Taking a well-earned break from the ‘Dearne Valley Demon’ case, Detective Sergeant Hunter Kerr’s rest is suddenly shattered when he witnesses a violent argument involving his father, shortly followed by a murderous road-rage attack upon his parents. As he delves deeper, Hunter uncovers disturbing facts and suspects that his father is harbouring a sinister secret from his past; a secret, which he is desperate to keep buried. In his father’s native Scotland a sadistic and violent killer is on the rampage. Three retired detectives are found tortured and butchered. Is there a link? Or, is it someone who just likes killing cops? Hunter pushes and pushes to learn the truth, never realising just how much danger he was placing himself, and those around him in. In Barnwell, Hunter’s working partner, DC Grace Marshall, recovering from her own psychological problems arising out of the ‘Demon’ serial-killer investigation, is ‘acting sergeant’ in his absence and soon finds herself in charge of her first major incident; a young woman’s battered body is dragged from the freezing waters of the local country park.
PROLOGUE Glasgow’s East End, Scotland; November 1971 Winding down his window, and switching off the headlights of the black Mercedes, Iain Campbell swung the car into Fielden Street and straddled along the centre white lines for a few yards until his eyes adapted to the dimness. Then following the direction of the pointing finger of his front seat passenger he switched off its three litre, throaty, engine and coasted quietly towards the nearside kerb. For a few seconds the three occupants of the Mercedes sat motionless, watching, and listening. Deathly silence. * * * * * Staring out through the windscreen Billy Wallace’s slate grey eyes darted from side to side scanning the high tenement buildings each side of the street. Billy knew the area well. He used to live here as a child; that was until his family went up in the world. He couldn’t help but notice how the area had deteriorated over the last few years. It had the stigma of being one of the hardest, poorest places in Britain. Most of the people he had grown up with here had moved out, leaving behind the unfortunates who had fallen to the hands of the drug dealers and money lenders. This was his turf. Easing open the passenger door and gripping the frame, he used it as a springboard to launch himself upright onto the pavement, rocking for a second on the balls of his feet. Arching his back and pulling at the lapels of his signature black Crombie overcoat he uncoiled his six foot, four inch, muscular frame. Looking around he noticed that the old overhead street lights still hadn’t been replaced and their dim glow resulted in more of the street being obscured than illuminated. He knew that a lot of people had a fear of the dark, but he loved the dark, and this was perfect cover for what he had to do. Raking a comb of fingers through his crown of chestnut colour collar length hair Billy surveyed the street again, searching for activity, narrowing his eyes to search within the shadows. A light wind brushed around dead leaves cluttering the gutter. Other than that there was no other sound or movement along the road. Good, he thought, he had a score to settle and he needed the element of surprise on his side. He beckoned the back seat passenger to join him. Rab Geddes was his most trusted henchman, chosen for his pertinacity and penchant towards violence. Billy stuck his head back into the warmth of the car’s interior. “Just keep the engine running Iain, we shouldn’t be long,” he whispered to the driver in his gravelly tones. Using their hips Billy and Rab nudged closed the car’s doors. Somewhere nearby a dog started barking; its sudden bawl fracturing the stillness of the surroundings. Setting off at a jog they dodged into one of the stairwell passages leading to the rear of the tenement blocks. Billy screwed up his nose as he was greeted by the strong whiff of bleach and disinfectant, which was doing its best to disguise the stench of stale urine and animal faeces which had stained the bare cement floor. Not stopping, he mounted the concrete steps two at a time with Rab matching his pace, and despite the rubber soles of their shoes, Billy couldn’t help but notice that every footfall echoed in the stairwell. At the first floor they slackened their pace and slunk back against the wall. Their dark overcoats helped them melt like phantoms into the shadows. They slipped onto the walkway. For a few seconds Billy checked his bearings, then he nudged Rab and they moved on. At number thirty-four Billy paused, signalling to Rab. Satisfying himself that he had the correct address he placed an ear to the panelling. He listened. Straightening, he looked around to ensure that there were no witnesses before stepping back two paces and launching himself. The flimsy lock was no match for Billy’s fourteen stone of muscle and the door flew inwards smashing and bouncing against the interior wall. The pair sprinted towards the well-lit room at the end of the corridor and were only a few yards from the doorway when a slim dark shape appeared as a silhouette in the opening. Its scream of protest was silenced when Billy snapped out a fist and smacked the unknown individual square on the nose. There was a sickening crunch of bone and gristle as the slender form sank to the ground. Morag McCredie lay motionless for several seconds. Billy could see that she was straining to focus her vision through the film of tears that covered her eyes. He listened to her moaning and watched her closing her eyes for a split-second, squeezing her eyelids to force out the teardrops, before snapping them open again. He took pleasure in seeing the colour drain from her face, smiling, guessing from her reaction that she recognised him. He edged forward, leaning over her, pushing his face within inches of hers. “Where’s Davie, Morag” Billy growled. “He’s,” she broke off, her voice trembling as she suppressed a sob. “Nobody fucking rips me or my family off Morag. Davie knows what’s coming to him.” Billy moved within an inch of her face giving her his hardest stare then slowly delivered in his harshest tone “now - where - is - he?” She craned her head away from his. “He’s not here,” she managed to spit out, and cupped a hand over her nose that had already swollen to twice its size. She pulled it away slowly staring at the bright red globules of blood dripping through her fingers. “You’ve broken my fucking nose.” She groaned in her broad Glaswegian accent. “That’s not all I’m going to break if you don’t tell me where fucking Davie is,” Billy menacingly snapped back. He reached down and grabbed a handful of her bottle blonde