Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 3.1 MB

It’s time for a killer to leave his mark…

It’s winter in Melbourne and Detective Emmett Corban is starting to regret his promotion to head of the Missing Persons Unit, as the routine reports pile up on his desk.

So when Natale Gibson goes missing, he’s convinced this is the big case he’s been waiting for – the woman’s husband and parents insist the devoted mother would never abandon her children, and her personal accounts remain untouched.

But things aren’t all they seem. The close-knit Italian family is keeping secrets – none bigger than the one Natale has been hiding. Just as the net seems to be tightening, the investigation is turned on its head. The body of a woman is found . . . then another.

What had seemed like a standard missing person’s case has turned into a frightening hunt for a serial killer, and time is running out. But to really understand these shocking crimes, Emmett and his team will need to delve back through decades of neglect – back to a squalid inner-city flat, where a young boy is left huddling over his mother’s body . . .

A crisp police procedural that shows its characters in both darkness and light . . . A suspenseful, assured debut for fans of Sarah Bailey and Chris Hammer.

As they made their way through the school gates, Cindy felt the butterflies start again. She willed her heart to stop racing. There’s nothing to be afraid of. I haven’t been out of the workforce for that long. I am more than capable.

She shivered again, only this time it was the nerves building up inside her rather than the cold that bore responsibility. Today was her first day as a professional photographer, and she could hardly believe it was happening.

She’d only started studying the craft on a whim a year or so ago, but her new-found hobby had turned out to be a lifesaver. The weekly evening studies had reignited her sense of purpose and creativity and, more importantly, had given her some independence after spending day after day trapped at home with Nicholas.

Yes, that’s right: trapped.

It was not something she would admit to the sanctimonious mums here – those who arrived early in their big four-wheel drives and packed their children delightful lunches the night prior – but being a mother had been, well, not exactly what she’d expected. She loved her son, of course, but she could never have imagined how isolated she’d feel, watching her husband go out into the real world and have real adult conversations, while she stayed behind, changing nappies, mixing up formula and watching Play School.

Not that she begrudged her husband’s success – he’d been a recruit at the police academy when they’d met, and she’d proudly watched him rise through the ranks, from day one as a constable to his newly appointed position as detective. But as she’d stayed at home, playing and cleaning and panicking over any and every slight concern with their beautiful baby, Emmett had spent more and more time away, his dedication and skill at his job resulting in one promotion after the next. It was equally thrilling and depressing to see how different their paths had been since starting a family. His career had flourished, just as her goals had been quashed.

Cindy smiled in the direction of an older mother she sometimes spoke to, noticing the slightly misty eyes of the woman as she waved to her child.

‘It never gets any easier to say goodbye, does it?’

‘No,’ Cindy responded, awkwardly giving Nicholas a rub on the head as though to illustrate the depth of her sadness.

The truth was, while other mums spoke of the pain of leaving their children at school, Cindy found it liberating. And now, largely thanks to her photography tutor Michael, she was finally able to leave behind the long, empty days alone at home and get back into the workforce. She was terrified, but she couldn’t wait.

‘Look, Mum.’ Nicholas was pointing at a low-flying aircraft over in the west.

‘Yes, darling, it’s a plane.’

As she kissed him goodbye and waved dutifully like all the other parents, Cindy recognised a familiar surge of guilt. Was it wrong that she felt so happy to be free again?

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