Chapter One of 
I am so pleased to share my first chapter of my soon to be released novel. I hope you enjoy!

There will be more snippets added soon, so please call back soon!

Chapter One


August, 2019

‘Blandford or Emily. Your decision needs to arrive by 9am. Who will you save?’

Previous correspondence had arrived the previous two mornings and been ignored but there was a certain urgency to this one. The contents of the envelope were spread on the desk. Images of each party involved a mixture of friends and obvious lovers. A triangle of deception. The images were accompanied by a voice message that had been received to the officer’s personal mobile. A death threat they knew would be acted on. What they and Emily witnessed implemented them both in something huge. Despite their own position, it was impossible to see a way through the fog.  Panic set in as they looked down at the desk, at the photographs before them, baffled at how they could know such personal details, obtain these images of such private memories. Saving Blandford had to be the easiest decision right there in the moment. Living with that choice after the event had been quite another matter.

Deception had, since that moment, ruled their existence. Forever indebted to an organisation they’d not any other previous connection with or knowledge of. Many more women had gone missing, presumably kidnapped, in the same way as the wife of their best detective and former lover. Convinced this wasn’t a coincidence given the facts before them, the only leverage was the last communication with Emily; a video she had sent. At some point that alone would bring down the people involved. The missing people in their jurisdiction associated with this organisation, files they were forced to delete from the police database, stemmed from that point in time. Being so easily drawn in by the pull of extra money that had been forthcoming in the beginning, not thinking ahead that the financial benefits would soon dry up, they had embedded themselves into the corruption without a second thought. Suddenly there was no place to turn and no way out. Stranded at the mercy of one of the cruellest groups of men they’d come across, guilt ate away at their mind. No escape or reprieve ever came their way.

Emily Blandford had landed the officer in a predicament. They’d met for a secret lunch which had turned out to be the biggest mistake of their lives for different reasons. Deciding to drive out into Essex, to escape the hustle and bustle of London, Emily drove like she often did. After a lovely meal they took the country lanes in order that her driving skills could be put to the test. Emily loved her powder blue beetle, but she drove it too fast, even with an officer of the law sat beside her. After a sharp bend she suddenly had to slow down to negotiate several cars parked along the grass verge, where they both witnessed a scene that they would have preferred not to. Wishing Emily had turned back the officer sat in silence while her companion weaved through the cars and, when she could, sped up to pass the eerie vision that unfolded. Despite it only being for a few seconds what they saw stunned them both. Three gunmen were herding men and women into the back of two dark grey transit vans, their shouting audible over the sound of the beetle’s engine. Emily drove as hard as she could away from the scene, through the labyrinth of lanes hoping they’d not follow. The officer looked into the eyes of two gunmen, and them into hers. Instead of calling it in, she let the incident pass. It would become the biggest regret of her career.

Three people stood trembling, guns pressing hard against the side of their heads as the men forcing them towards a grey van were momentarily distracted. By the time their brains considered they should take this as an opportunity to run, they were once again the focus of attention. Moving forwards once more, they soon joined the others they’d watched, as they were slung like flour sacks into the back of the van. Each of them wore gags, tied tightly at the back of their heads, and had their hands fastened behind their backs with cable ties. Anyone who had paid for someone to vanish and then driven that person to the site were not going home either. Held at gunpoint, they were given the same treatment and would be loaded onto the vans too. None of them were escaping or returning to freedom, doomed to the same misery of those they wanted out of their lives. In all there were thirty people; fifteen squeezed into each van by the time the doors slammed shut. The first one to be filled drove off at speed in pursuit of the little blue car that had passed. The driver could see the roof a little way ahead but didn’t fancy his chances of catching it up with the heavy load of hostages in the back that were slipping and sliding around as he sped around the corners of the country lanes. In the event the women called the police, he changed tact and took a turning in the opposite direction. Although it wasn’t the planned route, it was an executive decision. Telephoning the men behind him he gave the last seen location of the little car and gave his decision based on the facts. Both drivers made headway for the holding area until such a time they received their orders to move to the next stage of the plan.

Emily soon found someone to race, her adrenaline kicking in. She loved the thrill and didn’t care it meant breaking speed limits. Bumper to bumper they sped through the lanes, the red fiesta ramming into the back of her car several times. Repositioning the rearview mirror long enough to get a sighting of the driver, Emily’s passenger took a deep breath and returned the mirror to its original position,

           “I recognise him,” she’s said. “He was in that gateway. Emily, he’s armed.”

Pressing harder on the accelerator and holding her nerve, Emily pushed her little car to the limit. Only using the brakes in order that the car didn’t roll onto its side while going around the corners and then accelerating hard going back out of them, she drove as if on a professional racetrack. Emily’s experience was her advantage and they soon gained ground over the younger driver. Beside her, the officer sat trembling; not because of her friend’s driving but because a face from their past now haunted them.

Knowledge is power and Emily was the type of woman to use that to her advantage. She is also an incredibly private and independent woman. Married to Detective Sergeant Desmond Blandford, she said nothing that evening after he arrived home. Instead, she sent the footage from her dashcam to the officer with whom she’d lunched with. It showed the faces of the gunmen and some of the victims plus the registration plates of the two vans. Her friend outranked her husband and was, in fact, his boss. They would be in a better position to deal with the situation themselves and she sensed from their body language that she recognised someone. Forever protective, her husband would be frightened for Emily’s safety, and he’d have every right to feel that way. The less he knew the better in her view. Her friend was trustworthy, and she was confident the men would be captured promptly, and the victims saved.

An artist and photographer, Emily set up her easel and began to paint the gateway scene as she remembered it; her way of coming to terms with what she’d witnessed. It would be a great way to pass time while waiting for her husband to return home and to release the pressure she was feeling inside her head.

Within three days Emily had vanished.

* * *

 August 2023, London

Valium was now helping ease the guilt of deleting files of the missing women but not the shame at losing such a dear friend or the responsibility that an ex-lover had lost their wife. Nor had it repaired the lost love for the Detective Sergeant that Emily had taken away; instead, self-hate had taken over and another game ensued. Protecting the organisation from unwanted attention; from patterns emerging and impending investigation that would close them down and result in their capture fell firmly on their shoulders. Alone they stood in desperate misery, responsible for the unhappiness of many and the joy of a few. Broken by these unwanted demands, they no longer knew who they were or recognised themselves for who they had become. Their godforsaken past haunting their existence, living in the shadow of other’s glorified horror.

Breaking free from the grasps of desperation had seemed impossible until the mess started unravelling. A name had come to their attention, and they could see their way through. No longer would these criminals hold judgement or power, nor would they gloat in the glory of what they’d created. Nothing could be done to undo the cruelty they’d inflicted but maybe there was a small margin of hope they could be stopped. In the meantime, they continued devastating families and demanding their victims vanish without a trace. No empathy, no consequences.

Their perfect scenario.



Rebecca Arnold is missing four days before she’s reported missing. The horrific story that unfolds brings to light far more than her disappearance. A series of linked murders, designed to uncover family secrets, reveal far more than DS Blandford could ever hope for. Loyalty, deception, abductions, and revenge sees those protecting themselves stoop to dangerous lows in order to protect themselves, and an organisation built on corruption.

The cost is high to those drawn in as DS Blandford, and his team, fight to solve the case and win against all odds. One by one they become the target of attention and victims of those they seek. In the end its down to who catches who first.