Hi guys, and lovely Sunday! Today I am absolutely thrilled to have an exclusive extract from Elizabeth Heathcote’s new novel “Undertow” – the book sounds absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to start reading it, especially after seeing all the enthusiastic reviews. The book is out on 22nd September, published by Quercus, and already I can see it’s winking at me from the shelf, so I think it’ll be rather sooner than later to start reading it! But for now, enjoy the extract!
Carmen caught the train back to London the next morning.
Tom would spend the day with the children, then drive back
early evening. That hadn’t been the plan, but Carmen’s friend
Kath had texted late on Saturday to see whether she fancied
meeting up. Kath’s husband, Joe, was a police officer and he
worked irregular hours and often weekends. Kath found it
tough, especially with a baby, so Carmen decided that for once
she would say yes. It was only two hours on the train. She
would have lunch with Kath and then have supper waiting
Tom was fine about it, said she should do what she wanted,
but she still felt bad as she kissed him in the car outside the
station, as though she was abandoning them, which was silly
of course because everything was fine with the kids again. Even
Mel seemed to have forgotten that she was meant to be in a
sulk. Still, as Carmen queued for her ticket, she felt a weight
lifting from her.
She bought a coffee and a newspaper from the kiosk and
walked out on to the platform. The timetable they had at the
bungalow for the coastal branch line was out of date and it
turned out she had a forty-minute wait, but she would connect
with a faster London train at Diss so it would work out
much the same. She found a bench in the sun and was quite
content. She licked the chocolate from inside the lid of her
cappuccino. The top story was a murder, a woman and her
children stabbed to death at their home. A man believed to
be the children’s father was in custody. It was a grim tale and
one that was becoming more common. How could you explain
it? How could anyone do that?
As she read Carmen was conscious of someone sitting down
beside her. He kept shuffling, and she sneaked a glance – it
was a young man, a teenager, wearing a hoodie over black
trousers. Her London radar scanned him in a fraction of a
second – no threat. He caught her eye and she smiled as a
reflex, then regretted it because it encouraged him to strike
up a conversation.
‘You had your head stuck in that paper,’ he said, as though
she should have been talking to him instead.
She smiled vaguely and looked back at the page.
‘Must be an interesting story. What’s it about then?’ He
looked over her shoulder.
He clearly wasn’t going to be put off. ‘A man killed his wife
and children,’ she said.
The boy pulled a surprised face. ‘Why did he do that then?’
Carmen shrugged. Who knows?
‘Maybe she was sleeping around.’
Carmen’s irritation surfaced at that. ‘Are you serious? Do
you think if she had slept with someone else then that’s OK?
To kill her? And his children?’
‘I wasn’t saying that. I was just saying that perhaps that’s
what happened.’ He shifted in his seat. ‘I wasn’t saying it was
Carmen turned back to the paper, pointedly this time. The
boy probably wasn’t as stupid as he sounded, maybe he just
didn’t know the right things to say, but she had no more
patience for him.
He was undeterred. ‘It does happen though,’ he said. ‘It
happened here – a man killed his girlfriend a few years
back and people reckon that was because she was shagging
She didn’t reply. She kept reading.
‘He got away with it too. He made it look like an accident.
He was a lawyer from London – that’s why he got away with
it, we all reckon. He must have known important people.’
He had Carmen’s attention now, she was looking at him,
and he was obviously pleased by that.
‘It’s true. He still comes here – he’s got one of those bungalows
by the beach. He comes for weekends with his kids.
Everyone around here knows about it. He’s got a new wife
now. I reckon she needs to be careful.’
Carmen’s heart was thumping. ‘What was her name?’ she
said. ‘The woman who died?’
‘I don’t know, but she was good-looking. She had a weird
name, I think it began with a Z. Zara . . . something like that . . .’
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