When Rebecca's childhood abuser avoids prosecution, it sets her on a path to revenge, revenge on any man who preys on the innocent.
Twenty-three-year-old Rebecca poses as a child online and sets her trap, luring one predatory sex offender after another to their deaths.
When a severed head is found washed up on a windswept estuary beach, the police begin their investigation.
The internationally bestselling author of White is the Coldest Colour is back with a heart-racing, electrifying psychological thriller packed with suspense.
Brilliantly gripping, A Mind To Kill will have you hooked from the very first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending.
What people are saying about A Mind To Kill:
‘A brilliant, searing, page-turning story.’ Renita D’Silva - Bestselling author
‘It chilled me to the core.’ Book Reviews To Ponder
‘Don’t miss out on this gripping page-turner of a psychological thriller.’
‘A very dark psychological thriller fraught with tension and the sense of evil radiating from the pages.’ The Book Revue Cafe
‘This is an author who likes to write and jump just a little over the edge to keep his readers gasping.’ Read Along With Sue
‘Another elegant and exquisitely composed story.’ Melanie Lewis - The Book Club
‘Packs a punch between the eyeballs that will keep you reeling all the way to the end.’ Ann Girdharry - Bestselling author
‘Brilliant, emotionally charged story telling that will leave readers on their edge of their seats until the very last page.’ Tome Tender Book Blog
‘Another superb read by John Nicholl.’ Cheekypee Reads And Reviews Excerpt
9 October 1982
Detective Sergeant Gareth Gravel sat back in the driver’s seat of his West Wales Police Mondeo and stared at the Smith family’s front door for almost five minutes before finally exiting the vehicle. Delivering bad news was never easy. He’d seriously considered delegating the task to one of the force’s new-fangled touchy-feely family liaison officers for a time, but he’d eventually decided that it was something he had to do himself. He was a DS now, and rank carried responsibilities as well as privileges. It was his case, his failure and, like it or not, he had to man up, say his piece and face the inevitable shitstorm coming his way. Best get it over with and get out of there just as fast as his size tens could carry him.
Grav, as he was known by all in the force, took one last drag on his cigar before throwing the glowing butt to the floor and grinding it into the gutter with the heel of a shoe that was badly in need of polish. Come on, Grav my boy, let’s get this done. He’d be in the rugby club with a pint of best bitter in one hand and a set of darts in the other before he knew it.
A small part of him was hoping he wouldn’t receive an answer as he walked down the concrete driveway, approached the front door and knocked with gradually increasing force. But, all too soon,a naked bulb bathed the hall in a depressing yellow hue and a man in his mid thirties, who he immediately recognised as David Smith, stood facing him.
‘Can I come in for a chat, Mr Smith?’
Smith gripped the doorframe to either side of him. ‘Any news?’
‘Can we speak inside, Mr Smith? There’s things we need to discuss.’
‘Just say it, man. We’re sick of waiting.’
‘I’d rather not do this on the doorstep, if that’s all right with you?’
Smith lowered his arms, turned without reply and hurried towards the lounge, where his wife was shuffling from one foot to the other as if the floor was too cold to stand on.
‘Sergeant Gravel’s finally got some news for us, Jan.’
Janice Smith forced a less-than-convincing smile, oblivious to her involuntary dance. ‘Can I get youa cup of something, Sergeant? You look as if you could do with it.’
‘I’m all right thanks, love. Kind of you to offer.’
‘You’re sure? It’s no trouble.’
Grav took a seat in a convenient armchair and thought for a moment that she may start weeping. ‘Oh, go on then, you’ve talked me into it. I’ll have a mug of tea with plenty of sugar.’
‘And a biscuit?’
‘Thanks, love, it’s appreciated. Chocolate if you’ve got one.’
‘One mug of sweet tea and a nice Bourbon coming up. Anything for you, Dai?’
He shook his head. ‘I’m good thanks, Jan.’
David Smith waited for his wife to leave the room before moving to the very edge of the settee. ‘Right, what the hell’s all this about? This isn’t a social visit. That’s blatantly bloody obvious to all of us. Why drag it out?’
‘Is Rebecca in the house?’
Smith frowned, the hairs on the back of his neck standing to attention. ‘Why ask about Becca? Hasn’t she been through enough for one short lifetime?’
‘I just don’t want her overhearing our conversation.’
He swallowed hard. ‘That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about. She’s staying with Jan’s mum and dad for a couple of days. They’ve got a caravan on the Pembrokeshire coast near Amroth. There’s a heated pool. We thought it might take her mind off things. God knows she could do with it.’
‘Okay, that’s good to know. Small mercies and all that. Do you want me to hang on for the missus to rejoin us before kicking off?’
