Recommended Read: The Dying Place by Luca Veste

BRIT GRIT, Crime Fiction, Luca Veste, Off The Record, True Brit Grit

The Dying PlaceWhen the body of a young man is found on the steps of a church, DI Murphy and DS Rossi – returning from Dead Gone,  Luca Veste‘s very enjoyable debut crime novel – are called in to investigate.

Veste’s second novel is very impressive indeed. Mature and tightly written, The Dying Place is a truly humanist piece of crime fiction. Veste smoothly  moves from the POVs of the victims, perpetrators and cops, creating a gripping, chilling and very moving piece of work.

Highly recommended.

Short, Sharp Interview: Tracey Edges

Art, Luca Veste, Music, Off The Record, short sharp interviews, Siren FM, Tracey Edges

Tracey edgesPDB: What’s going on now?

This very minute I am ‘coming down’ from the Sunday morning madness that is Sunday Girl! Today was the Christmas Show so lots of indies, a couple of oldies, some non-Christmas tracks. Usual Sunday Girl eclectic mix but with a festive twist. The show airs 9-11am every Sunday morning but I am really at the go from about 7.30 to 12.30 plus, just chasing my tail trying to keep up with all the interaction on social media. It’s crazy but fun crazy.

PDB: How long have you been a Sunday Girl?

My very first show for Lincoln-based station, Siren FM 107.3 was on 11th August 2013. Today’s show (21st December 2014) was my 68th Sunday Girl. I really can’t believe that I have done that many!

PDB: What’s it like getting up early on a Sunday Morning?

Hell – I am a lazy sausage! I am terrible at getting to bed. Last night I was writing some of the next show until nearly 3am. I’ve always enjoyed lazy Sunday mornings but now I am running about the house like a mad thing trying to get ready and it’s straight on to social media which, once started, doesn’t let up for the next few hours.

PDB: How important are social media?

Immensely. I have accounts on all the main sites but I really only have time to fully service Facebook and then Twitter. As my listener base is global and in various time zones, getting show reminders out regularly is very important. Every week I take the time to put together a photo-playlist which has all the links, of the indie artists and authors, on as I love to be able, in my small way, to promote all that great talent that is out there but bubbling under the radar.

Also, without social media, I wouldn’t be able to communicate so easily with Artists from all over the world. I never take it for granted how easy it is to communicate with someone from New York, Japan, Costa Rica or even Poland! Actually – that can account for some of my late nights…

PDB: Which of your projects are you most proud of?

Oh gosh, that is a tough one. I am amazingly proud that I have my own radio show – I would never have thought that I would have had the nerve to do that, even though it was something that I wanted to do from being at school. In those days DJs were rather revered and I remember always dying to go to the Radio 1 roadshow when it came to Cleethorpes. With their big glitzy trailers it all seemed very glam!

I am also an artist and I am very proud that I have had very well received solo exhibitions and I am looking forward to getting back into painting, after a small hiatus.

I also have written some short stories and have been very flattered by the response to those. Writing more is also on the agenda and getting more published. It was a Tigger-moment to have ‘Memento’ accepted for the anthology “Off The Record 2 – At The Movies” and that book is very proudly sitting on my bookshelf. I have also written a continuous story blog called PI GY. It is a mix of fact and fiction and basically ‘me’ being a Private Investigator in Grimsby – a bit of a (very) low level NYPD or NCIS! I did record some for a radio series. That was my first experience with Siren FM – in fact my first experience of doing anything for radio, other than being interviewed on Estuary Radio about a smaller solo art exhibition I was showing at the time.

You can listen to that interview, and find out all about me as well as watching a slideshow of my work, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5depLM8R6RU  The first radio series of PI GY can be heard at: http://www.sirenonline.co.uk/archives/3274

I also write a column for a magazine, The Peoples, called ‘Girl About Town’. That is available, free to read, on Issuu.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Oh, blimey – I hate this question! I really don’t know – it’s usually the last one I enjoyed. I like to relax when reading, watching or listening so nothing too heavy or esoteric, although I like to be carried along by the ride – one that twists and turns and makes you wonder what is going to happen next.

