Author: Amanda Brooke
Published: 14th Jan 2016
Today I am exciting to be hosting and kicking off my first blog tour of the year. Today I have an extract of The Child's Secret and if that's anything to go by, I just know you will want to read this book! All the other stops on the tour are listed below, so do check out their blogs for some other great content.
Wednesday 7 October 2015
The muscles in Sam’s calves screamed with pain as he turned the last corner. His legs were shaking but he didn’t slow as he started up the hill that would take him home. He was in pretty good shape for forty, and more than used to pushing himself to the limit as if training for a marathon, but there would be no finishing line for Sam McIntyre. He had never been able to outrun his thoughts and today
was no exception. ‘Not far to go now, boy,’ he promised the dog trotting
alongside him. Jasper, a chocolate-brown cocker spaniel, was little more than a pup and he had been struggling to match his master’s stamina. At one point that morning Sam had thought he! would have to carry him, but the dog had picked up the scent of home and was now straining at his leash. Sam put his head down as they entered the final stretch and it was only when he stumbled to a stop on the driveway that he registered the police car parked outside the house he shared with his landlady. There were two policemen waiting on his doorstep and while the one in uniform spoke
quickly into his radio, the other approached Sam.
Sam glanced only briefly at the warrant card DCI Harper was showing him. He was more interested in checking the house for signs of the catastrophe that would explainthe need for a police presence. The drive was covered in a thick carpet of sodden autumn leaves with the exception of a small square next to Sam’s Land Rover. His landlady had left in her battered old Mini earlier that morning and hadn’t yet returned home.
‘What’s happened? Is it Selina?’
‘Selina Raymond. My landlady.’
‘No,’ Harper said dismissively. ‘Could we have a word
with you, please?’
‘About?’ Sam asked as he raked his fingers through his
short-cropped hair that was more salt than pepper around his temples.
‘Perhaps we could go inside first?’
Sam wasn’t so much followed by the police officers as he was escorted up the handful of steps to the front door of the large Georgian house. Stepping into a wide communal hallway, Selina’s ground-floor apartment was on the left and at the far end there was another door that accessed a shared utility room and the rear gardens.
The curved staircase with its painted white spindles and polished oak handrail leading up to Sam’s apartment was among many of the original features which gave visitors a grand first impression of the house, but both policemen remained impassive as they headed upstairs. The only sound came from heavy police boots and Jasper’s laboured breathing.
Once inside, Sam turned to Harper who was a few years younger than Sam and a fair bit shorter and wider too. He had a round face and the kind of smile that would earn him a fortune as a used-car salesman.
‘Are you going to tell me what this is about now?’
Harper appeared more interested in taking in every detail of Sam’s living quarters than answering the question. The door to the apartment opened directly to a living room that had access to a small kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom. The room was wide and spacious and there was plenty of light, albeit grey, coming from a large picture window to the front of the house and a smaller one to the
rear. The furnishings were sparse: a small dining table, two armchairs – only one of which showed any signs of wear and tear – and a bookshelf which was almost as bare as
the room itself. The floorboards were polished, but there was no rug or any other homely touches to speak of, except for a couple of garish crocheted cushions. While he waited, Sam watched Jasper disappear into the kitchen and the sound of frantic lapping from his water bowl quickly followed.
‘You live here on your own?’ Harper asked eventually.
‘Just me and the dog.’
‘And you’ve been out for a run?’
Dripping with sweat, Sam opened up his arms and invited the detective to take in his attire. ‘Aye,’ he answered in his soft Scottish lilt, his voice sounding pleasant enough despite his instincts telling him he should be cautious.
‘How long were you out for?’
Sam glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, which was showing half past twelve, and he did a quick calculation.
‘A couple of hours, maybe.’
‘I thought runners wore watches to time themselves?’
Harper said, glancing at Sam’s bare wrist. Sam shrugged. He had long since lost all desire to track the passage of time and hadn’t worn a watch in six years.
‘I don’t,’ he answered bluntly, having decided that he wasn’t going to give any more information than was absolutely necessary until the detective explained what it was he
wanted. Harper was nodding as he drew his own conclusions.
‘Two hours. That must have been some run.’
‘So how far did you get?’
‘Not that far. I ran towards Allerton, then Garston, before
sweeping around towards Hunts Cross. It was the first time out running for Jasper so we walked for a while too.’
‘Did you go through the park?’
‘Calderstones? Yes, I cut through it on the way out, but we came along Menlove Avenue on the way home,’ he said as he rubbed his clean-shaven chin and neck where the sweat had begun to dry and tickle. ‘Has something happened there? I work in the park.’
‘Yes, we know. And you only left the house at about half ten, you say?’
‘It could have been nearer to ten but no earlier,’ Sam said as he sat down heavily at the dining room table, which was clear except for a single sheet of silky smooth paper.
The six-inch square was dark green with a pattern of yellow flowers and he played with a corner while waiting for Harper to explain himself. His patience eventually paid off.
‘At approximately nine o’clock this morning, an eightyear- old girl was reported missing. While you were out on your run, Mr McIntyre, her parents have been frantically searching for her,’ the detective added helpfully.
Sam’s slowing pulse gathered up speed. ‘What little girl?’
The name was like a direct jolt to the heart but Sam kept his voice surprisingly steady when he asked, ‘What’s happened? Has she run away? Do you think she’s been harmed?’
‘That’s something I’d like to find out as quickly as possible for her parents’ sake.’
‘Have you spoken to them? Is her mum all right?’
‘Mrs Peterson is distraught, as I’m sure you can imagine,’
Harper said, and then his eyes narrowed, changing not only his demeanour but the nature of the interview. ‘When was the last time you saw Jasmine, Mr McIntyre?’
A flicker of guilt crossed Sam’s face but he hid it well.
‘It was a while ago. Two weeks, maybe.’
‘That long?’ Harper said, less concerned with hiding his own reactions. ‘But you had become very close to her, hadn’t you?’ Before Sam could respond, he added, ‘And yet you haven’t known her very long at all.’
The Child's Secret is out on 14th January.