Josie only had the gun to frighten Curtis Rook, but his son disturbed her. One startled reflex and now he's dead. Josie flees to Poland leaving her boyfriend Snaz to take the rap. A reformed criminal offers her refuge from the police and the chance to begin a new life, but she cannot hide from her guilt. As the stakes rise, Josie begins to realise that only her own forgiveness can set her free. Fast-paced and original, Peter M. Parr's contemporary take on Crime and Punishment challenges traditional ideas about guilt and redemption, and the meaning of forgiveness.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Peter M. Parr works part-time as a civil servant, which gives him time to indulge his passion for writing. He lives in Hastings, East Sussex, overlooking the sea. He is a Quaker and student of 'A Course in Miracles'. His web-site is www.thingstoremember.org.uk.
Read an Excerpt
Escape to Redemption
By Peter M. Parr
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2015 Peter M. Parr
All rights reserved.
The man with the orange face
Josie runs out to the road. The street is spinning and with each step her knees feel like they'll give way. She reaches the BMW. Freezes. Snaz has the key and he's still inside the house.
A light goes on in an upstairs window. A neighbour might have heard. Josie's hand trembles as she crouches by the car, trying to steady herself on the ground. She's wearing black, but someone might see her face, her hair. She tries the car door, forgetting it's locked. All she can do is wait for Snaz, but there's nowhere for her to hide.
She can't go back to the house for him. When she ran from the living room, Rook was on his knees, crouched beside the young man. 'He's dead. You've killed my boy.' And everywhere there's blood. The moment she fired reverberates in her mind.
She hears a clattering sound – a can rolling on the pavement – and, in the shadows, makes out someone coming. She stiffens upright, her brain says run, but panic keeps her rooted to the ground. This pure fear she's known once before.
It's too late, the man's seen her. His dog strains at its leash and jumps at her, makes her stumble against the car. 'He won't hurt you,' the man says. 'Don't be frightened. He's a big softy like me.' He's smiling. His face is orange. They're standing under a light.
Josie raises her hand to hide her face, but he's already seen her. 'Nice motor,' he says as the foul-smelling beast climbs her legs. She tries to push it off her and fumbles in her bag, pretending to search for the key.
'Come on, boy.' The man yanks his dog's lead. 'The pretty lass doesn't want to talk to us.' At last he's going, still watching her over his shoulder. She's clutching her phone, but there's no one she can ring for help. And her boyfriend is still in there with Rook. He should have followed her. Why is he still in the house?
A new dread engulfs her. Rook saw her shoot his son. He's going to go to the police. To stop him, she approaches the house again, scared even more than the first time and wishing she still has the gun. Her steps become shorter, more hesitant, on the gravel path that splits his weed-ravaged lawn.
Rook's front door is wide open. Did she leave it like that? Paralysed, Josie stands outside the porch, too frightened to go further, but unable to turn back. The police might already be coming. Or what if ...? The thought sends cold lightning through her body. When she dropped the gun, did Snaz pick it up or did Rook get to it first? She peers into the hall and calls to Snaz, but her voice is a whisper, she barely hears herself. And then comes the shot – like a firecracker exploding inside her head. Snaz is tearing towards her and before she can think or move he seizes her arm and they're running, she's too scared to check if they're being chased. He aims the key at the car, but the locks don't release. Again he presses it – she wants to grab the key from him and try it herself – until at last, the click. She heaves the door open, crashes into the passenger seat and the car's already moving as she pulls the door shut. At the street corner by the pillar-box is the man with the orange face. He's seen her. He knows.
The glare of the headlamps reflects in the wet tarmac. They pass Kilburn tube station, an off-licence, a fish-and-chip shop being locked up. Josie can hear her heartbeat above the engine.
How can it be so easy to kill someone? One startled reflex, that was all. Her eyes fix on her hands and she tugs at the fingers of her gloves, at the white cuffs of fur, but the leather seems glued to her skin. She rips them off inside out and tramples them under her feet.
'Is Rook dead?' she asks Snaz.
He doesn't answer though, and when they come to red traffic lights he doesn't slow down.
'Stop,' Josie manages. 'The cameras!'
From the top deck of a night bus a man looks down at them, and she shields herself from his stare. The signals take forever to change.
