Thursday 18 February 2021

Fatal Isles by Maria Adolfsson @AdolfssonMia BLOG TOUR #FatalIsles @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #Extract


In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland.

Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.

So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she's made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas's ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.

The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.

Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland's history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .

Fatal Isles by Maria Adolfsson is published today, 18 February 2021 by Zaffre. I'm delighted to share an extract from the book with you today, as part of the Blog Tour, organised by Tracy from Compulsive Readers.

Extract from Fatal Isles by Maria Adolfsson

She knows before she even opens her eyes. This is wrong. All of this is terribly wrong. She should be in a different bed, any bed, just not this one.

The light snoring from the other side should be someone else’s, anyone’s, just not his. And with an absolute certainty that slices through all other thoughts, she knows she has to get out. Immediately, this second, before he wakes up.

Slowly, and as silently as she can, Karen Eiken Hornby folds back the duvet and sits up without glancing towards the other side of the wide bed. She scans the hotel room, registering her knickers and bra on the floor next to her bare feet, her dress next to her green suede jacket in a pile on the coffee table, her handbag discarded on an armchair. Beyond them, she can just make out her trainers, peeking out behind the half-open bathroom door.

She plans every movement in order to get out of the door as quickly as possible, listening to the deep breathing behind her back, her own silent and shallow. She does a quick run-through of the necessary steps in an attempt to quell a wave of anxiety churning in her stomach. Then she takes a deep breath before breaching for her knickers and pulling them on in one motion. Carefully, to avoid jostling the mattress, she gets to her feet and feels the room spin. She waits, breathes. Then a series of hunched-over steps to snatch up her bra and tights with one hand and pick up her dress and jacket with the other. Nausea mounting, she continues into the bathroom and quietly pulls the door shut behind her. Hesitates for a split second, then turns the lock. She instantly regrets it when she hears the tiny click from the bolt, quickly pressing her ear against the door. But any sound on the other side is drowned out by her thumping heart and the blood rushing to her head.

Then she turns around.

The eyes that meet hers in the mirror above the sink are blank and strangely unfamiliar. Heavy with self-loathing, she studies her flushed cheeks and the mascara that’s flaked and settled in dark circles under her eyes. Her brown hair is hanging limply on one side, while the rest is still tied back. Her long fringe is sticking to her clammy forehead. Resignedly, she studies the devastation and whispers with a gluey, dry mouth: ‘You fucking idiot.’

Something turns in her stomach; she only just has time to bend down over the toilet before the vomit starts coming. This’ll wake him for sure. She listens helplessly to her own retching, panting as she waits for the next cascade, closing her eyes so as not to have to look at yesterday’s left overs in the toilet bowl.

Gives it a while longer, but her insides seem to have calmed down. Temporarily relieved, she straightens up, turns on the tap and fills her cupped hands. Rinses out her mouth and lets the water cool her face, realising it will probably make the black circles under her eyes worse and deciding it doesn’t matter. There are no limits to this particular hell. At almost fifty, she’s really reached new lows this time. She feels like seventy.

A quick escape is all she has left to hope for now. To get home so she can lie down and die. In her own bed. But first, she has to get out of here, get in her car and go straight home without talking to anyone, without being seen by anyone. Then a faint glimmer of hope when she realises that on this particular day of the year, she might have a chance of slinking out of town unseen. At quarter past seven in the morning, the day aft er the oyster festival, all of Dunker is out cold.

She fills one of the toothbrush glasses with cold water and downs it quickly while she disentangles her hair tie with the other hand, noting that it pulls a few long hairs out with it. She refills the glass, pulls on her dress, shoves her bra and tights into her handbag and is just about to put her hand on the door handle when she stops. She has to flush. Even though the sound is bound to wake him, she has to; she can leave no trace of herself behind. With eyes screwed up tightly and a grimace of dread, she listens to the sound of water rushing down into the bowl, followed by the sound of the cistern refilling. She hangs back for a few more seconds, until the sound has subsided to a soft tinkling, then pulls the strap of her handbag over her shoulder.

Then she takes a deep breath and opens the bathroom door. He’s on his back with his face turned to her and for a second, she freezes. Backlit, he looks like he’s watching her. But then another thunderous snore fills the room; she jumps as the spell is broken.

Six seconds later, she’s gathered up her shoes and opened the door to the hallway. And there, on the cusp of freedom, something makes her turn around. Driven by the same kind of compulsive urge that people have when they pass an accident on the motorway and don’t really want to look but have to anyway, she lets her eyes take in the man in the bed. Studies the slackly open mouth, listens to the faint gurgling that accompanies each exhalation.

With a feeling of unreality, Karen studies her boss for three seconds before closing the door behind her.

Maria Adolfsson
 (b. 1958) lives in Stockholm where she, until recently, worked as a communications
director and now writes full-time. 

The Doggerland series has been sold in to 18 languages to date, and has sold over 250 000 copies in Sweden alone.

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