Friday, May 24, 2013

On Tour: Cold Killing by Luke Delaney And A Giveaway

I’m delighted to be part of author Luke Delaney’s Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tour for his debut novel, COLD KILLING.

As part of the tour, I’ll tell you my thoughts on the book, give a brief bio of the author, tell you how you can win a copy of this tantalizing thriller, and share an excerpt from the book to see if it entices you as it did me.

 COLD KILLING by Luke Delaney

Author Luke Delaney uses his law enforcement expertise to craft an authentic psychological thriller in his debut novel, COLD KILLING.

With the opening, Delaney reels you in causing you to speculate about the first character introduced. Then he leads you directly into a crime scene where you’re hooked wanting all the pieces of the puzzle at once.

With an unthinkable childhood driving him, Sean Corrigan turned his demons toward good becoming a detective inspector. With a fierce determination to protect the innocent, Corrigan is also able to identify the darkness in others. He understands it because it’s something that lies deep within himself.

Corrigan, responsible for South London’s Murder Investigation Team, catches an unusual case when a young man is found brutally murdered in his flat. At first glance it appears to be a domestic murder, but Corrigan soon finds other victims and a ruthless serial killer unlike any he has ever faced. The cunning killer changes his MO with each crime and never leaves the slightest trace of forensic evidence. But Corrigan has no doubt it’s the same killer and he quickly finds himself in a lethal game of cat and mouse.

COLD KILLING is an edge-of-your-seat read with the narrative switching between Corrigan and the killer. Readers are given glimpses of their personal lives to balance out this thriller.

ColdKilling_CoverDelaney has created well-developed, realistic characters that stay with you long after the last paragraph. He’s given them strength and weaknesses that readers can relate to. He shows police work at its best, along with the flaws and transgressions officers sometimes make. Delaney explores the forensic aspects of a crime and how the elements help and hinder an investigation.

Delaney’s years of experience as a police officer shine through in his eye for details for procedures, settings and characters interaction. His vivid descriptions of South London and the area, gives readers the feel they are there.

The story moves at a steady and smooth pace drawing the reader deeper into the minds of the killer and cop. The twists along the way will keep you guessing. The story is captivating, the characters mesmerizing. 

The ending was not what I was expecting, but fit perfectly. Delaney provides a touch of closure, but leaves readers anticipating what lies ahead for Corrigan and others. Get ready to lose track of time when you turn the first page of COLD KILLING. This is a gripping thriller and a great start for a fascinating new series. 
Cold Killing by Luke Delaney, Book 1 in the D.I. Sean Corrigan Series, HarperCollins, @2013, ISBN: 978-0062219466, Paperback, 448 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual book tour. A copy of the book was sent to me by the tour promoter in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Luke Delaney joined the Metropolitan Police Service in the late 1980s and his first posting was to an inner city area of South East London notorious for high levels of crime and extreme violence. He later joined CID where he investigated murders ranging from those committed by fledgling serial killers to gangland assassinations.

To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Cold Killing.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher/promoter nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of COLD KILLING is 8 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, June 2.

Thank you for stopping by today and visiting. Have you read many thrillers set in London lately? Does the difference in the terminology bother your reading?

Now here’s a little something to see if you are as captivated by the plot as I was. Happy reading!

    Saturday. I agreed to go to the park with the wife and children. They’re over there on the grassy hill, just along from the pond. They’ve fed themselves, fed the ducks, and now they’re feeding their own belief that we’re one normal happy family. And to be fair, as far as they’re concerned, we are. I won’t let the sight of them spoil my day. The sun is shining and I’m getting a bit of a tan. The memory of the latest visit is still fresh and satisfying. It keeps the smile on my face.

     Look at all these people. Happy and relaxed. They’ve no idea I’m watching them. Watching as small children wander away from mothers too distracted by idle chat to notice. Then they realize their little darling has wandered too far and up goes that shrill shriek of an overprotective parent, followed by a leg slap for the child and more shrieking.
     I am satisfied for the time being. The fun I had last week will keep me contented for a while, so everyone is safe today.

    Chapter 1

    It was 3 a.m. and Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan drove through the dreary streets of New Cross, southeast London. He had been born and raised in nearby Dulwich, and for as long as he could remember, these streets had been a dangerous place. People could quickly become victims here, regardless of age, sex, or color. Life had little value.

    But these worries were for other people, not Sean. They were for the people who had nine-to-five jobs in shops and offices. Those who arrived bleary eyed to work each morning, then scuttled home nervously every evening, only feeling safe once they’d bolted themselves behind closed doors.
    Sean didn’t fear the streets, having dealt with the worst they could throw at him. He was a detective inspector in charge of one of South London’s Murder Investigation Teams, dedicated to dealing with violent death. The killers hunted their victims and Sean hunted the killers. He drove with the window down and doors unlocked.
    He’d been asleep at home when Detective Sergeant Dave Donnelly called. There’d been a murder. A bad one. A young man beaten and stabbed to death in his own flat. One minute Sean was lying by his wife’s side, the next he was driving to the place where a young man’s life had been torn away.
    The streets around the murder scene were eerily quiet. He was pleased to see that the uniformed officers had done their job properly and taped off a large cordon around the block the flat was in. He’d been to scenes before where the cordon started and stopped at the front door. How much evidence had been carried away from scenes on the soles of shoes? He didn’t want to think about it.
    There were two marked patrol cars alongside Donnelly’s unmarked Ford. He always laughed at the murder scenes on television, with dozens of police cars parked outside, all with blue lights swirling away. Inside, dozens of detectives and forensics guys would be falling over each other. Reality was different.
    Entirely different.
    Real crime scenes were all the more disturbing for their quietness—the violent death of the victim would leave the atmosphere shattered and brutalized. Sean could feel the horror closing in around him as he examined a scene. It was his job to discover the details of death, and over time he had grown hardened to it, but not immune. He knew that this scene would be no different.
    He parked outside the taped-off cordon and climbed from the isolation of his car into the warm loneliness of the night, the stars of the clear sky and the streetlights removing all illusion of darkness. If he had been anyone else, doing any other job, he might have noticed how beautiful it was, but such thoughts had no place here. He flashed his identification to the approaching uniformed officer and grunted his name. “DI Sean Corrigan, Serious Crime Group South. Where’s this flat?”
    The uniformed officer was young. He seemed afraid of Sean. He must be new if a mere detective inspector scared him. “Number sixteen Tabard House, sir. It’s on the second floor, up the stairs and turn right. Or you could take the lift.”
    Sean opened the boot of his car and cast a quick glance over the contents squeezed inside. Two large square plastic bins contained all he would need for an initial scene examination. Paper suits and slippers. Various sizes of plastic exhibit bags, paper bags for clothing, half a dozen boxes of plastic gloves, rolls of  sticky labels, and of course a sledgehammer, a crowbar, and other tools. The boot of Sean’s car would be mirrored by detectives’ cars across the world.
    He pulled on a forensic containment suit and headed toward the stairwell. The block was of a type common to this area of London. Low-rise tenements made from dark, oppressive, brown-gray brick that had been thrown up after the Second World War to house those bombed out of old slum areas. In their time they’d been a revelation—indoor toilets, running water, heating—but now only those trapped in poverty lived in them. They looked like prisons, and in a way that’s what they were.
    The stairwell smelled of urine. The stench of humans living on top of one another was unmistakable. This was summer and the vents of the flats pumped out the smells from within. Sean almost gagged on it, the sight, sound, and smell of the tenement block reminding him all too vividly of his own childhood, living  in a three-bedroom, public housing duplex with his mother, two brothers, two sisters, and his father—his father who would lead him away from the others, taking him to the upstairs bedroom where things would happen. His mother too frightened to intervene—thoughts of reaching for a knife in the kitchen drawer swirling in her head, but fading away as her courage deserted her. But the curse of his childhood had left him with a rare and dark insightfulness—an ability to understand the motivations of those he hunted.
