Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Blood Red City! My review is here if you want to check that out. 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 witness with no victim. A crime with no crime scene…
When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.
Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.
When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.
A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.
Ready? Alright, let’s dive in!
The car was a hotbox, nowhere for the day’s heat to go when the night wasn’t much cooler. Stringer got behind the wheel and looked at the picture of Carlton and the girl on his phone.
For a second he felt pity for the man, but he let it go with the reasoning that it was on-the-job-training for a rising pol with ambitions of getting to parliament. Based on what he’d seen tonight, Carlton wouldn’t make it anywhere close.
He checked his messages and opened Google maps. He’d overstayed at Carlton’s, but he’d left slack in the schedule to cover that eventuality. He allowed his thoughts to turn to the next job – the envelope in the boot – and felt his guts lurch for the first time in years. The reasons were many, or so he’d convinced himself, but sitting there in the silence of the night, there was only one that mattered: it was the first time he’d worked for a killer.
The client was a reclusive Ukrainian financier, Andriy Suslov. Implicated in at least two suspicious deaths over the years, Suslov had the worst kind of connections. His instructions had been straightforward: rake up every piece of dirt Stringer could find on a London-based high-finance whizz named Jamie Tan. He didn’t say why, and Stringer wouldn’t ask – he never did. It was a standard sort of job, made exceptional only by the client.
He worked it for three months solid. Regular in-person surveillance on Tan, combined with a full data trawl into every nook of the man’s life. He hacked his emails and his phones.
He got a peek at his bank accounts. He ran background checks as far back as he could get. The picture he got was contradictory but unenlightening: a work-hard, play-hard city boy with a recreational cocaine habit, who went to church with his wife most Sundays and gave generously to an eclectic array of causes – Cancer Research, WWF, CAFOD – figure them guilt payments for his lifestyle. Seeing Tan in person, there was nothing to mark him out as a target for this kind of gig. A man who wore sober navy suits and had his hair trimmed every two weeks. Quick to laugh, a face padded with puppy fat that belied his forty-two years. Wealthy, yes, but a pauper compared to Suslov – surely ruling out simple extortion as the client’s motive.
Now, it all came to a head. Suslov’s front man had called that morning: ‘Today’s the day’ – reveal your work to Tan, make him understand that we own him now. Tell him further instructions will follow.
Stringer acquiesced without enthusiasm. Most of his gigs boiled down to money and power, but as serious as they were, no one died. Putting Tan in hock to Suslov, to unknown ends, felt like crossing a line. And the danger wasn’t just to the target; he couldn’t shake the thought that if Tan played it smart and ran to the authorities, the easiest way for Suslov to stay buffered was to eliminate the messenger – keeping his deniability watertight.
And all that was without thinking about his fuck-up. A slip of conscience that he still couldn’t explain or understand. One that left him vulnerable.
He checked his route to High Barnet station, the point he’d intercept Tan on his way home. Google said it was twenty minutes away. Stringer pressed himself into the seat and took a deep breath. He let his mind drift, taking him to Islamorada in the Florida Keys. He’d holidayed there once, before this life, and he held on to the idea of going back someday. The water was so blue and so still there, on a cloudless day you couldn’t tell where it met the sky. It used to be a simple escape fantasy – sitting in the sunshine with a large drink and nothing to do. These days it was darker; in his dreams, he imagined drinking up his courage all day on the white sand, until there was nothing left of himself to save, and he could stand up and walk into Florida Bay and just keep going. The water over his head, filling his lungs until it dragged him down into its depths. Finding closure in the place his life came apart.
It came and went. But some days, the only thing stopping him was the thought of all the people he’d have to kill before he’d allow himself to do it.
Want more? Not a problem! Blood Red City is out now in eBook and audio and will be available in paperback as from 23 July. (Pre)order here!