#TheNightSwim by Megan Goldin @MeganGoldin @TheMirrorBooks #blogtour

I cannot believe that I get to kick off Megan Goldin’s blog tour today! Thank you so much to Mirror Books for asking me to be involved in the tour, and for supplying the ARC. Here is my review:

In The Night Swim, a new thriller from Megan Goldin, author of the “gripping and unforgettable” (Harlen Coben) The Escape Room, a true-crime podcast host covering a controversial trial finds herself drawn deep into a small town’s dark past and a brutal crime that took place there years before.

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name – and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognised for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation – but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago.

Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered – and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases – and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

What does TWG think?

With Megan Goldin’s debut novel, ‘The Escape Room’ being one of my top reads of 2019, I was so excited to get stuck into her newest book, ‘The Night Swim’ – and what a book it is!

Rachel has gone from zero to hero in a short space of time due to her true crime podcast, with many people finding her voice familiar in public, but not her looks. Until now. Given the nature of her podcast and the fact that she has been face to face with serial killers, the prospect of being recognised in public filled her with dread. How did they know what she looked like? How did they know where she would be at that precise moment when even she didn’t have a clue until the last minute?

Just like crimes and the trials that go with them, there was clearly a lot more to the situation than Rachel had anticipated. Was she going to end up being a crime in her own true crime podcast?

Megan Goldin nails suspense like nobody’s business. She knows how to create drama that is unique to the storyline, and she knows how to keep it consistent throughout the entire book. For me, those elements were the highlight of the book because, whilst they showcased the authors fantastic way with words, they also gave the storyline its intricate layers that ended up holding me hostage.

I would be genuinely surprised if this novel didn’t make it onto the big screen at some point because it just screams to be televised!

If you’re after a storyline that has you hooked from page one, with characters who manage to unnerve you and intrigue you at the same time, as well as a read that is full to the brim of dramatic events, suspense and stomach churning intensity, then I highly recommend that you put ‘The Night Swim’ on your ‘to read’ pile – you will not regret it.

Buy now.

#HerShallowGrave @DKHood_Author @Bookouture #BooksOnTour #Review

Another Bookouture tour for you this evening! Thanks, as always, to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in DK.Hood’s blog tour for ‘Her Shallow Grave’, and for the ARC.

She runs her trembling fingers over the dark, damp walls surrounding her. Above her head, she hears heavy footsteps. She knows she has nowhere to hide and as the door to the cellar is flung open, she finally sees his face.

It’s winter in Black Rock Falls and, as tourists flock to the small town to take in the snowy mountain peaks, one visitor makes a sickening discovery. The frozen body of a young woman hangs from a tree on the outskirts of town. Detective Jenna Alton is called in to investigate.

Jenna’s stomach turns as she surveys the ice-cold remains, and she’s soon alerted to similar burial sites nearby. With no missing persons reported, Jenna and her deputy, David Kane, fear Black Rock Falls is being used as a dumping ground for bodies.

As the body count mounts up, Jenna is more determined than ever to find the person responsible. But as she tries to catch the killer out, he outsmarts her once again and Jenna begins to wonder if he knows her next move. Could he be closer to her than she thinks?

When the investigation takes Jenna to a homeless shelter right in the heart of the community, she fears for the life of a woman who hasn’t been seen for a few days. It’s clear the killer is beginning to escalate, so Jenna ramps up the investigation and puts herself in unthinkable danger. Can she catch the murderer off guard, or does he already know she’s on her way? Has Jenna finally met a killer she can’t catch?

What does TWG think?

Omg would Jenna and Dave just get it on already! If the chemistry between the tour of them sizzled anymore, they would be needing a fire engine not a sheriff!!!

Ahem. Anyway.

Snow is everywhere in the latest installment from D.K Hood, as are snowmen. Now unfortunately, they aren’t the Olaf from Frozen kind….before you get too excited! Perhaps the scenes in the book are like those from a Disney film gone majorly wrong….or not. Gosh, how sinister would that be! Sorry, I’m veering off again.

Right – book number 9 already and, having been with this series since book 1, I can only hope we have many more installments to coke! Kane and Alton are probably one of my most favourite fictional duo because of the way they feed off each other, and their chemistry. The banter between the pair is hilarious as well which definitely helps!

