An extract from Sarah Hilary’s QUIETER THAN KILLING
An extract from Sarah Hilary's new novel, QUIETER THAN KILLING, the fourth in her Marnie Rome series.
Posted on March 10, 2017 in Extract
Tags: Extract, SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN, marnie rome, quieter than killing, sarah hilary
Marnie was in the incident room when Noah returned. ‘Good,’ she smiled at him, ‘you can drink one of these.’ Two flat whites from their favourite coffee shop. ‘You heard, then.’
‘The latest assault.’ She moved in the direction of her office, unwinding a green scarf from her throat. ‘No robbery. Just plenty of violence.’
Noah had thought for a second that she knew the secrets Welland was keeping; she could be uncanny like that. But she was talking about another assault. ‘Where?’ he asked.
‘Pimlico.’ She hung her coat and scarf on the back of the door, tidying her red curls away from her face. ‘Page Street.’
‘Our vigilante’s going up in the world. Who’s got the crime scene?’
‘DS Carling. We’ll go over there, but I wanted to check in here first. See what Forensics has for us, whether there’s a link yet.’
For weeks they’d been seeing a pattern in the assaults, but what they needed was hard evidence. As it stood the attacks were random, the victims unknown to one another. No matching DNA at the scenes, no clear motive and no obvious modus operandi other than a savage beating.
‘Kyle Stratton,’ Marnie said, anticipating Noah’s next question. ‘Our new victim. Twenty-six years old. A management consultant. Works in Westminster, lives in Reigate. Right now he’s in St Thomas’s with multiple fractures.’
‘Weapon?’ Noah asked.
‘Blunt, heavy. A baseball bat, or similar.’ She was checking her emails. ‘Defensive wounds in the shape of two broken wrists and a broken elbow. A shattered eye socket too.’
Noah winced. ‘Facial injuries again. Like Stuart Rawling.’
‘Not like Carole Linton, but yes. All the injuries are front-facing. Our assailant wants you to see what’s coming, and isn’t afraid of you fighting back.’
‘And yet neither of them could give us a clear description.’
This reluctance to ID the assailant had prompted them to look more closely at the victims. Wondering about their lifestyles, whether they were making bad choices, courting chaos.
In the incident room, Noah and Marnie stood shoulder to shoulder, studying the whiteboard. Two victims, each with two faces: before and after the
assaults. Stuart Rawling wasn’t smiling in the first photograph. In the second, his mouth was forced into the mockery of a grin, thanks to a badly dislocated jaw. Carole Linton’s was the more disturbing face, despite all of her injuries being below the waist: knife wounds and bruises stamped
by feet which had ruptured an ovary and her spleen. Burns too, where her skirt had been set alight. She’d aged twenty years after the attack, shoulders hunched, bleak terror in her stare.
And now Kyle Stratton, with a shattered eye socket. Marnie pinned the location of this latest attack to the map.
‘Has he been in prison?’ Noah asked.
It was the one thing connecting the two earlier assaults; Stuart and Carole had both served time for crimes involving violence, and worse. This fact, and the savage silence they were keeping, had sounded alarm bells. Marnie and Noah had been on high alert for a third assault, fearing a vigilante.
‘Yes, he has,’ Marnie said.
‘What did he do?’ Noah studied Kyle’s face.
‘A spell in a juvenile detention centre for racially aggravated assault, eleven years ago. He and a school friend thought it would be fun to set fire to a younger boy’s blazer. They pleaded guilty, said they hadn’t intended anyone to be hurt.’
‘What part of “setting fire to” didn’t they understand?’
‘The judge decided they’d shown remorse,’ Marnie said.
‘Kyle was let out after three months.’
‘How badly was he burnt? Their victim.’
‘Badly enough.’ She put her hand on the new map pin. ‘Let’s see what DS Carling’s found at the scene. And whether Kyle’s well enough to give us a statement.’