Crime Alex Barclay Darkhouse

ISBN 13: 9780007195367

Darkhouse

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9780007195367: Darkhouse

Alex Barclay EVERYTHING YOU NEVER EXPECTED From a broken childhood comes an unbreakable and deadly bond. In 1985 in a North Texas backwater, two teenage boys made a chilling pact that would unite them forever in a dark and twisted loyalty. Now one lies dead. And the man responsible is going to pay. When a routine investigation comes to a violent and tragic end, Detective Joe Lucchesi takes leave from the NYPD and moves with his wife and son to a quiet village on the south east coast of Ireland. They're happy. They're safe. And they're about to enter a nightmare more terrifying than the one they left behind. When a young girl goes missing and the village closes ranks, Detective Lucchesi sets out to find the truth and uncovers a sinister trail that leads from the other side of the Atlantic and cuts directly to the very heart of his family. His wife is lying. His son is lying. And a killer is lying in wait.

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About the Author:

Alex Barclay lives outside Dublin. Darkhouse is her debut novel.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One


Waterford, Ireland, one year later

Danaher’s is the oldest bar in the Southeast of Ireland: stone-floored, wooden, and dim. Salvaged timber from unlucky ships stretches in beams under the low ceiling, making shelves for rusty tankards and tangled green fishing nets. Fires live and die in the wide stone hearth. The men’s room is called the jacks and the jacks is outside: two stalls, one with no door.

“And we haven’t had a shite stolen yet,” Ed Danaher liked to say when anyone complained.

Joe Lucchesi was undergoing an interrogation at the bar.

“Have you ever said ‘Freeze, motherfucker’?” asked Hugh, pushing his glasses up his nose. Hugh was tall and gangly, bowing his head as he talked, always ready to walk through a low doorway. His black hair was pulled into a frizzy ponytail, and his long fingers tucked back the stray strands. His friend Ray rolled his eyes.

“Or ‘Anything you say or do can be held against you in a court of law’?” said Hugh.

Joe laughed.

“Or found peanut shells in someone’s trousers?”

“That was CSI, you fuckwit,” said Ray. “Don’t mind him. Seriously, though, have you ever planted evidence?”

They all laughed. Joe couldn’t remember a night when he had gone for a drink without being asked about his old job. Even his friends still pumped him for information.

“You guys need to get out more,” he said.

“Come on, nothing happens in this kip,” said Hugh.

A kip in Ireland was a dive in America, but to Joe, Mountcannon was far from a dive. It was a charming fishing village that had been his home for the past six months, thanks to his wife, Anna. Concerned for their marriage, their son, Shaun, and the family sanity, she had brought them here to save what she loved. Anna had wanted him to quit after his last case, but he didn’t, so they agreed he would vest out for a year—temporary retirement that gave him nine months to decide whether or not he’d go back.

He didn’t know then where that year would take him. Anna was a freelance interior designer and had pitched an idea to Vogue

Living to renovate an old building, bought by the magazine and shot in stages. The building she chose was Shore’s Rock, a deserted weather-beaten lighthouse on the edge of a cliff outside Mountcannon, the village she had fallen in love with when she was seventeen.

When they got there, Joe understood how she felt. But he needed his New York fix. He would go to the local store and pick up USA Today, or USA Two Days Ago. He’d say to Danny Markey, “If anything big happens back home, call me a couple days later, so I’ll know what you’re talking about.”

In New York, Ireland was Sunday afternoons and WFUV 90.7, “Forty Shades of Green” and “Galway Shawl.” But in an isolated lighthouse near a small village, the real Ireland was not all sentimental ballads . . . and it was far from simple practicalities. He could score a great pint and find a friend in any of Mountcannon’s three bars, but try renting a movie, ordering in, or finding an ATM. For most people, Ed Danaher played banker and barman, always happy to refill his till with the cash he had just handed out.

Joe stood up, slid some notes across the bar, and said goodbye to the two men. He made his way home in fifteen minutes, enjoying the turn of the last bend when the stark, freshly painted white of the lighthouse would rise up from the dark. He pushed open the gate and walked the hundred meters along the lane to the front door.

The site was sloping, carved into the cliff side, and made up of an almost jumbled collection of buildings, dating back to the 1800s and added to over the years until it was finally deserted in the late sixties. There were three separate two-story buildings, two of which could be used as living spaces. The first held the hallway, the kitchen, the living room, and the den on the ground floor, and the main bedroom, guest bedroom, and bathroom on the first floor. The second building was like a huge basement to the first, set lower into the cliff—a darker, small-windowed space. The first story was Shaun’s bedroom and the lower story a wine cellar. The third building was the round tower of the lighthouse, a separate structure to the rear of the main house. From the outside, it looked complete, but it was what lay inside that was the biggest challenge. Higher up on the site, above the house, a large shed had been transformed into a fully kitted-out workshop that Joe was still learning to use. He had made some of what Anna called the cruder furniture in the house, but she said it like a compliment, so that was good enough for him.