Smith shook his head. ‘No, just crack on. I can bring her up to speed when you’re gone. I’m not sure she can take much more of this shit anyway. She’s on antidepressants as it is.’
‘Okay, if that’s how you want to play it. We’ve finally got a decision from the Crown Prosecution Service.’
Smith hung his head. ‘So, come on. What’s the verdict?’
‘It’s not good news.’
‘Oh, for fuck’s sake!’
‘The CPS don’t think there’s sufficient evidence to prosecute Sheridan. It’s not going to court.’
Smith slumped back in his chair. ‘But, the video interviews. She told that police officer and social worker everything that happened to her. All of it! She went into graphic detail, just as you said she’d have to. She relived all those terrible events to give you the evidence yousaid you needed. Can you imagine what that was like? For her? For us as her parents? She’s suffered flashbacks, nightmares, and she’s wetting the bed again almost every night. She’s nearly seven for fuck’s sake. Regression, that’s what her social worker called it. Feeling like shit when she shouldn’t have a care in the world is probably a more accurate description from what I’ve seen. And now you’re telling me she went through all that for nothing. Is that what you’re telling me?’
‘I’m sorry, Mr Smith, I truly am. We did all we could. I promise you. But, it’s not like the good old days when the police decided whether or not to bring a suspect to court. It’s down to the Crown Prosecution Service these days. And they just don’t feel they’ve got enough to secure a successful prosecution, despite the evidence provided by your daughter. That’s how they work. They have to think there’s a good chance of success before going ahead. I don’t agree with them, for what it’s worth. I think any half-decent jury would see she’s telling the truth, but the decision’s made. I’ve tried. I’ve pulled out all the stops. There’s nothing more I can do.’
A single tear ran down Smith’s right cheek and found a home on his collar. ‘Well, that’s just not good enough. You gave us the distinct impression that Sheridan would be locked up for a long, long time. Surely you can persuade them to change their minds. Let a jury decide. That’s all I’m asking.’
‘I’m sorry, I’ve done everything I can. There’s no point in me feeding you some bullshit version of events to make you feel a little better. It’s not going to happen, whatever else I say or do … unless we can come up with more credible evidence. Something solid that corroborates your daughter’s allegations. A game changer.’
‘And are you likely to?’
Grav shook his head, wishing he had a different, more optimistic reply to offer. But he had to tell it like it was. The man deserved the truth. However unwelcome. However unpalatable. ‘I can’t see it happening.’
Smith was on his feet now, his voice raised and reverberating with raw emotion. ‘He touched her. He made her touch him. My little girl. It went on for months. She’s six years old, for fuck’s sake. The dirty bastard violated her, and you’re telling me he’s going to get away with it! How the hell am I supposed to tell Jan? It’ll break her heart.’
Grav looked on, temporarily lost for words as the father disintegrated in front of him.
‘Refreshments coming up. Here you go boys …’ She stopped and stared. ‘What is it, Dai? What’s happened?’
‘I’ll uh … I’ll tell you later.’
He opened his mouth as if to speak, but then closed it again, unable to find the words.
She shrieked, dropped the tray to the floor, turned away from the two men and ran upstairs to Rebecca’s bedroom, where she clutched a soft toy to her chest and closed the door against the world.
‘Did you see the state she’s in?’
‘Yeah, I’m sorry.’
‘You’ve let us down, Sergeant. You’ve let me down. You’ve let the missus down, and worst of all you’ve let Rebecca down. You do realise that, don’t you? This is real life, not some fucking game.’
Grav reached out and placed a hand on one of Smith’s broad shoulders, reluctantly choosing to ignore the wailing coming from the first floor. ‘I gave Sheridan a seriously hard time, if you know what I’m saying. We kept him at the station for as long as the law allowed, but he just sat there in total silence with a smirk on his ugly face, refusing to answer a single question for hour after hour.’
Smith pulled away, his face contorting as he choked back his tears. ‘You’re telling me you did your best. You’re telling me you pulled out all the stops. But it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t nearly good enough.’
‘No, it wasn’t. Not even close.’
‘So how’d it go so horribly wrong?’
‘Sheridan’s one clever bastard. He knew there was no unequivocal forensic evidence; he knew his wife had given him alibis for some of the relevant dates and he knew the only witness was a six-year-old little girl. He believed he had a good chance of walking away if he kept his mouth tight shut, and he was right. The bastard knew exactly what he was doing.’
‘So he’s free to get on with his life as if he did nothing at all?’
‘Look, Dai, I’d slice the cunt’s balls off if it were up to me. But, yeah, that’s the crux of it. In the eyes of the law, he’s an innocent man.’
David Smith screwed up his face and spat his words. ‘I’ll tear the dirty bastard apart if I see him.’
