Late one night after interviewing a witness, Lacey Flint, a young detective constable, stumbles onto a woman brutally stabbed just moments before. Within twenty-four hours, a reporter receives an anonymous letter pointing out alarming similarities between the murder and Jack the Ripper's first murdera letter that calls out Lacey by name. If it's real, and they have a killer bent on re-creating London's bloody past, history shows they have just five days until the next attempt.
No one believes the connections are anything more than a sadistic killer's game, not even Lacey, whom the killer seems to be taunting specifically. But as the case unfolds, the details start reminding Lacey of a part of her own past she'd rather keep hidden. And the only way to do that is to catch the killer herself.
Fast paced and riveting, Sharon Bolton's modern gothic novel Now You See Me is nothing less than a masterpiece of suspense fiction.
About the Author
SHARON BOLTON is a Mary Higgins Clark Award winner and an ITW Thriller Award, CWA Gold Dagger, and Barry Award nominee. Her fascination with British folklore, especially the dark and haunting side of those legends, fuels her writing. She grew up in Lancashire, England, and now lives near Oxford with her family. This is her fourth novel. Sharon Bolton was previously published as S.J. Bolton.
Read an Excerpt
Friday 31 August
A DEAD WOMAN WAS LEANING AGAINST MY CAR.
Somehow managing to stand upright, arms outstretched, fingers grasping the rim of the passenger door, a dead woman was spewing blood over the car's paintwork, each spatter overlaying the last as the pattern began to resemble a spider's web.
A second later she turned and her eyes met mine. Dead eyes. A savage wound across her throat gaped open; her abdomen was a mass of scarlet. She reached out; I couldn't move. She was clutching me, strong for a dead woman.
I know, I know, she was on her feet, still moving, but it was impossible to look into those eyes and think of her as anything other than dead. Technically, the body might be clinging on, the weakening heart still beating, she had a little control over her muscles. Technicalities, all of them. Those eyes knew the game was up.
Suddenly I was hot. Before the sun went down, it had been a warm evening, the sort when London's buildings and pavements cling to the heat of the day, hitting you with a wave of hot air when you venture outside. This was something new, though, this pumping, sticky warmth. This heat had nothing to do with the weather.
I hadn't seen the knife. But I could feel the handle of it now, pressing against me. She was holding me so tightly, was pushing the blade further into her own body.
No, don't do that.
I tried to hold her away, just enough to take the pressure off the knife. She coughed, except the cough came from the wound on her throat, not her mouth. Something splashed over my face and then the world turned around us.
We'd fallen. She sank to the ground and I went with her, hitting the tarmac hard and jarring my shoulder. Now she was lying flat on the pavement, staring up at the sky, and I was kneeling over her. Her chest was still moving – just.
There's still time, I told myself, knowing there wasn't. I needed help. None to be had. The small car park was deserted. Tall buildings of six-and eight-storey blocks of flats surrounded us and, for a second, I caught a movement on one of the balconies. Then nothing. The twilight was deepening by the second.
She'd been attacked moments ago. Whoever had done it would be close.
I was reaching for my radio, patting pockets, not finding it, and all the while watching the woman's eyes. My bag had fallen a few feet away. I fumbled inside and found my mobile, summoning police and ambulance to the car park outside Victoria House on the Brendon Estate in Kennington. When I ended the call, I realized she'd taken hold of my hand.
A dead woman was holding my hand, and it was almost beyond me to look into those eyes and see them trying to focus on mine. I had to talk to her, keep her conscious. I couldn't listen to the voice in my head telling me it was over.
'It's OK,' I was saying. 'It's OK.'
The situation was clearly a very long way from OK.
'Help's coming,' I said, knowing she was beyond help. 'Everything's going to be fine.'
We lie to dying people, I realized that evening, just as the first sirens sounded in the distance.
'Can you hear them? People are coming. Just hold on.' Both her hand and mine were sticky with blood. The metal strap of her watch pressed into me. 'Come on, stay with me.' Sirens getting louder. 'Can you hear them? They're almost here.'
Footsteps running. I looked up to see flashing blue lights reflected in several windows. A patrol car had pulled up next to my Golf and a uniformed constable was jogging towards us, speaking into his radio. He reached us and crouched down.