She notices a mark on Snaz's jacket. 'Your arm.' She points. Not one stain, but many, spattered all down his sleeve.
Snaz follows her eyes and studies the leather. 'I can't see anything.' He flicks the light switch. 'Where, Josie, where?'
'I thought I saw blood. Turn the light off.'
Finally he accelerates and the spots move, shadows cast by drops of water on the windscreen. Outside, a supermarket trolley lies abandoned by the roadside, and signposts point to Hampstead, Finchley Road and the West End.
By a bus shelter Snaz slams on the brakes. Josie pitches forward and catches the dashboard. She isn't wearing her belt. He launches himself from the car, and for a second she doesn't know what's going on until he hunches by the post and is sick.
She leans over to beg him to hurry up and, in the door pocket, spies the gun. Hide it. But where? She glances about the car, opens the glove compartment and remembers too late not to touch the weapon with her hands. There's nothing to wipe it with. Snaz keeps the BMW like a shrine. She pulls off her scarf and rubs it clean. Holding it, even through the material, makes her whole body crawl. They have to get rid of the gun.
When Snaz sits next to her, his face is alien. Beads of sweat glaze his dark olive skin. 'I had no other choice,' he says, in a voice that isn't his. 'He saw you kill his son.'
She stutters. 'No one else was meant to be there. You told me Rook lived alone.'
'I said we shouldn't go there, but you didn't listen to me.'
She has no answer and then he turns away. It's the worst silence she's endured since she was three years old, hiding under her bed from the man who was hurting Mummy, and no longer hearing her screams.
Perhaps a minute later, or it may be only seconds, two women step into the street. Arm-in-arm, they cut across the road. One wears a loop of tinsel like a garland round her neck. Josie watches through her fingers, hears the click-clack of their heels as they pass. The sound of their laughter makes her shrink.
When they've gone, Snaz touches her arm. 'It'll be okay, yeah?'
How can she tell him she's been seen?
'If we stick together,' he adds. She feels his hand shaking and he returns it to the wheel.
Josie watches the drops on the windscreen, the shops lining the street, and all the time knows the man will remember her. He spoke to her right outside the house. All she can think is that she has to get away, immediately, before he goes to the police. 'Drive,' she says. 'Take me home.'CHAPTER 2
Snaz stopped by the iron gates, twice his height and coated with anti-climb paint. Trafalgar Lodge. With its four-columned porch and circular drive, the house could have been transported there from Hollywood. It didn't surprise him to find the side gate locked. He pressed the button on the intercom and waited for a response, beginning to doubt why he'd come. He had no chance with a girl like Josie. Except, she'd phoned him and invited him here. She wouldn't have asked him round if she had no interest in him at all.
A crackle, then Josie's voice: 'Hello. Yes?'
'Oh, hi.' He heard a buzzer and the side gate glided open.
Snaz checked his reflection in the polished plaque that had the house name embossed on it. He did up the top button of his shirt, then undid it again ... it looked stupid done up without a tie. This feels like going for a job interview, he thought as he walked up the drive.
The door opened and there stood Josie in tight jeans and a white silk blouse, dressed down but even more achingly gorgeous than he remembered from the club.
'Thanks for coming.' She gave him a peck on the cheek, ducking away before he could kiss her back. 'Did you find it easily?'
'I expected you to be driving.'
Snaz had parked round the corner when he'd first seen the house. He hadn't wanted Josie to see his cheap old Ford. 'I fancied a walk,' he said. 'It's good to get some sunshine after all the rain.' Here he was on Josie's doorstep, talking about the weather, nervous like some spotty kid on a first date.
'Are you going to come in?' she asked.
'Sure. Nice car.' He nodded towards the Mercedes.
'My mum's. Speak of the devil,' she whispered.
A woman bore down on them. 'Who are you? Have you come to read the meters?'
'His name's Snaz,' Josie introduced him. 'We met at a club.'
Snaz held out his hand, but Josie's mum didn't take it. She merely frowned.
'Come on,' Josie said to him, starting up the stairs.
'Excuse me!' Her mum's tone reminded Snaz of his English teacher at school. 'Where exactly do you think you are going?'
'Up to my room.'
'To your bedroom? With a man?'
'I'm eighteen now, Mummy. I can do what I like.'
