Book Review: Jackal by Erin E. Adams

It’s watching.

PLOT SUMMARY:

Liz Rocher is coming home . . . reluctantly. As a Black woman, Liz doesn’t exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward, passive-aggressive reunions. Liz has grown, though; she can handle whatever awaits her. But on the day of the wedding, somewhere between dancing and dessert, the couple’s daughter, Caroline, disappears—and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood.

It’s taking.

As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern: A summer night. A missing girl. A party in the woods. She’s seen this before. Keisha Woodson, the only other Black girl in Liz’s high school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart removed. Liz shudders at the thought that it could have been her, and now, with Caroline missing, it can’t be a coincidence. As Liz starts to dig through the town’s history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls.

It’s your turn.

With the evil in the forest creeping closer, Liz knows what she must do: find Caroline, or be entirely consumed by the darkness.

GRADE: A+

REVIEW:

I’ve always been wary of the forest – in fact, when we lived in Sardinia and our villa had a forest behind it, I always stayed out of it. Even at four years old I had a gut feeling that whatever noise I heard in the forest I should ignore it, and never investigate its origin. Liz returns to Johnstown for her best friend’s wedding, only for her goddaughter Caroline to go missing. But every year for thirty years young Black girls have gone missing – always in the same spot in the forest. This novel is rich with history, terror, and what it means to return home to a place that has never quite felt like your own. The writing is rich and the protagonist Liz is flawed but hopelessly determined. I love folklore and the author masterfully crafted a thriller mystery that weaves folklore with history in a way that you’re left racing through the pages attempting to escape the darkness and rush towards the light. I loved this book, there’s so much one can learn from this about race, class, and history. Read this book even if it scares you, actually read it because it will.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Bantam for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Film Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Full disclosure, when I started reading the novel, I struggled with the first chapters because I found present Ani to be too fixated on looks and appearances, especially when it came to clothes and her views on marriage (when I read the book I was still unmarried and was annoyed that the character could be so judgmental on what was the perfect age to be married by). It wasn’t until we got to meet teen Ani (then known as TifAni) that I warmed up to the character and could feel like we actually had more in common than I would’ve anticipated. Having said this, at the time I really enjoyed the novel so when the film hit Netflix last week I quickly viewed it.

Maybe because the author, Jessica Knoll has written three books since Luckiest Girl Alive, but I felt like the screenplay for the film (also written by the author) managed to convey a powerful punch to the gut, in a way that the book didn’t (I much prefer the film’s ending than the book ending). The writing was raw, sharp, and went for the jugular, in other words, it doesn’t aim to please, rather it aims to seize what is rightfully theirs, without shame.

The movie, much like the book has us meet present Ani – who seems to have it all, impressive journalist career, rich fiancé, and is on her way to becoming an editor for The New York Times. And yet, she’s plagued by an incident from her past that’s linked to personal trauma as well as collective trauma. Mila Kunis skillfully brings this complex character to life in the present timeline, while Chiara Aurelia portrays teen Ani is a stark contrast to her present self, as teen Ani is curvaceous with unruly hair who desperately wishes to be accepted by her blue blood rich classmates at her posh private High School. Present Ani is impeccable in looks, but when her fiancé Luke steps away from the table at the restaurant, we see her scarf down two slices of pizza with a hunger that the viewer knows that there’s something brewing instead of Ani that wishes to unleash itself. That she isn’t being her authentic self because present Ani thinks the only way she can move on from her past is to deny everything she was as a teen.

This is a very harrowing yet powerful movie, and if you’re a woman it’s one you don’t want to miss because finally there’s a character that is both complex and messy and yet manages to honor her younger self in the end by doing something that her teenage self would’ve approved of. The way in which Mila Kunis delivers the most eloquent fuck you in the final scene will make you think that that fuck you is one that many women can stand behind

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Book Review: Mothered by Zoje Stage

What made a human being turn monstrous?

PLOT SUMMARY:

Grace isn’t exactly thrilled when her newly widowed mother, Jackie, asks to move in with her. They’ve never had a great relationship, and Grace likes her space—especially now that she’s stuck at home during a pandemic. Then again, she needs help with the mortgage after losing her job. And maybe it’ll be a chance for them to bond—or at least give each other a hand.

