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About the author

Renee is a mother of two from Gold Coast, Australia.

A finance analyst by day and an aspiring author by night, Renee has a passion for reading, writing and all things true crime related. When not immersed in a new book or researching for her own, you will find her watching a movie, engrossed in a crime podcast or listening to Bowie on vinyl. The Dark Places is her debut novel.









The Dark Places


R. S. Whitfield

The Dark Places

Vanguard Press



© Copyright 2021

R. S. Whitfield

The right of R. S. Whitfield to be identified as author of

this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All Rights Reserved

No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication

may be made without written permission.

No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced,

copied or transmitted save with the written permission of the publisher, or in accordance with the provisions

of the Copyright Act 1956 (as amended).

Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to

this publication may be liable to criminal

prosecution and civil claims for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is

available from the British Library.


978 1 784659 93 6


Vanguard Press is an imprint of

Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Publishers Ltd.


First Published in 2021

Vanguard Press

Sheraton House Castle Park

Cambridge England

Printed & Bound in Great Britain



For my Mum,

who always told me I have a way with words.

For Jolene,

my best friend, soul sister and greatest cheerleader.

For Brad, Ethan and Lyla…

who drive me crazy, but are in fact, my everything.

 Part One



A sliver of sunshine seeped through a tiny crack in the old brick wall, casting its lonely ray of light onto her pale face. A single tear slid down her cheek, burning her eyes as she peered through the thick, sticky veil of her lashes and tried to find the light’s source.

How long has it been, she wondered, pressing her eyes shut. She concentrated as hard as she could and imagined herself absorbing that small spot of the sun’s warmth and radiating it to her freezing, naked limbs. Images began to dance in her mind of white sandy beaches, mojitos and laughter, and for a few glorious seconds, she forgot where she really was.

An ever so slight shift in the air startled her from her daydream. Her eyes flew open, adrenalin pumping, as she tried to make some sense of the inky blackness surrounding her. The hope-filled little ray of light was now gone, replaced only by the frigid cold.

“Hello?” she stuttered, coughing uncontrollably as her dry throat seized up.

“Please,” she begged without reply. “Please, I want to go home,” she cried. Tears began to flow freely as she started to understand the finality of her predicament.


Parker Rhodes sat uncomfortably in an impossibly tiny chair opposite his new chief of detectives. The decision to transfer from Miami had not been an easy one, but the offer to work with a detective who had one of the highest case closure rates was too hard to turn down at this junction in his career. Also, any distance from his ex-girlfriend, Jolene, and her insane pet poodle, Yoshi, was more than welcome.

“Parker Rhodes,” the chief began with a sigh, “Detective Elliott has one of the sharpest minds I have ever encountered, yes,” he continued, raising his hands in mock surrender, “the attitude is a little hard to handle sometimes, but the results speak for themselves. Please bear that in mind,” he stated honestly.

“I’m sure it’s not that bad,” Parker replied with a smile.

“No, it really is,” the chief answered, without a remote trace of humour in his voice.

Parker placed his brown archive box of belongings on the floor beside him, clasped his hands together in his lap, and waited for his new partner to arrive.


Detective Surin Elliott bolted towards the closing elevator doors. “Hold it, please!” she yelled, as she scooted past on the shiny floors and dived through the shrinking doorway, spilling coffee all down her white blouse. “Oh shit,” she sighed.

The man in the elevator looked at her with a cheap smile.

“Thanks for that — a real gentleman,” she countered sarcastically. He immediately looked down at the floor and shuffled his swollen feet. As the doors opened on floor four of the Baltimore Police Department, she gave him her best “asshole” stare and exited, wiping herself down with a napkin.

“Morning, Nicole,” she mumbled at the receptionist as she walked past, concentrating on her now see-through shirt stained with black coffee.

“Morning, Detective,” Nicole replied, whilst filing her nails, which were painted a ridiculous shade of fluorescent purple.

Surin walked over to her desk, put down the now empty Styrofoam coffee cup, pulled back her chair and watched as sheets of paper cascaded to the ground around her.

“Shit,” she mumbled again. “I really need to get some trays or something. This is getting just plain sloppy.”

On her hands and knees, she began to sort the papers back into some kind of order when she ran into her own muddled reflection staring back at her from a set of shiny black shoes.

“Detective?” her chief asked, clearing his throat as he stood over her.

“Yes, sir,” she replied quickly, bumping her head under the table as she struggled to sit upright.

“If you have a moment in between your” — he paused and glanced at the mess of paper surrounding her — “your filing, can you please come to my office?”

“Absolutely,” she replied hastily, forcing a smile. Standing, she quickly made an attempt at fixing up her appearance. Pockets

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