A cruel death. A macabre calling card.
A killer on a mission.
A body is found outside a church in a small Hertfordshire town. Alastair Murdoch suffered before he died. But what really disturbs DI Nathan Quarrel is the Tarot card motif adorning the body: The Fool.
Just 24 hours later, another body turns up.
A different card, but from the same pack.
Unless Quarrel can decipher the meaning behind the cards and the connection between the victims, more will follow in a twisted agenda of abduction, pain and death.
PRAISE FOR DAVE SIVERS:
‘Fabulous stuff – as good as Peter Robinson’ – Christina Jones, bestselling author
‘Sivers is alongside the likes of McDermid and Billingham in terms of giving you characters you just long to know more about’ – Robert F Barker, author of the Jamie Carver series
This intricately plotted police procedural was told from the perspectives of DI Quarrel, Izzy Cole,someone who is hopefully going to become a new member of his team and the killer's victims whilst they were in captivity. I loved DI Nathan Quarrel, I thought he was a fantastic, likeable character, he was flawed but he didn't have the stereotypical issues that most fictional detectives are inflicted with. He wasn't a heavy smoker or a alcoholic, he was in a loving relationship and had a good working relationship with his DCI. He actually suffered from panic attacks and flashbacks due to a horrific incident that happened when he was a young boy. It looks like the incident might be a continuing storyline throughout the series. Although this was the first book in a me series, the team had been working together for a while and I loved the camaraderie and banter between them and how Izzy was instantly accepted as one of the team. Each member of the team had their own unique personalities and I loved how they were each able to put their own contributions and theories across about the case. The story included some fascinating information about tattoos and tarot card reading, there was enough information to be informative without causing the reader to lose interest in what they were reading. These was a number of characters who could have been the killer but who was it and what was the motives behind their crimes?
In Ink is a very well written,twist packed police procedural that had me totally captivated from the first page and frantically turning the pages. The enthralling story built in intensity as it raced towards its gripping conclusion and we witnessed Quarrel and his team struggling to figure out where the killer was hiding before time ran out for their latest victim. I really really enjoyed this thrilling read and can't wait to read book 2. Very very highly recommended
The man himself sat behind the screen, propped against the wall, just as PC Cole had described. To Quarrel’s eye, he’d been posed, rather than having naturally come to rest there. But that wasn’t the most remarkable thing.
“Jesus,” breathed Katie.
Cole had made an efficient job of describing the man. Quarrel was no expert, but the clothes did look high-end, the jacket a Belstaff Trialmaster, his walking boots good leather with a decent shine on them.
“Outdoor clothes,” Quarrel commented.
He continued to study the dead man, Well-cut hair, thin on top, a fair bit of grey permeating the dark brown. Yes, Cole’s assessment of age – late forties to early fifties – was probably about right. Although Quarrel wondered how old she thought he was. He knew he looked a lot older than his forty-two years, with an untidy straggle of steel-grey hair that almost matched his eyes, and craggy, lived-in features.
But age hardly mattered at the moment. What had shocked Katie Gray, and arrested Quarrel’s attention, was the tattoo.
Nathan Quarrel had seen plenty of tattoos on corpses. He’d never seen one all over a face before now.
He moved in for a closer look, noting that Katie seemed in no rush to follow suit. The design, all in black ink covered the face from forehead to chin and, as a work of art, was impressive. The style reminded him vaguely of the Victorian Pre-Raphaelite paintings. A fair-haired youth in an ornate smock carried a bundle on a stick over his shoulder. The sun was at his back and a little dog capered at his heels.
At first glance, it was a carefree, joyful image. Yet there were four things wrong with the picture.
The first was the wide cuffs of the youth’s diaphanous sleeves, their openings finished in solid black. Whether by coincidence or deliberate design, they covered the area around the eyes, creating a sinister circus clown effect. Then there was the cliff edge on which the youth trod. His pose looked as if he was about to take another step, oblivious to his danger. Thirdly, the image was upside down for some reason. But these things paled into insignificance compared with the silver duct tape covering the mouth. It marred the picture, as well as telling Quarrel all he needed to know.
“Well,” he said, “the tattoo doesn’t exactly fit in with his ensemble, does it?”
Hesitantly, Katie leaned closer. “It looks pretty new, too. The skin’s a bit puffy. I’d say he died before the swelling, redness and oozing really got underway.”
He looked at her, surprised. “I didn’t know you were an expert.”
“I’m not. I’ve no interest in having a tattoo myself, but a couple of my mates got them in their teens and I remember the various healing stages. This poor sod didn’t get far with his.”
“We’re thinking he was tattooed against his will and then killed?”
She nodded. “That’s what the tape’s suggesting to me. The experts will need to look for signs of other restraints. But I suppose the whole experience might have induced a heart attack, rather than it being a deliberate murder.”
