Thrilled to be sharing with you today an exclusive extract from the fabulous, The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith. I’m very excited to be sharing chapter 2 from the novel, you will find chapter 1 over on the wonderful Noelle’s blog, Crimebookjunkie. The Kindred Killers will be published on the 12th of September. So without further ado, here it is. Enjoy!
The Kindred Killers
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Martin Luther King
Alfonse doesn’t say another word until we’re travelling west on the Forty. He hands me deodorant, breath mints and a scowl in one movement. When he does speak his voice is filled with urgency and worry.
My comprehension is a little slower than usual. I struggle to grasp what he’s telling me.
‘So your cousin and his wife have left home in a hurry. I don’t see what the problem is.’
‘Weren’t you listening? They didn’t leave home in a hurry. They were taken.’
I rub over my face with both hands until I reach the back of my neck. Alfonse isn’t one to jump at shadows, but I can’t believe a family of four have been abducted from their home. Kidnappers take one family member and they would target a wealthy family. I don’t know Alfonse’s cousin too well, but I know he’s a regular guy who draws an honest wage for an honest day’s work. All four of them being taken suggests something else.
I’m guessing someone else has hit the panic button, but it’s not like Alfonse to get this worked up over a mistake.
‘Say they were taken.’ I raise a hand to forestall the indignant protest I know he’s going to make. ‘What reason is there for taking them? None of your family are rich enough to make kidnapping worthwhile. He’s a lawyer and she works in a bank. There’s no real motive.’
Alfonse shakes his head as he powers the SUV past a slow-moving suburban. ‘That’s what scares me. If they’ve been snatched for no obvious reason, there’s something we don’t know or someone intends to hurt them.’
‘What makes you so sure they’ve been taken? Have there been any demands?’
‘Not yet.’ A shrug. ‘Aunt Nina visited them and found the back door open. When she went in, it looked like there had been a fight.’
‘Has anyone called the police?’ It’s a silly question I wave an immediate apology for. Alfonse makes a good living as Casperton’s private detective. The new Chief of Police hasn’t been in office long enough to sort out the nepotistically appointed detective squad.
He gives a grimace of distaste. ‘It was the first thing Aunt Nina did. Farrage and one of his buddies trooped over, had a bit of a look around and then dismissed it as a domestic.’
‘Sounds about right for him. I take it you want me to help find them?’
He doesn’t say anything, but the look he fires my way screams ‘well duh!’.
‘I’m just playing devil’s advocate here; what about the house convinced you and Nina they were taken against their will?’
‘You don’t know what Sherrelle’s like. To say she has OCD would be an understatement. Everything in her house has its place and she freaks out if the slightest thing is in the wrong place.’ He slows to avoid getting caught by a speed trap. ‘She once lost the plot because I returned two DVDs in the wrong cases.’
I start to get why he’s so worried. I had a great aunt in Scotland who was much the same. Visits to her house always filled me with dread as she had a sharp tongue for anyone who upset her carefully arranged home. As an act of revenge for one foul-mouthed rant, my sister and I waited until she was in hospital for a minor operation, and rearranged all her cupboards and drawers into a haphazard mess.
‘When were they last seen or spoken to?’
‘Monday night. Darryl spoke to Aunt Nina about a party he and Sherrelle were planning for Robyn’s birthday. When she went round yesterday morning…’ He tails off, knowing he’d be repeating himself.
At least we have a timeframe for when they went missing, or were taken. ‘Why didn’t you call me or come sooner?’
‘I called you last night. We spoke for half an hour and you promised to get back by midnight.’
There is accusation in both his voice and his words. I’ve failed him as a friend. He called out to me in his hour of need and I made him a promise I didn’t keep. Instead of getting my act together and going back to help him, I got into a fight and then went to bed with a drug-addicted hooker.
‘I’m sorry, man.’ There’s not much else I can say; he knows what happens when I start drinking.
‘You’re here now. Let’s concentrate on finding out what’s happened to them.’
He doesn’t say it, but the subtext is that at some point he’s going to rail on me for letting him down. There’s no answer to that; he has every right and we both know it.
Whatever happens, I have to make sure I redeem myself in his eyes. Right now the road to redemption is a one-way street leading to an investigation into a mysterious disappearance.
We cover a few miles in silence until we reach Hayden. It’s a small town in the Yampa Valley. Once home to coal miners, it now supports small businesses and an airport bringing skiers to Steamboat Springs.
As we pass through the town he pulls into the car park of a bar. My Mustang sits askew in two parking spaces.
‘Can I trust you to follow me back or are you gonna walk in there and have another beer?’ His tone is mild, but his words cut deep.
‘I’ll be back at Casperton before you. Pick me up at my place.’ I plan to race ahead so I can brush my teeth and change into clean clothes. My hangover is kicking in big time and I want to be presentable for his family.
I have another thought as I climb out of his car. ‘How did you know where to find me, and where my car was?’
‘You’re the smartass, work it out for yourself.’
He’s not the type to screech off in a cloud of tyre smoke, yet when he leaves it’s as close as he’ll ever get.
Five minutes later I pass his SUV on my way back to Casperton. With peace to think, it doesn’t take me long to work out he must have been tracking me. The way he arrowed in on my precise location can only be explained by some kind of tracking device. I’m guessing both my phone and car are bugged.
The Kindred Killers is available to purchase from Amazon.