Exclusive Extract from THE LEGACY OF THE BONES by Dolores Redondo

Category: Extract

Get a sneak peak of The Legacy of the Bones the second book in Dolores Redondo’s atmospheric Baztan trilogy, featuring Inspector Amaia Salazar out 25th August in paperback!

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CHAPTER ONE

The atmosphere in the courthouse was stifling. The damp from rain-soaked overcoats was starting to evaporate, mixing with the breath of the hundreds of people thronging  the corridors outside the various courtrooms. Amaia undid her jacket as she greeted Lieutenant Padua, who made his way towards her through the waiting crowd, after speaking briefly to the woman accompanying him and ushering her into the courtroom.

‘Good to see you, Inspector,’ he said. ‘How are you? I wasn’t sure you’d make it here today,’ he added, pointing to her swollen belly.

Amaia raised a hand to her midriff, heavy from the late stages of pregnancy.

‘Well, she seems to be behaving herself for the moment. Have you seen Johana’s mother?’

‘Yes, she’s pretty nervous. She’s inside with her family. They’ve just called from downstairs to tell me the van transporting Jasón Medina has arrived,’ he said, heading for the lift.

Amaia entered the courtroom and sat down on one of the benches at the back. From there she was able to glimpse Johana’s mother, dressed in mourning and considerably thinner than at her daughter’s funeral. As though sensing her presence, the woman turned to look, greeting her with a brief nod. Amaia tried unsuccessfully to smile as she contemplated the haggard features of the woman, who was tormented by the knowledge that she had been powerless to protect her daughter from the monster she herself had brought into their home. As the court clerk began to call out the names of the witnesses, Amaia couldn’t help noticing the woman’s face stiffen when she heard her husband’s name.

‘Jasó n Medina,’ the clerk repeated. ‘Jasó n Medina.’

A uniformed officer entered the courtroom, approached the clerk and whispered something in his ear. He in turn leaned over to speak to the judge, who listened to what he said then nodded, before calling the prosecution and defence barristers to the bench. He spoke to them briefl y then rose to his feet.

‘The trial is adjourned; if necessary, you will be summoned again.’ And without another word, he left the courtroom.

Johana’s mother cried out, turning to Amaia for an explanation.

‘No!’ she screamed. ‘Why?’

The women with her tried helplessly to comfort her. Another officer walked over to Amaia.

‘Inspector Salazar, Lieutenant Padua has asked if you would go down to the holding cells.’

As she stepped out of the lift, she saw a group of police officers gathered outside the toilet door. The guard accompanying her motioned to her to enter. Inside, a prison officer and a policeman stood propped against the wall, their faces distraught. Padua was leaning into one of the cubicles, his feet at the edge of a pool of still fresh blood seeping under the partition walls. When he saw the inspector arrive, he stepped aside.

‘He told the guard he needed to use the toilet. As you can see, he was handcuffed, yet he managed to slit his own  throat. It all happened very fast, the officer didn’t move from here, heard him cough and went in, but there was nothing he could do.’

Amaia went in to survey the scene. Jasó n Medina was sitting on the toilet, head tilted back. His throat was gaping from a deep, dark gash. His shirtfront was drenched in blood, which oozed like red mucus between his legs, staining everything in its path. His body still radiated warmth, and the air was tainted with the smell of recent death.

‘What did he use?’ asked Amaia, who couldn’t see any object.

‘A box cutter. He dropped it as the strength drained out of him. It’s in the next-door toilet,’ he said, pushing open the door to the adjacent cubicle.

‘How did he get it through security? The metal would have set the alarm off.’

‘He didn’t. Look,’ said Padua, pointing. ‘See that piece of duct tape on the handle? Somebody went to a lot of trouble to hide the cutter in here, no doubt behind the cistern. All Medina had to do was peel it off.’

Amaia sighed.

‘And there’s more,’ said Padua, with a look of distaste. ‘This was sticking out of his pocket,’ he said, holding up a white envelope in his gloved hand.

‘A suicide note?’ ventured Amaia.

