Murdoch never wanted to love, but once he learned to, someone stole his woman. Now—whoever they are—he wants to make them pay.
A young woman has just been brutally murdered by a serial killer. Her father is the supreme crime lord in London, and he wants Murdoch to find that killer. But Murdoch has promised Maria he is done with his old life. Then his best friend’s niece is killed in the same horrific way, and he knows the killings are a message—for him. But from who? Someone is out to get him—and the woman he loves.
His search leads him into the darkest reaches of the serial killer’s mind. But when he thinks he has his man, things take an even more sinister twist. Suddenly, he is in a desperate chase across Spain and into Morocco and Algeria. The prize is Maria’s life, even at the cost of his own sanity.
Because what he finds there is too horrific to believe.
About the Author
Conor Corderoy was born in England in 1957. He spent his childhood on Formentera, the smallest of the Balearic Islands among intellectuals, artists and writers. He had no formal schooling, though he had a governess for four years who became an alcoholic and disappeared when he was twelve. He spent his teens in Cordoba, southern Spain, where he got his first job aged sixteen, breaking in wild horses. He has since done more jobs than he can remember, including free-lance writing, law, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. He now divides his time between England and Spain. He is an Incorporated Linguists, a barrister, a psychologist and a Master Practitioner of NLP. He is the author of Dark Rain, described by James Lovelock as ‘compulsive and believable,’ the Eden Cypher and Albion Rising.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Conor Corderoy 2017. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
The call came at four a.m.
I groped for my phone. “Murdoch.”
The geothermal disturbance on the other end was Russian Pete. “Murdoch…is Peter.”
“Pete. It’s four a.m. What do you want?”
“I need speak with you.”
It was raining. It was always raining these days—damp and warm. I sat in the darkened car, listening to the liquid drumming and thinking of Maria, lying warm and soft in our bed. It would be first light in just over an hour. She wouldn’t be up for another two. I pushed open the door and stepped into the dark road. Wet light rippled on the tarmac. Holland Park was on my left. Across the road on my right a terrace of Georgian houses slept with blind eyes behind the amber streetlights.
I loped through the tepid rain toward the black bulk of the park gates. The momentary glow of a cigarette told me one of Pete’s men was waiting there for me. When I drew level, he dropped the butt in a puddle where it hissed and died. I said, “Where’s Pete? What’s this about?”
He jerked his head toward the interior of the park, among the black shadows of the trees. “Better Pete tell you.”
I followed him through the big iron gate, wondering how he came to have a key. Then he led the way into the shadows under the great horse chestnuts. Our feet made damp crunching noises on the gravel.
He said, in his Russian baritone, “Be gentle with Peter. He is weeping lot this morning.”
He just nodded silently and we went deeper into the woodland, where the rain was just a drizzle on the leaves above our heads.
They were at the statue of Lord Holland, over the wooden bridge by the pond—a small huddle of them—Russian Pete and two of his henchmen, three big black silhouettes surrounded by the glimmer of the rain and the puddles. And there was something on the ground. It looked like a bundle of saturated rags. Pete turned to face me as I approached. Even in the darkness, I could see his eyes were swollen and his face was wet. It wasn’t from the rain.
I pulled out my Camels and offered him one. He shook his head. I lit up and blew smoke into the spitting drizzle. The bundle of rags was a young woman, lying on her back in the mud, staring up into the trees. Her coat was rumpled and twisted. Her arms were laid symmetrically by her sides and her legs were straight. A red rose rested in her mouth. The black handle of a large kitchen knife protruded from her left breast and there was a gaping, bloody hole where her belly should have been. Whoever had killed her had taken the trouble to lay her out there with care. I stood smoking for a while.
Eventually, I flicked ash and said, “Who is she? She family?”
Nobody said anything for a long moment. The guys just stood looking at Pete with the rain on their faces.
Finally, Pete said what I had already guessed but didn’t want to believe, “She is my daughter, Eva.”
I nodded. I knew what this meant, why I was there, and I didn’t like it. “Who did it? Do you know?”
He shook his head. I looked again at the body, the way it was laid out—the rose, the knife in her heart, the savage wound in the abdomen. “Someone trying to scare you, move in on your patch…?”
He shook his head again. “Nobody.”
I dropped my butt into a puddle. It hissed and winked out. I crouched down by her side, pulled out my pen torch and played the beam over her face and neck. Under the raindrops, her skin was gray-blue. There were blotches of purple bruising on her throat, like she’d been choked, but her blouse was saturated with blood, so she hadn’t been strangled to death, just enough to make her unconscious and pliant.
I moved the beam down to her belly. I’ve seen some pretty nasty things in my time. I’ve even done a few of them myself when the occasion called for it. But this was about as horrific as it got. Her entire abdomen had been torn out. There had been no surgical precision here, just raw, brutal animal ferocity. I heard Pete choke and sob behind me and I switched off the torch.
I stood and said, “Who found her?”
Pete had turned away, his face hidden in his hands.
The guy who’d met me at the gate piped up, “Park policeman on his rounds. Half pass three. He recognize her because she come to park in mornings for coffee and see the paintings exhibition. She like this park.”
I said, “A cop? Why didn’t he—?”
He knew what I was going to ask and interrupted me, “Cops know Russian Pete, da? He pay their mortgages…” There was some stifled laughing. Pete turned to face me, wiping his face with the back of his sleeve. His voice was raw. “They know that anything of interest to me, they report to me. It is courtesy. Chief constable is good friend of mine. You know…”
I nodded. I knew. That explained the keys. Anyone who was anyone in this town was in Russian Pete’s pocket.
I said, “So, where are the cops now?”
“On their way. We have twenty minutes.”
I stared at him. “For what? What do you want from me?”
He held my eye a moment then jerked his head toward what was left of his daughter. “If police investigate, maybe it is years before killer is found. And when they find him, what?” He shrugged his huge shoulders and looked around at the dark woodlands. “Maybe he go to prison for twenty years, to secure wing with psychologists to help him.” He shook his head and spat on the ground. “No…you find him. You are smart, Murdoch. You not limited like police. You have no rules. I give you any help, any money—no matter. I get you what you want. I want man who did this. You find him.”
“And when I find him?”
“Better you don’t know.”
I nodded. “Okay, Pete. I’ll do what I can. When the cops are done, I want the forensics report. And I don’t want the cops to know I’m involved.”
His face began to crumple again and he pointed helplessly at Eva, at the gaping hole in her belly. “What is this, Murdoch? Why? Why he did this to my baby…?” His voice was weird, twisted with pain.
They led him away through the woodlands into the darkness beneath the trees, and I made my way back through the paling, gray light and the drizzle, toward my car, thinking that most times, what really hurts is not understanding why. Pain never hurts so much as when it’s meaningless.
I got deep like that sometimes.