BLOG TOUR ALERT! And it's a genre that I enjoy and wish I could spend more time in - crime. I love a good crime, so when I was asked if I wanted to be involved in this blog tour, I jumped at the chance!
Dead End is the third DI Kelly Porter novel - following Dark Game and Deep Fear - by Rachel Lynch and follows DI Kelly Porter as two cases come crashing together. When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging at Wasdale Hall, people assume that he decided to end his life. But when the coroner finds signs of possible fowl play, DI Kelly Porter is assigned to find the truth.
Meanwhile, two hikers have gone missing and Kelly is assigned to lead the search. But as she begins to dig, she discovers possible ties to two other unsolved disappearances and turns into a race against the clock. But when the two cases slowly begins to lead back to Wasdale Hall and with Kelly's own family secrets coming into the light, it becomes more important to discover the truth, no matter the cost...
Doesn't that sound good and slightly messed-up?!
Now, as part of my stop, I have a small extract for you! There is some bad language as this is an adult crime novel but, hopefully, you guys will love it!
Before I hand it over to Dead End, I want to thank Ellie from Canelo for asking me to be involved in this tour! And now, over the extract!
Kelly left the office at 9.30 p.m., her head buzzing with facts, but she couldn’t go home yet. There was nothing she wanted more than to drive to Pooley Bridge, open her front door and settle on the sofa with a beer, but she had no choice.
The evening was black already, and she thought wistfully of the long summer nights ahead. In May the nights were still surprisingly chilly, even after a sunny day, and she shivered, hoping that the two lost girls were safe and warm somewhere together.
The drive was a short one. Her sister still lived in Penrith, as she had done all her life. She and Matt had bought a house close to Mum and Dad, and had raised their three children in the same tiny terrace they’d lived in since getting married. Kelly remembered the wedding, and recalled treading on eggshells even then, trying to melt away into the background lest she be accused of stealing Nikki’s limelight on her big day. As if that had been a possibility, with her sister looking like some kind of chandelier cum pageant queen.
Kelly wondered idly why a woman would allow herself to look like that for a day, just to be presented to a man as a kind of gift from her father. Of course it was tradition, but being a cynic, she questioned even the most sacred traditions. She had her own favourite joke about weddings and she shared it with anyone who’d listen: ‘Why do brides smile so much on their wedding day? Because they’ve given their last blow job.’ Boom. Clever.
Nikki didn’t think it was funny.
Nikki called her scared. She said that Kelly hadn’t got married because she thought herself above it; too selfish to care for another person on the level it took. It was only an opinion, but it stung.
She knocked on the door, and Matt answered. Ria, the youngest, clung to her father’s leg. Matt smiled weakly. ‘Hi, Kelly, come in.’
Despite Kelly’s problems with her sister in the past, Matt never seemed to get involved. Sure, he benefited from the cash that flowed nicely from their mother’s purse, but he never showed Kelly any animosity. He was an ordinary, simple guy. He was thinning on top and expanding in the middle, but he worked hard and he was a devoted dad.
The girls were closer in temperament to him than to Nikki, except perhaps Charlie, the eldest, and Kelly decided that this was a good thing. Ria came to her auntie, and Kelly scooped her up and gave her a kiss. The other two were watching TV and far too big for kisses. Charlie was now fifteen and often eyed Kelly suspiciously, as if Nikki had briefed her and she felt the tension between her aunt and her mother. It annoyed Kelly, but she wasn’t playing that game; dragging a fifteen-year-old into their petty squabbles wasn’t her style. Charlie could think what she liked.
They were glued to an American teen soap and Kelly received a couple of grunts in reply. The place smelled of neglect, and judging by the lines around Matt’s eyes, he’d been trying his best to keep working as well as run a household. She put Ria down.
‘Isn’t it bedtime?’ she asked Matt. He seemed caught out, and Kelly suspected that since Mummy had become ill, bedtime had perhaps slipped to something a little more fluid. He shrugged.
‘I’ll make you a cuppa, Kelly, or do you want something stronger? I’ve got wine.’
‘A glass of wine would be nice. I’ve just finished work.’
‘Shut the door,’ he mouthed. She did so, and they were alone in the kitchen.
‘Where is she?’ Kelly asked.
‘Where do you think?’
‘You know, it’s completely normal, Matt. She may never get over this.’
He looked at his feet. The doctors had all told them as much. The trauma was too great: the fear, the pain, the sheer terror. Last summer, when the Lakes had found itself in the grip of the serial killer known as the Teacher, Nikki had become the fourth and final victim. Sometimes Kelly believed that her sister might have been better off not being found. They all might have been better off. It was a savage conclusion to draw, but sometimes rehabilitation after such an experience was more harrowing than the event itself. It was not just Nikki who was struggling; the whole family was imploding.
