A bullet to the brain abruptly halted a terrified young woman's desperate flight. In her pocket is the name of a policeman whose own life was brutally invaded, mercilessly shaken, and very nearly erased -- a policeman who has since gone missing.
The dead woman in the car had been running from something -- but she didn't run far or fast enough. Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot would like to question the man the victim was apparently racing to meet: Annie's superior -- and former lover -- Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. But Banks has vanished into the anonymous chaos of the city, drawn into a mad whirl of greed, inhumanity, and death, by a frantic phone call from the brother he no longer knows. Banks is unaware that the threads connecting a sinister kidnapping with a savage slaying are as thick as rope . . . and long enough for a haunted and broken rogue cop to hang himself.
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May 30, 2006
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Excerpt from Strange Affair by Peter Robinson
Was she being followed? It was hard to tell at that time of night on the motorway. There was plenty of traffic, lorries for the most part, and people driving home from the pub just a little too carefully, red BMWs coasting up the fast lane, doing a hundred or more, businessmen in a hurry to get home from late meetings. She was beyond Newport Pagnell now, and the muggy night air blurred the red taillights of the cars ahead and the oncoming headlights across the road. She began to feel nervous as she checked her rearview mirror and saw that the car was still behind her.
She pulled over to the outside lane and slowed down. The car, a dark Mondeo, overtook her. It was too dark to glimpse faces, but she thought there was just one person in the front and another in the back. It didn't have a taxi light on top, so she guessed it was probably a chauffeured car and stopped worrying.
Some rich git being ferried to a nightclub in Leeds, most likely.
She overtook the Mondeo a little farther up the motorway and didn't give it a second glance. The late-night radio was playing Old Blue Eyes singing "Summer Wind." Her kind of music, no matter how old-fashioned people told her it was. Talent and good music never went out of style as far as she was concerned.
When she got to Watford Gap services, she realized she felt tired and hungry, and she still had a long way to go, so she decided to stop for a short break. She didn't even notice the Mondeo pull in two cars behind her. A few seedy-looking people hung around the entrance; a couple of kids who didn't look old enough to drive stood smoking and playing the machines, giving her the eye as she walked past, staring at her breasts.
She went first to the ladies', then to the cafe, where she bought a ham-and-tomato sandwich and sat alone to eat, washing it down with a Diet Coke. At the table opposite, a man with a long face and dandruff on the collar of his dark suit jacket gave her the eye over the top of his glasses, pretending to read his newspaper and eat a sausage roll.
Was he just a garden-variety pervert, or was there something more sinister in his interest? she wondered. In the end, she decided he was just a perv. Sometimes it seemed as if the world was full of them, that she could hardly walk down the street or go for a drink on her own without some sad pillock who thought he was God's gift eyeing her up, like the kids hanging around the entrance, or coming over and laying a line of chat on her. Still, she told herself, what else could you expect at this time of the night in a motorway service station? A couple of other men came in and went to the counter for coffee-to-go, but they didn't give her a second glance.