Sins of the Father
by Sheryl Browne
Are you ready to take a journey into the mind of a madman?
Sins of the Father.
One of two all-consuming thrillers that will eat you and spit you back out.
Sins of the Father
What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?
Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget – and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.
But the past is the past – or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruelest way possible.
When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?
Matthew hit the answer call button on his phone. He’d guessed it was Steve calling, he being the only one he’d texted his number to, but whoever it was, it really didn’t matter any more. He could hear one of the heavies throwing up in the bathroom, feel his own stomach constricting, sense the walls closing in on him.
‘Matt?’ Steve asked, when he didn’t immediately speak.
Matthew ran a hand over his neck, tried to regulate his breathing. ‘Yes,’ he managed, eventually.
‘You need to come in, mate.’ Steve sounded worried.
Attempting to force back the irritating cough tickling its way up his windpipe, Matthew swallowed hard. It was always the same, the smell, he thought obliquely. More pungent depending on the amount of decay, but the same: decomposition, body fluids.
‘Matt, are you there?’
‘Yep,’ Matthew answered shortly, wondering how long it would take for this to hit him fully, before he felt something other than utter hopelessness.
‘They’ve taken blood swabs, Matt,’ Steve went on hesitantly, ‘from the hotel room. They have a match. You have to come in. If you don’t, you’re as good as guilty.’
It wouldn’t have taken them long. They would have checked her medical records, Matthew surmised, made the match in minutes. He nodded, concentrated on his breathing. Still didn’t feel anything very much.
‘It’s Natalie’s,’ Steve’s voice was tight, as if he was struggling to keep the emotion in check. ‘She’s been reported missing.’ He paused, clearly searching for a way to say what Matthew knew was coming next. ‘It’s a murder investigation, Matt. Official. You need to—’
‘I know,’ Matthew said quietly, cutting him short.
‘Know what, Matt?’ Steve asked, his tone now careful.
‘She’s here,’ Matthew answered, feeling disconnected, as if he was viewing this whole sordid mess from some faraway place. Christ, how he wished he was.
‘What? Matthew, what the hell are you talking—?’
‘I’m with her now. The deceased. Natalie.’ Matthew faltered, his gaze straying involuntarily to her eyes. Green eyes, he reminded himself, now grey, opaque and empty. Life fucking extinct. Pulling himself from where he’d been crouching over her, he clamped his own eyes tight shut, fury hitting at last, violently, like a sledgehammer to his chest. Breathe, he commanded himself, fumbling for his inhaler.
Steve didn’t speak for a second, stunned, obviously, then, ‘Where?’ he asked warily.
‘Her bedsit. Squad cars are on their way,’ Matthew informed him, still outwardly calm. Inwardly though … Gulping back the sour taste in his mouth, he took in the lifeless, broken body of the girl. Face down, her head twisted to one side, she was unrecognisable, her eyes swollen, her nose and lips split. Right arm, fractured. One shoe missing, replaced with a single red stiletto. Clothes … in brutal disarray. Matthew looked away. It was Sullivan. All over again. MO identical. Matthew felt sick, sick to his soul.
‘Okay, I need you to stay calm.’ His tone quiet but authoritative, Steve switched to police mode.
Instinctively, Matthew guessed. Detaching from the situation in order to deal with it. He didn’t blame him. It was part and parcel of being a copper, a prerequisite of the job. ‘I am,’ he assured him, turning to walk to the window. ‘Perfectly.’
‘Right. Are you there alone?’ Steve didn’t sound convinced. ‘Apart from—’
‘Natalie,’ Matthew supplied the girl’s name, one that would be printed indelibly on his brain, along with these last images of her, all the other images he could never hope to escape. ‘No,’ he said, glancing back towards Jason. Seated on Natalie’s bed, his head buried in his hands, the man was quietly sobbing. He did have feelings then. Matthew was surprised. The guy wasn’t in Sullivan’s league, a bigshot pimping bastard, completely devoid of any emotion remotely human. Jason had hurt her, humiliated her, intimidated her, pumped her full of the drugs she couldn’t function without, pimped her out to any sad bastard who wanted to use her, but he obviously had some kind of conscience in there somewhere.
‘Okay, Matthew, so you know the drill, yes?’ Steve asked him. ‘Stay put. Don’t touch anything.’
Matthew did know the drill. He knew it by heart. He’d be charged. Read his rights. Fingerprinted. Poked, prodded, DNA samples taken. He’d be interviewed, questions asked he couldn’t hope to answer. Analysed. Psych evaluations made. Questioned again. His clothes would be taken. Not the tie, though. His gaze drifted back to Natalie.
‘It’s probably not a good idea to move around too much.’ Now glancing through the rain slashed window to the grey pavement below, Matthew could hear Steve still talking, but he wasn’t really taking it in. ‘You could cross contaminate—’
‘Asphyxiation,’ Matthew said evenly. ‘Ligature to the neck.’ He paused, knowing that the last nail in his coffin had been driven well and truly home. ‘My tie.’
He heard Steve’s shocked intake of breath. ‘Right. Okay,’ he replied shakily. ‘Stay where you are. Don’t touch anything, hey, mate. Please?’
‘It’s tied in a bow. Sullivan, but with frills.’ Matthew laughed, a hollow, humourless laugh.
‘Matt, pack it in.’ Steve sounded scared, but not half as terrified as Matthew felt.
‘Judging by lividity, or lack of, I’d say the body’s been moved,’ he went on, relaying what information he could, trying to stay sane, which was the biggest joke of all because, if he’d had any part to play in this, he was clearly completely insane. ‘From the body temperature and degree of rigor mortis, I’d guess the post mortem interval is about nine, maybe ten hours.’
Steve didn’t speak for a second, then, ‘You need to stay in control, Matt,’ he warned him. ‘Matt? Are you listening?’
‘I have to go now, Steve,’ Matthew said thickly. ‘Look after Becky for me? Will you do that?’
‘Go where?’ Steve asked apprehensively.
‘You need to stay put, Matthew. You can’t—’
‘Steve, I didn’t do this!’ Matthew shouted over him.
‘I know you didn’t! But you have to come in, Matt! You have to trust—’
‘Trust?’ Matthew shook his head incredulously. ‘Trust who, Steve? Davies, who had me down as a psychiatric case? Put me on gardening leave while that bastard kidnapped my wife?’
‘Yes!’ Steve tried. ‘What the bloody hell else are you going to—’
‘It’s not going to end here, Steve. You know it’s not!’ Matthew’s attention was caught by distant flashing blue lights. Watching the squad cars, first one, then two cut the traffic lights at the corner, Matthew swallowed hard and headed for the door. ‘I have to go. Promise me, will you? Look after Becky?’
‘Of course I bloody well will, but where are you—’
Matthew ended the call as the squad cars squealed to a stop below.
DI Matthew Adams series: https://youtu.be/0MqZ5TpBwGk
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About the author...
A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.
Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from multi-award winning Choc Lit.