In a hidden basement, eighteen-year-old Toni is held captive and no one can hear her screams. She’s been abducted after investigating unspeakable things in the darkest corners of the Internet.
Fearing the worst, Toni’s mother turns to ex-SAS operative Mitchell to help find her missing daughter. And when Mitchell discovers Toni’s fate rests in the hands of pure evil, he races against the clock to find Toni and bring her out alive. But even that might not be enough to save her.
DS Warren Carter is looking forward to a new job and a simpler life. But when he’s called in to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly normal couple, he becomes entangled in lives that are anything but simple. And as he digs deeper, he uncovers a crime more twisted than he could ever have imagined.
Into the Darkness is the chilling new thriller from the bestselling author of Duplicity and Beneath the Surface.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Her work is an eclectic mix of genres, and has been shortlisted for numerous prizes. She won Best Children’s Book in the 2013 eFestival of Words; Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Book from a Series in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013; and the Readers’ Favorite Young Adult (Coming of Age) Honorable Award in 2015.
She is a passionate human- and animal-rights advocate. Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the top forty books about human rights by Accredited Online Colleges.
For the latest book releases, giveaways and gossip, sign up to her newsletter at www.sibelhodge.com.
Read an Excerpt
It was a mistake, that's all. A stupid, stupid mistake. We all make them – it doesn't matter if it's a calculated risk or a split-second decision, but sometimes we're only one step away from disaster.
I had to see if what she'd said was real, though. I thought she was winding me up. Messing around. Trying to scare me. Like those stupid ghost stories we'd told each other on sleepovers when we were little kids; a torch held under our chins in the darkness, pulling creepy faces at each other. But she was right. It was all real. Everything she warned me about and more. Much more. I knew a lot, but this stuff was beyond any gruesome nightmare.
I don't know why I've always been interested in the evil things people do. I'm not alone, I know that. People who devour true crime stories. People who watch the horrors on the news every day or read about them in the paper. People who rubberneck at accidents. They want to see it, hear it, talk about it. The dark side of human nature is fascinating to people. We're so obsessed with all the bad things that happen in the world and not with the good. But what factors trigger vicious acts of violence? That question was always at the forefront of my mind. Could you ever get a proper answer? And if you did, would Sibel Hodge it be the same answer for every inhumane person out there? Why did some people do those things? Because there have always been doers. Right back to the beginning of time, evil has existed in human form. But the followers interested me, too. Why did some people watch and do nothing? What made some watchers join the doers?
I wasn't just researching it for sick, twisted reasons, though. I was obsessed with it all, yes, but I wanted to use it to do something good. For me, the main reason for trying to understand those kinds of people was that if we didn't know why they did what they did, we couldn't try to fix it. We couldn't stop it happening again and again. And to understand why, you had to get inside their minds and find the reason.
I know a lot of my co-students call me weird. What eighteen-year-old has hardly any friends and isn't interested in clubbing and getting drunk, and make-up and guys? That stuff bores me. It isn't important. It's just candy floss: materialistic, superfluous. When there are so many real horrors and crimes going on in the world, how can I obsess and fawn over celebrities or whether my hair looks trendy or pout for a selfie? I don't care about any of that.
Mum always said I was ahead of my years, and she's right. From an early age I felt like I had a life purpose. I wanted to help heal people who had been hurt. In the beginning I didn't know why. It was just how I was; something I felt in my heart. Until I learned about empaths and how they literally experience and feel the pain of others as if it's their own. That's when I got it and everything kind of clicked into place. Ever since I was a kid, I've felt the pain of others. And I want to leave behind a legacy of doing something really useful with my life.
But now I'm stuck in the nightmare of my own questions. I don't think I'm going to get out alive. Not after what I've seen.
I shouldn't have gone down there.
I shouldn't have gone into the darkness.CHAPTER 2
I had two weeks left. Two weeks as a Detective Sergeant in CID before I left and started a new job in a new unit in a new city. This meant masses of paperwork and tying up loose ends. In my twenty-five years as a detective, the paperwork had increased to ridiculous proportions. You couldn't even get a paperclip these days without the proper paperwork. Then there were the stupid training days. Diversity training was the latest trend. Thank God I'd be missing out on that. The force had become one long chain of bureaucracy, meetings about meetings, and general time-wasting that actually prevented us from doing our jobs at a time when we were so short-staffed.
DI Ellie Nash had headhunted me for my forthcoming job at the newly formed National Wildlife Crime Enforcement Unit in London. I never thought I'd say 'headhunted' and 'me' in the same sentence. I mean, I was good at my job: tenacious, focused, determined. But I knew I was a maverick. Old school. I hated the political crap and the brown-nosing that went with the job and I'd needed a change for a long time. So when Ellie had asked me to join her, I'd jumped at the chance. Ever since the death of my wife, Denise, I'd been depressed, feeling like I was swimming underwater, and CID had been doing my head Sibel Hodge in. But now, as the time to move crept closer, the excitement about the prospect of a new start was wearing off and I was seriously thinking I'd made the wrong decision. At my age, change was scary. Plus, my last case had affected me more than I wanted to admit to anyone. It had resulted in my colleague, DS Richard Wilmott, being killed in the line of duty. No one blamed me, but I felt the guilt deep in my gut, twisting every now and then. The world was becoming more dangerous and disturbed, and I was also getting to that age when I'd started realising I wasn't invincible. I'd been questioning my own mortality. How long did I have left? And did I really want to spend it putting in paperwork requests for bloody pencils with a side order of possible death on duty?
