"It is a gripping, emotional and addictive read. My only concern is how the author is going to top this book as how can you improve on perfection itself? Outstanding!!!" ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐By The Letter Book Reviews
How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.
When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.
Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.
As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…
A totally gripping thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page to the final, dramatic twist.
Watch out for more from Detective Kim Stone. A detective hiding dark secrets, Kim Stone will stop at nothing to protect the innocent. Silent Scream is the first book in the series.
What readers are saying about Blood Lines
"My heart didn’t beat right the whole way through this one! I actually had to read this on the floor as the edge of my seat was too uncomfortable! It is a real rollercoaster of a ride… this is one book you do NOT want to miss!" Emma the Little Book Worm ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"With no let-up in pace, the author doesn't give you time to catch your breath before she hits you with another shocking twist. I can honestly say Blood Lines kept me guessing right up to the last nail-biting chapter, don't you just love it when a book does that" The Book Review Café ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"This character is the best nemesis to any character since Hannibal Lecter tormented Clarice Starling… the Detective Inspector Kim Stone books are nothing short of brilliant." Nigel Adams Book Worm ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"I love this series, and Angela Marsons has joined the ranks of authors I would drop anything else I was doing to read, and whose books I put on pre-order without even stopping to read the blurb." Jen Med’s Book Reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"Gripping… so many twists and turns, as you try to fathom who is responsible for the murders; it's going to keep you guessing all the way through that's for sure!… fast paced with plenty of psychological mind games that will leave you reeling." Chapter In My Life ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"It is a gripping, emotional and addictive read. My only concern is how the author is going to top this book as how can you improve on perfection itself? Outstanding!!!" By The Letter Book Reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"All the stars lighting a clear night sky are not enough to rate this book. Believe me! I just LOVE this author and LOVE Kim Stone!! I cannot recommend this series enough. If you haven't yet read any of Angela Marsons' books, you're seriously missing out" Relax and Read Book Reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Release date: November 4, 2016
Print pages: 388
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Chapter One Hundred
Angela’s Email Sign-Up
Books by Angela Marsons
A Letter from Angela
THE FORGOTTEN WOMAN
Doctor Alexandra Thorne sat at the square writing table that separated the two single beds.
She had claimed the second-hand piece of furniture for herself.
Cassie, her cellmate, barely possessed the ability to read or write and had no use for the makeshift desk.
The stupid woman had once placed a pile of clothing on the right-hand side of the table. One look from Alex and the pile had been swiftly transferred to the bottom of the bed.
Alex felt the right leg of the chair wobble as she pulled it beneath her. Damn cheap furniture was as inferior as the people around her.
Had she been at her office in Hagley her legs would have slid beneath a mahogany desk. Her backside would have been caressed by the tan executive chair. The deep pile carpet would have cushioned her feet. Her eyes would have rested on expensive paintings amongst the luxury for which she had worked so hard and so richly deserved.
But that had all been taken away from her.
She was holding a Bic biro that had been signed for and a sheet of A4 lined paper that looked as though it would tear if she bore down too hard.
But facing forward to the stark white wall she could convince herself she was in any hostel or dirt cheap hotel room. Not that she’d ever stayed in such a place but she could extend her imagination that far. The lingering aroma of cheap perfume mixed with body odour added to the illusion.
She crossed one leg over the other beneath the table. She was in no rush. She would savour writing this letter and the effect it was sure to have.
There were many people she could blame for the direction her life had taken. And yet she blamed only one. A person that had not been far from her mind since the last moment they had spent together.
Alex resented the fact that no one had seen the value in her experiments. Given longer she would have been able to add a significant finding to the mental health community. Her only mistake had been in choosing poor subjects who had inevitably let her down.
A small voice reminded her that she had been foolhardy in allowing her fascination with a certain detective inspector to distract her from her goal.
But now it was time for them to reconnect.
A frisson of excitement coursed through her as she put the pen to paper and wrote the two words that would change everything.
Kim Stone heard the footsteps behind her. She didn’t turn. Her pace quickened in time with her heartbeat. The proximity she couldn’t determine. His steps had fallen in sync with her own.