The team have their work cut out as once again, a dodgy individual has claimed Black Rock Falls as their residence for committing a murder….or two….or three. Unfortunately Jenna finds herself slap bang in the middle of something completely unrelated to their original case. Without giving too much away, my heart was in my mouth and I had a horrible feeling come over me! If you’ve read the book you may be able to work out which bit I’m on about, and if you have, did you feel the same? No spoilers obviously!

I loved how Dave’s armour was knocked away a smidge in this book. Its very rare for this character to show emotion and what not, so the fact he was able to let that out was amazing to see as it made me realise that he isn’t a human with no warmth, no feeling to him, he’s an actual warm blooded, thoughtful human who cares deeply about those he feels he can trust.

Once again D.K.Hood has not minced her words AT ALL, carving another absolutely BRILLIANT novel with chilling scenes that will get right under your skin and into your bones. Her character formation is second to none. What I loved most was the way in which she describes every miniscule detail as though it is the most important piece of information in the world. Because of that, the entire storyline came life meaning that I was able to envision each and every action. Unnerving, yes, but so worth it.

This is a series you do NOT want to miss out on! Loved it!

Buy now.

#SomebodysDaughter @Carolewyer #BooksOnTour @bookouture

I am delighted to be one of many bloggers closing Carol Wyer’s blog tour for her latest release, ‘Somebody’s Daughter’, huge thanks to Bookouture for having me and for supplying me with an ARC.

One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again?

What does TWG think?

It isn’t often that I’m speechless, lost for words, but funnily enough, it seems to only happen when Carol Wyer is involved. Hmmmmm, I wonder why THAT is! I wouldn’t put it past Wyer to rub her magic ball (no, not Mr Grumpy’s), and put a spell on her readers to render them unable to put a sentence together coherently!

Oh Natalie Ward, you’re a bit of a lost soul aren’t you? I am genuinely surprised that Ward keeps getting up time and time again, when she’s showing signs of being on the brink of giving up. Can you blame her? I can’t, not really. Luck is definitely not on her side once again, yet she goes and does her job the only way she knows how; like Frosty the Snowman on speed. Or something like that.

Carol Wyer has a mind that I would HATE to cross down a dark alley. That said, I simply cannot fault the way in which this author pulls 26 letters of the alphabet and rearranges them in various different forms to create a story with so much depth, I’m surprised it didn’t come with a ladder for us short people! The attention to detail and seamless flow from one scene to another, was a work of art and very, VERY cleverly done.

To say I loved ‘Somebody’s Daughter’ would be an understatement! I bloody -insert expletive of the f variety here’ ADORED it, and even still, that doesn’t quite sum up my thoughts to a T.

Genius.

Buy now.

#ToTellYouTheTruth @GillyMacmillan @ArrowPublishing

I’m closing the blog tour for Gilly Macmillan and ‘To Tell You The Truth’ – thank you to Arrow Publishing for the tour invite and ARC.

Lucy Harper has a talent for invention…

She was nine years old when her brother vanished in the woods near home. As the only witness, Lucy’s story of that night became crucial to the police investigation. Thirty years on, her brother’s whereabouts are still unknown.

Now Lucy is a bestselling thriller writer. Her talent for invention has given her fame, fortune, and an army of adoring fans. But her husband, Dan, has started keeping secrets of his own, and a sudden change of scene forces Lucy to confront some dark, unwelcome memories. Then Dan goes missing and Lucy’s past and present begin to collide. Did she kill her husband? Would she remember if she did?

Finally, Lucy Harper is going to tell us the truth.

Cross her heart.
And hope to die.

What does TWG think?

I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of ‘To Tell You The Truth’, to be honest. Even now, a few days after finishing the book, I still cant quite get my head around what I had read. That’s definitely not that’s bad thing though, that a book is memorable enough to make me keep thinking about it for days! But do I think that I was bowled over by it? No, probably not.

Lucy Harper has a past that she would rather not be made public, yet being a bestselling thriller writer, Lucy’s life is a bit more in the public eye than she would like. To the outside world she has a wonderful husband, a wonderful life, and the means to create novels that fly off the shelves. However her husband, Dan, seems to have his fingers in a lot more pies than he should. Put it this way, Lucy may earn the money but Dan has the control….and he isnt afraid to use that power to his advantage. Unfortunately that comes at a cost….

‘To Tell You The Truth’ reminded me of a case of mistaken identity. Lucy had her own mind, yet she wasnt always in control of her actions or what came out of her mouth. She had a little help….and not the good kind. I wont give too much detail as I dont want to give too much of the storyline away. Let’s just say that her actions were a little bit questionable, as were Dan’s.

