Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an extract from His Favourite Graves! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is, is that His Favourite Graves is both entertaining and harrowing, simultaneously heartbreaking and gruesome, and riveting throughout. It’s pitch-black and brutal and I loved it. I would definitely recommend it to crime thriller fans, although perhaps less to the faint of heart or readers with a weak stomach.
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:
Desperate for reward money – and to rescue his marriage – an embattled sheriff takes incalculable risks to find a missing boy. An edge-of-your-seat, twisted and twisty thriller from New Zealand’s King of Crime.
To catch a killer… Maybe you’ve got to be one…
Acacia Pines, USA. Sheriff Cohen’s life is falling apart – his father accidentally burned down the retirement home, his wife has moved out, and his son is bullying other kids at school. When high-school student, Lucas Connor, is abducted, Cohen sees a chance to get his life back on track – to win back his wife and scoop the reward money offered for Lucas’s safe return. But as the body count rises, it becomes clear that Cohen’s going to have to make the kind of decision from which there’s no coming back … a decision with deadly consequences…
A furiously paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller exposing the dark underbelly of small-town life, His Favourite Graves is also a twisted and twisty story of father-and-son relationships, and the one last gamble of a desperate man to save everything…
Ready? Set? Let’s go!
Nathan is a big kid with angular features that ought to make him good-looking, but are betrayed by a meanness that crept in around the time his mom moved out. He has dark hair swept to the side that overhangs his right eye. His other eye is fixed on a computer monitor as his hands fly across the keyboard.
‘Any requests for dinner?’
‘You could leave me alone for starters.’
I don’t have the energy to answer him, so I head into the kitchen and grab a beer. I’m just about to open it when my phone goes. It’s the station.
I hit answer. ‘What is it, Sharon?’ I ask, sounding grumpier than I intended.
Before I can apologise, she says, ‘Sheriff, Peter Connor is on the line for you. Says it’s urgent.’
I’ve known Peter since I was a kid. He was a year ahead of me in school and was always the cool guy because he was the guitarist in a school rock band. He gave up on the music, and went on to become a novelist with a range of successes. But the last few years haven’t been kind to him. He never bounced back after the critics turned on him after his last book, one saying it was aimed at people who liked to tear out the pages and set fire to them, before going on to call it Z-grade trash. Not long after that his wife walked out on him, having discovered the same thing that Deborah discovered – online dating. The only relationship Peter has formed since being single is with the bottle.
‘Put him through,’ I say, wondering if he’s gotten behind the wheel of his car and ended up in a ditch somewhere.
He comes on the line. His words are rapid-fire, and I can’t pick where one ends and the other begins.
‘Whoa, whoa, slow down, Peter. Slow down and try again.’
Another flow of syllables.
‘Take a deep breath,’ I say.
Peter takes a deep breath. I hear it happen, like a vacuum cleaner flicked on for a brief moment. I picture him pacing the room, his knuckles white as he holds the phone tightly. ‘My boy,’ he says, slower now, not by much, but enough for me to understand him.
‘My boy didn’t come home from school.’
Something twitches in my stomach, and I picture his son Lucas.
Peter fires off short sentences. ‘He always comes home. From school. He has a curfew. Five o’clock. He knows if he’s not home by then he gets in trouble. So he’s always home by then. Always. Usually by four. Always by four. Never fails. Except for today. I need you to find him. It’s … You … you have to find him.’
It’s a little after five now. Summer is close and the days are getting longer. There are three more hours of daylight left, and this time next month it won’t be getting dark till well after nine. We’re fast approaching the time of the year we spend the rest of the year waiting for. It’s also the season for kids being notoriously late. They’re off swimming in quarries or smoking in the woods or hitting baseballs. They’re breaking curfews and not giving a damn.
‘Kids always have a way of showing up,’ I say, and immediately regret my choice of words. I am, after all, on the phone to a crime writer. There’s only one thing a crime writer is going to say to a statement like that.
Peter goes ahead and says it. ‘And sometimes they show up dead. They show up in shallow graves stabbed or strangled, or tossed into dumpsters. And as you well know, Sheriff, the world is full of kids who go missing and never show up at all.’
He’s right. But still … ‘Maybe he’s got a flat tire. Or he’s gone to a friend’s house. You’ve called his friends?’
‘He doesn’t have any.’
‘Have you called the school?’
‘Nobody was answering, which is why I’ve come here.’
‘You’re at the school?’
‘And he doesn’t have a flat tire because his bike is here and it’s perfectly fine. Something has stopped him from biking home, and from calling me.’
The twitch in my stomach twitches again. This can’t be like last time, can it?
Are you feeling the tension? Good! Run, don’t walk, cos His Favourite Graves is out now! Order it directly from Orenda Books here.