Two strangers. One shared interest. Murder. Ben slit a man’s throat. Sandra’s son, Carl witnessed a murder.
With Carl on a Witness Protection Programme, Sandra fled London to live anonymously in a remote village on the Isle of Wight where she becomes increasingly isolated and vulnerable. Terrorised by an unknown stalker, the police are unable to help and she turns to Ben. What makes a respectable, middle-aged woman want to sleep with a killer? More importantly, can the relationship give her the love she craves and help Ben find redemption?
Hate, fear and lies boil over in a page-turner with love at its black heart.
‘Do you ever get that?’ asked the DJ. ‘You’re walking along the street and someone says ‘Hi ya, mate. How’s it going?’ And you’re thinking ‘Do I know you? Or are you just some weirdo?’ Ha, ha. If that’s happened to you, tell us. Text the word, ‘stranger’ to …’
She quickly turned it off, her mind jolting back to the man on the train. What if he came back? What if he was here, hiding inside the cottage?
Sandra froze, her heart pounding against her ribs.
‘Dove Cottage, Shorwell, PO30 5AB,’ she could hear herself saying on the train. ‘‘B’ for bravo. ‘B’ for bravo.’
‘‘More like ‘S’ for ‘stupid’,’ she thought bitterly.
Cautiously, she crept upstairs and flung open her bedroom door causing the handle to bang against the wall. From the doorway, she could see the whole of the room, even under the bed. Nothing. Her wardrobe was on the landing. She pulled the door and it swung open. Her scant collection of clothes hung like husks on the rail.
As she approached the bathroom a wild face greeted her. She leapt back terrified before realising she was looking at her own reflection. Breathing heavily, she headed back downstairs and into the kitchen.
She sat at the table and told herself to calm down, there was nothing to worry about, the man had played his sick little joke, game over. Gradually, her heartbeat slowed.
She decided a cup of tea would soothe her nerves and she reached into the fridge for the milk. Spotting half a loaf of bread, she put two slices into the toaster before opening the cupboard where she kept her special plate.
Carl had spotted it in a junk shop in Brighton on one of their many excursions and had asked to have his pocket money early so he could buy it. It was one of the few gifts he had given her over the years and she treasured it.
It was not in its usual place but it was always in the cupboard above the sink, behind the casserole dish. She glanced across at the shelves and work surfaces. No sign of it. Frantically, she tried to recall when she had last used it. It had been just before she had left for London. Her cheese sandwich had tasted all the better for being eaten off such precious crockery. She remembered using the last of the washing-up liquid to wash it up. She checked the bin. Sure enough, there was the empty bottle.
As she turned back she saw it in the sink. She went over and picked it up. It was covered in crumbs and smeared with a dark, sticky substance. She sniffed it suspiciously. Marmite. She had bought a new jar recently but not used it. She opened the cupboard, found the pot and unscrewed the lid. Sure enough, the seal had been broken.
She clung to the edge of sink. He had been back to her house and this time he had been inside. He must have wanted her to know; just like before he made no attempt to cover his tracks.
How the hell had he got in? She was always so careful to lock up. She felt the vomit rise in her throat. She bolted upstairs and into the bathroom where she flung herself over the toilet. Looking down into the porcelain bowl, she was repulsed and shocked to see it was full of dark, foamy urine.
She knew it couldn’t possibly be hers. She had not used the lavatory that morning; she had peed in the shower.
Sandra is a middle aged woman who lives alone. While on a train from London she encounters Ben, an ex-convict who informs her he has cut someone's throat. Ben is good looking and muscular, but he's also coarse and dangerous. Sandra is attracted and repelled by him at the same time.
After her encounter, Sandra discovers she's being stalked.
The author knows how to ratchet up the tension and keep you guessing. Once I started reading this I couldn't put it down.
The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because of what happens to someone at the end. In their own way they were one of the nicer characters and I think they deserved better! It's probably just me because most of the reviews loved the ending. Sorry that is so vague, but I don't want to give away spoilers. This was a great read and I recommend it.
About the Author:
A career highlight was casting a black and white moggie as Humphrey Bogart for her award-winning cat food commercial. Other great performers who brought her words to life include Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield.
As a lecturer, Joan taught comedian Noel Fielding all he knows about advertising before encouraging him to showcase his creative talents on a wider stage.
Working for The Press Association, she tutored Wordsworth's great-grandson in the art of copywriting: Buy a host of golden daffodils and get a blue one, free!
Suffering from swine flu and sweating like a pig, she moved from London to the Isle of Wight where she lives on cream teas with her beloved husband, daughter and two cats.
She recently launched her books at The Ventnor Fringe and the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.