Authors: Matt Brolly
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Crime, #Mystery & Detective, #Police Procedural, #Private Investigators, #Suspense, #General
DCI Michael Lambert is back…
When a woman is murdered, the twisted killer forcing her husband to watch her slow and painful death, DCI Michael Lambert knows that his next case might be his toughest yet.
And when a second set of killings are discovered, with exactly the same MO, the race is on to find the lethal sociopath before he strikes again.
But Lambert never expected to receive an anonymous call from the killer. This time, it’s personal: if Lambert doesn’t find the murderer soon, his own loved ones will be next…
The gripping second novel in a thrilling new crime series by Matt Brolly. Perfect for fans of Tony Parsons, Lee Child and Angela Marsons.
Following his law degree, where he developed an interest in criminal law,
completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres, and is currently working on the third in his Michael Lambert thriller series. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find out more about Matt at his website
or by following him on twitter:
Thanks again to so many people who have helped in the writing of Dead Lucky:
The whole team at Carina UK for their support and encouragement. Special thanks to my wonderful Editor, Charlotte Mursell, for her insight and unending support.
All the amazing bloggers and reviewers for promoting Dead Eyed. Too many to name, but sincere thanks for each and every review. So many great blogs out there!
Alexia Capsomidis for her help promoting Dead Eyed, and the many sales she secured!
Michael Brolly, for lending his first name again.
All my friends and family who were so supportive with their feedback on Dead Eyed, and their continued support.
Ann Eardley, for her exemplary proofreading skills.
My children Freya and Hamish for being there.
And as always, Alison, for her expert eye and unwavering belief.
For my Nan, Eileen Brolly
He tried to stretch. His back was pushed tight against the wall, his covered head snagged between two coat hooks. Every other breath brought with it the stench of foot odour and moth bombs.
He’d been in the flat for three hours, the last two of which had been in the wardrobe. Preparation was important. The woman was predictable, she would return after work, the husband less so. His behaviour was erratic of late. He’d been spending more time at the bar than at work.
He stretched once more, savouring being alone, going over the plan again and again until it was so embedded in his mind that it was almost a memory.
The woman arrived on time. His pulse didn’t alter as he listened to her move around the room, the strange noises she made, thinking she was alone.
Eventually she left the room. Realising he’d been holding his breath, he let it out in a rush, his lungs filling with the trapped, musty air of his hiding cell.
It was another two hours before the husband arrived. He heard the front door click open, the heavy steps as the husband walked into the living room, the muted voices as the couple exchanged pleasantries.
He was about to leave his confines when he heard the woman enter the en-suite bathroom. He edged the wardrobe open. The bathroom door was ajar and he tiptoed across the bedroom floor in time to see the woman pulling up her garments.
As she left the room, he placed his right hand on her shoulder. She jumped, and rounded on him thinking he was her husband. She stared at him for a second, her mouth agape. A look of confusion crept across her face and for a heartbeat it was as if she’d been expecting his arrival. Then, realising what was happening was all too real, she went to scream.
With a practised move, he reached out and covered her mouth before she could give sound to her situation.
Lambert sensed the decay as he entered the building.
He’d been here before.
Inside, the cloying stench of antiseptic and bleach did little to mask the subtle odours of illness and death which permeated from the walls of the hollow reception area.
He knew where he was going, he’d visited the same ward on numerous occasions many years ago. His body guided him along the route without him having to think, a homing instinct he’d thought long extinguished. He tried to ignore the people he passed. An elderly man, wisps of dry grey hair atop a wrinkled skull, wheeling a bag full of yellowing liquid which seeped into his veins. An obese teenage girl, pushed along in a wheelchair by two similar sized youths, her plastered leg protruding in the air like a weapon. And finally a man he’d hoped to avoid, leaving the lift as Lambert was about to enter.
The man, immaculate in a pinstriped suit and coiffured hair, froze. Lambert had to suppress a smile as the colour literally drained from the man’s face. His healthy St Tropez tan faded into a ghost-like white.
‘Michael,’ said the man, holding out his hand.
Lambert ignored the outstretched limb, not yet ready to be fully grown up about the situation. He entered the lift and turned to watch Jeremy Taylor, partner of Price Barker Solicitors, shake himself as if from a daze and walk away.
‘Michael Lambert,’ he said, into the box outside the ward. ‘I’m here to see Sophie Lambert.’ He remembered a time twelve years ago when he’d said the very same thing into what looked like the very same box. Only then he’d been visiting on happier terms.
The screams started as soon as he was buzzed into the ward, the sound of tortured women, flesh being torn. The nurses’ desk was empty. Lambert considered walking the corridors in search of Sophie but didn’t want to risk intruding on the other patients. Eventually, a smiling nurse gave him directions to Sophie’s room. The woman beamed at him as if this should be the greatest day of his life.
