Today I’m delighted to be on the latest Orenda blog tour for Blood Song. This is a book that I am keen to read soon, but for now I am sharing an extract with thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour and Orenda Books for providing thBe extract.
The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series
Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.
Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.
Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.
Grant Road, Harrow, London
Saturday, 3 December 2016, 1.00 am
Jennifer Marsden’s father had contacted the police at eight that night. Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Pearce’s first reflex was to turn to Emily Roy. The profiler had interviewed the girl’s parents, then her grandparents, who lived a few doors down the street, before moving on to the neighbours.
Emily looked to Aliénor Lindbergh for the go-ahead. Aliénor nodded. Emily rang the bell and retreated a few steps.
The door was opened almost right away by a thirty-something woman bundled up in a dressing gown, black hair pulled into a messy bun on top of her head.
The young woman scratched at her cheek with blue false nails. ‘Yeah…’
Aliénor registered Emily’s smile. Took a mental picture of it. Tight-lipped, mouth turned up at the corners. Narrowed eyes, too.
‘I’m Emily Roy. I work with the Metropolitan Police. This is my colleague, Aliénor Lindbergh.’
The woman looked down her nose at Aliénor, giving her the onceover. ‘You recruitin’ in primary schools these days then, are yer? This about young Jennifer, innit?’
Emily squinted at her. ‘Sorry to bother you so late, Martine,’ she continued. ‘Is it all right if I call you Martine?’
‘I prefer Marty.’
‘What’s ’er name again – your colleague I mean? I didn’t catch it.’
‘Her name’s Aliénor.’
‘Alien-or? Well that don’t exactly ’elp a girl get ahead in life, does it! They must’ve ’ad a field day wiv you at school, innit?’
Aliénor bit her tongue. That was the hardest thing, really: knowing when to say something and when to keep her mouth shut, even when the other person was expecting a reply. So much behaviour to decode all the time. To understand and integrate. A whole other language to learn.
‘That’s not from ’round ’ere, is it? Alien-or,’ Marty went on.
‘Where’s that from, then?’
Emily gave a discreet nod. Aliénor replicated Emily’s smile: mouth turned up at the corners, narrowed eyes.
‘It’s French,’ she said, trying not to let her smile falter.
‘French? Ooh la la! You don’t have a French accent, though. I’d never ’ave pegged you as a frog.’
‘I’m not French; I’m Swedish.’
‘Swedish? Why make fings easy, I s’pose…’
‘When was the last time you saw Jennifer, Marty?’ Emily interjected.
‘This morning. She walks past ’ere to catch the 182 on ’er way to the ’igh school.’ Marty slowly opened and closed her eyes like a lizard lazing in the sun.
Emily let the silence percolate between them for a moment.
‘Would you mind if we continued our conversation inside?’ she suddenly ventured.
Marty’s eyes zeroed in on her sharp nails. She traced an index finger around the edges. ‘Jones … My Jones needs ’is rest…’
‘Jones? Is he your husband, Marty?’
‘Yes,’ she whispered, as if suddenly afraid she would wake him up.
‘I’ll be careful,’ Emily replied, striding forwards.
Marty had no choice but to step aside and let her pass. The profiler made her way through to the kitchen and took a seat at the small, square table. The dirty dishes from what looked like dinner had not been cleared away. Marty stood on the other side of the table, as if she were waiting to be told what to do. Emily motioned for her to sit down.
Aliénor was still standing in the doorway, watching Marty fidget with the belt of her dressing gown. 86
‘You didn’t see her come home again this afternoon?’ Emily prompted.
‘Jennifer. You didn’t see her coming home from school this afternoon?’
‘Do you know the Marsden family well, Marty?’
‘Not really … Just as a neighbour, y’know,’ she replied, with shifty eyes.
‘Jennifer never stopped in here on her way home from school, for a chat?’
The corners of Marty’s mouth turned downwards. She smoothed her dressing gown with the back of her hand.
‘Do you really fink I’d let a tramp like that set foot in ’ere? In my ’ouse? Under my bleedin’ roof?’
Emily gave Aliénor a subtle glance. ‘Do you mean Jennifer, Marty?’ she replied, as Aliénor disappeared down the hallway.
‘Yeah, Jen … Miss Marsden, yeah,’ she spat, with a pout of disgust.
‘Marty, could we have a word with Jones?’
The young woman shook her head like a stubborn child.
‘Why not, Marty?’
‘I don’t want you to see ’im like that,’ she replied, twisting the belt of her dressing gown around her index finger.
‘What do you mean, like that?’
‘The way ’e is … naked … not a stitch on ’im…’
‘That’s not a big deal, Marty. We can cover him up. So no one sees him.’
‘Yeah … I s’pose…’ Marty tilted her head to one side. ‘Your colleague … I don’t want ’er to come upstairs wiv us.’
‘No, don’t worry, Marty. We’ll go upstairs just the two of us. My colleague will stay down here. Is that all right, Marty?’
‘Yeah, ’s all right … I s’pose that’s all right.’
Two armed police officers suddenly burst into the kitchen, barking orders. Marty looked up at them in a daze. Then she did what she was told and got on her knees and lay face down on the kitchen floor with her arms and legs spread apart. Emily went upstairs to join the two other officers, who were waiting for her in the bathroom doorway.
There were half a dozen overturned candles wallowing in red puddles on the bathroom floor. A man was lying in the bathtub, his body immersed in the bloody water, right arm hanging over the side, head slumped over his chest.
Jennifer also lay in the bath facing him, her throat slit.
Emily walked downstairs and out of the Partridge house.
DCS Jack Pearce was waiting for her by a marked police car.
Aliénor was crouched beside the car, hugging her knees into her chest, rocking back and forth.
‘What’s happened?’ Emily asked Pearce.
Her superior gulped and moistened his lips.
Hesitated for a second or two.
Emily stiffened. In that short silence, she sensed the pain.
And the fear.
Blood Song is available from Amazon.
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