Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Expectant! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that Expectant is another fantastic addition to a great series. It’s a thrilling and tense police procedural that grabs its reader by the throat and doesn’t let go. If you enjoy police procedurals and/or strong, determined and witty female lead characters with a strong moral compass, Expectant should be at the top of your wish list.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
A pregnant Sam Shephard investigates the murder of an expectant mother in Dunedin, as it becomes clear that the killer is ready to strike again … Queen of New Zealand Crime, Vanda Symon, returns with a shocking, twisty new Sam Shephard thriller…
The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.
Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.
For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…
Okay! Are you ready? Let’s head to New Zealand!
The group swaggered their way down Moray Place, voices loud, giving each other light-hearted grief. They were like any group of teenagers – full of themselves, finding their own fun, out a bit too late on a school night. They came around the bend, heading downhill towards George Street, but as if on cue, they took a left and ducked down the red-brick Victorian alleyway. The swagger dropped, hoodies were pulled up, and the banter pitch dropped to a soft murmur. The low lighting barely threw shadows as they descended the darkened, tunnel-like passage. One of them stopped as he entered, running a hand across the mural, tracing the line of a spindly leg.
‘What about here? Everyone will see it.’
The others slowed, turned back to consider the proposal.
Timi shook his head. ‘Nah, you can’t do that. That’s art. We don’t shit on other people’s art.’
The others turned and moved on. With a shrug, the youth followed them down towards the open courtyard, still running his fingers along the wall. It was late, and patrons of the hip bar along the side of the lane had toasted their last drinks and gone home. Apart from a couple of cars, the place appeared deserted. All angles and alcoves, the courtyard provided plenty of opportunities out of sight of prying eyes.
‘Over here – this one is perfect.’
They stood in front of the wall, a blank canvas awaiting their touch.
The quiet was broken by the staccato rattle of ball-bearing peas clicking up and down as spray cans were shaken. They set to, arms sweeping and circling, the sharp tang of solvent and paint cutting the air. They worked in well-practised unison, their moves throwing choreographed shadows in the dim light. They worked quickly – being caught wasn’t an option – and the downside of their chosen alleyway was there was only one way in, and one way out. It was highrisk, but it would be worth the reward of having an epic tag here, right in the middle of town.
The schhhhh of the spray and shuffling and murmuring of the boys drifted into the night, but then, unnoticed at first, another sound infiltrated, a moaning, low and sporadic.
Timi stopped spraying, tilted his head, straining to listen. There it was again. His heartbeat bounced up. Had someone spotted them? Were they sprung? His head spun around, looking up towards the entrance, but there was no one there. Then he heard it again and realised it wasn’t coming from the street, and it didn’t sound human. It sounded like an animal, and it was coming from further down the alley. He placed his spray can down on the asphalt and walked cautiously in the direction of the noise.
‘Hey, whatcha doing, bro?’
Timi lifted his hand, signalling them to stop.
‘I heard something. I think there’s a dog or something down there.’ ‘Well, don’t let it get ya. Might bite you, give you the rabies or something.’ The sentence was followed by a giggle.
Then he heard the sound again, and there was some quality about it that set every nerve on high alert. It was the sound of suffering, it was the sound of pain, and it was a sound that compelled him forward, urgency overcoming fear. He rounded the corner of a small alcove and stopped dead, his mind grappling to come to terms with what he saw.
The dark stains had to be blood, so much blood. She was lying on her back, both hands clasped around her gaping, oozing belly. The light and shadows must have been playing tricks on his eyes, because he couldn’t be sure, but it looked like she’d been sliced in two. His nose was assaulted by a hot, sweet smell that left a metallic tang in the back of his throat.
Dying to know what happens next? Of course you are! No worries, Expectant is out now, order directly from Orenda Books here.