 38.5 would topple before summer was over.

On this particular weeknight, in West London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the pubs and bars were full to overflowing as office workers and residents mingled over a few drinks of the alcoholic variety as they endeavoured to assuage their thirst.

In the posh district of South Kensington, not far from Old Brompton Road and only ten minutes’ walk north to Hyde Park or fifteen minutes south to the River Thames, take your pick, an elderly gent emerged from his favourite local bar and weaved his way unsteadily across a busy street. He’d clearly had one or two drinks too many. He came to the attention of a passing cop a few minutes later when he stopped to address the larger-than-life statue of Lord Chester Wandsworth, which towered over the entrance of the university he founded over a decade earlier.

Wandsworth University was no ordinary educational institution. It was a university for the deaf community. Correction. It was the university for the deaf community – in Britain at least, and, if those responsible for the running of similar institutions elsewhere were honest, it was probably the university for the deaf community anywhere. Its student fees certainly reflected that, and it attracted deaf and hard of hearing students from throughout the world.

Lord Wandsworth was no ordinary individual either. Partially deaf himself, he took it upon himself to champion deaf students and see to it that they had the same education opportunities as those of normal hearing. The end result of this benefactor’s generosity was a state-of-the-art educational facility whose stellar reputation was known and admired worldwide.

Unfortunately, Lord Wandsworth was in no condition to enjoy the fruits of his generosity. Since suffering a serious brain injury in a horse-riding accident, the good lord had been confined to bed at his private estate in South Cambridgeshire. But his statue at least continued to watch over the university 24/7.

Looking up at the statue, the elderly bar patron had no idea the gentleman it was named after was still alive. Not surprising given death usually comes before the commissioning of a statue in someone’s honour. Such was Lord Wandsworth’s reputation and popularity the tribute had been fast-tracked.

The bar patron usually had a word for Lord Wandsworth on those evenings his wife allowed him out for a tipple, and tonight was no different except that he’d imbibed more than was customary and so was somewhat more talkative than usual. “I’ve always looked up to you, guv,” he shouted, looking up at the stern, stony features of the man he addressed. “But then… I s’pose everyone looks up to you.” He chuckled at his attempt at humour and nearly fell over when he stepped back into the gutter.

“Are you alright, sir?” a gruff voice enquired.

The elderly gent turned around to see a police car had pulled up nearby. The driver, a fresh-faced young cop, asked again if he was alright.

“Aye, I’m fine,” the old man assured him. Not wanting to get offside with the law, he resumed his homeward journey, bidding both the cop and Lord Wandsworth a good evening as he went his merry way.

The cop watched the gent’s progress for a moment before gazing up at the impressive statue and the even more impressive multi-storied campus building behind it.

Wandsworth University was six storeys high and spanned the length of one entire block. Its top floor was ablaze with lights, and the silhouettes of its occupants could be seen at many of the windows.

The cop took one last look at the building then drove off. He drove with all the windows down, preferring natural ventilation to air-conditioning to cope with the evening’s heat and with the humidity that accompanied it.

#

In Wandsworth University’s student common room young, trendy, deaf students of various nationalities chilled out, played pool and watched television. Others ate at a bistro at the far end of the crowded room. Their lightweight attire left no doubt they, too, were feeling the heat.

Most conversed in sign language, their hand signs almost too fast for the eye to follow. Some wore hearing aids, others high-tech cochlear implants. Some even conversed in spoken language while those who were profoundly deaf either relied on their devices or sign language to communicate. More than a few flirted with each other, as to be expected in a gathering of so many young singles.

They were a mixed lot, ranging in age from late teens to mid-thirties, and they were in the main from well-heeled families. They had to be well off to afford the steep fees. There were exceptions, however. Some of the students were sponsored – most by charitable institutions in their own city or country, and a few by Wandsworth University itself by way of scholarships. Lord Wandsworth had expressed a desire that well deserving students from lower socio-economic backgrounds be accommodated as much as possible, and the uni’s board members had honoured that to the best of their ability, or to the extent their budget allowed at least.

A casual observer wouldn’t have picked it, but the normally animated students were more subdued than usual. And it wasn’t because of the oppressive heat. They, along with the rest of the nation, had received concerning news in recent days.

Many crowded around a big screen television set, watching a BBC news report and reading the subtitles that ran along the bottom of the screen as the newsreader delivered the latest sobering instalment of news.

“The World Health Organisation reports the death toll from the Monkey Flu virus has risen to twenty thousand worldwide,” the newsreader said.

More students stopped to watch, engrossed, as disturbing images from around the world flashed across the screen.

