- Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.06(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.94(d)
Read an Excerpt
By Sarah Pinborough
Copyright © 2005
All right reserved.
Cooled by a breath of September, the summer sun floods through the
large, clear windows from the garden outside and drenches Camilla's face,
replacing the natural colour that has drained away with a golden yellow
sheen, giving her an unhealthy jaundiced look. She can't feel its warmth on
her skin. She can feel nothing but the cold that is creeping up her numbed legs. The old swing outside,
her swing from a childhood long gone by, creaks backward and forward as Gina rides it, screeching out
the passing seconds on rusted hinges as she stands there and stares in disbelief. Oh God no, Oh God no
what has she done?
The blood moves towards her across the tiled floor, slow and unrepenting, darker and thicker than she
expects; but then this liquid that seems like crimson mercury sucking at her shoes is not from a frivolous
scratch or graze, pink and light, to be laughed away. No, this is life's blood, Philip's life blood, and it is
leaving him furiously, escaping in floods, no longer needed.
Her shaking hand releases the carrot that will no longer be eaten for dinner tonight, the carrot she'd been
so angrily chopping, teeth gritted, wishing he would just SHUT UP, while her husband shouted. Shouted
with all that blood pumping healthily, visible through the throbbing veins on the side of his head.
Shouted the words that seemed to echo round her head, the words that he never seemed to tire of.
Kneeling down by his body, his blissfully quiet body, she reaches for the knife that has slid several times
into his large torso before settling in its final resting place at the centre of his chest. Oh God, it won't come
out, it won't come out, and will this red that is creeping up her cotton dress ever come out? Leaving the
weapon embedded there, she rocks backwards and forwards on her heels for a few seconds, her hand
pressing against her mouth, unaware of the stain her fingers leave there. Has she done this? Had she
wanted to do this? It has all happened so quickly and she is sure, she is sure..... She lets out a small
hysterical giggle. One minute in my hand. The next minute it was gone. And for my next trick ladies and
Her knees are starting to hurt and she slowly pulls herself to her feet. There is nothing to be done.
Nothing more can be done. The sound of her heels clicking on the wooden hallway stabs at her brain,
too real, too loud, and it is a relief when she reaches the phone.
Her voice is even and calm as she speaks and when it is over she goes to the large stairway and sits on
the second step watching the front door. Her hands absently caress the wooden banister, seeking
comfort in the familiar carvings, knowing each shape and indent from a lifetime spent here. Her house.
Her home. Letting out a long sigh, she hopes the policeman will arrive before Gina comes in from the
* * *
When the front door slammed shut, Carole-Anne let out a small breath and shut her eyes, waiting for the
sting in her cheek to fade. Her skin tingled as the pain was replaced by numbness and her shoulders
sagged as she leaned her heavy body forward on her forearms, the sturdy kitchen table used to taking
the weight. Some women got a kiss good-bye from their husbands in the morning, or so the fairy tales
always told you, but not her. Not Carole-Anne Locke. However, there was the small bonus that this time
when he'd told her she'd deserved it, there was some truth in the statement. There were no tears today,
though. She was all out of tears after all these years.
At least the boys hadn't been there for daddy's daily outburst. How can someone be so ugly and so
stupid all at the same time? Swallow that fucking food and answer me that, Carole-Anne. No, Luke and
Mark had already left for school. Not that she really cared any more. Sometime, a long time ago, they had
been her babies, but now they were their father's boys. Strangers grown inside her, and although deep
down somewhere she knew she must love them, if she was honest she didn't like them very much. She
tiredly wondered if her increasing fatness was a reflection of the growing weight inside her as she pulled
the local paper over from Jimmy's side next to his cooling coffee.
She stared at the front page, needing to think. The headline, in bold black print read, 'LOCAL
TEENAGERS GIVE THEMSELVES UP IN CONNECTION WITH HORRIFIC 'SYRACCOUSE' RAPE CASE.'
but she ignored the article, having learnt all there was to know about that three days ago in the butchers,
and her eyes were drawn to a smaller column down on the right hand side. This was what was
unsettling her. 'Famous Writer Comes Back To His Roots.' It went on to say that the best-selling novelist,
Robert Reed, had returned to his home town of Streatford after an absence of almost twenty years. The
paper hoped to interview him in the near future, and ask if he intends to write his next book here, and will
the town feature in it in any way?' All the usual local news crap.
So, Rob was back in town. Three of the four of them were here. Her, Rob and Jason. All that was
missing was Gina. Not that she saw Jason much anymore, just the occasional awkward 'hello' if they
had to pass each other in the street. After that summer, even though they stayed, had no choice but to
stay, stuck here in this dead-end town, their friendship had drifted, oozed quietly away. She'd pretended
that it was a natural thing, just part of becoming a teenager, but she'd known deep inside that that wasn't
it. After that summer, she hadn't really wanted to see him, to see any of them. And she guessed it was
the same for him.