An ordinary pedestrian would have continued normally and passed her or quickened their pace to assist her.
He did neither.
She righted herself and continued. The footsteps resumed but were now closer. She didn’t dare look back.
She quickly assessed the local area. At 11.30 p.m. there were few people around the trading estate through which she’d taken a short cut.
As she’d travelled deeper into the belly of the estate the sound of the sparse Sunday night traffic had become even more distant. The street lights from the road no longer cast any light in her direction.
To her left was a row of small units, no bigger than garages. To her right was an alleyway that ran between a steel fastener company and a food processing plant. The width was no more than five feet but it headed back towards the main road.
She turned into it.
The footsteps followed.
She increased her pace, focussed only on the lights at the other end. Running was not an option. In four-inch heels it would be like a toddler trying to take its first steps.
The footsteps behind were now faster.
As she neared the halfway point she upped her pace again. The sound of her blood thundered in her ears.
The footsteps stopped. A hand grabbed her short black hair from behind and slammed her against the wall.
Her words were cut short as a fist crashed into her mouth. Her bottom lip exploded.
A hand covered her mouth.
‘Don’t fucking scream, bitch, or I’ll fucking kill yer.’
Kim tried to shake her head to say she wouldn’t but the back of her head was jammed against the wall. The knobbly bricks bit into her scalp.
He looked to the right and to the left and back at her. He smiled. ‘Ain’t nobody gonna hear you anyways.’
Kim guessed him to be an inch short of six feet giving him a two-inch height advantage.
She tried to kick out but he used his body to force her against the wall. His erection strained against his trousers and rested against her stomach.
She fought down the nausea and tried to wrestle her arms free. He laughed and pinned her harder. With his full weight against her torso her arms and legs flailed uselessly.
A blow to the temple caused her vision to blur for just a second.
She shook her head and looked into a face she knew to be mid-twenties. His expression was triumphant and amused.
‘Listen, darling, we’re just gonna have a little fun—’
‘Please… please… don’t… ’
‘Oh come on, you whores are all the same. You know you want it.’
He leaned down and licked the side of her neck. The feel of his tongue on her skin sickened her. She bucked against him. He laughed and did it again, biting the skin beneath her ear.
‘Oh yeah, you just love it, eh slag?’
She struggled against his bulk again but his body imprisoned her against the wall. His right hand reached down to his zipper.
‘Darlin’, tonight is your lucky night.’
Just the words she’d been waiting to hear.
She snapped her head forward hitting him square on the nose. Blood spurted immediately. She took the advantage to knee him in the balls and grab his right wrist. She turned it until something snapped. He howled in pain and dropped to the ground. His free hand travelled between his groin and his nose.
Two sets of boots came from each end of the alley. Bryant and Richards got there first, closely followed by Dawson and Barnes.
‘Thanks for showing up, boys,’ she said as Dawson secured the man’s feet.
‘You okay, guv?’ Bryant asked.
She nodded and turned to Richards who was carrying a small medical bag.
‘Swab my neck here,’ she said. Just in case he played hard to get. His saliva had been deposited on her neck and now belonged to her.
Richards ripped open the cotton bud and rolled it around the area she’d indicated. He turned his attention to her lip. ‘Let me take a look—’
She turned away and wiped the blood with her sleeve.
She leaned down to the scumbag responsible for seven rapes in the last three months. No physical trace had been left on six of the victims, but with victim number seven he hadn’t pulled out quick enough, giving them a DNA sample to work with.
That last line about ‘lucky night’ he’d used with all of them and had been all she’d wanted to hear before making her move.
His eyes were full of pain and hatred. She smiled in return.
‘Looks like it was my lucky night, after all, matey boy. And someone should have told you that withdrawal is not a safe method.’
Dawson and Richards covered their amusement with sudden coughing fits.
His ankles had already been secured and, as they tried to do the same with his wrists, he screamed with pain.
She smiled as she walked away. Oh yes, her work here was done.
Burger wrappers littered the four desks in the Halesowen CID squad room. Kim had collected the takeaway on the way back from the sting.