The storyline had me questioning many things, like the truth behind Lucy’s brother and his disappearance. I would have liked many of the questions to be answered within the storyline, however I did feel as though I was left with more questions than answers. I didnt feel as though the loose ends were tied up fully, and I felt that the ending was a little bit of an anti climax because of that which was a shame.

I was impressed with the psychology within the novel, and I appreciated the multi layered personalities of the characters and the uncertainty of the storyline itself. Despite my reservations of a large portion of the book, I did enjoy the addictiveness of the entire read and the thrilling situations which left Gilly Macmillan’s novel etched on my brain.

Buy now.

#TheJulyGirls @Phoebe_locke @AntoniaWhitton @headlinepg

Thank you, Antonia, and the Headline team for asking me to take part in the paperback blog tour for Phoebe Locke’s, ‘The July Girls’, and for the ARC. Here is my review:

Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.

Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives . . .

What does TWG think?

-claps- YASSSSSS!!!!!! What a book!!!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Everything I thought was true, wasn’t, and everything I thought was a lie, was the truth. ‘The July Girls’ is brilliant at taking you under its wing very early on in the book. I actually struggled to put the book down, and before I knew it it was 1am and I had a mere 100 pages left to read!

The author, Phoebe Locke, very cleverly honed in on what a magpie does, yet it didn’t seem to hit home until the book nearly came to an end as all of the puzzle pieces leading up to the conclusion weren’t all there yet.

This book follows the life of Addie, Jessie, and a magpie. What do the three of them have in common? That is the big question. I chose to look past what was right in front of me the whole time, over complicating the storyline for myself. Was there a need to do that? Not in the slightest. Don’t overthink ‘The July Girls’ and just go with the flow, you’ll thank me later!!

I loved the chilling vibe to the book, and I thought that everything was combined brilliantly over the course of the books timeline. Honestly, this is a bloody brilliant book and I was hooked. Addie’s naivety gave the storyline a pinch of innocence, whilst also making all of the suspenseful situations all the more darker. The subject of ‘trust’ is prominent throughout the book, and I must say that that definitely made me think about family ties and whether you can trust those you are actually meant to trust because of who they are.

‘The July Girls’ is dark, devious, and darn right gripping. Whilst I enjoyed Phoebe Locke’s previous novel, the author has come up trumps with this book and has delivered an absolute blinder. I want to read it all over again!

Buy now from Amazon.

‘Buried Angels’ #Review @trisha460 @Bookouture #PatriciaGibney #BuriedAngels

Many thanks to Bookouture for the blog tour invite and ARC for ‘Buried Angels’ by Patricia Gibney. I am excited to be sharing my review:

Bubbles of cold sweat trickled down Faye’s spine. The hole wasn’t empty. Before she could turn and run, she caught the two sightless eyes staring up at her. Only then did she scream.

When Faye Baker discovers a fragile child’s skull behind the walls of her new home, Detective Lottie Parker is called to investigate. The house has been owned for years by the family of Faye’s boyfriend Jeff, so when Jeff starts acting suspiciously, Lottie wonders what he might be hiding…

Lottie doesn’t have long to dig deeper before a child’s bones are found by eleven-year-old Gavin on nearby railway tracks. The bones don’t match the small skull behind the walls, but Lottie can’t ignore the coincidence. Someone out there must be missing their loved ones and it’s up to her to put right a terrible wrong.

Unable to shake a feeling of foreboding, Lottie goes to speak to Faye, and discovers that she hasn’t turned up for work. When Faye’s body is found stuffed in the back of her car, Lottie needs to find out who wanted her to keep quiet.

As Lottie hunts for Faye’s killer, the case takes a darker turn when Gavin goes missing. Faye and Gavin are connected only by the grisly body parts they discovered. But who are these little victims and why has their killer come back? Can Lottie find the answers before another precious life is taken?

What does TWG think?

Nerves, nerves, where for art thou?! I seem to have lost my nerves…either that or they’ve been frayed! I honestly dont quite know what to say! I mean, the previous books in the series havent exactly been all calm and collective, yet this installment seems to have made a deal with the devil or something because it’s dark as hell!!!

There are a lot of things I can handle when it comes to the contents of psychological thrillers/crime novels, however bodies of youngsters is not really one of them! To say that the graphic descriptions surrounding that caught me off guard would be an understatement, however despite feeling quite uncomfortable, I couldn’t tear my eyes away. The storyline reminded me of forbidden fruit; compelling, majestic, but incredibly dark.