dyed hair and yanked hard, hoisting her upwards. She swung up an arm to protect herself and a handful of hair ripped from her scalp. She yelped and bit her lip: Tears welled up again. Billy fixed her with a penetrating, hate-filled stare. “I’m going to ask you one more time Morag. Where’s Davie?” She started to quiver and grabbed hold of a nearby armchair for support. Billy snared his hands around her chin and jaw, seizing her in a vice-like grip. He dug his fingers into her skin until he was squeezing bone. Morag let out a piercing scream and Billy raised a hand to silence her. In that instant, in a defensive act, she shot out her hand and grabbed the handle of one of her kitchen knives lying on the nearby coffee table. In one swift movement she had snatched up the blade and lashed out. It slashed across Billy’s cheek, opening up his flesh to the bone. He released her immediately, stumbling backwards, slapping both hands over the gash. Blood was pouring from the wound, seeping through the gaps in his gloved hands and onto the front of his coat. Rab Geddes had spotted Morag’s actions too late to stop the damage to Billy’s face, but he reacted to prevent a second attempt, smashing his clenched fist into the side of her head. She reeled back against the armchair and flipped over it backwards. Billy stared at the amount of blood staining his gloves. His face contorted taking on a demonic appearance. The pupils of his eyes became so dilated that they appeared almost black. “You fucking bitch.” He snarled. Kicking aside the armchair he towered above Morag, who was scrambling around in her puddle of blood, a badly swelling face disguising once pretty features. She was groggy, trying to raise herself. Billy reached into his Crombie, pulling the handgun from the waistband of his trousers. It became an extension of his hand as he aimed down at her. Morag tried to swallow, her Adam’s apple cavorting stubbornly. Her eyes pleaded, and instinctively she again swung up an arm to protect herself. The bullet passed through her hand and into her right eye. She was dead even before her head smashed against the tiled hearth of the fireplace. The reek from the cordite drifted quickly, catching the back of Billy’s throat. It caused him to swallow hard, jerking his head backwards. It was then that he spotted movement to his left; a small shapeless form at the periphery of his vision. Immediately he spun around. The sharpness of his turn caused Rab to follow suite and they caught sight of a petite form shuffling into the doorway from the hallway. A young girl, dressed in pink striped pyjamas, with plaited dark hair stepped towards them. Under one arm she clutched a teddy bear to her chest and with other hand she rubbed at her sleepy eyes. She glanced at both of them with wide exploring eyes and then switched her gaze to Morag lying prostrate in a growing pool of blood. “Mummy,” she whimpered. Billy raised the gun again and fired off another shot. It smacked into the frontal lobe of the young girl’s head. Blood, brain and bone splattered the wallpaper behind her. She hit the ground the same time as her teddy bear. A halo of crimson liquid began to form around the child’s head and Rab flashed a shocked glare at his boss. “Jesus Christ Billy, she was just a kid.” Billy stared back, but it was as if his gaze was passing through Rab. “She was a fucking witness,” he mouthed brusquely. Then Billy lowered his eyes, spotting the blood stains on his overcoat from his wounded cheek. He tugged at the front of his Crombie, pulling the wide lapels in Rab’s direction. “Look what the bitch’s done to my fucking coat,” he growled. He raised the Smith and Wesson again, spun around and fired the remaining four rounds into Morag. Her body never moved. The first shot had taken her life. Billy continued clicking the trigger after the gun had emptied and Rab had to grab hold of his forearm. He fixed Billy’s wild stare. “We need to get out of here Billy, before someone calls the cops,” he urged. Slotting the handgun back into the waistband Billy surveyed the carnage around him. Bending down he raised the hem of Morag’s dress and wiped the blood from his leather gloves. “We need to set fire to the place Rab,” he paused for breath, getting back his composure. “Get rid of any incriminating evidence. Know what I mean?” he finished, easing himself back up. Rab nodded and began scanning the room for suitable material to ignite. * * * * * Iain Campbell fidgeted in his seat. He had the driver’s window down and was looking nervously around - and not for the first time. He had been like this ever since Billy and Rab had disappeared. He brought his watch closer to his face, picking out the position of the luminous hands on the dial and wondering how much longer they were going to be; they had already been gone ten minutes. This had not been the job he had been asked to do. ‘Look after my son’s back!’ that is what Billy’s father had asked him to do and paid him for, but all he had done over the last three hours had been chauffeuring around these two thugs whilst they picked up their drug debts. He had already watched them give one guy a good kicking, and he knew from their conversation that they were chasing up another who owed Billy the best part of two hundred pounds. They could stuff the job after tonight. He scoured the streets again. He felt cold and yet he knew from the damp patches under his arms that he was sweating. Fight or flight! It had been a long time since he’d had these feelings. He felt sick. He was about to wind up the window when he heard a loud crack. He thought that it sounded like gunfire. No it couldn’t be! He strained his ears. There was another! His heart leapt against his chest and he felt his stomach empty. Four more shots followed in quick succession. He stiffened and clamped a firm hold on the steering wheel. Less than a minute later both nearside doors were yanked open. It made Iain jump. Billy threw himself into the front seat. Iain saw that his face was covered in blood. Then he spotted the gun Billy was holding. His head was in turmoil. “Billy, your face.” Iain could see that he had lost a lot of blood. Billy’s shirt collar and the front of his coat were drenched and more was still oozing from a deep gash that snaked from the bridge of his nose and across his right cheek. “Never mind that just get us the fuck out of here.” He threw the gun into the footwell. “Come on, hurry the fuck up.” Iain Campbell, sharply engaged first gear and gunned the accelerator, spraying up loose road chippings beneath the spinning wheels, hurtling into the darkness, as the front second floor window of Morag’s flat exploded. We hope you enjoyed reading this free sample