I am a really frustrated bookworm and, as I’ve moved into a house that needs a lot  of work, I haven’t had the time to read much. I have just been engrossed in ‘After The Storm’ by Jane Lythell, which I have reviewed for a Sunday Girl Book of the Week feature (that was my 3am work last night!) and I will always have a soft spot for Tony Schumacher’s brilliant debut novel “The Darkest Hour”. I was lucky to be able to read that as he wrote it – bit by bit. That was frustrating and exciting in equal measure. It was also very interesting to see the journey it took from conception to being taken up by a major publisher, the editing process, and ending up on the bookshelves with the ensuing marketing and promotion. I also love Luca Vesta’s books, I have his second, in-waiting and so many more. I have a biography by Liz Kershaw, half read (brilliant as all about radio!) and “Pretty Broken Punks” by Martin Belk, madly waving at me to get them read.

I’m not really a film person, in an academic sense. I did watch Brief Encounter, for the first time last year, and it has inspired me to get going on a painting project based on that – the fleeting moment. That needs my house to get sorted out first though. At the moment I can’t get into my Art Studio for chairs (don’t ask!)

Music – all and everything. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something tinkly and classical, mostly I’m still a punk girl though and like a good blast. I love discovering new (to me) music and I find that the Indie radio presenters are such a great bunch that they are not at all precious and love to share the people they play so I have listened to a lot of people that I may never have come across otherwise. I have started to get into Electronic bands such as Naked Lunch, Rossetti’s Compass and Attrition – not a genre that I have ever really known much about but there is some really great new, and reinvented, music coming from that direction. I can’t say that I am a great fan of Country or Folk but I can even be turned in that direction by great music. Americana by Jane Allison is great and I even enjoy a bit of Yee-Haa-ing supplied by the likes of Mark Glazier and Morgin Breen. I am lucky to have some great local bands such as Kismet Ryding, Sunny and Boo-Boo, The Moth Lantern and many more.

Phew – TV! I have to admit to liking a good ol’ US of A television series. At the minute I’m watching Stalker and have just finished the first season of Nashville. As I said – it’s relaxing stuff to just flop out with. The Mentalist, Castle and sci-fi, such as Fringe are all favourites. I’m also watching the radio/podcast based sitcom, Maron.

PDB: What’s next?

Just carrying on, carrying on. Expanding all that I am doing and making it all even bigger and even better. Crossing fingers and working hard. I’ve tried to drop one thing or another but I have realised, that for me, I need to do less of all but more as the whole and bring it all together. I may start to include music and words in my Artwork, for example. You never stop exploring, learning and discovering and that is what I love doing. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

sunday girl

Bio: Tracey Edges is an Artist/Writer/Radio Presenter from Cleethorpes. She has lived in Oxfordshire, where she had great fun for 2 years at Art School and then loved studying Graphic Design, Illustration and Advertising at High Wycombe, Bucks.

After a few years, in a beautiful area of Cornwall, owning a village shop and post office, and pretending to be Mrs Goggins, she returned to Grimsby to concentrate on her Fine Art career. The past couple of years she has extended her creativity to include writing and radio presenting. Starting off with Estuary Radio, in Grimsby, she now has a weekly, Sunday Morning, 2 hour, well-received show with Lincoln’s Siren FM 107.3.

Links: Sunday Girl: www.sirenonline.co.uk/section/shows/sunday-girl
Facebook: Tracey Edges (profile) Tracey Edges Presenter (page)
Twitter: @tedges
Website: www.traceyedges.co.uk (woefully out of date – it’s on The To-Do List!)
Blogs: www.alittlebitoftraceyedges.blogspot.com (short stories)
www.traceyedges.blogspot.com (PI GY, continuous story blog)

Short, Sharp Interview: Luca Veste

BRIT GRIT, Liverpool, Luca Veste, Off The Record, short sharp interviews, True Brit Grit

luca bookPDB: Can you pitch DEAD GONE in 25 words or less?