    All too often the abused become the abusers as the darkness overtakes them, evil begetting evil—a terrible cycle of violence, virtually impossible to break—and so the demons of Sean’s past were too deeply assimilated in his being to ever be rid of. But Sean was different in that he could control his demons and his rage, using his shattered upbringing to allow him insights into the crimes he investigated that other cops could only dream of. He understood the killers, rapists, and arsonists—understood why they had to do what they did, could interpret their motivation—see what they saw, smell what they had smelled, feel what they had felt—their excitement, power, lust, revulsion, guilt, regret, fear. He could make leaps in investigations others struggled to understand, filling in the blanks with his unique imagination. Crime scenes came alive in his mind’s eye, playing in his head like movies. He was no psychic or clairvoyant; he was just a cop—but a cop with a broken past and a dangerous future, his skill at reading the ones he hunted born of his own dark, haunted past. Where better for a failed disciple of true evil to hide than among cops? Where better to turn his unique tools to good use than the police? He swallowed the bile rising in his throat and headed for the crime scene—the murder scene.
    Sean stopped briefly to acknowledge another uniformed officer posted at the front door of the flat. The constable lifted the tape across the door and watched him duck inside. Sean looked down the corridor of the flat. It was bigger than it had seemed from the outside. DS Donnelly waited for him, his large frame filling the doorway, his mustache all but concealing the movement of his lips as he talked. Dave Donnelly, twenty-year-plus veteran of the Metropolitan Police and very much Sean’s old-school right-hand man. His anchor to the logical and practical course of an investigation and part-time crutch to lean on. They’d had their run-ins and disagreements, but they understood each other—they trusted each other.
    “Morning, guv’nor. Stick to the right of the hallway here. That’s the route I’ve been taking in and out,” Donnelly growled in his strange accent, a mix of Glaswegian and Cockney, his mustache twitching as he spoke.
    “What’ve we got?” Sean asked matter-of-factly.
    “No sign of forced entry. Security is good in the flat, so he probably let the killer in. All the damage to the victim seems to have been done in the living room. A real fucking mess in there. No signs of disturbance anywhere else. The living room is the last door on the right, down the corridor. Other than that we’ve got a kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a separate room for the toilet. From what I’ve seen, the victim kept things reasonably clean and tidy. Decent taste in furniture. There’s a few photies of the victim around the place—as best I can tell, anyway. His injuries make it a wee bit difficult to be absolutely sure. There’s plenty of them with him, shall we say, embracing other men.”
    “Gay?” Sean asked.
    “Looks that way. It’s early days, but there’s definitely some decent hi-fi and TV stuff around the place,  and I notice several of the photies have our boy in far-flung corners of the world. Must have cost a few pennies. We’re not dealing with a complete loser here. He had a decent enough job, or he was a decent enough villain, although I don’t get the feel this is a villain’s home.” Both men craned their heads around the hallway area, as if to confirm Donnelly’s assessment so far. He continued: “And I’ve found a few letters all addressed to a Daniel Graydon. Nothing for anyone else.”
    “Well, Daniel Graydon,” Sean asked, “what the hell happened to you? And why?”
     “Shall we?” With an outstretched hand pointing along the corridor, Donnelly invited Sean to continue.
    They moved from room to room, leaving the living room to the end. They trod carefully, moving around the edges so as not to disturb any invisible footprint indentations left in the carpets or minute but vital evidence: a strand of hair, a tiny drop of blood. Occasionally Sean would take a photograph with his small digital camera. He would keep the photographs for his personal use only, to remind him of details he had seen, but also to put himself back at the scene anytime he needed to sense it again, to smell the odor of blood, to taste the sickly sweet flavor of death. To feel the killer’s presence. He wished he could be alone in the flat, without the distraction of having to talk to anyone—to explain what he was seeing and feeling. It had been the same ever since he was a young cop, his ability to step into the shoes of the offender, be it a residential burglary or murder. Seeing the scene through the eyes of the offender. But only the more alarming scenes seemed to trigger this reaction. Walking around scenes of domestic murders or gangland stabbings he saw more than most other detectives, but felt no more than they did. This scene already seemed different. He wished he were alone.
    Sean felt uncomfortable in the flat. Like an intruder. As if he should be constantly apologizing for being there. He shook off the feeling and mentally absorbed everything. The cleanliness of the furniture and the floors. Were the dishes washed and put away? Had any food been left out? Did anything, no matter how small, seem somehow out of place? If the victim kept his clothing neatly folded away, then a shirt on the floor would alert Sean’s curiosity. If the victim had lived in squalor, a freshly cleaned glass next to a sink full of dirty dishes would attract his eye. Indeed, Sean had already noted something amiss.
