Extract: Trust No One by Anthony Mosawi
Trust No One is the explosive debut thriller from Anthony Mosawi. The book introduces a fantastic new series character, Sara Eden – a young woman who can’t remember much, but knows she was imprisoned by the men trying to kill her. This is a high-concept read that grips and entertains like a Hollywood thriller.
They found her when she was only ten years old, locked in a sensory-deprivation tank. She had been trapped there for days in the dark listening to the same message over and over on a cassette tape: ‘My name is Sara Eden. My name is Sara Eden.’
With her memory gone, this is all Sara knows about herself. The only thing the police had to go off were a handful of clues – a battered necklace, a few scraps of paper and a polaroid of a stranger with a handwritten note: ‘Don’t trust this man’.
Now an adult, Sara knows a few more things – the government agents pursuing her will never stop and the only path to her identity is to find the man she must not trust. But there is something else in Sara’s past that is more dangerous, more deadly, than her pursuers. The only thing she knows for certain is that she must trust no one.
Read on for an extract from Trust No One by Anthony Mosawi!
Trust No One
‘I hope you’ve got a stronger stomach.’
The police sergeant’s voice was brittle as he stood in the teeming rain at the entrance of the house. His hulking form almost blocked out the doorframe.
The fact that he had come personally was an indication to Claire that the crime was a serious one. As the only social services officer working on the local police force, she attended each incident, and this was only the second time she had ever seen him.
Claire stared at the house for a moment, trying to dampen the fear in her gut. This happened each time: each drab façade hid chambers of cruelty and neglect. She never knew what horrors lay in wait for her.
The rain lashed at her, falling in liquid columns from the eaves of the house. She knew the sergeant was trying to get under her skin. He was referring to the first time they had met, when four young kids had been found in a crack house. Two were still alive among the debris of the spare room, while their junkie parents lay in a torpor next door. When she’d seen the infants’ state, she’d rushed outside and vomited in the garden.
Claire acknowledged him with a grim nod. He barely moved to make way for her. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust when she stepped inside. She was used to slovenly accommodations – they went hand in hand with neglect – and this was no different. The carpet was covered with ramshackle stacks of old newspapers and dirty crockery.
Sitting on the only piece of furniture in the room was a haggard woman, her greasy hair falling limply around the sides of her face. The ravages of drugs made it difficult to gauge her age. She could be late twenties or early fifties. She looked up at Claire with dead eyes that followed her as Claire stepped carefully through the room.
Claire reminded herself that she had a job to do. A Polaroid photograph lay on the couch. Claire picked it up, keeping her eyes on the woman to see if she would react. She didn’t.
The picture looked like it had been taken without the subject’s knowledge. He was well dressed – suit and tie – in his mid-twenties; the bottom part of his body obscured by the fence he was next to. It took Claire a few seconds to recognize the surroundings: it was the front of the house in which she was standing.
She turned over the photograph, and found writing scrawled across the back.
DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN.
Claire was pondering this so intently that she didn’t hear the sergeant approach her from behind.
His voice was loud enough to make her flinch. She turned to see him thrusting his chin towards the stairs.
There were two more officers upstairs. Claire could see that the situation was bad. They appeared shell-shocked, their features drained of the usual professional courtesy. A lanky officer standing nearest to her pointed to the door next to him.
Claire took the pair of white latex gloves that he extended to her, pulled them on with a practised snap and walked on to the cracked tiles of the bathroom.
‘We found the girl in there. They used the bath. Trapped her inside it.’
‘Where’s the child?’
‘Dried her off. She’s next door.’
Claire began taking photos with her camera phone. The horror was palpable in the room, rolling off the dingy walls.
‘That’s the mother downstairs?’
The officer shook his head.
‘No. Some junkie.’
She moved closer to the white enamel tub. It was three inches full of filthy water and a layer of scum that floated in swirling continents on the surface. Lying on the edge of the bath were four scraps of torn paper. One word was written on each scrap, but Claire couldn’t combine them in any way that made any sense for the situation. Next to the scraps was a necklace. Claire already knew the locket and chain were cheap. If they had been worth anything, the junkie downstairs would have pocketed it.
‘That covered it when we arrived.’
