With so many of our favourite things being cancelled this Autumn, it’s good to know that First Monday Crime is still here albeit online. You’ll find us live streaming to our Facebook page on Monday 2nd November at 7.30pm. Just like the page and you’ll be able to watch. We’ve got a great line-up for you in November with Vicki Bradley, S.W. Kane, David Young and Chris McGeorge. All four of our authors are graduates of the City Crime and Thriller MA and Claire McGowan, one of the lecturers, will be interviewing them to find out how their careers have progressed since finishing. Jacob Collins over at Hooked From Page One shared his reviews for Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley and The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane on Monday. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my review for The Stasi Game by David Young. Today though I have an extract for you to read from Chris McGeorge’s new book Inside Out which is published today. Happy publication day Chris! Thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou at Orion for sending the extract. Let’s find out what it’s all about.
SHE WAS SENT DOWN…
Cara Lockhart has just commenced a life sentence in HMP North Fern – the newest maximum security women’s prison in the country. She was convicted of a crime she is adamant she didn’t commit.
SHE WAS SET UP…
One morning she wakes up to find her cellmate murdered – shot in the head with a gun that is missing. The door was locked all night, which makes Cara the only suspect.
BUT THAT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING.
Cara needs to clear her name, unravelling an impossible case, with an investigation governed by a prison timetable.
But as Cara starts to learn more about North Fern and the predicament she is in, she finds connections between the past and present that she never could have imagined.
Indeed it seems that her conviction and her current situation might be linked in very strange ways…
A ringing. Loud. Too early for the alarm. Must be his phone.
He opened his eyes and reached over in the dark. A 12-44. Couldn’t be real. But he had to check.
He got up, got dressed, turned the window on for a moment. There was an avalanche outside. Lovely. He turned it off again.
He left his bedroom, slipping his Cuff on as he went down the corridor into the control room.
Continell was at the desk, watching all the monitors, a half-drunk cup of coffee forgotten next to her.
‘Harper,’ Continell said, as he leant on the desk. She sounded worried. ‘One of the Cuffs just went off. No life signs.’
‘Which one?’ Harper said.
‘That’s Lockhart’s cell? You got VA on it?’
Continell didn’t even need to press any buttons. She already had it up on the screen. An overhead of a cell, two beds with two women sleeping. Then the cameras went to static.
‘VA is lost for 12.3 seconds,’ Continell said, ‘and then…’
A sound. Loud. Like a roar ripping through the static. Gone as soon as it hit his ears. And the camera clicked back on. One of the women was still sleeping as before. The other was draped over the bed, head falling to the floor. Some kind of substance was flowing onto the floor from her forehead. Harper was glad the camera was black and white.
‘What—?’ He couldn’t say anything. ‘What happened?’
‘That sound,’ Continell said. ‘I heard it. Not on the cameras. I actually heard it. From two floors away. I think it was a gunshot.’
‘You checked the records on the door?’
‘No one went in or out. No prisoner. No guard. Lock wasn’t disengaged. Records are one hundred per cent, no one can change them.’
‘One hundred per cent?’
‘One hundred per cent.’
Harper picked up Continell’s coffee without asking and downed the rest of the contents. ‘Wake ’em up. Tell them to suit up. 12-44.’ He started out of the room.
‘Who am I waking up?’
Harper paused at the door. ‘All of them.’
Ten minutes later, they were all at the lifts. All in their armour. All carrying their service weapons.
They got in the lift. Went down two floors.
Harper paused them all at the entrance to the Unit. ‘This is the first time we’ve dealt with something like this. Krotes has signed off on the weapon usage, but no one is firing unless absolutely necessary. Let’s not be trigger-happy.’
‘Don’t need to tell me twice, Chief.’ Anderson smiled, cocking his shotgun. Why the hell had they given him a shotgun?
At least the others appeared more apprehensive. ‘OK,’ Harper said, ‘me and Abrams take point. Truchforth and Anderson take the rear.’
They went through the double doors into the Unit, and down into the Pit. Prisoners were waking up, shouting questions through their cell doors. They ignored them. Got to the cell.
Harper took a long breath, nodded to Abrams and the others behind him. Then held up his Cuff. The light on it went green. And so did the light above the cell door.
They rushed into the dark. Abrams had a torch and she found Lockhart’s face. The young woman was still asleep, or doing a damn good job at pretending. And then the torch went down to the puddle of blood on the floor, and then to Barnard’s face. A hole in the middle of her head. Her eyes open, forever.
‘Jesus,’ Harper said.
Then the lights clicked on. And they all saw.
Harper found himself frozen. As Anderson and Abrams rushed to Lockhart, woke her up, got her in cuffs. She was gibbering about not knowing what was going on. And then she saw Barnard, and was gibbering about how she didn’t do it.
Something was wrong.
Truchforth was scanning the cell, searching for the gun. He completed the quick search. ‘There’s no gun in here.’
Just a brief look-round. He could be wrong.
Lockhart was getting dragged out of the cell. All three of them were restraining her, taking her off to the Hole. But Harper couldn’t move. All he could do was stand there, looking and thinking. About something…
‘Harper.’ Continell, in his ear. ‘I’ve been looking over the footage.’
He looked up at the camera.
‘12.3 seconds the camera was down,’ Continell said. ‘I layered over the before and after images, on either side of that cut.’
‘What about it?’
Continell paused a little before speaking. ‘Lockhart doesn’t move. She doesn’t move even a millimetre. The images are identical.’
‘What are you saying?’ Harper asked.
But she didn’t need to answer. Because Harper was thinking it as well.
Was there a possibility that Lockhart didn’t do it?
Wow! Inside Out sounds like the ultimate locked room mystery!
You can buy Inside Out at your local bookshop or click here.
Chris McGeorge lives in Durham and is a recent graduate of the Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller) MA at City University. He loves film and acting in an amateur theatre group and can be found on Twitter at @crmcgeorge.