But living with Mother isn’t for everyone. Good intentions turn bad soon after Jackie moves in. Old wounds fester; new ones open. Grace starts having nightmares about her disabled twin sister, who died when they were kids. And Jackie discovers that Grace secretly catfishes people online—a hobby Jackie thinks is unforgivable.

When Jackie makes an earth-shattering accusation against her, Grace sees it as an act of revenge, and it sends her spiraling into a sleep-deprived madness. As the walls close in, the ghosts of Grace’s past collide with a new but familiar threat: Mom.

GRADE: B-

REVIEW:

I read this author’s debut novel, Baby Teeth and had enjoyed some aspects of it – so I wanted to try out another novel of hers. Mothered is a case study of pandemic life and how it is to cope with your life dramatically changing as the world outside was full of uncertainties and how a mother/daughter relationship completely deteriorates towards the end. Grace and Jackie have been estranged for many years but now during the pandemic, Grace has allowed her recently widowed mother Jackie to move in with her. The two haven’t had the best relationship since Grace took the burden of taking care of her disabled twin Hope growing up while her mother worked – being a single parent. I wasn’t particularly fond of the protagonist Grace, so I actually found her behavior more offputting than her mother’s. My biggest gripe with the novel is that the majority of the horror happened in dream sequences and since I could easily tell when Grace was dreaming – reading the horrible gory dream weren’t as frightening because I knew that nothing truly happened in the waking world. I know the novel took place mostly at home due to the pandemic, but it still made me feel restless and I couldn’t wait for it to be over (especially since we already knew what was going to happen since the prologue gave it away). Overall, the book was well written but I’m weary of Covid and reading about it was such a chore. I recommend the book if you like protagonists with mommy issues – don’t mind a Covid plot, and are okay with slow burn thriller with no clear resolution.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Film Review: The Immaculate Room

Typically, it’s always a challenge to have a movie with only two actors carrying the film for a good portion of it, especially when the setting doesn’t change. From the very beginning, a couple, Kate (Kate Bosworth) and Mikey (Emile Hirsch) are contestants in a strange game in which they agree to spend 50 days living in a white room. If they manage to do that, the couple will win $5 million dollars, if for some reason one of them chooses to leave the room prior to 50 days, the prize money drops to $1 million.

The room has the chilly aesthetic of a chic art gallery, and with no form of entertainment whatsoever, the couple must learn to live with boredom for 50 days. We soon learn that Kate views the money as a means to put her mind at ease after spending a life worrying about her finances, while Mikey comes from a wealthy family and it’s still unclear why the money would mean much to him other than to be supportive of his girlfriend. For most pre-lockdown people, staying in a room for 50 days would’ve seemed like an easy feat, but as lockdown made us all realize, being confined is actually much harder than it looks.

Hirsch is animated as Mikey, as he explains what he would do with the money if he were to win, or how to kill boredom he begins to read the tag on his shirt in different accents. Bosworth’s performance is more contained as her character Kate tries to keep herself together with daily affirmations. It isn’t until the addition of external people that she gets triggered and her balance begins to tilt. The couple’s shut-in world begins to shake the moment Simone (Ashley Greene Khoury) enters the room, which sparks jealousy and tension to rise between the couple. It doesn’t take long for the ugly emotions to surface for it to bring things to a head.

The film begins with a study on boredom and if it’s possible to be driven mad by it, but it quickly devolves into the malice of greed and how far would one go to keep the prize in question. Again, for being a film that focuses mostly on two characters and one location, the script was interesting, although this film is less Squid Games than I had anticipated and ends on a positive note.

The movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Book Review: Teen Killers in Love by Lily Sparks

AN UNCONFESSED CRUSH IS NOTHING. IT IS AN AIRELESS VOID THAT WILL SUFFOCATE YOUR HEART QUITE COMFORTABLE.

