Told you it was a busy day on the blog today! Blog post number FIVE and I have the pleasure of sharing an extract from Alex Caan’s novel, ‘First To Die’. Big thank you to Bonnier Zaffre for the blog tour invite! This book is another one on my radar. I’m sure I will get round to it….I hope!
SOMEWHERE IN THE CROWD IS A KILLER
Bonfire Night and St James’s Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner’s office are called in.
The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. Why would anyone want him dead?
THEY WILL STRIKE AGAIN
As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus scramble to discover an antidote, first one, then another pharmacist goes missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members.
AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT . . .
With thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?
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The day was cold, but there was no rain, just a light fog. Zain was waiting by the entrance to Westminster Cathedral, watching throngs of tourists go in and out of the building. It was a different time of day to the last time this meeting had taken place.
DCI Raymond Cross loped across the courtyard leading to the cathedral in easy
strides, covering the distance quickly. He had his panama hat on and his coat was hanging open. Zain walked towards him when he spotted him, and they shook hands, before moving past the cathedral into the heart of Belgravia.
‘How have you been, Zain?’
‘I’m fine. Sir.’
‘You don’t look it.’
‘It’s been a tough few days. You know what’s it like when you’re on the front line.
You get burned, quite literally in my case, tired, battered and function on adrenaline. I’m
‘I get it. You’re wondering why I didn’t just tell you this by email?’
‘The thought had crossed my mind, sir.’
Zain had sent the directory link to Cross. He had the resources that would crack it a
lot more quickly than Zain or Michelle could. But he’d insisted on meeting in person to
deliver the results.
‘I wanted to see you,’ said Cross. ‘Is that so bad? After all we’ve been through
‘You make us sound like lovers, sir.’
‘The bonds we share are stronger, don’t you think? We really did risk life and death
for each other.’
‘Possibly. More for the country though.’
‘I don’t believe that, neither do you.’
He was right. When Zain had been a teenager on the brink of carrying out a suicide
mission, Cross had saved him. He had asked him to betray the cell he was part of, and instead work for the British government. What had followed was years of being bankrolled by the state. His Arabic studies at SOAS, his training in cyber-security, joining up with GCHQ and then ending up where Raymond Cross had always wanted him. In counter-terrorism, SO15, he put everything he had learned to its most effective use.
Until it all went horribly wrong. Zain had got back on track with Cross there to
support him. Those bonds were indelible, bonds that even family members couldn’t share.
Zain still hadn’t recovered fully. His time with Kate Riley was meant to be a form of
rehab, or some sort of golden goodbye: he wasn’t sure which. It hadn’t worked out like
either. He was convinced he would get hurt no matter who he worked for.