The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.
That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year's event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.
Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?
DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl...
The Bad Place by M.K. Hill is the first A Sasha Dawson Thriller. Twenty six years ago six children were abducted and held for two weeks on a remote farm. Unfortunately, only five of them survived. Every year the five of them get together and remember Becky who is no longer with them. This year, Lydia stumbles in late. She is shaking and states she saw a teenager get abducted. DI Sasha Dawson was a probationary officer when situation with the kids went down and she has a feeling that the new missing person’s case relates back to that event. Sasha and her team need to work quickly so they can get the teen back alive. Sasha Dawson is a realistic character who is juggling her job and her family. She has a husband and two squabbling teenagers. Then her mother leaves her husband after fifty years of marriage and moves in which causes havoc. While the kidnapping story is being investigated, the past is slowly revealed through flashbacks. Sasha and her team question the family and friends plus they chase down leads. There is action that keeps propelling the story forward and keeps the tension ramped up. I find The Bad Place to be a cross between a cozy mystery, mystery and thriller (elements of all three). There are a lot of characters (each with their own issues) and it can be hard to keep them straight in the beginning. The Bad Place is an intriguing mystery with a concerned detective, a deadly adversary, long held secrets and a victim running out of time.
Excerpt from The Bad Place
Arriving at the speed-dating, Sasha Dawson took off her wedding ring and dropped it in her pocket – leaving it on would send all the wrong signals. She parked her Spider in the car park behind the pub, applied lippy in the rear-view mirror, tugged a brush through her silver hair and climbed out to a chorus of squawks from the noisy gulls gliding on the thermals high above the seafront.
‘Lovely evening!’ Sasha gave a big smile to the doorman who let her inside. Inside was dark and shabby, and a smell of vinegar and ketchup lingered. Among the round tables arranged in a loose semicircle, a scattering of men and women waited for the event to begin.
At the bar, Sasha ordered a Coke with ice and lemon, pointedly ignoring the attentions of two men to her left. Lips pursed in an arrogant pout, a faint smile playing across his rugged face, the taller of the two was a handsome black guy. He nudged his friend and said, loud enough for Sasha to hear, ‘There’s plenty of talent here tonight, some right crackers.’
The shorter Asian man smiled, embarrassed. Sasha turned her back on them just as a figure, face hidden beneath a hoodie, slipped in a side exit at the back of the room. ‘Hello, madam!’ A small, curvy woman, with a head full of white-blonde hair, perfectly straight white teeth sparkling in her fake-tanned face, and wearing a dress shimmering with a million sequins, came over. ‘I’m Lolly!’ ‘Hi, Lolly, I’m Sasha. You look nice.’
Lolly beamed with pleasure at the compliment. She spoke with a bubbly estuary accent. ‘And you’re totally stunning for an older lady, you don’t mind me saying, I bet you’re going to be very popular tonight! Ready, Sasha?’ ‘As I’ll ever be.’ Sasha’s thumb rubbed guiltily against her naked ring finger. ‘I’m a bit nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything like this.’ ‘Just be your fabulous self.’
‘That one…’ – Sasha nodded at the man who had spoken at the bar – ‘is too cocky by half.’
Lolly followed her gaze. ‘Craig, you mean? Don’t worry about him, he fancies himself something rotten. Anyway, chin chin!’ She raised a glass of tonic water and Sasha clinked her Coke against it. A bell dinged.
‘Are we ready to start?’ Everyone gathered around while a woman explained the rules. ‘I want all the ladies to take a table and a gentleman will talk to each of you. Have a chat, get to know each other. When I ring this bell after three minutes,’ – she struck it again just in case anyone was still unclear what it sounded like – ‘all the gentlemen will move to the next table in a clockwise direction, and so on. There are pencils and score sheets in front of you, ladies, and when we’re finished, I’d like you to tell me which of the gentlemen you’d be interested in seeing again.’
‘Good luck, Sasha.’ Lolly sat to her left. ‘Knock ’em dead!’ ‘Are we all ready?’ The woman rang the bell, just as the man who had slipped in at the back of the pub took off his hoodie to reveal a loud Hawaiian shirt, and stepped forward to join the fun. ‘Happy romancing!’
The first man to sit in front of Sasha was the Asian guy from the bar. He squirmed in his chair, his gaze roaming everywhere but never quite landing on her face. ‘What’s your name, sweetheart?’ she asked. ‘Ajay.’ Bless him, he looked terrified. ’Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself, Ajay?’ ‘I had a turtle once.’ His face reddened. ‘When I was a kid.’
The Bad Place is available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play. The Bad Place is on Kindle Unlimited (my mother loves this program). Thank you for joining me today. I hope I have tempted you to try a new author. I will return tomorrow with my review of A Curio Killing by Mary Ellen Hughes as part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. There is a giveaway too! May you have a happy day! Take care and Happy Reading!