Off screen, the newsreader continued, “Although still in its early stages, the pandemic is already more potent than the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak.”

Images included overcrowded New York hospital wards, mass cremations in Mumbai, emergency medical meetings in Moscow, mass burials in Cape Town, panicked citizens wearing face masks in some unnamed Latin American country, sheet-covered bodies on stretchers lining hospital corridors somewhere in Australia, and the bodies of victims being wheeled into Tokyo morgues.

Still off screen, the newsreader said, “In addition to severe flu symptoms, those who contract the virus suffer blurred vision, which almost invariably leads to blindness.”

The BBC news report then cut to distressed Monkey Flu patients in a hospital ward in Brussels. Most of those in the foreground were looking straight at camera and many seemed to have a white film over the pupils of their eyes. Some appeared to be blind. It made for difficult viewing and some students had to look away. For members of the deaf community, blindness was something too awful to consider.

The newsreader continued, “World Health Organisation doctors describe the alarming symptom as a never-before-seen flu ailment and a type of ON, or Optic Neuritis, which is inflammation of the optic nerve and is often associated with multiple sclerosis. Unlike regular Optic Neuritis, many victims display cloudy, cataract-like symptoms in their eyes and invariably end up blind.”

Wandsworth’s dapper fifty-year-old chancellor Ron Fairbrother chose this moment to enter the room. A distinguished-looking West Indian Brit, immaculately dressed with fashionable glasses and a hearing aid, Fairbrother joined his students and watched the news. His sudden arrival was nothing out of the ordinary. The personable chancellor’s management style was very hands on, and he regularly mixed with students and staff in and out of normal working hours.

“No cases of Monkey Flu have been reported in the UK,” the newsreader continued. “The Secretary of State for Health attributes this to the rigid anti-virus strategies in place.”

Britain’s Secretary of State for Health appeared onscreen, looking slightly anxious, but determined. “We are one of the few countries left without a single confirmed case of the virus,” the stressed official said. “This is likely the result of our decision to close the UK’s borders before any other country in the world. You’ll recall this unpopular decision was referred to by some media as paranoid or alarmist, but even they can see it is now paying dividends.”

The newsreader reappeared onscreen and resumed speaking to camera. “Massive disruptions are resulting from the government’s decision to seal off our borders. Tens of thousands of British citizens are stranded overseas due to the ban on all arrivals into the UK.”

That bit of news was especially sobering for the students. A few British students had parents who were overseas on holiday or on business, and some foreign students had relatives who had been preparing to fly to London to visit them. For students affected – especially for those away from home for the first time – the arrivals ban wasn’t good news.

Fairbrother had heard and seen enough. Before departing, he inserted himself in the eye-line of students and waved his arms overhead. Most students caught the movement and turned their attention to the chancellor. Signing, Fairbrother advised them the board would be meeting tomorrow to make a decision about suspending classes. “Until then, we remain open as usual,” he signed. He repeated himself, using regular speech for the benefit of those with hearing aids who may not have been able to see him. His perfect English hinted at his privileged upbringing and his university education. Smiling, he added, “That means your mid-semester deadlines still stand.”

Students nodded resignedly. There were a few glum faces, but the students couldn’t complain. Fairbrother was strict but fair, and he was generally popular with students and staff alike.

#

Two floors below the student common room, in the privacy of his room in the resident male students’ quarters, Welsh student Jamie Lewis typed an email on his laptop at his desk. The nuggetty twenty-one-year-old was drafting a weekly report for his parents. They liked to be kept informed about what he was up to. Jamie, an only child, was close to his parents, so it was no chore at all to keep in touch regularly.

The room was snug but well appointed. Identical to the others on the floor – and near-identical to the rooms in the female quarters on the floor above – it was fully carpeted and comprised a single bed, bedside table, desk and chair, free-standing wardrobe and a bookshelf, which, in this room at least, was fully stocked. All the books bar one were reflective of the subjects Jamie was studying, the one exception being a book on Welsh rugby, his big passion. In his hometown Cardiff he’d played rugby through all the junior and senior grades at school, and here at Wandsworth he was considered a sitter to crack the uni’s First Fifteen in the coming winter.

Not surprisingly, one entire wall was decorated with posters and photos of the Welsh rugby team, including action shots of his favourite players.

Deaf since birth, Jamie was one of a number of students enrolled at Wandsworth who was considering whether to receive a CI, or cochlear implant – that miraculous electronic medical device, which, in theory at least, allows a deaf person to hear. Jamie’s parents were very keen for him to receive a CI, but he was in two minds. He was mindful the CI issue was highly political in the deaf community, and deaf adults who received an implant were oftentimes perceived as traitors and shut out of that community. The political tension that existed between CI surgeons and the deaf populace – in the recent past at least – was legendary. Jamie had witnessed some of that tension first hand, and he wasn’t at all sure he wanted to receive an implant. He was happy as he was.