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Release Date: August 9, 2022

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Price: $18.99 (harcover)

PLOT SUMMARY:

The Teen Killers Club is on the brink of destruction, with one faction pitted against another in a deadly game of survival. Erik and Signal are part of the group who’ve had their “kill switches” disabled, and the others are under orders to hunt them down—or meet their own demise. Now, Erik and Signal have to find a way to neutralize the others’ switches and clear Signal’s name. In the middle of a manhunt that is going viral and turning them into an internet-age Bonnie and Clyde.
 
Erik and Signal are both Class As—the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile—but Erik is the ultimate Class A, with ten kills to his name and a secret in his past that will change everything.
 
As if being hunted down wasn’t enough, Erik is determined to get Signal admit that she loves him. But Signal is hellbent on crushing her own growing attraction.
 
It’s a race against time to save the Teen Killers Club from its worst nightmare—having to kill the friends they need more than ever.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

I’m not gonna lie – I loved the first book of this series because it had such an interesting plot – teen killers sent to a camp of sorts to learn how to better fight and kill so they could be used as human weapons. Plus I really loved the characters Signal, Erik, and Nobody. So of course when book two dropped I absolutely had to read it. Now, while I enjoyed book two because I simply love the characters, for some reason I couldn’t get that motivated by this book’s plot. I don’t know if this was because of uneven pacing where it was fast-paced for so long and then suddenly stalled at the climax. But I found reading this sequel felt a bit like a chore. I don’t know how I feel about the ending – as it seems like there might be another sequel, and I will read it solely based on my love for the characters, but I really hope that the plot will have better pacing and hold my interest more than this one did.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Book Review: This Is Not The Real World by Anna Carey

The nineties have never been so dark…..

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Release Date: May 24, 2022

Publisher: Quirkbooks

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

PLOT SUMMARY:

Months after Jess escaped from the set of Stuck in the ’90s, the nostalgic reality show she believed was her real life, the teen star is getting to know the outside world for the first time. But she can’t outrun her fictional life forever—or the media empire that owns it.

After Like-Life Productions tracks her down and forces her boyfriend to return to the show, Jess teams up with an underground network fighting to uncover Like-Life’s schemes. To expose the truth, Jess must go back to the set and take Like-Life down from the inside . . . but getting revenge might just cost her everything.

GRADE: B

REVIEW:

This is book two of a duology, the first being This Is Not The Jess Show, which was a mix of The Truman Show but with a 90’s spin on it. Our protagonist, Jess Flynn finds out that her whole life was recorded for entertainment purposes and while she was living on a set thinking it was 1998, it was actually 2035 in the real world.

Book two sees Jess return to the set she had escaped from as a means to oust the producers of doing nefarious things for the world to see. While this book was packed with action, and perhaps had more of a thriller slant to it, it somehow lacked in what made book one memorable. I loved book one because it was steeped in 90’s nostalgia, and while this book had some of it, the focus was more on trying to destroy the fictional town of Swinkley and bring down the organization behind it.

It’s still a fun read, and you definitely have to read book one in order to read this book. I recommend this book if you love the 90’s, the concept of The Truman Show and if you like unapologetic badass female protagonist because Jess gets even grittier than she did in the first book and I loved to see her take control of her life and narrative.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quirkbooks for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Book Review: I’m the Girl by Courtney Summers

Come to Aspera, when you’re old enough….

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Release Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (Wednesday Books)

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

PLOT SUMMARY:

When sixteen-year-old Georgia Avis discovers the dead body of thirteen-year-old Ashley James, she teams up with Ashley’s older sister, Nora, to find and bring the killer to justice before he strikes again. But their investigation throws Georgia into a world of unimaginable privilege and wealth, without conscience or consequence, and as Ashley’s killer closes in, Georgia will discover when money, power and beauty rule, it might not be a matter of who is guilty―but who is guiltiest.

A spiritual successor to the breakout hit SadieI’m the Girl is a masterfully written, bold, and unflinching account of how one young woman feels in her body as she struggles to navigate a deadly and predatory power structure while asking readers one question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?

GRADE: A

REVIEW:

As a reader, I always know that going into a Courtney Summers book means that there will be no happy ending, in fact, you will be utterly devastated by the end of the journey. Now, does this make me back away from reading them? No. Maybe I’m a masochist or maybe I prefer unhappy endings in art (what can I say? Watching Romeo & Juliet at 4 has fucked up my expectations).

