Binary Witness (The Amy Lane Mysteries)

BOOK: Binary Witness (The Amy Lane Mysteries)
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Binary Witness
By Rosie
Claverton

Book one of The Amy Lane
Mysteries

Police detectives rely on Amy Lane to track the digital
debris of their most elusive criminals—when she’s not in the throes of a panic
attack. After two students disappear in Cardiff, Amy uncovers photographic
evidence that they’ve been murdered. From the safety of her computer, she looks
through the city’s digital eyes to trace the steps of a killer.

Amy’s investigation requires footwork, however, and the
agoraphobic genius can’t hack it alone. She turns to her newly hired cleaner,
ex-con Jason Carr. Jason is fascinated by both Amy and the work, and can’t
refuse even when she sends him into situations that risk returning him to
prison.

The killer strikes again and again, and Amy and Jason are the
only investigators closing in on him. But Amy’s psyche is cracking under the
strain, and Jason’s past is catching up with him. To stop the next murder, they
must hold their unconventional partnership together at any cost.

78,000 words

Dear Reader,

If there’s one thing that’s sure to tickle me every time, it’s when I ask for book recommendations via social media, and readers come back to recommend books I’ve edited or published. Most recently, readers have given me recommendations for
Saved by the Bride
by Fiona Lowe,
Wild Ones
by Kristine Wyllys and
Goddess with a Blade
by Lauren Dane. I’m always pleased when this happens and I think our batch of May books will be next on readers’ recommendation lists!

We’re thrilled to welcome fan favorite Josh Lanyon back to Carina Press with
Stranger on the Shore
. Journalist Griffin Hadley shrugs off lawyer Pierce Mather’s objections to his investigation of a decades-old kidnapping, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

Bestselling author Stephanie Tyler returns with another sexy, unique story set not too far into our possible post-apocalyptic future. In
Salvation
, when Luna leaves Defiance to rescue Bish from a rival gang, she doesn’t realize she’s the one who will end up needing saving—both from the gang and from Bish, the man who can’t wait any longer to claim her and make her his. Though this book can be read as a standalone, be sure to check out both
Defiance
and
Redemption
as well!

There’s
No Accounting for Cowboys
in Leah Braemel’s sexy contemporary cowboy romance. Jake Grady relies on family accountant Paige Reynolds to bring order to his life, when family secrets throw it into chaos. Check out our new reduced-price bundle of Leah’s erotic romance duology,
Texas Tangle
and
Tangled Past
, available now.

And speaking of sexy contemporary romance, the only woman Grand Duke Armand ever desired is her, but not every girl dreams of marrying a prince. Anna doesn’t want prince charming, she loved the man behind the crown. Can they overcome their mistakes and reclaim a love neither forgot? Don’t miss this Going Royal book by Heather Long,
Some Like It Scandalous
.

Tamara Morgan joins us with the start to a new contemporary romance series in
If I Stay
. In this kickoff to a modern-day
Downton Abbey
series, the nanny to a rich hotelier family must choose between the hard-edged chauffeur who gets her pulse racing and the profligate playboy she’s loved her whole life.

Another author kicking off a new series is Sheryl Nantus. If you’ve been looking for a unique futuristic romance series to enjoy,
In the Black
is being described as
Firefly
meets
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
. What’s more unique than a heroine who’s captain of a bordello spaceship?

Male/male author KC Burn also offers up a futuristic romance this month. Falling in love with an alien exotic dancer forces a prejudiced fleet captain to reevaluate who he is and what he believes in
Voodoo ’n’ Vice
.

May is a month packed full of science fiction, fantasy and futuristic books. Cindy Spencer Pape is back with a new book in her Gaslight Chronicles,
Dragons
&
Dirigibles
(I love this title!). Airship engineer Melody MacKay is exactly the kind of emancipated woman Victor Arrington wants to keep away from his impressionable niece—that is, until smugglers start trying to kill the girl. Then Victor turns to Melody for help. If you’re new to the Gaslight Chronicles, you can start the series now with a new, reduced-price bundle of the first three books in the series. Available wherever ebooks are sold.

Author T.D. Wilson returns to Carina Press with book two in his space opera series. In
The Epherium Chronicles:
Crucible
, only one more jump to the new colony in the Cygni star system, but what will Captain James Hood find when he arrives—a thriving colony, dangerous enemies, or will it be in ruins?

We’re pleased to welcome four authors to Carina Press this month. Debut author April Taylor brings us a tale of fantasy and alternate history. In
Court of Conspiracy
, book one of The Tudor Enigma, ordered by Anne Boleyn to protect her son, can apothecary and elemancer Luke Ballard overcome the evil sunderer who seeks to kill Henry IX at Hampton Court Palace?

Also with a debut novel this month is historical paranormal romance author Kari Edgren. Selah Kilbrid would sacrifice everything for her birthright, except the one kiss that could destroy her in
Goddess Born
.

For our mystery offering this month, debut author Rosie Claverton brings together an agoraphobic hacker and a streetwise ex-con to hunt down a serial killer in Cardiff. Don’t miss
Binary Witness
, the first in a new mystery series.

Last, we’re thrilled to have author Vanessa North join us with her new male/male romance
High and Tight
. Deeply closeted Navy pilot Adam returns home, planning to convince his longtime lover he’s ready to commit at last, only to find Harris has moved on without him.

Coming in June: novels from Lynda Aicher, Ava March, Christi Barth, Dana Marie Bell and more, along with a fabulous male/male contemporary romance anthology from three talented authors.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

Dedication

For Pam, the epitome of grace under pressure—thank you for showing me that all things are possible and raising your son to be my perfect husband.