That’s what he was trying to relay to his parents by email. It wasn’t easy. They were convinced a CI would be the solution for his problem, as they somewhat insensitively called his deafness.

The specialists said he was profoundly deaf, but he wasn’t certain that diagnosis was one hundred percent correct: he suffered tinnitus, and regularly heard the sounds associated with that annoying condition. Those sounds included a ringing, whistling, hissing, buzzing and even chirping on occasion. The tinnitus was intermittent, sometimes disappearing for days on end, and in between bouts his inner world was reduced to a deathly silence – as was the case now. Even then, though, he often imagined he heard something. Or perhaps it was just wishful thinking.

Jamie was so engrossed in his typing, he didn’t notice the handle of the unlocked door behind him slowly turn. If he had, he’d have seen the door open a few inches and he’d have seen a gloved hand on the handle. The glove was black leather fashioned in the style of snug-fitting driving gloves.

A male intruder entered the room. He wore a lightweight, hoodie-style sweatshirt with the hood all but concealing his face, and he carried a shoulder bag in one hand.

The intruder carefully closed the door behind him, locked it and then stepped behind the free-standing wardrobe.

Some sixth sense made Jamie look around. All seemed normal and he returned to his email.

Still behind the wardrobe, the intruder reached into his bag and drew out a steel claw hammer. In three quick strides he was right behind Jamie.

Only now as the intruder’s shadow covered the desktop did the Welsh student realise he wasn’t alone. Surprised, he spun around too late to avoid the hammer the intruder brought down on his head. The blow was delivered with sufficient force to knock Jamie out. Senseless, he slumped forward in his chair, his bloodied forehead coming to rest on the laptop’s keyboard.

Jamie’s attacker glanced up at the smoke alarm on the ceiling above the bed. He climbed onto the bed, reached up and disabled the alarm before returning to his victim’s side. Then he reached into his bag again and pulled out a tin of lighter fluid and two blue ear candles of the type used for outer-ear hygiene. He unscrewed the tin’s cap and doused the still unconscious student before returning the now empty tin to his bag. Next, he inserted the candles in Jamie’s ears and then, as calm as you like, he removed the glove from his right hand, reached down inside the tracksuit pants he wore and began fondling himself.

The sadistic intruder was soon groaning with pleasure.

A fluttering of the eyelids signalled that Jamie was regaining consciousness so the intruder donned his discarded glove, reached into his bag yet again and pulled out a length of rope and a scarf. The latter item he used to gag his victim, the former to tie him to the chair. His actions were clinical and efficient. It was as if he’d rehearsed this a thousand times. In fact, he had – in his mind at least. He wasn’t one to leave anything to chance and, in the days and weeks leading up to this moment, he’d thought of little else.

Without further ado, he pulled a lighter from his pocket and lit each candle. He became momentarily mesmerised by the dancing flames, cocking his head as if awaiting some reaction from the now semi-conscious student. There was no reaction for the moment. Not that he noticed at least.

Finally, Jamie moaned as the candles burned down closer to his ears. Fumes rose from the lighter fluid and then ignited with a whoosh. It took a few moments before the student became aware he was gagged, tied up and on fire.

The intruder watched, entranced, as his victim struggled to escape the flames that enveloped him and the bonds that tied him to the chair.

Jamie was now writhing in agony. The flames were fierce and his skin was visibly blackening by the second. Such was his desperation, he overbalanced in the chair he was tied to and ended up on his back on the floor. He now resembled a fireball. A human fireball. So hot was it that his attacker had to take two steps backwards.

The intruder became excited and felt himself hardening again as he observed his victim’s pain and terror. Jamie was now in his death throes, and his movements, so vigorous a few seconds ago, were slowing with every passing moment.

For the intruder, the need to make haste and quit the scene suddenly became the priority. He’d been here long enough. He lifted his shoulder bag from where he’d left it on the bed and took a final look around the smoky room. He was anxious not to leave behind any DNA or other evidence that could incriminate him.

By this time Jamie was unrecognisable and very dead.

Satisfied he’d overlooked nothing – the leather gloves he wore meant he didn’t have to worry about leaving any fingerprints behind – Jamie’s killer signed “Game over, asshole” to the still burning body as he departed, turning the light switch off as he exited the room.

#

If you want to read more, another five chapters have been posted in more recent blogs. Enjoy!

