Eli Carros - The Watcher - Release Blitz


Crime Thriller

Date Published: June 21st

 

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…

 

Excerpt

 

PROLOGUE

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, made 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.

The temporary joy washing over him now would not last long though, he knew. Previous encounters had taught him this. He must act quickly. Stuffing the claret stained blade back in his pocket, he lowered the body reverently on to the ground, where it slumped, the girl’s head lolling to one side, her expression one of frozen terror.

Peeling off thin black leather gloves, he rolled them deftly over his slender wrists, revealing the white latex medical gloves worn beneath. Retrieving a folded carrier from within the pocket of his coat, he shook it out hurriedly, unbuttoning the coat with speed, then hastily rolling it up and thrusting it inside the bag.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the red velvet box, opening the lid and plucking the little gold necklace from its black satin cradle. Bending down, he placed it around her neck, his fingers scrabbling around for the catch as he fastened it. Pausing a second, he considered her, tilting his head to one side, before reaching down again and plucking out the hairpin. Long blonde hair tumbled down, some of the strands dampening and becoming bloodied by the wound in her neck as they fell. He peeled off the medical gloves hurriedly, stuffing them into the bag to join the coat.

The elevator stopped midway between the floor below and the one above, then, after some deliberation began to descend steadily again, taking its occupants, one dead, one living, into the bowels of the building. It came to a final halt at the basement, the doors opening with a hiss, and with one last parting glance at his handiwork, he was out and free, his smallish head with its neat cap of dark hair darting first left, then right, as he expertly scoped his environment.

The CCTV cameras this side of the building weren’t working, he knew, they hadn’t been working properly for three days now. The security firm wouldn’t be here to fix them until Friday morning. Not that it mattered, he thought, pulling the scarf around his mouth. Confidently he made his way toward the exit, determined no one would stop him now. Exhilaration throbbed through him like a pulse. This was better than any high.

Reaching the small metal turnstile, he flipped it easily, passing through unchecked, deftly fleeing the horrifying tableau in the elevator, and escaping into the relative anonymity of the bustling London street outside.

The lift, called by some unseen patron, closed its doors again and began to ascend, the human cargo within encased within its sturdy walls. The blonde’s now still body lay slumped on the floor as the elevator ferried it upwards, a tendril of bloodied blonde hair caressing the corpse’s cheek in a close embrace; one black lace stocking top visible beneath the hem of the satin pencil skirt raised askew.

 


 

 

CHAPTER ONE - JACK

 

Jack stared at the photograph of the corpse pinned to the white board on the incident room wall, as he scratched at the black stubble on his chin. Something about this case seemed familiar though he couldn't place it exactly. A detail he remembered seeing somewhere before, buried deep in his subconscious – so deep he couldn’t quite recall it.

The disquieting feeling had been nagging away at him since the first victim had been discovered. The body had been found in a popular West London Park, by the horrified grounds man attempting to grit the pathway. Lisa Doake’s corpse had been left smack bang right in the middle of the gravel path, a pool of blood from her opened-up jugular congealing on the ground beside her.

Glancing up at the clock on the wall, he saw it was nearing 10pm. He knew he should go home, as Maria would be waiting for him, but his mind kept turning over aspects of the case. Ever since the Chief Super had put him in charge of the case he’d found himself working later and later, sometimes not getting home before midnight. He considered giving her a call to let her know he was on his way at least, and reached out for the phone on his desk.

Just then, he saw Detective Constable Tom Daley approaching his desk, thrusting a piece of paper at him. Daley was a young, enthusiastic junior officer, who in an effort to impress, often stayed far later than he should. He’d only joined the Met’s Serious Crimes Squad last year and was eager to learn everything he could. Jack eyed the dark-haired young rookie, nodding at him in acknowledgement.

“Working late again, eh?” he said raising his eyebrow at the lad.

Daley grinned.

“Always, Sir. But what would you do without me, eh? Here, got the print out you asked Naseem for earlier,” he said, thrusting the piece of paper forward.

Jack took it, glancing down at it perfunctorily. “Cheers. Did you get anything on the CCTV yet for the Wheeler murder?”

The younger guy shook his head.

“Nah, not yet. Maintenance is supposed to be contacting the security firm monitoring the building.”

“Fuck sake, it’s a murder enquiry not a bloody village fete. What’s wrong with people? Don’t they understand the meaning of urgency?”

