Extract | Forget Me Not by A. M. Taylor

Category: Books

“Maddie,” Ange said over the phone, her voice a breathless straight line.

“Yeah?” I said, suddenly sitting up a little straighter. There was something about the shape of her voice that instantly shook me, old memories rattling around in my ribcage making my heartbeat pick up.

“I … I—”

“Ange, what’s going on? What’s happened? Are you okay?” My voice was snappy and sharp, but I couldn’t help it, I knew where conversations like that went and my fear translated to frustration all too easily.

“I was just driving through town to come get you and all these police cars passed me.”

There was no way I could have possibly known, so of course I thought of Nora, blindly following my memory back, racing those cop cars as fast as they could go to a morning so vivid it could have happened yesterday.

I could feel the same grip of panic and loss that had folded and tightened itself around me ten years before when I said to Ange: “Where were the police cars going?”

“They were headed towards the old highway, so I turned round and followed them because—” Because that was where Nora’s car had been found, and Ange was a reporter and certain habits are hard to break.

“Are you there now? What’s going on? Is it Nora?”

“Mads, it’s not Nora. It’s not Nora, but there’s a body and I think … I think it’s Nora’s sister, Noelle.”

All the air I had in my body was pulled out of me and replaced with lead, or granite, or concrete, or something heavy and immovable that dragged me down, down, down. My vision swam, images of Elle rising to the surface. She’d looked so young at the memorial and yet so weary, the weight of the world crowding her shoulders. How could this be happening again? A little over a week earlier I’d met her at CJ’s, treating her to a hot chocolate which had always been her favorite. She’d been filled with a razor-edge energy, cracking jokes and telling me stories about her girlfriend, Jenna, but then something had shifted in her and she’d started asking me questions about Nora. I’d put it down to the anniversary coming up so soon and had been happy to answer them. Normally when anyone talked about Nora I clenched up, went into lockdown, but it was different with Elle. I didn’t have to guess what her motives were when she brought Nora up, unlike with so many other people who just wanted to indulge in their morbid curiosity, to gossip about a missing girl as though she were a celebrity spiraling out of control.

I closed my eyes and tried to keep that picture of her in my mind: sitting in a booth at CJ’s, skimming the edge of her mug with her forefinger so that a pile of whipped cream and mini marshmallows appeared there before she stuck it in her mouth, while I groaned in faux disapproval and she grinned wickedly at me. I wanted to hold it there forever, but I knew how quickly that memory, that moment, would be eroded, degraded, twisted and turned into something else. I knew how quickly she’d go from Elle—the girl I’d helped teach how to ice skate and roller­blade and who’d hated to lose at Scrabble but still tried her best to win every time—to yet another person I’d be forced to mourn.

I was struggling to keep my head above the water when Ange said: “Mads, are you there?”

“Yeah,” I gasped. “I’m here.”

She talked me through what she was looking at: two cop cars and an ambulance. She recognised most everyone at the scene, including Bright and Leo and Leo’s father, Chief Moody. She knew better than to ask me if I was okay, and I knew better than to ask her. She spoke slowly, taking her time, but each word was weighed, freighted down and heavy. She’d spent a couple of years on the crime desk of a Milwaukee paper when she first graduated, but had since moved to the news desk, where if a grisly or interesting crime came up, it was invariably scooped up by one of her colleagues still working on crime. Every time she’d had to cover the death or murder of a woman or girl she saw Nora was all she had said to me at the time; it was all she needed to say. But she was clearly trying to pick up the pieces of her training there, still a reporter at heart, even as she tried to make sense of something that would never make any sense.

“And you’re sure it’s Elle?” I asked eventually, my voice small and young-sounding in the enveloping warmth of my parents’ kitchen.

“I don’t know for sure obviously, but I overheard the cops talking. They all know her, Mads, they know what she looks like. It must be her.”

I nodded, even though she couldn’t see. There wasn’t a single officer on our police force who wouldn’t know who Noelle Altman was.

“I have to go, Leo’s coming over. I think he’s going to ask me to leave.”

“Okay,” I said.

There was a small beat and then, “Should I still come over?”

“Yes,” I said, even though both of us knew we wouldn’t be leaving Forest View anytime soon.

The gripping psychological debut FORGET ME NOT by A.M Taylor is out now for only 99p.

 

June Taylor – Losing Juliet Trailer Premiere

Category: Books

Introducing the book trailer for ‘Losing Juliet’ a psychological thriller by author June Taylor. A twisty psychological drama about a friendship gone bad. Perfect for fans of The Girl Who Lied and Behind Closed Doors.