‘And I wouldn’t blame you, Dai. Honestly, I wouldn’t. I’d want to do much the same thing myself in your place. But Janice needs you here. Rebecca needs you here. What good would you be to them banged up in prison for fuck knows how long?’
‘There’s no justice in this world.’
‘Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t. That’s the truth of it. I’ll put the word out within the force. Sheridan will slip up. His kind always do. We’ll nail him for something in the end.’
Smith followed as Grav rushed towards the front door. ‘That’s the best you’ve got? You’ll get him one day.’
‘Now might be a good time to go and see that wife of yours. You’ve both got to find a way of putting this behind you, Dai. Leave Sheridan to me. I’ve seen it before. If you don’t, it’ll destroy you.’
About the Author
John Nicholl, an ex police officer, child protection social worker and lecturer, has written three dark psychological suspense thrillers, each of which have been Amazon international bestsellers, reaching # 1 in multiple categories in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, Canada and the USA. John is always happy to hear from readers, bloggers or the media, and can be contacted via his author website at: http://www.johnnicholl.com. Rights enquiries should be directed to Mr Toby Mundy - Literary agent at TMA. A Mind To Kill was published on 5 August 2017.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I’m Lauryn April. I live in Wisconsin with my husband and two dogs and I’ve been writing professionally since 2012 when I published my first novel. I’m planning to publish my next novel, Unearthed After Sunset, on October 15th 2017.
What made you want to be an author?
I’ve always loved reading and as I got older that love for stories made me want to write my own stories.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
I like getting to make these characters and worlds and create these journeys for my readers to go on. I don’t like having to push through writer’s block. There’s always a part of writing where the book seems to write itself, then you hit a wall and have to force yourself to write until you get past it. That’s tough, but it’s worth it once you get through it.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
I’m kind of in between. I do plot before I start writing, but I keep my plot really simple and I’m open to making changes as I go.
What influences your writing? And why?
My life, for sure. I definitely pull things from my life into my stories. Really, everything around me ends up influencing my writing from what I’m reading to what I’m watching. I have a word doc where whenever inspiration strikes I write down ideas for plots, characters, and settings.
Name one thing readers don’t know about you.
I often mention that I live in Wisconsin with my husband and two dogs, but I’m really more of a cat person.
Are love scenes easy/difficult for you to write?
I’d say they’re more difficult than other scenes, but I like writing them. I like including a romantic subplot and you’ll find one in Unearthed After Sunset as well as my other books. I think it’s really important to do a love scene right. Figuring out where in the story to put that scene and how graphic it’s going to be can affect the flow and pacing of the novel. You don’t want to disappoint your readers, but you also don’t want to write a scene that feels forced or out of place.
Do you have another career besides writing? What is it?
I do. When I’m not writing I work in youth services doing crisis intervention for kids with severe emotional disturbances. I have a BA in Psychology which gives me a good understanding of human behavior and is very helpful for both my day-job and my writing career.
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
I like to paint. When I have time (which isn’t often) I pull out my acrylics and buy a canvas.
What is your writing genre?
I like to write anything with a supernatural element. So, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, even Science Fiction are all genre’s I dabble in. All my stories, except Unearthed After Sunset, have been Young Adult. I do have other Young Adult stories in my WIP pile as well as other general fiction or New Adult stories.
If you could be any supernatural creature, what would it be and why?
I’d be a vampire. There’s just something dark, romantic and tragic about vampires that I love. Plus, I’m way more of a night person than a morning person and I already eat my steak pretty rare so I think I could handle the diet.
If you had one take away piece of advice for aspiring authors, what would it be?
Take all your criticism and let it inspire you do be better. Writing is a craft you’re constantly learning. So, if you get a bad review, if someone points out where your book needs improvement, don’t get defensive, learn how to make the next book better. You have to be open to that change and growth.
Do you have any future project that we can look for?
Yes, I’m currently working on the sequel for Unearthed After Sunset. I also have a fun fantasy story in the works and another that revolves around Greek mythology.
Tell us more about Unearthed After Sunset.
Unearthed After Sunset is the first novel in the Cereus Vampire Chronicles. This dark tale follows college student Greg on his journey to discover a world he never knew existed where he quickly learns that beauty can be deadly as. Filled with action, adventure and a bit of romance Unearthed After Sunset will keep you on your toes.
Do you have an excerpt for us?
Leaving immediately at sunset, I hoped to catch Caroline near her house, but she was gone by the time I arrived. Ironwood was the nearest cemetery to her house and I ran there next. I’m going to kill her, I thought, entering the graveyard. I told myself the reason I was in such a hurry to find her was because of how terribly I wanted her dead. Hunting her was not an excuse to see her.
I didn’t think about how seeking out a vampire hunter was probably the stupidest thing I could do. I ignored the reality that odds were she’d be the one to kill me, not the other way around. I needed to get her out of my head.
