#Excerpt – First to Die by Alex Caan @alexcaanwriter @imosebba @BonnierZaffre
Series: Riley and Harris #2
Published by Bonnier Zaffre on 4th September 2018
Genres: Mystery, Crime
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Bonfire Night and St James's Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Zain Harris and Kate Riley are called in to investigate. The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus, resulting in enforced quarantine for anyone who came into contact with the body. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. There is no obvious reason why anyone would want him dead.
As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus narrow down the possibilities, first one, then another pharmacist go missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members, and one of his favoured charities is rumoured to be involved in human trafficking. He must have had enemies after all...
The mystery is becoming increasingly complicated and with thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?
Welcome today! It’s my stop on the blog tour and I have the pleasure of bringing to you an excerpt from Alex Caan’s exciting second novel in the Riley and Harris series – First to Die.
First, let’s have a look at the cover…cast your eyes below…
The cold air was brushing Kate’s ears, and she could see frost on the ground. It looked almost beautiful in the bright sun. All she could hear were the birds. It felt picturesque, until she
looked at the trauma lying in front of her. PC Alliack seemed to be looking everywhere except at the victim, or at her.
‘Your first dead body, I take it?’
‘That obvious, ma’am?’
The same masking laughter he had done before. She thought back to the first time she had seen a corpse. She had been to enough family funerals prior to starting her career, but coming
to a crime scene, and realising you were too late, that no one was being saved, was different.
She had been part of law enforcement across Washington, the very power heartland of the nation. The place where politicians and the influential all mixed against a heady cocktail of ambition and corruption. It was probably why the idea of London had been so attractive to her, and she hadn’t been disappointed by its reality.
‘Mine was fairly tame,’ she said, breaking the awkward silence that had fallen between them. ‘Homeless man, beaten to death for a bottle of beer and his coat.’
‘Nice. I mean, not nice, I meant . . .’
‘I know. I thought it was ironic, here was someone who by the standards of our materialistic world had nothing, yet somebody thought the bits he did have were worth killing him for. I remember I felt utter sadness. And a sense of powerlessness. There was nothing I could do for him. He was dead, and his final minutes were probably horrendous. It seemed so innocuous, but it threw me. I became really depressed after it.’
She stopped to check she wasn’t revealing too much or making Alliack feel worse. He was staring at her, intensely, hooked on her words.
‘What happened?’ he said, in a whisper.
‘It took a long time to get over it. I saw other murder victims after that, but that man, he never left me. It was the smell, it lingered. Sounds crazy I know, but it was there at random times, like a sensory memory that triggered at inappropriate times. And that hopelessness kept coming back. What was I? Just there to clean up after the fact, not do anything useful?’
She had changed so much since that time, she had moved her world quite literally, and been in some tough battles over the years. Yet that first time was still fresh, she could recall it in an instant. She saw herself back then, educated to the eyeballs, but on the street she was so raw.
‘Isn’t that part of our job though, ma’am?’
‘Yes. And that was what got me through it. I realised I wasn’t just there to mop up. I was the last chance for the dead. When their final breath had left them, I was there to be their voice and to make sure they were still heard. Make sure the evil that had fallen on them wouldn’t go unchallenged.’
‘You found who did it?’
‘Yes. Another homeless man. On the streets because the mental health system had failed him, because society had failed him. He should have been in a hospital getting help, instead . . .’
Kate thought pointless was a more appropriate word. ‘Well look on the positive, PC Alliack. We’re in the open air so at least you won’t have the smell of death to contend with. Until the autopsy of course.’
Now if that does not have you intrigued to find out what happens, well what will!!
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About Alex Caan
Alex Caan has spent over a decade working in Information Systems Security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in Terrorism Studies. A lifetime passion for writing was sparked by the encouraging words of an English Teacher in school, and eventually led to Alex successfully completing an MA in Creative Writing, and write Cut to the Bone.
Cut to the Bone has been a Kindle Number 1 bestseller, was picked as a WH Smith ‘Everyone’s Talking About’ book of the week, chosen as Sainsbury’s best of summer reads and was Angela Marson’s pick for crime novel recommendation of the year. Alex Caan was also a rising star on Amazon in 2016.
First to Die, the shocking sequel to Cut to the Bone, is out June 14th 2018.