Sheryl Browne writes the most wonderful psychological thrillers. It’s not always my favourite genre, I rarely commit to a series, and I’m often a rather delicate flower who’s not too keen on blood, mayhem and violence – but there’s something about Sheryl’s writing that keeps me coming back for more. Deadly Intent – the third DI Matthew Adams thriller, but totally readable as a standalone – was published for kindle and other e-book platforms on the Death by Choc Lit imprint on September 6th, available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, or via the Choc Lit website for all e-formats. It’s definitely for 18+ readers, with graphic violence and bad language, and not really my kind of book at all – but I loved every moment…
What if you and your family were at the mercy of a psychopath/a man with no conscience?
Just when DI Matthew Adams thinks he’s left the past behind him, it comes back to haunt him once again; this time in the form of the Conner family.
Like Matthew, the Conners have lost a child in tragic circumstances – and they’ve also found themselves in the hands of one of the most depraved criminals to walk the streets: ‘Dead-eyed’ Charlie Roberts, a drug addicted low-life with a penchant for extreme violence.
Matthew’s greatest affinity lies with Daniel Conner, the brooding father who still blames himself for his youngest child’s death. But when Daniel’s wife and daughter are tortured and tormented by Roberts, can Matthew prevent him from completely ruining his own life for an act of revenge particularly when, once upon a time, that’s exactly what Matthew would have done too?
I’ve tried to work out exactly what it is about Sheryl’s thrillers that makes me such an unexpected fan. First of all, there’s the wonderful story-telling – she grabs you by the throat and pulls you right into the middle of the action, so that you feel every emotion her characters feel and really care what happens to them. Her characters are real – whether the poor families in the midst of all the turmoil, or the evil bastards who are putting them through it. Her research is excellent – I’m sure she has no personal experience of drug-fuelled gangland violence, but – my goodness – she brings it to vivid life. Her ability to crank up the tension to an unbearable level – then pile on a little more – is second to none. But she handles tenderness and empathy so well too – the family moments, and the interaction between the two grieving fathers towards the book’s close, are quite wonderfully handled. There aren’t many thriller writers who can keep me reading, heart in mouth and pulse racing, into the early hours. An excellent read, as always – and highly recommended.
Fancy an extract too? Oh, go on then…
Daniel’s eyes flickered away from Charlie for a second. ‘Come on, baby, come out,’ he said to the daughter, who was standing hesitantly on the top step. ‘It’s safe now.’
‘Yeah, come on, baby,’ Charlie mimicked. ‘Come and join the party.’
Charlie stepped sideways, allowing the girl to exit, her eyes like a terrified Bambi’s and shaking as much as Danny boy, poor cow. Must be hereditary.
‘Give me a shout if you fancy another quick shag, sweetheart,’ Charlie called as she stepped onto the towpath.
A tic went at the side of Daniel’s mouth. He walked calmly over to Charlie and smiled, which had Charlie momentarily flummoxed, then pulled back the gun and rammed it hard into his stomach.
Matthew flinched as Charlie doubled up. ‘Ouch,’ he said under his breath. ‘Okay, Daniel,’ he said carefully. ‘I know how you must be feeling but you need to let him go now. He’ll get what’s—’
‘You have no fucking idea how I feel,’ Daniel shouted, glancing quickly at Jo. ‘The only way that bastard goes anywhere is feet first.’ He raked a hand angrily though his hair. ‘Got that, Charlie? Now, get down on your knees.’
Charlie looked up, astonished. ‘You must be joking. I ain’t—’
‘Do I look as if I’m joking?’ Daniel asked, his eyes burning with hatred.
‘For fuck’s sake,’ Charlie uttered, turning to Matthew, his hands nursing his stomach.
‘On your knees, Charlie,’ Daniel repeated. ‘Now!’
Matthew dearly wished he could turn a blind eye as Roberts blinked at him beseechingly, and scared witless, satisfyingly. Unfortunately, as much as he would relish seeing the abusive piece of scum get a taste of his own, he couldn’t.
‘You need to drop the gun, Daniel,’ he said, moving cautiously towards the boat. ‘Leave him to me and get your wife and child—’
‘Don’t,’ Daniel warned, his eyes and the gun still fixed on Roberts. ‘Back off.’
Matthew hesitated, uncertain. God knows, the man had every reason to … But was Conner actually going to shoot Roberts?
‘I can’t do that, Daniel.’ Matthew stepped closer. ‘You know I can’t.’
‘Stay!’ Daniel shouted, swinging the gun around, then fast back to Charlie. ‘And you,’ he grated, ‘down on your knees, while you still can.’ He aimed the gun lower, which had Charlie dropping to his knees, fast.
