Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be taking part in the Blog Tour for My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland with an excerpt from the book. Massive thanks to Alex for the invite, Trapeze and of course, Stephanie for writing such a great book.
My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland.
KISS THE GIRLS
A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals – the latest victim of ‘The Lover’. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.
AND MAKE THEM DIE…
As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in their own hands – to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.
As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they’re being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim – Clementine – firmly in his sights.
Excerpt from My Little Eye.
Kate can still feel his touch on her skin. He only held her hand. No, less than that, he put his hand over hers, just for a few seconds – nothing in the grand scheme of things. A comforting gesture because she was upset, that was all, she tells herself. A few days ago he’d walked into the break room at work just as she’d hung up on Mart after yet another argument. He’d seen she was crying, and he’d held her hand; a totally normal thing between colleagues – no, friends.
Since then, she’s thought about that moment, their moment, a lot. It felt exciting, and she hasn’t felt excitement for what seems like forever. She liked the feeling. A part of her wants to feel it again.
She refuses to feel guilty about it.
She’s almost at the flat now. She looks up at the first floor out of habit, expecting to see darkness, but there is a soft glow behind the curtains, a light on inside. She frowns. Wasn’t Mart working tonight? She’s sure he’d said he had a late set at the club. Wasn’t that why he’d waved away her excuses for doing overtime on the late shift? Hadn’t he said he didn’t care?
Setting the two jute bags of groceries down on the step, she fumbles in her jacket pocket for her keys. Her hands are numb from the cold and it takes her a couple of attempts to grasp them. She adds ‘buy gloves’ to her mental to-do list. The folks back home had told her it never got properly cold in central London. Now, in the middle of a dark, rainy November, Kate knows they were talking bollocks.
She unlocks the door, picks up the bags and pushes the door open with her shoulder. As it closes behind her the automatic light in the communal hallway comes on. She blinks at the brightness reflected back from the cerise-painted walls, sidesteps around the upstairs neighbour’s bike and heads towards the stairs. Glancing at the stacks of mail on the tatty side-table as she passes, she spots a pile for her and Mart.
‘Fucksake,’ Kate mutters, snatching it up. ‘Do I have to do everything?’
She leafs through the envelopes; two bills and a piece of junk mail plus what looks like a credit card statement for Mart with Final Demand stamped in angry red across the top of the envelope. She sighs. Shakes her head. He really is crap with money.
Tucking the post under her arm, she picks up her bags and trudges towards the stairs. She starts working out how much cash she’s got stashed away across her savings accounts – the one he knows about, and the other two. No matter what her mum tells her about Mart being a rubbish freeloader and that she deserves better, Kate has always bailed him out. She knows he thinks she will again.
But that would mean she can’t have that holiday in Dubai she’s been saving for. The thought of having to stay in cold, damp London all winter pisses her off even more. The bags feel heavier, her legs more tired. She tries to remember if there is any wine in the fridge. She has a horrible feeling the answer is no.
Sod it. She won’t bail him out again. She’s going to Dubai with Eva.
Reaching the door to the flat, she drops the bags again and undoes the lock. Pushing the bags inside with her foot, she enters and closes the door behind her, calling, ‘Hey Mart, I’m back.’
Great, she thinks, hoisting up the bags again. Don’t help me, will you. Since they’ve been living together he’s treated her more like his mum or housekeeper than his girlfriend. When they first moved in they split all the chores down the middle; he cleaned and shopped, she cooked and did the ironing. Now he’s always too busy with his music, the implication being that what she’s doing is less important. That he thinks she is less important.
Kate pushes open the door into the living area. Halts a few steps inside.
The corner lamp is on, the low lighting giving the place a dusky haze. Two glasses of red wine are sitting on the glass top of the coffee table. There’s music playing over Mart’s high-end speakers, some ballad from the eighties that she vaguely recognises as one her dad likes. Not Mart’s usual kind of tune, but maybe he’s trying to be retro and romantic. It’s been a while since he made that kind of effort; the sweet love notes and surprise gifts of their early days are long in the past.
‘Mart?’ she says.
She puts the bags down and takes a few more steps into the room. Listens hard, but can’t hear him. ‘Mart, where are you?’
Kate moves forward to the coffee table and picks up a glass. Takes a sip of wine. It’s the good stuff, delicious. She needs it after doing a double shift. Needs it to help her forget the hand holding, and remind herself not to feel guilty, more guilty. She takes another sip and glances around the room again. That’s when she notices the red splodges on the carpet near the bedroom door. The door is ajar, a chink of light visible through the gap.
As she draws closer she recognises what the splodges are. Her heartbeat quickens. Guilt tightens in her chest. This is big, unexpected.
Kate stares at the rose petals scattered around the entrance to the bedroom and wonders what’s got into Mart to go for such a grand gesture. Whatever’s caused it, it’s about time. She’d been thinking the relationship was on its way out, but if he’s making this amount of effort, maybe they still have a chance.
‘Mart?’ she says, her tone soft, playful. The bedroom door opens halfway.
Kate gasps. The cream duvet on their bed is strewn with rose petals. Candles encircle the iron bedstead in flickering light. ‘Mart, it’s beautiful.’
She steps onto the threshold, transfixed. Remembers the good times; sharing candlelit baths, talking for hours about anything and everything. Mart is the guy for her. This proves it. She wonders if he’s about to propose.