'Not while you live under this roof, young lady.'
'Maybe it'd be better if we went out?' Snaz suggested to Josie. He didn't feel comfortable here, never mind Josie's mum.
'Why? This is my house as much as hers. If I want to have a guest round, it's none of her business.'
'Wait until your father hears you brought home a man.'
By now Josie was halfway up the stairs and all Snaz could see of her were the frayed legs of her jeans. 'Yes, you tell him. What's he going to do?'
He found himself left in the hallway, alone with Josie's mum. Pale and brittle like a figurine, one gentle push and she'd topple over and crack.
'I hope you know what you're letting yourself in for,' she said to him, before flicking her head and beating a retreat down the hall.
Snaz caught up with Josie at the top of the staircase.
'Sorry for my mum's comment about reading the meters. She's a bit of a racist, I'm afraid.'
'Is that what it is?'
'My mum and I share a mutual antipathy. When I go up to Oxford next month I'll be out of her hair and she won't need to worry. You look shocked, Snaz. I bet you're really sweet to your mother.'
'I never see her,' he said.
'She ... It's a long story. My aunt brought me up.'
Josie looked like she might say something, but didn't. After a pause she went into her bedroom. 'Make yourself at home,' she told him, closing the door and then perching on the chair by her dressing table. He marvelled at the clutter of perfumes and make-up bottles.
Snaz saw no chair to sit on, only her single bed. He meandered to the window and looked out onto the back garden. 'You've got a tennis court!'
'Do you play?' she asked.
'Pity. I'd have given you a game.'
Snaz kicked himself for missing out on a chance to see her in a skimpy tennis outfit. 'I play football,' he said, the first thing that came to him. When she showed no interest, he changed the subject. 'Is that photo of your dad?'
'You get on better with him than with your mum?'
'He's alright, when he's actually here. He's always off on business trips. The States, usually. I think he's in Poland this time.'
'What does he do?'
'He runs his own business putting buyers in touch with sellers. Sometimes it's property. Sometimes it's art. I don't think he cares too much if there's money in it. One day he might stop and enjoy what he has.'
Snaz groped for something else to say. He noticed a higgledy-piggledy stack of CDs on the chest of drawers and was about to ask her what music she liked.
'I wanted to thank you again for what you did,' she said.
'That's okay. Anyone would have done the same.'
'Not anyone would have seen that man spike my drink. I'm lucky you were watching me so closely. I saw you.' She smiled.
Snaz felt himself blush. 'You've got to be careful in clubs. Some blokes try anything.'
'It's my friend's fault for dragging me there, then leaving with the first man she set eyes on.'
'Did you get home okay?' Snaz asked.
'You saw me into a cab.'
'I mean, you felt alright, did you? You weren't shaken up?'
A lock of her hair fell across her face and she brushed it to one side. You couldn't call her a redhead, but her hair was redder than blonde. There must be a word for hair that colour, Snaz thought.
'Is it true what you told him, about being a boxer?'
Snaz smiled. 'I've boxed as many times as I've played tennis. He didn't know that though. But I can handle myself. I could've dealt with him.'
'Why don't you sit down? I want to ask you something. It's kind of a favour.'
He sat on the edge of her bed.
Josie picked up a birthday card from her dressing table and held it out to him. She had tiny dainty hands. 'What do you make of this?'
He pulled his eyes away from her to the picture of a kitten, all fluffy fur and ribbons. Sickeningly cute.
Happy birthday. From Erin, a friend. Call me if you want to know the truth. And underneath, the sender had written a phone number. 'Who's Erin?' he asked.
'That's the thing. I haven't a clue. I rang her, and she wants to meet me. She says there's something I ought to know, but she can't tell me over the phone. Her accent is ghastly, like she finds it too much of an effort to pronounce her t's.'
'It sounds dodgy. What'll you do?'
'Dodgy,' Josie repeated, and Snaz wondered if she considered his way of speaking ghastly as well. 'That's what I thought. Will you come with me, to go to meet her? I'm going on Saturday.'
'Sure. I mean, if you want me to.' It sounded odd; not exactly a date, but at least he'd see her again.
