Sunday 18 October 2020

City of Ghosts by Ben Creed #BenCreed BLOG TOUR @welbeckpublish @ed_pr #TheChill #Extract


Some crimes will haunt you forever… Leningrad, 1951. 

Amid the endless darkness of a Russian winter, echoes of the devastating wartime siege and the menace of Stalin’s terrifying rule loom over the city. 

Revol Rossel – once a gifted young violinist destined for a brilliant career – is now a state militia cop. One night, five frozen corpses are found neatly arranged on railway lines cutting through the bright snow. The gruesome scene soon transports Rossel back to his former musical life – and to the brutal heart of the Soviet establishment – to the time when his dreams were shattered. 

Assailed by ghosts from his past and with the MGB breathing down his neck, Rossel must solve the mystery of the bodies on the tracks before he himself falls victim. But in Leningrad, some crimes will haunt you forever… 

An intelligent and atmospheric historical crime – perfect for readers of Phillip Kerr, Joseph Kanon and Tom Rob Smith (Child 44).

City of Ghosts by Ben Creed is out now, published by Welbeck, priced £8.99 as paperback original.

As part of the Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you here today.

Extract from City of Ghosts

Rossel’s men drifted off to look closer at the crime scene, peering at the corpses one by one but not touching them. 
‘What happened?’ Rossel asked the driver. They were only a few hundred metres away from the vast shoreline of the already partially frozen Lake Ladoga. Rossel wondered if the bodies were ice fishermen; sometimes they’d sit and drink for hour after hour. Then they had wandered onto the tracks, clinging to each other to stay upright, before freezing to death . . . 
‘They were on the line, already like that,’ said the driver. ‘The snowplough went through yesterday but just in case I was going at a crawl. I saw them right enough.’ 
‘The penalty for lying to officers of . . .’ 
The driver spat and shook his head. ‘Go and have a proper look, gundog. You’ll see.’ 
The locomotive’s engine hiccupped and shuddered. ‘What are you carrying?’ asked Rossel.
‘Coal. Scrap metal. Twenty wagons.’

A good thing the train had stopped, then. There wouldn’t have been much left of the bodies if that lot had thundered over them. 
‘Is this a main line? Why didn’t anyone find the bodies earlier?’ 
‘The last passenger trains stop at eleven, if they haven’t iced up – the new diesels can’t handle this cold,’ the driver replied, rubbing his eyes. ‘I was the first of the freights tonight. Some idiot overloaded a wagon at the depot and it tipped. Held me up for more than two hours.’ 
He muttered something about boilers and valves and made as if to go without wishing to demean himself by asking permission. Rossel shrugged and the driver vanished behind the engine’s headlight. 
The other one, the youngster from the local cop shop, looked up at him, awaiting orders. He was only a private. 
‘Where is everyone?’ Rossel asked him.
‘I mean your colleagues. Why are you here alone?’
The lad looked down at the snow.
You’re joking.
‘All of them?’
A nod.
Well, f**k your mother. The MGB were sweeping through the ranks of the militia like a scythe through a wheat field. 
The military, the police, the Chekists’ own ranks . . . Where terror reigned, it often reigned most cruelly among men and women unwise enough to have put on a uniform. An entire station, though, even if it was just a provincial outpost? The militia existed to keep some measure of public order but social discipline was mostly enforced elsewhere. The unions, the factory floor, the people’s courts, even the criminal underworld – all were in competition for the loyalty of the Soviet citizen. Being a policeman was a simple job that recruited people with a simple attitude to justice, and therefore had a high number of thugs in its ranks. Counter- revolutionary sedition was hardly their forte. 
Rossel looked back at the bodies and tried to bring his thoughts into line. 
The driver of a standard night-time freight train stops because there is something on the track. He jumps down to have a look. He suspects fallen trees, or cargo spilled from some other train. But it isn’t. 
He radios to the next station; the station calls the local police. Except there aren’t any apart from this pathetic specimen, who – although he’s been denying it – calls the first Leningrad militia headquarters whose number he can see on the wall. And Sergeants Grachev and Taneyev, doing their turn on the night shift, call me. And because Sergeant Grachev is a bastard who only plays it by the book when he can cause maximum disruption, he gets Captain Lipukhin out of bed, too, knowing he will have a head like industrial glue. 
More than fifty kilometres outside our jurisdiction, in the middle of nowhere. The local militia purged by the MGB. 
Rossel knew better than to ask why. Stick to the crime. 

City of Ghosts by Ben Creed is out now, published by Welbeck, priced £8.99 as paperback original.

Ben Creed is the pseudonym for Chris Rickaby and Barney Thompson. 
City of Ghosts is the first book in a gripping trilogy and has sold in multiple international deals. 

Chris Rickaby spent twenty years working in advertising and copywriting. 
He started his own marketing agency, Everything Different, which he left a few years ago to focus on writing. 
He has written and produced various TV programmes for ITV and FIVE and created an award-winning crossplatform novel called Shuffle. 
Chris is from and still lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Barney Thompson harboured ambitions of becoming a conductor and studied under the legendary conducting professor Ilya Musin at the St Petersburg Conservatory, before diverting to a career in journalism. 
He has worked at The Times and the Financial Times, and is now an editor and writer at the UN Refugee Agency

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