Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges on-screen, kills her, and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?
Natalie wishes she'd stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There's something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can't-not until she's found what she's looking for ...
Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You've already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking ...
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland. Her debut thriller, Distress Signals, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller and was short-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger and the Irish Crime Novel of the Year. Her second novel, The Liar’s Girl, was a finalist for the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in Dublin.
Read an Excerpt
In a room of shadows, a woman sleeps.
She is the bulge on the right side of the double bed. Strands of dark hair splayed across a pillow. One bare arm outside the sheets, a wedding band visible on her ring finger.
Unaware that she isn't alone.
This room is an unfamiliar one for her, even more so in the dark. Were she to wake up right now she might lift her head, prop herself up on her elbows, and turn her head to look around it. Gradually her eyes would adjust and shapes would emerge from the dark.
After a moment, she would remember where she was and why she had gone there.
How long would it take her to see the shape that doesn't belong?
The shape that stands stock still in the corner, arms down by its sides. The clothes are dark and bulky — layers, perhaps against the winter cold. Gloves on the hands, a balaclava on the head. The balaclava is twisted slightly to one side so the eyes are barely visible and the slit for the mouth shows only some cheek.
Watching and waiting.
Waiting to use the knife with the long, serrated blade pressed against the side of one leg.
The sleeping woman stirs — her legs move; she turns over; the arm slips beneath the covers — but she does not wake. The dark figure moves closer to the bed until it is standing beside it, looming over her. She does not wake. The gloved hand that isn't holding the knife reaches out and gently strokes the woman's face and still, she does not wake.
The intruder makes a circle with a thumb and middle finger and flicks the woman's cheek, hard, because — it's clear now — she is supposed to be awake for this.
A moment's delay.
Then a frenzy of motion.
The woman's eyes open. Her body rises, head and shoulders lifting from the pillows, legs rising beneath the sheets. She opens her mouth as if to scream but the figure clamps a hand over it, pushing her back down. The hand that's holding the knife lifts to pull back the sheets with a finger. The woman is wearing a pair of shorts and a camisole top. Her pale limbs are bare, exposed now. She sees the blade and her efforts to get away instantly intensify. Now her arms are flailing wildly, her legs kicking, her whole body jerking and contorting and squirming in the bed, fingers clawing at the balaclava — The knife rises slowly in the air and then comes back down quickly, with force, plunging through the thin material of the woman's clothing and disappearing into the concave flesh of her stomach.
Lifts again. Down again.
Into the chest.
Lifts again. Down again.
A slash across the woman's forearm. Lifts again. Down again.
Deep into the right side of her neck, just under the jawline. The intruder steps back.
The woman's hands go to her neck and almost immediately her fingers are stained by the blood that flows from the wound there. Her mouth is open as if in a silent scream.
Dark, spreading stains.
She turns, rolling on to her right side. Her uninjured arm reaches out, past the edge of the bed, towards the intruder, as if asking for help.
The figure in black bends to lay the knife on the bedside table before going to the chest of drawers pushed against the wall opposite the foot of the bed and destroying the camera hidden there.
It took Natalie most of the day to get away from Dublin City. From all cities. Cork was the last one she'd seen. She'd taken the train there first thing this morning, then transferred to this bus. It had snaked through Midleton — goodbye towns, too — and onwards, ambling along narrow, winding roads, the kind where the single white line painted down the middle was already more gone than still there. By the time she caught her first glimpse of the sea, she was 300 kilometers from her own front door. The traffic had thinned to the occasional passing car but the road twisted so much that the driver felt the need to blast the horn before each and every bend.
Natalie watched the bars signaling reception in the corner of her phone's screen disappear one by one. She'd already lost her mobile data; it had dropped out somewhere between Castlemartyr and Ladysbridge. The device in her hand was now rendered almost useless. She pushed through the urge to connect to the bus company's Wi-Fi for the last few minutes of the journey and let the phone slip into the depths of her handbag instead.
