Monday, 24 October 2016

Beneath The Skin by Sandra Ireland - Blog Tour Guest Post

Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am happy to be the first stop on the Beneath The Skin by Sandra Ireland blog tour and I have a wonderful guest post by Sandra about myths and legends in fiction.

Myth’s & Legends in Fiction
By Sandra Ireland
Mark Twain famously claimed that there is no such thing as a new idea. “It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations...”
This is bad news if you’re a writer! We need new ideas. We need to be fresh, authentic, original! Readers want that too. They don’t want to read something that’s stale and re-hashed.
But Twain offers a tiny ray of hope; “We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages”.
But still...coloured pieces of glass? That actually sounds creative and rather cool! We just need to think about where we can find the best, most vibrant pieces of glass...
Look no further than the world of myth and legend – something that inspires my own writing greatly. I love to re-imagine some of the myths and tales that fascinate me. Sometimes, just a few words or an image might find its way into my work. The wren, for example, the subject of many Irish myths, features in my debut novel, Beneath the Skin as a way of showcasing my character Alys’s passion for taxidermy and her undoubted intellect.
So what exactly is a myth? Well the official definition is: A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people, or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. OR any invented story, idea, or concept.
I also love to add some folklore into the mix. Folklore tends to be much more specific. It is shaped by a particular landscape, culture or indigenous belief system, and it is attached to that landscape, and to us, as a sort of collective memory. This is why folk tales remain very emotive for us. In Scotland, for example, the tale of the Selkie, or Seal People, is a common theme in our writing. One brilliant example is the novel Secrets of the Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford or how about my favourite poem ‘At Roane Head’, by Robin Robertson.
Whatever inspires you, whatever story holds a place in your heart, there are myriad ways in which to give it Twain’s kaleidoscope treatment. First of all, there are a few clever decisions you need to make.
Which character is telling the story? If we take a common fairy tale as an example- Cinderella, perhaps- we can think about using a fresh viewpoint. I once re-imagined this as a contemporary teen story narrated by a very cynical and ungracious ‘ugly sister’! It was subsequently published in a popular women’s magazine.
For a fresh slant on things, it’s important to choose your starting point with care. Sometimes it’s more immediate to begin the narrative at a critical point. Perhaps just after the Wolf has eaten Grandmother! You can always use flashbacks and a non-linear approach to fill in the rest of the story but it’s crucial to engage the reader from the first word.
Myths and legends do not have to remain in the Dark Ages. Many contain a very timely message and can be updated easily. Most lend themselves to fantasy and sci-fi genres- think Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin’s novels owe much to real historical events such as The War of the Roses, but are heavily inspired by the Viking Sagas and similar mythologies.
So whatever you choose to write, or to read, this week, let’s hope all the coloured pieces of it sparkle in a new and curious way!
Sandra Ireland’s debut novel Beneath the Skin is out now in paperback and ebook.

Beneath The Skin

Taking a job in the studio of an Edinburgh taxidermist probably isn’t Walt’s wisest decision. Suffering from combat stress and struggling to outrun the demons from his past, he now finds himself confronted by the undead on a daily basis.

His enigmatic boss, Alys, and her sister, Mouse, have their own uneasy relationship with the past. Someone doesn’t want to let them go. Can Walt save Mouse’s eight-year-old son, William, from becoming the next victim? And can he save himself?

Deliciously disturbing, this psychological thriller peels back the skin of one modern family to reveal the wounds no one wants to see. It deals with the effects of trauma and how facing up to vulnerability is sometimes the only way to let go of the past.

About Sandra Ireland

Sandra Ireland is an award-winning writer, poet and artist. Born in Yorkshire, she was brought up in the North East and lived for many years in √Čire. Her work has appeared in various women’s magazines and publications such as New Writing Dundee, Dundee Writes and ‘Furies’, an anthology of women’s poetry. Beneath the Skin is her first novel and was inspired by a love of all things curious and unseen.

And finally, don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider - Blog Tour Review And Q&A

Today Life Of A Nerdish Mum is one of the stops on the blog tour for Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider, I have my review of Her Last Breath as well as a Q&A with the author.


A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men... 
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can't remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defence attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them - or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent...but is she?


