Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing
9 November 2017
My thanks to Caroline at Bits About Books for including me on the blog tour for You’re Next, a DS Scarlett Macey crime thriller. For my turn today, I have a guest post from Michael with a character feature of Scarlett, together with an extract of the first chapter.
A Day in the Life of Scarlett Macey
All about the main character of You’re Next by Michael Fowler!
Scarlett’s week is so hectic and messed up because of the nature of her work – her schedule means regular meal times are a luxury, it’s generally fast-food on the hoof – that when she has a day off she totally goes for the unwind.
On day one she’ll have a lie in, then do a mad shop, splashing out on decent grub to ease her guilt, and she’ll also add to her credit card with some clothes shopping, even though her wardrobes are full to bursting. In the afternoon she’ll go for an hour’s run along the banks of the Thames, or maybe take out ‘Bonnie,’ her classic Triumph Bonneville motorbike, going for a blast down to Brighton and back.
Either of those sessions gives her the adrenaline rush she thrives upon. Then, it’s a long soak in the bath, and if a girl’s night is on the schedule, it’s hitting the bars in Richmond, with her friends, who are generally her colleagues as well and so work is never far from her thoughts or conversation.
Recently though, she’s got back into a relationship with a previous boyfriend, Alex, and so she is able to switch off from her work, finding her thoughts very much on him, spending her hours wining and dining and having early nights.
You’re Next: Chapter One
In the Witness Room of Croydon Law Courts, Detective Sergeant Scarlett Macey was watching the clock above the door to Court One and taking slow, deep breaths, trying her best to calm her nerves; this wasn’t unusual – she always felt like this at court, though today her anxiety level was up a few more points than usual. Today it was the opening session of one of her biggest cases to date – the trial of serial rapist James Green. It had been four months since she had ended ‘The Lycra Rapist’s’ reign of terror.
Earlier that morning, while going through her statement over breakfast, flashbacks of the case had visited Scarlett. In particular, snapshots of the self-righteous grin Green had tormented her with throughout his interview. She wondered if he was still so full of himself, having spent the first four months of this year behind bars?
Seeing James Green remanded to prison by the Magistrates had been one of her most gratifying moments as a detective. His incarceration had brought relief to the female population of Richmond in general and students in particular: last summer four young women had been sexually assaulted, and three others raped, by a knife wielding, Lycra-clad, maniac. Scarlett ended his campaign when she caught him in a sting operation – an undercover officer, posing as a student, had lured him into an attack.
Being caught in the act should have made things easy but the interview that followed had been frustrating – he’d denied everything, despite being identified, even having the audacity to state that he didn’t attack the undercover officer, but ‘merely pushed her away’, because he believed she was a prostitute propositioning him for sex. Scarlett had taken an instant dislike to his conceited arrogance, and took great pleasure in facing him in the custody suite and charging him with three rapes and an attempted rape, the day after his arrest. She’d felt even greater satisfaction in childishly waving him off in the prisoner transport bus to High Down Prison, where he had since been detained.
Since then, because of other pressing matters within the department, his arrest had drifted into distant memory, but had resurrected itself over the past couple of days as Scarlett focused on preparing herself for the trial. In particular, it had invaded her thoughts last night, unsettling her sleep as she rehearsed a list of answers for the tough line of expected questions from the defence. In spite of feeling tired, she had arisen in buoyant mood.
Now though Scarlett wasn’t feeling so upbeat. For the past ten minutes she’d been sitting at a table in the witness room, switching her gaze between the clock and the blank screen of her BlackBerry, trying her best to hide her concern. It was 10 a.m. and her main witness had not yet arrived.
She had rung Claudette Jackson yesterday afternoon to check she was okay – one of the many reassuring calls Scarlett had made during these past four months – and although Claudette’s voice had sounded fragile she’d confirmed she was still prepared to give evidence against the man who had viciously raped her. Scarlett had ended the call by asking her to be at court for 09.30, so that they could go through her evidence one final time before the trial started. Claudette not being here was worrying; she was their last opportunity to prosecute serial rapist Green: since his remand, the Crown Prosecution Service had veen forced to drop two of the rape charges because both of his victims had been deemed medically unfit to give evidence, one of the girls had been hospitalized after a nervous breakdown and then diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, while the other had been so disturbed since the attack that she had locked herself away in her bedroom and refused to speak to Scarlett: a month ago she had also been diagnosed with PTSD.