For all of a minute it felt like peace, a welcome release.
Then her fingers started to twitch and her palms grew clammy.
Natalie turned to concentrate intently on the view out the window. There was a stretch of smooth, gray sea wedged between the horizon and the darkening sky, marred only by two blots, one large, one small. Islands. She could just about make out the lighthouse sitting atop the larger one, looking like the nib of a fine pen from this distance. Then the bus took a hard right and there were only fields and trees and neat, old-fashioned bungalows, all surrounded by low pebble-dashed walls and set close to the road.
Then a sign for the kiln design store & café 500m. Another one right behind it: welcome to shanamore. She was here.
For the entire journey, a burning heat had been rushing against the back of Natalie's legs from a grille beneath her seat. She was desperate for some cold, fresh air but also to stay on the bus, to let it take her back out of here again, to go home and talk to Mike and to forget about this while there was still time to.
But when the bus lurched to a stop, she got up and got off it. She wasn't prepared for the icy blast of late November air that pricked at her skin and instantly infiltrated her clothes. Gasping at the shock of it after the thick heat of the bus, Natalie hurried to pull on the coat she'd carried outside draped over an arm.
The train journey from Dublin to Cork had been just under three hours and she'd spent it obsessing over images of Shanamore she'd found online. This was having a disconcerting effect now that she was here. It was as if she was touring the set of a movie she'd watched a hundred times: everything was strangely familiar and yet totally foreign at the same time.
The bus had stopped outside the entrance to the car park of the Kiln, a trendy design store shaped like a barn that presumably sold its locally produced crafts to well-heeled foreigners and its flat whites to local farmers. Its car park was the only smooth stretch of blacktop in Natalie's line of sight. There was the church, rising up behind her, the tallest thing for miles. There was the small public park alongside it, although in real life the rubbish bins had beer bottles in them and the picnic tables were liberally spotted with dried bird crap. The dull, sparse grass sloped away from her, falling to the level of the next bend in the road. Beyond it, the logo of a service station glowed bright against the dark sky. Directly opposite was a row of squat terraced houses bookended by two pubs. One of them was perfect Instagram fodder, the other was in dire need of knocking down.
Next to the picturesque pub was the mouth of a small road. Natalie could see a giant pothole at its start, concrete crumbling at its edges, the crater filled with murky water. When she lifted her eyes, she saw a cardboard sign had been tacked to the nearest telephone pole: shanamore cottages, 1km. It pointed down the potholed road.
Everything else in her eyeline was hedge or tree or sky.
The light was fading. Natalie didn't wear a watch but she figured she'd turned off her phone ten minutes ago, at the most, and it had been just after five o'clock then. She needed to get to the cottages before it got actually dark.
She set off, pulling her case behind her.
Plastic wheels against crumbling blacktop produced a hollow, rumbling noise. In the dead quiet, the noise she was making seemed to grow louder and louder. At least, she thought, the road was relatively straight, so any oncoming cars would see her before they hit her — she hoped.
When Natalie finally spotted the sign marking the entrance to Shanamore Cottages, she guessed it was fifteen minutes since she'd got off the bus. Pretty much the length of the walk that Google Maps had promised, then. The cottages, however, were not entirely as advertised.
Individually, the six of them were identifiable from the images she'd seen online. Which is to say, they didn't look much like cottages at all. Each one was an identical assembly of cubes. Some smooth, unpainted cement and some thick, greenish glass. The smallest cube was the entranceway, a space about the size of two telephone boxes, where the only nonglass piece was the wooden slab of a front door. A larger cube behind it formed the home's ground level, with mini cubes making a couple of postmodern bay windows, one at the front and one at the side. Another cube half its size formed the second story, pushed a few feet to the rear. The entire front section of that cube — the master bedroom, from what Natalie remembered of the website — was made of glass.