Imagine waking up next to a dead body and not knowing how you got there, why they're dead or even who the body is. That's how the story starts and you really feel the stress and shock felt by Mari as she wakes up to this living nightmare. This was a really great start to the book and it had  me hooked instantly as I needed to know what had happened. 

The story is fast paced and there are twists and turns throughout that keep you guessing as to what really happened. I had decided a few times who I thought had done it or what had really happened, but I kept changing my mind with every new chapter. This is really exciting in a thriller as you just want to keep reading so you can see if you are right or not. 

The characters are all really well developed and I really fell in love with some character while others I took a disliking to, I really liked Kerri Blasco, she is smart and determined and doesn't let other people get in the way of her doing her job properly, even if one of those people is her boss. both Kerri and Mari felt very real to me and I really enjoyed watching the trust and relationship building between the two. 

Overall this is an excellent book and I will be going back to read the first Kerri Blasco book, though this book is the second in the series, you can definitely read it as a stand alone if you chose. 


Your novels are thrillers, whether medical or psychological, what in particular draws you to this genre?

The adrenalin, the intensity. 

You say your books will usually have something medical about them through inspiration from your husband. Have you ever been tempted yourself to go into the medical profession?

Nooo. I could never have survived med school, the gruelling studies, the lost sleep…but I so admire those who have done it, and who are committed to helping people. I never could have managed the brutal sciences anyway; I’m pretty good at languages and have a passion for art, all that right-brained stuff, but I can’t add 2+2! Thick as a plank there. 

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

I really love NYPD Detective Kerri Blasco. She is highly intuitive, with uncanny abilities to read people and the language of crime scenes. Plus she’s nice, tough and tender and frequently funny.  Some of her fellow cops think she’s psychic, but she just says, “No, you’ve just gotta feel.” Her main beef is with the occasional cops - including her irascible lieutenant - who go for easy arrests to placate the media or just close their books. She holds her own to the max with them

Do you have a set routine that you follow when you sit down to write?

Yes, afternoon from 12 to 6. After that the little grey cells feel fried. 

When you're not writing what would we find you doing? 

Reading, doing laundry, shopping, errands, all the mundane stuff outwardly - but inwardly the fiction wheels are always turning, thinking up the next scene, the next story. I could be in a check-out line at the supermarket but really, I’m on another planet. 

You used to write for Newsweek Magazine, have you found that writing novels takes a completely different discipline?

Absolutely yes! Fiction is incredibly hard…you have to go deep, deep, into people’s feelings, reactions, joy, pain, every emotion, every action producing a reaction. Working for newspapers or Time or Newsweek…you’re just parroting what happened, describing the fire, the tornado, politics, whatever. All you need is good grammar and the ability to condense, but it’s superficial! Not even close to writing good, non-fiction books, which require depth and analysis. (I love Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August.”)

You were an exchange student in the Soviet Union and it sounds like you had quite a few adventures, would you like to share one with me now? 

Smile, oh that. There are stories without number, but a biggie was getting arrested for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda. What happened was, days after finishing college (that’s what we Yanks call university), I was sent with eleven other students on the US-USSR Student Exchange. For a week before leaving, we were trained & warned: this is a good will endeavour, don’t offend them, don’t photograph their drunks on the sidewalks or garbage piled or lack of plumbing or comment about their having only one kitchen per floor of each block-long apartment house, just smile and say "How Nice". So we were good little Americans, admired all their war monuments, went to class with them, hiked with them, drank too much vodka with them, worked hard learning more Russian.

BUT. One sweltering August day in Leningrad (now back to St. Petersburg), we returned to our hotel (which we called Old Stinky), and we were exhausted, thirsty <— a problem since - no sinks or bathrooms except way down a really long hall. Instead, on a table in the middle of our room-for-four, was a carafe of water with wrapped, upside-down glasses. Water!! Hooray!! Only…the water was coloured pea-green, the colour of the Neva River full of algae. Sooo…we started to laugh, just peals of giggling and laughter, thinking it was safe to because the door was closed. How were we to know the room was bugged!? The next thing - BANG! BANG! - pounding on the door, which they threw open anyway, three thick-necked guys in trench coats (in August!) with one shouting “Vwi aristoveni!” You are arrested!! Spreading anti-Soviet propaganda! So we were marched off to the neighbourhood Komsomol/Communist HQ, complete with cells, grey walls, one covered window, more guys in trench coats.

