Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Deadly Revenge. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and No Exit Press for my copy of the extract.
The new novel in the million-copy selling Detective Geraldine Steel series
‘Brilliant and chilling, Leigh Russell delivers a cracker of a read!’ – Martina Cole
When a hysterical mother reports her baby’s sudden disappearance, suspicion immediately falls on the absent husband. But Detective Geraldine Steel’s gut instinct tells her this case is not as simple as her colleagues think…
Complications in the mother’s life begin to surface, including her relationship with her controlling father, a controversial political figure. As the police investigate, their urgent attempt to find the missing infant grows ever more perplexing.
Steel is forced to suspect everyone associated with the family and when a body is discovered, matters take a deadly turn.
For fans of Martina Cole, Mel Sherratt and LJ Ross.
Geraldine frowned enquiringly at the constable. ‘And how is that my job, all of a sudden? I do have a workload of my own to get through.’
As a detective sergeant it was true there was always plenty for Geraldine to do, but nothing on her desk was currently urgent.
‘Please, Sarge,’ the constable wheedled, pressing his palms together in mock supplication. There was an edge of desperation behind the comical gesture. ‘I’m convinced that nothing short of your magic touch will be able to get any sense out of her, if there is any sense to be had.’
‘Oh, all right, I’ll speak to her.’ With a sigh, Geraldine stood up. ‘It’s not like I’m that busy right now, to be honest.’
She knew the constable had approached her for help not only because she was an experienced detective sergeant, but because she had a reputation for dealing effectively with hysterical women. It was not a reputation she relished.
‘I don’t know why he assumes I’ll be able to persuade her to talk,’ she muttered to Ariadne, the sergeant who sat opposite her.
‘It’s because you’re always so calm,’ Ariadne replied. ‘You make other people feel calm.’
‘Huh! I don’t know about that.’
‘Look how calm I am now that I know you’re going to deal with this, and I don’t have to worry about it,’ Ariadne grinned.
‘Wish me luck.’
Geraldine thought about Ariadne’s comment as she made her way to the interview room. Ariadne had spoken lightly, yet there was an element of truth in what she said. Geraldine
had always regarded most of the people she met as moody and emotional. On reflection, she wondered whether she should look at things from a different perspective, and consider that
she herself might be unusually phlegmatic. Certainly she had never regarded herself as especially placid by nature, yet she supposed she must be. It had taken a chance remark by a colleague to reveal that aspect of her own character to her.
She had always assumed it was her training as a detective that had helped her to remain outwardly composed regardless of circumstances, but she now realised that it was in her nature
to control her emotions. At forty years of age, it seemed she still didn’t know herself very well.
‘She’s distraught, Sarge,’ a female constable murmured as Geraldine entered the small interview room. ‘We can’t get any sense out of her.’
‘OK, leave her to me,’ Geraldine replied quietly. ‘Perhaps you could bring us some tea?’
The woman they were discussing was sobbing loudly.
Thick shoulder-length blonde hair hung down like a veil, concealing one side of her face completely, and the other side was mostly hidden by a large white handkerchief. Geraldine
spoke softly to her, and after a moment the woman blew her nose rather loudly, lowered the handkerchief and pushed her hair back off her flushed face. Her lips trembled as she gazed at Geraldine with frightened eyes, her make-up smudged and moist. Despite her strained expression, Geraldine could see she was beautiful, with large blue eyes, a small straight nose, slightly turned up at the end, and high cheekbones. If her looks hadn’t been marred by crying, she would have been exquisite.
‘I’m sorry,’ the blonde woman stammered, ‘it’s just that –’ she hiccuped, and then said in a rush, ‘my baby’s gone’.
Emitting the final word in a low wail, she hid her face in her handkerchief again and sobbed.
Geraldine felt a stab of fear, but she kept her countenance steady as she responded, careful to divest her voice of any emotion.