“Dunno, Sir, but I’ll get on it first thing tomorrow morning and try and put the squeeze on ’em.”

“Good lad. You getting off in a minute?”

“Unless you need me?”

Jack shook his head.

“Nah, you go home and enjoy yourself. Crack open a couple of cans and watch a dirty movie. Or whatever it is you single lads do for fun these days?”

Daley grinned again.

“You off now too, Sir?”

“Not just yet. Got some stuff I need to finish up here first.”

“Do you think we’re any closer to finding him?”

“The slasher?”

Daley nodded. “Yeah.”

“Like fuck we are. He’s harder to catch than a smile from Superintendent Beeton.”

 “Alright, well catch you later, Sir,” Daley said, turning to leave.

“Yeah, later Daley. Night.”

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.

Jack frowned, the wrinkles in his brow furrowing even deeper, as the expression accentuated them. He knew the years of stress, hard work, and heavy smoking had all taken their toll on his appearance, conspiring to render him looking every bit his 45 years. Whenever he looked in the mirror he saw his once coal black hair was now greying-at-the temples, and his brown eyes were bracketed by deeply etched wrinkles. The long scar on the side of his face that ran from under his left eye to just above his lip, was yet another unwanted reward from his years of long service in the force.

Maria didn’t seem to mind the lines though, or the scar. And he had only had eyes for her since as long as he could remember; ever since Zoe ended their marriage fifteen years ago. Zoe, who had fallen for the hard sell of a slick advertising sales manager called Kevin. Kevin had taken her out and shown her a good time, while Jack had been putting in the long hours necessary to carve out a career in the force, so he could provide for a new wife and baby son.

Jack’s looked at the photograph of Brandon, his son, on his desk and sighed heavily, thinking of him so far away in New York with Zoe and Kevin.  They’d taken him there when he was nine months old, he’d be fifteen this August.  He hadn’t seen his son in almost a year and he missed the lad.     The boy had his wiry dark hair and stubborn nature, but Jack hoped he hadn’t inherited his own tendency to repress things.

He stared back down at the printout in front of him. The only things the victims had in common, was that they were female and between the ages of 18-30. And all of them had been found wearing a small gold necklace, with a little gemstone suspended from a fine, gold chain.

Each girl's necklace featured a different stone; Lisa's a peridot, Tanya’s sapphire, and Mya's a tourmaline. Katerina’s had been a topaz, Annmarie’s a turquoise, while Anna's had been a garnet. And the latest victim, Monica Wheeler, had an amethyst stone around her neck, suspended from that same damn gold chain.

They’d tried to trace the maker of the necklaces, but had found nothing of any significance. After hours of searching, they had to concede it must be custom work, possibly bought abroad, since the gold wasn't hallmarked.

The setting which held the stones was the same for each victim: a claw foot clasping the little gem, holding it snugly in place. The chain was a delicately worked but simple linked design, similar to those sold in most high street jewellery shops.

According to forensics, the killer had placed the necklaces around the victims’ necks post mortem. Jack knew from his experience that probably meant all seven women had not known their killer, at least not known him well enough to accept a gift from him. But then what was the significance of the placing of the necklace at all?

He supposed this was what criminal profilers would term a calling card, though that seemed the stuff of crime novels and thriller movies, not real life. Did serial murderers actually operate that way? Sitting there, thinking, an idea came. He remembered Maria mentioning something once, after he'd given her a sapphire ring as a present for her birthday.

Turning to his computer monitor, he hit the power, and the machine blinked back into life, coming out of its self-imposed hibernation. He opened up the search engine, typing something in.

The hairs stood up on the back of his neck as he read it. Could this be the pattern he’d been looking for? What did it mean though, what was the reason behind it all?

‘Birthstones By Month’, the page proclaimed, in gaudy emerald green and ruby, the font glittering and winking like an overdressed Christmas tree. January was supposed to be garnet, amethyst was February, June pearl, and there it was tourmaline. Mya was born in October wasn't she, and she had been found wearing a tourmaline. And look, wait, there was September’s – a sapphire, Tanya had been born in September like Maria, and hadn't she been found with a sapphire stone round her neck?

He remembered Maria squealing with delight as she’d opened up the blue velvet box.

“Jack its lovely… my birthstone,” she’d said, smiling.

