This Little Piggy: A gripping, page-turning crime thriller
164 pages
English

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164 pages
English

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Description

'Addictive reading... Bea has a rare ability to create the true atmosphere of a place and time, and to take the reader there.' --Rachel Abbott

'This Little Piggy is a gripping, devastating and utterly absorbing read. I found myself thinking of the characters long after the book had ended.' --Emma Kavanagh

'Deeply compelling, quietly threatening.' --Caro Ramsay

It's the summer of 1984 and there is a sense of unease on the troubled Sweetmeadows estate. The residents are in shock after the suspicious death of a baby and tension is growing due to the ongoing miners' strike.

Journalist Clare Jackson follows the story as police bungle the inquiry and struggle to contain the escalating violence. Haunted by a personal trauma she can't face up to, Clare is shadowed by nine-year-old Amy, a bright but neglected little girl who seems to know more about the incident than she's letting on.

As the days go on and the killer is not found, Clare ignores warnings not to get too close to her stories and, in doing so, puts her own life in jeopardy.

A gripping thriller perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Mark Edwards and B A Paris


Sujets

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 01 octobre 2014
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781909878624
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

Legend Press Ltd, The Old Fire Station, 140 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4SD info@legend-paperbooks.co.uk | www.legendtimesgroup.com
Contents Bea Davenport 2014 The right of the above author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available.
Print ISBN 978-1-9098786-1-7 Ebook ISBN 978-1-9098786-2-4 Set in Times. Printed in the United Kingdom by Clays Ltd. Cover design by Simon Levy www.simonlevyassociates.co.uk
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, and place names, other than those well-established such as towns and cities, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
Bea Davenport is the writing name of former BBC and newspaper journalist Barbara Henderson. She drew on her experiences as a journalist for This Little Piggy and also for her debut novel, In Too Deep , which was shortlisted for the 2009 Luke Bitmead Bursary and published by Legend Press in 2013.
Bea has a PhD in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. The children s novel written as part of the PhD, The Serpent House , was shortlisted for the 2010 Times/Chicken House Award and published by Curious Fox in June 2014. She lives in the Northumberland border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed with her partner and children.
Visit Bea at beadavenport.com Follow her @BeaDavenport1
one
Come on, baby, little baby, wake up. Just wake up. Give us a smile. It s only me. Wake up and we ll do a game, like we always do. Peep-oh. Who s there?
12th July, 1984 Screams were not uncommon on the Sweetmeadows estate. But the sound that tore through the stifled silence on that hot July afternoon was something more than that. It was a visceral howl, a primal, animalistic wail. It was the sound of a mother whose baby was gone.
The women on the estate ran out first, barefoot, hopping on the sticky tarmac, blinking in the grey-white glare of the sun bouncing off the concrete buildings. One or two men followed, half-dressed and slow, all dazed by the stagnant heat. On the third-floor balcony of the flats, a young mother leaned over, clutching at her hair, howling, her words too incoherent to make out. But the women knew, as they ran towards her, joining in with the cries. The bairn. It must be the bairn.
*
Clare Jackson pulled out her dog-eared list of phone numbers. One last round of calls for the day: police, fire, ambulance, coastguard. Then off for an early evening pub crawl along all the seafront bars. She d kept the thought at the back of her mind all through the deadly-dull Thursday: get to the end and there would be a bucket-sized glass of white wine, so cold the condensation dribbles down the sides, a bowl of olives and all the gossip from head office. All the stuff she d been missing, stuck out in the newspaper s cell-like district office, where nothing ever happened. The journalist s equivalent of house arrest. Still, anything was better than heading home.
As usual, the calls brought nothing from the cops. It was as if they d taken a vow of silence when it came to the press. And as for the others: waste of a phone call. Must be the easiest job in the world, being part of any emergency services out here, Clare thought. Nothing ever happens, or that s what they always say when the Post calls. They must spend all their time with their feet up. In her head, Clare rehearsed this into a gag for later on in the pub.
She was hoisting her bag over her shoulder and jangling the bunch of office keys, ready to leave and lock up, when the phone rang again. It was Joe Ainsley, from their sister paper. Clare, am I glad I caught you. Thought you might ve buggered off for the day. Heard about the murder?
Yeah, yeah. Very funny. Are you going for a drink?
I m not kidding. Clare, there s been a murder. It s a baby.
