- Author: Jo Fenton
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A Becky White Thriller
Copyright © 2021 by Jo Fenton
Artwork: Adobe Stock © Николай Григорьев
Design: Services for Authors
Editor: Sue Barnard
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of
the author or Crooked Cat Books / darkstroke except for brief quotations used for promotion or in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are used fictitiously.
First Dark edition, darkstroke, Crooked Cat Books. 2021
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something nice will happen.
To my wonderful mum, who’s coped so brilliantly with huge challenges this year.
Thank you to everyone who has made this book possible.
Firstly, as always, I’d like to thank my amazing friend and incredibly talented editor, Sue Barnard. We’ve worked together on four books now, and it’s always a huge pleasure.
Sue is also one of the Manchester Scribes, who have helped with monthly critiques of the earlier chapters, and made sure I was on the right track, despite the difficulties of moving to critiquing via zoom! The other awesome Scribes are Pauline Barnett, Louise Jones, Karen Moore, Claire Tansey, Awen Thornber, Helen Sea and Grant Silk.
Another critical step in the writing process is Beta Reading. My fantastic beta readers were hugely important in making sure the story worked on all levels, and ensuring there were no plot holes. Massive thanks to Sue Barnard (again), Pauline Barnett, Louise Doyle, Ray Fenton, Katy Johnson and Karen Moore.
As always, my family are essential in supporting me through writing my novels. I could not do without my fabulous husband, Ray, for all his help and advice, reading, sharing ideas, and continuing to do far more than his share of housework so I could have valuable writing time. My lovely boys, Michael and Andrew also listened to me bounce ideas around, and were very honest with their feedback.
Thanks also go to my mum, Rhoda Myers, who helped again with my final proofread despite treatment induced fatigue.
Finally, a humungous thank you to my publisher, Darkstroke, and particularly to Laurence Patterson and Steph Patterson for believing in me, assisting with cover art and marketing advice, and for everything they’ve done to launch this novel.
About the Author
Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age and, at eleven, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. She now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her family and is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and two reading groups.
A Becky White Thriller
As I watch from afar, I know this is the one.
I allow the camera to hang by its strap as I wipe clammy hands on my black jeans. The camera returns to its position, ready to snap the essential photos.
The music blares out in the club, and no one notices as I move around to capture the necessary angles. Once complete, I relax my grip and admire the view. The object is perfection; there is only one flaw. Possession is not yet in sight…
There’s a loud bang outside, and I drop the vase I’m drying. The flowers died three days ago. The vase lies in smithereens on the floor. Instead of clearing up the mess, I crouch down on the floor and clasp my trembling arms around my chest.
The doorbell rings. I can’t move.
“Mum, are you getting that?” My younger daughter Cheryl pokes her head around the kitchen door. “Blimey, what happened? Okay, stay there. I’ll get the door.”
The bell rings again, and I hear Cheryl fumbling with the latch.
“Mum, it’s for you. You’ll have to come to the door, sorry.”
I take a deep breath. The bang must have been a car door. Calm down, Becky, no gunshots. Not here.
I stand up and walk towards the kitchen door, crunching glass under my trainers. In the hall, Cheryl still guards the door, but stands back when I arrive, to reveal a petite woman in a sodden grey jacket and trousers. She looks vaguely familiar.
“Becky! How are you doing, hen? Do you remember me?” It’s the Scottish accent that takes me back to when I was a student.
“Joanna! Oh my God, how are you?” I step back, realising that my unexpected visitor is dripping in the torrential, freezing rain. “Come inside and get warm and dry.” I regret the words as soon as they’ve left my mouth. Manners before survival? That won’t keep me alive for long.
Joanna picks up a huge black suitcase and brings it in. I stare at it in shock. Is she planning to stay?
“Thanks, hen. Sorry about the baggage. If you can’t squeeze me in, I’ll find a hotel…”
I hesitate. I should let her get that hotel, but I look at her more closely. She doesn’t look well. We were close friends for a couple of years before life and distance got in the way, and we drifted, as people often do.
“Don’t be daft. Anyway, my other daughter is away at Uni. I’ll make up her bed for you.”
“I’ll do it in a bit, Mum. You take your friend into the lounge by the fire. I’ll sort out the kitchen and put the kettle on.”
“You’re a sweetie, Cheryl, thanks.” I glance down at my hands. The trembling has eased off now. I take Joanna’s coat from her, hanging it over the newel post at the bottom of the stairs. “Come in and make yourself comfortable.”
Seated in the brown leather armchairs, as close to the gas fire as possible, we sit in silence for a moment. Thousands of questions race through my brain, but I focus my gaze on my visitor. She hasn’t aged particularly well. I seem to recall she’s a year or two older than I am,