A sinister suicide shatters the perfect world of a devoted sister in USA Today bestselling author Sydney Jamesson’s heart-breaking and heart-stopping psychological suspense duet about seeking truth and justice, at any cost.
On her death bed Emily Derbyshire’s mother made her promise to take good care of her little sister. Keeping her promise, twelve-year-old Emily did exactly that and became five-year-old Rita’s benefactor and bodyguard.
After eighteen years of sisterly devotion Emily receives some shocking news! Rita has committed suicide. When disturbing details start to surface, Emily puts her high-flying career on hold to seek out those responsible. She hires an American private investigator Robert Blackmoor; a motorbike riding, no-frills, computer hacker who will use any means necessary to unearth the truth.
Not surprisingly, Robert uncovers secrets from Emily’s troubled childhood and chips away at the glossy veneer of deceit which masks the truth behind, not only Rita’s life, but Emily’s imperfect life too.
Together they assemble the pieces of a sinister puzzle, revealing a cruel and corrupt world of exploitation and murder: a Dark Web into which Rita has become entangled.
As dark forces encircling Emily tighten their grip, and with everything to lose, she must make a life and death decision that she may live to regret.
Targeted Age Group:: 21 – 65
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The idea for my latest books DUTY OF CARE and THE CARETAKERS came about in response to a news article I read in early 2019. That article detailed the extent to which grooming of young girls was going on in the North West of England and in other towns and cities across the country. Having a daughter, myself—now in her early thirties—I couldn’t help but find the report shocking and repulsive. How could a gang of men, predominately Asian, abduct young girls as young as eleven, drug them, rape them, pimp them out to other men and subject them to the most horrific sexual abuse without anyone noticing?
The answer was—they couldn’t.
The authorities knew and the police knew, even the girls’ doctors and teachers who had been approached by the girls for help knew. They did not take them seriously and either dismissed their claims as the fantasies of an overactive imagination or attention seeking lies. The grown-ups had a duty of care to protect the girls and yet all they offered was incompetence and carelessness!
For days after reading the article, I found myself thinking about those poor girls; as a teacher, I see teenagers every day and can’t envisage anything quite so hellish happening to them.
I discovered that a form of modern slavery exists across the world and the number of human trafficking victims worldwide in 2018 was almost 86,000—that’s in one year! One in seven reported runways in the U.S. in 2018 was likely a victim of child sex trafficking. Now there are almost four million victims of sex trafficking globally. Almost 99% of those trafficked are women and girls.
It’s a billion-dollar industry.
In THE DUTY BOUND DUET, like most people, Emily Parsons has no concept of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, why would she? It isn’t until she smooths away the glossy veneer to reveal a dark underworld, that she comes face to face with the kind of people who consider young girls nothing more than bargaining chips and merchandise to be rented out by the hour or sold to the highest bidder. When her sister Rita commits suicide, little does Emily know where the rabbit hole her ally Robert Blackmoor has opened up for her, will lead; but all roads take her back to her childhood and her first encounter with rats; human vermin who prey on young children.
From the age of twelve, Emily learned to be self-reliant and unforgiving. She had a duty of care to the young girls who looked up to her, especially her sister, Rita, and she was unflinching in her willingness to do whatever necessary to keep those in her charge out of harm’s way. Now she’s older she still feels the same way.
When the traffickers and their associates meet Emily Parsons they discover, to their peril, that they have met their match.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Unlike some authors, I don’t sit down and think, ‘Today I’m going to write a story about a girl and lost love or someone finding themselves in a locked room…’ It’s never as clear cut as that. My stories are well plotted and full of twists and turns, but they are character driven; my protagonist undertakes a journey of self-discovery, reinvention and, sometimes, redeems themselves in the process.
I hear my character/s before I see them and then allow them to use me as a conduit to tell their story. As an experienced writer, I can take them off into different directions or throw a spanner in the works, but it’s how they deal with the obstacles, achieve their goals or solve the problems they’re confronted with that drives the plot forward to a satisfying resolution or a cliffhanger.
“The whole world can become the enemy when you lose what you love.” Kristina McMorrris.
I STOOD ALONE in the graveyard the day they buried my sister. There I was, Emily Parsons, the hapless figure lurking behind a gnarled oak tree—an unwelcome guest.
