Val McDermid Killing the Shadows

ISBN 13: 9780007879816

Killing the Shadows

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9780007879816: Killing the Shadows

A killer is on the loose, blurring the line between fact and fiction. His prey―the writers of crime novels who have turned psychological profilers into the heroes of the nineties. But this killer is like no other. His bloodlust shatters all the conventional wisdom surrounding the motives and mechanics of how serial killers operate. And for one woman, the desperate hunt to uncover his identity becomes a matter of life and death.

Professor Fiona Cameron is an academic psychologist who uses computer technology to help police forces track serial offenders. She used to help the Met, but vowed never to work for them again when they went against her advice and badly screwed up an investigation as a consequence. Still smarting from the experience, she's working a case in Toledo when her lover, thriller writer Kit Martin, tells her a fellow crime novelist has been murdered. It's not her case, but Fiona can't help taking an interest.

Which is just as well, because before too long the killer strikes again. And again. And Fiona is caught up in a race against time, not only to save a life, but to bring herself redemption, both personal and professional.

Rich in atmosphere, Killing the Shadows uses the backdrops of city and country to create an air of threatening menace, culminating in a tense confrontation between hunter and hunted, a confrontation that can have only one outcome.

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About the Author:

One of Britain's most popular authors of contemporary crime fiction, Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community, read English at Oxford, then returned to Scotland to work as a journalist. She was National Bureau Chief on a national Sunday tabloid before quitting in 1991 to become a full-time novelist.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Killing the Shadows
iThe haar moves up from the steel-grey waters of the Firth of Forth, a solid wall of mist the colour of cumulus. It swallows the bright lights of the city's newest playground, the designer hotels and the smart restaurants. It becomes one with the spectres of the sailors from the docks who used to blow their pay on eighty-shilling ale and whores with faces as hard as their clients' hands. It climbs the hill to the New Town, where the geometric grid of Georgian elegance slices it into blocks before it slides down into the ditch of Princes Street Gardens. The few late revellers staggering home quicken their steps to escape its clammy grip.By the time it reaches the narrow split-level streets and twisting vennels of the Old Town, the haar has lost its deadening solidity. It has metamorphosed into wraiths of pale fog that turn tourist traps into sinister looming presences. Peeling posters advertising recent Festival Fringe events flit in and out of visibility like garish ghosts. On a night like this it's easy to see what inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to create The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He may have set the book in London, but it's unmistakably Edinburgh that comes eerily off the page.Behind the soot-black facades of the Royal Mile lie the old tenements surrounding their barren courts. Back in the eighteenth century, these were the equivalent of today's council-housing schemes -- overcrowded with the dispossessed of the city, home to drunks and laudanum addicts, haunts of the lowest whores and street urchins. Tonight, like a tormented replay of the worst historical nightmare, a woman's body lies close to the head of a stone staircase that provides a steep short cut from High Street down the slope of The Mound. Her short dress has been pulled up, the cheap seams splitting under the strain.If she had screamed when she was attacked, it would have beensmothered by the blanket of foggy air. One thing is certain. She will never scream again. Her throat is a gaping scarlet grin. To add insult to injury, the gleaming coils of her intestines have been draped over her left shoulder.The printer who stumbled over the body on his way home from a late shift cowers in a crouch at the mouth of the close leading to the court. He is close enough to the pool of his own vomit to gag on the rancid stench held hovering by the oppression of the haar. He has used his mobile phone to call the police, but the few minutes it is taking them to arrive feel like an eternity, his recent vision of hell stamped ineradicably on his mind's eye.Flashing blue lights loom suddenly before him as two police cars swoop to a halt at the kerb. Running footsteps, then he has company. Two uniformed officers gently help him to his feet. They lead him towards their squad car where they hand him into the rear seat. Two others have disappeared down the close, the woolly sound of their footsteps swallowed almost immediately by the clinging mist. Now the only sounds are the crackling of the police radio and the chattering of the printer's teeth. Dr Harry Gemmell hunkers by the body, his gloved fingers probing things that Detective Inspector Campbell Grant doesn't want to think about. Rather than study what the police surgeon is doing, Grant looks instead at the scene-of-crime officers in their white overalls. They are taking advantage of the portable lights to search the area round the body. The haar is eating into Grant's very bones, making him feel like an old man.Eventually, Gemmell grunts and pushes himself to his feet, stripping the blood-streaked latex from his hands. He studies his chunky sports watch and gives a satisfied nod. 'Aye,' he says. 