– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Hunter’s Secret’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Hunter’s Rules is the sixth book in Val Penny’s Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series of novels published by darkstroke.
Val Penny’s other crime novels in this bestselling series are Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force, Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.
Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.
When best-laid plans go awry…
Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans come to an abrupt end when they stumble into the scene of a crime.
A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has traumatic injuries, but she clings to life. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two other women, who died from their ordeal.
Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify the assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes?
When Hunter is identified as a suspect, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?
Meera and her colleague, David Murray, were the attending pathologists for the two women who had been murdered.
Meera scrubbed up and disinfected her hands then made her way over to the examination room where David was already waiting for her. He had wheeled in the body of the second victim into the hospital mortuary. She looked around her domain and thought how much her post-mortem examination room looked like an operating theatre.
David had already transferred the corpse to a stainless-steel table that occupied the middle of the spotlessly clean white floor. The victim was lying on her back with her arms loosely resting by her sides. Meera glanced at David and shook her head.
“This is so vicious,” she said. “And very difficult when we know so little about the victim.”
“That’s true. But we’ll find out what we can. Who do you think will attend for Police Scotland today?”
“I believe metallurgists found the corpse in its original site on Cramond beach. PC Neil Larkin was the first officer on the scene. Hunter told me that he planned to second Neil to CID, so I believe he and Nadia Chan have been delegated to come today.”
“Well I hope Neil manages a little better than some of the other first timers. Didn’t Bear Zewedu faint during his first post-mortem?”
“But Nadia is a trouper. We can always rely on her, at least to stay conscious.” David smiled.
Meera turned her attention to the body on the table. She noted the livor mortis on the woman’s body caused by the settling of the blood.
“She was definitely not killed in the location where she was found.” David frowned.
“True enough indeed. Oh, it sounds like the boys and girls in blue are arriving,” Meera said.
As Neil and Nadia walked towards the examination room, Meera looked up and smiled.
“DC Chan, how good to see you again.”
“Thanks Doctor Sharma. This is my colleague, DC Larkin.”
“DC Larkin, hello. Thank you for coming. It seems we were correct on our guess of attending officers, David.”
“Post-mortems are always interesting, but I would happily never come here again if it meant that people stopped getting killed.” Nadia looked at Meera then at Neil.
“And I would just quite happily never come here again. It smells awful,” Neil said.
“We should get gowned up, Neil,” Nadia said. “This way.”
“There really is a distinctive smell in here, isn’t there?” Neil commented as he followed Nadia.
“Yes, a bit like a combination of formaldehyde, antiseptic and industrial soap, isn’t it? It’s also a bit chilly, just those few degrees below what would be considered comfortable makes all the difference.”
“It’s a big room,” said Neil, when Nadia and Neil returned to witness the post-mortem.
“Yes, well by the time I’ve got my large double sinks along the wall, a metal counter to hold all the tools and the channel leading to the drain, I suppose it has to be big,” Meera said.
“When you two are finished discussing the equipment, might we get on with the job?” David asked.
The two DCs moved so that they could see the body on the stainless-steel examination table below the powerful circular halogen lights which were suspended from the ceiling. Meera positioned herself on the other side of the table from the two detectives. They watched in silence as Meera first freed the body from its sandy, laced shoes. There were cuts and grazes on the body’s hands, possibly from a fight she put up against her attacker, and there were animal bites and scratches that she had suffered since death. Meera also noticed the tiny abrasions and colour changes to around the neck.
“Look at this,” Meera said. “Her neck was bound, held or restrained in some way, by the looks of things. She might have been throttled into unconsciousness before her eyes were removed.”
David pulled a face as he watched Meera remove the clothes from the top of the body to get a better look. “There’s bits of sand and dirt stuck to that,” he said. “Probably from after she was dumped on the beach.”
“Yes, that would be right. She was just above the tideline when the metal detecting guys called it in. That’s where I first saw her,” Neil said.
As each piece of clothing was taken from the body, Meera methodically gave them to David. He put every item carefully into plastic evidence bags which would be handed over to the forensics experts for further examination. Meera then took blood, urine and hair samples as well as oral, vaginal and anal swabs. When Meera removed the victim’s underwear – the next thing she noticed was the large bruise on the victim’s belly.
“Have you seen this David?” she asked. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he knelt on her to get the purchase to remove the eyes. We’ll need to check for injuries to the internal organs.
“Nasty!” David Murray frowned.
“I don’t suppose there’s much doubt about the cause of death.” Neil grimaced.
“I don’t like to pre-empt our findings, but the poor soul would have suffered severe shock from the removal of the eyeballs and if we find damage to the internal organs, there could be massive internal bleeding inside the abdominal cavity,” Meera said.
Then David looked at Neil. “We expect to find evidence that she was drugged like the first victim. If so, she would never have recovered consciousness from that and the strangulation. The victims may not even have felt the pain from the cuts.”
Nadia gasped. Neil closed his eyes and fell to the floor with a thud.
“And he was doing so well,” David said.
Nadia didn’t respond. She just placed Neil gently into the recovery position, apologised to the doctors and invited them to continue with their work.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds