On my blog this morning, I’m delighted to have a guest post from Robin Roughley for my stop on the Cut the Threads blog tour. Thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invite! First up, a bit about the author and this book. Grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy!
About the Author
Robin Roughley hails from the town of Wigan in the North-West of England and is the author of the hugely popular DS Lasser crime series.
On March 9th 2017, Rob released the first book in the DS Marnie Hammond series, Keep You Near, published by Bloodhound. DS Marnie Hammond hails from Lancashire, in the fictional town of Kirkhead. Like all good detectives, Marnie comes with her own unique set of crime-solving skills.
When not writing, which amounts to roughly two days a year, he can be found walking the canal towpaths of Wigan, sorting out plot lines and looking for ideas, with an assortment of dogs in tow.
So, next time you see a shaven-headed, middle-aged man wandering about, scratching his head, looking bewildered and taking random pictures it is Rob hoping for divine inspiration.
If you like your crime to be hard hitting and gritty with an assortment of characters that feel like friends then feel free to jump in at the deep end.
About the Book
When the mutilated remains of local hard man, Tam Whitlow, are found tied to a chair, in a dilapidated building, Marnie Hammond and the team believe the murder could be gang-related.
Whitlow worked for Jimmy Rae, a man who hides behind the facade of local businessman but whose empire has been built on fear and extortion. However, it appears that someone is trying to take over from Rae, someone who is willing to commit horrific killings to achieve their goal.
Meanwhile, Tom Conway is looking for his oldest friend, John Hall, who is missing along with his young daughter, Rowan. As Conway starts to ask questions he finds himself in grave danger.
Is there a link between the missing man and the spate of murders?
Will Tom or Marnie discover the truth before it is too late?
As the body count rises, Marnie realises that there is someone in the shadows, someone who will never rest until they have had their revenge.
Cut The Threads
By Robin Roughley
Tam Whitlow blinked into the gloom, his head throbbed like a bitch, his mouth redolent with the sour taste of stale cigarettes and the bitter tang of bile. He tried to focus on the here and now but the pain rattling around his skull was too intense.
Sweat trickled down his brow, the sting making him squeeze his eyes shut, his head thumping in protest. He tried to wipe it away but his arms wouldn’t obey his misfiring brain. Tam struggled and writhed, but finally the realisation hit him. He was tied to a chair.
Disjointed memories came flooding back; he’d been heading across the car park of the Bull after having his usual Saturday bevvies with the lads. Car keys in hand, swagger in his stride as he beeped off the alarm on his Jaguar. He remembered flicking the cigarette into the bushes, then – bang – some fucker had clubbed him from behind. Lights out.
Tam grunted and strained to break the ties, muscles bulging, eyes screwed shut, but whoever had tied his hands had done a professional job. He felt anger rise through the pain as realisation hit. The thought was preposterous. Didn’t they realise who they were dealing with? He was Tam Whitlow not some fucking bag-head loser.
‘Awake at last,’ the voice drifted out of the semi-darkness.
Tam stopped struggling against the bonds, his teeth clamped, the fury building.
Dragging his head up, he blinked into the gloom. The derelict room was about fifteen-feet square, the floor strewn with chunks of plaster and tiles that had fallen from the walls and ceiling of the old office. His captor was perched on the edge of a desk: arms folded, his face hidden in the shadows.
Tam blinked several times in an effort to focus on the figure. ‘You’re fucking dead!’ he snarled, the rope continuing to bite into his wrists and chest.
The man didn’t move and then Tam heard a heavy sigh of disappointment.
‘I don’t know who you are, pal, or who you’re working for but I’m warning you now, if you don’t let me go then I’ll hunt you down and cut your fucking stupid head off!’ Spittle flew from Tam’s contorted mouth, the rage inside boiling over.
He waited for a reaction but all he got was the flare of a match, then a plume of smoke drifted across the room, the red tip of the cigarette glowing as the shadowed man took a long pull.
‘You think I’m working for someone?’ he replied easily.
Tam’s scowl grew deeper, darker. ‘You think because I’m tied to this chair that I’m going to fucking squeal, well …’
‘Oh, you’ll squeal all right.’
Tam couldn’t believe what he was hearing, he thrashed in the chair, every fibre of his being hell bent on getting free; then he could tear this dickhead a new arsehole.
After thirty seconds, he spat out in anger as his hands remained locked behind his back. When he opened his eyes, he blinked in surprise, the man had moved from the desk and was now standing in front of him; black hair cut close, pale eyes glaring out of a hard, unflinching face, his right hand casually holding the machete, the cigarette clamped between white teeth.
For the first time, Tam Whitlow felt the thrum of real fear, it was an emotion new to him and he took a few seconds to acknowledge its existence. Sweat continued to ooze from his pores, his eyes kept flitting from the man’s face to the heavy blade in his hand.
It took more effort than Tam would ever had admitted to – keeping hold of the anger – as the man looked down at him with disdain.
‘If you’re after cash then forget it, I don’t do deals with twats like you,’ Tam snarled.
Plucking the cigarette from his mouth, the man smiled. ‘Everything and everyone has a price, Tam.’
At the use of his name, Tam felt the breath hitch in his throat. ‘Who are you?’ he asked, collapsing against the chair back.
‘That’s unimportant …’
‘It’s fucking important to me!’ Tam strained again, though he knew it was hopeless, he wasn’t going anywhere.
The man watched with his head tilted. ‘I have a few questions for you – nothing too taxing.’
