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Extract: The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill

Susan Hill’s latest novel, The Soul of Discretion, is the eighth book in the Simon Serrailler series. In this instalment, the Detective Constable finds himself taking the lead role in a complex and potentially dangerous undercover operation in which he must try to inhabit the mind of the worst kind of criminal. As the operation unfolds, Lafferton is dragged into the sort of case every town dreads – and one which sees Simon face the fight of his life.

Here at Dead Good we can’t get enough of Susan Hill’s writing, so we wanted to give you a taster of what to expect from her new book and share a short extract with you!

Sit back and enjoy the beginning of the first chapter of The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill…

Contains some strong language.

The Soul of Discretion
Susan Hill


April 2007

Lafferton, and a night in early spring. After a week of frosts, the wind had swung to the west, bringing milder air. Snowdrops and crocuses were over, daffodils were flowering. Quiet, empty streets. No footsteps.
        Jeff Barclay and Robbie Freeman sat on a low wall near the bus stop in the square, finishing off a shared kebab. They only had enough money for one, and a tea. Robbie screwed up the greasy paper and lifted his arm to throw it into a nearby bin. But his arm froze in mid-air.
        ‘Bloody hell.’
        ‘What?’ Jeff shoved him so that he almost fell off the wall. Robbie did not protest or shove back, he just stared at the entrance to the Lanes, the cobbled pedestrian-only street to their left.
        ‘Shit, did you see that?’
        ‘Didn’t see anything. What was it – a ghost?’ Jeff snorted.
        ‘No.’ Robbie said quietly, getting off the wall and walking towards the Lanes. ‘I saw a kid.’
        ‘What sort of kid?’
        ‘A little kid. It . . . it had no clothes on.’
        ‘You’re taking the piss. I never saw any naked kid.’
        Jeff levelled with him as they reached the top of the Lanes.
        There were old-fashioned lamps at either end and a couple of shops had lighted front windows. The whole street was empty.
        ‘No. I saw it. There was a little kid, it sort of – just ran and then it vanished.’
        ‘Yeah, right. Come on, let’s see if there’s anyone outside the Magpie.’
        But Robbie was walking slowly away from him, looking closely to right and left. In the end, Jeff followed.
        ‘How could there be a kid?’
        ‘I know what I saw.’
        ‘What are you on, Rob? You start seeing things, you got a problem.’
        There was a passageway between the deli and a smart clothes shop, and as Robbie looked into it, he saw a quick movement – something pale. He ran down, but he had to push past two wheelie bins, and by the time he had got through, if there had been anyone, they’d gone.
        ‘You’re mad.’
        ‘Oh, for fuck’s sake! I’m off home.’
        It was another five minutes before Robbie followed him. They walked slowly along the kerb, thumbs out every time a vehicle went by. Not many did.
        ‘Wanker.’ Jeff gave two fingers to a speeding car. Robbie said nothing. His head was full of what he knew he had seen – not imagined, not hallucinated, seen. A child, maybe three or four years old, naked, slithering out of sight into the shadows, dodging down the alley and passageway. He couldn’t get it out of his mind.

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