Clare sat back down on the desk and dropped the keys with a crunch like a broken bell. You re taking the piss, right?
Wish I was. I was halfway into town. There was a pint with my name on it waiting at the bar. But we can both forget it for now, kiddo.
Clare closed her eyes for a second and rubbed her temples. Where are you?
Heading to the police station now. Come with me and we ll see if we can squeeze anything out of them.
Four minutes later, outside, Joe s car horn hooted.
Clare grabbed her bag and clattered down the office stairs. She jumped into Joe s passenger seat and yelped. For Christ s sake, Joe. It s like an oven. These plastic seats are taking a layer of my skin away.
Tell me about it. I swear these company cars breach some kind of health and safety laws. I ve been driving round in a mobile furnace all day.
On the way, Joe filled Clare in on everything he knew - not much, but bad enough. A baby s body had been found on the Sweetmeadows estate. Word was the kid had actually been thrown over a balcony. From about the third floor up.
Seriously? Clare leaned her head out of the car window, trying to catch some cool air, wiping her hair out of her eyes. That s a new low even for Sweetmeadows.
It s what I was told. I only heard because I stopped in the corner shop for a cold drink. Everyone s talking about it. Rumour is it was the mother.
Not a bloody word from the police, Clare grumbled. I was halfway to the pub when you called. If I d left thirty seconds earlier, I d have been safely at the bar.
Don t mention it. Joe steered into the police station car park and pulled on his handbrake with a crunch that made Clare wince.
They made their way to the front desk and asked for Chief Inspector Bob Seaton. After a few moments they were shown through the maze of airless, narrow corridors to his office.
Not much to tell, at this stage, said Seaton, leaning back in his office chair. He gave Clare a wink and clicked his tongue in the side of his ruddy-toned cheek. Clare gave a quick smile and held her pen, ready to write.
Whatever you ve got, mate, said Joe. Anything you can tell us. Baby s name?
Jamie Donnelly. Aged nine months. Seaton read from the papers on his desk. Mother called the police to her home at Jasmine Walk, Sweetmeadows, in a distressed state, reporting that the baby was missing from his pram. A short search by the neighbours in the meantime found the body of a child in the rubbish bin area of the flats. It would appear he somehow fell from the balcony and died from his injuries. That s about as much as we ve got for you right now.
And you ve charged the mother?
Not charged. Not yet. We re talking to the mother. She says she left the pram out on the balcony because it was a warm afternoon. Came back outside to find the baby gone. Seaton paused. She says.
Clare chewed her pen. Those balconies at the Sweetmeadows flats. Anyone can walk around them, right?
That s right, said Seaton. But I wouldn t run with any rubbish about a killer on the loose. I think we ll charge the mother before the evening s out.
Clare glanced at Joe and gave a slight curl of her lip. If they charged the mother, the paper could only print the barest details. If no one was charged, they could speculate as much as they liked. You couldn t wait until this time tomorrow before you officially charge anyone?
Seaton gave a short laugh and shook his head. Not even for you, bonny lass.
Is the dad around? Joe asked.
Yes. One of Sweetmeadows rare two-parent families, the Donnellys. He was picking the other kids up from their grandma s house when it happened. Lots of people saw them. Looks like Dad s in the clear.
Clare and Joe scribbled down the names of the rest of the family. Mum, Deborah, 26. Dad, Robert, also 26, worked at the Sweetmeadows Colliery, which gave the estate its name. Two other kids: Becca, five, and Bobbie, three. Joe tried to draw the conversation out, but Seaton wasn t giving anything else away.
They got up to go. Just a question, Clare said. Probably a stupid thing to ask. But is their flat just above the bins?
Seaton smiled at her as if she was his prize pupil. I haven t been out there myself. Why would you ask that?
It s just... it seems like a funny place for the kid to land. That s all.
Seaton s smile widened. Well spotted. You re quite right. The baby couldn t have fallen from the walkway directly on to the spot where his body was found. Someone moved the little lad after he d fallen and dumped him there among the bins.
Clare raised her eyebrows. Seaton held up his hand. Forget it, Miss Jackson. There s no psycho out there. It looks like a very poor attempt at hiding the body. Probably made by someone in a disturbed state of mind. Such as an overstressed mother who d lost all idea of what she was doing.
Probably, said Clare, putting her notebook in her pocket.
I mean it, said Seaton. We ll be charging. Imminently. That means reporting restrictions are about to kick in. Don t you two go out to Sweetmeadows whipping up panic, you hear?
As if we would, said Joe, as they closed the office door behind them.
Outside, they opened the car doors and stood for a few moments, trying and failing to waft in some air.
He doesn t half fancy you, that Seaton, Joe said.
Clare shook her head. He s a middle-aged bloke. It s his default response to any female in the room, what

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