Kate takes another pace forward. ‘This is amazing. Where did you—’
The lights cut out. Plunging her into darkness, aside from the candlelight.
To her right, the door jolts back, bashing the wall and making her jump.
She feels movement behind her. Inhales a cocktail of unfamiliar scents. Lemon. Vanilla. Something else she can’t place. ‘Mart?’
He says nothing, but she feels his touch; a lingering caress from her temple, across her cheek, towards her mouth. She starts to turn towards him. ‘I—’
His hand clamps across her lips and nose, yanking her backwards. She braces against them, lashes out with her hands, trying to break free.
Loses her balance.
Another hand slides around her arms, her waist. Pulls her back against a body, a chest. Holds her prisoner. She struggles harder. Tries to scream beneath the suffocating force. Her cries muted against flesh.
His grip tightens around her jaw, digs into her cheek, forcing her head to the left. She feels a sharp sting against her neck by her ear. Gasps.
The room seems to tilt, the candlelight dancing, the scarlet petals and cream duvet kaleidoscoping patterns in front of her. Her mind seems sluggish. Tiredness weighs her body down. Her eyelids feel heavy.
The pressure across her mouth disappears. She feels hands clasp her shoulders, spinning her round.
Dizzy. Nauseous. Afraid.
His face looks blurred, distorted by the flickering of the candlelight.
He reaches towards her. Strokes her cheek. ‘Sleep now, my love.’
She tries to shake her head. Tries to speak, to say his name, to ask him why. Tries to tell him to stop hurting her. That she’ll do whatever he wants.
The darkness takes her before her lips can form the words.
I’ve already read and reviewed the book a couple of weeks ago and I loved it! I was just going to link to my review but I thought that would be me just being lazy and so, instead of copying and pasting the link I copied and pasted the review text, how strenuous of me! 🙂
Here is my review:
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In London, a series of murders have taken place and the killer who’s MO is the same for each and is being referred to as ‘The Lover‘. The police investigation is being led by MIT Detective Dom/Dominic Campbell and his team and it is faltering, the press is baying for answers, with each new killing there are no new clues, breakthroughs or leads and the fear is that The Lover will strike again sooner rather than later.
Clementine Starke is part of a true crime Internet group. A PhD student who unbeknownst to the rest of the group is researching them for her thesis and theory that a true crime group without police resources could solve a live crime. A small portion of the group is interested in attempting to beat the police and solve the case. Highlighting both, the current fallibility and failings of the police force and to prove that even without the amenities and resources available to the police that amateur crime enthusiasts can be beneficial and can solve live crimes.
With both groups after The Lover, it’s a race against time to find out the killer’s identity and to stop them before they claim their next victim.
Without going into detail, both of the main characters are quite tortured, Clementine from a traumatic past event that year’s later, still haunts her and Dom from a recent undercover police operation that went horribly wrong and is still under an ongoing investigation.
Personally, I was eager to learn more about the pair and I found them both to be engaging and interesting catalysts to propel the story forward. I felt that the backstories of the main characters really added to them. Throughout the book, we get to learn the truth behind Clementine’s past as it is slowly revealed to us in flashbacks and the backdrop of the bungled undercover investigation and the subsequent fallout that is hampering Dom’s efforts with The Lover case adds an extra depth to him.
With Marland’s use of an Internet group and their transfer from anonymity and the relative safety of purely online interaction to meeting in real-life My Little Eye is a very topical read. It is also relevant to today’s society and makes you question how much do you really know about the people you are in contact with on the Internet. You get to know them and in some cases, even bond with them through shared interests (oh my, book blogging and honestly, I have my suspicions about some of you) but are they really who they say they are? Do they have secrets? Is their profile picture really them? Is their online persona different to their real-life personality? These are all questions you’ll find yourself contemplating whilst reading the true crime group segments of My Little Eye and let’s be honest, I’m fairly certain that they are all questions we will have asked ourselves before about our Internet acquaintances at one time or another.
I really liked how it wasn’t just the police searching for the killer in My Little Eye with Marland incorporating the group of amateur sleuths alongside the professionals in trying to solve the case and catch the killer. I felt that amateur element added an extra dimension to the story making for a refreshing change from the far more standard police hunting criminals trope that is often the norm in thrillers.
Marland writes in a style that is easily accessible and really draws you in with the pages flying by in a blur of compelling lead characters, twists and a bountiful amount of mystery. The chapters in My Little Eye are short and snappy and as you swap between the amateur and professional groups, their investigations and Clementine and Dom as the focal points you will find yourself constantly being drawn back to the book and to reading (even if you should be doing other things but, of course, other things can wait when you are engrossed in a book).
As an introduction to the pairing of Starke and Bell, My Little Eye serves as a stellar starting point to get you invested in the duo for future releases.
I enjoyed my time spent reading My Little Eye and found it to be a thoroughly addictive and page-turning read.
My Little Eye is out now.
About Stephanie Marland.
Stephanie Marland has worked in the University sector for over ten years and published research on how people interact and learn together in virtual environments online. She’s an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and an avid reader of all things crime fiction, blogging about books at www.crimethrillergirl.com. Steph also writes the Lori Anderson action thriller series (as Steph Broadribb) for Orenda Books.
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