A savage January wind gnawed at my cheeks. It made my eyes sting; eyes already brimming with salty residue left over from a night spent sobbing into a pillow. Sapped of all strength, I leaned against the trunk, held it between my hands; gloved fingers tracing rough edges. I breathed in its wild, woody perfume; rotting branches, unclaimed timber—a steadfast pillar of support in a surreal tableau.
At our parents’ request, I didn’t show my face. Did they fear I’d cause a scene, throw myself onto the coffin?
With or without their blessing, I had to go. I had to be there to witness my little sister’s departure from this mortal coil and, if that meant enduring sniveling platitudes caught on the wind—so be it.
Our parents, family members and some of Rita’s friends circled the cavernous hole in the ground like ravens; a flock of silhouettes set against a snowy backdrop. My watery eyes lingered on the word Rita formed in purple violas on the wreath—a tiny name for someone with a big personality and an even bigger heart.
Having endured the lamentations of the priest marking the passing of a life ended much too soon, I absconded. I sprinted like a bandit between gravestones, my feet slipping on ankle deep snow that shrouded everything, creating a clean, sterile landscape. Nothing seemed out of place. Nothing except my sister’s charred body lying six foot under in a mahogany coffin fifty yards away.
I took refuge in my car and sat in silence, refusing to acknowledge the shifting congregation. Concealed behind windows veiled with condensation, I left unseen.
In those days leading up to Rita’s funeral, I cried nonstop. I would wake from dozing and the world would be as it was. I would smile through cracked lips, but then I would remember and my heart would ache and my body would shake and tears would cloud my eyes once more.
The myriad of memories we had made were my only lifeline: phone conversations, photographs and texts existing in a vacuum, authorless—a cruel kind of comfort. For the sake of my sanity, I tried to come to terms with her passing, I really did, but the realisation that the one person I loved more than any other had gone and left me behind did not make any sense to me.
We had made a pact when we were kids to never be separated.
Why had Rita broken it?
A fortnight before the funeral, a member of my international investment team tore into the boardroom in Heron Tower on Canary Wharf, to tell me I had an urgent phone call that I would want to take in my office. I took my time, assuming one of my parents had been rushed to hospital—a heart attack, a fall … too damn mean to die without involving me in their medical drama.
Rita did not even come up on my radar.
A second after picking up the phone a young nurse, preparing to deliver bad news, cleared her throat and said in a half whisper, “I’m so sorry…”
She only had simple details, the most shocking of which was that Rita was dead.
It was suicide.
I assumed I had misheard. I’d only spoken to Rita a couple of days before and detected no signs of depression or unhappiness. We even talked about booking a holiday. She was in her first teaching post and was enjoying her new school, for God’s sake.
“Are you sure you have the right person?” I questioned, disbelieving that Rita could even contemplate such a thing. “My sister is Rita Derbyshire, she’s at work, she’s…”
There was no mistake. She had left instructions that in the event of her death, I should be contacted first as her next of kin.
I swivelled around in my chair, casting an eye over the calendar—January tenth, eleven thirty. I made a mental note of the time, the very minute I became aware that her life had ended and mine had ceased to exist in the way it had before that moment.
I turned a few more degrees clockwise and from thirty floors up looked out over London. Life was going on as normal: an airplane was flying overhead, leaving a frayed white ribbon across a blue sky; traffic was moving like glistening chess pieces, people the size of millipedes were scuttling around on a white canvas. They had no knowledge of the catastrophe that had befallen my sister and, as a consequence—me.
How could they?
Why would they care that a bright-as-a-button, Oxford graduate had ended her life just when it seemed to be getting started? The most loving little sister I had raised was dead.
I pursed my lips, raised my chin and glowered. Why was the sun still shining? Shouldn’t the Almighty have frozen time, stopped traffic; marked the occasion with storm clouds, torn the heavens apart with forked lightening, roaring thunder…?
Rita was dead!
That devastating news hit me with the force of a sledgehammer: first to the head, and then to the heart. I knew instantly that I was irreparably damaged, the way you do after a fall from a great height; you hope there are no serious injuries but expect to be concussed and scarred, at the very least. My injuries were more permanent than that.
I was heartbroken.
I slid from my office chair, fell to my knees and wept uncontrollably.
That was over a month ago. Back then I saw no reason for Rita to take her precious life.
Now, I know why she did what she did.
And I know who was to blame.
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