Today I am delighted to be part of the blog tour celebrations for Death and the Good Son by B.A. Steadman by bringing you an extract from the book.
About this book…
Life is good for DI Dan Hellier. He has made several successful drugs’ busts and even the Assistant Chief Constable is smiling. But the discovery of two headless, handless corpses buried in the bog on Dartmoor will test his team to their limits. How are they expected to identify the bodies when nobody has reported them missing?
The pressure mounts when the death of a teenager from an overdose of Mephedrone plunges Dan into the murky world of the Garrett family. Could the peaceful, family-run Animal Rescue Centre really be a cover for murder and drug-dealing?
Just how far will people go to get what they want?
And what links death to the good son?
This investigation will challenge Dan’s decisions and beliefs as he races to catch a criminal before another child dies.
Crouched behind a hawthorn hedge in full bloom, in the early June
moonlight, all Detective Inspector Dan Hellier could hear was the rapid
breathing and fidgeting of trainee Detective Constable Adam Foster. Dan
held his hand in front of Foster’s face. ‘Wait. Be still.’ He glanced at DC
Sam Knowles, calm and unruffled, and wished Foster was somewhere else.
In his ear, Detective Sergeant Duncan Lake gave instructions to his armed
response unit. They had the battering ram and the bolt cutters ready to go.
Out on the River Exe, DS Sally Ellis and DC Lizzie Singh waited with the
coastguard inshore lifeboat, in case the gang had a boat stashed away.
Dan scanned the lane leading down to the abandoned waterside warehouse. All
was quiet. Three vans were parked outside tall doors, which were locked,
chained and bolted. Shafts of yellow light escaped through cracks and
fissures in the old wood, and the unmistakeable smell of thousands of
marijuana plants made the air heavy. He blinked and shook his head. The
combination of grass and hawthorn flower was sending him to sleep.
Using heat-sensitive cameras, the force helicopter had made several passes
earlier in the day. The crop had glowed orange under huge heat lamps. Four
life-signs had been busy in different parts of the building, no obvious
booby-traps had been spotted. Above Dan’s head, a makeshift set of wires
stole electricity from the grid. This was his second drugs raid in as many
nights. The chief constable was on a mission.
DS Lake gave the ‘go’ signal. Six officers moved silently to the doors.
Bolt cutters made swift work of the chains. The first crash from the
battering ram echoed around the river basin, disturbing a flock of
seabirds. The second crash started the men inside running. Lake shouted
from the doorway, ‘Armed police! Stand still. Do not move.’ He nodded at
his team and they entered the warehouse at a run.
Outside, in the still air, Dan could hear his heart beating an irregular
rhythm as he waited for the all clear. As the thought formed, he heard the
rattle of gunfire from an automatic weapon inside the warehouse. Beside
him, Foster drew in a sharp breath. Intel had warned them to be armed; the
gang was down from London and the news from the Met had all been bad. Lake
sent the ‘man down’ message. Dan winced. Bad news.
A return pair of shots echoed round the river basin. A lone scream and then
only the peculiar silence that follows a shooting. Suspect dead, then.
Idiot. Dan made himself breathe again and rolled his shoulders. The wait
for Lake to tell him about the downed officer was hard. He wondered who it
was, whether he was dead, and thought of the paperwork, and the
investigation that would land on Lake’s desk.
A telltale squeal of un-oiled hinges announced the departure of some of the
gang from the warehouse heading towards the water. There should have been a
man on that door. Dan watched two men running low and fast towards the
water. The need to be up and doing something was making him jittery. He
shuffled and flexed his knees, bringing back the pain in his healing left
foot. ‘Two suspects making off towards the river,’ he said into his radio,
and trusted Sally was ready with her coastguards. Three down…
A side door flew open and a fourth man ran straight towards the trees where
Dan and his team waited. Where was the man on that door? He spotted an
armed officer from Lake’s team in fast pursuit, blood dripping from a hand
injury. The gang member carried a long sword, of all things.
Dan had to make a fast decision. There was no point hiding now. Any second
the dealer would stumble into them and he could do serious damage with that
sword. Dan leapt up, waving his arms and yelled, ‘Stop! Put down your
weapon and stand still.’ He directed his flashlight straight into the man’s
face, blinding him for a second.
The armed officer ran up behind and slapped both hands around the man’s
head, hard against his ears. In shock he dropped the sword and screamed.
The officer took him to the floor and cuffed him, nodding his thanks to Dan.
Lake radioed to his team, and gave the all clear a few minutes later. Dan,
heart still pumping, led his team out to the front of the building.
Effective technique, bursting someone’s eardrums. He must remember that.
They couldn’t go much further than the front door until forensics had
cleared it, so he set his team to guarding the extremities. The dead dealer
lay in the middle of a corridor of cannabis plants that must have been two
meters high. There were at least another dozen rows of plants in there. The
heat, intensified by silver foil reflecting it back from the walls, made it
unbearable. Dan moved back to a safer distance. They’d have to wait until
the coroner and crime scene lab had finished before they could catalogue
the contents of the warehouse. He sighed. Another long night. The phone
call took seconds, but how long they would have to wait for someone to come
out was anyone’s guess.
Even from the door, the smell threatened to overwhelm him. He could feel
his reactions slowing. He hated cannabis, hated it. Had done ever since his
eighteenth birthday when some kind person had spiked his birthday cake with
skunk. The hallucinations and paranoia that followed made it a very long,
unpleasant night, and he could no longer even smell the drug without
feeling sick. Aversion therapy had worked on him.
Sally Ellis radioed in a few minutes later; ‘Got them, boss,’ she said, ‘not
much fight in ’em.’
Duncan Lake strode out of the warehouse and stood next to Dan, thumbs in
his belt. ‘Look at the size of this operation.’ He held his arms wide and
took in a deep breath.
Dan worried for a moment that he was going to launch into a song. Or an
‘I reckon this lot would be worth millions on the street.’ He grinned.
‘That’ll look good on your nick’s statistics, Dan.’
Dan grinned back. ‘Too right. A good night apart from the casualties.’
‘Our man will be fine; his vest took the brunt of the shots, and I’m not
going to lose any sleep over one dead drug dealer.’ He gave a high whistle,
which brought his team running to stand next to him. ‘Right, building is
secure. Over to you. At least we don’t have to clear this lot out.’
‘Yeah, yeah, back to saving the world for you; clearing up other people’s
crap for us.’
‘At least you haven’t got Police Complaints to worry about. More paperwork
for a low-life drug dealer.’ He turned on his heel and departed.
‘Thanks, Duncan,’ Dan called after Lake’s retreating team. A long night
indeed, but a bloody good one. He rang the specialist removal team, on
standby at Exeter Road station, and told them to have another coffee.
Left alone he wandered out into the clear night and took several deep
breaths. The operation had gone well, but he was tired. Two night shifts in
one week wasn’t nice. He smiled. Listen to yourself, Hellier. Not that long
ago, night shift was what you did, over and over, week in, week out.
He listened to Foster’s voice coming loud from the river, commenting on the
heat, and the smell roiling out of the warehouse. Foster was a bit too
impulsive for a DC: it was like holding back a spaniel on the scent of a
cat. He had to be aware of Foster all the time. Pain in the arse. Maybe a
couple of weeks at another station would sort him out and calm him down.
He’d get Sally onto it tomorrow.
Dan called in the result to HQ as the ambulance and crime scene van
arrived. There was little need to rush. It was close to midnight and they
had a crime scene to investigate, and a warehouse full of marijuana to
dispose of before they could go to bed.
Death And The Good Son: an edge of your seat detective thriller is published on December 9th by Bloodhound Books