At first, Kelly could have been forgiven for daring to believe that the horrific events might put an end to their feud; after all, it was she who had found Nikki. But recently Nikki had hinted that it was all Kelly’s fault in the first place: her job, her proximity to weirdos, even that Kelly should have found her sooner. The hints had turned into accusations, and Kelly had thought more than once that she should simply walk away, blood relative or not. Enough was enough.
Matt handed her a glass of wine and she took her first sip, savouring its succour. They’d drawn up a rota designed to make sure there was always someone here to look after the kids. Nikki knew enough people to help out, and at first they queued up at the door. But as time had passed, people became less willing, and suddenly busy. It would seem that Nikki’s friendships were not quite as solid as she’d once assumed. And so it was left to Matt to juggle the delicate pieces of a household that was quickly tumbling down around him.
Charlie was skipping school, Donna was bed-wetting, and Ria had stopped talking. Kelly tried to pull strings at the hospital, via Ted Wallis, but not even the senior pathologist could conjure mental health staff where there were none. There was simply no money in it, and Nikki and her damaged family were not a priority for stretched resources.
‘She’s lucky to have you all around her; many don’t have that,’ they’d been told.
‘Matt, you look knackered. How about paying someone to help? I know Mum would help with the money,’ Kelly said, gulping another mouthful of wine.
He looked at her, and she could see the shame behind his eyes. Working-class people didn’t pay for help; they offered it to one another. He looked down and drained his beer. Kelly wondered how much he was drinking. He looked rough. His cheeks were red, his nose swollen, and his belly pushed against his clothes. She sighed and went through the motions, as she did every time she came.
‘How is she?’
‘She’s been muttering on about those missing girls. She wanders round in the middle of the night and wakes the kids up, asking them questions about the door locks, and who they’ve been talking to.’
Kelly supposed that was normal. Anything reminiscent of women in danger would trigger it. She drained her wine and opened the kitchen door. She walked back through the lounge, where the girls were still glued to the TV, and out into the hallway. Making her way up the stairs to Nikki’s bedroom, she knocked very gently on the door. There was no answer, so she went in.
Nikki was sitting upright in bed, staring into space. It was as if she could see something through the wardrobe opposite her. Kelly didn’t know if her sister was aware of her presence, and walked slowly to the bed.
‘Nikki,’ she said.
‘What do you want?’ Nikki asked. It wasn’t accusatory, or aggressive, just a question.
‘I came to see how you are.’
Nikki began to smile, and Kelly knew what was coming. ‘I’m good, thanks,’ she said.
When her sister’s behaviour had first become worrying, Kelly had expected nothing less than fireworks. There was no way that Nikki Morden, seeker of attention, carrier of gossip and holder of a whole small country full of bitterness, could possibly not cause a scene. But she’d been wrong, and it had thrown them all. This quiet, contemplative Nikki caught them off guard, and they didn’t know what to do with her. She no longer wore make-up, she had lost interest in celebrity reality shows, and she wasn’t glued to Facebook any more; all she did was sit here in bed, locked away in whatever world she’d created for herself to cope. Every professional who’d been roped in had said the same thing: it was normal. The mind could only cope with so much until it shut down, and would only recover once it had processed enough to make room. It was a bit like coma.
‘Nikki, the girls need you.’ Kelly appealed to the mother in her.
‘The girls!’ Nikki’s face changed to a look of panic.
‘Yes, they’re downstairs. They’re safe. They need putting to bed, and they’d love it if it was you who put them there.’
‘No! Hannah and Sophie! He has them!’ Kelly’s heart sank as she realised that Nikki was trapped inside her mania. They needed help. The family couldn’t go on like this.
‘No he hasn’t, Nikki. The Teacher is in prison, remember? You’re all safe.’
‘Are you sure?’ Nikki’s eyes darted around.
Kelly nodded. ‘Really sure.’
‘So who’s got them?’ Nikki gasped. She stared at her sister and clutched her arms. Kelly hadn’t realised how strong she was until she’d grabbed her the first time, months ago. She had bruises to prove it. She tried to wrest herself away from the vice-like grip.
‘Nobody has got them, Nikki.’ She lied easily. She had no idea if the girls were dead or alive, but she wasn’t about to tell her sister that.
She looked around the room, searching for anything that was connected to the outside world, anything that might be feeding Nikki news stories that she didn’t need right now. An iPad sat closed on the end of the bed. Kelly took it. Nikki didn’t notice.
‘They have! They’re tied up!’ Nikki grabbed Kelly by the arms again.
Kelly winced. She couldn’t cope with this. It was one thing dealing with nutters behind bars, but someone close to you – your own flesh and blood – was a different challenge altogether, and she was no professional.
‘Stop it!’ she snapped.
Nikki stared at her, and her hands dropped to her sides.
‘Fucking stop it! You have a husband, you have three gorgeous kids who desperately need you.’ Kelly searched her sister’s face for any sign of cognisance, any whisper of registering what had just been said. There was none. She had no choice; she had to ring the hospital. If she didn’t get anywhere, she’d drive to A&E herself and not budge until mental health was involved. Fuck their budget. Everybody was overstretched.