Read A Dark and Twisted Tide Online

Authors: Sharon Bolton

Tags: #Mystery, #Murder, #Action & Adventure, #Crime, #Suspense, #Serial Killers, #Crime Fiction, #Thrillers, #Thriller & Suspense, #Genre Fiction, #Thriller, #Literature & Fiction

A Dark and Twisted Tide

BOOK: A Dark and Twisted Tide
12.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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About the Book

Former detective
Lacey Flint
quit the force for a safer, quieter life. Or that’s what she thought.

Now living alone on her houseboat, she is trying to get over the man she loves, undercover detective
Mark Joesbury
. But Mark is missing in action and impossible to forget. And danger won’t leave Lacey alone.

When she finds a body floating in the river near her home, wrapped in burial cloths, she can’t resist asking questions. Who is this woman, and why was she hidden in the fast-flowing depths? And who has been delivering unwanted gifts to Lacey?

Someone is watching Lacey Flint closely.

Someone who knows exactly what makes her tick . . .

Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Dedication

Epigraph

Map

Prologue

Saturday, 28 June

Chapter 1

Thursday, 19 June

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Tuesday, 12 February

Chapter 14

Friday, 20 June

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Sunday, 23 March

Chapter 30

Saturday, 21 June

Chapter 31

Sunday, 22 June

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Monday, 23 June

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Friday, 4 April

Chapter 39

Tuesday, 24 June

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Thursday, 26 June

Chapter 43

17 May

Chapter 44

Friday, 27 June

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Saturday, 28 June

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Sunday, 29 June

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Monday, 30 June

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Tuesday, 1 July

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Wednesday, 2 July

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

Chapter 87

Chapter 88

Chapter 89

Chapter 90

Chapter 91

Chapter 92

Chapter 93

Chapter 94

Chapter 95

Chapter 96

Thursday, 3 July

Chapter 97

Friday, 18 July

Chapter 98

Author’s Note

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Also by Sharon Bolton

Copyright

A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE

SHARON BOLTON

In memory of Margaret Yorke, who was my neighbour, my mentor and my friend.

And according to the success with which you put this and that together, you get a woman and a fish apart, or a Mermaid in combination. And Mr Inspector could turn out nothing better than a Mermaid, which no Judge and Jury would believe in.
Charles Dickens,
Our Mutual Friend

Prologue

I AM LACEY
Flint
, she tells herself, as dawn breaks and she lifts first one arm then the other, kicking hard with legs that are longer and more powerful than usual, thanks to a stout pair of fins.
My name is Lacey
, she repeats, because this mantra of identity has become as much a part of her daily ritual as swimming at first light.
Lacey, which is soft and pretty, and Flint, sharp and hard as nails
. Sometimes Lacey is amused by the inherent contrast of her name. Other times, she admits it suits her perfectly.

I am Constable Lacey Flint of the Metropolitan Police’s Marine Unit
, Lacey announces silently to her reflection in the mirror, as she dresses in her pristine uniform and sets off for her new head quarters at Wapping police station, taking comfort in the knowledge that, for the first time in many months, a police officer feels like who she was meant to be.

I am Lacey Flint
, she says to herself most nights, as she battens down the hatches of her houseboat and crawls into the small double bed in the forward cabin, listening to water slapping against the hull and the scrabble of creatures setting out for the night.
I live on the river, work on the river and swim in the river.

I am Lacey and I am loved
, she thinks, as a tall man with turquoise eyes steps once again to the front of her thoughts.

‘I am Lacey Flint,’ she sometimes murmurs aloud as she drifts
away to the world of what-ifs, could-bes and still-mights that other people call sleep; and she wonders whether there might ever come a day when she forgets that it is all a massive lie.

SATURDAY, 28 JUNE

1

The Killer

THE PUMPING STATION
sits near the embankment wall of the River Thames in London, close to the border of Rotherhithe and Deptford, like a woman at a dance who has long since given up hoping for a partner. The small, square building has mostly been forgotten by the people who walk, cycle or drive past it each day, if indeed they ever noticed it in the first place. It has always been there, like the roads, the high river wall, the riverside path. Not a striking building, in any sense, and nothing ever happens in connection with it. No deliveries come to the wide wooden doors on one side and certainly nothing comes out. The windows are all sealed with wooden planks and heavy steel nails. Occasionally, someone lingering on the riverside path might notice that the brickwork is a perfect example of Flemish diagonal bond and that the pattern surrounding the flat roof is beautiful, in an understated way.

