Happy Friday!! I’m delighted to be taking part in the inaugural blog tour from Viper Books and what a book to kick off with! The Famished Heart sounds right up my street and I can’t wait to read it! I’ve got an enticing extract for you so I’m hoping you’ll be wanting to read it too!
Massive thanks to Rachel Nobilo of Viper Books for inviting me on the blog tour!
THEY DID IT TO THEMSELVES
BUT SOMEONE WAS WATCHING
The Macnamara sisters hadn’t been seen for months before anyone noticed. It was Father Timoney who finally broke down the door, who saw what had become of them. Berenice was sitting in her armchair, surrounded by religious tracts. Rosaleen had crawled under her own bed, her face frozen in terror. Both had starved themselves to death.
Francesca Macnamara returns to Dublin after decades in the US, to find her family in ruins. Meanwhile, Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are convinced that there is more to the deaths than suicide. Because what little evidence there is,
Swan led the way across the threshold, noticing the splintered frame where a small guard chain had been forced. A holy-water font hung beside the door, pearlised pink plastic bearing an oval picture of the dove of the Holy Ghost. The little square of sponge lying inside the bowl was shrunken and convex, dry as bone. Straight ahead, through the kitchen, he could see the open back door, but the house still breathed a foul warmth. Letters and leaflets were scattered down the hall, a few stamped over with grey footprints. Swan hopped over them neatly, then watched that Clancy and Considine did the same.
He nodded them towards the kitchen. ‘See if you can get it back to how everything was, without leaving prints.’ Considine glanced into the living room as she passed and he saw her falter, then keep going. Swan stood in the living-room doorway and made himself look methodically from left to right, to take it all in, ignoring what screamed for his attention in the armchair.
The room was low and long, running from the front of the house to the back, where sliding patio doors framed a view of a modest garden. The room was untidy, yet staid, the furniture of an older style than the house. There were two green damask armchairs and a few dark mahogany pieces; nesting tables, a big standard lamp with a fringed shade, a Victorian sideboard that was much too large for the room. In contrast, the fireplace surround was modern, made of a kind of pale marble, and the flame-effect fire had been pulled out so that it was tilted to face the armchair with the body in it. The carpet was scattered with serious looking magazines and books with plain black or dark-red covers. A grey plastic bucket sat in one corner.
Finally he turned his focus to the figure in the chair, hunched and ancient-looking, an Incan mummy dressed in grandmother’s clothes. The wrists sticking out from thick jumper sleeves were thin as broomsticks, the hands skeletal, skin the colour of leather. Her upper body was wrapped around with a knitted shawl or blanket. She wore a tweed skirt, and the legs visible below the skirt were as emaciated as her arms, shinbones sharp inside wrinkled nylons. Knobbed ankles disappeared into fluffy pink slippers, incongruously bright.
They had described her as an old woman, but the hair on her head, though lank and matted, was brown, with only a few strands of grey twisting through it. It hung forward so that it hid most of her face. Perhaps she wasn’t so very old; it was the clothes and thinness that had made them think so. His own mother was far greyer than this woman at – what? – sixty-five or -six, she must be now. The thought of his mother tugged momentarily at his attention, a guilty, sinking feeling wrapped up in it.
He stepped over a pile of books and balanced a hand very lightly on the chair arm, squatted down to get a better look at the woman’s face. It was still a face, just. Skin stretched over a skull. The lips shrank back from the long teeth, the eye hollows retreated deep into shadow. Her skin looked terribly dry, the surface minutely wrinkled, like gauze. Desiccated. That was the word. He looked down at the pamphlets and papers spread around the woman’s feet. A stapled journal called The Bugle of the Revenant, with a hovering angel on the cover, caught his eye.
Who Is Nicola White?
Nicola White won the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award in 2008 and in 2012 was Leverhulme Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University. The Rosary Garden won the Dundee International Book Prize, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, and selected as one of the four best debuts by Val McDermid at Harrogate. She grew up in Dublin and New York, and now lives in the Scottish Highlands.