Date Published: August 5, 2017
The hunters become the hunted…
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
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 you said 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.