On top of all that, I'd worked on some cases recently where the offender had walked away scot-free. I loved my job, but I didn't think justice was actually served much these days. And spending painstakingly long hours conducting enquiries and interviews to build a case, putting heart and soul into it all, only for the guilty to walk, free to commit another violent crime, was as heartbreaking as it was infuriating. The trouble was, no one thought about the victims any more. It was all about human rights for the criminal. Injustice was the name of the game now.
So I'd been thinking, again, about retiring. Giving it all up and walking away. Taking up golf or something. It was better than getting stabbed to death. I'd even been looking up completely different jobs in the classifieds. I could work part-time for one of those big companies who have car parking security, sitting in a booth all day checking vehicles in and out. And the only danger or stress I'd have to worry about was dropping the barrier on my foot or getting a paper cut from reading a magazine to while away the hours.
Who are you kidding, Carter? You'd be bored out of your head.
I shuffled the paperwork on my desk into a neat pile, looked at the clock, which read 7.16 p.m., and stuck it all back in my in-tray to finish 6 Into the Darkness off tomorrow. The office was empty. Both DC Becky Harris and DC Ronnie Pickering had gone home an hour ago.
I stood up, arched my back to work out the kinks embedded deep in the muscles from hunching over the desk and glanced around. Would I really miss this place or not? I was becoming more indecisive with age.
My mobile rang as I was contemplating that question.
'DS Carter,' I answered.
'Hi, sarge, it's Kim in the control room. You're the on-call CID, aren't you?'
'Yeah. What have you got for me?' I perched on the edge of my desk.
'A double shooting of a couple at Beech Lodge in Turpinfield. Mr and Mrs Jameson were found by their daughter, who called it in. Uniform were despatched and they found a deceased male and female victim with gunshot wounds. The daughter, Mrs Eagan, is still at the house. SOCO are en route.'
I sighed. A shooting? What the hell was wrong with everyone in the world? Why couldn't people just get along with each other? 'OK, give me the address.'
She rattled it off and I scribbled it down. Then I hurried from the building and got in my car.
Turpinfield was en route to nowhere in particular so I'd only ever driven through it a few times. A small hamlet with a handful of houses and farms separated by acres and acres of agricultural fields and woods.
I headed down a country lane, past Simms Livery Stables, and the next property I came to was Beech Lodge. I turned into a long driveway, the car bumping over ruts in the old concrete, my headlights sweeping over waist-high fields of rapeseed either side. At the end I found an old, traditional-style farmhouse made of red brick with several outbuildings and barns off to the sides.
A scene-of-crime van was already parked up next to a police car. There was also an old Land Rover Defender and a Mini. I pulled to a Sibel Hodge stop, then called the control room to log my arrival. After retrieving a white forensic jumpsuit from my boot, I pulled it on, along with some latex gloves, and entered the house.
I logged my arrival with the male uniformed officer standing on the front step and walked through the front door. The property opened up into a hallway with flagstone floors worn smooth over the years. To my right was an open doorway. A lounge with one duck-egg blue sofa, one armchair, two dead bodies, a lot of blood, and one SOCO crouching down over the male victim, taking photos.
The SOCO was a replica of me, suited in white, with a mask covering her face. I saw a flash of brilliant red hair poking out of the hood and felt relieved it was Emma Bolton, a senior SOCO, dealing with the job in hand. She was meticulous, conscientious and down-to-earth.
'All right, sarge?' She glanced over at me before taking another photo.
'I would be if people didn't keep getting murdered all the time.'
'Then you'd be out of a job.' She winked.
'Yeah. But maybe that would be a good thing.' I stepped into the room and surveyed the scene. No matter how many times I'd seen a violent death, I never got used to the anger and hopelessness it ignited in me.
The couple were probably in their early seventies, both dressed casually in jeans and shirts. The male victim was lying closer to the door I'd just walked through, near the armchair, flat on his back. His arms were thrown out wide either side of him. He'd been shot in the chest, leg and forehead. The female was half lying, half sitting against the far wall next to the end of the sofa, her legs splayed out in front of her, her chin resting on her chest, eyes wide open. A moccasin slipper had fallen off her right foot. There was a lot of blood spatter around her and against the wall behind her and I could see a gunshot wound on the side of her neck. On the sofa was a paperback book face down next to a bookmark. In front of the sofa was a coffee table with spatters of blood on it and a cordless landline handset. At the side of the coffee table was a black 8 Into the Darkness handbag. There were more blood droplets on the carpet. 'Anything helpful you can tell me yet?' I asked.
Emma stood. 'It's a bit early for that; I just got here. I can tell you they've been dead a while. I'd hazard a guess and say about thirty-six hours. No sign of a weapon so far, though.'
