Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for After He Died by Michael J. Malone with an excerpt from the book.
Massive thanks to Anne Cater for the tour invite, Orenda Books and Michael J. Malone.
After He Died.
- After He Died.
- Michael J. Malone.
- Orenda Books.
- ISBN: 978-1-912374-33-5
- EPUB: 978-1-912374-34-2
- 300 pages.
- Crime / Psychological Thriller / Mystery / Domestic Noir.
You need to know who your husband really was…
When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.
Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…
Excerpt from After He Died.
Through a medicated fog, Paula Gadd looked along the line of
mourners waiting to greet her. It took her last scrap of energy not to
tell them all to leave. Someone gripped her hand. A woman she didn’t
recognise; her face a twist of assumed empathy.
‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ the woman said.
Paula looked from the woman’s surprisingly strong hand to the
powdered lines around her mouth, caught a wave of her sickly perfume
and managed a question:
‘Who are you again?’
The woman gave a small nod, as if acknowledging that Paula’s
grief was making her momentarily senile, then moved on. The words
Minister for Business nudged at her mind. Thomas knew all kinds of
Thomas, her dead husband.
She was way too young to be a widow, wasn’t she?
When she first met him he was Tommy, but his drive for success
meant a return to the name on his birth certificate. You can’t be
informal, apparently, when you’re aiming for the big bucks.
‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ the next person said. A man in a black suit. All
these men in black suits were merging into one. Except, the bulb shape
at the end of this guy’s nose was threaded with veins; Paula couldn’t take
her eyes off them, following the lines as a blue one crossed a pink one.
Must be the drugs the doctor had given her, she thought. To be
fair, the only way she could handle this service was through a haze. She
took a breath in through her nose, as if sniffing for a reminder of the
name of the drug printed on the small bottle. Whatever it was, she was
‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ she aped the man. He cocked his head like
a dog might, unsure he had heard what he had heard.
‘I can only imagine what you are going through, dear.’ His smile
was limp, questioning: Don’t you know who I am?
She was already onto the next person, her hand reaching out, but
her mind now retreating from the line of people, all of them keen to
demonstrate their support in her time of grief. All of them leaning on
ceremony yet shying away from reality, grateful they weren’t in her
shoes. At this thought she looked down at her feet.
Size three Louboutins.
She had had a great time choosing them. Never thought that when
she was handing over her credit card they’d be on her feet at Thomas’s
Next in line was a couple in their seventies who looked like they’d
been eating nothing but watery soup for the last thirty years – their
faces stripped down to nothing but skin and sinew. And they looked
so alike. Were they brother and sister? ‘Thomas will be missed,’ said
‘First you lose your only son,’ said the woman. ‘How can one person
take all that grief…?’ She was silenced by a look from her husband.
Paula decided they must be married. Who else but a spouse would
look at you that way?
Already, she missed that way of looking. That knowing.
She ignored the comment from the woman. Pushed it to the back
of her mind. That was seven years ago. Almost to the day.
That grief she wore like an old friend. A welcome reminder that
Christopher had been in her life. This one was a new wound. Fresh.
Gaping. A pain that plucked the air from her lungs.
Anyway, who were all these people? she wondered. And who
decided we should line up like this at the end of a funeral service?
Whoever they were, they were sick in the head. Without the chemicals
soothing the barb and bite of her loss, this would have been enough to
send her to the nearest psychiatric ward.
She’d always seen herself as part of a couple. A pair. Her identity
after he died was wrapped up in that idea. She loved being married. That it was
Thomas was mostly a good thing, but the state of marriage was what
really gave her satisfaction.
Even after thirty years she loved saying to salesmen, ‘I’ll have to
speak to my husband first.’
Now she was in the singular.
Well, not flying so much as drifting.
And heavy with regret that in the latter years she hadn’t made more
of an effort.
One more person and she was at the end of the line. Thank the
good Lord, the line was running out of the sympathetic and suitably
A young woman stepped forwards. Wide-brimmed hat, large
sunglasses, thin nose, plump lips. A chin that almost came to a point.
She offered an embrace. Confused, Paula leaned into it, finding that
suddenly, surprisingly, human contact was needed. The woman, a girl
really, touched her lips to the side of Paula’s face.
The woman spoke in a whisper and Paula felt something being slid
into the pocket of her jacket. What did she say? Paula heard her clearly,
but the words were so out of context in the situation that she struggled
to make sense of them.
She looked down to her pocket as if she was trying to work out what
had just happened. She raised her eyes to question the girl, but she was
already walking away as if desperate not to be stopped. Through the
throng all Paula could see was a back view of her black hat and a fan of
long, straight, blonde hair across her shoulders.
‘Who…’ she turned to the man at her side, her husband’s elder
‘That was tough, eh?’ he asked, his hand light on her arm, his
smile distorting his face. Then he turned away without waiting for her
answer. Which figured. She’d always felt that Bill had little interest in
her, and just over thirty years of knowing each other – twenty-nine of
them in a marriage with his brother – had done nothing to soften that
feeling. He must be pleased, Paula thought. At last he had a reason to
Oh, get over yourself, Paula. Thomas always said she read way too
much into things. The man was grieving as well, wasn’t he?
The woman’s voice echoed in her mind, but through the medication
she couldn’t make sense of her words – their incongruity. People were
here to tell her how much they loved and admired Thomas, surely?
She craned her neck and looked around the milling mourners
for the hat and the blonde hair, but she saw no sign of them. It was
probably some young woman who had a fancy for Thomas – he was a
handsome man after all and he did attract lots of admiring glances. As
far as she was aware he never did anything to encourage them, though.
Whatever his faults, he was a one-woman man … wasn’t he?
Her knees gave, just a little, but she managed to right herself,
managed not to fall to the floor in a heap. A wave of bone-aching loss
crashed down on her and she allowed her hand to drop away from the
pocket. If it was a note, she should simply crumple it up and throw it
away, unread. Whatever it was, it was surely just a cruel joke.
Thomas. My Thomas. She recalled the moment – was it really just a
few breaths ago when the curtains slid shut, hiding his…? She couldn’t
bring herself to even think the word coffin.
She turned again to try and find the young woman. There was no
sign of her, but her words repeated in Paula’s mind.
‘You need to know who your husband really was.’
Purchase After He Died.
About Michael J. Malone.
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, in Ayr. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller on AU/UK ebook charts, and House of Spines soon followed suit. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.
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