A collection of 15 short crime stories from dark detective noir to domestic murder, crossing time periods as far back as the Victorian era and into the near future. Some with a twist of horror, science fiction or the supernatural. Each story revolves around intriguing characters with twists and turns and on occasion a sting in the tail.
In the title story, private investigator Nick Shelby is struggling to move on from the abrupt and unexplained departure of Louise, the woman he loved. When she turns up dead in Mexico, he sets off to investigate her death and, in the process, unravels a web of lies and betrayal woven together by a roster of shady characters in 1940s Los Angeles. A mysterious man thought to be dead, a deceiving doctor and a notorious gangster are all connected, but the big question is who killed Louise and why?
Plus, three small town sheriff’s deputies are made a tempting offer by a sinister stranger they’ve arrested; a young prostitute tracks down the man who murdered her friend and exacts brutal revenge; in the near future where reproduction is regulated a desperate mother will risk everything to have a child of her own and in Victorian London a married couple encounter one of the city’s most infamous criminals and find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been writing short stories as a hobby for a while and thought it time to collect them together into a book and share them with the world.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters develop from people I've met or know and are twisted into original beings.
The city was silent. Lights twinkled in the dark like the stars in the night sky. The window sill wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it allowed Devlin to relax as she admired the view. She drew on a cigarette blowing the billowing smoke out the open window, the soft wind taking it away. As she pulled the burning stub from her full lips, her blood-stained hand was shaking, a charm bracelet slipping down her arm. Although she was skinny and wore nothing more than lingerie, she was immune to the cold. Her mind was on other things. Her eyes were glazed over, blood dripping from her face. She flicked the cigarette butt out of the window and slipped off the sill with ease. As she made her way across the studio apartment she glanced over at the carnage she was responsible for only a few moments ago. His head was almost gone and what remained was unidentifiable. His naked body was drenched in blood and soaking the silk bed sheets beneath. A spray of pure red up the headboard and wall. Devlin entered the bathroom, flicking on the bright light. She stared into the mirror and thought back to how she got here.
Devlin sat at the bar of a busy club, the synth-pop competing with the many voices chatting away. She was sipping at a glass of wine staring longingly at a photograph of Roxy and herself, happier times. She stroked the glossy image with a gentle finger, memories flooding her brain. Days spent together shopping, dinners out, every moment together was a gift. Her mind drifted from one to the next, a subtle smile growing on her face. Her cheerful reflections faded away when she remembered it all ended on one particular night. There was a strong chill in the air. Devlin and Roxy were waiting on the street corner in provocative clothing trying their best to keep warm. Clients were always harder to come by in the winter months. As they hugged themselves, rubbing their arms, a car pulled up beside them. Roxy wasted no time approaching the vehicle and leaning in through the window to talk to the hidden driver. Devlin watched impatiently before Roxy turned to her and smiled. She pulled the passenger door open and the internal light lit up the face of the driver. Devlin got a short, but clear look at the sinister man before he disappeared back into darkness as Roxy climbed in and slammed the door shut. She didn’t know it at the time, but as the car drove away that would be the last time she saw Roxy.
Several days of stress and worry followed. The police were no help and Devlin was beginning to lose all hope. She didn’t have the energy to leave the house, eating food and sleeping were impossible. She spent many hours of the day staring at the front door of their small apartment hoping she would step through and all would be okay again. That moment never came and she realised it never would when she flicked on the news one morning. They were reporting the discovery of a body, a young girl severely beaten and dumped in a field. Devlin’s fingers gripped the arms of the chair as she watched with bated breath. As the photograph of Roxy flashed up on screen, Devlin felt her entire body relax in despair. Tears welled in her eyes as she slumped forward onto the floor. Her blood-curdling scream echoed around the room.
She was back in the bar, still staring at the photograph. She glanced down at the charm bracelet around her wrist. It belonged to Roxy. Among her personal effects given to Devlin as her only next of kin. Something to remember her by at least. She heard his voice at first ordering a rum and coke, soft and soothing, nothing like what she had imagined. As she turned to look at him, she almost froze with fear when she saw his face. Strong features with kind eyes and a charming smile, the complete opposite to the night she saw him in the low light of the car. Could this really be the same man? Of course it was, she knew it was, but doubt sometimes sets in even when you’re sure. He caught her staring at him and offered a gentle smile and a wink of the eye. Her heart was racing, but she had to maintain her cool. She returned the friendliness and slipped off her stool. Taking her small handbag, she glided over to him oozing sex appeal.
Devlin was back in the bathroom washing the blood from her hands. She scrubbed them furiously to remove every last trace. She splashed some of the water over her face to remove the red staining clinging to her skin. Each drop a reminder of what she had done cast aside as if to erase the crime. As she stared into the mirror, her dark eyes reflected back at her, upon the face of a demon she no longer recognised. She reached up and pulled a black wig from her head to reveal golden blonde hair with pink streaks through it. There was the girl she knew. Suddenly, nausea overcame her and she turned to the nearby toilet. The vomit burned her throat. She had not eaten in a while, so it was mostly bile laced with vodka and coke.