Acknowledgments

Thank you to my talented editor, Deb Nemeth, for weaving her magic to turn my shabby manuscript into a novel, and for Angela James at Carina Press for taking a chance on me.

Thank you to Professor Burkhard Schafer of the University of Edinburgh for proving invaluable in my research on digital evidence and forensic computing. All the facts are his, and all the mistakes mine.

Thanks to all my friends and housemates who have lived at various locations in this novel, particularly Nicole who shared my wheelie bin anxiety.

Cardiff, I miss you. Consider this a love letter, hopefully the first of many.

Finally, thank you, Huw—words cannot express how much of this novel I owe to you and your indefatigable support.
Diolch yn fawr
,
cariad.

Chapter One: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The soft burble of the television threatened to lull her to sleep, and Kate forced her eyes open. She twirled the end of her messy blond plait around her finger and tried to find the will to get off the sofa.
Have I Got News for You
had just finished, there was nothing on for half an hour, and if she didn’t take the rubbish out before her housemate got back, there’d be hell to pay.

Neither of them could be bothered to get up early on a Monday morning after a weekend of shifts at the club, so Friday night was her opportunity to shove the wheelie bin out front. Kate knew they’d get poisonous looks from their lemon-sucking neighbour for leaving it out all weekend, but she was also the woman who’d complained about their barbecue last month. Kate had no qualms about ruffling her feathers.

With Herculean effort, Kate prised herself off the faux leather couch and stumbled towards the back door. Opening it let in a sharp draught of October air, and she drew back her hands into her hoodie sleeves, teeth already chattering. The outside light flickered to life, blinding her after the dim, dingy student living room. She’d add that to her tale of woe for her housemate later.

With one hand, she stuffed the kitchen waste into the overflowing black bin, while the other rummaged among the detritus on the windowsill for the gate key. She eventually found it among the cocktail umbrellas and, waving her arms to get the outside light on, she twisted the key against ancient rust to wrangle the lock open. She shut the back door, but didn’t bother with the lock. It would only be two minutes. What could happen in two minutes?

Pushing the bin like a mam with a pram, Kate manoeuvred the thing through the gate, wincing at something sticky between her palm and the handle. The light clicked off behind her, and she spent a minute or three trying to fit the wheelie bin round a corner too slim for it. Finally, it budged and she shoved it down the narrow alleyway to the street.

She wedged the bin against the windowsill, ignoring the twitching curtains. As long as the foxes didn’t get at it, she didn’t see the big deal. It was November and the bin was more likely to freeze shut than raise a stench.

Kate looked back down the alley.

With the streetlights behind her, it looked ominous. High walls overshadowed the tiny walkway, with no light at the end to guide her through. The anaemic moonlight played off the ivy curtains, casting shadows that looked like men. Leafy green monsters. Kate scowled. It was stupid to be afraid—she’d only just walked down it. There was nothing there. Was there?

She crept down the alley, the darkness pressing in on her. The ivy monsters formed an honour guard as she passed, ready to end her with a branch bayonet at the slightest misstep. She was certain there were eyes on her, watching her, following her every move. Could she hear footsteps...?

Kate turned, twisting round to stare back at the road. Nothing. She took a deep breath, pulled herself together and hurried down the rest of the alley.

Reaching her gate, she stopped on the threshold. The outside light was on.

Suddenly, the feeling of being watched returned. She was sure the light had been off when she’d left. How could it be on now? What movement in the shadows had triggered it again? Kate was acutely aware that she’d left the door unlocked. Anyone could be inside her house.

“God, you’re ridiculous,” she told herself and marched through the gate, slamming it shut behind her and snapping closed the lock. She walked determinedly towards the back door. It must’ve been a cat, or a mouse. How many times had it come on for no good reason? They should get the landlord to look at it.

Closing the back door behind her, Kate locked it and dropped the key on the windowsill. Then she turned to confront the house. The kitchen was a state, overflowing with dishes but empty of intruders, and she could see all the way through the dining area into the living room. There was nowhere a man could hide.

Kate breathed a guilty sigh of relief and returned to her spot on the sofa, but she didn’t feel like TV anymore. She had to haul herself to the library in the morning, and she’d have to take the bus if it was raining. Of course, it was always bloody raining, but she’d moved to Wales—what else could she expect?

She turned off the lights, set the box to record
Dr.
Quinn
,
Medicine Woman
(Naomi loved that retro nonsense) and made sure the deadlock was off so Naomi could actually get in after her shift. Having her housemate howl down the door at 3:00 a.m. did nothing for their relationship with the neighbours.

The house slipped into its midnight state, the faint strains of Maroon 5 coming through one wall accompanied by the rhythmic banging of headboard against plaster. Kate yawned, plodding up the stairs and straight into the bathroom.

From the vantage point of the cracked toilet seat, she stared at the shower curtain. Naomi always pulled it across—to let it dry, she said, something about mould—and Kate hated it there. For a start, it was an ugly curtain, all mutant fish and kids’ bathtime phrases on deep plastic blue.

And, secondly, it would make a great hiding place.

Shaking her head, Kate went to wash her hands in the sink, letting the water warm her hands and calm her nerves. It was just that bloody cat outside. That was all. She looked at her face in the mirror, picking at her blemishes.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, she realised: the shower curtain was drawn back.

BOOK: Binary Witness (The Amy Lane Mysteries)
2.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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