It turned out okay, after a few hours. We heard them shouting into phones; it must have been decided that us young American jerks just weren’t worth an international incident, and we were let go, to trudge back to Old Stinky. I can tell you that never, NEVER in my life have I so craved a Coke. 

Do you have a favourite author? 

Yup. Ira Levin (BOYS FROM BRAZIL, ROSEMARY’S BABY, etc). Second favourite is William Goldman (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid), for his MARATHON MAN. What a terrifying, heart-breaking story. Oh sorry, I gave you two authors. But Ira Levin wins. For his intensity & brevity, his ability to say so much in just a few words. 

If you could give your younger self advice about your writing career, what would it be? 

I’d tell my younger self how hard it is, and how it never really gets easier. “A writer is always terrified.” I love David Balducci for saying that. 

Her Last Breath has only just come out, but what can we look forward to from you next? 

It’s between the next Kerri Blasco thriller and a standalone thriller. I’m in the mulling stage. Kerri will probably win. 

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel - Review

The concept behind Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel really intrigued me as there are five short stories but they are all based around the same theme of manipulators. Each story is different and told from a different perspective but they're all about the same basic thing. I have been a victim of more than one manipulative person when I was younger and I was very interested to see how the author portrayed this in her stories. 

The five stories are Tess and Tattoos, The Spell, Runaway Girl, The Narcissist and My Perfect Child. In each story the characters are all just so believable, I felt myself empathising with so many of them or at least recognising certain parts of both myself and other people in them. 

Tess and Tattoos I felt was really emotional and I'm not afraid to say that I shed a tear. Tess was such a powerful character that you would never imagine that she had been weak in her life. I think that Tess was actually one of my favourite characters throughout the whole book and I still feel like I really want to just hug her. This story just shows that you never really know anyone's full story and that even the strongest of people can be manipulated. 

The Spell followed Sophie as she started a relationship with David, the single dad of Leo. This story was one I identified with a lot and saw so many warning signs that Sophie missed as she got further into the relationship. It was also interesting to see just how clever a manipulator can be that they can have you believing that their victim is the manipulator and not them. 

The Runaway Girl was another one that I related to, followed teenage Holly, the good girl in her group of friends and in her family. She feels trapped and is planning on running away until she meets a boy. It was hard to see such a bright girl being duped by such a nasty piece of work, but again this shows that manipulators aren't just adults and that they can be any age. 

The Narcissist was he least favourite of mine of the stories as it was mainly from the very confused perspective of the manipulator in his last weeks/months of his life. It was hard to read how much that he actually believed his own lies and how much he blamed everyone else for his own shortcomings. 

My Perfect Child as a parent was hard to read as you have so many fears about how you are bringing up your child, that you just want to get everything right. Lisa after having an uncaring childhood of her own wants to ensure that Lucas is loved and feels loved and so she caters to his every whim even to the detriment of her husband and others. This leads to a spoilt child and a worse teenager and adult. The question that came to my mind while reading this story was whether Lucas had been born manipulative and Lisa just allowed him to get away with it, or was its Lisa's unwavering loyalty and love that created his manipulation. It all comes back to the nature vs nurture question and in this case certainly we'll never know. 

Overall such a wonderful and different read. I'm so incredibly happy that I read this book and I could barely put it down while reading it. 

I gave this book 5 stars. 


Five stories – Five Lives. 
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? 
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Getting To Know... Jane Risdon

Today on Getting To Know... I have the extremely lovely Jane Risdon, a multi-talented author of crime, fiction and mystery. 

You previously worked in the music industry, can you tell me anything about what you did and what it was like?

Life in the music business is crazy. My husband and I managed recording artists, musicians, singers and singer songwriters as well as record producers. We took on a couple of actors too. We were responsible for every aspect of their careers, sometimes from a very young age, taking on Guardianship of those under age. Everything to do with their musical life is under a manager’s control – direction, genre, creating opportunities, finding and negotiating deals (record, publishing, tour agents and merchandising, tour managers, tour sound engineers and lighting guys etc) and outlets for their material or talents, their image, finances, expenditure, the hiring and firing of a team, and so on.