'Hold on now,' I said. 'People are here, we'll take care of you.'
The constable had a hand on my shoulder. 'Take it easy,' he was saying, just as I'd done seconds earlier, only he was saying it to me. 'There's an ambulance on its way. Just take it easy.'
The officer was in his mid forties, heavy set, with thinning grey hair. I thought perhaps I'd seen him before.
'Can you tell me where you're hurt?' he asked.
I turned back to the dead woman. Really dead now.
'Love, can you talk to me? Can you tell me your name? Tell me where you're injured?'
No doubt about it. Pale-blue eyes fixed. Body motionless. I wondered if she'd heard anything I'd said to her. She had the most beautiful hair, I noticed then, the palest shade of ash blonde. It spread out around her head like a fan. Her earrings were reflecting light from the streetlamps and there was something about the way they sparkled through strands of her hair that struck me as familiar. I released her hand and began pushing myself up from the pavement. Gently, someone kept me where I was.
'I don't think you should move, love. Wait till the ambulance gets here.'
I hadn't the heart to argue, so I just kept staring at the dead woman. Blood had spattered across the lower part of her face. Her throat and chest were awash with it. It was pooling beneath her on the pavement, finding tiny nicks in the paving stones to travel along. In the middle of her chest, I could just make out the fabric of her shirt. Lower down her body, it was impossible. The wound on her throat wasn't the worst of her injuries, not by any means. I remembered hearing once that the average female body contained around five litres of blood. I'd just never considered quite what it would look like when it was all spilling out.
'I'M OK, I'M NOT HURT. IT'S NOT MY BLOOD.'
I wanted to stand up; they wouldn't let me move.
Three paramedics were huddled around the blonde woman. They seemed to be holding pressure pads against the wound on her abdomen. I heard mention of a tracheotomy. Then something about a peripheral pulse.
Shall we call it? I think so, she's gone.
They were turning to me now. I got to my feet. The woman's blood was sticky against my skin, already drying in the warm air. I felt myself sway and saw movement. The blocks of flats surrounding the square had long balconies running the length of every floor. A few minutes ago they'd been deserted. Now they were packed with people. From the back pocket of my jeans I pulled out my warrant card and held it up to the nearest officer.
'DC Lacey Flint,' I said.
He read it and looked into my eyes for confirmation. 'Thought you looked familiar,' he said. 'Based at Southwark, are you?'
'CID,' he said to the hovering paramedics who, having realized there was nothing they could do for the blonde woman, had turned their attention on me. One of them moved forward. I stepped back.
'You shouldn't touch me,' I said. 'I'm not hurt.' I looked down at my bloodstained clothes, feeling dozens of eyes staring at me. 'I'm evidence.'
I wasn't allowed to slink off quietly to the anonymity of the nearest police station. DC Stenning, the first detective on the scene, had received a call from the DI in charge. She was on her way and didn't want me going anywhere until she'd had chance to speak to me.
Pete Stenning had been a colleague of mine at Southwark before he'd joined the area's Major Investigation Team, or MIT, based at Lewisham. He wasn't much older than me, maybe around thirty, and was one of those lucky types blessed with almost universal popularity. Men liked him because he worked hard, but not so hard anyone around felt threatened, he liked down-to-earth, working-class sports like football but could hold down a conversation about golf or cricket, he didn't talk over-much but whatever he said was sensible. Women liked him because he was tall and slim, with curly dark hair and a cheeky grin.
He nodded in my direction, but was too busy trying to keep the public back to come over. By this time, screens has been erected around the blonde woman's body. Deprived of the more exciting sight, everyone wanted to look at me. News had spread. People had sent text messages to friends, who'd hot-footed it over to join in the fun. I sat in the back of a patrol car, avoiding prying eyes and trying to do my job.
The first sixty minutes after a major incident are the most important, when evidence is fresh and the trail to the perpetrator still hot. There are strict protocols we have to follow. I didn't work on a murder team, my day-to-day job involved tracing owners of stolen property and was far less exciting, but I knew I had to remember as much as possible. I was good at detail, a fact I wasn't always grateful for when the dull jobs invariably came my way, but I should be glad of it now.
