I’d like to do that, and in the process utilise a wide range of popular Anglo-Saxon terms, but as that seems to be happening on every other blog, forum and message board at this moment, I’m going to give it a rest on here.
In any case, what I’m looking forward to is much more momentous. Because May 7 is not just Election Day, it’s also the day on which HUNTED, my fifth novel in the DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg series, is officially published.
This one sees Heck back from his brief stint in the Lake District and re-installed in the Serial Crimes Unit, though still slightly estranged from his former love and ever fiery boss, Detective Superintendent Gemma Piper. As such, he cops for what initially looks like a straightforward job: poking his nose around the leafy lanes of Surrey to investigate whether a recent bizarre road accident could be something more than that.
Heck being Heck of course, it isn’t long before he smells a rat, and begins checking out other weirdand unlikely fatal accidents – and finds himself pitted against a completely new kind of psychopath.
I’m not going to say any more, but the images dotted through this column may drop hints about the terrible events that start to unfold. A few of these were forwarded to me by bloggers and reviewers, who received these eerie adornments in their press packs. But still I’m saying nowt – neither to them nor you (sorry, but you’ve just gotta read the book).
In another HUNTED-relative development, there is a chance to grab hold of a signed copy of the book one day early if you fancy it, and if you’re able to make the journey. LIVERPOOL WATERSTONES, which sits in the heart of that inestimable shopping centre, Liverpool One, are granting us a launch party on the evening of May 6.
I’ll be there, along with some wine and some beer, which you WON’T have to pay for, taking questions, first of all from that devilishly talented Liverpool crime novelist, LUCA VESTE, and then from the audience themselves if they want to put a few forward. I’ll also be happy to sign anything you put in front of me, not just HUNTED, though obviously it would be preferable if you picked up a copy of that as well (no pressure, heheheh).
The Liverpool event kicks off at 6.30pm, as I say on May 6. Admission is free, and we anticipate it running for about an hour and a little bit.
If you’re still unsure, here’s another little snippet from the novel:
Heck was now at the bottom of the stairs, listening, but he also kept one eye on the front door, acutely aware that at any moment the second of the two suspects could come sauntering in. Common sense bade him wait until the second target was on the plot, but another voice advised that it would be easier to tackle one than two, and that this was a chance he couldn’t miss.
There was only dimness at the top of the stairs, but he fancied he could hear noises: the squeaking of age-old bedframes, occasional cries of pleasure – whether real or simulated, it was difficult to tell.
Gail had now emerged from behind the counter as well, but he rounded on her quickly. ‘Best if you stay down here.’
‘What … why?’
‘To cover my back. It’ll be just my luck if the second one turns up while I’m in mid-arrest.’
She looked uncertain. ‘What if the first one’s a handful?’
Heck turned to the clerk. ‘Big fella, is he?’
The clerk shrugged. ‘Five-six. Out of shape.’
‘I’ll take five-six and out of shape.’
‘Heck, wait!’ Gail protested. ‘What if he’s armed?’
‘I’ll think of something. I always do.’
While Gail moved reluctantly back behind the counter, Heck headed upstairs.
The treads creaked; the walls on either side were damp and scabby; the air was rank with odious smells: smoke, sweat, rotten cabbage. When he reached the first floor, a single passage ran from one side of the building to the other, laid with moldering carpet and littered here and there with crack phials and used condoms. Occasional dust-enshrouded bulbs created the dullest illumination. For some reason, unless it had all been his imagination, the squeaking beds and ecstatic voices had fallen silent.
Heck ventured forward, following the numbers on the doors – five, six, seven, eight, but glancing over his shoulder as the top of the stair diminished behind him, acutely conscious of the space beyond it, which was an unlit recess. It was too easy to imagine someone concealed there, watching him. Turning a corner, he entered another dingy passage, now conscious of a curious sound – a low rumble, like distant thunder except that it was ongoing.
A figure crossed the passage ahead of him; flickering through his vision from left to right, and then was gone.Heck froze. For a crazy second it had been like one of those ghost stories, where some hapless investigator is confronted by a phantom shape walking out of one wall and disappearing through another … until he shuffled forward a few feet and realised that two doors were open and facing each other. A faint pall of daylight lay between them, and he now recognised the dull thunder as the sound of water pouring into a metal tub …