But it was obvious now that the photos online had been taken at carefully considered angles. Their frames had conveniently omitted the breeze-block shell of an unfinished McMansion sitting in the overgrown field next door, and they didn't convey at all just how close together the cottages were. They were sitting in two rows of three, facing each other, with only the narrowest of laneways separating each one from its immediate neighbor. Natalie suspected that if you stood in one of those lanes and stretched your arms out, you'd touch cottage on each side. She'd found an old newspaper article online, property section, which suggested these were the work of an ambitious young architect who'd qualified at the height of the Boom and had been gifted a swathe of Daddy's land. Crowding it with cottages must have been him trying to get as much bang for his buck as he could. If that was his plan, it hadn't worked. The cottages had stood empty for years, no buyer willing to be the first, until some foreign investment firm had bought the lot for a song and turned the entire estate into a holiday "village" of short-term lets instead.
A man had emerged from the nearest cottage and was striding towards her. The house had a sign in the front window that Natalie couldn't read in the dim but she thought it might say reception.
He waved, called out, "Marie?"
He must be Andrew, the manager.
Natalie waved back. "That's me."
Marie was her middle name. She'd made the booking over the phone just a few hours ago, giving her first name as Marie and her last as Kerr — Mike's last name, her married one, which she never used. If she had to produce a credit card now or show some photo ID the jig would be up, but maybe the check-in procedure at Shanamore Cottages was more of a casual operation. She'd only needed to give a name and a telephone number to secure her reservation, after all.
There was a red hatchback sitting in Andrew's driveway and he met her at its rear. The car's license plate was almost completely obscured by a thick layer of dried mud.
"Welcome to Shanamore," he said.
It had a streak of apology in it.
They shook hands, limply, Natalie conscious of the fact that hers was warm and damp from dragging her case.
Andrew was wearing dark corduroy trousers and a thick, Aran-style sweater that seemed much too big for his wiry frame; he gripped the too-long cuffs of it in his palms with the tips of his fingers. His dark hair was long and flopped in front of his eyes, the kind of style the boys at school used to have back when Natalie was in it. (Curtains? Isn't that what they called it?) It all conspired to create a first impression of youth and boyishness but here, up close, Natalie could see that this man was easily her age, late twenties, early thirties.
"You found us all right?" he asked.
"No problem at all."
He looked around, behind her. "You didn't walk here?"
"Only up the road," she said. "The bus dropped me off by the Kiln."
"You've been here before? To Shanamore?"
"And you're not here to make pottery — right?"
He'd already asked her this on the phone. There was a local potter who offered week-long classes and had some arrangement whereby attendees got a discount if they stayed here.
"No." Natalie smiled. "I'm just after a few days" peace and quiet, that's all."
"Well, let me show you to your cottage."
They started walking, him leading the way.
"You live on site?" she asked.
"All year round?"
"All year round."
"And you said on the phone you only keep one or two of these open at this time of the year?"
"It's easier that way," Andrew said. "Makes more sense."
"So can I ask which one ...?"
Andrew pulled a key from his pocket and held it up to the light. It had a large "6" printed on its plastic tag.
Natalie tried to keep her expression neutral while her entire body flooded with relief.
SHE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT SHE WOULD'VE DONE if he'd shown her to a different cottage. She'd had vague notions of finding a way to get inside No. 6 by other means, later, or making up some complaint that would necessitate a move there first thing in the morning. But mostly she'd tried to not worry about this detail. Now, finally, she could stop.
No. 6 was the cottage directly opposite Andrew's, No. 1. He unlocked the front door and hurried inside ahead of her. There was no hall or foyer; you were immediately in the living room, facing the foot of the stairs. The entire ground floor of the cottage was one big, open space.
"Meant to do this earlier," he muttered as he scurried about the room, turning on lights. Two floor lamps, the pendant hanging over the dining table, spots recessed in the ceiling positioned strategically over faded prints of Shanamore Strand in cheap IKEA frames. He pushed a button and transformed the pane of black glass stuck low on the (fake) chimney breast into a scene of (fake) glowing fire. He fiddled with the thermostat until the nearest radiator started to splutter and click. Plumped a sofa cushion. Straightened the coffee table.