Did I enjoy the storyline? Hell yes I did. Lottie Parker is one of my all time favourite detectives as I love the fiery and fierce elements to her personality alongside the uncertain, flawed human being elements which people forget that detectives are. I could tell that her usual bravado was slipping a little during this book because of recent events, but I felt that that added more warmth to her character and upped the ante in the relatbilty stakes.

In regards to the storyline itself, the suspense was outstanding! If possible, i could have easily cut the tension with a knife – there was so much grit to sink my teeth into, whether it made my stomach wary or not. It all just….worked.

I would be quite happy to keep reading the Lottie Parker series until my dying days, as they just keep on getting better and better. Patricia Gibney is a force of nature and her skills are one to watch and admire!

Buy now.

#WinterRising @CallisterAuthor @Bookouture #blogtour #secretservice

Huge thanks to Bookouture for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review of ‘Winter Rising’ by Alex Callister.

‘Winter,’ he says. ‘You’re going rogue again.’
‘Desperate times.’
‘This is like chess and you’re the Queen. The best player on the board doesn’t get into a fight with a pawn.’
‘The Guardsman is no pawn.’

Winter returns to face the most feared hitman of all time: the nameless, faceless Guardsman.

Secret Service agent Winter knows global crime boss Alek Konstantin’s days are numbered after she seduced him, then revealed his identity to the world. Now, permanently on the run from the authorities, Alek fights to regain control as the brutal criminal organisation he ruled with an iron fist crashes down around him.

When a young woman called Lucy is viciously stabbed and dumped on a mossy grave, a harrowing message for Winter carved on her forehead. Winter follows the trail to the Guardsman – a pitiless contract killer, and Alek’s top hitman. Has the Guardsman gone rogue or is Alek pulling the strings to taunt Winter once more?

In a desperate bid to lure Lucy’s killer from the shadows and find a path to Alek, Winter books the Guardsman for a hit on herself. If she succeeds, she’ll have the world’s most dangerous killer at her mercy. But if she fails…

What does TWG think?

I am in my absolute element with this series! Winter is hardcore – she does not give a jot about anything and, whilst that ends up working in her favour some of the time, there are also times where not giving a hoot doesn’t work too well for her.

Take the Guardsman for example. On one side I can see why she cannot let emotions get the better of her (or any other thoughts for that matter), so it’s as though removing herself from the physical tasks ahead, is what works for her. At times, because on the other side of the coin, I think that her not giving a damn means that she ends up thinking a lot more irrationally. Probably why she gets herself in multiple pickles!

Alex Callister has Winter’s character and personality absolutely nailed. Shes very marmite yet I find that that makes her all the more intriguing because you never know what she is going to do next.

The suspense, thrill, and cut throat moments in the storyline were second to none. I loved the darkness and uncertainty which surrounded Winter’s every move – I didnt want the book to finish!

Another great read to grip hold of!

Buy now.

#HerLastMistake @CKovachAuthor @Bookouture #review #psychologicalthriller #blogtour

Many apologies for posting this a day late – horrendous pain rendered me useless.

Many thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in Carla Kovach’s blog tour for ‘Her Last Mistake’ and for the ARC. Here is my review:

Dressed in a sage green bridesmaid dress, and smiling for pictures, Holly is the happiest she’s ever been. Hours later, Holly is dead.

People love to hate Holly Long. Smart, beautiful and a woman who men find it hard to say no to, she’s the town’s most gossiped about resident.

Now Holly’s body lies in her hotel room, strangled at her best friend’s wedding party. And the gossip has stopped, because nobody wants to look like they did it.

When police search Holly’s immaculate apartment, amongst her stylish furnishings and expensive jewellery, they discover a different side to Holly. Orderly and precise, she wasn’t the chaotic party girl everyone thought her to be. In fact, Holly was a planner, and her next plan was to come out and tell her biggest secret – something she had been hiding for months, something that had the potential to ruin the lives of more than one wedding guest.

There are plenty of people who might have wanted to kill Holly, but only one who has finally made good on their promise.

What does TWG think?

Mind….blown!

What I love most about Carla Kovach’s novels is that, even though I have learned to expect the unexpected in regards to her storylines, the author STILL manages to catch me off guard with the shock element. Even if I wasn’t expecting it or it was deemed unexpected, the situations written about in this book were off the chart. Some may say that I don’t even have a word to describe what they were….and they would be right because I do not!

