Sunday Sampler: Cordon of Lies by Wendy Cartmell

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Cordon of Lies, a military mystery/thriller from Wendy Cartmell.

As one reviewer said: Cartmell knows how British military works and how secrets can get buried. She tells a compelling story, making the reader care about her characters.

The Story

Two murders 10 years apart.

An injustice wrapped in a cordon of lies.

An SIB detective determined to uncover the truth.

When Carol Newton was murdered ten years ago her killer was spirited out of the country by the British Army. But now, it seems he’s back. Another young army wife Melanie Green has been murdered. In the same place. In the same way. A stiletto type dagger plunged into her heart.

Sgt Major Crane, a Branch detective with the Royal Military Police, must battle against an army that is closing ranks to protect their reputation, their killer and their indiscretions. Can Crane blow the case wide open and find the killer and his conspirators? Will he achieve justice for the two women? Or will the army win – again?

A military mystery, that reads like a police procedural.

The Sampler

Wendy Cartmell
Wendy Cartmell

The footsteps echoing through the underpass weren’t hers. She was wearing trainers and the footsteps sounded like military boots. Stopping, she held her breath and listened to the drops of moisture falling through cracks in the concrete structure, their irregular tattoo sounding like gun fire. She inhaled the damp air, turned and peered into the darkness behind her, but couldn’t see anyone. The grey gloom of early evening was glowing weakly, just visible at the tunnel entrance. Beyond that she could see the garish lights of the revered Tesco superstore she had left a few minutes earlier. Overhead she heard the faint rumble of tyres on tarmac, as cars hissed though the rainy night.

She tried to still her shaking hands by grabbing her bag and lifting it higher onto her shoulder. The end of the underpass, leading towards the relative safety of Aldershot town centre, was still some way away. As she started walking towards it, so did the boots. Matching her step for step. She broke into a run, her large bag weighing her down and banging against her hip. Her husband kept telling her not to carry such a big heavy bag and tonight she wished she’d listened to him. Her purse, umbrella, book and make up bag had turned into heavy stones, forcing the bag off her shoulder and down her arm. It landed with a thump on the concrete. She couldn’t leave it behind, if nothing else she needed her purse, so she squatted down and retrieved the bag which had up-ended on the floor. With fumbling fingers she stuffed her purse safely back into the bag and began scrabbling for the rest of her stuff, scattered around her feet. Her lipstick had rolled away and looking around she saw it lying up against the wall of the underpass. As she reached for it, a black boot landed on her hand.

“Hello Carol,” she heard over the snapping of bones, as her hand was ground into the floor.

If he said anything else, she wasn’t aware of it. All she could feel was the extreme pressure of his boot and intense pain as the bones along the back of her hand cracked and crumbled. It felt like she was being been run over by a car, but whereas a car would move off her hand as it travelled on its way, Foster didn’t liberate it, merely slightly shifted the position of his foot and placed it over her fingers. As he slowly pressed down on them, she blacked out.

When she came round he pulled her onto her feet from behind. His head was next to hers. His lips by her ear. The pain in her hand was abating, but she was incapable of moving it. She couldn’t even wiggle her fingers and the shock of that realisation made her slump against Foster. He was muttering something and she strained to hear.

“Oh dear, have I hurt you Carol? Well now you know what it’s like. You’re feeling pain just like I did when you ended our relationship. The type of pain that fills your head, so you can’t think of anything else. Well, I can’t think of anything else apart from your betrayal. It just keeps going round and round in my head. I’m not able to do my job properly and it’s all your fault. So I’ve got to get rid of you. Yes. That’ll work. That’ll get you out of my head.”

“Barry, I…”

“I, what Carol? I’m sorry – is that what you wanted to say? Well sorry just doesn’t cut it. You picked me up and then put me down, just like a plaything you’d grown tired of.” His hand grabbed her chin, pulling her ear even closer to his lips. He hissed, “What was I, Carol? Just a diversion while your husband was away? A bit of fun on the side? Well, it’s not bloody funny now is it?”

“No, Barry,” she managed, hoping that if she tried to placate him, agree with him, he would let her go. But then she felt him release her chin and press something cold against her neck.

“Maybe I should just slit your throat with this dagger and leave you here to bleed out. That way, while you die, you’ll have time to think about what you’ve done to me.”

Carol swallowed, making the tip of the blade move slightly and dig into her skin.

“But your regret would be too little too late wouldn’t it, Carol? So no, I don’t think I’ll do that.”

Carol’s relief was short lived as he continued, “I’ll do what you did to me. Break your heart as you broke mine. That’s more fitting don’t you think? Breaking your treacherous heart?”

But she wasn’t able to answer, only gasp, as the sharp point of his knife broke through her clothes and then her skin, pressing onwards through fat and muscle, towards her beating heart.

 

 

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