‘You need to stop crying so you can help us to find him,’ she said briskly. ‘Please, pull yourself together. We can’t help you if you don’t give us any information.’
Her suspicion that sympathy would only prompt the woman to cry more seemed justified when, with a few loud sniffs, the woman put away her handkerchief and looked up.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said.
‘Right, now, how old is the missing infant?’
‘She’s six months,’ the woman stammered.
‘And where did you last see her?’
‘I put her in her cot yesterday at about seven, as usual, and when I went in to her this morning, she was gone.’ Geraldine nodded. She had expected to hear that the baby had been asleep in her pram in the park, or at the shops, that the mother had turned away for only a few seconds, and in
that short space of time a stranger had run off with the baby.
Someone who had stolen the baby away from her home ought to be easier to trace. She relaxed slightly, while the mother hid her face in her handkerchief once more and wept.
‘Now, you need to tell me exactly what happened,’ Geraldine said firmly. ‘Let’s start with your name.’
The constable brought in a cup of tea and Jessica sipped it gratefully.
‘I’m sorry if it isn’t very hot,’ Geraldine apologised with a slight smile, maintaining her attempt to normalise the conversation, despite the circumstances that had brought Jessica to the police station. ‘Now, tell me everything that happened, and please be as detailed as you can.’
Jessica explained how she had woken up late that morning.
‘Usually Daisy wakes me really early. She’s a good sleeper but she’s only six months old.’ A tear slid down her cheek, but she retained enough self-control to continue cogently. ‘This
morning I didn’t wake up till half past nine and she wasn’t crying, which was odd, but at the time I was pleased because it meant she was still asleep and not calling out to be fed. But when I went in to check on her, she wasn’t there.’
Jessica dropped her head in her hands and began to cry again. Through her sobs, Geraldine made out a few words: ‘disappeared’ and ‘so little’.
‘So she wasn’t in her cot?’ Geraldine repeated.
‘No. It was empty.’
Gradually Geraldine learned that Daisy was Jessica’s first baby. Her husband, Jason, was the baby’s father and the only other person living in the house.
‘My mother has a spare key,’ Jessica said in answer to a question about who else had access to the house. ‘And have you spoken to your husband and your mother?’
‘No. I came straight here. Jason’s away. He’s on a stag do this weekend.’
‘A stag do? Where is he? Can you call him?’
‘I don’t know where he is.’
‘Where does he work?’
Jessica mentioned the name of an estate agent in York.
Geraldine sent the constable to contact his office to see if anyone there knew where he was, but all they could tell the police was that he had booked that Friday and Saturday off work and was due back early in the week. Meanwhile, Geraldine continued to question Jessica.
‘All I know is that he went away with a group of friends.
I think they might have gone to Amsterdam but I’m not sure. He did tell me,’ she added quickly, as though realising her ignorance of her husband’s whereabouts might strike
Geraldine as strange. ‘It’s just that, I don’t know, I’m in such a state, I don’t know what’s going on. My father’s David Armstrong, leader of the local council,’ she added, as though
she thought that might be important.
Geraldine had heard of David Armstrong, a controversial councillor who was forcing through unpopular cutbacks in local services. He had been the subject of several virulent
attacks in the local press for closing libraries and threatening the survival of a local school.
‘A lot of people hate him,’ Jessica said, her eyes wide with fear. ‘You don’t think…’ She broke off, unable to complete her sentence.
‘I doubt if the disappearance of your baby has anything to do with your father’s activities. Most people probably don’t know about your connection with him. The likelihood is that your husband has taken the baby and left her with someone. Does he have family living nearby?’
‘No. He doesn’t see his mother or his brother and his father’s dead.’
Geraldine spoke gently. ‘Jessica, I suggest you go home and wait there while we speak to your husband and your mother. You’re sure no one else had a key to your house?’
Jessica nodded. ‘I’m sure,’ she whispered. ‘No one.’
Deadly Revenge is available from Amazon.
You can follow the rest of the blog tour here: