Jane Badrock: The Woman Who Knew Faces

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Woman Who Knew Faces. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to the author for my copy of the extract.

Blurb:

One tenacious cop. One amazing artist.
There’s a big operation underway and DS Karen Thorpe is feeling left out.
Then she meets Emma, with the talent of memorising faces, and Karen’s
reenergised with her potential crime-solving contribution.
But she’s not the only one.
A body turns up. Karen’s finally called up to work with the Met on the operation.
But Emma’s gone missing.
Is it connected? Where is she? Who can she trust?
It’s a race against time as the new team try to catch a major crime ring
before they can carry out their horrific activities.

Extract:

Emma sat in court, unknown, unremarkable. Long brown hair scraped back in a ponytail, black-rimmed glasses, and like everyone else, she was staring at the defendant with her blue-grey eyes. But unlike the rest of them, she was also looking at the barristers, the judge, and the clerk of the court. 

    The clerk today was a slender man, shorter than medium height with thinning brown hair, grey eyes, and a slightly too red nose. He didn’t matter. Nobody cared what he looked like at all. 

    When the session broke up for whatever reason, that was when Emma self-animated. Today was a normal lunch break. Scuttling to the small room at the back of the court building, she efficiently unfolded her well-organised case to reveal a bottom drawer of pencils and a spectrum of coloured pastels. In the lid was a pad of thick acid-free cartridge paper. 

She had thirty minutes to get the main characters down on paper. All faces came to her quickly but she had to capture these in her mind instantly. She couldn’t know if they would be posing for a long or short time. She never listened to what was going on for fear of getting distracted. Her only task was to memorise the faces of the people in the court. 

    Today was going to be easy for her. It was the second day of the case and she already knew the prosecuting and defending barristers. She could draw them with her eyes shut. The defendant, being a new face, was likely to be a little harder until she realised she’d already caught him the day before, standing outside the courthouse.

    Through the open door, her eye was drawn to a young woman. Not one of the normally gawping mob, this woman had looked as if she was in pain. Emma fleetingly wondered what she was doing there but it wasn’t important to her. She stayed in the room and sketched until the young woman’s image emerged from the paper. She knew when she’d got it right. She could almost place the picture in her mind’s eye across the drawing in front of her and align it perfectly.

    Emma often used her spare time to practice. Today, it was members of the public sitting in the gallery. That was a challenge. They were further away, their faces often obscured by other people sitting around them. If there was time, she would wait around the main hall of the court to watch them leave. Then she would mark herself for accuracy. Sometimes if she was between cases she would bring and read one of the books her mother bought her. But there wasn’t enough time today.

    She was done. She looked at her digital watch and waited for the numbers to click over to 13:30. Satisfied, Emma went outside to the nearby café to pick up her usual lunch kept aside for her by one of the staff. A regular cheese sandwich – no mayo – and a cup of tea. She would stay there until 13:50 precisely.

When court finished that day, Emma lingered briefly around the entrance. She had no deadline to work to. The TV company hadn’t emailed her so no courier was waiting, and she had fifteen minutes before the bus was due. 

    Always engaged with her surroundings, she looked around to see if she could spot the woman she’d noticed earlier. She scanned the people coming down the stairs from the gallery; not there. There was no sign of her anywhere. Curious, Emma sat down near the entrance to the ladies toilets in case the woman appeared. 

At 16:22 the woman emerged through the door of the ladies toilet. She looked so distressed Emma had to stare at her to check the likeness. This happened when people on the stand got too emotional. When it did, she would have to try to find them in a more normal composure later to verify her accuracy. Here there was no opportunity. The woman rushed past her and out of the court building without stopping. 

***

The Woman Who Knew Faces is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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