'September the eighth, right enough.''Meaning what, Harry?' Grant asks wearily. He is already irritated by the prospect of enduring Gemmell's habit of forcing detectives to drag information out of him piecemeal.'Your man here, he likes to play follow-my-leader. See if you can figure it out for yourself, Cam. There are marks on her neck that indicate manual strangulation, though I reckon she died from having her throat cut. But it's the mutilations that tell the story.''Is all this supposed to mean something to me, Harry? Apart froma good reason to lose my last meal?' Grant demands.'Eighteen eighty-eight in Whitechapel, nineteen ninety-nine in Edinburgh.' Gemmell raises an eyebrow.'Time to call in the profilers, Cam.''What the fuck are you on about, Harry?' Grant asks. He wonders if Gemmell's been drinking.'I think you've got a copycat killer, Cam. I think you're looking for Jock the Ripper.'Chapter 1Dr Fiona Cameron stood on the very lip of Stanage Edge and leaned forward into the wind. The only kind of sudden death she might have to contemplate here would be her own, and then only if she was more careless than she thought she could manage. But just supposing for a moment she lost concentration on the wet millstone grit, she'd plunge down thirty or forty helter-skelter feet, her body bouncing like a plastic doll on the jutting blocks of rock, bones and skin broken and violated.She'd end up looking like a victim.No way, Fiona thought, letting the wind push her back from the edge just far enough to take the danger out of her position. Not here of all places. This was the place of pilgrimage, the place where she came to remind herself of all the reasons why she was who she was. Always alone, she returned here three or four times a year, whenever the need grew in her to touch the face of her memories. The company of another living, breathing human would be impossible to bear up on this bleak stretch of moorland. There was only room for the two of them; Fiona and her ghost, that other half of herself who only ever walked beside her on these moors.It was strange, she thought. There were so many other places where she'd spent far more time with Lesley. But everywhere else was somehow marred by the consciousness of other voices, other lives. Here, though, she could sense Lesley without interference. She could see her face, open in laughter, or closed in concentration as she negotiated a tricky scramble. She could hear her voice, earnest with confidences or loud with the excitement of achievement. She almost believed she could smell the faint musk of her skin as they huddled together over a picnic.Here, more than anywhere, Fiona recognized the light she had lost from her life. She closed her eyes and let her mind create the picture. Her mirror image, that same chestnut hair and hazel eyes, that samearc of the eyebrows, that same nose. Everyone had always marvelled at the resemblance. Only their mouths were different; Fiona's wide and full-lipped, Lesley's a small cupid's bow, her bottom lip fuller than the upper.Here, too, the discussions had been had, the decision taken that had ultimately led to Lesley being wrenched from her life. This was the place of final reproach, the place where Fiona could never forget what her life lacked.Fiona felt her eyes watering. She snapped them open and let the wind provide the excuse. The time for vulnerability was over. She was here, she reminded herself, to get away from victims. She looked out across the brown bracken of Hathersage Moor to the clumsy thumb of Higger Tor and beyond, turning back to watch a wedge of rain drench one end of Bamford Moor. In this wind, she had twenty minutes before it reached the Edge, she reckoned, rolling her shoulders to shift her backpack to a more comfortable position. Time to make a move.An early train from King's Cross then a connection to a local train had brought her to Hathersage just after ten. She'd made good time on the steep hike up to High Neb, enjoying the stretch in her muscles, savouring the bunching of her calves and the tautness of her quads. The final scramble that brought her to the northern end of Stanage had left her short of breath and she'd leaned against the rock, taking a long drink from her water bottle before she set off along the flat slabs of gritstone. The connection to her past had grounded her more firmly than anything else she knew. And the wind at her back had exhilarated her, setting her thoughts loose from the jumbled knot of irritation that had woken her. She'd known then that she had to get out of London for the day or else accept that by evening her shoulders would be a tight plane sending waves of pain up her neck and across her head.The only appointment in her diary had been a supervision meeting with one of her PhD students, and that had been easily rearranged with a phone call from the train. Up here on the moors, no tabloid hack could find her, no camera crew could thrust their equipment into her face and demand to know what Candid Cameron had to say about the day's courtroom events.Of course, she couldn't be certain that things would turn out in line with her expectations. But when she'd heard on last night's news that the sensational trial of the Hampstead Heath Killer was still on hold after a second day of legal arguments, all her instincts told her that by the endof today, the red-top brigade would be screaming for blood. And she was the perfect weapon for them to use to draw that blood from the police. Better to keep well out of it, for all sorts of reasons.She'd never courted publicity for the work she'd done with the police, but it had dogged her regardless. Fiona hated to see her face splashed across the newspapers nearly as much as her colleagues resented it. What was almost worse than the loss of privacy was that her notoriety had somehow diminished her as an academic. Now when she published in journals and contributed to books, she knew her work was scrutinized with more scepticism than before, simply because she had applied her skills and knowledge in a practical way that met with pursed lips of disapproval among the purists.The silent condemnation had only grown harsher when one of the tabloids had revealed that she was living with Kit Martin. It was hard to imagine who, in the eyes of the academic establishment, could have been a less respectable partner for an academic psychologist engaged in developing scientific methods that would help police to catch repeat offenders than the country's leading writer of serial killer thrillers. If Fiona had cared enough about what her peers thought of her, she might have bothered to explain that it was not Kit's novels she was in love with but the man who wrote them, and that the very nature of his work had made her more cautious about starting the relationship than she might otherwise have been. But since no one dared challenge her to her face, she chose not to leap into the trap of self-justification.At the thought of Kit, her sadness shifted. That she had found the one man who could save her from the prison of her introspection was a blessing she never ceased to find miraculous. The world might never see behind the tough-guy charm he turned on in public, but beyond his sharp-edged intelligence, she had discovered generosity, respect and a sensitivity she'd all but given up hope of ever finding. With Kit, she had finally arrived at a kind of peace that mostly kept the demons of Stanage Edge at bay.As she strode on, she glanced at her watch. She'd made good time. If she kept up her pace, she'd have time for a drink in the Fox House pub before the bus that would carry her back down into Sheffield for the London train. She'd have had five hours in the open, five hours when she had seen scarcely another human being, and that was enough to sustain her. Until the next time, she thought grimly.The train was quieter than she'd expected. Fiona had a double seat to herself, and the man opposite her was asleep within ten minutes of leaving Sheffield, allowing her space to spread herself over the whole of the table between them. That was fine by her since she had more than enough work to occupy the journey. She had an arrangement with the landlord of a pub a few minutes' walk from the station. He looked after her mobile phone and her laptop when she was out walking in exchange for signed first editions of Kit's books. It was safer than the left-luggage facilities at the station and certainly cheaper.Fiona flipped open her laptop and attached it to her mobile so she could collect her e-mail. A message appeared on her screen announcing she had five new pieces of mail. She downloaded them then disconnected. There were two messages from students, and one from a colleague in Princeton writing to ask if he could have access to some data she had collected on solved rape cases. Nothing there that couldn't wait till morning. She opened the fourth message, from Kit.From:Kit Martin To:Fiona Cameron Subject:Dinner tonightHope you've had a good day on the hill. I've been productive, 2,500 words by teatime.Things turned out at the Bailey just like you said they would. Trust that female intuition! (only joking, I know yours was a considered judgement based on weighing up all the scientific evidence ...) Anyway, I reckoned Steve would need cheering up, so I've arranged to meet him for dinner. We're going to St John's in Clerkenwell to eat lots of dead animal so you probably don't fancy joining us, but if you want to, that'd be great. If not, I made a salmon and asparagus risotto for lunch, and there's plenty left over in the fridge for you for dinner.Love you.Fiona smiled. Typical Kit. As long as everyone was fed, nothing too terrible could go wrong with the world. She wasn't surprised Steve needed cheering up. No police officer relished watching a case fall apart, especially one that had such a high public profile as the Hampstead Heath murder. But for Detective Superintendent Steve Preston, the collapse ofthis particular case would have left a more bitter taste than most. Fiona knew only too well how much had been at stake in this prosecution, and while she felt personal sympathy for Steve, all she felt for the Metropolitan Police was that it served them bloody well right.She clicked open the next message, having saved the most intriguing for last.From:Salvador Berrocal To:Dr Fiona Cameron Subject:Consultation requestDear Dr CameronI am a Major in the plain-clothes division of the CuerpoNacional de Policia based in Madrid. I am in charge of many homicide inquiries. Your name has been given to me by a colleague at New Scotland Yard as an expert in crime linkage and geographic profiling. Please forgive the intrusion of contacting you so directly. I am writing to ask if you would do us the courtesy of providing your services to consult in a matter of great urgency. In Spain we have a little experience with serial killers and so we have no psychological experts to work with policemen.In Toledo have been two murders inside three weeks and we think they are the crimes of one man. But it is wholly not obvious that they are connected and we need a different expertise to assist us with the analysis of these crimes. I understand that you have experience in the area of crime analysis and linkage, and this would be of great use to us, I think.I wish to know if in principle you are willing to help us with resolving these murders. You may be assured of proper remuneration for this consultation if you will b...

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