On this Sunday morning, I’ve got a little (ok not-so-little) treat for you. I’ve got an extract from Liz Mistry’s brand sparkly new DI Gus McGuire novel Uncommon Cruelty.
Many thanks to the awesome Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for inviting me to join the #blogblitz
DI Gus McGuire and his team are called in to investigate the disappearance of a teenage boy after his parents return from a weekend away, to find their home trashed and their son missing.
But that is just the beginning.
As the investigation unfolds, Gus must discover what links a violent bikers’ gang, a Muslim youth group and a fundamentalist American based Christian church.
Alongside this, two cases from the past come back to haunt DI Gus McGuire and his DS, Alice Cooper.
Gus has a lot to juggle, but will he cope?
Uncommon Cruelty is the fourth in the DI Gus McGuire series set in Bradford West Yorkshire and is a gritty, Northern Noir read.
Jane Proctor didn’t know what had possessed them. Pulling into the woods had been a complete act of madness. In some ways, the perfect end to their long weekend break. It was even less typical of James than it was of her. He’d always been the more prudish, so when he’d driven off the road and cut the lights, tingling anticipation made her pelvis contract.
Like teenagers, they’d dragged off garments, manoeuvred limbs and giggled over the obtrusive gear stick. Last time they’d done this, it was in her Fiesta nearly twenty years ago. Today, even though the car was bigger, there seemed to be less room and their shagging was a peremptory tribute to their old life… the one before Simon… before they got all boring and predictable. Ah well, at their age she was surprised they’d managed to manoeuvre, never mind complete the act. It had been fun, though short-lived. Who’d have thought James still had it in him?
Leaning back, knickers discarded in the depths of the foot well, Jane laughed. ‘We should really share a joint now… just for old times’ sake.’
James, still red in the face from his exertions, grinned. ‘The most I’d manage these days would be a vape.’
Squeezing his arm, she grinned. ‘We’ve still got it, haven’t we?’
Eyes crinkling in that way she loved, James beamed, knocking ten years off his age as he shuffled back into his trousers. ‘With bloody bells on!’ He started the engine and reversed out of the snicket, still grinning.
Minutes later, driving into their quiet street, Jane leaned forward in her seat laughing. Their house stood like a beacon at the bottom of the cul-de-sac with every light on. ‘Simon has either forgotten to turn every electrical item off at night or he’s decided to illuminate the entire neighbourhood, so we don’t get lost.’
James pulled into their drive, yanked the handbrake on and grimaced. ‘Bloody boy! Bet the only thing he managed to switch off over the entire weekend was the fridge freezer. I warned you that this long weekend away wasn’t a good idea. He may be sixteen, however, he’s got all the maturity of a coked-up chicken.’
Jane punched him on the arm. ‘What do you know about the maturity of chickens, coked-up or not? We’ve had a glorious weekend.’
He leaned over to kiss her. ‘Yeah, we had a wonderful time and an extra few quid on the old electricity bill is a small price to pay for your undivided attention for four days.’
Grinning, Jane straightened her skirt. Her time away with James had been fantastic. Just enough to re-charge their batteries before autumn set in. They’d been so busy over the past few months and this time away had allowed them to reconnect as a couple rather than as business partners or parents. Thoughts of long walks along cold beaches faded as she opened the car door and she hoped her tone didn’t betray her reluctance to get back to reality. ‘Come on then, grab a bag and let’s survey the damage.’
Overnight bag in hand, she paused to savour the view of Heaton Woods lit by the rest of the city. Lister Mills towered behind; a tall tribute to Bradford’s textile history. Straight ahead was Saltaire village, rows of sandstone terraced houses, each one cleaned to within an inch of its life, were testament to Sir Titus Salt’s benevolence in the area. To the left was Cottingley, with Bingley further afield. It was this panoramic view that had compelled them to buy this house when Simon arrived. A home on a hill for their new family in a quiet cul-de-sac. James came over to her and swung his arm round her shoulder. They stood together: two tall silhouettes against Bradford’s backdrop.
She shivered and James pulled her tightly to him whispering, ‘That’s what comes of leaving your knickers off.’
She punched him on the arm, ‘Couldn’t find them, could I? God knows where you threw them.’ Linking arms, they walked towards the front door.
James blew out a puff of air that steamed in front of his face, ‘Look at that, it’s going to be a frosty night. Hope he’s had the heating on.’
Jane tried to turn her key in the lock. ‘Silly bugger hasn’t even locked the door. Hmph, you can’t trust him with–’
As she spoke, James pushed the door open. Her final words drifted away and her heart thudded in her chest. She struggled to make sense of the scene before her.
James brushed past, his breath a series of grating gasps. ‘What the bloody hell has gone on here?’
Eyes wide and uncomprehending, Jane shook her head, speechless for a second, then, ‘I’ll bloody kill him!’ Chest tight, she stepped into the hallway and yelled, ‘Simon, get down here right now!’ When there was no reply, she turned in a circle surveying the damage.