‘Not exactly,’ said Padua, handing her a pair of gloves and the envelope. ‘It’s addressed to you.’

‘To me?’ Amaia frowned.

She pulled on the gloves and took the envelope.

‘May I?’

‘Go ahead.’

The adhesive strip opened easily without her needing to tear the paper. Inside was a card; in the middle of it a single word was printed.

Tarttalo.’

Amaia felt a sharp twinge in her belly and held her breath to disguise the pain. She turned the card over to make sure nothing was written on the back, before returning it to Padua.

‘What does it mean?’

‘I was hoping you’d tell me.’

‘Well, I’ve no idea, Lieutenant Padua,’ she replied, puzzled.

‘It doesn’t make much sense to me.’

‘A tarttalo is a mythological creature, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, as far as I know it’s a kind of Cyclops. It exists in both Graeco-Roman and Basque mythology. What are you getting at?’

‘You worked on the basajaun case. The basajaun was also a mythological creature, and now Johana Márquez’s confessed murderer, who tried to copy one of the basajaun crimes to conceal his own, kills himself and leaves a note that says:

Tarttalo”.

You must admit it’s curious, to say the least.’

‘You’re right.’ Amaia sighed. ‘It’s strange. However, at the time we proved beyond doubt that Jasón Medina raped and murdered his stepdaughter, then made a clumsy attempt to pass it off as one of the basajaun crimes. Not only that, he made a full confession. Are you suggesting he wasn’t the murderer?’

‘I don’t doubt it for a minute,’ said Padua, glancing at the corpse. ‘But there’s the question of the severed arm, and the girl’s bones turning up in the Arri Zahar cave. And now this. I was hoping you might . . .’

‘I’ve no idea what this means, or why he addressed it to me.’

Padua gave a sigh, his eyes fixed on her.

‘Of course not, Inspector.’

Amaia headed for the rear exit, anxious not to bump into Johana’s mother. What could she say to the woman: that it was all over, or that her husband, like the rat he was, had escaped to the next world? She flashed her ID at the security guards; it came as a relief to be free at last of the atmosphere inside. The rain had stopped and the bright yet hesitant sunlight, typical in Pamplona between showers, emerged through the clouds, making her eyes water as she rummaged in her bag for her dark glasses. As ever when it was raining, finding a taxi to take her to the courthouse during the morning rush hour had been almost impossible; but now several of them sat idling at the rank, while the city’s inhabitants chose to walk. She hesitated for a moment beside the first car.

No, she wasn’t quite ready to go home; the prospect of Clarice running around, bombarding her with questions was decidedly unappealing. Since her in-laws had arrived a fortnight earlier, Amaia’s idea of home had been seriously challenged. She gazed towards the enticing windows of the cafés across from the courthouse and at the other end of Calle San Roque, where she could see the trees in Media Luna Park. Working out that it was roughly one and a half kilometres to her house, she set off on foot. She could always hail a taxi if she felt tired.

Leaving behind the roar of traffic as she entered the park gave her an instant sense of relief. The fresh scent of wet grass replaced the exhaust fumes, and Amaia instinctively slackened her pace as she crossed one of the stone paths that cut through the perfect greenness. She took deep breaths, exhaling with deliberate slowness. What a morning, she thought; Jason Medina perfectly fitted the profile of the criminal who commits suicide in jail. Accused of raping and killing his wife’s daughter, he had been put in solitary confinement pending his trial; no doubt he’d been terrified at the prospect of having to mix with other prisoners after being sentenced.

She remembered him from the interrogations nine months earlier, when they were investigating the basajaun case: a snivelling coward, weeping and wailing as he confessed his atrocities. The two cases weren’t connected, but Lieutenant Padua of the Guardia Civil had invited her to sit in, because of Medina’s clumsy attempts to imitate the modus operandi of the serial killer she was chasing, based on what he had read in the newspapers. That was nine months ago, just when she became pregnant. Since then, a lot of things had changed.