Georgia Avis has grand expectations for herself and she’s convinced that working at the exclusive resort Aspera will bring her in close contact with people who matter and will help her kickstart her dreams. Although life for her takes a dark turn when she stumbles upon the dead body of 13-years old Ashley James and the killer is still on the loose and has stolen Georgia’s modeling photos. In order to repay her brother back of the $4k she stole to pay for her modeling photos, Georgia gets a job at Aspera, but is sad when she’s not offered to become an “Apera girl” but rather is left to work in an office alone.

Georgia yearns for the life of the rich and famous, thinking that it will save her from her boring existence, but she doesn’t know the price one truly has to pay to sometimes get the things they want. There’s a particular scene in the book that is equal parts disturbing and horrifying as you see how a man in power manages to expertly manipulate Georgia into thinking that she actually has the power, while in reality she never did.

The thriller/murder mystery aspect of the novel was expertly executed and I loved how everything fell into place without feeling like it came out of the left field for the sake of a twist.

The ending will leave you feeling both frustrated and helpless, but knowing that in the circumstances Georgia was in, it was going to be a given that she’d never had the upper hand.

Another deliciously binge-worthy read that will have you flipping the pages as you get immersed in the decadent world of Aspera while leaving you with a serious case of FOMO like Georgia as she wonders what is going on the executive floor.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Book Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

If only Scarlet knew the truth about her father….

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Release Date: March 8, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (Wednesday Books)

Price: $17.09 (hardcover)

PLOT SUMMARY:

Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.

GRADE: A

REVIEW:

I’m usually not a fan of serial killer books (either real or fictional) but I absolutely LOVED how the focus was shifted from the killer and the spotlight was placed upon the daughter of a serial killer and how finding out what her father had done affects her and how she perceives herself and the victims. This book was unflinchingly realistic and I loved it. Then I realized that this is the same author that gave us What Unbreakable Looks Like and I understood why we had such a kickass protagonist in Scarlet.

I loved that Scarlet refused to be damaged goods because of her psychopathic father, and instead tried to create something positive from the experience of getting to know him, by recording a web series that highlighted the lives of the victims and allowed people to get to know them rather than focus on her father’s hideous crimes.

This is both a chilling read and a realistic look into how a murder affects those who loved the victim and how to move on from that.

This book is perfect for fans of true crime and serial killers. You won’t be disappointed!

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Book Review: The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

“Vengeance, forevermore.”

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Release Date: February 23, 2021

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Price: $14.61 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

Tress Montor’s family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. The entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo.”

Felicity Turnado has it all: looks, money, and a secret. One misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is . . . only that she can’t look at Tress without feeling shame and guilt.

But Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity—brick by brick—as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. Tress will have her answers—or settle for revenge.

Grade: A

Review:

Ever since I read The Female of the Species years ago, Mindy McGinnis has easily become an auto-buy for me whenever she drops a novel. It doesn’t matter what genre or subject she tries to tackle, I know that it’s going to be one wild ride, as McGinnis has this unique way of creating crazy plots where it’s impossible to truly know where the story is going to go. And I think it’s probably because McGinnis may be more of a pantser author as myself than one who outlines the whole plot.

The Initial Insult sees McGinnis exploring Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado with a Tiger King twist. Two ex-bestfriends Tress and Felicity find themselves at the same party their senior year. Years ago, when the two were younger, the girls were inseparable, then one night whilst Tress’s parents were driving Felicity back home, something occurred. Tress’s parents mysteriously disappeared whilst Felicity was found on the riverbanks alone with no knowledge of what happened that night. Tress has lost everything because of her parents’ disappearance, and she’s convinced that Felicity knows the truth of what happened that night and she’s going to do anything to get her to speak, even if it means slowly walling her alive, brick by brick.

This novel is told in the dual points of views of both Tress and Felicity, which helps amp up the tension and build the thrills. This is a crazy ride and as always, McGinnis’ characters are gritty and strong even at their most vulnerable. Sadly, this novel is only Part I, and seeing how it ended, it’s going to be so hard to have to wait one year to read the sequel!

