Rockstar Johnny Mayhem sits on his bed, holding a bloody baseball bat. On the floor, clutching a lavender rose in her fist, is his wife, Amanda, who he has just beaten to death. Erika Piper knows this because she is one of the first on the scene. Mayhem is arrested and led away, screaming that they’ve got the wrong man. But the evidence is irrefutable and when Mayhem is sentenced to life in prison, no one is surprised.
Thanks to new evidence, Johnny Mayhem is a now free man. During a television interview, he issues a thinly veiled threat to those involved in the original case before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth. When the body of Mayhem’s dealer is found, Erika Piper is pulled from the safety of her desk job and thrown into the hunt for the Rockstar. Can she find Mayhem before he can enact his revenge on everyone involved, including Erika? Or, has he been telling the truth all along? Did the police really get the wrong man?
Hello there and welcome to The Reading Closet on my day of the Roses For The Dead by Chris Mcdonald. Thanks to Meggy and Red Dog Press for the invite to be a part of the celebration of book 3 in the Erika Piper series! This installment was published on the 13th of April, and to celebrate the closing day of this amazing tour I have a little juicy extract for you to fawn over. You can purchase this thriller in hardback, paperback and ebook directly from Red Dog Press here, grab yourself a read AND support an indie publisher, win win!
So, that’s all the introductions and thanks done, grab a cuppa, settle in and read the extract. Enjoy!
Amanda Mayhem’s body lies on the
floor beside the bed. Her eyes are closed and her long, tanned legs stretch out
from below a flowery silk dressing gown. Clutched in her hand is a single
lavender rose, the purple matching the colour of her perfectly manicured nails.
She looks peaceful. On the immaculately made bed sits her husband, Johnny.
He has just murdered her.
His dark floppy hair falls over his eyes and course stubble
darkens his jaw. His head is in his hands and when he looks up to see who has
just come in to the bedroom, his shimmering emerald eyes are wet.
‘Pause it, will you love?’ asks Tom, as our son’s cries from
upstairs cut through the noise from the television. He pushes himself off the
sofa and leaves the room, as I fumble down the side of the cushion for the
remote control. I freeze the screen and laugh aloud at what it shows.
Or rather, the actress who has been chosen to play me. The Erika Piper of this true crime drama.
Her high cheekbones, bagless eyes and perfectly pressed trouser suit flatter me, and are a far cry from what I remember looking like on that night, seven years ago. As Leo’s cries are sated by a shushing Tom upstairs, I time travel back to that night in my head.
I remember walking through the unlocked door of the house Johnny
and Amanda shared in Ashton-under-Lyne, a market town to the east of Manchester city centre. In the 90s, Johnny had ridden the Britpop wave and enjoyed success as the singer of The Darling Roses. Of the various horticulturally named bands, The Stone Roses had obviously gone on to headier heights, but Johnny’s band’s successes had afforded him a five-bed house in a sought-after area of the city. It had also brought him into the orbit of Amanda Paige; a model from the city who was making waves of her own.
As Kurt and Courtney’s flame burned out on the other side of the Atlantic, Johnny and Amanda’s was only beginning to smoulder; flickering, toying with combustion. And combust it did. The two became lovers. It would prove to be a volatile romance. This generation’s Sid and Nancy. The red top papers loved them—the constant swapping of love for hate and back again was the gutter press’s dream. When they arrived at a club or at a restaurant for a romantic celebration, cameramen were waiting, falling over each other to get the best angle. Much to the ire of Johnny who frequently lashed out, unable to stop himself rising to the bait constantly dangled in front of him.
When they announced they were getting married, articles questioned how wise that decision was and armchair experts speculated how long it would last.
The Darling Roses split up at the turn of the century, having made their money. Johnny and Amanda would probably never have to work another day in their lives. And, it seemed they’d defied all those who said their relationship was doomed to fail.
Until that night, seven years ago, when their relationship juddered to a halt in the most extreme way possible.
The front door had opened onto an expansive hallway flooded with
light from LED spotlights embedded in the ceiling. Police officers made their
way down the hall towards the rooms on the ground floor, their feet slapping on
the tiled flooring. DI Simon Black and I stood in the entranceway, waiting, and
after a fruitless search the officers assembled once more in the hall, eyeing
the stairs. They led the way, climbing past framed album covers and live shots
of Johnny whipping a crowded arena into a frenzy.
When we got to the top of the stairs, it was obvious where Johnny was. Visceral, animal-like howls came from the bedroom at the end of the landing. The door was slightly ajar. One of the officers assumed the lead and made his way cautiously along the strip of landing. I remember his heavy boots sinking into the plush carpet and thinking how out of place he looked. How out of place we all were.
When he got to the door, he took a breath to steady his nerves and shoved it open. He stepped back to reveal the scene.
There you have it, a sneaky try before you buy extract, what did you think? Have you pre-ordered Roses For The Dead yet?