Кара Хантер: In the Dark

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Кара Хантер In the Dark
  • Название:
    In the Dark
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  • Жанр:
    Полицейский детектив / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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In the Dark: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Do you know what they're hiding in the house next door? A woman and child are found locked in a basement, barely alive, and unidentifiable: the woman can't speak, there are no missing persons reports that match their profile, and the confused, elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before. The inhabitants of the quiet street are in shock - how could this happen right under their noses? But Detective Inspector Adam Fawley knows nothing is impossible. And no one is as innocent as they seem. As the police grow desperate for a lead, Fawley stumbles across a breakthrough, a link to a case he worked years before about another young woman and child gone missing, never solved. When he realizes the missing woman's house is directly adjacent to the house in this case, he thinks he might have found the connection that could bring justice for both women. But there's something not quite right about the little boy from the basement, and the truth will send shockwaves through the force that Fawley never could have anticipated. A deeply unsettling, heart-stopping mystery of long-buried secrets and the monsters who hide in plain sight, In the Dark is the second gripping novel featuring DI Adam Fawley.

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Prologue

For `Burke and Heath'

For many happy days

She opens her eyes to darkness as close as a blindfold. To the heaviness of old dank air that hasn’t been breathed for a long time.

Her other senses lurch awake. The dripping silence, the cold, the smell. Mildew and something else she can’t yet place, something animal and fetid. She moves her fingers, feeling grit and wet under her jeans. It’s coming back to her now – how she got here, why this happened.

How could she have been so stupid.

She stifles the acid rush of panic and tries to sit up, but the movement defeats her. She fills her lungs and shouts, flinging echoes against the walls. Shouts and shouts and shouts until her throat is raw.

But no one comes. Because no one can hear.

She closes her eyes again, feeling hot angry tears seeping down her face. She is rigid with outrage and recrimination and conscious of little else until, in terror, she feels the first sharp little feet start to move across her skin.

Someone said, didn’t they, that April is the cruellest month. Well, whoever it was, they weren’t a detective. Cruelty can happen any time – I know, I’ve seen it. But the cold and the dark somehow dull the edge. Sunlight and birdsong and blue skies can be brutal in this job. Perhaps it’s the contrast that does it. Death and hope.

This story starts with hope. May 1st; the first day of spring – real spring. And if you’ve ever been to Oxford, you’ll know: it’s all or nothing in this place – when it rains the stone is piss-coloured, but in the light, when the colleges look like they’ve been carved from cloud, there is no more beautiful place on earth. And I’m just a cynical old copper.

As for May Morning, well, that’s the city at its most eccentric, its most defiantly ‘itself’. Pagan and Christian and a bit mad, and it’s hard to tell, a lot of the time, which is which. Choirboys singing in the sunrise on the top of a tower. Hurdy-gurdy bands jostling the all-night burger vans. The pubs open at 6 a.m., and half the student population is still pissed from the night before. Even the sober citizens of North Oxford turn out en masse with flowers in their hair (and you think I’m joking). There were over 25,000 people there last year. One of them was a bloke dressed as a tree. I think you get the picture.

So, one way or another it’s a big day in the police calendar. But it’s a long straw on the uniform roster, not a short one. The early start can be a bit of a killer, but there’s rarely any trouble, and we get plied with coffee and bacon sandwiches. Or at least we were, the last time I did it. But that was when I was still in uniform. Before I became a detective; before I made DI.

But this year, it’s different. This year, it’s not just the early start that’s the killer.

***

By the time Mark Sexton reaches the house he’s nearly an hour late. It should have been a clear run at that time of the morning but the traffic on the M40 was nose to tail, and the queue backed up all the way down the Banbury Road. And when he turns into Frampton Road there’s a builder’s truck blocking his drive. Sexton curses, slams the Cayenne into reverse and screeches backwards. Then he flings the car door open and steps out on to the street, narrowly missing a splatter of sick on the tarmac. He looks down in distaste, checking his shoes. What is it with this bloody city this morning? He locks the car, strides up to the front door, then digs into his pockets, looking for his keys. At least the scaffolding’s gone up now. The sale took far longer than expected, but it should still be done by Christmas, if they’re lucky. He lost out on an auction for a place on the far side of the Woodstock Road, and had to up his bid to get this one, but by the time he’s finished, it’ll be a bloody gold mine. The rest of the housing market might be treading water, but what with the Chinese and the Russians, prices just never seem to go down in this city. Only an hour from London and a top-notch private school for the boys only three streets away. His wife didn’t like the idea of semi-detached but he told her, just look at it – it’s bloody enormous. Genuine Victorian, four storeys above ground and a basement he plans to fit out as a state-of-the-art wine cellar and home cinema complex (not that he’s told his wife that yet). And only some old git living next door – he’s not going to be having many all-night parties, now is he. And yes, his garden is a bit of a state, but they can always stick up some trellis. The landscape designer said something about pleached trees. A grand a pop but it’s instant cover. Though even that won’t solve the problem out the front. He glances across at the rusting Cortina propped up on bricks outside number 33 and the three bicycles chained to a tree; the pile of rotting pallets and the black plastic sacks spilling empty beer cans on to the pavement. They were there the last time he came, two weeks ago. He’d shoved a note through the door asking the old git to get them moved. Clearly, he hasn’t.

The door opens. It’s Tim Knight, his architect, a roll of plans in hand. He smiles broadly and waves his client in.

‘Mr Sexton – good to see you again. I think you’re going to be pleased with the progress we’ve made.’

‘I bloody well hope so,’ says Sexton, with heavy irony. ‘This morning can’t get much worse.’

‘Let’s start at the top.’

The two men head up, their footsteps booming on the stripped wood. Upstairs, local radio is on full volume and there are builders in most of the rooms. Two plasterers on the top floor, a plumber in the en-suite bathroom and a specialist window restorer working on the sashes. One or two of the workmen glance over at Sexton but he doesn’t make eye contact. He’s got his tablet out and is annotating every job, and querying most of them.

They end up in the extension out at the back, where the old brick lean-to has been knocked down and a huge double-height glass and metal space is being built in its stead. Beyond the trees sloping down at the bottom of the garden they can just see the Georgian elegance of Crescent Square. Sexton wishes he could have afforded one of those, but hey, the market’s gone up 5 per cent since he bought this place, so he’s not complaining. He gets the architect to take him through the plans for the kitchen (‘Jesus, you don’t get much for sixty grand, do you? They don’t even throw in a sodding dishwasher’), then he turns, looking for the door to the cellar stairs.

Knight looks a little apprehensive.

‘Ah, I was coming to that. There’s been a bit of a hitch on the cellar.’

Sexton’s eyes narrow. ‘What do you mean, hitch?

‘Trevor rang me yesterday. They’ve hit an issue with the party wall. We may need a proper legal agreement before we can fix it – whatever we do will affect next door.’

Sexton makes a face. ‘Oh for fuck’s sake, we can’t afford to get the bloody lawyers involved. What sort of a sodding problem?’

‘They started taking off the plaster so they could chase in the new cabling but some of the brickwork was in a pretty bad way. God knows how long it’s been since Mrs Pardew went down there.’

‘Stupid old bat,’ mutters Sexton, which Knight decides to ignore. This is a very lucrative job.

‘Anyway,’ he says, ‘I’m afraid one of the young lads didn’t realize quick enough what he was dealing with. Don’t worry, though, we’re going to get the structural engineer in tomorrow –’

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