I looked at the open patio door that led to the rear garden. A security light was blazing, illuminating the large, grassy area. At the end of the grass the shadows of trees loomed where their property bordered some woodland. Another white-suited figure held a powerful torch as they took slow, methodical steps up the grass towards the woods.
'Was the patio door open or closed when you got here?' I asked.
'Open. The daughter said she knocked on the front door, and when her parents didn't answer she got worried and used her key. She found them like this, and then went back outside the front door to call uniform. No signs of forced entry anywhere.'
'So did they open the front door to their killer, or did the gunman come in through here?' I said, thinking out loud, stepping closer to the patio doors. I took another step and my foot hovered in the air as I spotted something embedded in the carpet, near some blood droplets and what looked like soil ingrained in the green pile weave.
I crouched down, my knees cracking in response, and stared at the item. 'Got something here you need to bag.'
Emma made her way towards me, took a photo of what I was pointing at and then pulled out a plastic evidence bag from her case on the floor.
She picked up the small, pink stone with a pair of long tweezers, eyeing it carefully. It had what looked like yellow glue on the underside.
'Looks like it's come from clothing or some kind of costume jewellery. Not a real gem.' She bagged it.
I glanced at Mrs Jameson. She wore a gold wedding band, a gold bangle and a gold necklace. No sign of any pink jewellery or clothing the stone could've fallen from. 9 Sibel Hodge I stood up, my knees groaning again, and turned to survey both bodies.
Emma walked towards the wall behind Mrs Jameson, staring at it. 'There's a bullet lodged in the brickwork. I'll collect it after I've finished photographing everything, but it looks like that's where the female victim was standing when she was shot. The bullet hit her carotid artery, which resulted in the blood being sprayed in huge spurts initially. You can see from the spatter that it gradually diminished as she collapsed to the floor and died. But the pattern of blood spatter around her is interesting.'
I walked to where she was pointing at the wall behind and to the right of where Mrs Jameson's body now lay slumped against it. To the right of the bullet hole, in amongst the arterial spray, was a circular shape, roughly five feet up the wall.
'If there's an object in the way when the blood begins to spurt out, it will block it from striking a nearby surface – in this case the wall. The object leaves a void. A kind of reverse mark, if you like.' She paused, her latex-covered fingertip tracing around the shape without touching it. 'I think this is the shape of someone's head, which blocked some of the victim's blood from hitting the wall. Someone was standing next to her when she was shot.'
I glanced at Mr Jameson. 'There's no spatter covering him or his clothes. And anyway, he's probably over six foot tall.'
'If it was him, you'd expect to see a different pattern in that spot, the shape of his shoulder or chest.'
'Could it have been the shooter?'
'No, the gunshot wounds aren't that close range.'
'So either two offenders or a witness who hasn't come forward yet.'
'Yes. Someone about ...' She tilted her head and stared at the wall. 'About five foot tall.'CHAPTER 3
Pure evil. I'd it seen it too many times in my life, and there were three things I'd learned about it. The first was that it could be disguised as many things. Monsters weren't just for fairy tales and horror stories. They weren't just the Jeffrey Dahmers or the Myra Hindleys. We brushed shoulders with them every day as they walked amongst us, unseen for what they truly were. Your friend, your work colleague, your neighbour, your brother.
Secondly, if you knew about evil and did nothing, it made you complicit – maybe an unwilling pawn in a game played by others for a higher purpose, but just as dangerous nevertheless. Inaction was still an action.
I drew my gaze away from the paperback I was trying to read and watched Maya. She sat in a chair, doing leg-extension exercises with ankle weights that the physio had given her to help strengthen the muscles that had atrophied and weakened while she'd been wearing a cast. From the look in her eyes I knew she was thinking about the night she'd nearly died. She was still in pain from her injuries, but she was lucky she'd escaped without any brain damage. Lucky she was alive. The men who'd hurt her were evil personified. They'd tried to shut Maya Sibel Hodge up for good so they could keep their barbaric secrets hidden, and she'd been in a coma for six weeks. When she woke up she'd had intensive physiotherapy to help heal her battered body – a broken leg, arm, ribs, and several fingers and toes. The internal and external bruising had now gone, but the scars inside would last forever. I understood completely. The same scars ravaged me.
Maya bit the corner of her lower lip, her forehead scrunched slightly with the exertion, sweat beading on her upper lip. She glanced towards the sofa where I sat, and pulled a face. 'Stop watching me, Mitchell. You're putting me off.'
I held my hands up in mock surrender. 'Sorry.' I grinned to myself. If she was getting fussy, hopefully it meant she was getting better.
'No, I'm sorry. I'm just finding it really hard to move on.' Maya's voice was small and laced with all the emotions I knew so well: heart-shattering grief, longing, rage; fear of what her life would be like now. She unstrapped the weights, threw them to the carpet, and swung around to face me, her eyes filled with unshed tears. 'Jamie's gone.' Her voice cracked. 'I have no home. I have no job any more. I have no future.' She wiped at the tears spilling down her cheeks with her fingertips. 'I don't know what to do with my life.'(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Into The Darkness"
Copyright © 2018 Sibel Hodge.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas & Mercer.
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