Holly is a very naive character and, even though that’s not always a bad thing, her naivety didnt really help her this time as she found herself losing the will to live….literally. Because of the way she lived her life (in secret), the truth behind her murder took a long time to make itself known as nobody had the answers to the questions Gina Harte and her team put to them.

Holly wasnt the only unlucky one in this storyline! If you’ve read the other books in the series you’ll know that Gina herself hasn’t had luck on her side at all, but for once I’m not actually meaning her!

The suspense behind this novel was exceptionally well done and didnt falter until the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of unknown that made itself evident throughout the chapters, meaning that I couldnt second guess a thing….even if I wanted to.

Just like many other psychological thrillers, the storyline takes it’s time to warm up, however the conclusion was more than worth the wait and showcased Carla Kovach’s twisted, unsavoury and utterly fascinating mind. A job well done.

Buy now.

Who is there for you when you need them the most? #FindHerAlive @lisalregan @Bookouture #DetectiveJosieQuinn

Just this moment finished reading ‘Find Her Alive’, and yes, I’m cutting it fine for my stop on the tour today with less than an hour left of the day. Rest assured, this review is definitely worth the wait!

(Thanks to Bookouture for the tour invite and review copy)

Josie treads gently, careful not to disturb the pile of perfect white bones laid out in the grass by her feet. Her voice is little more than a whisper.
“No! Not my sister…”

Detective Josie Quinn hasn’t heard from her sister since Trinity stormed out of the house in the heat of an argument three weeks ago. So, when human remains are found at the remote hunting cabin where Trinity was last seen, Josie can only assume the worst.

Gathering her team, Josie feels a surge of relief when the dental records match a different body – that of a missing single mother from a neighboring town. But now Josie’s is not the only broken family desperate for answers.

Dusting the crime scene for prints, a name smudged into the side of a nearby car is the first in a trail of clues Trinity left for Josie. In need of a big story to save her journalism career, it seems Josie’s sister was attempting to make contact with a dangerous serial killer known for creating sculptures with his victim’s bones. And Trinity won’t stop until she’s found him, even if it means becoming his next masterpiece…

Josie is certain there’s a critical clue in the ivory hair comb delivered to Trinity just days before she went missing. But as more bones surface, each set more likely to be Trinity’s than the last, time is running out to find her alive. Can Josie’s team trust her instincts in a case that is so deeply personal? Can she find her sister without putting other innocent lives in danger?

What does TWG think?

Holy schmoly! Spank my butt and call me Sparklebottom – THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO FREAKING GOOD! BEYOND GOOD ACTUALLY….SENSATIONAL, EXCEPTIONAL…..!!!!!!!!!

I could go on! Apologies for the severe use of capital letters! They were definitely needed!!

I seriously feel like a worn out record when it comes to reviewing Lisa Regan’s novels, because I am going to say the exact same thing that I say in every review, and that is….i have no idea how she does it, but this is a series that gets better and better! Because it does, it genuinely does and I’m running out of adjectives to use to describe just how incredible the storyline, and previous storylines, are.

Josie Quinn has dealt with more crud than a field full of cows. I dont know whether I am more surprised that shes still standing after everything shes been through, or the fact that she is amazing at rubbing people up the wrong way. Either or, she does it with gusto, something i never doubted for a second when it comes to our Josie!

For such a lightening paced storyline that delivered on a never ending string of gut wrenching moments, i actually felt quite emotional at the very end of the book as I could tell that the way Josie was feeling in that moment was genuine. For a split second it was as though she was no longer Detective Josie Quinn, instead being Josie Quinn – beloved girlfriend, sister, daughter, friend, granddaughter…..human. I have a lot of admiration for Josie’s character as it is, yet that went even higher as I closed the book.

I cannot fault one iota of ‘Find Her Alive’ – I loved every single aspect of the book and how it was delivered. I thought the author brought the situations to life brilliantly whilst also adding in various red herrings and crucial levels of suspense. I loved how, despite having a brief hiatus between books, readers can just fall back into the swing of things with Josie and the gang as though they were never away.

‘Find Her Alive’ is chilling, its shocking, its addictive. Its everything I could have wished for in a psychological thriller and more, a book truly worthy of stardom in all different forms.

Buy now.

