Please welcome Sandra de Helen, to talk about her new thriller, Till Darkness Comes, and give us an exciting and suitably creepy excerpt. Don’t miss the buy links for all of her work at the end of the excerpt~
If you’re a thriller lover, I may have just the book for you. Chelsea Cain (she of the famous Gretchen and Archie thrillers) says “I wish I had half the plotting talent that Sandra de Helen has. This is such a terrific and totally satisfying book.”
Till Darkness Comes is set in Kansas City, Missouri, where I used to live. A serial killer first kills a pedophile, then moves on to killing insurance executives. Two young women who were best friends in high school get caught up in the murders. One because her uncle is killed; the other because she’s a young rookie cop with big ambitions.
I had been merrily writing along, working on my Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson mystery series, set in modern day Portland, basing their stories on tales of Sherlock Holmes, when I was seized with a desire to go darker. Much darker.
The first two books in the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series are The Hounding and The Illustrious Client. I’m currently at work on the third Shirley Combs book A Valley of Fear, but the next one will be a follow-up to the thriller.
An Excerpt from Till Darkness Comes:
A sliver of crescent moon rises through the clouds as an unseen watcher leans near the closed window of the shed. The ramshackle building is covered with English ivy, honeysuckle, and a wild rambling rose that makes it difficult to see into the one-story woodworking shop. A Coleman lantern is the only light in the building. Even though the sun has set, the Missouri heat is oppressive, the humidity so high the watcher is sweating. Cicadas, tree frogs, and nearby traffic provide the soundtrack. The honeysuckle scent disappeared a month before. The odors of this night are sweat, dust, and cigarette smoke.
Jerry Vogelsang puffs his cigarette while sitting on a stack of burlap bags in his underwear, a can of Budweiser at his side. A small boy is in a heap on the floor, wearing only a tee shirt, his back heaving with sobs.
“Get it together you little shit. You got to go inside and you got to act like everything’s okay.”
The boy jerks away from Jerry, but raises his head and faces him.
“Wipe your face and stuff. Straighten up.”
The boy wipes his nose with the back of his hand, stands up, covering his private parts with his other hand.
Jerry slaps the boy’s hand away.
“Now get dressed and go in the house. Just act like you always do. Everything’s okay as long as you don’t tell. All right?”
The boy scurries to put his clothes and shoes on, and runs out the door, letting it slam behind him. As soon as he is gone, the watcher goes to the door, opens it, steps inside, and locks it.
Before Jerry can express more than surprise, the watcher crosses the room and hits him in the head with a crowbar, knocking him out. The watcher prepares the room. First the window is covered with a black cloth. The door is barred to make it more secure. Next the workbench is cleared to make room for Jerry. The watcher uses the firefighter’s carry to hoist the man onto the bench. He is of average height and weight, but he is unconscious, and of no help. Using a nail gun, the watcher secures him to the table with three-quarter-inch galvanized metal strapping. Jerry is strapped at neck, biceps, wrists, waist, thighs, knees, shins, and ankles. And one across the forehead for good measure. The watcher opens Jerry’s mouth and stuffs it with a sock, wraps a bandana around the back of his head, and ties it over his gagged mouth.
Jerry groans and begins to squirm. The watcher holds up a pair of scissors where Jerry can see them. Jerry tries to yell and when he can’t, he begins to thrash, his eyes wild. The scissors, held in hands encased in black rubber gloves, come at his face, stopping just short of his right eye. Jerry presses the back of his head into the workbench. Beads of sweat pop up on his forehead and a deep growl issues from his throat. The warm building reeks of bodily fluids.
“That’s better. Stay still. I’m going to give you some injections so the things I do won’t hurt so bad. Shh. Be quiet now. You know we like to be quiet. We don’t want anyone to know what you do out here in the shed, do we? I’m going to cut your underpants off, here we go. Don’t wiggle, you’ll make me cut you. Oops, you see? I did cut you, these scissors are really sharp. Let’s cut these all the way off, see what you’ve got down here. Well, that’s not so much, is it? What’s the matter, you cold? All the time I was thinking I’ll bet you hurt that little boy you had in here, but maybe you didn’t hurt him so bad with this little old thing. Oh, but I’m forgetting. It gets hard when you’re around little kids, right? Both little boys and girls, right? You’re equal like that, huh? A real man. Maybe you need to be a bit less of a man. Maybe you need to be castrated. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll give you a shot. Hold still. Here we go. Are you numbing up yet? How about now? Look, it’s not going to hurt that much anyway, right? I’m not going to cut them off with the scissors. No. I’m going to use dental floss. I’ll tie them real tight and they’ll fall off in a couple of weeks. Hold still. Hold still!”
As Jerry twists and turns, the metal banding loosens. At the first sound of the nails pulling from the workbench, the watcher grabs the scissors and stabs Jerry in the stomach, then again higher in the chest, and finally in the throat. Blood is gushing from Jerry’s body, but he is still. The watcher gathers up all the tools, including the black cloth from the window, the bar from the door, the crowbar, the nail gun, and the leftover metal strapping. These items go into the duffel bag they bought at the Army surplus store. With a last look around, the watcher leaves the shed, shuts the door, pulls off the rubber gloves and stows them in a pocket.
Sandra de Helen, author of the thriller Till Darkness Comes, also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.
Till Darkness Comes:
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://bit.ly/TDCNook
The Illustrious Client:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1Usz8Em
Tanum (Norway): http://bit.ly/1XNueEt
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1spt32C
Tanum (Norway): http://bit.ly/1RKyOMP