But it had been completely by chance he’d picked sapphires, he hadn't known. He hadn't known, but the killer could have, couldn’t he? Could their birthdates be the reason all the victims had been found wearing the same sort of chain, yet set with a different stone?

Looking round the office, he saw most of the day shift had long gone home, to their wives and husbands, their respective families. Where was his partner, Naseem, when he needed her? He didn't understand exactly what the new discovery might mean; didn’t know whether it was even relevant at all. Surely it had to mean something though? After all they didn't have much else to go on at the moment. It had to be some kind of lead.

To his surprise he spied DC Daley walking back through the office, his arms laden with paperwork.

“You still here?” He frowned at the younger man.

“Yeah, Sir. Had to find something in this lot.” Daley gestured to the pile of papers he held. Jack peered closer, reading the stamp imprinted upon the top sheet.

“Records Department, Met Recruitment Office. What’s that then?”

“The Super asked me to get an old file out for him, he wanted to look over something. Didn’t say what it was to do with.”

“Ahh, OK. Beeton poaching my officers again is he?”

Daley smirked, nodding.

“Something like that, Sir.”

Jack rolled his eyes. Beeton seemed to conveniently forget Jack was trying to run a murder investigation, though the fiery chief didn’t hold back from expressing his displeasure at the fact the investigation had yielded no significant leads yet.

“Here look at this,” Jack said, gesturing to the page in front of him.

Squinting his eyes, Daley peered at the screen.

“Birthstones by Month? You stuck for a birthday present for the missus or something, Sir?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Jack waved him away, grinning. “Look again.”

Daley’s expression was impassive as he read.

“What am I supposed to be looking for?”

“Look at the stones for each month.”

“June, pearl, July, ruby, August, peridot, September sapphire?” Daley turned to him with a quizzical look.

“Ring any bells yet? Where have we seen some of those stones before?”

The younger man’s eyes widened.

“The stones round the vics’ necks?”

“Exactly.”

Jack stood up, taking a permanent marker from the pot on his desk, and walking over to the whiteboard on the wall. Finding a space among the pinned up photographs and location maps of where the victims had been found, he wrote the words in bold, thick letters.

The Birthstone Killer?

Daley looked up at board, raising an eyebrow.

“The Birthstone Killer, Sir? Sounds a bit Hollywood if you ask me. You really think we’ve got some nut with a gemstone obsession on our hands here?”

Jack shook his head curtly.

“Not exactly no, but it has to be meaningful somehow. And it’s all we’ve bloody got for now.”

“But you can’t think that’s what the killings are all about surely? There has to be something more to it than bloody astrology.” The younger man’s expression was earnest.

Jack shrugged. “Yeah, well that’s what we need to find out isn’t it?”

Turning to the board again, he underlined the inscribed words heavily with the marker pen. Underneath, he wrote the victims’ names, birthdays, and the corresponding birthstone they’d been found with.

Seven girls all dead, their throats slit by a knife. Most of the bodies left in prominent, fairly public places, meant to be discovered, to be seen. All were blondes, their hair artfully arranged as if the killer were posing them. The only CCTV footage they’d managed to unearth so far showed a shadowy figure with a scarf obscuring the lower half of his face. Impossible to identify. A killer, still out there somewhere; a murderer free to kill again. No DNA evidence that could be linked to anyone on record in the criminal justice system, and no real discernible leads.

And the overriding question kept running through Jack’s mind.

Why?

 

 Release Blitz - June 21st


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Eli Carros is a crime fiction and thriller author from London, England. His 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 him. 

Eli is a trained journalist, was an assistant court reporter, and also interned at The Daily Mirror before becoming a novelist.  He loves reading crime, fantasy, and mystery suspense, and is an ardent admirer of authors Steven King, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben, and Patricia Cornwell.

Eli is a strong supporter of causes that promote equality for all and in his spare time he loves sailing, camping, hiking, and sketching, and detests getting up in the morning without a strong percolated coffee.

 

Contact Information

Website: http://www.elicarros.com/

Facebook: https://Facebook.com/elicarros

Twitter: https://twitter.com/elicarrosauthor

Blog: http://elicarros.weebly.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541000742597845

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071WC6J51/ref=sr_1_2?tag=geolinker-21

 

GIVEAWAY 

All those attending my Facebook online launch party on 21st June will be in with the chance to win a hamper of wine, cheese and luxury chocolates, and a £25/ $25 Amazon Giftcard.

Readers can sign up to attend the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541000742597845


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