Only Dawson was still eating: a flurry of some description. The plastic spoon scraped at the cardboard container before he was satisfied it had been defeated.
‘Cheers, boss,’ he said.
‘Everyone’s notes up to date?’ she asked and was rewarded with three affirmative nods. The details of the case lay in their notebooks.
‘If you’re finally ready, Kev, it’s time for the wipe and you get to do it.’
‘Hang on, why him?’ Bryant asked.
‘Because he got to me in the alley first,’ she said, throwing Dawson the roll of kitchen towel.
Although it was after midnight Kim had insisted they all return to the station. After a high tension job like that it didn’t work well to go straight home. The adrenaline and excitement still coursed through the body. There had to be a ‘come down’ period allowing the levels to return to normal.
This was decompression.
The case was solved and the seven women who had been sexually assaulted would sleep easier knowing their rapist was no longer out there.
Dawson ripped off two sheets and began to wipe the board clean. It was a ritual at the end of each case to erase it. To enjoy the satisfaction of wiping it all away. Every swipe across the board signalled that another scumbag was off the streets. She enjoyed the symbolism of the exercise.
Tomorrow they would complete their statements and continue with the interview process; tonight was the time to enjoy the results of their work.
She pushed herself up from the spare desk and started to gather the takeaway wrappers. Bryant offered an impressive yawn just as her phone began to ring.
She saw Woody’s name and stepped out of the squad room into the dimly lit general office.
‘Sir?’ she said into the phone.
‘I did ask for an update the minute the operation was concluded, Stone.’
‘Just about to call you,’ she said, pulling a face. ‘Martin Copson is in custody right now and—’
‘Well, I know that, Stone. I’ve already spoken to the Custody Sergeant. I don’t have all night to wait around for your call.’
She frowned. Well, if he already knew why was he bugging her now?
‘Jack also told me that your face is quite colourful.’
She groaned. Damn Jack on the front desk. Now she knew what was coming.
She braced herself.
‘I thought we agreed that Stacey was going to be the decoy with you and the others supporting?’
‘Did we really agree that, sir?’ she asked, innocently.
‘Do not play dumb with me, Stone. You know full well that we did.’ He sighed heavily. ‘She is a police officer as well as a young woman. You have to let her do her job.’
‘Of course, sir,’ she protested. ‘Just a simple misunderstanding.’
The line fell into silence, and Kim made no effort to fill it. She continued to walk around the dark office without speaking. If he’d thought for one minute she was going to let the twenty-three-year-old try and entrap a vicious, brutal rapist he didn’t know her as well as he thought he did.
She had thought she might escape the rebuke. Her boss was now on annual leave, but he couldn’t resist one last check-up before he took his granddaughter away for a few days. And by the time he came back it would all be forgotten.
‘We’ll discuss it on my return.’
Or maybe not.
‘Need me to check on anything while you’re gone, sir? Water your cat? Let your plants out?’ she offered, generously.
‘Oh Stone, I would not trust you, of all people, to feed or water anything of mine. Thank you for the offer but my cleaner has it all in hand. And don’t forget to keep the superintendent informed on a daily basis while I’m away.’
‘Yes, sir,’ she said, rolling her eyes.
‘I heard that eye-roll, Stone,’ he said and paused. ‘It’ll give you two the chance to umm… bond in my absence.’
Kim opened her mouth to retort, but her boss had already ended the call with a chuckle in the background.
Kim sighed and strode back to the office, but stopped a couple of paces out.
‘Honestly, Stace, you should have seen the boss in those high heels. She—’
‘What, Kev?’ Kim asked, stepping into the doorway. She leaned against the door frame.
‘Please… continue,’ she urged.
He shook his head. ‘Nah, nah, I’m done now. I can’t even remember what I was going to say.’
Bryant, who could read her better than anyone, stifled a smile.
Kim folded her arms. ‘Really? Bryant, throw Kev the shoes.’
Bryant reached behind and did as she’d asked.
Kim tipped her head. ‘Stacey is more of a visual person. I’m sure she’d appreciate the demonstration.’
