Apologies, I’m having to re-send this post due to a technical error with the link earlier. Thanks to the technical brilliance of Richard at Bhambrabland, it is now sorted!
Today I’m sharing the opening prologue of my new book, The Lies Within! I realise this is a little later than originally promised and I apologise for that. The last few weeks in my day job zapped all of my energy, but after finishing last Friday, and finally becoming a full time writer(!), I am catching up on the ‘to do’ list and hoping to be a bit more diligent in future. Actually, the timing has kind of worked in my favour as my publisher has finally sent through my final cover art which is pictured below, so I can share that with you at the same time. I’m really thrilled with this one as it reflects the storyline of this novel perfectly. I hope you like it too!
The book was also uploaded to Netgalley this week. If any reviewers out there fancy an early read, please follow this link to request.
In the meantime, here’s the early taster:
August 2016 – Criminal Court 3, Leicester Crown Court
The barrister tilts his head back. “Members of the jury, I turn your attention to Grace Daniels, the woman who stands before you this afternoon.”
The eyes of the courtroom descend upon Grace. She searches for a gap in the sea of faces, desperately trying to maintain her composure while avoiding the anxious gaze of her youngest daughter, Lydia, seated next to the rest of her family in the public gallery. Right now she wants nothing more than to be swaddled in the comfort of their support. But even the shortest of glances will induce fresh tears to her eyes. And she can’t allow that to happen. Not now.
The barrister, James Sheldon, a tall, slender man with curls of thick brown hair that tumble out of the back of his wig, pauses for the briefest of moments. “During the course of this trial you will hear accounts from friends, family, neighbours and employers about her good character and nature. She is a mother, sister-in-law, daughter and grandmother. A woman who works and contributes to the fabric of society. But you are not here to consider her character. You are here to examine the facts.” His words hang in the air as he moves down the line, pulling the eyes of every juror with him.
Grace notices Lydia turn away and risks a fleeting glance. When her girls were young she’d impressed upon them the importance of being honest. ‘You have nothing to worry about if you’ve done nothing wrong,’ she would say. What would Lydia make of that today? She’s sixteen now, although her blue eyes bulge with the same trepidation they held on her first day at school.
Grace flicks her gaze to the jury. Seven women and five men. On the face of it, they seem a reasonable mix. Earlier that morning, several of them faltered over their words as they were sworn in. It was strange to think that they could possibly feel more nervous than she. The woman on the end wore a dark jumper overlaid with a colourful vintage scarf. Sheets of hair were tucked behind her ears, her expression kind and comforting.
Sheldon is concluding the prosecution opening with the assured confidence of a man skilled in his art. In spite of the curled wig, the black gown that flaps behind him as he moves, his gestures are convincingly subtle. A simple touch. A gentle, considered turn. No sweeping theatrics. Not a moment’s hesitation in his voice.
Grace looks across at the profile of Eleanor Talbot-Deane, her defence barrister, through the glass screen that separates her from the courtroom. Eleanor is as still as stone. His words haven’t fazed her, yet Grace feels her hands start to tremble and squeezes them together.
“Over the next few days the Crown will produce compelling evidence to support the fact that this woman meticulously planned a cold-blooded murder.”
Grace recoils, aware of Lydia’s eyes boring into the side of her face. They’d talked about this moment several times. Together. With her solicitor. With her barrister. As a family. But no amount of talking could prepare her for the real prospect of losing her mother to the confines of prison walls. No child should ever have to watch a parent on trial.
“You will hear evidence that places her at the scene, witnesses who heard her plan the murder,” Sheldon continues. “Plan how to kill a woman who considered herself a friend.”
A head on the jury turns. The woman with the vintage scarf. Grace imagines she is just like her, with a job and a family; a small dog that sits beside her on the sofa while she watches MasterChef on television. But there is no familiarity in her expression, no sorority. Just cold, hard shock.
Grace’s throat constricts. Even though she has been briefed on how to react: what to say, what not to say. Even though she has been dragged through hours of police questioning, nothing can truly prepare her for the exhausting fatigue that exudes from the intensity of hanging on to every word, every tiny detail, still trying to find a hole in the evidence mounting against her. And this is only the beginning of a trial that is scheduled to run for days.
“Be under no illusions by her smart clothes, her kind face, her eloquent manner. Do not form judgements. I implore you to keep a clear mind and consider the evidence in front of you. And that evidence alone. This woman is guilty of murder. And by the time this trial has finished, you will be in no doubt that she should go to prison for life.”
Thank you for reading my extract. The Lies Within will be published on 2nd May 2017 by Legend Press and is available for pre-order here.