He ambled down the corridor, debating whether or not to turn and flee the scene, until he reached the entrance to Sophie’s room.
Taking a deep breath, he stepped over the threshold. For a time he just stood there dumbstruck, forgetting to breathe. Sophie sat upright in bed, cheeks pinched red, a tiny figure clamped to her breast. Smiling, she beckoned him over.
It was too late to leave. He took a seat next to her bed. ‘How did it go?’ he asked, not knowing what else to say.
Lambert had been virtually estranged from his wife, Sophie, for the last three years following the death of their daughter, Chloe, though they had continued sharing a house together. During that time Sophie had had a brief affair with Jeremy Taylor, the solicitor Lambert had just encountered, who was the father of the child his wife was holding.
The child released itself from Sophie with a smacking sound and looked in Lambert’s direction. ‘Do you want to hold her?’ asked Sophie, as unsure about the situation as he was.
‘No. Thank you. I’m okay.’
Tears welled in Sophie’s eyes. ‘This little thing is Chloe’s sister,’ she whispered, stroking the baby’s head.
Lambert choked back his own tears. The baby was the closest thing there would ever be to Chloe but there was no avoiding the fact that she wasn’t his. He poured a beaker of water, taking some time to think. ‘Do you have a name for her?’ he asked, his voice coming out as a squawk – like an adolescent boy’s.
‘I wanted to call her Jane.’ Sophie hesitated, looked down at the baby for support. ‘If you will give me permission, Jane Chloe.’
Lambert looked away, forcing back tears, picturing his little girl before the accident. Her curious smile and unending joy for the world, and how he had destroyed it all by losing control of his car. He didn’t know if it was a good idea giving this new child Chloe’s name. He didn’t want her to be haunted by her dead sister, or for her to grow up feeling she was a replacement, but he knew Sophie would never ever let her feel that way. ‘If you think that is best,’ he said.
‘What do you think, Michael?’
‘I think it would be wonderful,’ he said, darting his hand across his eyes, turning to face them. The child looked back at him as Chloe had done all those years before.
He left ten minutes later, refusing to be overwhelmed by his growing sense of loneliness. He’d left the family home three months earlier, informing Sophie that it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to stay. He’d even discussed divorce proceedings with her but she’d wanted to get through the pregnancy before making any decisions. Although he was happy for her, he knew he should have been the father of that little girl back in the ward. As he took the lift, he envisaged a future without Sophie. He imagined her raising Jane without him.
His vision blurred as he entered the main lobby of the hospital. Fiery lights danced in front of his eyes. The dizzying colours – flickers of burning ember, a multitude of shades and sizes – signified the start of a hallucinatory episode. From research on the internet he’d self-diagnosed his condition as a form of hallucinatory narcolepsy. It was the same type of episode he’d suffered when driving Chloe.
The episodes had occurred more often in the last few months, ever since Sophie’s pregnancy and the Souljacker case. The trigger was usually a lack of sleep, or stress. At the moment, he was suffering from both.
He sat down on a bench, the material cold and hard against his flesh, and closed his eyes. He told himself he was in a good place. The episodes normally occurred at home in bed, a smooth precursor to sleep. Knowing it was unwise to fight, he lay his head against the rough textured wall and fell asleep.
‘Sir, sir.’ The hand pulled at his shoulder, the accent foreign. ‘I’m sorry, sir, I need to clean here.’
Lambert darted awake and took in his surroundings. He was still in the hospital. He checked his watch. He’d been asleep for three hours.
‘Sorry, sir,’ repeated the cleaner, switching on a floor polisher which whirred into life with a deafening drone.
Lambert stood and stretched. The place had thinned out with normal visiting hours over. Lonely patients walked the floors like ghosts, occasionally passed by a hurrying doctor or nurse. The three hours had refreshed him and had evaporated, for a time, his worries over Sophie and the new child. It was eleven p.m. He considered calling Sarah, but decided it was too late. She would either be sleeping, or out working on the case. Either way, he wouldn’t know what to tell her. He didn’t fully understand how he felt about the situation at the moment, and was in no mood to analyse his feelings. Knowing he wouldn’t get back to sleep that evening, there was little option but to return to work.
Lambert had resumed his position within the National Crime Agency two months previously, following his unofficial pursuit and capture of the notorious serial killer, dubbed the Souljacker. Since returning, he’d been working on an international drugs case. The case had proved challenging, and there was still months of work ahead.
Lambert was part of a small specialised team, his NCA team working with the Met’s joint Organised Crime Partnership. So far they had arrested a number of small time dealers, and inroads were slowly being made into the main distributors.