'Got you a cup of tea, love.' The PC who'd appointed himself my minder was back. 'You might want to drink it quick,' he added, handing it over. 'The DI's arrived.'
I followed his glance and saw that a silver Mercedes sports car had pulled up not far from my own car. Two people got out. The man was tall and even at a distance I could see he was no stranger to the gym. He was wearing jeans and a grey polo shirt. Tanned arms. Sunglasses.
The woman I recognized immediately from photographs. Slim as a model, with shiny, dark hair cut into a chin-length bob, she was wearing the sort of jeans women pay over a hundred pounds for. She was the newest senior recruit to the twenty-seven major investigation teams based around London and her arrival had been covered officially, in internal circulars, and unofficially on the various police blog sites. She was young for the role of DI, not much more than mid thirties, but she'd just worked a high-profile case in Scotland. She was also rumoured to know more about HOLMES 2, the major incident computer system, than practically any other serving UK police officer. Of course, it didn't hurt, one or two of the less supportive blogs had remarked, that she was female and not entirely white.
I watched her and the man pull on pale-blue Tyvek suits and shoe covers. She tucked her hair into the hood. Then they went behind the screens, the man standing aside at the last moment to allow her to go first.
By this time, white-suited figures were making their way around the site like phantoms. The scene-of-crime officers had arrived. They would establish an inner cordon around the body and an outer one around the crime scene. From now on, everyone entering the cordons would be signed in and out, the exact time of their arrival and departure being recorded. I'd learned all this at the crime academy, only a few months ago, but it was the first time I'd seen it in practice.
A gazebo-like structure was being erected over the spot where the corpse still lay. Screens has already been put up to create walls and within seconds the investigators had a large, enclosed area in which to work. Police tape was set up around my car. Lights were being unloaded from the van just as the DI and her companion emerged. They spoke together for a few seconds then the man turned and walked off, striding over the striped tape that marked the edge of the cordon. The DI came my way.
'I'll leave you to it,' said my minder. I handed him my cup and he moved away. The new DI was standing in front of me. Even in the Tyvek suit she looked elegant. Her skin was a rich, dark cream and her eyes green. I remembered reading that her mother had been Indian.
'DC Flint?' she asked, in a soft Scottish accent. I nodded.
'We haven't met,' she went on. 'I'm Dana Tulloch.'
'OK,' SAID DI TULLOCH. 'GO SLOWLY AND KEEP TALKING.' I set off, my feet rustling on the pavement. Tulloch had taken one look at me and insisted that a Tyvek suit and slippers be brought. I'd be getting cold, she said, in spite of the warm evening, and I'd attract much less attention if the bloodstains were covered up. I was also wearing a pair of latex gloves to preserve any evidence on my hands.
'I'd been on the third floor,' I said. 'Flat 37. I came down that flight of stairs and turned right.'
'What were you doing there?'
'Talking to a witness.' I stopped and corrected myself. 'A potential witness,' I went on. 'I've been coming over on Friday evenings for a few weeks now. It's the one time I can be pretty certain not to see her mother. I'm trying to persuade her to testify in a case and her mother isn't keen.'
'Did you succeed?' asked Tulloch.
I shook my head. 'No,' I admitted.
We reached the end of the walkway and could see the square again. Uniform were trying to persuade people to go home and not having much luck.
'Guess there isn't much on TV tonight,' muttered Tulloch. 'Which case?'
'Gang rape,' I replied, knowing I could probably expect trouble. I didn't work on crime involving sexual assault and earlier that evening I'd been moonlighting. A few years ago the Met set up a number of bespoke teams known as the Sapphire Units to deal with all such offences. It was the sort of work I'd joined the police service to do and I was waiting for a vacancy to come up. In the meantime, I kept up to speed on what was going on. I couldn't help myself.
'Was the passage empty when you came out of the stairwell?' Tulloch asked.
'I think so,' I said, although the truth was I wasn't sure. I'd been annoyed at the response I'd got from Rona, my potential witness; I'd been thinking about my next move, if I even had one. I hadn't been paying much attention to what was going on around me.
