I’m really so delighted today to be joining the blog tour for the first of Sheryl Browne’s two thrillers to be published by Choc Lit (under their imprint “Death by Choc Lit” – isn’t that just perfect?). After She’s Gone is published tomorrow, and you’ll find the full list of buying options on the Choc Lit site. I do love Sheryl Browne’s writing – many of you will know that her The Rest of My Life was one of Being Anne’s Books of 2015 – and when I read this one (on its first release, under the title of Death Sentence) I was really intrigued to see whether I liked her as much when writing what’s described as a thriller/psychological thriller/crime thriller. And yes – I very much did! The book has been polished further for its Choc Lit release, and I’m sure readers are going to love it.
He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do? There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable.
When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did. But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.
I published my review of this book (in its earlier release) in January last year, and I’m very happy to publish again…
“An edge-of-your seat story of revenge” said the publicity, and – by heck – it’s certainly that! The relationship between Matthew and Becky was beautifully drawn, with the sadness and loss at its core – and a simmering fury that nothing has or can be done about bringing to justice the man responsible. Matthew’s pursuit of Patrick O’Sullivan becomes an obsession, driving him close to (and over) the edge of what’s legal – but their history goes back a long way, way back into childhood bullying and cranked up at every encounter, and Patrick’s own activities are now pure cruelty and evil, totally out of control.
Patrick is a really wonderfully awful creation – although extreme in many ways, almost a caricature of evil, I believed in him totally. I hated him but was also mesmerised by him, and just couldn’t tear my eyes away. When both Patrick and Matthew begin to seek their revenge on each other at the same time, it sets off a chain reaction that escalates very quickly into a situation where several lives are in the balance.
This a quite fantastic read – with tension cranked up to an almost unbearable level. It’s gritty, graphic and violent – totally outside my reading experience and comfort zone – and I have to say that I absolutely loved it. “Unputdownable” is probably a bit overused when talking about thrillers, but I can’t think of a better word for this one – I read it all afternoon and evening, then into the early hours, then again when I woke in the night (nightmare from reading it, maybe?!) and just had to finish it in the morning.
I already knew Sheryl could write well and tell a damned good story.I knew she could create good characters – and there are many here, including Matthew’s troubled niece, teenager Ashley. But Patrick – he’s a real tour-de-force, truly terrifying, who will stay in my memory for a long time to come.
Fancy an excerpt too? My pleasure…
‘Oi, you can’t park there!’ a police officer yelled as Matthew mounted the kerb, careering his car haphazardly to a stop on the pavement. His gut twisting violently inside him, his head reeling, Matthew ignored him, ramming his door open instead to scramble from the car and set off at a run.
‘What the …?’ Vaguely aware of the man giving chase, Matthew kept going, attempting to push past another officer closing in in front of him, only to be caught from behind.
‘Whoa. Come on, mate, you need to get back.’ Taking hold of his arm, the officer behind attempted to steer him away. ‘There’s been an accident up ahead. We need to clear—’ ‘Shit, it’s Adams.’ The officer in front intervened. Who?’ The man still hanging on to his arm asked. ‘Detective Inspector Adams,’ the officer in front supplied warily. ‘Let him through.’
Stumbling forwards as the guy behind relaxed his grip, his legs like dead weights beneath him, Matthew forced himself on, bypassing other officers, who now stood respectfully aside. His wife was with her. Matthew swallowed back a hard knot in his throat. She was crouched over her, holding her impossibly small hand in her own. She didn’t look up. Rebecca kept her gaze focussed on their daughter. His daughter.
Matthew felt something break inside him as he took in his baby’s injuries, her broken body, the slow trickle of lifeblood pooling beneath her, staining the drab, grey road crimson. Please don’t. Matthew prayed hopelessly as he moved closer. Please don’t do this.
The world seeming to slow to a stop around him, the use of his legs finally deserting him, Matthew dropped to his knees at the side of the child he’d loved with every fibre of his being ever since he’d first glimpsed her tiny form on the monitor.
‘Hey, Tigerlily,’ he said, his voice cracking as Lily’s eyes fluttered open. Wide blue eyes, once crystal clear with the innocence of childhood, they were filled with confusion and pain as she looked pleadingly up at him, silently begging him, her daddy, to fix it. His heart turned over as her lips parted. She wanted to speak. She couldn’t. Please don’t try to speak, baby. Tears he couldn’t hope to hide streaming down his face, Matthew leaned towards her, brushing her blood-matted, beautiful blonde hair gently away from her face. ‘Daddy’s here, darling,’ he choked. ‘It’s going to be just fine.’
Lies. Lies. He screamed inside. It was going to be fine. It could never be. He couldn’t fix it. How could he let his little girl go knowing he couldn’t? Cradling his baby gently in his arms, Matthew’s heart splintered inside him as he watched her life ebb away.
They were taking her away in an ambulance. What use was an ambulance? Panic engulfing him, Matthew took a faltering step towards it, and stopped. He couldn’t. Couldn’t ride with her, watch as the warmth drained from her body, her baby-soft skin turning blue and cold. Life fucking extinct.
‘Matthew!’ Rebecca called to him as, his chest heaving, Matthew turned away. Terrified of what he might see in her eyes, he couldn’t turn back. This was his fault. He should have been there. He’d promised to drive them to the cinema. He’d known Patrick Sullivan might make good his threat. He should have been there!
A potent mixture of grief and rage broiling inside him, Matthew recalled his last encounter with the sadistic piece of scum with sickening clarity. Sullivan’s expression hadn’t altered when he’d informed him his brother had been an unfortunate casualty in a drug bust gone wrong. Matthew had been surprised. Sullivan’s hatred of him went way back since they were kids in school.
Guessing he would hold him personally responsible, Matthew had been bracing himself for Sullivan to reach across the table and attack him right there in the prison interview room. Instead, Sullivan had reached casually for a cigarette. Lighting up, he’d glanced down and scratched his forehead slowly with his thumb.
‘How’s that pretty young wife of yours, DI Adams? Pregnant again, isn’t she?’ he’d enquired eventually, blowing smoke circles into the air as he’d looked back at him. ‘Give her my regards, won’t you?’ Sullivan had then leaned forwards, a twisted smirk on his face, his eyes as black as molasses and swimming with pure evil. ‘I would do it myself, but I’m a bit busy … banged up … in here.’
It had been a threat. Innocent to all ears but Matthew’s, it had been a direct threat. And now, still sitting pretty in prison with a cast iron alibi, Sullivan was no doubt congratulating himself on a job well done, imagining that he’d also succeeded in warning Matthew off pursuing him once he got out. Wrong, you bastard.
And as if all that’s not enough… with thanks to Sheryl, tour organiser Brook Cottage Books and publishers Choc Lit, I can also offer one lucky reader the chance to win and e-copy of After She’s Gone. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
About Sheryl Browne
Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, heart-wrenching fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing. Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.
Join me on 21st March when I’ll be reviewing the next book in the series, Sins of the Father…