Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming another fun read to my blog. Check out Death of an Angel by Derek Farrell!
A woman is found dead in a London street – the evidence suggests she plummeted to her death from a nearby tower block – but did she fall or was she pushed? And why does she have Danny Bird’s name written on the back of her hand?
So begins this 4th magnificent outing for Danny and the gang from The Marq.
In the frame for a murder he didn’t commit, London’s self-proclaimed Sherlock Homo has no choice but to don his metaphorical deerstalker one more time to prove his innocence and uncover the truth about the tragic death of Cathy Byrne.
With the indomitably louche Lady Caz by his side, Danny plunges headlong into a complex investigation while at the same time trying to be a dutiful son to his increasingly secretive parents, and still find the time to juggle his frustratingly moribund love-life.
Death of an Angel is the fourth book in the Danny Bird Mysteries. If the blurb of book 4 and the covers of the books didn’t grab your attention, then here’s an extract from Death of an Angel to entice you.
“Okay,” Caz tutted, lifted a leg and, in the dim illumination cast from the distant street lights, inspected her stockings. “That’s a pair of Wolford’s you owe me.”
Even in the half light, I could see the ladder working its way up her right calf.
I looked around me. From somewhere distant, the city symphony of traffic rumbled on. The torch on my phone was waning fast, our breathing was coming out of us in clouds, my feet were damp and my head felt as though I were wearing a nettle cap, so heavy was the fog. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was hoping to find here, but I had a horrible feeling that we were not on a wild goose chase.
“Seriously?” Caz stopped dead and threw her hands up.
I turned, following her outraged stare downwards where her left foot had landed in a puddle so deep she was now up to the ankle in muddy water.
“Christian. Louboutins,” she said, pronouncing each of the words as though they were a sacrament. “You have me crawling around an empty pitch-dark building site in Louboutins. I must be out of my mind.”
“Well you should have changed,” I replied, extending an arm to help extract her from the puddle, “put on something more workday.”
“These,” she glared, “Are my workday shoes. Because Daniel, my average work day does not involve following mysterious tipoffs on derelict construction sites in the middle of the night.
Of Louise, when we’d arrived, there had been no sight, and in fact the whole place had seemed deserted, the absence of even a night watchman testimony either to Constable Developments’ misplaced faith in their security, or to their general cheapness.
The lock on the gate was huge and solid, but Caz took one look and nodded. “I should be able to get in to that.”
“Really?” I was impressed.
“Yeah,” she nodded again, “If I only had a hairpin. Oh, and a bolt cutters.”
My excitement faded.
“Maybe an oxy acetylene torch,” she finished, fixing me with her beadiest eye. “Daniel, that’s an industrial lock; I was being sarcastic.”
I looked around.
The hoarding ran the entire length of the block, and at the corner it turned right, as did we.
It wasn’t until we turned right again on to St Giles lane, which ran parallel with Marsham Way, that we got lucky.
Here, a smaller gateway had also been fixed with a padlock, though this one was smaller and infinitely less challenging to us, due to the fact that – whilst it was hooked into the chains holding the gate closed – it wasn’t in actual fact, locked.
“Can you promise me something, Danny?” Caz asked as she pushed the gate slightly open and we squeezed into the site.
“When we get arrested, can you have them sort out the lighting on my mugshot. I mean: The camera adds ten pounds, and I really don’t want to look fat in the papers.”
“We’re not going to get arrested.”
“I think this is fairly straight forward trespass,” she’d muttered, as I’d switched on the torch on my phone and led her further away from the street.
“The gate was open,” I said, “And we heard a crying cat.”
“A cat? Are you deluded? This is London. People can’t hear murder going on and you’re going to suggest we committed breaking and entering cos you have hearing like a bat and were concerned for the wellbeing of little Tabby? No, we heard a woman scream. Much more likely round here.”
The gate swung shut behind us. We were standing on a layer of mosaic tiles. This, from an immediate glance, seemed to be almost all that was left of whatever building had been here once.
I could see why Constable had spent little to no money on security: The building that had once occupied the block was almost completely gone. The wrecking ball had clearly done its job, and the rubble had already been removed to whatever landfill had space for the remains of an unwanted mid twentieth-century building. Only one wall remained partially present at the opposite end of the site, the jagged edges silhouetted against the orange glow cast by the distant street lights. The rest of the space was unlit and devoid of machinery man or any other reason for trespassers to enter.
So why had Louise Byrne asked me to come here?
The place – with its cratered earth, random lumps of rubble and that hulking, almost floating wall at the far end of the site – felt like a battle field after everyone had packed up and gone home. Or, at least, after all the survivors had packed up and gone home. We stepped gingerly off the tiled entryway and immediately the earth beneath us – soaked by the mist and recent rains – felt spongier.
“What now?” Caz whispered, and I shouted out Louise’s name, causing Caz to emit a short shriek and grab at me. No response came.
“Right,” I said, “I’ll go left, you go right. Shout if you see anything.”
“Not happening. If you think I’m crawling around this place in the dark on my own, you clearly don’t know me very well.”
“Fine!” I threw my hands up and we moved off to the left, the dim light from the torch on my phone giving me some view of the razed and raddled earth around me.
And from then on, it had been a succession of rubble-heaps, puddles, and general gripes.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” Caz said at length, “But I don’t think your Miss Byrne is here.”
“I’d arrived at that conclusion myself,” I grumbled back, sweeping the phone around one more time.
“So why are we still here?” She demanded and, at that moment, the clouds parted, a moonbeam illuminating the area around us momentarily before the winds blew the clouds back and blotted the light out once again.