Devlin collected her small handbag from the bedroom and returned to the cold bathroom with anticipation. She sat down on the toilet lid and removed a small tin from her bag, flipping the lid open to reveal her “survival kit”. It consisted of a syringe, rubber tube, spoon, lighter, and a small plastic bag of white powder. Soon the needle pierced her skin with ease, the rubber tube tight around her arm helping locate a protruding vein. As she slowly squeezed the plunger, the liquid rushed into her body sending a chill of elation throughout. She drew the needle from her arm dropping it to the floor, then pulled the rubber tube loose to allow the flow to reach every part of her. She sat back against the cistern and let it take hold.
Just as she had expected, it didn’t take much to persuade him to take her back to his. Within half an hour, they were entering his lavishly decorated studio apartment. As he made his way to the kitchen to fix them both a drink, Devlin analysed the decor. Modern furniture neatly placed, shelves lined with antiquities and artistic photographs of nude women on the walls. He returned with two large glasses of red wine, passing one to her. They clinked glasses and both took a sip, staring into each other’s eyes. He with passion and her with retribution. He gestured for her to sit on the white leather couch. She sank into it as it creaked beneath her. They placed their glasses on the coffee table and he threw an arm over the back of the sofa, a charming smile on his face. She could see in his eyes he wanted her and she would let him think the same of her. She leaned toward him, hinting at him to do the same. They kissed passionately, their lips pressed tightly. His venturing hand reached out to cup her breast. She pulled from his lips and smacked his hand away playfully. The tease excited him. Devlin collected her handbag and, slowly standing so he could see every curve in her body, made her way to the bathroom and disappeared inside.
He knew the protocol. It was something he had experienced many times before and he wasted no time getting to the king-sized bed at the other end of the apartment. He sat down on the edge of the silk sheets and leaned over the bedside table where a small mirror holding several lines of cocaine waited. Taking a rolled up bank note, he snorted a couple of lines with relish before hurriedly ripping his clothes off. Devlin stood on the cold tiled floor looking at herself in the mirror. She took several deep breaths before slipping her leather jacket from her shoulders. She then unzipped the pink cocktail dress hugging her slender body and let it slide to the floor. The black lingerie, stockings and suspenders leaving very little to the imagination. One last breath and she felt ready. She had waited so long for this moment and now it was finally here. She couldn’t back out now. She had to do it for Roxy.
Devlin collected her handbag and exited the bathroom. She found him lying on the bed in his underwear, hands behind his head, waiting in anticipation. She slinked over toward him and placed her handbag down on the shag carpeted floor. She caught sight of the lines of cocaine and felt the need for some boost in confidence. She bent over ensuring her plump rear was shoved in his face and snorted a line. She felt the rush through her veins and the power it gave her. He extended his grasping hand to take hold of her right arse-cheek, but she pulled it back from his reach and slapped his hand away. He grinned devilishly.
Devlin spotted a couple of ties hanging alongside a suit on the wardrobe handle. She whipped them off and smirked as she climbed on top of him, legs straddled, and bound his hands to the bed frame. He found it hard to contain his excitement and she could feel it. He watched as she kissed his hairy chest delicately, then shifting her focus to his piercing blue eyes reached up and gently teased his eyelids down. She continued to kiss his chest as her hand searched the nearby handbag. She lifted a rusting hammer from its containment and slowly raised it above her head. He couldn’t help but take a peek, but found himself looking up at the hammer high above him. The metal glistened in the light. His eyes widened with shock as the heavy steel head crashed down into his face. His nose broke immediately caving in to the cavity of his skull. Devlin proceeded to raise the hammer and bring it down four more times until there was nothing recognisable about him. The amount of blood was immense, redecorating the walls and drenching Devlin’s hands and face. Bits of bone and flesh scattered like jetsam. Exhausted, she stared at the mess before her, hands shaking, breathing heavy. Her grip on the tool released, letting it drop to the floor with a thud. She climbed off his corpse and took a packet of cigarettes from her handbag, struggling to light one with nerve shredded fingers. She made her way over to the window.
As the heroin’s power wore off, Devlin opened her eyes and remembered where she was. She sat up on the toilet lid and looked around with glazed vision. For a moment, it seemed like it had all been a dream. She picked up the crumpled cocktail dress and slipped it over her hips, zipping it up tight. She then threw on the leather jacket and collected her handbag before stepping out to view her carnage again. Devlin couldn’t help but stare at the hideous sight once more. A sense of relief washed over her. She picked up the stained hammer from the blood soaked carpet and wiped it down with the bedsheet. She placed it back inside her handbag and slung the strap over her shoulder. Her eye was drawn to a brown leather wallet sitting on the bedside table. As it flipped open, a large wad of notes wedged inside revealed themselves. She plucked them out and shoved them into her pocket, tossing the wallet back onto the table. She then headed for the front door and quietly pulled it open, taking one last look back at the scene before ducking out into the darkness.
Days passed and she still struggled to sleep. The action she took that night didn’t give her the sense of closure she hoped it would. Revenge was not what she had been led to believe. It stuck like a thorn in her side. She found herself sitting up late watching television every night, hoping the relief would eventually come, but it didn’t. Then one day something she saw on the news made sure that sweet emotion would never come. Police were reporting they had arrested a notorious serial killer. He had been arrested attempting to murder another girl and subsequently confessed to several others, one of which was Roxy. Devlin had killed the wrong man.
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