   Inline image 1

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

*************************************************

Silent Fear: A Novel Inspired by True Crimes  is by Lance and James Morcan. I had an advanced Review Copy from James.

★★★★★

This book is a suspense that deals with the deaf and deaf community as well as murder and an outbreak of a terrible disease for which there is no vaccine. It is set in a school for the deaf in London. The book is definitely worth reading. It draws you into the story until you can’t put the book down. The characters are very realistic and are described so well, they take root in your mind and become alive. The plot has so many twists and turns. Just as you think you have it figured out, they throw another twist in which sets you off in a different direction.

Detective Superintendent Valerie Crowthers was called to Wandsworth University for the Deaf to investigate the murder of Jamie Lewis, a deaf student. She was called to the scene specifically because she knew and used sign language on a daily basis. Her Mother was deaf. She was also one of their best investigators. Her boss, Chief Superintendent Mark Bennett, knew she would do a good job on the investigation. He would be questioned on his choosing her because they had been married but were now divorced. Valerie set out to find the murderer as quickly as possible.

Shortly after her arrival on the scene, one of the girls was diagnosed with Monkey Flu. This flu hit worldwide and was said to be more viral that the Spanish Flu was. It wasn’t in the UK before because the UK shut its borders and allowed no one in nor out. When Carol was diagnosed, the Prime Minister ordered Wandsworth to be quarantined. Everyone in the building at that time would stay. The windows were boarded up and the entire residential building was wrapped in cellophane. Then due to the airborne quality of the disease, the air conditioning was turned off despite record breaking high temperatures. Valerie has her work cut out for her.

The book is excellent. The writing is brilliant and the structure is unbelievably realistic. Once you start reading, it becomes impossible to put it down. I found myself staying up all night just to finish the book. If possible, I would give this book ten stars. It is spellbinding. — Pamela Blevins (USHMM Museum Teacher Fellow, Retired Reading Specialist, Retired Oklahoma Master Teacher)

For the full review, and other readers’ comments, go to:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35626239-silent-fear

Inline image 1

Silent Fear…scheduled for release soon.

 

*****************************************************

For lovers of crime, thriller, mystery novels with a touch of sci-fi here’s the Prologue for our upcoming novel Silent Fear.

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.

 

Prologue for Silent Fear

A solitary figure sweated profusely as he toiled away, unconcerned by the confined space of the basement he worked in or by the wooden floorboards that formed a ceiling just a metre or so above his head. Claustrophobia, it seemed, wasn’t an issue. Stretched out full length on the concrete floor, he worked by the light of a torch he’d left resting beside him. His full attention was on filling a hole, brick by brick, in a wall that dissected one corner of the basement.

It was a painstakingly slow process. He was a thinker and a planner, not a bricklayer or labourer. Even so, he understood the basics of bricklaying and he was blessed with a certain amount of natural strength, and this was helping him now. To protect his hands, he wore a pair of snug-fitting, black, leather gloves not unlike driving gloves.

A little research was all it had taken to familiarise himself with the rudiments of bricklaying. The upshot was he used quick-mix cement. Three parts sand to one part masonry cement. That’s what the supplier’s instructions had stated, but he’d added an extra spadeful of cement for good measure because he felt it needed that.

The instructions also advised using fine-grade masonry sand and fresh masonry cement preferably from an unopened bag. That he hadn’t managed because he didn’t want to be seen purchasing the product, and so he’d had to use what was available. And what was available was a half-used bag of course-grade masonry. Touch wood, it was doing the job – so far at least.

“Mix only what you need” the instructions had read. He’d estimated half a wheelbarrow-full would do it with some to spare, so that’s the amount he’d mixed. Because of the basement’s low head-clearance, he’d had to pour the mixture into buckets – six of them – and drag them one at a time to his cramped workplace.

Two extra trips had been required, including one to fetch a bucket of water. He was using the water to keep the cement from setting before applying it. The other trip had involved dragging the object he was now concealing from a room on the lower floor of the building directly above his head. That had required the most effort as the object weighed almost as much as he did.

The instructions had also recommended the addition of lime to the mixture – “to bond and strengthen the stonework you are building,” according to the supplier’s instructions. He didn’t have any lime, and that had bothered him initially. Now, as he saw how well the cement was bonding with the bricks, he relaxed a little. Easy, he thought. Like learning to walk.

He was quite proud of his trowelling technique. It improved with the laying of each brick, but it was tricky and he found he had to focus.

“Hold the trowel at a ninety degree angle,” he’d been advised, but he had quickly discovered ninety degrees was a bit too ambitious in the confined space. It wasn’t as if he could work standing up. Lying down, seventy degrees was the best he could manage with the trowel, but that was sufficient.