 

162604-FC50A twisty psychological drama about a friendship gone bad. Perfect for fans of The Girl Who Lied and Behind Closed Doors

You can’t escape the past…

Juliet and Chrissy were best friends until one fateful summer forced them apart. Now, nearly twenty years later, Juliet wants to be back in Chrissy’s life.

But Chrissy doesn’t want Juliet anywhere near her, or her teenage daughter Eloise. After all, Juliet is the only person who knows what happened that night – and her return threatens to destroy the life that Chrissy has so carefully built.

Because when the past is reawakened, it can prove difficult to bury. And soon all three of them will realize how dangerous it can get once the truth is out there…

OUT NOW  – Amazon HarperCollins

 

 

 

 

Author Helen Fields talks modern vs historical crime writing

Category: Author Post

We’re thrilled to welcome author Helen Fields to team Killer Reads!

Helen spent thirteen years working as a criminal barrister before making the move to become a producer and writer of PERFECT REMAINS, the first in a nail-shredding new crime series from Avon, out January 26Read Helen’s piece on the difference between modern and historical crime writing below.

helen1

One of the things no one tells you when you’re making the decision to become a criminal barrister is that you will also have to wear a number of other hats, and to wear them convincingly.  You will have to be able to cross-examine psychiatrists and challenge their assessments.  You’ll need to ask intelligent questions of the forensic pathologist in that murder case.  There is no limit to the diverse subjects you will have, for a short time, to be able to convince a jury you know about sufficiently to cast doubt on an expert’s opinion.  Fires, engines, insects, blood spatters, DNA, facial mapping, filming and photography.  It never ends.  And this need for expertise carries over into writing modern crime.  When I wrote Perfect Remains, I was aware that I had to be able to write knowledgeably about destroying DNA traces from bones, about forensic odontology (dentistry), amateur dentistry *shudders* and the evidence required for a rape charge.  On top of that, I had to be able to conceal my antagonist’s tracks for most of the book.  Easier said than done in an age of CCTV, email, internet use and mobile phones.  It’s tough.  Science and technology have changed the world immeasurably and made writing crime thrillers infinitely harder.

That’s why writing historical thrillers, which is what I do when my creative brain’s not in modern day Scotland, is in many ways vastly easier.  The first historical novel I wrote is set in Edwardian England.  It’s a fascinating period of history because it’s the precise point modern day forensics were blossoming.  The first English case was solved using a fingerprint.  Information was being organised into what we now think of as databases. Special investigative police squads were being formed.  But as a writer, your character can still bite someone’s ear off without worrying about leaving DNA in saliva.  You can assassinate someone on a train without pesky cameras recording the deed.  That boot mark in the mud will not be identifiable by its designer tread, sold only at two stores in London who can trace the credit card details for purchasers.  Ah yes, life was simpler then.  More recently I’ve been writing a World War II novel about a serial killer with Angel of Death syndrome.  By that date science and technology had advanced considerably, but it’s set on Malta amidst the crisis of constant bombings, starvation and disease.  No one was worrying too hard about cause of death when soldiers were already in hospital.  Men and women died, sometimes it wasn’t obvious how.  Subsequent investigation was thin on the ground.  The confusion, fear and lack of resources were the ideal space for me to let loose a deeply deranged serial killer.

Modern day crime writing has become a very specialised discipline.  I’ve lost count of the evenings spent watching crime dramas wondering why there’s no CCTV,  how there are no fingerprints when no one wears gloves, why the case isn’t solved within hours given that the killer/burglar/kidnapper drives away at speed and goes straight home.  I can suspend my disbelief to an extent, but writers have to be realists.  Our stories have to fit and function effectively within the confines of a modern day high tech world.  You can be bold and free writing historical crime.  Modern crime requires the writer to wear all those many hats I was talking about earlier.  Because the reader knows.  They may not know exactly how DNA testing works, but they feel it when you cheat.  This is why dramas like Sherlock can be so much more daring.  Shots can be fired on the street in daylight with only a dark hat casting a shadow over the eyes of the aggressor.  Try getting away with that now and you’ll need full body cover, a balaclava, gloves and a camera free escape route.
But at the heart of it all – modern or historical – is that good old fashioned fight between good and evil, blurring the lines often enough to tantalise, and finding endings that shock and satisfy in equal measure.  There is never a lack of characters, though.  Not enough years will ever pass that humans will not be endlessly flawed and endlessly fascinating.

You can contact Helen via Twitter @Helen_Fields. 

Perfect Remains is available on Amazon from 26th January #FeelingBrave?

 pr

First he takes them. Then he breaks them. #FeelingBrave? You should be.