Over the past quarter of an hour Scarlett had called Claudette’s mobile every couple of minutes but it had rung out and then diverted to voicemail. She had left messages for Claudette to ring her back, but the pleas had gone unanswered. The last time she had rung – two minutes earlier – Scarlett had tried to hide the tension in her voice.
‘She’s probably got stuck in traffic.’
DC Tarn Scarr’s voice broke Scarlett’s concentration. Dragging her gaze away from her BlackBerry, she eyed her working partner seated opposite. He was leaning back on his chair fiddling with his dark blue tie, tightening the knot into his white button-down collar. She gave a worried half smile, ‘I hope so. I hope it’s nothing else. She was nervous on the phone yesterday. I hope she’s not had second thoughts.’
‘You worry too much Scarlett. Claudette’ll be here. She said so, didn’t she?’ He finished with his tie, flicked away invisible flecks from it.
Scarlett smiled to herself. Tarn had fussed over his appearance throughout the four years she’d known him. He was the best dressed guy in the office and checked himself every time he passed a mirror. All the Homicide Squad pulled his leg about it. Scarlett glanced down at the blank screen of her phone again, willing it to ring. ‘I told her to be here for 9.30, that the court started at ten. It’s gone ten o’clock now.’
‘Only just. Give her another couple of minutes and then try her again.’ Tarn pulled the front of his jacket together and scrutinised the alignment.
Scarlett was about to respond when the door to the courtroom opened and in walked the CPS barrister leading their case. Scarlett had first met Katherine Nicholson six weeks earlier at a pre-trial review of the evidence. Katherine was in her late forties, but her unblemished features made her look younger. She was in court attire, wig partly overing a shoulder length bob of shiny light brown hair. The first time Scarlett had set eyes upon her across the conference table she’d admired how elegant Katherine looked. If things hadn’t turned out the way they had for her, maybe Scarlett could have been a barrister, enjoying the lifestyle trappings that came with it, instead of being a put-upon Detective Sergeant in an overstretched Homicide Squad.
A welcoming smile on her face, the barrister made a beeline for her. Scarlett stood.
‘James Green is downstairs in the cells. Are we all good to go?’ Katherine asked cheerily, rubbing her hands.
‘We are,’ Scarlett replied, pointing to herself and Tarn, ‘but our main witness is not here yet.’
Katherine’s smile disappeared and her face creased into a frown. ’Delayed?’ Scarlett shrugged. ‘Don’t’ know. I’ve tried ringing her mobile and she’s not answering. I rang her yesterday afternoon and confirmed everything with her. I don’t know where she is.’
The barrister pushed back the sleeve of her gown and glanced at her watch, ‘Well they’re just selecting the jury now. The trial’s scheduled for starting at eleven – in fifty minutes’ time. Does she live far away?’
Well, look, can I suggest you get yourselves over to her place and see what’s happening with her? I’ll go and have a word with the judge and request a short adjournment. I’m sure he’ll approve, he knows of the difficulties we’ve had with the other witnesses in this case.’ She looked at her watch again. ‘I’ll ask for a twelve o’clock start. Meet me back here at quarter to twelve.’ With a reassuring smile, she turned on her heels and made her way back to the courtroom door.
Scarlett scooped up her bag and phone, nodded at Tarn for them to go, and speed-dialled Claudette Jackson’s number again as she made for the exit.
| About the Book |
It is the opening day of Detective Sergeant Scarlett Macey’s biggest case of her life – ‘The Lycra Rapist’ is standing trial for a series of brutal rapes.
But things don’t go according to plan – the trial collapses – and James Green is freed.
Scarlett is determined his freedom will not last long and immediately begins planning his downfall.
Meanwhile James Green has his own plans for revenge, and driven by feelings of hatred begins to pick out those who brought about his downfall – priming them for the kill.
Scarlett has faced many villains in the past, but never one quite as terrifying as James Green…
| About the Author |
Following retirement, after thirty-two years as a police officer, working mainly as a detective, Michael returned to the deadly business of murder, as a writer. His past work brought him very close to some nasty characters, including psychopaths, and gruesome cases, and he draws on that experience to craft his novels: There is nothing gentle about Michael’s stories.
His landmark novel Heart of the Demon, published in 2012, introduced Detective Sergeant Hunter Kerr. Michael has since written five novels and a novella featuring Kerr. He also released the first DS Scarlett Macey book in 2016. Michael is also the author of a stand-alone crime novella and a true crime thriller.
Michael has another side to his life – a passion for art, and has found considerable success as an artist, receiving numerous artistic accolades. Currently, his oil paintings can be found in the galleries of Spencer Coleman Fine Arts.
He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.