‘Get them out of here,’ Matthew shouted, indicating Jo and Kayla over his shoulder. Roberts had pushed Conner right over the edge. He bloody well was going to shoot him. Christ, hadn’t this family already been through enough?
‘Daniel …’ Warning himself to tread carefully, empathising with the man more than he could possibly know, Matthew tried again. ‘You can’t take the law into your own hands.’ He stopped and waited, wondering whether Daniel, who was now swaying on his feet, could even hear him. ‘You have to do this the legal way. Please, give me the gun, Daniel.’
‘Can’t.’ Daniel closed one eye.
Matthew took a breath and stepped closer. ‘Why can’t you, Daniel?’ he asked quietly.
‘Three, two, one,’ Daniel replied, nonsensically.
‘Right.’ Matthew was scared for him now. If he used that gun with police marksmen aiming right at him … ‘Which means what, exactly, Daniel?’
Daniel shrugged. ‘Bang.’ He concentrated his aim.
‘Fuck,’ said Charlie, turning a pale shade of white. ‘Don’t, Danny,’ he pleaded.
Daniel cocked the gun.
‘Look, I didn’t touch your daughter—’
‘Shut the fuck up!’ Daniel yelled.
‘I didn’t. I swear I didn’t.’ Perspiration broke out on Charlie’s forehead. ‘Danny, please. I’m sorry. Okay? I—’
‘The name’s Daniel, not Danny. Not fucking Danny boy. Daniel! Got it?’
‘Yeah,’ Charlie nodded quickly. ‘Daniel. Whatever. Just put the gun down.’
Daniel continued to stare at him.
‘Shit. This is nuts.’ Charlie looked desperately to Matthew. ‘Do something! Don’t let them go!’ He nodded past him, to where the man’s wife and daughter weren’t being persuaded to leave. ‘He won’t do anything in front of them.’
That’s probably the first, and might well be the last, time you’ve said anything sensible in your entire life, you piece of shit. Matthew looked him over derisively. Conner cared about his family. They’d endured too much to go through any more. He must know it.
Matthew drew in a breath and then took a gamble. ‘Okay, Daniel. Fine. Do it,’ he said.
‘Go ahead. Blow his brains all over the boat if it will make you feel better.’ Matthew paused for an instant. ‘And leave your wife wondering why you did it in front of your daughter. Whether to visit you in prison, when you didn’t care enough about her, or Kayla, not to.’
Daniel tightened his grip on the gun.His hands were shaking, Matthew noticed. Shaking badly.
‘I have kids of my own, Daniel,’ he said softly, taking another careful step towards him.
Daniel’s shoulders stiffened.
‘I know you lost your little girl, Daniel.’ Seeing Daniel reel on his feet, Matthew pushed on and prayed. He needed to get through to him. Had to.
‘You think I can’t know how you feel, but … I lost my little girl too, Daniel,’ he confided, though it almost choked him to say it. ‘I do know at least some of how you feel.’
Still Daniel didn’t move, but Matthew saw a swallow slide down his throat.
‘That bastard has piled pain on top of pain, hasn’t he?’ Matthew kept going, touching raw nerves, he was well aware of that, but what other choice did he have? ‘Persecuted Kayla and Joanne? Taunted them. Touched them, Daniel?’
Daniel’s jaw tightened.
‘Dared you to do anything about it, so he could revel in his pathetic power and beat you senseless? I know him,’ Matthew said forcefully. ‘He’ll get what’s coming to him. But you have to stop this. Now, Daniel. For the sake of your wife and daughter. Show them you care enough not to put them through this.’
‘Jesus!’ Daniel leaned to wipe his perspiring face against his shoulder. ‘Of course I care!’ he raged frustrated, and obviously confused. ‘But he’ll get out, won’t he?’
A sharp cough rattled his chest.
‘Jo and my kids are my life. Jo and Kayla … Were my … I …’ Trailing off, Daniel closed his eyes.
And lowered the gun.
‘Hah.’ Charlie levered himself to his feet. ‘No bottle. Knew it. I’ll catch up with you when I’m out, Danny boy.’ He smirked, as Matthew climbed on board. ‘Keep that pretty wife of yours warm for me, won’t you?’
Daniel brought the gun back up sharp. ‘Say your fucking prayers, freak,’ he hissed.
That’s what kept me awake into the early hours… just one more page, just one more chapter…
There’s an excellent video trailer for this book too…
Would you like the chance to win an e-copy (open internationally)? With thanks to tour organiser Brook Cottage Books and the author, 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.