A serial killer in Liverpool is replicating infamous psychology experiments on his victims. DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi must track him down.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I rarely listen to newer music, so I’ve been so listening to a lot of Gary Moore recently. Eva Dolan’s debut novel  LONG WAY HOME, which is out in January,  is ace. As is Sarah Hilary‘s out in Feb. Helen FitzGerald’s The Cry is my favourite of 2013 though. Astounding book. I watched and hated the final series of Dexter. A terrible ending to a fantastic show. I’ve just started watching Breaking Bad, around five or six years after everyone else. Enjoying it so far.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. I think it’s difficult to separate the two from your mind, in that you’re sometimes thinking ‘I wouldn’t have written it that way’, or ‘you’ve just revealed the twist there with foreshadowing’. In contrast, when you read a great book, you know it and realise the work that has gone into making it so. The Shining Girls spoke to me in that vein this year. I could just see the amount of planning and plotting that went into that book that I may not have a few years previous.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

Not really. It’s a much different arena to write within as dialogue is king now. Whereas in a novel you can spend time building a scene up it’s much more difficult I imagine to do the same in a shorter space of time. Although, some of the TV shows I’ve seen normally just use rain as a tool to do this.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

For Dead Gone quite a bit. All the psychological experiment aspects had to be checked and researched, which was difficult as some of them haven’t really been written about all that much. The policing in the book is quite close to reality, with some poetic license (less paperwork). It’s fiction though, so some things will be changed to fit the story. I spent some time visiting places in Liverpool that I hadn’t been to in 20 years, just to make sure my blurred memory matched up. That was fun research though!

lucaPDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I’d say it’s quite important. I’ve met a ton of awesome people via social media, so personally I’m grateful for that. I would have found it much more difficult to write the book in the first place without the support of so many. And anything that puts you in touch with readers is a good thing.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

Finish book two in January. It still has no title, which is a little weird, as I thought I’d have one by now. Then, I finish my degree in psychology and criminology in June. That’s been four years of work, so I’m looking forward to getting that done. A load of book festivals and drunken nights with other writers…sounds good to me!

Bio: Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage. He also studies psychology and criminology at university in Liverpool. His first novel, Dead Gone, was released by HarperCollins imprint Avon in ebook form in December 2013, with the paperback coming out January 2014.

Dead Gone has been described as “chilling” by Mark Billingham, “Gripping” by Steve Mosby, and “quite dark, Luca…a little worrying” by his Grandma. Married, with two daughters, he hopes to sleep at some point before the year 2042.

Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI on Siren FM.

Off The Record, Roman Dalton, Tracey Edges

tracey edgesI’m more than somewhat chuffed that Roman  Dalton – Werewolf PI has been chosen as Book Of The Week on Tracey Edges’ Sunday Girl radio show on Siren FM:

‘Sunday Girl

Sunday, 9am to 11am

Tracey Edges presents an eclectic choice of music, local events and features such as Book of the Week and Artist of the Week, plus a few cringeworthy jokes and a bit of a giggle, Sunday mornings will never be the same again!

Tracey is an acclaimed Fine Artist who exhibits both locally and nationally. She holds an Honours Degree in Art History and has qualifications in Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration and Advertising.

Tracey has a newfound love of writing fiction and has a short story blog. She is, sadly, proud that she has made people cry as far away as Japan with her stories. However, she prefers to make her readers laugh.

2012 saw Tracey write a sit-com-style blog called PI GY (Private Investigations Grimsby), which has since been recorded and broadcast as a radio series on two stations. After being well-received, globally, there are plans for Series 2 and a novel. You can listen to PI GY series 1 on the Siren FM website.

Tracey also had a short story, “Memento,” included in the anthology Off the Record 2 – At the Movies, which brought her glowing reviews. Watch out for OTR 3 which will be based on TV programmes.

Although born in Cleethorpes, Tracey has lived in Banbury, Oxfordshire, where she attained a Distinction at Art School, before buying a village shop and post office, moving to Cornwall and being a Sub-postmistress for a few years. After moving back to Grimsby she started to build up her Art Practice and Portfolio.

Since her schooldays, Tracey has always been interested in Radio Presenting and jumped at the opportunity to present her own show on Grimsby’s Estuary Radio and is delighted to now be part of the Siren FM team. Tracey thoroughly enjoys researching, writing and broadcasting her own show, as well as communicating with Musicians, Authors and other Creatives from all over the world.’

Cheers Tracey!

Short, Sharp Interview: Charlie Wade

BRIT GRIT, Caffeine Nights, Charlie Wade, Off The Record, True Brit Grit

Seven Daze PDB: Can give us the SP on Seven Daze?

Seven Daze is about a failed first time contract killer, Jim, who gets lumbered with a ten grand debt and only one week to pay. Not having any cash himself, he decides the banking community should do the decent thing and bail him out.

PDB: How did you get involved with Caffeine Nights Publishing?

I got very lucky and submitted during one of their rare open for submission periods. And I blackmailed Darren as well of course.

PDB: Which other books have you published/ been published in?

I’ve had short stories in Off The Record, True Brit Grit and a few other anthologies. One of the other books I’ve written, The Bailout, was available for a while but it’s currently being re-written.

PDB: Are social media useful for a writer or just a waste of time?

Don’t know. It’s good to meet other writers, and I’ve definitely read people’s writing and found authors I wouldn’t have otherwise. But, I find there’s a temptation to spend time where you should be writing doing other things. I suppose it’s like anything, helpful when in moderation.

PDB: What music, books, films or  whatever have blown your skirt up recently?

I’m still trapped in the 80’s and 90’s in spirit so a lot of new stuff passes me by, but the latest Fall lp Re-Mit was as good as ever. 11/22/63 by Stephen King is I think one of the best books he’s ever written, and the new series of Luther looks worth watching.

PDB: Where can people find out more about your books?

I’ve got a blog  http://batteriesarentincluded.blogspot.co.uk/ and my author page at Caffeine Nights is here http://www.caffeine-nights.com/charlie-wade.html

Off The Record 2: Less Than A Pound/ Dollar.

ANTHOLOGY, Luca Veste, Off The Record, Paul D Brazill

otr2Edited by Luca Veste & Paul D. Brazill.

Off The Record 2: At The Movies  contains 47 short stories, based on classic film titles…

Following the Spinetingler award nominated ‘Off The Record‘, the charity anthology featuring stories based on classic song titles, comes the highly anticipated sequel.

This time, inspiration arrives in the form of classic film titles. With an introduction penned by Chris Ewan and featuring some of biggest and brightest names writing today including…

Will Carver, Steve Mosby, Helen FitzGerald, Adrian McKinty, Matt Hilton, Stav Sherez, Claire McGowan, Sean Cregan, David Jackson, Mel Sherratt, Nick Quantrill, Maxim Jakubowski, and many, many more…

47 writers from around the world. All coming together to raise money for two children’s literacy charities…

In the UK, National Literacy Trust.

In the US, Children’s Literacy Initiative.

From Crime to Fantasy, Taxi Driver to Weekend at Bernie’s, there’s something for everyone in this collection of 47 short stories.

And all proceeds from the sales of this anthology go directly to charity!

The eBook is book less than one dollar/ pound from AMAZON & AMAZON UK.

Short, Sharp Interview: K A Laity

Art, films, Interviews, K A Laity, London, Off The Record, short sharp interviews, The Fall, Weird Noir

PDB: Can you pitch CHASTITY FLAME in 25 words or less?

KAL:  Sexy super secret agent has mad flings and chases wild things as a Norwegian mastermind and a Belgian hacker try to crash the European market.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

KAL: I’m reading so many books! I’m deep into Vol 3 of Len Wanner’s Crime Writer Interviews, as well as Off the Record 2 which is just chock full of good stuff, same goes for my colleagues in Tales of the Nun and Dragon and I’m plunging into K. T. Davies’ The Red Knight which has massive battle scenes, quite different stuff. I haven’t been to a film since I got to NY and we don’t have television out here in the country, so we just rewatched all of Arrested Development. Steve Holt!

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

KAL: No. Wait, you wanted more than a monosyllable? I read with different levels of attention, but it doesn’t take much of an error to get me scribbling in the margins or annotating my Kindle. I hate anything that takes me out of the story.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

KAL: I do but I’ve been so busy with prose that everything’s fallen by the wayside. Horrible to be gainfully employed all of the sudden. I’m getting so much less done.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

KAL: It varies: I used CHASTITY FLAME as an excuse to hang around my favourite spots idling: the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge. I did have to research the lounges on the Eurostar because I have no intentions of being suffocated in a tunnel under the British Channel.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

KAL:  My lifeline! I don’t know how I’d manage without it. At any given time I am too far away from some people I love and being back in the States in the midst of a political race is a monumentally depressing thing. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends cheering me. I’m a bit of gypsy, too, so social media is how I make sure I have some place to sleep at night! 🙂

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

KAL: My dark fiction collection UNQUIET DREAMS is out on October 4th from Tirgearr; I’m wading through the submissions for WEIRD NOIR that needs to be out in e-book form before NoirCon in November, so I am feeling the whip. I’m also stealing time to work on my next novel WHITE RABBIT which is also a kind of weird noir tale with fake psychics, a murdered trophy wife and a strange drug cult. I hope to have the first draft done before the end of the fall semester. The next CHASTITY FLAME book, LUSH SITUATION comes out in January,so there’s no let up, eh?

WIN A COPY OF CHASTITY FLAME HERE.

Off The Record 2- At The Movies is Out Now !!!

Andrez Bergen, ANTHOLOGY, BRIT GRIT, brit grit alley, CHARITY, film noir, films, Graham Smith, Life, Luca Veste, maxim jakubowski, Music, Nick Quantrill, Off The Record, Out Of The Gutter, Patti Abbott, Paul D Brazill, Short Story, Steven Miscandlon, Steven Porter, Writing

Off The Record 2- At The Movies is an anthology of 47 short stories, based on film titles, from some of the  best and most bad-bum writers around.

And all proceeds go to charity.

Find out more in my latest Brit Grit Alley column which is, as usual, over at Out Of The Gutter Online.

BRIT GRIT ALLEY

Allan Guthrie, BRIT GRIT, brit grit alley, Graham Smith, Luca Veste, maxim jakubowski, Off The Record, Out Of The Gutter, Patti Abbott, Paul D Brazill, Tony Black, U V Ray

Brit Grit Alley features weekly news and updates on what’s happening down British crime fiction’s booze and blood soaked alleyways. Every Wednesday.

Pop over to Out Of The Gutter Online and have a gander at my little column.

Here.

OFF THE RECORD 2 – AT THE MOVIES : COMING SOON!

Andrez Bergen, ANTHOLOGY, BRIT GRIT, CHARITY, Chris Rhatigan, Ian Ayris, K A Laity, Luca Veste, maxim jakubowski, Nick Quantrill, Off The Record, Patti Abbott, Paul D Brazill, Richard Godwin, Steven Miscandlon, Steven Porter, True Brit Grit

Looking tasty, eh? Great cover by Steven Miscandlon. More info and cast list at Luca Veste’s Guilty Conscience.

OFF THE RECORD 2/ LIFE ON MARS?

Andrez Bergen, ANTHOLOGY, CHARITY, Luca Veste, Off The Record, Short Story, True Brit Grit

Last year, LUCA VESTE put together a terrific charity anthology called OFF THE RECORD.


The deal was that 38 writers would come up with stories based on song titles. 


And a corker of a collection it was too.


Well, LUCA has decided to put together another charity anthology. 


OFF THE RECORD 2 will feature stories based on film titles. All sorts of hep writers are involved, including Adrian McKinty, Andrez Bergen. And me. 


The title I’m using for my story is SILVER DREAM RACER.


So, if you haven’t already, pick up OFF THE RECORD as an ebook at AMAZON  or AMAZON UK and in paperback from LULU.


And, here is the story that I contributed to the first  OFF THE RECORD, to get you in the mood.

Life On Mars? 
by Paul D Brazill
Jed waited until he heard the door slam before he crawled over to the side of the bed and attempted to sit up. The room jolted as he moved. He took a deep breath and waited a few minutes before trying again. A cold worm of sweat crawled down his spine. His body prickled. Acid gurgled in his stomach.


It was Saturday.
 
He eased himself up. It would be good hour before Niki came back; she always did a tour of the charity shops on Saturday mornings, looking out for those old paperback books that she’d collected for as long as he’d known her. 
He opened his eyes, took another deep breath and then stumbled out onto the landing.
 
First stop was the bathroom. He wobbled onto his knees and held onto the toilet bowl as the bile burnt its way out of him. Tears poured from his red eyes.  He held onto the sink, eased himself up, and then rubbed his face with a cold flannel. He crept downstairs.
 
There wasn’t a great deal of debris from the previous night’s party; Niki had obviously tidied up a little as the night went on. But there was enough to suit Jed’s needs.
 
At the end of the night, before he’d gotten too drunk, he’d tried to remember to leave something in the bottom of each can of cider before opening a new one. Then he’d left them strategically around the front room, ready for the next morning’s pick me up.
 
Over the next few minutes he downed the dregs of each can; simultaneously gagging and smiling to himself as he felt the hangover slowly edging away. 