Pre Order now on Amazon http://ow.ly/TrGd3039395

 

5 ways to create a creepy sense of location by Tracy Buchanan

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Tracy Buchanan-lowres

 

Location has played an integral role in all my novels, whether it be the ravished shores of Thailand during the 2004 tsunami in The Atlas of Us or the eerie underwater world of submerged forests in My Sister’s Secret.

 

And it’s no different with my latest novel No Turning Back, which is set in a seemingly beautiful seaside village harbouring its own devastating secrets.

 

I love using location to create an impending sense of doom and here are five ways I do that:

 

  1. Use all the senses

 

I learnt this one while working as a travel journalist. It’s not just about what you see, but also what you hear, smell, taste and touch. Not only do you make a location come alive by engaging all the senses, you can also hint at the rotten core beneath. Take a beautiful seaside village like the one in No Turning Back for example, children shrieking with happiness as they run in and out of the waves, the yellow sun above warm on their shoulders. But then add a seagull jabbing its beak at rotting fish and chips, their stench weaving its way towards you. Or the feel of fingers sinking into dry stale sandwich from the local café. Just little hints of the rotting core beneath…

 

  1. Bad things can happen to good places

The location of a crime or thriller doesn’t have to be gritty and obviously dark. I love writing about beautiful places which have something rotten beneath the surface. In No Turning Back, the village of Ridgmont Waters is popular with tourists thanks to its cobbled streets and beautiful views. But dig deeper, and you see there’s a darkness lurking there, from the nuclear-infested ground its shiny new-build estate sits on to the rusting shipyard that looms over it.

 

  1. Don’t worry about being a cliché queen

Authors are always warned off using weather in obvious ways when writing, especially when opening up a novel. But when it comes to scaring the bejesus out of readers, clichés – especially weather clichés – can work to a writer’s advantage. In No Turning Back, I use rain and storms to create a mounting sense of tension. The novel is also set in a hot sultry summer. By describing the cloying heat, it creates a claustrophobic feel, reflecting the main character Anna’s mounting stress and fear.

 

Windswept

 

  1. Treat location like a villainous character

Okay, confession time. I plan my novels using Excel. And in every Excel worksheet I set up for a novel is a section on characters. And in that section is where I place all my notes about the location of my novel because (and you’ll hear this from a lot of writers) I treat location like a character. In No Turning Back, location is both Anna’s friend and her foe. When she’s combing its beautiful beaches for cockles or having a beach picnic with her daughter, it’s a chance to escape it all. But its landmarks, including her family lighthouse, are constant reminders of her difficult past.

 

  1. You don’t have to write what you know

Yep, it’s nice to have an excuse to go on a jolly and visit the places I write about. And many times I have. But it’s not essential. I’m a writer after all, I like to use my imagination! I hadn’t visited the submerged forests I described in My Sister’s Secret, for example. I did it from online research and pure imagination. It’s the same for No Turning Back. Though elements of the seaside village it’s based in are drawn from my own childhood visits to the seaside, I’ve also used my imagination. Attached to the village Anna lives in is an abandoned shipyard, its two rusting cranes looming over the residents, creating a foreboding feeling. I’ve never been to a shipyard but it was enough to look at photos online then close my eyes and imagine how creepy they would be to be able to write about one.

Right, I think that’s it, I’m off to lie on my chaise lounge (yes, I really have one!) and imagine the world of my next novel…

 

Chaise_Longue

 

 

Gritty authors Jaime Raven and Julie Shaw reveal how their own backgrounds contribute to their writing

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Authors Julie Shaw and Jaime Raven tell Killer Reads how their own edgy backgrounds have contributed to their gritty and gripping writing today. With close links to the cultures of crime and gang communities, you cannot doubt the authenticity of their books – The Madam and Bad Blood.

In The Madam by Jaime Raven, Southampton based ex-prisoner and prostitute Lizzie is finally out and free to seek her vengeance on the people who framed her. This is hard-hitting fiction which packs a real punch, drawing on Jaime’s own background, as you’re about to find out…

Bad Blood by Julie Shaw tells the true story of Christine, a young woman struggling to bring her baby up on the notorious Canterbury estate in Bradford, a place rife with crime, alcohol and drugs. Where family is everything, and nothing.

 

Jaime Raven, author of The Madam

The Madam, Jaime Raven

The Madam, Jaime Raven

All writers are influenced to some degree by their own personal experiences. I for one didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly decide that I was going to be a crime novelist. I was being steered in that direction long before I embarked on the path to publication.

It began with my late mother’s passion for books by Agatha Christie and Mickey Spillane, two of the world’s greatest crime writers. Mum encouraged me to read them and I became hooked during my mid-teens.

At the same time I was being exposed on a regular basis to real-life crime. This was because I lived in Peckham, South London – a part of the capital synonymous with crime and street violence. My family were working class stallholders and we lived on a council estate that was home to a couple of nasty gangs. At school I witnessed a stabbing in the playground and anti-social behaviour on a grand scale. I also met a number of notorious villains who were family friends and acquaintances. These experiences had a profound effect on me and would later have a bearing on the kind of books I would decide to write.

My career as a newspaper and television journalist was another determining factor. While reporting for newspapers such as The Sun and The Mail I covered a great many crime stories. In fact they were always the most interesting and challenging. Murders, robberies, major trials at the Old Bailey. I was in my element writing about the awful things that people do to each other.

So when I eventually decided that I wanted to become a novelist I knew instinctively that based on my personal experiences the obvious genre to focus on was crime. I drew on those experiences whilst writing The Madam, which is about Lizzie Wells, a young prostitute who is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit and ends up in prison. On her release she sets out to get revenge on the people who framed her.

The Madam is set in Southampton, where I’ve lived for some years and which has always had a thriving prostitution industry. For my next book, The Alibi, which is due out in January 2017, I return to my roots in South London.

Writing The Alibi was like a trip down memory lane. The main character is a feisty young crime reporter named Beth Chambers. She lives in Peckham and gets involved with gangsters and crooked cops. Her mum was once a stallholder and has links to some of the area’s biggest crime bosses. It might sound like an autobiography but it’s actually a gritty thriller!

The fact is neither book would have been written if not for all those personal experiences. They made it possible for me to create characters like Lizzie Wells and Beth Chambers, and to develop realistic plots against the kind of working class background that I’m familiar with. They also enabled me to merge elements of fact with fiction, which I believe greatly enhances the entertainment value of any story.

 

Julie Shaw, author of Bad Blood

 

Bad Blood, Julie Shaw

Bad Blood, Julie Shaw

I’m often asked where my inspiration to write comes from, and when I think about it, I guess whether I am writing true crime stories or fiction, there is always a little nugget of my past hidden in there somewhere. I often reflect on my upbringing in order to set a scene, and even if I am writing about something that has never happened to me personally, chances are that I knew or heard of someone that experienced it.

Growing up I lived on a rough council estate and my friends, neighbours and some family lived by the rules of the street – not the law as we know it. Police, social workers, teachers etc were all seen as the enemy and best to be avoided, and if your next door neighbour was a burglar, a thief or a drug dealer, you just accepted it and kept your mouth shut. In fact the only time anyone got involved with anyone else’s criminal activities, was if it had anything to do with harming a child. Then, all hell broke loose. ‘Vigilante violence’ – that was often the headline in our local paper.

I also lived on the same street as our modern day Jack the ripper – Peter Sutcliffe, and as a young teenager living in a town centre pub in Bradford, my parents knew quite a lot of the girls who were murdered by him. Our pub, The Metro Inn, was known as a bit of a safe haven for ‘working girls’ or prostitutes, so I grew up surrounded by lots of ‘aunties’ who had to sell their bodies for a living, but who were very protective towards me and my family.

Albert Pierrepoint, the world famous hangman who executed over 400 people in his lifetime also hailed from the same place as me. My grandparents and great grandma used to tell me stories about some of the people he hung, so even as a small child my imagination was riotous. In fact I thought it a great day out when a cousin or a friend sent me a visiting order from prison. I would take buses and trains up and down the country to be mesmerised by tales that the inmates had to tell.

All of this has enabled me to write authentically, I believe, and is why ‘realism’ is my very favourite genre to either read or write.