I recommend this book if you’re a fan of McGinnis and Poe (you’ll love all the references).

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Book Excerpt: The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Chapter Two

‘How long have we got until the tide comes in?’ Henley was facing the river watching the small waves crashing against the derelict pier. She checked her watch. Nearly two hours had passed since the first 999 call.

‘I checked online, and high tide is at 9.55 a.m.’ Ramouter replied as he stepped around a half-submerged car tire, his eyes glazed with anxiety. ‘Low tide was at 3.15. Sunrise was at 6.32. A three-hour window for someone to dump whoever this is and hope that someone would find it before the tide comes in?’

‘Maybe,’ Henley acknowledged. ‘But for all we know it could have been dumped after sunrise or was dumped earlier upstream before being washed up here.’ She inspected the glass façade of the Borthwick Wharf, empty commercial spaces and work units that opened to the terrace and lacked security cameras. Henley doubted that the local council would have extended their own CCTV cameras to this part of the street. They had been neglecting this part of Deptford for as long as she could remember.

‘Has it been touched?’ Henley asked Anthony who had appeared at her side.

‘As far as I’m aware, it’s in situ. It wasn’t touched by the woman who found it. Matei, your builder, said that he hadn’t touched the legs but unhelpfully, it’s covered in his vomit. I had a quick look at the arms that were found downstream before I came here. From the looks of things, the treasure hunters may have prodded around a bit.’

‘There’s always one.’

The wind dropped and the air softly crackled with the electricity generated from the substation nearby.

‘We’re isolating the recovery of evidence to the direct path from the alleyway to the torso,’ said Anthony. ‘I doubt very much that whoever it was sat here and had a coffee afterwards.’

‘They may not have had a coffee, but if we go with Ramouter’s theory and the body parts have been dumped then whoever it was certainly knows the river,’ Henley replied. ‘We’ll let you get on. Ramouter and I are going to take a walk.’

‘Where are we going?’ asked Ramouter.

‘To meet Eastwood.’

‘And you want to walk it?’

Henley did her best to push aside her frustration when Ramouter pulled out his phone. ‘Google maps says that Greenwich pier is almost a mile away,’ he said.

‘Your body-part dumper isn’t the only one who knows the river,’ Anthony shouted out as Henley began to walk determinedly along the riverbank.

The gold scepters on the twin domed roofs of the Old Royal Naval College pierced the cloudless sky. The bare masts of the restored Cutty Sark completed the historical panoramic view that Greenwich was known for. It was a resplendent, whitewashed version of history that contrasted with the sewage that washed ashore. Henley stopped walking when she realized that she could no longer hear the sounds of Ramouter’s leather soles slipping on wet pebbles.

‘Where are you from?’ Henley asked, waiting for Ramouter to take off his jacket and loosen his tie. She moved closer towards the moss-covered river wall as the tide began to encroach.

‘Born in West Bromwich. Moved to Bradford when I was twelve.’ Ramouter tried to brush off the bits of mud that had stuck to his trousers, but they only smeared more. ‘Lots of moors, no rivers. Surely it would have been quicker in the car.’

‘This is quicker. Unless you fancy sitting in traffic for the next half hour while they raise the Creek Road Bridge.’

‘You know this area well?’

Henley ignored the question. She didn’t see the point in telling him that she could have walked this path with her eyes closed. That this small part of South-East London was ingrained in her. ‘Whoever dumped the torso would have taken this route. It doesn’t make any sense to come down here, go back up to the street level and then drive up to Watergate Street. Out of sight, below street level. Lighting would have been minimal.’

‘Body parts are heavy though,’ Ramouter tried to quicken his step to catch up with Henley. ‘The human head weighs at least eight pounds.’

‘I know.’ Henley pulled out her mobile phone, which had started to ring. She saw who it was and ignored the call.

‘Head, torso, arms, legs. That’s at least six individual body parts.’

‘I know that also. So, tell me, what point are you making?’ Henley waited for Ramouter to reach her before maneuvering him towards the river wall as though she was chaperoning a child.

