The Death Chamber
Publication Date: April 5th 2018
Lesley Thomson‘s “Detective’s Daughter” series has been on my radar for a few years now. I will be reading and reviewing the first novel in the series this month. I have a lot of catching up to do! The SIXTH installment in the series was released yesterday!
Because I didn’t want to ‘jump the gun‘, the publisher, Head of Zeus, has agreed to let me give in to my need for reading the series in order. I still wanted to take part in the blog tour for “The Death Chamber” so they generously provided me with an exerpt of the book to tempt you. But first, here is the blurb…
Blurb: Queen’s Jubilee, 1977: Cassie Baker sees her boyfriend kissing another girl at the village disco. Upset, she heads home alone and is never seen again.
Millennium Eve, 1999: DCI Paul Mercer finds Cassie’s remains in a field. Now he must prove the man who led him there is guilty.
When Mercer’s daughter asks Stella Darnell for help solving the murder, Stella see echoes of herself. Another detective’s daughter.
With her sidekick sleuth, Jack, Stella moves to Winchcombe, where DCI Mercer and his prime suspect have been playing cat and mouse for the past eighteen years…
Sounds wonderful right? And now for the
‘If Craven planned to murder Cassie it was odd to advertise that he was leaving by telling Lauren. Why not just slip out?’ Jack said.
‘Craven’s barrister made that point in court. He suggested it was a sign of innocence, not guilt. Cassie’s skull was smashed in.’ Stella looked suddenly stricken, although the night before she’d examined copies of X-rays of the injury without apparent emotion. ‘Mercer said the murder was premeditated. It has to be said that impulse killers tend to leave clues. Nothing has been found at Belas Knap.’ She put down her marker. ‘It would be good to meet Charles Brice. Get a sense of him.’
‘If we approach Charles Brice, he’ll know we’re investigating him and if he’s guilty he won’t help us. Right now we have anonymity on our side.’ Jack thought of the dead crow, the drone at the ruined house, the cigarette butts and the mystery photograph of Stella. And the scarecrow. Did they have anonymity on their side?
‘Brice might be willing if he thinks we’ll clear his name. If he’s behind all the things that have happened he’s onto us already. We mustn’t be tempted to not think him guilty because we’re keeping an open mind. Mercer could be right and Brice is a murderer. If we could be a fly on a wall in Charlie Brice’s house,’ Stella sighed, ‘we’d know if he was a murderer. Two flies.’
Was someone a fly on their wall? He’d been slow. The picture of Stella was meant as a threat. Someone knew that Stella was important to him. Nothing in Stella’s response suggested she’d realized this. But Stella wore very little on her sleeve.
A ghastly mewling echoed through the house. For an absurd second Jack pictured Liam, a horror-film baby lurking in one of the empty rooms. ‘What was that?’ His shout blew out one of the candles.
Neither of them moved.
‘It was Stanley,’ Stella said eventually.
The dog stood in front of the unlit grate, his eyes black. As they watched, he opened his mouth and made the dreadful cry again. It was like he’d been possessed.
Stella got up. She was opening the door to the hall before Jack could stop her.
‘Stella, no!’ Jumping up, Jack knocked over his other candle. He slapped at the flame as it licked the edge of a photograph of Bryony Motson. The ten-year-old, in a festive cracker hat, knelt by a Christmas tree. He ignored splashes of wax scalding his skin.
The sitting-room windows rattled as if something had been thrown against the glass. Dimly aware that all the candles had blown out, Jack headed after Stella.
A clattering. He was hit in the face by something sharp, yet soft. He ducked.
‘A bird has got trapped.’ Stella was cool as a cucumber.
Flailing, Jack swept his hand up and down the wall for the light switch before remembering there wasn’t one.
‘It’s panicking. Could you bring me a candle?’
Jack felt his way back into the sitting room and immediately jarred his thigh on the corner of the table. As he grew used to the gloom he saw it wasn’t pitch black outside. Lozenge-shaped panes suspended in the darkness were mauve. Something passed the nearest window. Jack shrank back. It was a branch and it was metres from the house. His sense of perspective was shot. Pulling himself together, Jack travelled his hand over the table until he found a candle. He fumbled to light it. The flame flared. He put it to the wick. When it caught, Jack, trembling, made for the hall. The movement put out the candle. He went back to the table and, sweat pricking his brow, began the arduous process again. This time cupping the frail flame, he set off as if in an egg and spoon race, one step, pause, another step, pause. The room
seemed to go on for ever. At last Jack raised the candle and pulled open the thick oak door. Only then did he realize he could hear nothing beyond.
‘Stella?’ The glare of the flame accentuated darkness outside the sphere of light.
He was in time to see Stella walk out of the front door, her arms in front of her like a sleepwalker, hands clasped. She could be in an arcane ceremony. She dissolved into the darkness.
The candle went out as he went to go after her.
Moonlight cast a sallow gleam over the drive. Stella opened her hands. Jack saw a giant bird; black against the sky, it soared towards the new moon.
‘Another crow. Maybe there’s an actual nest,’ Stella said. ‘At least this one lived. I don’t understand how it got in. All the windows were shut. It must have been while we were outside.’
‘A crow is a symbol of luck. They look out for predators.’ And intruders. The bird had chosen Stella, she would be safe. Jack clawed his hair back off his forehead. The night was muggy and even in a thin cotton shirt, he was hot. ‘Crows are messengers. They urge you to develop the gift of second sight.’
‘First sight would be enough,’ Stella said. ‘Let’s go to bed. I’m dead on my feet.’
Don’t say that! Jack stifled the words.
The kitchen door had been shut while they were eating.
Across the fields came a strange call. Short on bird knowledge, Jack’s nocturnal ornithology was limited to owls. And crows. The sweeping of a breeze through the woods made his skin crawl. So much for countryside quiet, there was less noise on a London street.
Stella and Jack went around the house checking locks. He bolted the kitchen door and slotted the iron bar across the front door. They carried their candles up the stairs.
Check out some of the other stops on the tour and read some reviews
Praise for Lesley Thomson’s Detective’s Daughter series
‘Lesley Thomson is a class above’ IAN RANKIN
‘A wonderfully eerie London setting, unique characters and a chilling plot… Lesley Thomson is one of our leading crime writers.’ ELLY GRIFFITHS
‘This is gloriously well written crime fiction. Thomson creates a rich
and sinister world that is utterly unique.’ WILLIAM SHAW
The Detective’s Daughter series order:
#1 The Detective’s Daughter
#2 Ghost Girl
#3 The Detective’s Secret
#4 The House with no Rooms
#5 The Dog Walker
#6 The Death Chamber
Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a #1 bestseller and the series has sold over 750,000 copies. Lesley divides her time between Sussex and Gloucestershire. She lives with her partner and her dog.