If #TheLastCrossing by @BrianMcGilloway has you intrigued, here is a snippet to whet your appetite! @DomePress #blogtour

If you’ve spotted Brian McGilloway’s novel on social media and are wondering what it’s all about, I have the next best thing (aside from reading it of course) for my stop on the tour today! Here is an extract of ‘The Last Crossing’ – thank you to Emily for asking me to be on the tour. Enjoy!

Tony, Hugh and Karen thought they’d seen the last of each other thirty years ago. Half a lifetime has passed and memories have been buried. But when they are asked to reunite – to lay ghosts to rest for the good of the future – they all have their own reasons to agree. As they take the ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland the past is brought in to terrible focus – some things are impossible to leave behind.

In The Last Crossing memory is unreliable, truth shifts and slips and the lingering legacy of the Troubles threatens the present once again.

Extract.

‘I was younger than you the first time your uncle sent me out to do a job. He was one of ours who joined the cops. Your uncle wanted me to pop him. That’s how he put it, like it was nothing. Not shoot, not kill – pop, like a balloon at a party.’

‘Did you?’ Karen asked.

Duggan nodded. ‘He was coming out of the Rialto with his girl. We’d got word he was there, at The Shootist of all things. Him and her comes out, with the rest of the crowd and starts walking down the Strand towards their car. I was hiding up on the walls opposite the picture house. When he started walking, I comes out and across the street, behind him. I’d a parka on, the hood zipped up around my face so I couldn’t see properly, and my own breathing loud as anything inside the hood. I’d my piece in my coat pocket and a pair of gloves on. Just as I went to pull it out, he turned and looked at me. And he knew. I could see his eyes, he knew what was coming, as if he’d been waiting for it all along. He wasn’t surprised or hurt. It was like he was disappointed, like he’d thought maybe he’d have been given a pass on it.’

He paused, as if he was back there, in that moment, facing the man once more. When he spoke again, his voice was wet and timbrous.

‘He turned and shoved his girlfriend to the ground. I remember that; other fuckers have pulled people in front of them, used them like shields, but not him. He pushed her to the ground just as I shot. The gun bucked a bit when I fired, so the first shot caught him in the stomach and the second on the neck.’

The silence hung in the car. Tony glanced at Karen whose eyes were bright with tears and he suspected that she was spooling the shooting of her father inside her head. He reached across and took her hand in his, clasping it. He felt her open her fingers a little and splaying them, interconnect them with his.

‘He was my first. Cooney, his name was. I always thought the fucker was noble, throwing the girl to the ground. He drowned in his own blood by the time the ambulance arrived.’

He turned and looked over at Barr. ‘That’s the work your uncle sent me out to do for him while he sat in the bar, holding court. I was sixteen at the time.’

‘Do you regret it?’ Karen asked.

‘What? What I did?’

She nodded.

‘Never. Except with Martin,’ he said. ‘But we’ll take care of that today. Isn’t that right, Richard?’

‘Any sign of a shop?’ Tony asked, keen to change the subject.

‘Did you ever see it?’ Duggan asked, as if Tony had not even spoken.

Barr, to whom the question had been addressed, glanced quizzically at him. ‘See it?’

‘The Shootist? It’s a cracker of a film. John Wayne’s the gunslinger or something, aw, what’s this his name is? Not Cogburn, that was the other one. That’ll annoy me all day now, his name. Anyway, he’s got cancer and is dying and does one last job. It was Wayne’s last film. He died of cancer himself a few years later. I was sorry to hear that; his films were always good. “Truly this was the son of God”,’ he drawled.

Karen looked at Tony in disbelief either at the mental gymnastics that Duggan had just performed in the conversation, or the fact that the only sympathy which he’d expressed had been for an actor he’d not known rather than a man he’d gunned down himself in front of his girlfriend.

‘Do you mind that one? Him a Roman centurion talking with a Texas drawl. Like Connery commanding a Russian submarine with a Scottish accent. Those guys weren’t actors; they were stars. Didn’t matter they were always playing themselves.’

‘What happened to Cooney’s girlfriend?’ Karen asked, leaning forward and, in doing so, releasing Tony’s hand. He felt a pang of regret, could still feel the pressure of her skin on his. He’d not held Ann’s hand in such a manner for years before her death and felt a strange disloyalty and simultaneous thrill at having done so now with Karen.

‘Fuck knows,’ Duggan said. ‘The last I saw of her, she was lying on the pavement outside the Rialto.’

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