‘I’m just saying that that’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying around at three in morning.’ Ramouter paused and placed his hand against the wall, trying to catch his breath.

Henley didn’t openly express her agreement. She fished out a black hair band from her jacket pocket and pulled her thick black curls into a ponytail. She had forgotten how much energy it took to walk across the gradient slope of the riverbank. Worse, she felt mentally unprepared for the job ahead, with a trainee struggling behind her who had no idea this was her first time as senior investigator in almost a year.

‘It’s a bit grim, isn’t it?’ DC Roxanne Eastwood shouted out as Henley finally reached the first crime scene. ‘Morning, Ramouter. Not a bad gig for your first day.’

Henley had always thought that Eastwood actually looked and carried herself like a detective. Now, Eastwood was poised on the riverbank, the sleeves of her jacket rolled up with her notebook in her hand. She had come prepared for the river and was wearing a pair of jeans and trainers that had seen better days.

‘Morning, Eastie. How does it feel to be out of the office?’ Henley asked, her eyes drifting to a crime scene investigator who was putting an arm into a black bag.

‘I should be asking you that,’ said Eastwood, with a look of concern.

Henley silently appreciated the empathy and placed her hand on Eastwood’s shoulder.

‘But since you asked, it’s bloody terrible. I think I’ve got sunburn.’ Eastwood rubbed a hand over her reddening forehead. ‘Forensics are going to be wrapping up in a bit. Not that there’s much for them to do. Bag it and tag it.’

‘Where’s Mr Thomas?’

‘Ah, our illustrious treasure hunter. Last time I saw him he was heading towards the shops. Said that he needed to get some water for his dog.’ Eastwood shook her head, obviously not believing a word of it. ‘I’ve got an officer keeping an eye on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d already uploaded pictures of his find onto Instagram.’

‘I want him taken back to the station. Ramouter can take another statement from him.’ Henley said it purposely so that Ramouter would sense she was in control. ‘If he’s like most mudlarkers, he would have been out here first thing this morning waiting for the tide to go out. Where exactly were the arms found?’

‘Just over there.’ Eastwood pulled down her sunglasses and pointed towards the foamed waves created by a passing river bus. The tide had already come in where X had once marked the spot. A sense of urgency filled the air as the river regained its territory.

‘Did he say anything else?’

‘Only that he found the second arm about three feet away from the first.’

‘It’s a sick trail of breadcrumbs,’ said Henley.

‘You’re telling me and before you ask about CCTV, there’re loads of cameras—’

‘But none aimed at this part of the river.’

‘Exactly.’

Henley’s mobile phone began to ring. She pulled it out and answered. After a quick chat, she ended the call.

‘That was Dr Linh Choi. You wouldn’t have met her yet but she’s our go-to forensic pathologist. She’s just arrived,’ Henley explained to Ramouter. She wiped away the sweat from the back of her neck.

‘So, we’ve got two arms, both legs and a torso,’ said Ramouter. ‘Where’s the head?’

Good question. Henley thought of the places between the two locations. A primary school, two nurseries and an adventure playground among the flats and houses. The last thing she needed was to find a head in the kids’ sandpit.

‘Can I have a quick look?’ Henley asked the assistant from Anthony’s CSI team, who had just bagged up the arm and was scribbling in her notebook.

‘Sure.’ The assistant unzipped the bag and pushed the plastic apart.

‘Fuck,’ Henley said under her breath. Her heartbeat quickened, her stomach flipped.

‘Oh,’ said Ramouter as he peered over Henley’s shoulder. One arm was covered with gravel. Slivers of seaweed criss-crossed old scars. The second arm. Slender wrist, the ring finger slightly longer than the index, broken fingernails. Black skin. Henley could hear Pellacia’s words from earlier ringing in her ears.

‘Too early to say if it belongs to the same victim or if it’s more than just one.’

‘Call DSI Pellacia,’ Henley told Ramouter. ‘Tell him that we’ve got two possible murder victims.’

Excerpted from The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson, Copyright © 2021 by Nadine Matheson

Published by Hanover Square Press

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