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An unputdownable crime thriller with a breathtaking twist


DI Claudia Nunn Book 1

Joffe Books, London


First published in Great Britain in 2021

© Rebecca Bradley

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organisations, places and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. The spelling used is British English except where fidelity to the author’s rendering of accent or dialect supersedes this. The right of Rebecca Bradley to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

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ISBN: 978-1-78931-730-5



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56






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Fear climbed Ruth’s spine.

He was standing directly behind her.

She pulled her hands out of the sink and suds floated into the air. The scent of lavender drifted under her nose, the sweet relaxing smell at odds with the tension taking hold of her body.

No one spoke or moved for what felt like an age.

The fear clawed at the base of her neck, sure-footed and certain in its ascent, like some small creature with needles for nails.

She had the memory of hiding under the covers as a child; if she couldn’t see the monster, the monster couldn’t see her, no matter how large her own outline. She was applying the same logic here. If she didn’t turn around she was still safe. After all, she was in her own home, standing at the sink, clearing up. A mundane task, not something that would put her in the sights of a monster in this way.

And yet, here they were.

Ruth took a deep breath in. The fear now gripping her scalp. It had nowhere else to go. She had to do something.

She had to move.

He wouldn’t allow her to stand here indefinitely. That was not why he was behind her. He had patience. She knew that. He was confident in what was going to happen and how it would play out. He didn’t need to rush.

She realised her mind had seized up. She had done nothing but think about the washing up and her childhood bedroom. There had been no thoughts of escape, or of fighting. Though she would. She wouldn’t go down without a fight. But fear had gripped her so tight in its vice that her mind had fled and she had frozen herself to the spot.

She exhaled.

And that’s when she heard it.

He exhaled.

She spun around with the glass still in her hand.

She had a weapon. She could fight. She had no choice. She had too much life ahead of her yet.

His face was impassive. That scared her more than anything.

She expected to see the monster her mind had conjured up, but his face, it was quiet.

He took a step towards her, his hand outstretched and open. She turned to her right and ran, a scream about to leave her lips as his hand closed on her hair jerking her back, pulling her feet up from under her. Pain shot through from the roots of her hair to her eyes and she blinked back tears.

The glass flew up into the air as she landed with a thud on the floor at his feet. Her hip twisted beneath her and she grimaced as the shock vibrated through to her spine. The glass shattered at the side of her head, the sound loud in her ears. Shards embedded themselves into her arm and face, spreading into her skin like it was warm butter. Ruth winced at the one that sliced below her right eye. It could have blinded her had it been a few millimetres higher. Her weapon was now gone and instead turned on her.

His hand was still tight in her hair. He twisted it, increasing his grip. She cried out, a low complaint in the circumstances. He turned, bent over and straddled her. Face to face, he was so close she could smell the coffee on his breath. There was no coming back from this.

The fear that had gripped her only moments earlier sank into the pit of her stomach. She reared up, fists and feet flying. She caught him between his legs. He sank down onto her. Knees coming together, a small grunt of air leaving his mouth. It brushed her face, warm and sweet.

She could do this. She would resist. She would have headbutted him, but he still had such a tight grip of her hair she couldn’t move her head. She punched out again and straightened her hips and pulled her knees up with as much force as she could muster, her breath coming strong and ragged.

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