Managers run their lives and often their private lives too. In return managers get little time to themselves. We didn’t have a private life, holidays and so on and we were on call 24/7 52/12. If the act succeeded, the artist was the hero and if they failed, the manager was the villain. Managers never get any credit for their hard work and efforts, financial or otherwise.  Well, rarely that is. Often the manager is financing the band for years.

It is difficult to describe a normal day as there wasn’t ever anything normal about our days that you could recognise.

Let’s imagine we are on tour with a band. A rock band with 5 members in their late teen and early twenties…asking for trouble before we begin; I should have added secret police to the list above – always on the lookout for young girls throwing themselves at testosterone filled young men. Things can get very difficult.

Anyway, this is a fast run through.

Imagine coming off stage at midnight, fighting off the groupies, doing endless interviews and meet and greets with the radio stations and local press wanting interviews and the record company guys making sure you – the manager - do your job. The manager over-sees everything remember. Then it’s either getting on a tour bus to travel through the night to the next town/city/venue, or getting on a plane and flying to wherever for the next show.

The crew will have broken down the gear whilst you travel and they probably come on afterwards if by road, and if by air, then you wait for them to get their stuff sorted and you travel together, unless you have your own private plane. The tour manager will oversee the gear setting up and breaking down as well as supervising onstage and off stage sound engineers and lighting crews. He and the crew is under the control of the manager. There might be a party to go to before leaving the venue/city etc, but mostly our guys wanted to go to bed….the secret police made sure they went alone!

You all arrive at your destination, probably worn out.  You book into the hotel which the tour agents will have arranged with the record company and the manager. Hopefully no-one has forgotten! Everyone falls into bed but the manager will be last having checked everything for the following day, made phone calls, sent emails, working on behalf of his/her other artists as well, if he has them. Press calls, radio interviews and video and television appearances will be arranged and negotiations for recording budgets and studios decided, use of music on soundtracks for TV and Movies and Adverts arranged and so on….it never ends. Don’t forget any problems with the band, the crew or whoever has to go through the manager to deal with.

Up with the lark the band has a 5am live radio chat show to get to with the local station. Breakfast follows with the radio station big wigs and DJs and the manager has to be working them hard. Next comes a series of press interviews, possible events in local shopping malls, stores and other such outlets. Possibly a live performance at local music stores and video stations. There might be a video to film for promotion or for the next record coming out. There are often record company staff on the tour and also an overall radio station liaison person too. Lots of people to control and keep happy.

Lunch with local and national press, radio and other important people lined up to schmooze with the band and management.  Back to the hotel for a couple of hours and then travel to the venue or open-air venue to sound-check for the evening concert, when it all starts again.

Meantime the manager and the record company are expecting the band to come up with some new material as recording has been booked after the tour.  If the band doesn’t write then the manager will be touring the publishing companies seeking suitable material for the band to record. So time on tour is supposed to be used to write and prepare material for the next release.

Working in the music industry you travelled a lot, was there a favourite place that you visited?

This is a hard one. I cannot say I have a favourite place. I love Los Angeles as it is the centre of the entertainment business globally. It is a ‘can do’ sort of place. It is easy to make connections, to get things happening there. The whole place is geared to making deals and producing something. But, it is also an easy place to fall into so many traps and has seen the downfall of many hopefuls and wannabes.

Taipei in Taiwan isn’t Hollywood but in some respects they have the same attitude. They want to make things work and they are determined people.  I like doing business with the Chinese. The Singaporeans are the same. Business orientated and serious about what they undertake.

Have you always known that you wanted to write your own novel?

I think so, yes. I used to mess about as a child, writing short stories and little bits and pieces.  I loved reading. So my imagination was active and I thought I wanted to be a ballerina and an actress at first. Then a singer. I see now that the creative arts beckoned me. Of course I married a musician and my fate was sealed.

You've written stories across several genres, but what is your favourite genre to write?

I love crime writing and it is what I read and enjoy the most. I love planning and plotting and working in little red herrings and playing games with the reader. The thrill is in the cliff-hanger when the reader nearly falls off their seat in surprise. Well, that is the aim. I must have a criminal mind, and it is just as well I express it in my writing. Goodness knows what I might get up to otherwise.

Do you have a set routine when you're writing or a favourite place to sit and write?