'When you came out into the square, what did you see? How many people?'
Slowly, we retraced the last time I'd walked this way, with Tulloch firing questions at me every few seconds. Annoyed with myself for not being more alert earlier, I tried my best. I didn't think there'd been anyone around. There'd been music, some sort of loud rap that I hadn't recognized. A helicopter had passed overhead, lower than normal, because I'd glanced up at it. I was certain I'd never seen the blonde woman before tonight. There had been something, for a second, as I'd looked at her, something niggling, but no, it had gone.
'I was looking back at this point,' I said, as I turned on the spot. 'There was a loud noise behind me.'
I met Tulloch's eye and knew what she was thinking. I'd looked back and had probably missed seeing the attack by seconds. Split seconds.
'When did you see her?' she asked me.
'I was a bit closer,' I replied. 'I was fumbling in my bag as I was walking – I thought I might have left my car keys behind – then I looked up and saw her.'
We were right back in the thick of it. A white-suited figure was taking photographs of the blood spatter on my car.
'Go on,' she told me.
'I didn't see the blood at first,' I said. 'I thought she'd stopped to ask directions, that maybe she thought there was someone in the car.'
'Tell me what she looked like. Describe her to me.'
'Tall,' I began, not sure where this was going. She'd just seen the woman in question for herself.
She sighed. 'You're a detective, Flint. How tall?' 'Five ten,' I guessed. 'Taller than both of us. And slim.'
Her eyebrows went up.
'Size twelve,' I said quickly. 'From the back I thought she was young, probably because she was slim and well dressed, but when I saw her face, she seemed older than I expected.'
'She looked good,' I went on, warming to my theme. If Tulloch wanted endless detail I could oblige. 'She was well dressed. Her clothes looked expensive. Simple, but well made. Her hair had been professionally done. That colour doesn't come out of a bottle you buy at Boots and there was no sign of roots. Her skin was good and so were her teeth, but she had lines around her eyes and her jawline wasn't that tight.'
'So you'd put her age at ...'
'I'd say well-preserved mid forties.'
'Yes, so would I.' There was movement all around us, but Tulloch's eyes weren't leaving my face. There could have been just the two of us in the car park.
'Did she have ID?' I asked. 'Do we know who she is?'
'Nothing in her bag,' said a man's voice. I turned. Tulloch's companion of earlier had joined us. He'd pushed his sunglasses on to the top of his head. There was scarring around his right eye that looked recent. 'No ID, no car keys, some cash and bits of make-up,' he went on. 'Mystery how she got here. We're some distance from the Tube and she doesn't strike me as a bus type.'
Tulloch was looking at the large blocks of flats that surrounded the square.
'Course, her car keys could have been stolen along with the car. A woman like that probably drives a nice motor,' he said. He had a faint south London accent.
'She had diamond studs in her ears,' I said. 'This wasn't a robbery.'
He looked at me. His eyes were blue, almost turquoise. The one with the scarring around it was bloodshot. 'Could have been fake,' he suggested.
'If I was slitting someone's throat and cutting open their stomach to rob them, I'd take any visible jewellery on the off-chance, wouldn't you?' I said. 'And she had a nice-looking wristwatch too. I could feel it scratching against my hand as she died.'
He didn't like that, I could tell. He raised his hand to rub his sore eye and frowned at me.
'Flint, this is DI Joesbury,' said Tulloch. 'Nothing to do with the investigation. He only came out with me tonight because he's bored. This is DC Flint. Lacey, I think, is that right?'
'Which reminds me,' said Joesbury, who'd barely acknowledged the introduction. 'Lewisham want to know when you're bringing her in.'
Tulloch was still looking at the buildings around us. 'I don't get it, Mark,' she said. 'We're surrounded by flats and it isn't that late, dozens of people could have witnessed what happened. Why would you murder someone here?'
Excerpted from "Now You See Me"
Copyright © 2011 S. J. Bolton.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Table of Contents
Part One - Polly,
Part Two - Annie,
Part Three - Elizabeth,
Part Four - Catharine,
Part Five - Mary,
Also by S. J. Bolton,
About the Author,