From the Back Cover
Detective Sergeant Hunter Kerr and his partner DC Grace Marshall are called to the scene of a brutal slaying; the victim is a 14 year-old girl. The killer has been disturbed but he has left behind a puzzle. What is the significance of the marks gouged into the girl’s torso and why has a playing card been left with the cadaver? As Barnwell Major Investigation Team struggle to resolve the mystery they are confronted with another gruesome discovery; the mummified remains of a teenage girl are unearthed from the slurry of a former colliery site. This corpse bears all the hallmarks of the first slaying and yet this body has been buried for well over a decade. They soon realise that a savage killer is stalking Yorkshire, preying on young girls, and with the discovery of the bodies comes a series of revelations about the past. For Detective Sergeant Hunter Kerr and his team the race against time to prevent further murders is complicated by the fact that several of his men have been involved on the periphery of earlier crimes, without even knowing it. And as the death toll mounts as more bodies are unearthed and new victims succumb to the murderer’s sick appetites, he finds that this case comes very close to home. Very close indeed...
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PROLOGUE 25th July 1988. Gripping one shoulder firmly, with a quick sawing movement he began to slice into the first layer of flesh with the curved edge of the blade. Tough little bastard. He had thought that it would be easy to separate the head from the body with the Bowie knife he had recently acquired. However, the neck tissues and sinews were far tougher than he expected and he had to drag the blade repeatedly against the leathery skin. As the knife finally tore into the vertebrae, drops of warm sticky blood splattered his hands and his clothing. Not such a tough little bastard now, are you? He had hoped to torture the creature a lot longer but it had brought about its own death much quicker than he had wanted. A little earlier, he had chuckled whilst watching the rabbit’s brown eyes almost bulge from its sockets as he had twisted the leather leash tighter around its neck. His own heart had pumped so fast he feared it would burst through his chest and it had felt as if his head was ready to explode. The rush had been an almost unbelievable experience and had made him exert even more pressure on the leash. That’s when the tough little bastard dug those buckteeth into his clenched fist, drawing blood - his own blood. He’d almost released his grip on the thrashing rabbit nearly allowing it to escape. In a flash of anger, which he later cursed himself for, he had grabbed its twitching back legs, swung it around and smashed its fluffy head against a tree stump. That had put paid to the life of the New Zealand dwarf. Sarah is going to be really pissed off when she finds her pet gone. High-faluting Sarah, with her lispy posh voice who thinks she’s a cut above the others on the street. Yes she is really going to be pissed when she finds her little ‘Bob-Tail’ gone. Little Bob-Tail, with its posh imitation jewelled collar, which she walked around her garden - on a leash, of all things. He had listened to her repeatedly clucking her tongue against the roof of her mouth and shouting for ‘Bob-Tail’ to come for his ‘din-dins’. It really irritated him. Many a time he had wanted to rip that clucking tongue right out of her snooty little mouth. Luckily for her she lived too near. She didn’t realise just how fortunate she was. She won’t be acting so highfaluting when she finds her dear little ‘Bob-Tail’ in pieces. Spoilt little brat. * * * * * 12th October 1993 He drew heavily on the cigarette he had pinched from his mother’s packet; the packet which was always tucked between the cushion and arm of ‘her’ chair. He had been hiding in the bushes for over half an hour and had a good view of the front doors of the block of flats when he spotted the regular visitor lock up and leave his car in the unlit car park. He took a final drag on his cigarette, flicked the remains to the floor and ground it underfoot. Glancing quickly at his watch, and knowing that this guest would be at least another hour and a half, he put on a pair of leather gloves and moved slowly from the bushes towards the Ford Fiesta. Taking half a tennis ball from his jacket pocket, he placed it over the lock on the driver’s door and with a quick bang forced out the air. The suction made the plastic locking mechanism shoot up and the door opened without a sound. He forced a screwdriver into the ignition barrel, turning the handle as he would a key. The car’s engine fired first time and taking a final look around he slid into the driver’s seat. As he reversed a smile ripped across his face. No doubt about it the CID officer was going to be well and truly pissed off when he came out of that flat. * * * * * Head bowed from hunched shoulders, jaw resting between his hands, elbows on desk, Hunter Kerr chewed on the end of his pen whilst double-checking the contents of his most exciting arrest file to date. This was the most tedious part of the job but also the most important and being on the evening shift helped his concentration. It meant a virtually empty office; no incessant chatter or the ringing of phones to distract him. Momentarily closing his eyes he massaged his eyelids and pushed himself back in his chair. Wiping away the tiredness overcoming him he forced them open and re-focussed on the document on his computer screen. Then clicking back into gear he commenced tip-tapping the keyboard, putting the finishing touches to the arrest summary. Over the past week he and his partner had cleared up twenty three burglaries committed by a team of four teenage tearaways who were now on remand in a young offender’s institution. And that was only what they were admitting. It had been amazing that since their arrest only two house break-ins had been reported. It was obvious that the team were responsible for a lot more, but he guessed he would only know that when they were sentenced and begged him for a prison visit to ‘clear their slate,’ so that they wouldn’t be arrested again when they were released. Hunter was in the final month of his six month CID aide period and things had gone very well. The contacts and informants he had built up from his previous three and a half years working the streets in uniform had ensured an impressive number of arrests. The Detective Inspector had already congratulated him on many occasions on the quality of his ‘collars’ and he had also been promised a good report and an early entrance into the Criminal Investigation Department at Barnwell. The strident ringing of the phone on his desk made Hunter jump. He pulled the pen from his mouth and snatched up the handset from its cradle. “PC Kerr, CID” he announced. “Hunter,” an excited voice rasped down the line. He immediately recognised the high-pitched voice of his working buddy, Paul Goodright. “Listen I’m up shit creek, the car’s been nicked.” Hunter clamped the handset between head and shoulder and with pen poised over a pad of paper made ready to jot down information. “What do you mean nicked?” “Just get the other car and come and pick me up on Church Street.” For a few seconds there was silence, then Paul blurted down the line, “And don’t say anything to uniform...yet.” The call ended. Hunter rose quickly and began scanning the desks in the office for the spare set of CID car keys. He urgently moved crime reports and files around in other officer’s trays knowing the keys would be somewhere amongst the paperwork. At the same time his thoughts rolled back to the conversation with Paul an hour earlier. His partner had smiled mischievously when he had mentioned he had an enquiry to do and would be back in an hour or two. Hunter immediately knew from the expression on his face that what Paul really meant was that ‘he was off shagging’ and needed him to cover. And although deep down he had disapproved he had chosen not to voice his thoughts. After all, Paul was two years greater in service and an established detective. Besides that Hunter enjoyed having Paul as a partner. The pair had ‘hit it off’ very quickly and already established themselves as a formidable partnership within the department. And despite not having the experience of some of the more seasoned detectives’ in the office both had more hunger and enthusiasm when it came to chasing villains. Hunter found his colleague pacing excitedly on the footpath outside a block of flats on Church Street. As he pulled up beside him Paul flung open the car door and dropped into the passenger seat. “This is my worst nightmare. I can’t believe that some little bastard’s nicked the car. I’ll fucking kill him when I get hold of him. It was in the car park at the side there.” He pointed back towards the flats. “Before I report it in we’ll run round all the dumping spots and if we don’t find it I need you to back me up with a cover story.” As Hunter pulled away from the kerbside he could see Paul anxiously wiping away beads of sweat, which had formed on his brow. We hope you enjoyed reading this free sample