#BLOGTOUR stop and today I am sharing with you an extract from this exciting new release: BRING THEM HOME.
Bring Them Home by D. S. Butler
A perfect village. A perfect crime.
When two young girls disappear from their primary school, the village of Heighington is put on high alert—and not for the first time. Called in to investigate, Detective Karen Hart is sure that parallels with a previous disappearance are anything but coincidental.
DS Hart is still reeling from a case she tried and failed to solve eighteen months ago, when a young woman vanished without a trace. She’s no nearer to the truth of what happened to Amy Fisher, but with two children missing now too, the stakes have never been higher. As she looks to the past for clues, she must confront her own haunting loss, a nightmare she is determined to spare other families.
Hart soon realises that nothing in this close-knit Lincolnshire community is what it seems. Pursuing the investigation with personal vengeance, she finds herself in conflict with her scrupulous new boss, but playing by the rules will have to wait. Because while there’s no shortage of suspects, the missing girls are running out of time…
‘I’m not sure about this,’ Sian Gibson muttered to her friend as they crept along the school corridor. There was no one else around as the other children had gone back to the classroom.
Emily turned around and pressed a finger against her lips. ‘Shhh. Do you want someone to hear? Mrs Morrison will go mental if she catches us.’
Sian wished someone would hear them. She wanted to get caught before they left the school grounds. Her mother would be furious if she found out she’d skived off.
It was different for Emily. She was always in trouble and didn’t seem to care. In fact, the entire Dean family were trouble, according to Sian’s mother.
Emily looped her arm through Sian’s and pulled her along. As they made their way past the line of colourful coats hanging from hooks on the wall, Emily grinned. She passed Sian her yellow coat before putting on her red anorak. Sian’s coat was only a month old, but Emily had the same anorak as last year. The cuffs were ragged, and there was a small hole by her right elbow.
She usually turned the sleeves up carefully so the other children wouldn’t notice the frayed hems, but today she was too excited to care. The girls were mounting a daring escape and leaving school a full five minutes before the bell signalling the end of the school day.
Ahead of them, the door to the playground was open. Nothing stood in their way. Sian felt her stomach tighten. She couldn’t back out now. Emily would think she was a baby.
As they left the school corridor and stepped out into the cold October afternoon, Sian shivered. She looked back over her shoulder towards the classroom windows. Their classmates would be sitting cross-legged on the floor listening to the teacher reading another chapter of The Magician’s Nephew. Sian wished she was back there in the warm with them.
Emily tugged her arm. ‘What’s the matter with you? Don’t you want to see the ponies?’
‘I didn’t say that. I just don’t see why we have to leave school early. We’ll be in so much trouble if Mrs Morrison finds out. What if she calls my mum?’
‘She won’t find out if you get a move on. Hurry up.’
Sian’s mother said Emily was a bossy little madam and she didn’t like her spending time with the ‘Dean girl’. Sian had begged to be allowed to go to Emily’s for tea and had been surprised when her mother had finally relented. She’d be having kittens if she knew they were creeping out of school early.
It was only five minutes, though. Surely that couldn’t get them into much trouble. Emily had insisted they leave school before the bell rang because she said she didn’t want any of the other children finding out about the ponies.
Emily was horse-mad at the moment. All she’d talked about for the past six months was ponies and horses. Her parents had told her they weren’t wasting money on horse-riding lessons, but Emily walked to the stables every Friday afternoon and watched Sian’s weekly lesson with her Welsh cob Florence.
Emily watched those lessons with such longing it made Sian feel guilty. Now, Emily was about to have her own riding lesson. She was glad for her friend but didn’t understand why they had to keep it secret.
Sian loved horses. There was something comforting about the smell of the stables, and stroking the soft muzzles of the gentle ponies was the best feeling in the world, so she didn’t know why she was feeling so nervous.
It was probably because she was afraid of being caught. Emily was right. She was a baby. She hated getting into trouble.
It was silly really. If anyone should be panicking about getting caught, it was Emily. After all, Sian would probably be given a stern telling off and not allowed to watch TV for a week, but if Emily’s mother found out, she’d tell Emily’s dad. Sian was terrified of Emily’s dad. He was a huge man with a temper. But his shouting and threats didn’t stop Emily getting into trouble. She didn’t seem to care.
Sian followed her friend, crossing the path and heading towards the fence that ran along the side of the playground.
