Title: The Watcher
Author: Eli Carros
Genre: Crime Thriller
One man must stop a psychopath in his tracks…
Chief Inspector Jack Grayson is hunting a serial killer terrorizing London, a stalker who watches his prey carefully and displays the bodies of his young female victims brazenly. But Grayson has a problem – only one lead and scant evidence – and the body count is rising.
He discovers that an unsolved 18-year-old murder case bears all the hallmarks of the current killings, but he still can’t seem to find a single, obvious suspect, and he is so far unable to outthink a master predator.
Grayson must catch a hunter who knows how to outwit the police – a showman intent on completing his macabre collection. But he’s missing a vital clue, a critical piece of the puzzle. When he finally discovers the killer’s identity, he’s completely unprepared for the fallout…
I’m a crime fiction and thriller author from London, England and my debut novel, The Watcher, was inspired by London, and by what can happen when sexual obsession, violence, emotional neglect, and madness collide. It takes you behind the eyes of a murderous stalker with a secret past, and into the mind of the harried detective who must stop a master predator before he kills again.
I’m a trained journalist, and interned at The Daily Mirror before becoming copywriter and then a crime novelist. I’ve always loved reading crime, thrillers, and mystery suspense, and am an ardent admirer of authors Steven King, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben, and Patricia Cornwell.
I’m naturally a strong supporter of causes that promote equality for all. In my spare time I love sailing, camping, hiking, and sketching faces, and detest getting up in the morning without several cups of strong percolated coffee.
She didn’t know he was about to kill her of course. He stepped soundlessly behind the blonde, between chrome-coated elevator doors, his shoes gliding over polished grey marble. As she turned to the control panel to select her destination with a well-manicured fingernail, he craned his neck forward to inhale her scent. The sweet musky aroma curled around his nostrils pleasantly. It was familiar to him. It reminded him of her. Anya.
She stood waiting as the doors closed with a quiet hiss and the elevator started to descend. He glanced over her, taking in her elegant profile, her smooth alabaster skin, observing the details of her; breasts round and full, encased in a white shirt half a size too small and straining at the buttons, begging to be released. He noted the way her hair piled upon the top of her head, loose tendrils of spun gold escaping and caressing a slim neck. A hair pin edging its way out of the bun, aching to be plucked.
It’s an abomination, unnatural. His mother’s voice in his head again. Would she never shut up?
Fingering the knife in his pocket as the elevator descended, he felt the sharp edge grate the pad of his finger. He clenched his fists, feeling the rage building inside him. How dare this girl taunt him so? The calm of the Brahms sonata being piped through to the elevator’s occupants came in sharp contrast to his raggedly spiking mood. The feeling, rising within him, was irrepressible. The urgency to possess her climbed rapidly, like his blood pressure.
Unaware of his watchfulness, she fumbled around in the depths of her handbag, trying to locate something. The tilt of her lovely face tipped downwards in profile, making him catch his breath. Boldly he stepped forward, pulling the blade out of his pocket and placing one arm around her throat as he came up behind her, restraining her tightly against him. He didn’t hesitate as he drew the blade deftly across the thin skin of her throat, slicing her neck.
The blood spurted violently as the blade bit into her jugular vein, spraying the shiny, mirrored walls. The piped sonata seemed to be slowing down and he felt as if the world had momentarily stopped. Blanched, devoid of colour. The only bright spots – the only things that existed at all – were her and him, and they existed in a lurid blur of light. He held her there, his head bent over her tumble of blonde hair, as she struggled pathetically in his arms, her body weakening with every kick.
He watched as she gasped her last, her mouth opening obscenely, as her fingers scratched at empty air. Drinking her in, he tried to memorise every atom of her, as her body became deadweight in his arms. Finally, in that last second, he felt the serenity that inevitably washed over him each time. A feeling of satisfaction. Of completion. Peace.
Jack looked down again at the print out, his eyes scanning over it with interest. Listed on it were the victim’s names, ages, and former occupations, along with various other personal facts. There must be something linking them all – anything; a pattern, some kind of clue.
Lisa Doakes, 29 years old and married, had been working as a sports physiotherapist on Harley Street when she’d been killed that July evening. Murdered during her usual jog through Hyde Park, close to where she lived. He’d thought the killing was a one –off at first, then the killer struck again, and he continued to strike. A new victim had been killed each month for the last seven.
Katerina Murray, an art student studying fashion was the second body they’d found. Dead in a Soho alleyway, on her way home from a night out drinking with friends.
Then Annmarie Langham, 26, a retail assistant, found with her throat slit on Clapham Common.
Tanya Beale, 22, a drug addict and part-time call girl was the fourth body to be discovered, after she’d been reported missing by a friend. She’d been dead for a week when her decomposing corpse was discovered in her Bayswater flat, the throat cut in the same way as all the others.
Anna Sharp, only 19 years old, cut down in the Islington car park of the magazine publisher she worked for.
Mya Chamino, 26, and a Polish immigrant, had been the sixth victim. She had been working as a massage therapist at a popular London health spa, when she was found face down in a pool of blood in the small alleyway running behind a busy Chinese restaurant.
And Monica Wheeler, the latest victim, just 27 years old, and displayed ceremoniously in the elevator of the London City office, left there like the killer was proud of his work. As if he wanted to brag.
He eyed the almost empty champagne bottle, a couple more and he could get quite a bit of information out of her. All the information he would need, in fact.
“We should get another bottle in for good measure,” he said.
“Can give you a lap dance if you like or we can go for a private, if you prefer?” she said, keeping her gaze fixed on him. Her large green eyes seemed to communicate the promise of some kind of sexual satisfaction if he said yes.
He nodded. “Lap dance sounds good.”
“Here then?” He nodded again. He quite enjoyed the whole performance of a public lap dance. It was the theatre of it, the jealous attention you got from the other punters, as a naked or scantily clad woman writhed in your lap.
It was all fake, of course. He knew that. He knew every stripper lied; you could see it barely concealed in their eyes even as they offered up their bodies so seductively, but he didn’t care. For a moment he could pretend it was real, and anyway, he wasn’t particularly discerning when it came to feelings.
Her real name was Marilyn, he learned, and she didn’t have a stage name like some of the other strippers he’d known. It was an apt name for such a pocket Venus.
Marilyn was good at faking it too, her bare breasts thrust in his face, her scantily clad crotch grinding hard against his own. So good, he wondered for just a second if perhaps she wasn’t faking it at all. Could that look in her eyes that told him how much she wanted him be genuine? Apparently not. Three lap dances later and four hundred pounds poorer than he’d gone in, he left the club, alone.
Sexually frustrated, but with the necessary information he needed, he smiled to himself as he made his way to the tube, traces of her perfume clinging to his shirt. The memory of the unpleasant meeting with his Mother temporarily replaced by the recollection of Marilyn’s soft flesh beneath his fingertips.
Marilyn may have been pretending but he was deadly serious. And by the time he was done with her, it wouldn’t matter much what her true feelings were.
Lorana Hoopes is an author of children’s books and clean inspirational romance novels.Her books are available at Amazon.Heartbeats series Wishing stone series
Sign up for her newsletter to receive a free sneak peek of her next series and a chance to win a monthly gift card.