The Body in the Mist is the third installment in the DCI Craig Gillard series. Just released by Canelo on 20th May it is described as ‘compelling, fast-paced and endlessly enjoyable….a triumph, perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Angela Marsons and Faith Martin’
I am delighted to be joining the tour today with an extract for you all, a little teaser… I do so hope you enjoy
[ About the Book ]
A brutal murder hints at a terrifying mystery, and this time it’s personal.
A body is found on a quiet lane in Exmoor, victim of a hit and run. He has no ID, no wallet, no phone, and – after being dragged along the road – no recognisable face.
Meanwhile, fresh from his last case, DCI Craig Gillard is unexpectedly called away to Devon on family business.
Gillard is soon embroiled when the car in question is traced to his aunt. As he delves deeper, a dark mystery reveals itself, haunted by family secrets, with repercussions Gillard could never have imagined.
The past has never been deadlier.
[ Extract ]
At the Camberley turn Sam risked a conversational gambit, reminding Gillard of a pub in the town where they had spent their third date, a wonderful evening. ‘What was that place called?’ she asked.
‘Lamb and Flag,’ he said, tersely.
‘I remember when we were there, you told me about spending summer holidays in Devon when you were young.’ She smiled, trying desperately to raise the mood, to get him out of his fug.
‘Yes. Two summers at Hollow Coombe farm. Must be some of the steepest farmland outside Wales,’ he said. ‘Only really suitable for sheep. A hardscrabble living and no mistake.’
‘What were the names of the dogs that you liked?’
‘Ah yes. Bosun and Bedgelert. Lovely animals. I used to race them up to the sheep paddocks, but they always won. I was only seven.’ He smiled, and his eyes lit up. ‘It was my first recollection of countryside.’
‘Happy memories?’ she asked, trying to elicit some more.
‘Poor bloody dogs. Long dead,’ he said.
‘Mr Gloomy today, aren’t we?’
He didn’t reply and his gaze returned to the road. Sam recalled why it was that Craig would have been there. His parents had temporarily separated, one of several such interruptions in a difficult marriage. His late mother Margaret would typically go off to friends in Essex during one of these intervals, and Craig and his older sister Viv would be parked with relatives for a week or two at a time. It must have made for a difficult childhood. Craig’s father worked long hours and couldn’t even boil an egg, yet alone look after the children in his wife’s absence.
‘Did Viv come with you to the farm?’
‘No. Viv didn’t like Barbara. Not after the first time. She wouldn’t go. She ran away from home to avoid it. I’m not surprised. My mum wouldn’t go back either. Bad memories, that’s all she would tell me. Mum ran away from home as a teenager, went off to London. Barbara ended up running the farm on her own, and resented Mum having a freedom she never did.’
Sam watched her husband, hoping for some more details. None were forthcoming. She recalled the stories of Craig’s mother having a wild time in Soho in the Swinging Sixties. She had been a waitress at Ronnie Scott’s, briefly been a backing singer, had an affair with an ageing actor, and then finally ran into Craig’s father at a bus stop on the Holloway Road. Her death from breast cancer in 1988, at the age of 40 and when Craig was still only 21, hit the family like a thunderbolt. Craig had said it was probably the main reason he never went to university. The photographs Sam had seen of Maggie, as she liked to be known in her younger days, showed a vivacious, fashionable young woman with a winning smile who had modelled herself on Jean Shrimpton.
The contrast with photographs Craig had shown her of Barbara could not have been starker. An imposing, matronly woman, the second of the four, who in almost every picture wore a stained leather apron and wellies, as if she had just returned from an abattoir. It was hard to believe the pictures were from the 1980s. She looked more like a Victorian throwback, with her pinched, careworn face, stern slanted mouth and unruly bun of dark hair. She seemed to gaze past the camera, drawn by one wayward eye that had a strange milky mark the size of a thumbnail.
‘Is she blind in one eye?’
‘Yes and no.’
‘Well she either can see out of it or not,’ Sam laughed.
‘She was dragged under a harrow when she was four. She has scars, but the eye is still there. She always said that she never completely lost her vision, though it was impaired. She always said she was just able to see different things from before.’
Gillard looked at her and then turned away, his face tightening. ‘She said she knew what you were thinking. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen evidence of it.’
Sam watched as her husband overtook a lorry and then pulled back neatly into the inner lane, sending a great wave of spray into the verge.
‘She must have been pretty scary.’
‘If you were seven, she certainly was. But she had a tough life. She ran that farm for decades on her own. Even with one eye not working properly. There’s not much she couldn’t do.’ Gillard licked his lips, swallowing the lower one. ‘A tough woman. Had to be, for that place. Her father, my grandfather, was a complete bastard. Died before I was born. Threw himself off a cliff while drunk in 1964, on his wedding anniversary, leaving the family with unmanageable debts.’
Gillard’s eyes remained on the road but as she watched they softened, some memory coming to them momentarily. Sam didn’t say anything, just soaking up new knowledge about the man she loved. They were quiet again as they drove through Wiltshire, until they passed Amesbury. Here the A303 was narrowed by roadworks, and then finally reverted to single carriageway in each direction. Ahead of them was a dawdling van with only one rear light working. Sam wouldn’t have overtaken. It didn’t seem safe to get past, but Craig was such a confident driver, a brilliant judge of distance. He accelerated, foot suddenly heavy on the gas, gear changes unusually firm and rapid.
‘My mother had a name for her,’ he said suddenly, glancing across at Sam as they whizzed past the van. ‘Barbaric Babs. There was always something…’ He searched for the right word. ‘Something wild, almost primitive, about her.’
‘She never came to our wedding.’
He let out a slight laugh. ‘It was either her or Trish. There were years when they wouldn’t be in the same room together.’
‘When was the last time you saw her?’
‘The very last time, about 30 years ago at Mum’s funeral.’
‘Did she never marry?’
‘No.’ Gillard laughed. ‘She would have been a bit of a handful. Now Trish, she did marry. Howie, she called him. Howard Gibson. I only met him twice. He was an oil worker, worked away on the rigs for most of their marriage. A big friendly Scottish guy. They divorced, well, about ten years ago. But they’re still on friendly terms, and she has retained his surname. He lives in Thailand now, has a big family over there apparently.’
[ Bio ]
Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992, while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies, and been translated into six languages.
The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror Mirror, subtitled ‘When evil and beauty collide’ was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, is being published by Canelo in September 2017.
Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.