A squall shook the old Land Rover. Rain whipped across the windscreen, the thin wiper blades forced to a standstill as Hunter, peering through the deluge, inched his way over the cliff track to Seddon Steps. It was a bad first day. And what was waiting on the beach wasn’t going to make it better. He didn’t need it. Not today; never again.
When he reached the crime-scene tape he held out his warrant card for a uniformed officer, manoeuvred around a blue and yellow marked car of the Devon and Cornwall Police, parked next to a picnic table and peered out at the brooding sky. Burrowing in his inside pocket he withdrew his wallet, took out a dog-eared picture and stroked Sophie’s rosy cheeks. He could hear her chuckle as she wrapped her tiny hand around his thick finger. He’d never thought much about death. Since his little Sophie disappeared he’d thought about nothing else. After a few moments he pocketed the snap, took out his mobile, called the Wexton Royal Infirmary, climbed out of the warm vehicle and battled against the gale to the edge of the cliff. Grey sea, crested with dirty froth heaved like a roller coaster.
Police vehicles blocked the exit road and the forest track. An unmarked Ford Mondeo stood next to the mobile
incident room. Wind tugged at the forensic officers’ white suits as they pulled black cases from a van branded with POLICE in half metre blue letters. Local uniforms in hi-vis jackets were sealing off the coastal path with blue and white tape.
In the waiting hearse grey-suited figures were laughing, the engine idling. There were no media trucks. No satellite
dishes. Not yet.
Way down on the beach more of the forensic team were already busy, hoods up, blue gloved hands picking and
poring over every stone, scavenging along the shoreline amongst bleached driftwood and frayed pieces of neon-orange nylon rope. Keening seagulls hovered; taunting.
Pulling up the collar of his beaten-up waxed jacket, Hunter looped his ID around his neck, ducked under the
crime-scene tape, signed on with a PC then made his way down the steep cliff path to the beach.
Crunching over the shingle he walked towards the small group working around the tiny body. DSI Marston stood alone. Strands of grey hair pirouetted in the wind. A worn anorak stretched across his large stomach, grey flannels flapping.
‘Welcome to Cornwall, Hunter.’
‘Thank you, sir.’
Hunter glanced over at the naked corpse; pale skin, no hair, head at an impossible angle.
Storm clouds raced in from the east. Dark rolling waves crashed down and rushed up the beach to where the two men stood. Hunter took a couple of deep breaths; seaweed and salt.
‘How old is she?’
‘Seven or eight. Not a pretty sight.’
‘Is the tide coming in or going out?’
Marston checked his watch. ‘Low tide in half an hour. At high tide this lot will be half-way up the cliff. I’ll make
arrangements for her removal then we can go.’
When Marston had finished with the Crime Scene Coordinator, Hunter trudged behind him back up the narrow
path. A young man, notebook in hand, was talking to a middle-aged lady outside the trailer. After she left, Marston crossed to him and stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets. No introduction. ‘What have you got, Jimmy?’
Jimmy eyed Hunter warily. ‘Hilary Jane Matthews, sir, age thirty-six, lives in the posh bungalows in Carmarthen
Close, widowed. She was out with her dog early this morning. The dog found her, sir.’
Tired from the long drive and not up for provincial police games Hunter broke into the conversation.
‘What happens to her now?’
Thunder rumbled in the distance. Jimmy looked at his notes. ‘When the CSC gives the site-free she’ll be taken to
the Lanston General. Dr Slady will do the autopsy.’
‘Have her taken to the Wexton morgue. Professor Duncan is waiting for her. And I want the whole beach swept
from the caves at the point to the shingle ridge two hundred yards past the body. We need to know if she arrived by land or sea. When the tide comes in it will be too late. Get everybody in, no exceptions, no excuses, no lunch.’
Marston swayed backwards as if he had been pushed in the chest. ‘DS James, say hello to your new boss. Chief
Inspector Hunter, courtesy of the Metropolitan Police.’
Find out more about Operation Benedict. Can Hunter save the children? http://getBook.at/Starlight
This is one of the most thrilling, breakneck paced and chilling novels that I have read.
Time’s running out for DCI Hunter. His wife and child are missing, perhaps even dead. Unable to pursue those responsible he’s transferred to the wild landscape of Cornwall where another child has disappeared.
Alice Trevelyan’s father has his own agenda and wants retribution for the loss of his little girl and metes out his own violent justice.
Will Trevelyan help or hinder?
Hunter has to make his move if he wants to save Starlight.
But can anyone in this remote location be trusted?
Burrowing in his inside pocket he withdrew his wallet, took out a dog-eared picture and stroked Sophie’s rosy cheeks. He could hear her chuckle as she wrapped her tiny hand around his thick finger. He’d never thought much about death. Since his little Sophie disappeared he’d thought about nothing else.
A 5 star read…a fast paced thriller with brilliant plotting and characters.
I would definitely recommend to all you thriller fans out there.
Local uniforms in hi-vis jackets were sealing off the coastal path with blue and white tape. In the waiting hearse grey-suited figures were laughing, the engine idling. There were no media trucks. No satellite dishes. Not yet.
unsettling, dark, unforgiving, and chilling.
a gritty crime fiction…a twisty dark and sinister read.
a pretty dark book that will have you crying out for justice on every page.
…the plot is wonderful. It’s thrilling, gripping, and so full of grit and grime, even I shuddered a few times.
A dramatic interpretation of contemporary evil
…did not hold its punches, it was hard hitting and rang true.
…much more to this thrilling book than meets the eye…read it from cover to cover in a single day.
compelling, realistic and well-paced. I recommend checking it out.
I first visited Cornwall during school holidays and then in 1983 got a job just outside Tintagel. While the picture postcards show sunny beaches and pretty towns and villages snuggled in between the moors, the arrival of the autumn storms makes you aware of how brutal and unforgiving the landscape can be. There is nothing crueller than the wild seas off the coast of Cornwall – nor nothing more beautiful. I hope I have captured that in my first book, Sacrificing Starlight.
The villains are people most of us might trust. They have respected positions in the community. They are wherever children can be found. As children we are taught to trust adults, from the nice old lollipop man who helps us cross the street to teachers, clerics, policemen, lawyers, judges. They have to be caught. There is no greater crime than destroying a child; body and soul.
Hunter, the main character, trusts no-one – everyone’s a suspect. Is he right to do that? We cannot live without trust, but what happens when all trust is gone?
I spent one wonderful year in Cornwall, which became the setting for Sacrificing Starlight, but in reality organised and systematic child abuse could happen anywhere…
Cover design by Jessica Bell