Forgotten Lives by Ray Britain

I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Forgotten Britain by Ray Britain @ray_britain run by Love Book Group Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours. You can follow the tour:

The Blurb

A man is murdered with quiet efficiency on his doorstep. A strange emblem left behind suggests a gang killing but when more bodies are found with the same emblem, and one of them a cop, DCI Doug Stirling’s investigation takes a sinister turn.

But what linked the victims in life, and now in death?

When more deaths are uncovered, miles away and years apart, but all with the same emblem left behind, pressure mounts on Stirling. Is it the work of the same person? If so, why are they killing again, and why here? One thing is clear. The killer is highly skilled, ruthless, and always one step ahead of the investigation. Is someone feeding information to them?

Working in a crippling heatwave with too few investigators, too many questions and not enough answers, when wild media speculation of a vigilante at work sparks copycat attacks, demonstrations for justice and with politicians fearing riots, Stirling needs a result – fast!

Meanwhile, Stirling’s private life is falling apart, not helped when Lena Novak of the National Crime Agency is assigned to his team. But is she all that she seems? Things could not get worse. Stirling takes a call from a retired cop. Things just got worse!

As Stirling closes in on the killer he finds the killer’s trademark inside his home – he is being targeted.

The Excerpt

A child alone

Asleep for so long, as she struggled into wakefulness she had no idea of the time of day but was aware that something was different. The bed was different and smelt clean. The air felt cool and clean too, not the fetid atmosphere she had been used to. Feigning sleep, she squinted through one eye at the unfamiliar room, while trying to remember how she got here. Next to the bed was a simple wooden chair. On it, a small pile of clothes. Across the room, maybe five steps from her, was a pinewood cabinet with wide three drawers and an oval shaped mirror on top. Beside the mirror, a matching china basin and jug and something flatter covered with a cloth. Fearful of what she would discover, she slowly reached behind her for the heat of another body, but the bed was cool. She was alone.

Now awake, she sat up, drew her knees into her chest and wrapped her arms around them tightly as she surveyed the room apprehensively before settling on a door at the corner of the room. Once white, it had yellowed with age. On the other side of the bed, sunlight lay in thin laddered stripes on bare floorboards. When she followed the light to see a window, boarded from the outside, her heart sank as she realised she had exchanged one prison for another. She turned her head back to the door, wondering how long it would be until a stranger entered the room and it started again.

As she drew her hand across the clean sheet, lifting the pleasant scent of laundry, she tried to remember how she had got here. But it had happened so fast, and she had been so frightened: the hated man on the ground who looked dead, the gloved hand hastening her from the house to the motorbike in the street, the frightening journey into the night, so fast she had closed her eyes against the wind and hung on as tightly as she could. Somewhere in the darkness a bright light had flashed, blinding her when she had looked at it and frightening her still more, so she had held the rider even tighter still for fear of falling off, for fear of being left alone. How long the journey had lasted she had no idea and when it ended, it was very dark. She remembered nothing after that.

Was she drugged, or had she just fainted, because she had no memory of being brought to this room?  Was something done to her while she was unconscious? The thought prompted a sudden awareness of cotton on her body, and that she was naked. She lifted the sheet and examined her body, contracted her muscles but could not be sure. Cautiously, she reached down and shuddered again at the memories. How could she ever face her family again with such shame.

The girl cocked an ear to listen for movement from outside the room or below but heard only silence itself. On top of the clothes on the chair lay a pair of knickers. She grabbed them and smelt them. Not new but clean. She slipped them on and dressed quickly in the loose shirt and jeans put out for her, all of them second hand but clean, and the right size too. But no shoes, which started a new anxiety. To stop her running away.

With slow, light steps, she crossed to the window where she saw it was covered not by boards, as she had thought, but by folding wooden shutters. With a faint hope rising in her chest, the girl opened the window as far as the shutters allowed and then pressed on the shutter. Hope died again when it didn’t budge, held fast from the outside. She was indeed a prisoner again. Peering down through the thin angled slats she could see into a garden, badly overgrown with grass that had fallen over and lay scorched and dry. Through the slats she could breathe summer and pressed her face against the shutter to draw in the warm, light peppery scent of dry grass.

When had she last felt sunshine on her face, she wondered, and closed her eyes to listen to the call of a songbird.

The Author

Ray Britain is a crime writer with a difference – he’s investigated serious crime.

His second novel ‘Forgotten Lives’ will publish on 10th January 2021, and follows his debut novel of ‘The Last Thread’ (2017).

As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led many specialist investigations. He was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role, that saw him involved in hostage situations, many firearms operations and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily. In those specialist roles he supported national counter-terrorism capabilities, and travelled to the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. He received several Commendations for his work.

He also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office, London, and the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police.

Ray’s real-world experience gives an authentic edge to his stories, immersing the reader in the grim realities, uncertainties and frustrations of crime investigation, and of human nature.

If not writing Ray might be found mountain hiking, watching rugby, skiing, reading, sailing or in the gym. | @ray_britain

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