The main challenge, he’d discovered, was ensuring the quick-mix cement in the buckets didn’t set before he could apply it. Premature setting was only avoided by regular application of water, which he dispensed by using his trowel to transfer small amounts from the water bucket to the other buckets and then giving their contents a good stir. It required some effort, and despite the basement’s cool temperature he found he was sweating more with each passing minute.

Ever so gradually the hole in the brick wall grew smaller as he laid more bricks.

Despite what was at stake, he worked at a leisurely pace, all the while thinking. That was something he did a lot these days. Thinking, that is.

The hole was now so small he could hardly see the object he was concealing. Only the deceased’s face was visible, covered by the transparent plastic bag he’d used so effectively to cut off the other’s air supply just thirty minutes earlier.

He smiled at the memory of the deceased’s final moments. Those last seconds when the young man had recognised his attacker and realised he was about to die.

Beautiful…like poetry in motion…slow motion.

Oh how he loved the exhilarating, orgasmic-like feelings he’d experienced as the life of another was snuffed out. He willingly embraced them as he relived the moment. It was as if the helpless young man before him was still dying.

Studying the deceased now, or what he could still see of him at least, he recalled how he’d laughed uproariously just before death came to his victim. The visuals replayed over and over in his mind. He remembered how the veins in the young man’s eyeballs, face and neck appeared to burst as he was deprived of air, and how fragile he’d looked – like a child being tortured.

The icing on the cake had been when he’d used his hands to communicate a final message via sign language. He could still see the look on his victim’s face when, seconds before death came, he realised what was being communicated to him. It was a look of total horror, which was somehow more accentuated when viewed through the transparent plastic bag. That had made this killing even more satisfying.

What he had communicated was simple yet definitive: “Game over!”

As he relived what happened, it felt like every cell in his body was jumping for joy. It was as if every strand of his DNA had been created for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill.

He had been planning the murder these past six months. In fact, he’d first thought of killing him years ago, but it required time for those thoughts to solidify into a plan – a concrete plan in more ways than one.

Now that he’d acted, he wondered why it had taken him so long. It wasn’t as if he was afraid or unsure or anything like that. He’d delayed because he couldn’t decide exactly how he wanted the young man to die. Bludgeoning, shooting, stabbing, poisoning, gassing, drowning had all been considered. Finally, he’d opted for suffocation. Why? He couldn’t really say. Certainly he wanted to watch him suffer. And he wanted to prolong his suffering. But stabbing or poisoning or any number of methodologies could have achieved that.

Looking at him now, the killer knew he’d made the right decision. The deceased’s tortured face seemed distorted inside the plastic bag that covered his head, and his sightless eyes still registered the intense fear he’d experienced in his final ghastly moments.

Studying him in the torchlight, he felt his manhood hardening beneath him. He removed one of his gloves then, raising his pelvis off the floor, he reached down and began pleasuring himself, all the while looking at his victim.

Satisfaction arrived quickly and he groaned as he came.

Recovering his composure, he donned his glove and resumed working.

It wasn’t long before the hole was completely bricked over. He shone his torch on the wall and inspected his handiwork.

Perfect.

The newly laid bricks aligned flawlessly with the older bricks. That was no accident because he’d used identical surplus bricks the building’s owner had thoughtfully left in the basement. Finally, he cleaned up, removed his gloves and then began crawling back the way he’d come, taking his buckets and work tools with him.

As he departed, he knew he’d need to kill again. And soon. He had to experience those wonderful feelings again.

He was confident he wouldn’t have long to wait; his master plan was already in motion.

#

Inline image 1

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

*************************************************

★★★★★ BOOK REVIEW:

DIABLO NIGHTS

by Carmen Amato

Diablo Nights is a novel that takes you inside Mexico’s drug wars and introduces you to Detective Emilia Cruz, a conniving, fast-thinking, fearless crime-fighter who isn’t afraid to kick some ass. In short – a woman you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

This is an international mystery and crime thriller that’s truly worthy of that description. One of the best novels I’ve read in some time.

Set in and around Acapulco, it’s fast-moving, intriguing and always surprising. The writing flows, drawing the reader in.

There’s a bonus for readers, too, in that even if you’ve never been to Acapulco, you’ll know it better than most tourists by the time you finish this book. The writer takes you beneath city’s postcard exterior to the mean streets – the side that tourists seldom see – where the drug lords rule.

So, pour yourself a margarita and settle in for an engrossing read! -Lance Morcan

*****************************************