“Stop!” Caz called, grabbing my arm, and yanking me to an immediate halt.
I’d seen what she’d seen: Directly in front of us – maybe another couple of steps ahead – was a trench. I shone the torch down on it.
“Jesus,” I whispered. I’d been shining the torch too far ahead, and I hadn’t even seen this hole, which had to be six or seven feet deep. We approached the edge and peered down into the channel.
“Foundations?” I mused.
“That, or Constable have uncovered a gateway to hell. Oh. That’s odd.”
“Odd?” I asked, wondering what part of the two of us standing in a freezing cold, wet, derelict building site over a potential death trap was oddest. “Odd how?”
“Turn your torch over there,” Caz said, pulling my arm so that I shone the fading light to the right of us. I moved it around a little, and then I, too, frowned. “What’s that doing there?”
My torch had landed on what looked like a roll of carpet down on the floor of the trench.
“Well I assume that someone put it there. The question, surely, is why?”
I handed her the phone, and edged closer to the hole, testing the earth at the edge with my shoe. It held firmly, confirming to me that – If I did what I planned – I wouldn’t, at least, end up in a pit I couldn’t claw my way out of.
“I’m going in,” I said.
“What do you mean you’re going in?”
“I mean,” I said, gesturing once again at the carpet, “That I’m going to climb down there and see what that is.”
“Well we can see what it is from here, and I’m not entirely sure that flinging one’s person into a hole that deep is a wise decision. Wouldn’t it be better to just call someone?”
“Who? The Carpet Patrol? International Rug Rescue?”
“I liked you when you were smart and funny. No; the police, obviously.”
“And tell them what, Caz? That we’ve broken in to a building site and would like to report someone else has been fly-tipping?”
“You said it wasn’t breaking and entering if the padlock was undone. And fly-tipping is a serious offence.”
“There are more serious,” I answered, lowering myself so that I was sitting at the edge of the hole.
The damp earth immediately soaked through my jeans, and beneath my palms I felt bits of grit and glass. “Well,” I said, after a brief pause, “here goes.”
I pushed off, and dropped into the hole, landing, with a loud splash and a squelch, up to my ankles in mud.
“Well those shoes are ruined now,” Caz, noted, somewhat triumphantly.
“Shine it over there,” I said.
The light went out and a moment later, it came on again further down the trench.
“Be careful,” Caz called. “You could break an ankle down there.”
I gritted my teeth. “The thought,” I said, “Had crossed my mind.”
I moved slowly, keeping my outstretched hand against the wall of the pit, gingerly poking the earth ahead with my toe, conscious of trip hazards, mud, and of the fact that there could be a secondary cut somewhere around here.
At length, I arrived next to the rolled-up carpet, and knelt down to inspect it.
The rainfall had already soaked it, and I could see that it was tied together with thick black duct tape. I could see, also, that it was not an empty roll – it was way too big, for starters. I pulled at the tape, and it gave a little, then held fast.
Suddenly, something thudded into the earth beside the carpet roll. I glanced across and shook my head.
“Why am I surprised?” I asked, pulling the penknife from where Caz had thrown it, so that the blade had embedded in the earth. “I don’t suppose you’ve got a stepladder in your handbag?”
“Open the bloody carpet,” she breathed back down.
I slid the blade of the knife under the first strip of tape, and sliced hard, the tape separating and the carpet shifting slightly as something inside it began to bulge outwards.
The next strip took a few sawing motions, so tightly was it wound, but it too, eventually, gave way, the movement of the carpet putting so much stress on the third strip of duct tape that almost before I’d touched it with the knife, it had parted, and the bundle began to unroll.
“When you’re ready,” Caz said, the torchlight shaking slightly as I leaned forward and parted the roll of carpet, knowing, even as I did so, what I was going to find in it.
I looked down into a pair of sightless eyes, staring back up at me, as the rain began to fall, and I fell back onto my heels, turning my face up towards Caz.
“Well I’ll be honest,” I said after a momentary silence, “that is not what I was expecting to find.”
Chills!!! Literal chills!!!
If you would like to read more of the story, then you can follow the links below:
About the Author:
Derek Farrell is the author of the Danny Bird Mysteries, ‘Death of a Diva,’ ‘Death of a Nobody’ ‘Death of a Devil,’ and ‘Death of an Angel.’
He was educated in Dublin, and, whilst waiting to become a writer of fabulous crime novels has passed his time being a burger dresser, bank cashier, David Bowie’s paperboy, and an Investment Banker in New York’s World Trade Centre (a bit like The Wolf of Wall Street, only with fewer hookers and more midgets, since you ask).
He is married and divides his time between London, West Sussex and Dublin.
Derek loves to hear from his readers, and can be contacted via Twitter: @derekifarrell or at his sparkly new website Derekfarrell.co.uk
His books can be purchased as paperbacks or ebooks direct from the publisher Fahrenheit Press at: http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_fahrenheit.html
Death of a Diva is also available as a deluxe edition Hardback limited to only 50 Copies worldwide. Purchase it here.
There’s also a giveaway alongside this tour!
One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Death of an Angel and 10 runners up will receive a set of Danny Bird pin badges featuring the covers of all four books.
To be in with a chance of winning all entrants have to do is visit derekfarrell.co.uk and subscribe. Winners will be chosen on 1st July.
Also, if you purchases a Fahrenheit paperback, you will also get a free eBook download of the same book too. That’s a win-win!
Don’t forget to check out the other blogs who are taking part in this blog tour!