For my final post for today, I’m thrilled to be welcoming the blog tour for Holly Watt’s third Casey Benedict thriller The Hunt And The Kill. I’ve got an extract that I hope will pique your interest!
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on the blog tour and for the extract.
When acclaimed undercover journalist Casey Benedict is asked to interview a young woman with a life-limiting genetic condition, the patient’s doctor alerts her to an alarming rise in antibiotic-resistant infections, tipping her off about a potential new wonder drug.
If the rumours are true, this new antibiotic could save millions of lives, but no one seems to know if the drug even exists.
Then tragedy unexpectedly strikes and Casey begins to suspect a cover-up. But she is not prepared to let the story drop, no matter how much danger she – or those she loves most of all – are put in.
A searing, page-turning, pulse-racing thriller that sees Casey on a hunt around the globe as she pursues a major exposé into pioneering medical research and drugs that could change the world.
The Hunt and the Kill is the third book from Holly Watt featuring Casey Benedict
‘You have,’ Miranda said patiently, ‘to stop hacking my emails.’
‘I’m just keeping my hand in.’ Casey leaned back in her chair. ‘You wouldn’t want me getting rusty.’
Miranda was standing beside Casey’s desk as the Post’s newsroom rumbled around them. To Casey’s left, the home affairs editor was picking a fight with the Met Police. On her right, a junior reporter was going through a particularly turgid report about housing, muttering random lines aloud.
‘I might,’ Miranda sighed.
‘Besides,’ Casey went on, ‘if you make your password a combination of your ex-husband’s name and a particularly rude word, you’re asking for it.’
‘Can’t you concentrate, just for a minute, on,’ Miranda read over Casey’s shoulder, ‘heart transplants?’
‘Heart transplants haven’t been interesting since 1967,’ Casey said moodily.
They fell silent as Sophie, one of the opinion writers, walked past Casey’s desk, heading for the coffee machine. The junior reporter, Eric, made a muffled excuse and bolted after her.
‘How’s that sweepstake going?’ asked Miranda.
‘I’ve got next Tuesday,’ Casey flexed her fingers. ‘And I am quietly confident.’
‘I had last Friday,’ the home affairs editor said crossly, as he slammed the phone down on the Met. ‘And it was an absolutely sure thing, but Aaron who has a week on Monday, by the sodding way – packed Eric off to Great Yarmouth, of all places. Cheating git.’
Aaron, the current night editor, was in charge of dispatching journalists in the direction of breaking stories.
‘What was happening in Great Yarmouth?’ asked Miranda.
‘Nothing ever happens in Great Yarmouth,’ spat the home affairs editor. ‘It was blatant fraud.’
‘Shameless,’ nodded a passing sub.
‘We were all down the Plumbers,’ moaned the home affairs editor. ‘There was magic in the air, I tell you. And I’d bought loads of sodding rounds.’
‘In itself, a miracle,’ the sub grinned. ‘Although I bet you’ll expense them anyway.’
‘And the next sodding thing, Eric’s halfway to Liverpool Street.’
‘How do you know,’ Miranda asked, ‘that Eric and Sophie haven’t hooked up already, when no one else was around?’
‘The newsroom’s divided into shifts.’ The home affairs editor pursed his lips. ‘Twenty-four-hour cover. We reckon we’ve got all the bases covered, although Carlos lost them on the Tube last week. Useless prat. Comes of letting the property section do anything important. Amateurs.’
He stamped off towards the newsdesk.
‘So what’s happening next Tuesday?’ Miranda dropped her voice.
Casey smiled. ‘Eric and Sophie are going on a romantic date,’ she murmured.
‘How?’ asked Miranda.
Casey’s smile became beatific. ‘There will be an exchange of emails. I’ll just have to make sure I bump into them in the same bar, so they can’t cross-ref too early on.’
‘How …’ began Miranda, then stopped as Casey’s eyes flicked towards her computer screen. ‘Casey.’
‘Casey!’ Ross, the news editor, bawled across the room. ‘If I don’t get that heart transplant copy soon, you’ll be a buggering donor yourself.’
