Extract from Michael Wood’s A Room Full of Killers

Category: Extract

In just over a week, Michael Wood’s A Room Full of Killers, the third gripping crime novel in the DCI Matilda Darke series, publishes in ebook. But we have an exclusive sneak peek just for you!

A Room Full of Killers

 

Prologue

Manchester. Tuesday, 7 January 2014

 

I was in agony. The pain was immense. I couldn’t believe it. I looked across at the alarm clock and saw that it was just after 1:30 a.m., and I hadn’t been to sleep yet. How could I when all I wanted to do was vomit everything I’d ever eaten.

I managed to roll out of bed and practically crawled to the bathroom. I made it to the toilet just in time. The sick was never-ending. I honestly thought I was going to bring up an organ. There was so much of it. It was like that scene from The Exorcist.

I must have woken my sister, Ruby, because I looked up to wipe my mouth and she was standing in the doorway. She had her hands on her hips and a serious look on her face like she was going to tell me off. If I hadn’t felt like I was dying I would have laughed. How could she try and look mean and threatening when she was wearing Hello Kitty pyjamas?

‘Could you be any louder about it?’

‘Sorry, Ruby, did I wake you?’

‘No, I always go for a walk around this time.’ She looked at her wrist as if there was a watch there.

‘Sorry. I don’t think I should have reheated that curry I had for my tea.’

‘Have you made yourself sick so you don’t have to go to school in the morning?’

‘No. Why would I do that?’

‘Because I heard you telling Dad you hadn’t done your science homework.’

‘I’ve not made myself sick, Ruby. Go back to bed.’

I managed to pick myself up off the floor, although I felt dizzy and the sweat was pouring off me. I had to steady myself against the wall. I was shaking and hot but I felt cold at the same time. I had no idea a chicken korma could cause such agony.

‘Do you want me to wake up Mum and Dad?’

‘No. It’s OK. I think I’ll go downstairs and see if we’ve got anything to settle my stomach.’

‘OK.’

‘Are you going back to bed?’

‘Yes,’ she said, folding her arms.

‘Go on then.’

‘I’m waiting until you’ve gone downstairs. I don’t want you to fall.’

I went to go downstairs and kept looking back at Ruby, who wasn’t moving. I knew what she was going to do. I would have made some kind of sarcastic remark but I was frightened of opening my mouth and being sick again, because Dad had just polished the floorboards. He’d kill me if I splattered regurgitated korma all over them.

I was halfway down the stairs when I heard Ruby tap on Mum and Dad’s bedroom door. ‘Mum, I had that dream again. Can I come in with you and Dad?’

I smiled to myself. Ruby had promised that she’d sleep in her own bed all through the night. It was her New Year’s resolution yet she’d broken it within three days. She hated sleeping on her own, God knows why.

As soon as I opened the door to the kitchen, Max jumped out of his basket, tail wagging, and thought I wanted to play with him. He started jumping on his back legs. As much as I loved the little dude, playing with a Fox Terrier at two o’clock in the morning was not my idea of fun. He ran over to the back door so I let him out.

I left the door open while I looked for something to take. Dad suffered really badly with his stomach. He only had to look at a jar of beetroot and he got indigestion. He was bound to have something that could stop my stomach doing somersaults.

I found a small tub of Andrews Salts and made myself up a glass. I swigged it back in one gulp and shuddered at the taste. It was nasty.

Max came running back into the kitchen with a tennis ball in his mouth and dropped it at my feet. I wasn’t going outside to play fetch in the garden. It was bloody freezing out there. I made him go back to his bed, locked the back door and went into the living room. I didn’t have the strength to walk up the stairs.

I curled up on the sofa, pulled the blanket around me and tried to get comfortable. Whatever was in that medicine seemed to be working as there was no gurgling sound coming from my stomach. I wasn’t shaking as much either.

I was shattered. I looked at the clock – 02:15. I’d never been up this late before in my life. I was just nodding off when Max came in and licked my face. He lay down in front of me on the floor. He could tell I was ill and was looking after me, bless him. He was snoring in seconds. I wish I could fall asleep so quickly.

 

04:50

 

Max started licking my hand and barking. I briefly opened my eyes but, as it was still dark, I nudged Max away and pulled the blanket over my head. If he wanted to go out again he’d have to wait. I was finally warm and comfortable.

Another bark. This time he was nuzzling my hand and trying to pull the blanket off me with his teeth. He may be a cute dog and able to get away with a lot of things, but there was no way I was getting up for him now.

‘Max,’ I whispered loudly. ‘You’ll wake everyone up. Go to sleep. Now!’

I waited. I heard him groan, walk around in a circle a few times then drop to the floor. Thank God for that.

 

05:05

 

It seemed like only minutes later that he started fussing me again. He was yapping, barking, tugging at the blanket, and licking my face. I threw the blanket off me and stood up to turn on the living room light. I can’t remember what I was saying to Max but as soon as the room lit up I saw exactly why he’d been behaving so oddly.