He pointed to a long slab of corkboard that lay at an angle on top of the bath, like a displaced coffin lid.
She shuddered for a second as she imagined the young girl shivering in the darkness, buried alive.
‘Kid had these. Could have electrocuted herself. Suppose the minder thought she was doing her a favour.’
He held up a Sony cassette Walkman and a pair of bedraggled headphones.
When she entered the bedroom, the girl’s face was averted, her little form hunched over the side of the bed, head buried in her hands.
Claire inched forward.
‘I’m from the social services. We’re here to help you.’
The little girl did not move. Claire moved closer, lowering herself to perch on the end of the filthy bed. She could now see the girl’s mouth through the webbed space between her knitted fingers. It moved constantly, mouthing silent words.
She reached out and put a tentative hand on the girl’s back, letting it rest there, allowing her to feel the connection.
‘It’s not what you think.’
Claire and the officer turned around to find the dead-eyed woman standing in the door. Her voice was smoky and harsh, slicing through the silence in the room.
‘Get her out of here.’
The officer grabbed the woman by the arm and twisted it behind her back.
‘No, listen! This was a job. The mother. She paid me!’
He herded her down the stairs as the burly sergeant walked in the bedroom door.
‘Just spoke to the foster home,’ he said, breathing deeply from his climb up the stairs. ‘They’ve got an arrival date for her in a week’s time.’
‘Who checked her in?’
‘Someone calling herself the mother, but later the ID turned out to be stolen. Find out what the girl is saying?’
She shook her head.
He took a long look around him, at the room, the corridor and the bathroom.
‘Just when you think you’ve seen the worst…’ he said, before heading down the stairs again.
Claire placed the Polaroid of the man she’d found downstairs into a clear plastic bag. She lowered the necklace in as well. As she held it by the chain, she took a longer look at the locket. It had a small circular design, bright turquoise-blue with a dark-blue dot inside it.
When Claire walked down the stairs, the sergeant and two policemen were standing in the middle of the room, handcuffing the junkie’s hands behind her back.
‘Janey Small, I am arresting you for child abduction, assault…’
‘It wasn’t abduction.’
The sergeant stopped and looked at Claire.
‘The woman was right,’ continued Claire. ‘The girl wasn’t snatched. This was a job, for the mother.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘The colour in the water upstairs, that’s not dirt, it’s dye,’ she said.
‘Stick to the social work.’
‘And it wasn’t being used as a bathtub; it’s a sensory deprivation chamber. They used them in the Cold War to brainwash people.’
The sergeant’s face darkened, and he took a step closer to Claire.
‘Get out. Now.’
Claire saw him notice what she was carrying in her left hand – the bedraggled Walkman. He reached out and swiped it from her.
‘Listen to it.’
She looked at him directly in the eye.
‘Listen to what is playing.’
The sergeant paused but could not lose face in front of her. He pulled one damp headphone to his ear.
A woman’s voice was speaking, warm and kind, intoning the same sentences in an endless loop. Claire spoke to him slowly, as if English was not his first language.
‘Someone paid that junkie. The girl’s hair has been dyed. New identity made. An alternative history brainwashed into her…’
The sergeant stared at her, a look of hesitation on his face for the first time.
‘I would have thought that’s obvious. The mother didn’t just want to get rid of her own daughter. She wanted to make sure her daughter never found out who she really was.’
‘And what about the photo?’ asked the sergeant.
Claire pursed her lips. She had been mulling over how the man in the Polaroid fitted into this enigma.
‘Best guess… maybe the father of the girl… and the reason why the mother is running away…’
She was also thinking of the words on the four scraps of paper, still lying upstairs on the bathtub:
PHOEBE. A. WIFE. RESTS.
It sounded like the obituary on a failed marriage, written by a disintegrating mind. Claire would have continued her train of thought, but the sergeant held up a hand for her to stop and looked over her shoulder.
Claire turned to see the little girl coming down the stairs, her eyes downcast. Her mouth never stopped moving as she breathed out indistinct words. As she
walked past them, the social services officer knelt down and held her in her arms.
Claire could feel the girl’s warm breath near her ear as her voice became clear.
‘My name is Sara Eden… I was born in Scotland in 1983… My mother died at birth… My father was a tourist…’
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