I guess my desk is my favourite place to write, I have a Dell desk top to use and the screen is big and easy to work with. But, I can also sit in bed with my computer on my lap and write too. I don’t mind that much. It depends on my mood and if I am competing with any other noises and distractions.  I often write from early morning until I nearly pass out with hunger, fuelled by endless cups of tea, and if I’ve been naughty and given in to temptation whilst shopping, some liquorice.  I may write all day and into the night and then again, I may not. I have not really got a planned routine unless I decide I need one and then I stick to it.

When you're not writing what would we find you doing?

This is a good one. What indeed. I like walking and taking photos so you may well find me lurking in a lane, wood or near a lake. I often go on ‘jollies’ with some of my numerous siblings and we will visit cathedrals, churches, lovely gardens and houses, things like that. Which means more photos.  I blog so all this ends up in the blog and photos I take are often used as my visual notes for my stories.  
I have been researching family history for over 35 years and I may well be dabbling in some research, writing things up, following leads like a detective and making contacts with possible long lost family. I’ve succeeded in reuniting various strands of both sides of my and my husband’s family over the years.

In addition to blogging and Twitter – recent addition to my day – I fiddle around on Facebook and I have a personal and an author’s page there: a massive hole to climb out of every day; I could disappear down it never to be seen again if I am not careful.

If I bother watching TV I will be concentrating on Time Team reruns, The Sky at Night and any other science or history based programmes and of course, the odd crime thriller. For the last 5 years I have been hooked on Scandinavian crime thrillers on BBC4.

And I read. I read before going to sleep and sometimes I finish a book during the night. I think I am programmed for night time activity having worked so many years through the night.

You also write a blog where you share you writing experiences, what was the inspiration behind setting this up?

Originally I started my blog so I could write for myself in private and no-one would see it and then I got adventurous and added photos. After a while I saw other peoples’ blogs and as I started to follow them I realised that having a private blog for just me was a bit restrictive. So I hit the publish button one day and the rest is history. I didn’t want it to be just writing related stuff. I imagined that would be a turn off, so I write about whatever I fancy. It might be about a ‘jolly’ out and about seeing historical places or I might do author interviews which are fun. Now and again I write about my stories and books and provide a little sampler or titillate potential readers of my work. It’s a place to natter with other bloggers and share things. If it hadn’t been for blogging I would never have met some of the most amazing writers and people I have become friends with. Some with whom I have been included in anthologies. I enjoy it a lot and it never ceases to amaze me how many people bother to follow me and read my twaddle.

Do you have a favourite character that you've written so far?

Ms Birdsong is my favourite at the moment. She is feisty, intelligent, has a wicked sense of humour and when someone first sets eyes upon her I think they are fooled into thinking she is a bit stand-offish. She is posh but not too much. She has had a good education and comes from a moneyed family but she is really down to earth. Because she is a bit of a looker some get lulled into thinking butter wouldn’t melt but she is a martial arts expert and they’d be wise to give her a wide berth if they upset her.  

She always wanted to work for the Security Services and her dreams of being another Stella Rimington (Director General of MI5 at one time) were on course until a mission with her MI6 partner and now former lover, Michael Dante, went badly wrong, and ended with her taking ‘voluntary’ retirement under a bit of a cloud.

I love anything espionage related and love spy and political thrillers. I think it comes from working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when young and being there through all sorts of amazing world events, including the time The Soviet Union kicked 50 British Diplomats out of Moscow accusing them of spying, and the British retaliated and kicked 50 of theirs out….who most likely were spies. Such exciting times….then there was the kidnapping of the Ambassador to Montevideo…

Do you have a favourite author?

I once thought I did have a favourite but actually I don’t think so. I love Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Karin Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen, Kathy Reichs – it is she who inspired me to take 3 forensics courses in the last year so my murder investigations and crime scenes are accurate, and the manner of death is portrayed as forensically correct as I am able.  I love Peter Robinson, Peter James, Elizabeth George, Michael Connolly, Nelson DeMille and Jeffrey Deaver…the list is endless. But I can’t pick a favourite.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

Hopefully I will complete the first 3 books in the series Ms Birdsong Investigates for publication next year. I am rewriting book one - Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva. Book two is Murder at the Observatory and book three is The Safe House.

I am writing another one off novel called The White Haired Man, set in Mumbai at the time of the terrorist attacks there and with a Bollywood connection. Based on true events.

