Crime thriller set in post-boom Ireland.
A serial rapist is stalking the streets of Malahide, a genteel coastal town ten miles north of Dublin. The police have few leads, but then someone turns the table on the attacker by targeting his sister. Det. Sean Horan has to unravel a very tangled web in this exciting crime thriller.
Riona Heeney combed her fingers through her damp hair and appraised her naked body in the bedroom's cheval mirror. She still had the slim hips of a teenager, though it was the best part of a decade since she had turned twenty. She ran her hands up across her flat stomach and cupped her breasts. Firm and with large brown aureole. She raised an arm and flexed her biceps like a body¬-builder.
Damn! She was cursed with the same fleshy upper arms her mother had — a family trait, both her sisters had arms like navvies. Hours of repetitive exercise with dumbbells at the local gym had firmed them not one bit.
Riona shrugged; thankful she had taken her bridesmaid’s advice and ordered a wedding gown with full-length sleeves. The final fitting was tomorrow morning and she couldn’t wait to try on her dress. She would have appeared hideous in the wedding photographs if she had insisted on going with the armless number she had originally chosen.
Her cell phone rang. It was Richard, her fiancé.
“I might be ten minutes late,” he explained. “A lorry has over¬-turned on the M50 and only one lane is open.”
Richard lived in Dalkey on Dublin’s southside. He had taken the ring road to avoid the worst of Dublin’s rush hour gridlock.
Sod’s law, she told herself.
Riona dabbed perfume onto a nipple. It sprang to attention.
“Watch your speed,” she cautioned. “There’s no sense risking your neck for the sake of a rehearsal.”
“Pass on my apologies to everyone. Tell them I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
Riona put on a sultry voice. “I’ve just stepped out of the shower.”
“You wearing anything?”
“Only a smile”
Richard groaned. “Don’t do this to me.”
Riona moistened a fingertip with perfume and touched it to her pudenda. A delicious shiver ran through her body. “Want to know what I’m doing now?”
“Yes. Oh God, yes.”
“Better not, best you keep both hands on the wheel. Bye, lover.”
She set the cell phone down on the dressing table and started dressing hurriedly. If Richard was going to be delayed, then she should make an effort to be there on time. Saturday week it would be her prerogative to be a few minutes late, but tonight she would be spot on.
Despite her rush she took time to draw the drapes in the apartment’s living room. Normally the view from her third-floor apartment in Malahide’s marina was too magnificent to hide. Across the rows of sandbanks to the green of Lambay Island, with Howth peninsular, the rocky hill the Vikings named, to the southeast. A vista that did not come cheap. But on a stormy winter’s night when the rain beat mercilessly on the glass and twelve-foot waves exploded against the concrete abutments of the railway viaduct which bridged the estuary, one she could forego.
She pulled on a waxed jacket, checked that she had her car keys and closed the door after her.
The small church was a few miles south of Malahide, just off the main Dublin road. Built in the twelfth century, it was a handsome building set in splendid isolation in the narrow belt of open countryside, which separated Dublin from the town of Malahide.
As Riona hurried to her car, her head buzzed with wedding details she had to finalise over the weekend. There were the caterers to contact with final numbers, the florist, and the photographer. Some of her friends were arranging a ‘surprise’ hen party on Sunday evening. God, she hoped the weather would pick up before next weekend.
She opened her car door and got in.
Suddenly a hand was clamped over her mouth, pulling her head hard against the headrest. Something sharp was pressed to her throat.
“Do as you’re told, bitch, and you’ll be okay. Muck me about and I’ll kill you.”
The fingers of his leather glove smelt of oil. Riona caught a glimpse of him in her rear view mirror. He was wearing a black nylon jacket and a black ski mask. She felt no fear — this wasn’t for real — just one of her friends playing an elaborate trick on her.
“Start the car and drive through the village.”
Riona turned the key in the ignition and the finely engineered BMW engine purred into life. Her hand found the horn wand. She pressed.
She pressed again.
The knife pierced the skin of her neck.
“Bitch! I’m not fucking stupid.”
Riona should have guessed as much. Anybody capable of disabling the car alarm and opening the door look had to be crafty enough to disconnect the horn.
“Drive, like I told you.”
The car moved off. The sodden streets of the complex were empty. The marina was not a gated-community — anybody could stroll in and walk down to the dock — but tonight was no time for sightseeing.
They drove under the entrance arch and through green lights at the Diamond, the crossroads at the heart of Malahide.
Within minutes of leaving the marina they were passing through farmland.
He released his hand. Her bruised lips started to swell.
“What do you want?”
“You’ll know soon enough.”
“I have money, if that’s what you’re after? There’s five hundred pounds cash in my handbag. If that’s not enough, I can let you have my pin card.”
“Slow down and get ready to turn left.”
For an instant she considered flooring the accelerator and ramming the car into a tree, but it was too risky without her seat belt fastened. Her foot eased off the accelerator pedal
Riona did as she was told. She drove along an overgrown lane leading to an abandoned farmhouse. The brambles tearing at her car's paintwork reminded her of fingernails scratching on a school blackboard.
They pulled up in front of the house, the car’s headlights illuminating a dismal yard. The ground in front of the house was carpeted in a thick layer of weeds. All the windows had long since been broken, autumn leaves still gathered in what was left of the gutter. An ancient tractor, turned orange with oxidisation, was perched on four concrete blocks.
“Get out,” the man ordered, opening the car’s rear door.
“I m not moving.”
“Wanna bet?” He grabbed her by her hair and snapped her head backwards. Then kept on pulling. Her scalp felt as though it was being ripped from her skull as she was dragged through the gap between the front seats.
He punched her in the mouth.
Her courage deserted her. “Please don’t hurt me. I’ll do anything you want. Just don’t hurt me again.”
He tightened his grip on her hair and dragged her from the car. She was trailed across the ground like a sack of potatoes.