Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Child Before by Michael Scanlon - Extract

She began to sing, the girl. Her voice was soft, so soft it was almost of the wind. It was a lullaby. She cradled her arms, rocking them gently back and forth. As if she was holding a baby. But she was not. Her arms were empty.

On a cold morning a cyclist finds the brutally-slaughtered body of a woman in her car, on a remote lane leading to the long-abandoned Irish village of Kelly’s Forge.

But when Detective Finnegan Beck arrives from the nearby town of Cross Beg to investigate he notices there’s a baby’s seat in the back of the car. A bottle of baby’s milk lying in the footwell. And no child.

Little Róisín isn’t the first child to go missing from that same remote location though. There was another baby girl, taken more than fifty years before, who was never found. Has too much time passed for there to be a connection, or does something – or someone – link these two crimes?

Beck claims he does not want to stay in Cross Beg. His heart is back in Dublin, with the woman he loves. But, knowing that a child’s life depends on him changes things. He knows he has to find the missing baby girl. Because if he doesn’t, he fears there’s a chance everyone will give up the baby for dead, just like they did before…

This dark, twisted page turner will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of LJ Ross, Patricia Gibney, and Rachel Caine.

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Chapter One 

October 1954 

The only light in the small, decrepit cottage came from a single candle burning on a saucer and secured in place by the falling wax that cooled about it. Its flickering flame threw shadows onto the wall like petals around the pistil of a flower. In the stone hearth, the fire that usually never went out was now nothing but a pile of grey ash. Outside, the night was cold, the sky a black canopy pinpricked by a thousand stars. There was no moon and the place they called Kelly’s Forge was washed in a grey darkness. Here was nothing more than a collection of thatch cottages, a Clachán, the inhabitants farming the commonage and scrubland thereabouts, seeking in each other a common strength for a common purpose: survival. 
A cold wind rustled the branches of the trees. Frost had begun to form, and even in the grey light, it radiated a dull glow on the narrow gravel track that ran through the centre of this place. 
The girl stood in the doorway. There was not enough light to lend her a silhouette. Instead, she appeared as part of the darkness itself. For her nightdress, once white, was now of such a deep crimson that, in the dim light, it appeared black. But the reason for this was simple. 
It was soaked in blood.

Author Bio

Michael Scanlon is a civilian employee of the An Garda Siochana (the Irish police force), but a life threatening undiagnosed illness that struck while travelling in Spain in 2014 has rendered him on long term sick leave. He is married to Eileen and has a daughter, Sarah. He lives in the countryside outside the town of Ballina in County Mayo. The town has arguably the best salmon river in Europe, called the Moy.

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