I have a series called God’s Waiting Room which so far is in bits and pieces, but almost completed…I call this collection of stories observational humour as they are based on my experiences of a group of elderly people over a period of time. They’ve lived in the same village all their lives, everyone knows everyone as they went to school and through WW2 together. Some of the funniest and insane people I have ever met.

In the works is a book about my life in the music business, but that is way off.

October sees the publication of an anthology of stories written by several authors in aid of Save the Children and I have a story in it. Hammer Horror icon Caroline Munro has written the forward and the book is called Madame Movara’s Tales of Terror.

Sometime this year or early next year a novel I have written with award winning author Christina Jones, is due to be published by our joint publisher, Accent Press. It is fictional, but as we have been life-long friends (she was my husband’s band fan-club secretary and a rock journalist) it has a lot of music, fashion, world events and more in it - based on what we experienced in the late 1960s – it is the story of two girls in love with the same musician. It is not a romance though.

Thanks so much for asking me to chat about myself and my writing and former career. I do hope your readers enjoy it. It has been a blast.

And a big thank you to Jane for giving such wonderful answers!

You can find more about me over on:

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza - Release Day Book Blitz

Today is the release date of Dark Water by Robert Bryndza, the 3rd book in the DCI Erika Foster series, and I have an exciting extract to celebrate. 


Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning. 

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child. 

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago. 

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on. 

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth. 

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker, comes the third heart-stopping book in the Detective Erika Foster series


Dark Water
Robert Bryndza


It was a cold night in late autumn when they dumped the body in the disused quarry. They knew it was an isolated spot, and the water was very deep. What they didn’t know was that they were being watched.
They arrived under the cover of darkness, just after three o’clock in the morning – driving from the houses at the edge of the village, over the empty patch of gravel where the walkers parked their cars, and onto the vast common. With the headlights off, the car bumped and lurched across the rough ground, joining a footpath, which was soon shrouded on either side by dense woodland. The darkness was thick and clammy, and the only light came over the tops of the trees.
Nothing about the journey felt stealthy. The car engine seemed to roar; the suspension groaned as it lurched from side to side. They slowed to a stop as the trees parted and the water-filled quarry came into view.
What they didn’t know was that a reclusive old man lived by the quarry, squatting in an old abandoned cottage which had almost been reclaimed by the undergrowth. He was outside, staring up at the sky and marvelling at its beauty, when the car appeared over the ridge and came to a halt. Wary, he moved behind a bank of shrubbery and watched. Local kids, junkies, and couples looking for thrills often appeared at night, and he had managed to scare them away.
The moon briefly broke through the clouds as the two figures emerged from the car, and they took something large from the back and carried it towards the rowing boat by the water. The first climbed in, and as the second passed the long package into the boat there was something about the way it bent and flopped that made him realise with horror that it was a body.
The soft splashes of the oars carried across the water. He put a hand to his mouth. He knew he should turn away, but he couldn’t. The splashing oars ceased when the boat reached the middle. A sliver of moon appeared again through a gap in the clouds, illuminating the ripples spreading out from the boat.
He held his breath as he watched the two figures deep in conversation, their voices a low rhythmic murmur. Then there was silence. The boat lurched as they stood, and one of them nearly fell over the edge. When they were steady, they lifted the package and, with a splash and a rattle of chains, they dropped it into the water. The moon sailed out from behind its cloud, shining a bright light on the boat and the spot where the package had been dumped, the ripples spreading violently outwards.
He could now see the two people in the boat, and had a clear view of their faces.
The man exhaled. He’d been holding his breath. His hands shook. He didn’t want trouble; he’d spent his whole life trying to avoid trouble, but it always seemed to find him. A chill breeze stirred up some dry leaves at his feet, and he felt a sharp itching in his nostrils. Before he could stop it a sneeze erupted from his nose; it echoed across the water. In the boat, the heads snapped up, and began to twist and search the banks. And then they saw him. He turned to run, tripped on the root of a tree and fell to the ground, knocking the wind out of his chest.

Beneath the water in the disused quarry it was still, cold, and very dark. The body sank rapidly, pulled by the weights, down, down, down, finally coming to rest with a nudge in the soft freezing mud. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years, almost at peace. But above her, on dry land, the nightmare was only just beginning.

Robert Bryndza