The small table at the bottom of the stairs where they all had, at one time or another, sat for lengthy phone conversations, lay smashed to bits, the phone lying broken amidst its ruins. The wall paper was spattered with a brown sticky substance. Flung carelessly on the floor was the framed photo of the three of them at Harry Potter World. She lifted it up and turned it over only to find the glass was broken and the photo inside damaged. Stifling a sob, her eyes moved along the hallway. The kitchen door hung off its hinge and the glass panes were smashed. Beyond the door, broken crockery and furniture were scattered. God only knew the state her living room was in. She gagged as the acrid stench of vomit assaulted her nostrils. Vomit, stale booze and sweat. She retched again and a rush of foul liquid sprung into her mouth. She was going to be sick. Closing her eyes, she swallowed it down and breathed in through her mouth.
Her lips tightened and a tingle spread from the top of her nose back to her eyes. Blinking away the tears, she turned to James and as their eyes met the tension she’d left behind on holiday surged into her shoulders. James moved to her side and took her hand, his grip strong and reassuring. Simon had promised no parties and, like fools, they’d believed him. He’d been so damn convincing. He hadn’t even had the courtesy to clean up after himself. That’s what really pissed her off. This was his mess and like the irresponsible teenager he was, he was either hiding at Matty or Jake’s, hoping it would all blow over, or he was upstairs, sleeping it off. Oh, she could murder him!
‘Simon!’ Her voice reverberated round the hallway. there was only silence.
Jane took a step forward and gripped the bannister. ‘Bet he’s up there drunk as a skunk.’
Placing a hand on her shoulder, James halted her. ‘Maybe I should go, love. I think it’d be better for me to deal with this.’
Exhaling a long breath, she gave a curt nod. James was right. She’d lose it big-time and that would just set Simon off on one of his moods. It was so frustrating. They’d been through so much and things were looking rosy for them … now this. James was the calm one. The pragmatist. It was best if he made first contact with their son. ‘Okay, you go. Just don’t be soft on him. He’ll be cleaning this mess up and paying for the damage.’
‘Hell, yeah. This is his mess. He’ll damn well fix it … when he’s sober, okay?’ James’ smile was cheerless, ‘Remember that party you had at your folks’ house when you were seventeen? The whole neighbourhood could hear it and yet your parents never said a word.’
Her shoulders relaxed and her lips tugged up in a reluctant grin. James always knew exactly how to make her put things into perspective, ‘Okay, okay, I get what you’re saying. There wasn’t this mess at my party, was there? Bloody teenagers, huh?’
‘Wait here, I’ll check upstairs.’
Swallowing hard, she agreed with him. One last tight hand squeeze and he was off up the stairs yelling, ‘Simon’, in the voice he reserved for mega misdemeanours.
Regardless of the sticky surface, Jane, legs like jelly, lowered herself onto the stairs. James banged through the upstairs rooms, yelling for Simon as he went. Spent, she rested her head in her hands and sobbed. By the sounds of it Simon wasn’t upstairs which meant he was cowering away at his mates’ houses. Not a smart move. He’d be better to ‘‘fess up’’ and deal with the backlash now than allow her temper to fester.
Hearing James behind her on the stairs, she looked up. The brief moment of hope that flared in her eyes disappeared when she saw his face. His skin looked grey and in the last few minutes he had aged. She jumped to her feet, arms outstretched, ‘What is it? What’s wrong? Is Simon hurt?’
Shaking his head, he barged past her, hand over his mouth. He pushed open the front door, jumped the steps and fell to his knees on the crazy paving. Before she could reach him, he’d leaned over and puked into the flower beds.
‘Christ, James! You’re scaring me! What’s wrong?’
He pulled out a Kleenex from his pocket, and wiped his mouth, pulled out his phone and dialled.
‘Who are you calling? Are you phoning Simon?’ Jane grabbed his arm and shook it hard.
James sighed. ‘No, not Simon … the police.’
Before Jane could ask more, James turned and, his voice hoarse, spoke into his phone, ‘I need to report a murder’.
Well I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely whet my appetite to find out what’s happened!! If you fancy getting yourself a copy, you can click on the links below.
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BQVLGNQ/
Amazon S https://www.amazon.com/Uncommon-Cruelty-McGuire-case-Book-
And before you get stuck in to the investigation, why don’t you check out the other posts in the #blogblitz.
Who Is Liz Mistry?
Liz writes crime fiction books set in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The DI Gus McGuire series is gritty Northern noir with a bit of Scottish thrown in. She is currently researching for a Ph. D in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University. As part of her Ph.D she is researching how the teen killer’s voice is portrayed in the adult crime fiction novel with specific reference to the influence of teen social media usage, with a view to writing a crime fiction novel around these issues.
Liz also teaches creative writing, specialising in crime fiction and is a regular panellist at literary festivals throughout the UK. She enjoys reading her work at Open Mic and Noir at the Bar events. She was chosen to be one of the spotlighted authors at the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival in 2016. She is the lead blogger for the well renowned crime fiction blog The Crime Warp which reviews contemporary, mainly UK based, crime fiction, comments on current issues around the genre and creative writing in general and interviews authors on a regular basis.
She is available to comment on current issues around creative writing in general and crime fiction in particular and to speak at local and national festivals and conferences
Liz is contactable on: