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Authors: Paul Burston

Tags: #Thrillers & Suspense, #Suspense, #Military, #Crime, #Mystery, #Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers, #Fiction, #Thriller

The Black Path

BOOK: The Black Path
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The Black Path
Paul Burston
Accent Press (2016)
Rating: ★★★★☆
Tags: Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers & Suspense, Thrillers, Crime, Fiction, Military, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Mystery; Thriller & Suspensettt Thrillers & Suspensettt Thrillersttt Crimettt Fictionttt Militaryttt Mysteryttt Suspensettt Thrillerttt

LONGLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN’S ‘NOT THE BOOKER PRIZE’

A dark tale of love and lies, obsession and betrayal, The Black Path will appeal to fans of ‘domestic noir’ and anyone who’s ever wondered about the secrets people keep.

How well do you really know those closest to you?

Helen has been holding out for a hero all her life.
Her father was a hero – but he was murdered when she was ten.
Her husband is a hero – but he’s thousands of miles away, fighting a war people say will never be won.

Sometimes Helen wonders if Owen isn’t the only one living in a war zone. She feels the violence all around her. She reads about it in the papers. It feeds her dreams and fills her days with a sense of dread. Try as she might, she can’t escape the feeling that something terrible is about to happen.

Then one night on the troubled streets of her home town, Helen is rescued from a fight by a woman who will change her life forever. Siân is everything Helen isn’t – confident, glamorous, fearless. But there’s something else about her – a connection that cements their friendship and makes Helen question everything she’s ever known.

And when her husband returns home, altered in a way she can’t understand, she is forced to draw on an inner strength she never knew she had.
As bitter truths are uncovered, Helen must finally face her fears and the one place which has haunted her since childhood – the Black Path.

‘An intense, tightly calibrated thriller’ Huffington Post

**

PAUL BURSTON

 

 

How far would you go to face the truth?

LONGLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN’S ‘NOT THE BOOKER PRIZE’

A dark tale of love and lies, obsession and betrayal, The Black Path will appeal to fans of ‘domestic noir’ and anyone who’s ever wondered about the secrets people keep.

How well do you really know those closest to you?
Helen has been holding out for a hero all her life.

Her father was a hero – but he was murdered when she was ten.

Her husband is a hero – but he’s thousands of miles away, fighting a war people say will never be won.

Sometimes Helen wonders if Owen isn’t the only one living in a war zone. She feels the violence all around her. She reads about it in the papers. It feeds her dreams and fills her days with a sense of dread. Try as she might, she can’t escape the feeling that something terrible is about to happen.

Then one night on the troubled streets of her home town, Helen is rescued from a fight by a woman who will change her life forever. Siân is everything Helen isn’t – confident, glamorous, fearless. But there’s something else about her – a connection that cements their friendship and makes Helen question everything she’s ever known.

And when her husband returns home, altered in a way she can’t understand, she is forced to draw on an inner strength she never knew she had.

As bitter truths are uncovered, Helen must finally face her fears and the one place which has haunted her since childhood – the Black Path.

For Jacqui Niven, with love.

Praise for
The Black Path
:

‘An intense, beautifully calibrated thriller by a writer at the height of his creative powers’
Huffington Post

‘Deliciously creepy and surprisingly emotional – Burston has played a blinder with his first crime novel’ Alex Marwood


The Black Path
twists and turns and introduces readers to an exciting new talent’ Sarah Hilary

‘I found
The Black Path
completely gripping and unsettling. Paul Burston has switched genres with confidence and aplomb. This book kept me guessing right up until the end’ Jonathan Harvey

‘Watch out for
The Black Path
, Paul Burston’s unnerving foray into crime fiction. A terrific read’ Mari Hannah

‘This is a glorious read, and has enough twists and turns in the plot that will keep you second guessing throughout. A dark tale of love and lies, obsession and betrayal indeed – everything you would expect from a master storyteller’ Laura Lockington,
Brighton and Hove Independent

From the reviews of Paul Burston’s previous books:

‘Accomplished entertainment’
The Times

‘Witty, dark and insightful’
Company

‘A great read – so much so, I read it in one day’ Lorraine Kelly

‘A wise and witty exploration of friendship, ambition, love and loss’
Attitude

‘A compelling read’
Time Out

‘Wonderfully entertaining’
Independent on Sunday

PROLOGUE

Police search for killers of

‘loving husband and devoted father’

by
Gazette
reporter

Tributes have been paid to a local man who died at the weekend. Richard Thomas, 35, of St Nicholas Road, Bridgend, confronted a gang of teenagers who were causing a disturbance outside his house on Sunday afternoon. He suffered several stab wounds to the stomach and died in hospital as a result of his injuries. He leaves behind a wife and young daughter.

Detective Sergeant Rhys Williams told the
Gazette
: ‘This is a shocking crime and a tragic waste of life. Investigations are ongoing and we are appealing for any witnesses who may have information regarding the attack to come forward.’

Mr Thomas was described as a loving husband and devoted father who died a hero. One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘It’s a terrible loss for the family. They had their share of problems like everyone else, but nobody expects something like this to happen right on their own doorstep.’

Anyone with any information should contact the incident room at Bridgend CID.

The day it happened, Helen didn’t make a sound.

She knows that doesn’t seem right – there must have been tears, surely? But whenever she casts her mind back to that day, what she remembers is the stillness.

She’d spent the morning with her face buried in a book. That was the phrase her mother used, although in the weeks that followed she chose her words more carefully. Some days she didn’t say anything at all, and her eyes would meet Helen’s and turn away as if even the sight of her only child made her angry. But that was afterwards. She’d always had plenty to say for herself before then.

Helen still remembers the way her mother kicked off over the rabbit. Two weeks earlier, her father came home from the pub carrying a cardboard box with holes in the sides.

‘It’s for you, sweetheart.’

Helen didn’t know how to react. It wasn’t even her birthday.

But her father smiled and said he didn’t need a reason to give his special girl a present. The rabbit was soft and white with pink frightened eyes and a fat belly. When Helen held it to her face she felt its little heart thumping and was terrified that her own heart might burst in sympathy.

Her mother hit the roof, turning on her father with that angry face of hers. ‘Have you completely lost your mind? A pet is a big commitment. There’s no prizes for guessing who’ll be the one who ends up looking after it.’

She refused to have the rabbit in the house, so it lived in the back garden in a hutch her father assembled the next day in the shed he liked to call his office. Helen welcomed any opportunity to see inside her father’s shed. It had a small workbench, a filing cabinet, and shelves full of old coins and glass bottles. Her father said the bottles and coins were valuable, which was why he kept his office door locked even when he was inside. He had another office he went to every day, except on the weekends or those days when his stomach was playing up or he had one of his headaches. Helen had never seen that office, but she’d always imagined that it was quite different from the shed.

The garden backed onto scrubland. Beyond that was the river and running beside the river was the Black Path. Helen wasn’t allowed to play by the river and she certainly wasn’t allowed anywhere near the Black Path. Up the Black Path there were older boys who smoked cigarettes and built bonfires. There was a place called the Witches’ Den, where real witches gathered at night. And right at the top was a hospital where people went when they were sad or kept hearing strange voices. Her parents both agreed that the Black Path was no place for a young girl, and since they never usually agreed on anything, Helen had thought about it and decided that they were right.

So mostly she played in the back garden. And it was there that she spent the last few hours before her world was torn apart – lying on a blanket on the warm grass, her face buried in a book while her father pottered around inside his shed. Shortly before tea time she heard his key in the lock and he reappeared blinking into the sunshine, promising to mow the front lawn while his wife put her feet up and his daughter gave that poor rabbit some exercise.

‘Run, rabbit, run!’ he laughed, lifting it out of the hutch and bundling it into Helen’s arms before heading off in search of his mower. She’d wanted to go after him. Her mother always said that she was never far behind her father, that she was like his shadow. Helen has often wondered how different things might have been had she followed him that day, whether she might have been able to prevent what happened.

The rabbit refused to run. It sat on the grass, nose twitching, staring up at her with its bulging pink eyes. She pushed it gently with her hand, but it wouldn’t move. She nudged it again. It waddled forward a few steps and then stopped. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that she discovered that the reason the rabbit was so fat was because its belly was full of babies. Cleaning out the hutch she found a lifeless lump of them buried beneath the straw, pale and hairless and squashed together like sardines. She remembers crying then – great, uncontrollable sobs that shook her whole body and made her face wet with tears.

BOOK: The Black Path
10Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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