Few do. The roof is above normal sight lines and the nearest road isn’t on a bus route. River traffic, of course, is far below. So no one ever appreciates that the pale grey of the building is relieved by bricks of white in a repeating criss-cross pattern, and by uniform pieces of stone set on the diagonal. The Victorians decorated everything, and they didn’t neglect this insignificant building, even if
few of them would have mentioned its original purpose in polite company. The pumping station was built to pump human sewage from the lower-lying lands of Rotherhithe and discharge it into the Thames. It once played an important role in keeping the surrounding streets fresh, but bigger, more efficient stations were brought into play, and there came a day when it was no longer needed.

If passers-by were curious enough to find a way inside, they’d see that, Tardis-like, the interior is so much bigger than its external framework suggests, because at least half of the pumping station is underground. Two storeys up, the boarded-up windows and the large double door are all high in the walls. To reach them, it is necessary to climb an iron staircase and step along an ornate gallery that runs round the entire circumference of the chamber.

All the engineering equipment has long since been taken away, but the decoration remains. Stone columns rise to the roof, their once-crimson paint faded to a dull red. Tudor roses still entwine at the tops of the pillars, even though they no longer gleam snow-white. Mould creeps up the sides of the smooth brickwork, but can’t hide the fine quality of the bricks. Anyone privileged to see inside the pumping station would consider it a minor architectural gem, somewhere to be preserved and celebrated.

It can’t happen. For years now, it has been in private hands, and those hands have no interest in development or change. Those hands are unconcerned that a piece of riverside real estate this close to the city is probably worth millions. All those hands care about is that the old pumping station serves a purpose particular to them.

It also happens to be the ideal place to shroud a dead body.

In the centre of the space are three iron plinths, each roughly the size of a modest dining table. The dead woman lies on the one closest to the outlet pipe and the killer is panting with the exertion of getting her there. Water streams off them both. The dead woman’s hair is black and very long. It clings to her face like the weed on an upturned boat hull at low tide.

Above, the moon is little more than a curled blond eyelash in the sky, but there are streetlamps along the embankment and some light
reaches inside. Together with the glow from several oil lanterns set in the arched recesses of the walls, it is enough.

When the hair is gently lifted, the pale, perfect face beneath is revealed. The killer sighs. It is always so much easier when their faces haven’t been damaged. The wound around the neck is ugly, but the face is untouched. The eyes are closed and that is good, too. Eyes so quickly lose their lustre.

Here it comes again, that heavy sadness. Regret – there is no other word for it really. They are so lovely, the girls, with their flowing hair and long limbs. Why lure them away with promises of rescue and safety? Why live for the moment when the hope in their eyes turns to terror?

Enough. The body has to be undressed, washed and shrouded. It can be left here for the rest of the night and taken out to the river tomorrow. Close to hand are the hemmed sheets, the nylon twine and the weights.

The woman’s clothes are soon removed; the cotton tunic and trousers are cut away easily, the cheap underwear is the work of seconds.

Oh, but she’s so beautiful. Slender. Long, slim legs; small, high breasts. Pale, perfect skin. The killer’s strong fingers run the length of the firm, plump thigh, trace the outline of the small round kneecap and go on down the perfectly formed shin, over the spreading curve of the calf. Perfect feet. The high, graceful arch of the instep, the tiny pink toes, the perfect oval of the toenails. In death, she is the absolute picture of unattainable femininity.

A rasping sound. Then a cold, strong hand clutching the killer’s arm.

The woman is moving. Not dead. Her eyes are open. Not dead. She’s coughing, wheezing, her hands scrabbling around on the iron block, trying to get up. How did this happen? The killer almost faints in shock. Eyes that have turned black with horror are staring. More river water comes coughing out of those pale, bitten lips.

BOOK: A Dark and Twisted Tide
12.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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