Casey cast Miranda a despairing look.
‘It’s not my fault,’ Casey grumbled. ‘I’m so bloody bored.’
It had all started when the health editor went on maternity leave.
‘I need you to cover Heather,’ Dash, the Post’s head of news, informed Casey. ‘Just for a few months.’
‘Health?’ Casey had rolled her eyes. ‘You’re joking. I don’t know anything about health.’
But Dash was firm. ‘You need time off from investigations,’ he said. ‘It’s an order, I’m afraid.’
‘Miranda?’ Casey had appealed, in outrage.
But Miranda had shrugged. ‘Dash is in charge, Casey. Nothing I can do.’
They had been a team ever since Miranda had joined the Post. Casey, a junior reporter back then, quivering with nerves and determination. Miranda, blonde and confident, with a smile like a bow on a present.
Miranda hadn’t been sure about Casey when she first arrived as investigations editor. Miranda had been poached from the Argus, the Post’s great rival, arriving with fanfare and gloating and Buck’s Fizz with the editor. ‘You can choose your own team,’ Dash had promised. ‘Is there anyone else at the Argus we should nick, by the way?’
Casey had pleaded and schemed, and Miranda had given her a chance. We’ll see how you go, all right?
‘Go doorstep the Wynford CEO,’ Miranda told Casey, one Friday evening. Doorstep: a verb in journalism. ‘He lives in Holland Park, I’ll message you the address. Ask him about that Coventry deal. Go in hard.’
It was their second day of working together. Casey had disappeared out of the office, a whirl of dark hair.
On Monday morning, Casey had been late. By 11 a.m., Miranda was impatient.
‘Where the hell are you?’ she’d snapped down the phone. ‘I’ve been here since seven.’
‘Outside the Wynford CEO’s house.’ Casey sounded apologetic. ‘He’s not been home yet.’
Miranda had looked out the window at January. She briefly remembered an old friend at the Argus, whose father farmed a hundred scrappy acres in the Lakes. Up the mountain in a blizzard, the father told the dog to stay by the sheep while he checked a gate. Three hours later, the father had wondered – idly – where the dog was. Thought back. Sprinted up the hill in heavy work boots to find the dog lying stock-still. Covered in a thick layer of snow, eyes gleaming hopefully, can I come home yet? Stay.
‘I didn’t mean “spend the whole weekend outside his house”,’ Miranda protested.
‘It was no problem.’ Casey was breezy. ‘A friend’s gym is just around the corner, so I’ve been able to … Anyway, I can be back in the office in twenty minutes if you need me.’
‘See you in a bit then,’ said Miranda, and thought: remember this.
Since then, they’d raced around the world together. Triads in Macau, mafia in Moscow. Drug traffickers in Kosovo, people traffickers in Turkey. Once, sitting in a small van in Poland – chasing a money launderer turned out to involve endless waiting about – Miranda had passed Casey a cupcake, with a tiny candle on top. Happy birthday. They’d smiled at each other, for a second. Then the money launderer came out of his house, and without another word they’d followed him. Poznań to Katowice, hundreds of tedious grey miles.
Bolivia, Tanzania, Japan, Romania.
Waking up in hotel rooms, sleek and silver.
Where am I? Oh, yes. Who am I? Better check.
And undercover of course. A different costume, another life.
Tiny cameras, smaller microphones.
Oman, Switzerland, Mexico, Sierra Leone.
Kenya, Australia, Libya, Bangladesh.
‘But I can’t do health,’ Casey cried. ‘I just can’t.’
‘Just for a while,’ said Dash. ‘A few months. After last time.’
Who Is Holly Watt?
An award-winning investigative journalist, Holly Watt was part of the team who broke the MPs expenses scandal and has also worked on the Panama Papers. She has written for the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. Her debut novel To The Lions, the first in the Casey Benedict series, won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize and the Capital Crime Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards and was a 2019 Thriller of the Year in the Sunday Times, Times and Guardian.