He turned to look at her with interest, the wind catching at his own hair. “You’re thinking this could have been some sort of prank gone wrong?”
She bit her lip. “Pretty unpleasant prank, if it was, to permanently disfigure someone like that. And no, I don’t really think that at all. I just think we should keep an open mind.”
“Agreed.” Quarrel had been thinking exactly the same, but Katie always made a good sounding board. They’d both learned a long time ago to accept nothing at face value.
“Why do you suppose it’s upside down?”
She frowned as she studied the tattoo again. “Well, it looks like a Tarot card.”
“Really?” He shook his head. “You’re full of surprises this morning.”
“My brother. I must have told you he’s a bit alternative?”
“Does water divining, doesn’t he?”
“Well, dowsing. It’s not just about water. He’s also into feng shui, homeopathy, and a bunch of other hippy shit. I don’t really mind. It’s not like he shoves it down your throat all the time, although he’s got quite a thing about electromagnetic impulses—”
“The tattoo?” he reminded her.
“Sorry, Nate. Yeah, so he’s interested in Tarot too. Got a pack and was learning about it, so he could do readings. I don’t know how far he got, but we did have a chat about it. It seems the cards have subtly different meanings when they’re upside down, or reversed, to use the jargon. It gives the interpretation of the card the opposite meaning. So good news becomes bad, or vice versa.”
“Do you know what this card is?”
“Sorry. I didn’t take that much notice when he was showing them to me. You know me. Down to earth gal. But maybe I can find something online.” Her phone was already in her hands, her thumbs working the keys.
While Katie conducted her Internet search, Quarrel straightened up, massaging his lower back, which didn’t enjoy too much bending these days. He always tried to tell himself it was a feature of his height, rather than his advance towards middle age. He looked around. This man hadn’t been tattooed here, that was for sure, and Quarrel very much doubted he’d died here, either. No, it was most likely he’d died elsewhere and then been brought here.
“I’ve got something,”
“That was quick.”
“I searched for ‘Tarot, dog, cliff’.” She held her phone towards him, so he could see an image not dissimilar to the one on the dead man’s face. “The Fool,” she said.
He raised an eyebrow. “Really? I knew there was a Fool card, but I sort of assumed it would be like a jester. You know, cap and bells, like a Joker card.”
“I think there can be a number of different representations. Let’s see if I can find a meaning.” She turned the phone back towards her, thumbs busy again. “Okay. It says here The Fool card is numbered zero. Apparently, that’s a number of infinite potential. The Fool’s like a blank canvas, if you like. His journey will shape his character.”
“What does that mean, exactly?”
“The card usually signifies the start of a new journey. You can never tell what lies ahead, but The Fool offers optimism, freedom, opportunities. That sort of thing.”
“He appears to offer a drop off a cliff edge, in this case,” Quarrel remarked drily.
“I suppose it means all these opportunities carry risks with them. I’m just reading what it says,” she added with a hint of defensiveness.
“So what about – what did you call it? The Reversed Fool?”
“Oh, yes. Hang on. Here we are. Yep, the Reversed Fool emphasises his more negative characteristics. It can suggest that you’re literally acting like a fool. Like this youth on his cliff edge, you don’t see the dangers under your nose. You’re living in the moment, not planning for the future, and should beware of being taken advantage of.”
“So the Reversed Fool is a sort of warning. Maybe that’s what this tattoo is. But to him, or to others?”
“Or some kind of statement. You’d really need a proper Tarot expert for all the ins and outs.”
“Your brother, maybe?”
Katie smiled and shook her head. “I don’t think so. Mick’s more of a dabbler. But I’ll bet he knows someone who can tell us more about what this means. I’ll ask him.”
“The picture on your phone’s in colour. This is just black ink. Maybe it’s quicker. If there’s a meaning to the choice of image, I guess this still makes the point.”
A pair of crows swooped down into the churchyard, cawing. The sound seemed like an omen to Quarrel, sending the faintest shiver through him.
- “Because it does mean something, doesn’t it?” he said. “Got to. Whether his death was intended or was just a by-product of what was done to him, this,” he indicated the tattoo, “is some sort of message.” He glanced up at the dark sky. “I don’t like messages. Often, they don’t stop at one.”
Dave Sivers grew up in West London and has been writing all his life. His books include the popular crime series featuring the Aylesbury Vale detectives, DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines. The Scars Beneath the Soul and Dead in Deep Water were both top three bestsellers in the Amazon Kindle Serial Killers chart. His next novel, In Ink, introducing DI Nathan Quarrel, will be published this year. Dave lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife, Chris, and is a founder of the annual BeaconLit festival of books and writing.
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PUBLICATION DATE: 15th May 2020
PRINT LENGTH: 424 Pages
GENRE: Noir Crime
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