    Sean and Donnelly came to the living room. The door was ajar, exactly how it had been found by the young constable. Donnelly moved inside. Sean followed.
    There was a strong smell of blood—a lot of blood. It was a metallic smell. Like hot copper. Sean recalled the times he’d tasted his own blood. It always made him think that it tasted exactly like it smelled. At least this man had been killed recently.  It was summer now—if the victim had been there for a few days the flat would have reeked. Flies would have filled the room, maggots infesting the body. He felt a jolt of guilt for being glad the man had just been killed.
    Sean crouched next to the body, careful to avoid stepping in the pool of thick burgundy blood that had formed around the victim’s head. He’d seen many murder victims. Some had almost no wounds to speak of, others had terrible injuries. This was a bad one. As bad as he’d seen.
    “Jesus Christ. What the hell happened in this room?” Sean asked.
    Donnelly looked around. The dining room table was overturned. Two of the chairs with it had been destroyed. The TV had been knocked from its stand. Pictures lay smashed on the floor. CDs were strewn around the room. The lights from the CD player blinked in green.
    “Must have been a hell of a fight,” Donnelly said.
    Sean stood up, unable to look away from the victim: a white male, about twenty years old, wearing a T-shirt that was 50 percent soaked in blood, and hipster jeans, also heavily soaked in blood. One sock remained on his right foot; the other was nowhere to be seen. He was lying on his back, the left leg bent under the right, with both arms stretched  out in a crucifix position. There were no restraints of any kind in evidence. The left side of his face and head had been caved in. The victim’s short hair allowed Sean to see two serious head wounds indicating horrific fractures to the skull. Both eyes were swollen almost completely shut and his nose was smashed, with congealed blood crusted around it. The mouth hadn’t escaped punishment, the lips showing several deep cuts, with the jaw hanging, dislocated. Sean wondered how many teeth would be missing. The right ear was nowhere to be seen. He hoped to God the man had died from the first blow to his head, but he doubted it.
    The pool of blood by the victim’s head was the only heavy saturation area other than his clothing. Elsewhere there were dozens of splash marks: on the walls, furniture, and carpet. Sean imagined the victim’s head being whipped around by the ferocity of the blows, the blood from his wounds traveling in a fine spray through the air until it landed where it now remained. Once examined properly, these splash marks should provide a useful map of how the attack had developed.
    The victim’s body had not been spared. Sean wasn’t about to start counting, but there must have been fifty to a hundred stab wounds. The legs, abdomen, chest, and arms had all been brutally attacked. Sean looked around for weapons, but could see none. He returned his gaze to the shattered body, trying to free his mind, to see what had happened to the young man now lying dead on his own floor. For the most fleeting of moments he saw a figure hunched over the dying man, something that resembled a screwdriver rather than a knife gripped in his hand, but the image was gone as quickly as it had arrived. Finally he managed to look away and speak.
    “Who found the body?”
    “That would be us,” Donnelly replied.
    "How so?"
    “Well, us via a concerned neighbor.”
    “Is the neighbor a suspect?”
    “No, no,” Donnelly dismissed the idea. “Some young bird from a few doors down, on her way home with her kebab and chips after a night of shagging and drinking.”
     “Did she enter the flat?”
    “No. She’s not the hero type, by all accounts. She saw the door slightly open and decided we ought to know about it. If she’d been sober, she probably wouldn’t have bothered.”
    Sean nodded his agreement. Alcohol made some people conscientious citizens in the same way it made others violent temporary psychopaths.
    “Uniform sent a unit around to check it out and found our victim here,” Donnelly added.
    “Did he trample the scene?”
    “No, he’s a probationer straight out of Hendon and still scared enough to remember what he’s supposed to do. He kept to the edges, touched nothing.”
    “Good,” Sean said automatically, his mind having already moved on, already growing heavy with possibilities. “Well, whoever did this is either very angry or very ill.”
    “No doubt about that,” Donnelly agreed.
    There was a pause, both men taking the chance to breathe deeply and steady themselves, clearing their minds, a necessary prelude before trying to think coldly and logically. Seeing this brutality would never be easy, would never be matter-of-fact.