‘Questions, what questions?’
‘I want to know all about Jimmy Rae?’ the man asked easily.
Despite the rising fear, Tam tried to act nonchalantly. ‘Never heard of him, I …’
Tam didn’t even have time to blink, the man lashed out and cracked a hand across his face.
Surprisingly, there was little weight behind the blow. ‘Jesus, you slap like a fucking girl!’ Tam threw his head back and laughed.
A second later, his roar of laughter turned to one of agony as the man jabbed out his right hand, and the glowing end of the cigarette stabbed into Tam’s closed right eye. He writhed, bellowing out in pain, his eyes screwed shut, the faint whiff of burnt tissue rose into the air as tears coursed down his face.
Studying the tip of the cigarette, the man grimaced before walking across the room and tossing it through the broken window.
Tam Whitlow was used to pain, after all, he’d been in enough fights over the years – broken ribs and spilled blood had been the norm, he’d even suffered a fractured skull after some bastard had smashed a bottle over his head in a pub brawl – but he had never felt pain like this.
It filled his senses until all he knew was pain. Sweat poured down, the sting blinded his other eye, his body shook; and his right eye swelled grotesquely until he was convinced it would burst from its socket if he so much as opened his eyelid.
The man watched from the window as Tam thrashed back and forth, fighting his personal battle with agony. Pulling out another cigarette, the man sparked up before moving back to the desk and leaning against it.
Tam roared, the chair rocked from side to side … and then he slumped forward as his mind blanked out.
‘Not as tough as you like to think are you, Mr Whitlow?’ the man whispered.
The seconds ticked into minutes and still the man waited, as if he had all the time in the world. Eventually, he reached down and lifted the two-litre bottle of water from the rucksack at his feet. After unscrewing the lid he took a sip from the bottle, walked across the room and emptied the contents over Tam’s head.
Whitlow coughed and spluttered as the freezing water dragged him out of the darkness, the liquid washing away the blood that leaked from his right eye.
‘Now, let’s start again,’ the man said, the empty bottle following the spent cigarette through the window.
Slowly, Tam dragged his head up, he squinted through his good eye and gasped, the heavy blade inched closer towards his terrified face.
‘Please!’ Tam begged.
When he felt a light touch on his shoulders he jerked in shock and tried to twist around to see who was standing behind him; but the ropes anchoring him to the chair wouldn’t allow it.
‘Listen to me, Mr Whitlow, you are going to die in this room. The question is, how much you want to suffer before the end?’
Tam felt his mind crack as the voice whispered in his right ear, he could feel the breath on his neck bringing his flesh up in a shiver of fear.
‘I don’t want to die,’ Tam whispered, stunned at the sound of terror in his voice.
The hands on his shoulders moved slightly, the pressure increased, he could feel slender fingers closing like talons. ‘It isn’t about what you want, Mr Whitlow, it’s what I want that counts.’
‘Look on it as a game. A game where I make all the rules, all you have to do is tell me everything I want to know. And your reward? My friend here will simply cut off your head, giving you a swift – if somewhat gruesome – end.’
Tam started to shiver in the chair, the softly-spoken words smashed through his defences, all the years of strutting around Kirkhead with his shoulders thrown back, confident that his name alone was enough to instill fear into the scrotes he dealt with, now meant nothing. He thought of Jimmy Rae by his side, the two of them ruling the roost with an iron fist, taking what they wanted; building their empire of drugs and prostitution that had taken them from a shitty two up, two down to a life they had only dreamt of.
Only now, as he jittered in the chair, he realised that sometimes it was better to live a quiet life. A life devoid of machetes and soft voices that whispered in your ear talking about your death as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
The man with the blade smiled down at Tam and then raised his eyebrow. ‘Don’t blame me, Tam, I’m just the hired help,’ he said, shrugging his shoulders.
‘Cut off his left foot,’ the voice behind him said.
Before Tam even had the chance to scream, the blade swept through the air and he heard the thud as his foot hit the floor. He blinked in confusion and then the pain hit, a huge wave of agony that swept through his body. Tam could feel the blood spewing from the wound and at last he found his voice; his scream echoed around the room before blasting out through the broken windows.
‘Now the right one,’ the voice said nonchalantly.
‘He won’t survive and then you’ll end up with nothing,’ the man said.
When he saw the blue eyes shining at him through the gloom, he felt the thrum of fear ripple along his spine.
‘Like you said, Mr Williams, you are the hired help, so please don’t make me repeat myself.’
In the chair, Tam writhed, his mouth opening and closing, and the agony muting any sound as he simply tried to breathe His chest rose and fell slowly, his heart trying to compensate for the blood that continued to pour from the wound.
Williams shrugged his heavy shoulders and swung the blade; Tam screamed once before his head fell forward and his right foot joined the left one on the bloodstained floor. Both legs dripped blood from Tam’s limp body, pooling around his severed feet.
‘I can leave you to sort the rest,’ the voice said. ‘Head and hands – but leave the body here, sooner or later someone will find it.’
Williams watched the figure blend back into the shadows. He could hear the light footfall and caught a glimpse of the woman making her way to the door.
As soon as she vanished into the corridor, Williams hissed out a tension-filled breath.
‘Mad bitch,’ he mumbled.
Ooooh! If that sounds right up your street, head over to amazon and grab a copy of Cut the Threads now! If you want to catch up with the blog tour, here’s where you can find more awesome bloggers sharing the #booklove: