Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Faceless! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that Faceless is Vanda Symon at her darkest, but in my humble opinion also at her best! Part police procedural, part crime thriller, part searing drama, Faceless devastated me. I was completely and utterly invested in the story and in its people and I would highly recommend it.
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:
Worn down by a job he hates, and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middle-class Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse, and he doesn’t know what to do.
Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing, and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max, but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing.
In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past, and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time, and the clock is ticking…
Hard-hitting, fast-paced and immensely thought-provoking, Faceless – the startling new standalone thriller from New Zealand’s ‘Queen of Crime’ – will leave you breathless.
Ready? Okay, let’s check in with Billy!
Billy wakes with a start. Her body cringes back into the corner, and the plastic ties that bind her wrists to the cold metal pipe rake into her skin. She gasps, and with that sharp inhalation of air, whips her head around, listening. What has she heard? Is there someone coming? Is he coming back? She must have fallen asleep. How could she have fallen asleep? She is appalled that she’s let down her guard. She won’t make that mistake again. She holds her breath and strains to listen, but can’t detect anything above the overwhelming noise of the rhythmic whoosh and buzz of her blood pulsing, the thud, thud, thud of her racing heart, which feels like it has migrated up to under her chin, and a high-pitched, almost electronic squealing that originates from within her head. The harder she listens, the louder it all gets. The silence is deafening. She knows she is in a room within a room; she recalls groggy impressions of a deserted street, of her concrete prison. She hears no one, and no one will hear her.
What little light there was before has vanished. Her eyes scan the blackness, darting, trying to land their gaze on something, searching for any change in tone, hint of grey, hint of anything to orientate herself. She turns her face to where she remembers the door is, squints even harder for a crack, a line of light, but there is none. There is only the blackness, blackness interrupted by the odd pinpoint flash of light from the puzzled firing of her retinal cells. The only source of light is from within her.
She leans into the cold concrete wall, rests her head against its solid reassurance. Its rough texture is so real, so permanent, that she moves her head from side to side gently, scraping, scraping, until the action moves beyond discomfort and the pain makes her stop. She squeezes her eyes tight shut; the tears track their way down her face. She feels their warmth trickle past her nose, over the bow of her lip, tastes their saltiness on her tongue. That minute amount of moisture reminds her of how dry her mouth is. The thought triggers her swallow reflex, but the act feels thickened and difficult. She tries to swallow again, and discovers she can’t. The swell of panic rises and she makes herself try again, breathing heavily twice and then chewing the insides of her cheeks to force some saliva into her mouth, moving the gobbet with her tongue to the back of her mouth and then with what feels like a gargantuan effort, swallows.
Her focus shifts to pain: the sharp sting of the fresh scrape on her forehead, the dull ache of the bands cutting into her wrists. The throb of her swollen eye. The dragging weight of her full bladder sitting like a stone in her abdomen. At this moment, in this pitch-black room, this is what she dreads. Not the man, not what he might do to her, not the dark, not the thought of vermin scuttling around, the rats, not thirst, nor hunger. It is this. What she has tried to ignore since she was brought here and what is now too urgent to avoid. She has to pee.
Her hands are tied. She can’t pull down her jeans, can’t pull down her undies. Of all the humiliations, this is the worst. But she can’t hold on any longer. She has to let go.
Poor Billy 😔 Want to know more? Need to know more? Of course you do! Faceless is available in digital formats and paperback. Order it directly from Orenda Books here.