Monday, 3 March 2008
When I was thirteen - many moons ago - I stumbled across a debut novel by a new young writer. The novel was Carrie, the writer Stephen King. Since then, through all the years in between, I have been one of King's Constant Readers. I have every single one of his novels. Many I have read, read and re-read. My favourites I have literally read to pieces. I am on my third copy of IT...and that's pretty tatty these days. If I have any complaint to make about the King of Horror, it is simply this: he doesn't write fast enough to feed my hunger for his books. I am ever on the look out for another author to satisfy my taste. James Herbert does it to a degree, and I love the work of Dickens. But still I find them wanting...
And then, through my wanderings in the blogging world, I stumbled across another debut novel by another new writer, and was again hooked like I haven't been since my first reading of Carrie.
The novel is Lost Dog, the writer Bill Cameron.
Lost Dog I suppose, is first and foremost a murder mystery - this is not my usual choice of book, I am a horror fan through and through - but...Bill writes with such flair, in a style I love, that I have already read Lost Dog three times. And there is a dark edge to the story that pleases the dark side in me. I am not going to give the plot away - instead I urge you to buy the book, you won't be disappointed - but below you will find two of my favourite extracts from the novel. Enjoy.
'It was dark, too dark to see more than an indistinct hump where she lay. He pulled off his gloves, reached out and felt her calf, her thigh, her skin. Still warm, barely. He stroked her legs and felt himself tremble in the darkness. What would they do with her? Would they understand what had happened? Why it had to happen? He felt his eyes water. Go home, Jake. But he couldn't just yet. He wanted to lie down next to her for just a little while.
Except that would be really frigging stupid. He shook his head sharply and used the sleeve of his coat to smudge any fingerprints on her bare skin. He knew from TV that fingerprints didn't last long on skin, but you couldn't be too careful. He cast about and found a couple sheets of newspaper tossed up against the tube by the wind, carefully spread them across her. Couldn't have said why. Not like she wouldn't be found anyway. Hell, he wanted her to be found. He stood, thrust his hands into his pockets. Turned away.
Long walk home. Way too late for a bus, but that would have been stupid anyway, him covered in blood. He kept to shadows, dodged headlights. Took the Steel Bridge across the river, dropped her wallet mid-span. Kept the cash. He didn't think about her, concentrated instead on not being seen. He started to feel a little proud of himself, really, gliding like a ghost through the sleeping city. If anyone saw him, they'd wonder if he were real. Heh.
It wasn't till he was home, halfway through the laundry and feeling especially slick, that he realised he'd left his fucking gloves on the ground next to her dead body.'
'The door opened and Peter looked up. Kadash stood framed in the doorway. For a moment, he didn't speak, and Peter was struck by the unsettling feeling that Kadash had somehow changed in the intervening moments since he went out. He seemed shrunken somehow, his face drawn. "I need you to come with me," Kadash said quietly. He waved his hand vaguely through the door.
"Why? What's happened?"
"Mulvaney and Owen have gone ahead. They're probably in their cars by now. Susan told me to bring you with me." Kadash took a long slow breath, didn't meet Peter's gaze. "I tell ya," he muttered to no one, "I think I could use a butt about now."
"Wait a minute!" Peter said, his voice rising to meet the disquiet in his chest. "What the hell happened?" He leaned forward in his chair, realization struck him. "It's Ruby Jane, isn't it?" he said. "That guy came back."
Kadash gazed at Peter for a long moment, then nodded sharply. "I ain't the right person for this," he said in an abrupt rush. "I never been good at this. That's part of why I work with Susan. She knows how to say the right thing - just lets me hang back and do police work. But she told me she thought you'd gotten most comfortable with me, so I should be the one that broke the news. Jesus. I'm sorry."
Peter pushed himself roughly out of his chair. Kadash looked momentarily alarmed, the expression surprisingly out of place on the detective's craggy face. The cherry patch on his neck fluttered almost imperceptibly. "She's not dead," Kadash said quickly. Then his voice softened. "She's not dead. But I have to tell you, she's in pretty bad shape. She took a button in the gut. They've got her at Emanuel."
"Oh, Jesus," Peter whispered.
"Listen," Kadash said quietly, his voice constricted, yet edged with sympathy. "Emanuel has one of the best trauma units in the whole goddamn country. They know what they're doing there, okay?"
Peter heard a hollow rushing sound in his ears. "We should have stayed. We should have brought her with us. God, you saw that guy-"
"Listen, she asked the paramedics if we could bring you to the hospital. Mulvaney and Owen are on their way there now. She wants you to come."
Peter stood paralyzed. Inexplicably, the crack on the wall caught his attention. It seemed to swell and widen, and for an unsettling instant he peered into black depths and imagined himself falling. He felt himself start to sway.
Kadash reached out with his right hand and caught his arm. "Peter," he said softly. "Peter...She wants you to come." '