Lisa Stone: Stalker

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Lisa Stone Stalker
  • Название:
    Stalker
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Avon
  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2018
  • Город:
    London
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0-008-23672-4
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Stalker: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Someone is always watching… Derek Flint is a loner. He lives with his mother and spends his evenings watching his clients on the CCTV cameras he has installed inside their homes. He likes their companionship – even if it’s through a screen. When a series of crimes hits Derek’s neighbourhood, DC Beth Mayes begins to suspect he’s involved. How does he know so much about the victims’ lives? Why won’t he let anyone into his office? And what is his mother hiding in that strange, lonely house? As the crimes become more violent, Beth must race against the clock to find out who is behind the attacks. Will she uncover the truth in time? And is Derek more dangerous than even she has guessed? A spellbinding crime novel from the worldwide bestseller Cathy Glass, writing as Lisa Stone. cite Katerina Diamond, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Teacher

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Lisa Stone

STALKER

Security cameras are there to keep us safe, aren’t they?

Dedication

Acknowledgements: A big thank you to my editor, Phoebe, my literary agent, Andrew, and all the team at Avon, HarperCollins.

Chapter One

He woke with a start. Eyes wide open and senses alert. Flat on his back.

Julie slept on beside him; blissfully unaware he was awake. She could sleep through anything, he thought – thunderstorms, the neighbour’s dog barking, cats fighting. Out for the count. Although there were none of those noises now. It was all quiet.

Perhaps it was one of the children having a dream that had woken him? Or the urban motorbike racer? It came out of nowhere, completed a full throttle lap of the area and then disappeared back into the night. It was a pastime that seemed to be growing in popularity, according to the local newspaper and the outrage of residents. Didn’t urban racers have to be up in the morning to go to work? Obviously not, Russ thought with a stab of irritation, but then how did they afford such powerful bikes? He glanced at the luminous digital display of the bedside clock radio. 2.10am. Damn. He was wide awake now.

He listened again for the noise that had woken him but the house remained quiet. Maybe it had been one of the children – Jack or Phoebe – having a dream and they’d now turned over and gone back to sleep? Or perhaps there’d been no external stimuli and he’d been jarred awake by his thoughts? Prodded to consciousness by a worry that hadn’t been settled the night before. But he couldn’t think of what. His mind was clear. Usually any unresolved issue or anxiety remained when he woke so his mind was already occupied with a half-formed rationale or incomplete sentence, but not now. There was nothing bothering him, apart from a vague reminder to return his mother’s phone call, which he would do as soon as he had the chance. She was overdue a visit and Julie had taken her last three calls. Yet while he felt a passing guilt for neglecting his mother, it wasn’t enough to have woken him.

He gazed towards the slightly parted curtains and the inky night sky beyond. No moon to wake him, no noise and he didn’t need a pee. It was unlike him to wake for absolutely no reason. He’d check on the children to put his mind to rest and then try to return to sleep. Busy day at work tomorrow. He needed to be fresh and alert.

Easing back the duvet so he didn’t disturb Julie, Russ noiselessly left the bed. Although their bedroom was in darkness, a small strip of light shone under their door from the night light on the landing. Plugged into the wall socket at floor level and mainly for the children’s benefit, it gave enough light if any of them needed to use the bathroom in the night without having to switch on the main landing light and risk waking the whole household. He’d check on Phoebe first; at four years old she was the most likely candidate, calling out in her sleep or not wanting to use the bathroom alone because of the monster she thought lived there.

Barefoot, Russ padded silently along the carpeted landing to her bedroom. He placed his hand on the door and was about to push it open when the ear-shattering shriek of the intruder alarm pierced the air. His heart lurched from the shock and his breath caught in his throat as the hairs stood up on his neck.

‘Russ? What is it?’ Julie cried, coming out of their bedroom.

At the same time Phoebe’s panicked cries came from inside her room.

‘Mummy! Mummy!’

‘Mum! Dad!’ Jack shouted over the screech of the alarm.

‘It’s OK, the alarm’s tripped out like it did before,’ he called back, quelling his own shock. ‘I’m going down now to switch if off. Mummy will stay with you.’

Russ began downstairs, the siren’s ear-piercing screech painfully deafening, as Julie went to pacify the children. He couldn’t have tripped the alarm himself; it was on the night-time setting – off upstairs but on downstairs and in the garage. Usually the last one to bed and first up in the morning, it was his job to change the setting and he did it automatically. Doubtless a fly or other small insect had passed by a sensor and set it off. It had happened before; a tiny spider running across the sensor or a lone fly shut in a room tripping the alarm in its frantic search for an exit. A small insect instilling panic in a house of humans!

Descending the last two stairs, he crossed to the alarm control box on the wall in the hall. The green LED bell symbol was flashing frantically, telling him the alarm had been activated. As if he didn’t know! He quickly entered the five-digit code – Julie’s birthday. Then silence – wonderful, peaceful quiet – although his eardrums were still buzzing and would do so for a while. He’d leave the alarm off and then check the sensors were clean tomorrow when he returned home from work. Otherwise, he was likely to spend the rest of the night in fitful sleep, bracing himself for the alarm accidentally going off again.

The hall was darker now with the alarm’s warning light no longer flashing. He began towards the foot of the stairs; he could hear Julie’s voice upstairs soothing Phoebe back to sleep. He took one step onto the staircase, and then a sharp thump on the back of his head. A cry escaped his lips, and he had a vague sensation of falling before he hit the ground. Then nothing. No sight or sound, no more thoughts; just an all-consuming darkness.

Chapter Two

‘I came down and found him,’ Julie said, tears springing to her eyes again. ‘The police said there were two of them working the area. There’ve been a number of similar break-ins…’ She was on the phone to her mother-in-law, having to go through it all again, but of course she’d want to know the details; Russ was her son. ‘Yes, they levered the window in the study and were in the living room taking whatever they could find when the alarm went off, and Russ disturbed them. Pity he went down. We should have left them to take what they wanted… Yes, he’s home now, in bed resting… Yes, four stitches… I’m just going to make him a cup of tea. I will. Goodbye.’

She returned the handset to its cradle, wiped the tears from the corner of her eyes and went into the kitchen to make Russ the tea. His mother had been right when she’d said it could have been worse. So much worse. Those evil men might have gone upstairs and into their bedrooms. She trembled at the possibility. Thieves knew that most women kept their jewellery in jewellery boxes in their bedroom, the police officer had said. So in that respect she supposed they’d been lucky, spared the horror of having to live with the knowledge that those monsters had been in their rooms while they slept. And in Jack’s and Phoebe’s rooms! What if the children had woken and seen them? Would they too have been witnesses that needed silencing? She recoiled at the prospect. It didn’t bear thinking about.

Neither did the possibility that they could have killed Russ when they’d hit him with the metal crowbar they’d used for levering open the study window. A life without Russ was unthinkable, as were all the other more horrendous scenarios. Although she wasn’t sure these platitudes helped. She felt physically sick, weak, and couldn’t stop crying. It had truly been a living nightmare.

Filling the kettle, she switched it on and then leant against the work surface as she waited for it to boil. It was only 6.30pm but in November the evening was already dark. The curtains and blinds were closed, all the lights were on, and the study window had been repaired but it still didn’t feel safe.

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