He looked from her to the shoes and back again. ‘You don’t really want me to—?’
‘You started it,’ Kim said.
He looked around the room for support. Stacey raised one eyebrow, and Bryant sat back in his seat.
‘Bloody hell, you pair,’ he said, removing his shoes and socks.
He forced his feet part way into the shoes while using the filing cabinet for support.
‘Aww… shit… ’ he said, trying to take a step without letting go of the cabinet.
It reminded Kim of someone trying to ice-skate for the first time who was loath to let go of the side.
‘A fiver if you can make it over here,’ Bryant said, taking the note from his pocket.
Dawson smiled. ‘Ha, for a fiver of yours I’d wear them all day.’
He suddenly threw one foot in front of the other and half staggered and half fell across the office.
To Kim it appeared he’d just stepped off a really bad zombie movie. His arms were stretched in front either for balance or to break his fall.
He fell against Bryant’s desk and held out his hand.
‘Fair’s fair,’ Bryant said, slapping the note into his palm.
Dawson turned to her, imploringly.
‘Take them off,’ Kim said, smiling.
‘Damn, I was just starting to like him, too,’ Stacey said.
Dawson handed Kim the shoes. ‘Seriously, boss, respect.’
She slung them beneath the desk. ‘Okay, folks, time to call it a—’
Her phone sounded from the desk. She frowned as she picked it up.
‘Stone,’ she answered, shortly.
As she listened to the voice on the other end she could feel her frown deepening.
‘Okay, got it,’ she said, ending the call.
She sighed heavily.
‘Okay, scrub that last instruction, for one of you anyway. Time to get the straws out ’cos control room just handed us a body.’
A quarter-mile out Bryant was guided by the blue fireworks that lit the night sky. Such a pretty announcement for the horror that lay beneath, Kim thought.
There had been no straw pulling back in the squad room. Bryant had sent the kids home to bed and jumped in the car beside her.
The traffic slowed, and Kim pictured an officer at the crossroads guiding traffic away from the crime scene.
For every one that acquiesced without questions there would be three motorists demanding an explanation and then double that for the ones trying to get a look.
The area known as Colley Gate sat on the A458 that linked Halesowen and Stourbridge. Although traffic reduced at night the road never quieted completely. The main road gave way to side roads that led to the infamous Tanhouse estate.
Kim had responded to many calls on Tanhouse. By the 1980s the resident community had been plagued by drug abuse, burglary, vandalism, car crime and violence. Much of which had emanated from the three tower blocks. Kipling House and Byron House had been demolished in 1999, and the last remaining tower block, Chaucer House, had been renovated. A man was stabbed the week the project was completed.
Kim remembered the off-licence that had been attached to one of the tower blocks. Such was the level of crime he had refused to open his doors at night and had served customers through a hatch in the window.
They reached the outer perimeter which was flanked by three squad cars, two officers and half a dozen cones.
She opened the window and thrust out her ID and her head. The officer raised a cone and waved her through.
‘Here we go again,’ Bryant mumbled as he killed the engine on the Astra Estate. She stepped around Keats’s van and assessed the scene as a warm drizzle began to fall. The autumn day had been bright with a temperature in the late teens and was still in double digits in the early hours of the morning.
The car, a one-year-old Vauxhall Cascada, was parked in a lay-by that fronted a row of shops on the main road.
Of the nine properties only three were not boarded up: a Chinese takeaway, a post office and a launderette.
Opposite, but within the cordon area, was a pub that had, thankfully, emptied a few hours earlier. She could live without the live audience.
As she approached the vehicle a familiar voice met her ears.
‘Oh goody, my favourite detective. How are you, Bryant?’
She snatched the blue slippers hanging from the hand of the diminutive pathologist and offered him a look in return.
‘Bryant, you’ll be rewarded in the afterlife for your—’
‘Keats, I’m waiting,’ she said.
‘Oh Inspector, you’re just no fun anymore.’
She’d never been any fun, she thought, as she bit back a hundred acerbic retorts that came to mind.