By the end of the year, she wanted the house to be modern and comfortable, with as many of the original features as she could keep. She was in the right part of the country for that, with carpenters, ironmongers, and builders easy to find, but she learned quickly not to be as exacting in her timings as she would have been in New York. And the usual enticement of a mention in Vogue was hardly likely to stir these guys. But even in six months, they had helped to transform the unfulfilled potential of the dank, crumbling rooms and battered exteriors. When the family had first walked into Shore’s Rock, it was as if everything had been deserted in a hurry, like some great tragedy had swept old keepers away. It stank of the sea, of damp, of rotting timber. It looked hopeless to Joe and Shaun, but Anna called it perfect dereliction.

Now all the exterior brickwork had been repainted. In the house, under-floor heating had been installed and interior walls and floorboards whitewashed. Simple white wooden furniture with modern touches added minimal decoration to the rooms. Shaun’s bedroom was the first to be finished, but only after a satellite dish was installed. Anna had had to do something to stop the spread of his sixteen-year-old angst.

For him, the culture shock had been intense, because he was young and his world was so small. He couldn’t bear the isolation that for Anna was heaven, removed as she was from the same old faces at the same old press launches and gallery openings, transported now to another era. In Mountcannon, you knew your neighbors, you left your car unlocked, and no street was unsafe.

Joe slid into bed beside Anna. “Assume the position,” he whispered. She smiled, half asleep, and turned her back to him as he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her tiny body toward him. He pressed kisses into the back of her head and fell asleep to the sound of the sea crashing against the rocks.

“Full Irish?” asked Joe, smiling. He was dressed only in jeans, standing over the stove, pointing a greasy spatula at Anna.

“No, no!” she laughed. “I don’t know how they do this every morning. Bacon, eggs, sausages, black pudding, white pudding . . .” She shook her head and walked barefoot across the floor to the cupboard. She stood on tiptoes to reach the top shelf.

“Makes a man out of you,” said Joe.

“Makes a fat man out of you,” said Anna.

“Everyone is fat to a Frenchwoman,” said Joe.

“Every American, maybe.”

“That’s gotta hurt,” said Shaun, sliding into his chair at the table, stretching his legs wide at either side. “Bring it on, Dad. I am proud to fly the American flag this morning.” He grabbed his knife and fork and smiled his father’s crooked smile. The Lucchesi genes overrode the Briaudes’, but what made Shaun so striking was that against the dark hair and sallow skin of his father shone the pale green eyes of his mother.

“Thank you, son,” said Joe.

“But it wouldn’t hurt to put a shirt on,” said Shaun.

“You’re just jealous. And I always fry topless,” said Joe. “So I don’t stink after.”

He dished the food out onto two plates and breathed in dramatically. “Your mother does not know what she’s missing.”

“I do,” said Anna, nodding at Joe’s belly.

He slapped it. “One day of crunches, it’s gone,” he said.

She made a face.

He was right. He had always been in shape.

“C’mon, honey,” he said. “How am I ever going to compete with a woman who shops in the children’s department?”

She smiled. He pulled a white long-sleeved T-shirt over his head and walked over to the kettle. He took the French press down from a shelf beside it, then poured in boiling water and shook it up the sides. When the glass was hot, he threw out the water and tipped four scoops of Kenyan grounds into the bottom. He filled it with water to the edge of the chrome rim. He rinsed the plunger in boiling water and put it on top, twisting it so the opening to the spout was blocked. After four minutes, he plunged gently, watching the grains being pushed slowly to the base of the jug. He rotated the top of the plunger so the grate was lined up with the spout and the coffee would pour. Joe could never watch anyone else make coffee.

“Your father called last night,” said Anna suddenly. Shaun’s eyes widened, but he knew when to stay quiet.

“Sure he did,” said Joe, carrying the coffee to the table.

“He did. He’s getting married.”

Joe stared at her. “You’re shitting me.”

“Watch your language. And I’m serious. How could I make that up? He wants you to go over.”

“Jesus Christ. Is it Pam?”

“Of course it’s Pam. You’re dreadful.”

“Well, you wouldn’t know with that guy.”

&#...

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