    “Okay. First guess is we’re looking at a domestic murder.”
    “A lover’s tiff?” Donnelly asked.
    Sean nodded. “Whoever did this probably took a fair old beating themselves,” he added. “A man fighting for his life can do a lot of damage.”
    “I’ll check the local hospitals,” Donnelly volunteered. “See if anyone who looks like they’ve been in a real ding-dong has been admitted.”
    “Check with the local police stations for the same and wake the rest of the team up. Let’s get everyone together at the station for an eight a.m. briefing. And we might as well see if we can get a pathologist to examine the body while it’s still in place.”
     “That won’t be easy, guv.”
    “I know, but try. See if Dr. Canning is available. He sometimes comes out if it’s a good one, and he’s the best.”
    “I’ll do what I can, but no promises.”
    Sean surveyed the scene. Most murders didn’t take long to solve. The most obvious suspect was usually the right suspect. The panicked nature of the crime provided an Aladdin’s cave of forensic evidence. Enough to get a conviction. In cases like this, detectives often had to do little more than wait for the laboratory to examine the exhibits from the scene and provide all the answers. But as Sean looked around something was already niggling away at his instincts.
    Donnelly spoke again. “Seems straightforward?”
    “Yeah, I’m pretty happy.” He let the statement linger.
    “But . . . ?”
    “The victim almost certainly knew his killer. No forced entry, so he’s let him in. A boyfriend is a fair bet. This smells like a domestic murder. A few too many drinks. A heated argument. A fight kicks off and gets nastier and nastier, both end up beaten to a pulp and one dies. A crime of passion that the killer had no time to prepare for. He’s lost it for a while, killed a friend. A lover. Now all he wants to do is run. Get away from this flat and be somewhere safe to think out his next move. But there’re a couple of things missing for me.”
    “Such as?”
    “They’ve probably been having a drink, but there are no glasses anywhere. Can you remember dealing with a domestic murder where alcohol wasn’t involved?”
    “Maybe he cleaned the place up a bit?” Donnelly offered. “Washed the glasses and put them away.”
    “Why would he bother cleaning a glass when his blood and fingerprints must be all over the place after a struggle like this?”
    “Panic?” Donnelly suggested. “Wasn’t thinking straight. He cleaned up his glass, maybe started to clean up other stuff too before he realized he was wasting his time.”
    Sean was thinking hard. The lack of signs of alcohol was a small point, but any experienced detective would have expected to find evidence of its use at a scene like this. An empty bottle of cider. A half-empty bottle of Scotch, or a champagne bottle to fuel the rage of the rich. But it was the image he was beginning to visualize that was plaguing him with doubt—the image his mind was piecing together using evidence that was missing as much as evidence that was present. The image of a figure crouching very deliberately over the victim. No frenzy, no rage, but evil in a human form.
    “There’s something else,” he told Donnelly. “The killing obviously took place in the living room. We know he must have gone out the front door because everything else is locked up nice and tight. But the hallway is clean. Nothing. The carpet is light beige, yet there’s no sign of a bloody footprint. And the door handle? Nothing. No blood. Nothing.
    “So our killer beats and stabs the victim to death in a frenzied moment of rage and yet stops to clean his hands before opening any doors. After killing a man who may have been his lover, he’s suddenly calm enough to take his shoes off and tiptoe out of the place. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
    Donnelly joined in. “And if our boy did stop to clean himself up before leaving, then where did he get clean? He had two choices. The sink in the bathroom or the sink in the kitchen.”
    Sean continued for him. “We’ve seen both of them. Clean as a whistle. No signs of recent use. Not even a splash of water.”
    “Aye,” Donnelly said. “But it’s probably nothing. We’re assuming too much. Maybe forensics will prove us wrong and find some blood in the hallway we can’t see.”
    Sean wasn’t convinced, but before he could reply the uniformed constable at the front door called into the flat. “Excuse me, sir, your lab team is here.”


  1. Mason - I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I always like the authenticity in books where the author uses her or his professional experience to tell a story. This one sounds like one of those.

  2. ooo, getting chills reading about this book! I'll definitely send you an email to get in the running for a copy. I love a good suspense thriller!

  3. I have this book on my TBR list, and after reading your review, I can't wait to read it. Very nice review and post. Thank you for sharing.


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