All Fall Down by M. J. Arlidge
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.9 MB
M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last 15 years, specialising in high end drama production. Arlidge has produced a number of prime-time crime serials for ITV In the last five years, and is currently working on a major adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans for the BBC.
“You have one hour to live.” Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour. But why? The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is one case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims. With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…
‘This is a dead weight. I’m going to have to ask you to move it.’
Charlie Brooks collapsed onto a packing case, breathing out heavily. She’d hoped to be of some assistance to Steve in their dusty loft, but her attempt to lift the pieces of Jessica’s old cot had ended in abject failure. It weighed a ton and in her current condition, eight months pregnant with a gigantic bump, there was no way she was going to risk it.
‘No worries,’ Steve chuckled. ‘I know I’m the beast of burden here.’
He began gathering the pieces together, as Charlie ran an eye over the cornucopia of baby products that flanked the wooden cot.
‘I’d no idea we had so much stuff up here.’
They were surrounded by sterilizers, baby bouncers, a rocker, their old Moses basket and endless bags of baby clothes. When Jessica had become a toddler, then eventually a pupil, they’d packed all this stuff away, out of sight, out of mind. But when Charlie had surprisingly, pleasingly, fallen pregnant again, they’d been forced to venture back into this neglected space. Taking in a slice of their past, which would become their present again, Charlie felt a shiver of anxiety. Would she remember what to do when the baby came? Could they cope with the lack of sleep? And how would Jessica react to the arrival of a sibling? So far, she had said little about it, despite the studied promptings of her parents and the obvious change in her mother’s shape.
‘If I head back down, do you want to pass things to me?’
Charlie suddenly wanted to be out of this claustrophobic space. There were too many props up here, too many symbols of her past. Her school books, her Interrailing rucksack, her first police uniform, a bridesmaid’s dress, all of which combined to make her feel old, unattractive and bone-tired.
‘OK, but be careful.’
Charlie didn’t need Steve’s warning, taking each step of the loft ladder carefully, ensuring her foot was firmly planted before descending. Her pregnancy had gone well, despite hideous morning sickness, and she was determined not to jeopardize herself or her baby through her own stupidity.
Descending, she headed into the nursery. This had been Jessica’s at first and later, when she moved into a bigger bedroom, it had become the spare bedroom. Or, in other words, the dumping ground. People seldom came to stay, meaning the small box room was a repository for stuff they’d been too lazy to throw away. The imminent arrival of their second child had spurred them into action, however, every spare minute spent sifting and discarding. As a result, the room was now clear of detritus, though whether it was fit to be a nursery was still open to question.