By the time she'd met Jimmy two years later, and oh, what a glorious thing that turned out to be, they
were virtual strangers. New friends, new lives, as if none of it had ever happened. Unlike Gina and Rob,
she and Jason may not have left Streatford in body, but somewhere in their spirit they did. And slowly
she'd forgotten. Put that summer away in a box of hazy childhood memories, barely ever revisited. Real
life had taken over. The serious business of growing up and being grown up. Until today. Today, the rusty
hinges of that mental treasure chest were creaking open.
First, that awful rape up at the house-they say she'll never be able to have children. What did those boys
do to her? I hear there was a bottle involved. Girls these days never seem to learn.... And then one week
later Rob was back. Could it just be a coincidence? But why the hell would Rob, the big success, want to
come back here?
Not that Rob had done much better than the rest of them. Not really. She'd read the stories in the papers,
sometimes with a touch too much curiosity for Jimmy's liking. He'd never forgotten that she'd once had
such a crush on Robby; although how anyone that didn't give a shit themselves could get jealous over
some schoolgirl thing from so long ago, she'd never understand. But hey, that was her Jimmy, lucky girl
that she was. Yeah, she'd read all the stories, and if even only half of them were true then despite all his
money, Rob Reed was in a pretty sorry state. The drugs, the booze, the girls, all those girls, pretty and
blonde sharing an empty few months before the next one took their place. She watched his life in
pictures as it all took its toll. When Jimmy had last ripped a tabloid from her hands and seen what she'd
been looking at he'd snorted in disgust. "How can someone have all that and still look so fucking
miserable?" But then, Jimmy didn't get Rob. Jimmy would never get Rob, because after all, Jimmy didn't
But she knew. She knew, even if he himself didn't, that Rob didn't want to be happy. He didn't think he
deserved to be happy. And she knew that because she was there that summer, and maybe she knew
because she'd never gone away. She didn't have so many places to hide. Even Jason had eventually got
away from time to time, if you can call the odd stretch in Parkhouse, getting away. Sometimes she
wondered if he made sure he got caught just so he could go somewhere he could breathe. It was a
crazy idea if he had, because now he'd trapped himself in Streatford. Who would employ an ex-con these
days except someone who knew you, or your mother, or your auntie? And you had to give that to this
town. It definitely knew you.
That summer had tainted them all, and now she had a feeling in her blood that it was happening all over
again. Again, but different. Maybe they had got it wrong back then. Maybe they hadn't understood at all.
Something was starting; she could feel it fizzing in her. She'd felt it when she poured the boiling water
from the kettle over Jimmy's arm only half an hour ago, and she could feel it in her last night when she
took the kitchen scissors to the boys' clean clothes in the washing basket waiting for ironing, and then
hurriedly hid them away when she realised what she'd done.
Excerpted from The Reckoning
by Sarah Pinborough
Copyright © 2005 by Sarah Pinborough.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Lately I am plowing through Pinborough's books and am slowly beginning to see that they are good, each one of her stories is interesting and as a reader I am curious to what she will come up with next. The horror in this story is creepy, like a cold chill on your back, it swirls up the spine and unsettles the reader, each chapter starts to reveal that something from the past is coming back to haunt four childhood friends. They have moved on or so they think they did, but events in their childhood town are calling their attention with weird deaths and acts of violence at Syracousse, now abandoned house that they once loved so much. The beautiful and grand home of mysterious and alluring Gina was a magical mansion to Rob, Jason and Carole-Anne, who weren't as well off as Gina. But under the shiny façade something dark is lurking around the girl, an invisible field of protection seems to keep her safe and accident free, while others suffer the aftermath. After growing jealousy between the friends an accident breaks them apart and after that nothing is ever the same. Later a horrible murder shatters the peace and their childhood is a dark stain, a bad memory that suddenly is calling them back. Not all of them get a chance to meet as something is messing up everything they touch, and it's up to a coward to save them and for once do something helpful for others. The house is calling them back and they have no choice but to answer it's alluring song and try to get to the bottom of the strange accidents from their past. I enjoyed the flashbacks to the past that gave me glimpses of the now aged characters and what propelled their choices that altered their fate. Rob was a flawed hero of the tale, with issues and weaknesses that steered his actions and the people who he encountered made for an interesting read. Gina was the glowing siren that enchanted the boys and was acting more snobbish and mean spirited with the growing discord that enveloped the whole house. Jason and Carole-Anne changed too; some were weaker than others and suffered for their inability to fight back the darkness that tapped into their veins and mind. This was a nice little story that touched on different things, an old mystery, possible haunting and ghosts and unexplained phenomenon's that permeated everything and everyone and the ending was just right, no on can say that anyone got off easy. There was plenty of chills and thrills and some nice twists that kept things interesting. - Kasia S.
I picked up this book on a whim and I am so glad that I did. Pinborough is a very good writer, and she really shines in the pages of this novel. In a market where it seems Vampires have gained a foothold, it is nice to see a book that brings an old story line new life and done so brilliantly. I would definitely recommend and I look forward to reading more of her material.