* * *
They had a job to find the cafe, off the main road between a halal takeaway and a laundrette. A woman in her forties stood up, gaping at Josie. Mutton dressed as lamb was the first thought that came to Snaz's mind.
'Are you Erin?' Josie asked.
The woman kept on staring. 'You're such a likeness.'
'Are you going to tell me who you are?'
'Won't you sit down?' asked Erin. 'I have to sit – my legs have gone all like blancmange. I can't get over it, to finally see you. I've been working out what I'd say. And now you're here I don't know how to start.'
The waitress came over.
'Have something to drink, Josie. My treat. What can I get you?' Erin asked.
'We don't do espresso,' said the waitress. 'I can do you black coffee or white.'
'Black,' said Josie. 'Actually, whatever. I'm not staying.'
For a moment, Erin glanced at Snaz. Prior to that, she hadn't acknowledged his existence. 'Can I get you something too?'
'I'm alright, thanks.' He sat back from the table and wondered where to suggest to Josie they go next. The cinema? Hardly original, and he wanted to look at her and not a film. For a meal? He doubted she'd be impressed by any place he knew or could afford. Camden Market? What could interest her there? Maybe if they simply went for a walk in Finsbury Park he could see if she'd let him put his arm around her. Start slow and romantic.
'I bought you a birthday present. I'm sorry it's two weeks late.' Erin fumbled in her tiger-skin patterned handbag, pulled out a Spice Girls CD, and left it on the table when Josie didn't take it. Snaz stopped himself laughing. 'You don't like it.' Erin's rasping voice faltered. 'I'm not sure what kind of music you're into.'
'How did you know it was my birthday?' Josie asked her. 'Who are you anyway? Why did you write to me? And why are you giving me a birthday present when I've never met you before?'
'Josie, you don't remember me, but we have met. Your mum and me were best mates.'
Josie stared at her gaudy make-up, at her suit a size too small. 'Mum and you?'
The woman reached into her furry bag again and took out a see-through plastic wallet with a newspaper cutting folded inside it. Snaz wondered at her claw-like pink nails as she pointed to a picture on the yellowed page.
Josie shrugged, but not before Snaz saw her flinch. 'So you've got a picture of some woman who looks a bit like me,' she said. 'So what?'
Snaz leaned forward to see. At first he thought it was Josie's picture: the pout, the raised cheekbones, most of all her eyes. He found it creepy. 'More than a bit,' he said.
Josie cast him a look.
'Read what it says,' Erin begged her. 'Read the article, please.'
Snaz watched Josie scan the cutting. Her lips parted. Then she put the paper down. 'Why are you showing me this?' she asked Erin. 'What's it got to do with me?'
'Lucy was your mum, Josie. Your real mum.'
Josie looked at the photograph. Then at Erin. Then at the photo again.
'You don't remember, do you? You were barely three when she died.'
Excerpted from Escape to Redemption by Peter M. Parr. Copyright © 2015 Peter M. Parr. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Redemption, indeed A suspenseful book where you know who the murderers are. It sounds like the plot is already spelled out, but it is far from predicatble. The characters are intense and deep, and they grow throughout the book. Some characters were dislikable but I grew to like them and discovered how important they were to the story. It was a unique story where the reader wanted the murderers to get away with it. How strange is that?
Josie is a spoiled brat and learns something about her mother. She decides to teach Rook a lesson but when she threatens him with a gun she accidentally shoots and kills him and injures his son. Fearing the consequences, Josie runs away to Poland and plans to let her “boyfriend”, Snaz take the fall. Snaz quickly figures out that Josie is going to let him be blamed for the murders and plans on getting arrested just to blame her. But Josie can’t live with the guilt of what she has done and the thought that Snaz will be blamed. I admit that I couldn’t stand Josie. She was such a brat and the plan to threaten Rook, what in the heck was she thinking? But I will say that as we follow along with Josie she does impress me. There is a lot of thought on her part and she does become a better person. Snaz on the other hand, he thinks because he is lower in the social scale he deserves to take the blame for the death. But as you read on, he just gets worse and worse. I enjoyed this story, it does make you think. If you were in Josie’s position what would you do? How would you react? And how would it change you? The book is well written and had me thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. This is one book that I recommend people check out. I received Escape to Redemption for free from Virtual Author Book Tours for free in exchange for an honest review.