Natalie stepped inside, closing the door behind her, and watched him move around the room. He reminded her of an air steward in the galley before trolley service: practiced to the point of automation.
"Oh," he said suddenly, "I forgot your welcome basket."
Before Natalie could respond, he was gone and the front door was closing with a thunk for the second time in as many minutes.
She parked her suitcase and advanced into the room.
Two three-seater black leather couches and a matching armchair were arranged in a U-shape around the fire and the flat-screen TV that hung above it. Behind the furthest couch, at the rear of the ground floor, was a solid wood dining table with space for eight and beyond that, the clinically white cabinets of an ultra-modern kitchen. Their glossy finish made them gleam in the lights.
The only walls were the exterior ones. The one at the rear was made entirely of glass, a huge window with one door inset. The staircase clung to the side wall and had only air between its steps and no railing; Natalie felt nervous just looking at it. Floor-to-ceiling windows interrupted the remaining two walls. It was dark enough outside now for all the glass to be showing only interior reflections.
Natalie touched a hand to one of the cushions on the armchair and felt cold with a hint of damp.
And a lump forming in her throat.
A squeeze of heartbreak in her chest.
This can't be the place ... Can it?
The door swung open. Andrew was back, carrying a small wicker basket. The air swirled and changed, suddenly charged with the presence of another person, chilled with the draught the open door was letting in.
He looked at her, eyebrows raised, awaiting a verdict.
"It's nice," she said. "Lovely."
"Good. Glad you like it. Sorry about the cold. I should've put on the heating earlier. It should warm up pretty quick." He set the basket on the coffee table. "So — any questions?"
"No, no. I think I'm all set."
She smiled. His eyes met hers and she realized it was for the first time. Eye contact, evidently, wasn't his thing. Andrew proved this by looking away again almost immediately.
Then he gave a little wave, turned on his heel and left.
The thunk of the front door locking shut echoed around the house again and then everything was quiet and still.
Too quiet and still.
Natalie cast about for a remote control but couldn't find one, so she went to the TV and randomly pressed the slim buttons hidden on its side until loud voices boomed into the space, banishing the silence.
She took a quick inventory of the contents of the wicker basket. A box of Irish soda bread mix; six mismatched eggs; a bag of Cork Coffee Roaster's "Rebel" blend; a bar of chocolate with a pencil sketch of Shanamore Strand on the label; a single bottle of beer from the Franciscan Well; a small carton of milk.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Rewind"
Copyright © 2019 Catherine Ryan Howard.
Excerpted by permission of Blackstone Publishing.
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
sub- In...Rewind 0:00:17sub- She...sub- The...Fast-Forward 0:00:41sub- Audrey...Rewind 0:00:30Pause 0:00:38Rewind 0:00:20sub- The...sub- There...Fast-Forward 0:00:44Pause 0:00:47Rewind to Start 0:00:01sub- The...sub- In...sub- Almost...sub- A...Fast-Forward 0:00:52sub- The...sub- There...sub- Audrey...sub- She...Pause 0:00:54Play 0:00:57sub- Shanamore...sub- He...Rewind 0:00:04sub- The...sub- Crazy...fast-forward 0:01:00Fast-Forward 0:01:00sub- Audrey...sub- Audrey...Pause 0:01:05Rewind 0:00:13sub- Right...sub- Natalie...sub- She...Fast-Forward 0:01:08sub- Richard...Rewind 0:00:07sub- The...Fast-Forward 0:01:11Rewind 0:00:27Fast-Forward 0:00:33sub- He...sub- Much...sub- His...Fast-Forward 0:01:21sub- We're...sub- A...sub- Sandra...Fast-Forward 0:01:25sub- Good...Rewind 0:01:16Fast-Forward 0:01:31sub- She'd...sub- It...sub- Andrew's...sub- Natalie's...sub- There...sub- She...sub- Mike...Play 0:01:35sub-Andrew...sub- Richard...