I held on to that thought, and held on tight, but the second I saw her, it shattered. She walked away from me, wearing a floral top with a jean jacket and skinny jeans that demanded my attention. Picking up my pace, I followed her silently until I was only a few feet away.
“Hunter,” I said.
She spun around, raising her stake. “Greg.”
“Actually, it’s Archer now.”
She took a breath. “Right, and you’re a vampire.” Her voice took on a low tone and her sight dropped to the ground for a second.
It occurred to me that I should rip her throat out, not strike up a conversation. I should get this over with, but I couldn’t help it. “Seeing you in the graveyard that night makes a lot more sense now.”
Caroline’s stake lowered an inch. “I tried to save you, you know. I’m sorry I didn’t.”
Memories of that night, of seeing my first vampire, rushed through my mind, and for a second I even felt the fear I’d experienced back then. The vampire had disintegrated into a cloud of dust, and as the wind swept his remains away, there Caroline stood. The memory was so detailed, so alive, I could have been sucked into it.
“I tried to save you too.” I laughed, remembering how she’d taken on those two vampires, and how I’d chased after to try to protect her. “Didn’t really need my help though, did you?”
Caroline sighed, and I realized I’d gotten sentimental. How had that happened? I’d come here to kill her. Shaking my head, I did my best to refocus. “No need for you to be sorry anyway. I like being like this.”
Caroline’s stake rose. Her muscles stiffened as if she suddenly realized I wasn’t the same guy she met at the bar. I wasn’t Greg. I was a monster and I reminded myself of that as well.
“Apparently, you still don’t get how this works,” she said. “We’re supposed to fight, then I kill you. We don’t make idle conversation.”
I laughed. “I don’t see things going that way.”
“Please…I’ve been doing this a while now. You’re brand new. I’m gonna win.”
“Is that so?” I tilted my head, observing her. The weight of what started as playful banter hit me, and I remembered how she’d staked me in my dream. It didn’t matter whether I felt conflicted; she would kill me if I didn’t kill her first. “Well, let’s find out then.” I charged her.
Caroline deflected my punch; her body twisted out of every grasp I attempted to pull her into. She laughed and punched me in the face. A mix of anger and adrenaline surged through me. I swung, connecting with her cheek, and the excitement was electric. She reeled back for a second before rolling into a roundhouse kick. She swung at me with her stake, but I blocked and knocked her hand away. Our blows fell into a rhythm after that. I’d swing, she’d duck. She’d kick, I’d block. Our movements felt whimsical, as if we’d created some kind of combat-waltz and I was intoxicated by our dance. Every hit left me feeling alive. Then Caroline landed a solid kick to my chest, and lifted her stake, readying to drive it through my chest. I stumbled back, and finally realized this wasn’t a dance. It wasn’t a game to her. And, for as much as I’d learned since becoming a vampire, she was the better fighter.
I threw a heavy punch at her, landing it against her cheek.
She ran a hand across her reddened face.
I laughed. “Caroline, the vampire hunter. Sounds a little ridiculous, don’t you think?”
Her eyes narrowed. “This from the guy who changed his name from Greg to Archer just because he’s a creature of the night now. Little cliché, don’t you think?” She swung at me, but missed.
I punched her. She staggered back. Rushing at her, I pushed her against the trunk of a tree, pinned her arms back, and watched her eyes widen. Despite my hold on her wrists she maintained a vice grip on her weapon, but it didn’t matter. A shaky breath passed her lips. This was it. I had her.
She attempted to head-butt me, but I avoided it, then tightened my hold, until she let out a pained cry. Staring at her jugular my fangs lengthened. Her hot breath brushed against my skin. The smell of her lavender shampoo danced around me, and I wanted to taste her blood. I leaned in, but before I bit, my eyes sketched her face one last time. Her eyes closed. Then they opened and locked with mine. Her breath trembled, and I focused on her lips.
I hesitated. Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking about killing her, but kissing her and my grip loosened. Maybe she was thinking the same. Then Caroline kneed me in the groin and broke free of my grip. She pushed me back and kicked me. Her foot landed square against my chest, knocking me off balance. The air rushed out of my lungs as I hit the ground; I didn’t need the breath, but the sensation brought discomfort and left me unable to speak.
Caroline straddled my waist, and her hair fell around her face. Her breath came out in heavy pants and her heart thudded against her ribcage. She brought her stake to my chest, and I could do nothing but look up at her beautiful face as she held it above my heart. My eyes met hers, and I felt the point of her stake.
The tip pressed against my chest. She lifted the stake, ready to drive it home, but she didn’t. She hesitated. I only had a moment to react, and I threw Caroline off me and scrambled to my feet.
Where can readers find more about your stories, books, and you on the Internet?
You can follow me and find out about all of my books at the following links.