He sat down on the sofa and picked up an almost full bottle of blue coloured WKD from the coffee table. He remembered Niki chastising him for buying ‘that chav crap,’ saying that the chemicals in it were probably even more lethal than the vodka they were mixed with. He had to admit, it was pretty disgusting, but it would do the trick and keep tomorrow’s shakes and the horrors at bay.
 
A glance at the clock and Jed hurried himself. He picked up a glass and the bottle of WKD. He headed upstairs, taking two at a time, tripping and farting as he went.
 
The bathroom smelled of puke so he opened a window and sat on the toilet. He pissed and picked up the bottle of blue alchopop. He had a sip and poured the booze into the glass. Then he carefully filled the empty WKD bottle with the blue mouthwash that he kept near the sink. He washed the bottle out and filled it with the booze from the glass; it looked pretty much identical.
That would help his get through tomorrow morning. He took the bottle downstairs, yawned and trudged back to the bedroom.
 
A warm, womb like feeling crept over him as he went back to bed. Just before he sank into the quicksand of sleep, he thought he heard the front door open.
***
Cutter had known it was Jed from the moment he’d first clapped eyes on him. Mind you, he’d changed a bit over the twenty-odd years since he’d last seen him; he looked well respectable now, though, what with his linen shirts, sandals, Oxford don specs. But that weird walk was distinctive. It could only have been him. Little heel clicks like a Gestapo officer. That was Jed Bramble to a tee.
 
When they were teenagers, Jed and Cutter were a team. The first Clockwork Orange skinheads in town. They had a right old laugh, too. Especially on Friday nights, after they got kicked out of the Youth Club.
 
They’d started off smashing up phone boxes, putting in the Paki shop windows, tripping up pensioners. Beating up the odd tramp that was asleep in a bus shelter. And just after midnight, they kicked the shit out of the two old donkeys that were tethered up in the graveyard. Until one of them went blind and the other died.
 
They had to up the ante, though. Raise the stakes. Which was where the old puff came in. They got a lot of laughs out of him. He always let them into his house, hoping for a feel, probably. They’d drink his crap sherry and smash a few of his antiques, slap him about a bit and then piss off home. But that got boring, too.
 
Then, one night, they tried to use a fountain pen to take a big lump of wax out of one of  the old puff’s ears. Hacky they were. And he was squealing as they did it. He wouldn’t stop. Annoying, it was. Cutter lost his rag and slammed the pen hard, deep into the eardrum and the old bloke collapsed, blood trickling out. Jed freaked out. So they grabbed his wallet and burnt the place down.
 
Cutter didn’t see much of Jed after that and then Jed’s family moved somewhere down south. He saw him in the local paper once, though, getting his degree from some posh university. And that had been that.
 
A few years later, Cutter went inside for GBH and met up with Beetle Bailey, a bloke that was doing time for stabbing a blind man and setting fire to his guide dog.  They had a cracking time in the nick. Plenty of pills, home-made booze and ‘pets’.
 
When Cutter eventually got out, the probation sent him down south, since none of his family wanted anything to do with him. His home town was off limits, they said.
 
The half-way house where he lived was a shithole, though. Worse than prison. But seeing Jed the other week gave him an opportunity. A way out.
So, he’d started following him. Learned his habits. Found out where he lived. Where he hid the spare key.
 
And today, he’d waited until Niki had left home and headed off toward the park. Then Cutter had walked towards the house and let himself in.
***
Niki soaked up the sun as she strolled down the high street, a couple of vintage paperbacks stuffed under her arm. She’d been to the deli, too, and picked up some organic sausages and some cactus juice for breakfast. She swung the canvas shopping bag as she strolled into the park. It was a golden autumn morning.
 
She spotted a couple of the men from the halfway-house sat on a bench, smoking roll ups. She nodded to them and gave a weak smile.  They sat there every day watching the world go by. People usually gave them the cold shoulder but she thought they were harmless enough. Well, apart from the one with the pony tail and the bushy moustache. He gave Niki the evil eye whenever she saw him. But he wasn’t there now and Niki felt relieved, for some reason.
 
And, again, she counted her blessings. The kids were doing well at University; Jed and her had good jobs and were in good health. They had a nice house, in a nice area.
 
Not for the first time, Niki felt that the world was a benevolent place. That she was at one with the universe. That the stars and the planets had aligned to make her … a lucky woman. A contented woman.
 
The sense of well-being stayed with her as she walked home and only shuddered briefly when she walked up the garden path and saw that the front door was wide open.
The end.