Today it is my pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest Kelly Porter thriller from Rachel Lynch, Bitter Edge. I have a fabulous extract to share with you courtesy of publisher Canelo, and would like to say thanks to Ellie Pilcher for inviting me to be a part of the tour. Here is what the book is all about.
The Bookish Bits
DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down…
When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.
Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.
Don’t miss this gripping crime thriller featuring a phenomenal detective. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney and Robert Bryndza.
Detective Kelly Porter Series
Across the expanse of Derwent Water, from the top of Walla Crag, Jenna Fraser could easily make out the muffin-like dome of Crag Hill on the left and the pyramid summit of Grisedale Pike to the right. A steamer chugged gracefully in to Hawes End Pier and dropped off a bunch of hardy visitors to the west of the lake. No doubt they’d be off up Cat Bells to take a photograph to post on Facebook, and then back down in time for a pint near some open fire. The steamer barely seemed to move; only the V-shaped wake behind it gave away its progress. Winter was quiet in the Lakes, and daylight hours short.
Jenna had hiked Cat Bells when she was three years old.
Fell racing was in her blood. Her father was a Bob Graham Round champion. Jenna herself held the junior record for the fastest time to Dale Head, taking in six peaks, a record she’d set two years ago, when she was only fourteen. She’d brought her medals with her today. They clinked around in her bag when she moved, but now they were silent. Only the sound of her panting breath could be heard above the stillness of the fells. At this time of year, close to Christmas, few people ventured along the pretty walks so rammed in the summer, and she knew she’d be alone.
She wasn’t dressed for a winter run, but it didn’t matter. She’d slipped on what was at hand, and that happened to be a pair of comfortable shorts, which she’d slept in, and a vest top. She’d pulled on trainers and pushed a cap onto her head, then filled her bag with the medals. The other stuff she’d packed last night. When she’d left the house, she’d attracted a few stares of disbelief, given the cold, but as she ran out of town towards the Keswick Launch, steam puffing out of her mouth in clouds, she’d seen fewer people, and found the solitude she sought. She’d run past perhaps three cars, but her concentration had been focused on pounding the pavement rather than looking about.
The tears hadn’t started until she’d left the Launch behind and entered Great Wood, curving away towards Derwent Water’s east shore. Now they came in waves and stung her eyes. She didn’t bother rubbing them away as she began the steep climb to the top, and they mingled with the snot running from her nose. The only thing that concerned her was ridding herself of the noise in her head that wouldn’t go away. Her legs should have ached, her heart should have been beating out of her chest, and she should be freezing, hypothermic even, but the obsession with the noise had kept her driving forward until she’d come across this place of isolation, above the lake. Alone and exhausted, she’d stopped and looked out from Walla Crag, beyond the lake and towards the west, where, underneath the cloud, the sea came close to freezing. She’d dropped her bag and scratched her forearms where her veins burned.
Jenna was no longer a champion, but she had one more run to perform. A broken leg last year had seen her racing career crash to a painful end; landing badly on a loose rock had resulted in a broken tibia and fibula and a fractured talus bone. It had taken three weeks for the swelling to subside enough for an operation to be performed, then she’d needed two metal plates to bolt her bones together. Healing was quick, but rehabilitation was excruciating. She’d been prescribed OxyContin for the pain.
Until it ran out.
The steamer drifted out of sight and the sky rapidly changed colour, as it was wont to do at this time of year, when flat light made everything more dramatic. Clouds circled the peaks in the distance, and the fells in front her were like two piles of sand pushed together at the beach. The valley in between looked uneven and changeable.
She closed her eyes, but the drumming in her head kept pummelling her temples. Words formed, but then dissolved into sharp, offensive blasts of sound: drums exploding, percussion clattering and pipes screaming. All had begun as comments made by text or WhatsApp. There were a hundred different ways that one could invite language into one’s life without ever having to speak to someone face to face, and they were all electronic. Now the phrases took on life, as different tones and pitches came together to torment her. She sat down and hugged her legs to her chest, holding her temples and banging her fists against them. But still the noise wouldn’t stop. It was as if there were thousands of unusually heavy tennis balls bashing the inside of her head, thrashing against the sides of her brain, each one making a larger dent than before, until surely they would break out of her skull, sending battered brains, steaming clots of blood, and splinters of bone flying into the air and down onto the wet ground.
Her chest screamed as the physical exertion of the run caught up with her: her heart rate was that of an unfit twenty-year-old smoker compared to the fell-running legend of two years ago. She rummaged in her bag and brought out a small package containing powder, a steel dessert spoon and a lighter. She opened the packet and sprinkled the powder on the spoon, wetting it with a little water from a bottle then heating it from underneath. The greyish powder turned brown and she mixed it with the top of a syringe. Happy with the consistency, she drew the liquid up into the syringe, then rummaged about in her bag once more. She found an elastic strap, which she wrapped around her arm, biting the other end tight.
She looked at her arm. Many of the veins were hard and unfit for purpose, having been destroyed by months of abuse. She tapped one in her wrist and it came alive. Her hand shook slightly as she tried to focus, and she grasped the loaded syringe from which she’d gain peace and quiet. The tiny needle made contact and went in easily: she was an expert. The brown fluid entered her bloodstream and she loosened the strap, dropping the syringe on the ground.
Instantly, her eyes flickered and her head nodded forward. She began crawling away from the edge, turning her back on the stunning view for the last time, leaving the bag containing her medals on the ground. She managed to stand and, with the aid of the surrounding bushes, staggered fifteen paces towards the trees. Then she turned around so that she was facing the edge of the crag, and the lake, once more.
She felt an overwhelming calm. At last the racket inside her skull had quietened. With her eyes tight shut, she pulled back her right arm, flexed her right knee and stretched her left foot forward into the running stance that had put her name in the history books. She bounced three times, albeit unsteadily, stunned into action by the absurdity, though there was something about it that made sense to her. Then she bent her head and slowed her breathing to that of her race pace. The birds, the breeze and the distant rumble of thunder disappeared into a void. She held her breath.
A force seemingly outside of her body pummelled a mighty release of adrenalin into her and she shot forward, arms pumping, and legs powering. After less than fifteen paces, she ran out of rock and entered the sky. For a lingering moment, her legs still projected her forwards and her arms still thrust back and forth, but then she began to fall, not making a sound, to the treeline below.
She hit the first branch with a loud crack, snapping her neck and breaking both arms and one leg. When at last she came to rest, lodged in between several branches, her body resembled a twisted bauble suspended in the large pine like a Christmas decoration. Blood splatter charted her path, and gouts of the stuff pulsed out of her, until her heart eventually stopped beating. The red-brown liquid travelled downwards across knots and twigs, coating them like melted chocolate and finally dripping onto the hard ground below in perfect round splashes.
Jenna Fraser was finally at peace.
Oooooh. Has that got you as intrigued as it has me? If you’d like to read more, make sure to check out the buying links above.
About the Author
Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.
Author Links: Twitter
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