The girls climbed over the wooden fence but Sian stumbled, landing on her hands and knees on top of a pile of soggy brown leaves.
Emily rolled her eyes but held out a hand to help her up.
Sian took a last longing look at the warm lights of the classroom glinting between the trees. Finally, she brushed her clothes free of leaves and bracken and followed her friend into the woods.
She’d been excited about going to Emily’s for tea. Sian’s mother always picked her up from the front gates, but Emily was allowed to go home on her own even though she was only ten. She used a shortcut along the side of the playground and the wood which led out on to Longwater Lane. But today they weren’t going straight to Emily’s house. Today they were meeting Emily’s new friend, who was going to take them to see some ponies and let Emily ride one.
At the thought of the ponies, Sian perked up a bit and walked a little faster. She shoved her hands deep in her pockets as the cold, damp October air made her shiver. It wasn’t raining, but drips of moisture fell from the branches above them, landing on their hair and coats.
‘Where’s your friend meeting us?’ Sian asked, no longer whispering now there was no one around to hear them.
‘Just through here,’ Emily said, pointing deeper into the woods. She grinned at Sian. Her eyes were sparkling and she bounced with each step like a puppy.
Suddenly she turned to Sian, the excitement on her face replaced by fear. ‘What if I can’t do it? What if I fall off ? Or the pony doesn’t like me?’
Sian shook her head. ‘Of course the pony will like you, and you won’t fall off. Somebody will hold the reins for you if it’s your first lesson.’
Emily nodded but didn’t look convinced.
Sian reached out to squeeze her friend’s hand, then both girls jumped when they heard leaves rustle in front of them.
The afternoon was dark and gloomy, making it hard to see. A prickling sensation ran along Sian’s spine as a tall, thin figure loomed in front of them.
At first, nobody spoke and then Sian stammered, ‘Is this your friend?’
Emily finally found her voice. ‘Yes, the one with the ponies.’ Emily’s voice was louder than usual.
Sian wished Emily’s friend would step away from the trees so she could see them properly, but in the next moment, she wished they’d just go away. For some reason, she felt an overwhelming need to run back to the classroom.
‘I told you not to tell anyone.’ The voice was gruff and angry.
Sian’s hands tightened into fists in her pockets to stop them from shaking. She shuffled back a few steps. Sian wanted to return to school, but she was scared for her friend. She shot a glance at Emily and saw she was frowning.
‘I’m sorry,’ Emily said. ‘It’s just that Sian really likes horses too, and she always lets me come to her lessons.’
Sian waited for the figure to reply, but for the longest time all she could hear was ragged breathing.
‘Fine. This way,’ the figure said finally, before turning around and heading deeper into the woods away from the school and Longwater Lane. Sian had never gone in this direction before.
‘Is this the way to the stables?’ Emily asked. Her voice wasn’t as loud now.
The figure walking in front of them said nothing.
About the book:
DS Karen Hart is the lead character, a woman who has struggled through a recent personal tragedy. She is a strong woman, who can be a little obstinate at times. DI Scott Morgan is her mysterious new boss, who seems as though he has something to hide. Karen wants to get on with the job, but can she put her trust in an officer who is so distant and secretive about his past?
Heighington, Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire is an evocative setting for a mystery series. The wide-open farmland, quiet country lanes and tight-knit communities can hide a wealth of secrets.
Thomas & Mercer
About the author:
Born in Kent, D. S. Butler grew up as an avid reader with a love for crime fiction and mysteries. She has worked as a scientific officer in a hospital pathology laboratory and as a research scientist.
After obtaining a PhD in biochemistry, she worked at the University of Oxford for four years before moving to the Middle East. While living in Bahrain, she wrote her first novel and hasn’t stopped writing since.
She now lives in Lincolnshire with her husband.
DS Karen Hart Series:
1.) Bring Them Home
2.) Where Secrets Lie
DS Jack Mackinnon books:
1.) Deadly Obsession
2.) Deadly Motive
3.) Deadly Revenge
4.) Deadly Justice
5.) Deadly Ritual
6.) Deadly Payback
7.) Deadly Game
Dani Oakley Books
1) East End Trouble
2) East End Diamond
3) East End Retribution
Harper Grant Mystery Series (written as Danica Britton)
1.) A Witchy Business
2.) A Witchy Mystery
3.) A Witchy Christmas
4.) A Witchy Valentine
5.) Harper Grant and the Poisoned Pumpkin Pie.
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