There was a leak coming through the light fitting in the middle of the room. It didn’t make sense. The bathroom was above the kitchen, not the living room. My eyes adjusted. Shit! It wasn’t water pooling on the coffee table. It wasn’t water dripping and splashing all over the cream carpet. It was blood. I looked up at the light; the surrounding ceiling was a mass of blood. It was dripping down, splattering against the glass, bouncing off and soaking the carpet. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. I was having a nightmare caused by my fever, surely.

Max barked. I looked down at him and he was speckled with blood. His paws were covered in it. Oh my God. This wasn’t happening. Surely, I was running a fever from all the vomiting and having a nightmare.

I ran out of the living room and up the stairs, two at a time. ‘Mum, Dad, wake up,’ I called out. It was pitch-black and still early so my voice echoed around the house. I didn’t care if I woke up the whole street.

I knocked on their door but didn’t wait for a reply. I grabbed the handle and pushed. I flicked the light switch on.

‘Mum … ’

That was the moment everything stopped. My life ended right at that second as I looked into my parents’ bedroom and saw a scene of horror. All I could see was red. The walls, the ceiling, the floor, everything was covered in red. Huge sprays of blood covered every surface.

I could feel my heart pounding hard in my chest as if it was about to erupt. No. This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be real.

I walked further into the room and looked at the bed, trying to make sense of what my eyes were seeing, but my brain hadn’t caught up yet. The bed was a tangled mess of limbs and everything was dripping. It was like a scene from a torture porn film. I didn’t know if anybody was on the bed or not. Then I saw it. Dad had given Mum a really expensive watch for Christmas, just a week or so earlier. She’d loved it and spent most of Christmas Day staring at her wrist. She was still wearing it but the face was smashed. Her arm was covered in blood, but it wasn’t attached to her body. I swallowed hard to keep the bile from rising in my throat. I saw Dad’s leg with the Manchester City football shield tattoo. Like Mum’s arm it was splattered with blood. And there, in the middle of the bed, I saw the worst horror of all: the blood-stained white face of Hello Kitty winking at me.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Guest post by Jaime Raven, author of The Alibi

Category: Author Post

London’s violent criminal underworld provides the backdrop to Jaime Raven’s latest novel, The Alibi. It follows on from the success of the author’s previous book, The Madam. In this guest post we learn why Jaime’s own past had such a bearing on the story – and on the creation of one of the book’s central characters, the ruthless gangster Danny Shapiro.

 

81j01IXboqL

 

*

 

For years I’ve followed with interest the exploits of some of London’s most notorious gangsters. Stories about them have always fascinated me.

In fact it’s probably fair to say that those villains played a small part in my decision to write The Alibi.

The book took me back to my roots in south London where I spent my childhood. My family, who were street traders, were on first-name terms with some of the leading figures in the London underworld.

I was reminded of this and other things while researching the book and now I’d like to share a few of the memories with you.

Let’s start with Charlie and Eddie Richardson, who actually get a mention in The Alibi. They ran a crime syndicate in south London during the Sixties and were two of the capital’s most sadistic gangsters. They tortured their rivals by pulling out their teeth with pliers, slicing off their toes with bolt cutters and nailing their feet to the floor.

The Richardson’s were based in Camberwell, just a mile or so from where I lived in Peckham, and my father and uncles often drank with them in local pubs.

I was once introduced to Charlie Richardson, and I recall that he ruffled my hair and gave me money to buy some sweets. Of course back then I had no interest in what kind of person he was or what he did for a living.

An important member of the Richardson gang was a man named George Cornell, who was a close friend of my uncle Jim, one of my mum’s brothers.

But Cornell upset those other famous gangsters who operated across the Thames in east London – the Kray twins. Ronnie and Reggie Kray

were involved in everything from protection rackets to robberies.

One night at the infamous Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel Ronnie Kray shot and killed Cornell. I remember it being such a major talking point in my family but at the time I didn’t really understand why.

Another member of the Richardson gang was ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser, who spent 42 years of his life in prison for various violent offences and was once dubbed ‘Britain’s most dangerous man.’

He wrote his memoirs before his death in 2014 and carried out ‘gangster’ tours of London on a bus.

I met the man in a pub when he was with his long-time girlfriend Marilyn Wisbey. It so happened that years earlier Marilyn had been a good friend of mine. She’s the daughter of the Great Train Robber Tommy Wisbey. We were part of the same group who partied together as teenagers.

Marilyn has published her own memoir, Gangster’s Moll, which gave a candid account of her life amongst London’s villains.

But when I first knew her she worked as a secretary to the editor of a glossy magazine. And it was thanks to her that my first short story got published. After writing it I asked her to give it to her boss and persuade him to include it in the magazine. She did and it was such a thrill to see my name in print.

I’ll be forever grateful to her because that was essentially the start of my writing career!

So finally let me return to The Alibi and one of its main characters – the gangster Danny Shapiro.

He’s loosely based on those men I’ve mentioned – the men whose criminal exploits had such a profound impact over many years on the lives of ordinary Londoners, including my own.

Danny is cold, heartless and ruthless – just like the Richardson brothers, the Krays and ‘Mad’ Frank.

But I’m also hoping that readers of The Alibi will find him interesting – and perhaps even a little charming. I won’t go so far as to say likeable – but who knows? Even the most despicable of villains can win you over on occasion – for instance when they ruffle your hair and give you money to buy some sweets…