The pathologist weighed in at around twelve stone, wringing wet, and the top of his head just about reached her chin. That alone was enough to keep her tongue in check.
‘Victim is female, late forties to early fifties, smartly dressed, with a single stab wound: lower torso, left side.’
Kim nodded and headed around the side of the car.
A young bespectacled male stood in her way. She was instantly reminded of Harry Potter.
She stepped to the left. He followed.
She stepped to the right. He followed.
She briefly considered picking him up and throwing him out of the way when the voice of Keats found her again.
‘Detective Inspector Stone, please meet my new assistant, Jonathan Bullock.’
The misery of the kid’s school days flashed before her like a film.
The trainee pushed his glasses further up his nose and squinted as though his approaching middle finger had surprised him. He held out his hand and opened his mouth.
‘No, no, Jonathan,’ Keats said, stepping forward quickly. ‘It’s best not to make eye contact or address her directly. Like most wild animals, she’s unpredictable.’
Kim stepped around him to the front passenger door.
White suits surrounded the vehicle. One dusted the door handle; another was taking the last couple of photographs of the car’s interior.
They moved away and gave her the nod.
The first thing that hit Kim was the smell. Copious amounts of fresh blood brought a metallic smell wafting towards her. As pungent as it was she found it preferable to the sickly sweet smell that accompanied decaying blood.
She turned her face to the side and took a generous gulp of air. She turned back and began her appraisal from the top. The crime scene photos would assist her later but her initial priority was to commit the scene to memory. Her senses would never be as keen as they were right now.
The woman’s hair was dyed a classy chestnut brown. A hint of grey at the temples signalled touch-up time. The stylish cut landed an inch below the jaw. The forehead was smooth with just the hint of lines that would have stretched and contracted during animation. They would deepen no more, Kim thought sadly.
Her face was still holding on to the remnants of make-up applied at the start of the day. It had worn and faded since the morning and a small smudge of mascara was visible beneath the left eye, perhaps an absent rub at the end of a long day; driving home, when her appearance mattered a little less.
Her eyes were open wide and the lips slightly parted. A layman might say she looked surprised but the dead usually looked that way. Once the heart stopped beating the muscles dropped and returned to rest without retaining the memory of the last known expression. The finality of death lived in the eyes. Had they been closed she would have looked peaceful – serene.
A pearl earring was centred in each earlobe.
Around her throat was a simple gold chain with a small heart-shaped ruby resting against her skin.
A powder pink cashmere cardigan tucked neatly beneath the collar of a plain white shirt.
Kim’s gaze continued down. She paused and turned.
‘Keats, anybody touch this woman?’
The pathologist came to stand behind her.
‘Only me to establish the wound site. And that’s exactly as I found it.’
She nodded and continued her assessment. She pushed aside the cardigan to see the full extent of the wound. A crimson stain coloured the whiteness of the shirt. A single tear in the fabric denoted the site of entry.
Kim lowered the cardigan and continued.
Her lower half was clad in quality black trousers. Her feet were encased in court shoes that were stylish but functional. A Burberry handbag sat in the foot-well of the passenger side.
She reached in and removed it as Bryant reappeared beside her.
Although there was no official pairing in her team the two of them often worked together. Her boss liked it that way.
Bryant provided damage limitation. He possessed manners and social skills. It worked well. She hadn’t needed to tell him to seek out the person who had found their victim. He had known. And during the conversation he would have shown the correct level of empathy and consideration. She had automatically headed for the victim; luckily for her she couldn’t offend the dead.
‘Chinese guy, closing up for the night found her, guv,’ he said. ‘He didn’t see the car pull up.’
Kim nodded. ‘Okay, get details of as many customers as he can remember.’
She looked around and assessed the surroundings. ‘Find the pub owners and do the same. Someone must have seen or heard something.’
He turned away, and Kim continued interrogating the handbag.
Although she didn’t carry one, many of the general contents appeared to be present. She glanced back into the car to the hands-free apparatus. An expensive smartphone was still present.
Kim felt rather than heard a figure sidle up beside her.
‘Go on then, Keats, what do you know?’ she asked.
‘I can confidently confi. . .
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