Rachel Abbott is one of the UK’s most successful bestselling independent authors and I am delighted to be taking part in this brilliant BlogTour for her newest novel Come a Little Closer featuring DCI Tom Douglas. As part of my post today I am taking part in a Writing Challenge, which includes the first paragraph as a writing prompt and four items that have to be included in the challenge. To top off this blog post my review of this captivating read is at the end.
About the Author
Rachel Abbott was born just outside Manchester, England, and spent most of her working life as the Managing Director of an interactive media company. After her company was sold in 2000, she fulfilled a lifelong ambition of buying and restoring a property in Italy. She now splits her time between homes in Italy and Alderney, where she writes full time. She has published six full length novels and one novella, and her seventh Come a Little Closer was released 13th of February 2018.
Look out for #ComeALittleCloser
About the book
They will be coming soon. They come every night. Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath. Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.
Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later. These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice – and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…
When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there? How many more must die? Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?
Rachel Abbott has written the opening paragraph to a dark and twisty thriller and challenged bloggers to finish the story. Armed with just the opening paragraph (in bold) and four key objects (a bath, a facebook post, a single lightbulb and a glass of sweet sherry) from Come a Little Closer, we have to finish the story she started.
Gemma had been afraid of the dark for as long as she could remember. As a child, she had blamed the cold, ancient house they had lived in – its endless corridors had too many closed doors for people to hide behind, too many secrets concealed in the shadows. But now there was no excuse. Her flat was modern, open, with huge windows.
It made no difference, though. Each night of the long winter months as she stood outside the block, she imagined all the doors she would have to pass before she reached her own, wondering if the lights in the hallway would be working, or whether they would flicker and go out, leaving her blind in the inky black void. Alone with her fear.
Perhaps she had always known that this day would come. She took a deep breath and stepped into the silent entrance, her heels tapping out a warning that she was coming on the polished concrete floor of the long corridor.
To distract herself from the shadows and the imagined dangers lurking in the dark corridor she thought about what she would do when she finally reached the threshold of her door. A steaming hot bath filled with blue bubbles smelling like fresh ocean waves, well at least what she wished the ocean smelt like. Fishy, salt infused air doesn’t really inspire the same imagery. The bath water had to be piping hot, so her skin would turn a lobster red, because tepid just wouldn’t cut it. Relaxing in the bath also meant spending time with her latest acquisition from the small book shop around the corner. Engaging with fictional characters, preferably hot as hell with a penchant for danger and wild wild women, was her guilty pleasure.
Needless to say Gemma was the wild woman in this fictional scenario. Books made the hair on the back of her neck stand up and replaced her worries with faux fear. It wasn’t the same as feeling real fear. Facing her demons, facing her life. As a treat she would have a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge ice cream. Just a small one, enough to placate the inner chocolate addiction, but not enough to alert the cult for the overweight, also known as Weight Watchers. A bowl of ice cream that would melt into a puddle of liquid chocolate, as she languished in the steaming water. To take the edge off she would usually allow herself the pleasure of a small port glass of Bailey’s liqueur, except she had emptied the bottle during her last bath-time excursion, so the only thing left with any alcohol content was a bottle of sherry her mother had given her last Christmas. Not that Gemma was a sherry drinker, but hey when needs must then a glass of sweet sherry it is.
She breathed in deeply, a fragrance flashback triggered the scent of her bath suds in her nose. Gemma let out a little sigh of anticipation, which came out in more of a stuttered gasp as her nose captured a whiff of something acrid instead. She turned her head towards the smell, increasing her pace in anticipation of a possible danger, although her head was saying ‘maybe a cat has marked their territory’ her gut was whispering ‘maybe the psycho is sat in the shadows waiting for the perfect prey to come along.’ Yeh, her inner voice was a bit of killjoy and a scaremongerer.
Why was the corridor so void of any light? It was darker than usual, right? Gemma was sure of it. Instead of a warm yellow glow every five meters or so, the light in the corridor had been reduced to a single source of light. The lightbulb above apartment 13b. Gemma’s apartment. The one place she felt at ease, at home and safe. Was that a sound? Her breath started coming in short gasps.The pacing had become a fast walk, almost a pathetic panicked run. Gemma tore open her handbag and searched franticly for her keys. ‘Almost there, Nearly there,’ she panted. There is something, someone in the dark, waiting for her. Wanting to hurt her. She can feel it.
The keys jangled in her shaking hands, as she tried to insert the keys in the lock. Not an easy task while you’re looking over your shoulder every few seconds and expecting a blow to the head with a heavy object at any minute. Or a gloved hand covering her mouth, cutting off her air and dragging her backwards towards her violent death.
Okay. Open. She slipped through the doorway and slammed the door shut as fast as she possibly could. Lock, chain, bolt. Inside. Safe and breathe. Exhale.
Gemma tossed her shoes off and threw both bag and coat onto the nearest piece of furniture. Pulled her phone from her pocket to take a quick peek on social media before her bath. ‘Just for a few minutes,’ she muttered to herself. She was looking forward to the heat, the alcohol. Numbing herself from the inside and outside kept her sane when the fear threatened to overcome all her senses.
Gemma felt the anxiety fall away slightly, as she read snarky memes, political rants, bouncy goats and a facebook post with cute fluffy kittens.
She saw, rather than heard the note being slipped under her door. Out of the corner of her eye, a white sheet of paper with bold black letters. Every instinct screamed at her to ignore it, but another part of her was drawn to it. Her legs buckled as her brain processes the words…I’m waiting outside in the dark for you Gemma. Do you wanna come out and play?
There can be no doubt Abbott is honing her skills with every book, as her plots become more intricate and her characters become like old friends to her readers.
Rachel Abbott likes to skate between the black and white areas of right and wrong, to shed a light on the vulnerable in our society, and the secrets hidden in plain sight. In Come a Little Closer the hidden, the missing and the ones who go unaccounted for are given a voice, albeit a small one.
This is the seventh book to feature DCI Tom Douglas, and it feels as if he is just getting settled in for the long run. He is a straight talker with a penchant for breaking the rules, and yet his worst enemy is his own guilty conscience.
Have you ever asked yourself whether someone would miss you or question your whereabouts if you suddenly disappeared? How long would it take for someone to notice you are gone? There are plenty of men, women and children without a support system, who just vanish from the face of the earth and fall prey to people seeking the invisible of our society.
There is another important aspect of this story the author has slipped in, which is perhaps far more important than the main plot. What can you do when someone you used to love becomes an abusive insidious leech you can’t get rid of? When the system can’t help you and it ends up protecting them instead of you?
DCI Douglas is flummoxed by his new case and isn’t sure where to start. A young woman with no identity, who seems to have gone to her death willingly or rather to her murder. It seems as if she might not be the only one. Where are these women coming from and who are they?
A few decades a ago I went to a seminar led by a leading FBI profiler and expert on paedophiles and serial-killers, and he made two adults, myself being one of them, pretend to be children walking on the pavement. He played the perpetrator in the car. He winds down his imaginary window and says something quietly, I couldn’t hear so I stepped towards as he said Come a little Closer and grabs me and throws me in his imaginary car. That is exactly the kind of criminal Abbott is excellent at imbibing and then creating on paper. The type we are surrounded by, but never see coming, because we are taught from a young age to ignore our gut instinct. In a way we are all Judith.
This is just a little taste of the compelling read and the questions you may encounter. Rachel Abott writes a fast paced riveting thriller that pulls the reader in opposite directions. The plot is nefarious and also simple in its complexity. It’s realistic, which makes it relatable and there are aspects of it that will ring true for some of the readers.
Be prepared for a read you won’t want to put down.