I’m pleased to be sharing an extract today from Helen Fields new novel, The Last Girl To Die. My thanks to Olivia at MidasPR for providing the extract and a review copy. It’s published by Avon Books UK and available now in all formats. I’ve visited beautiful Mull where the book is set a few times but my goodness this makes it sound like a very dark and dangerous place!!
About the book
In search of a new life, seventeen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.
Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.
The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?
The police station doors were locked. A sign said it would be manned from 11 a.m. Infuriating, but hopefully Sergeant Eggo and his men were out actually following up leads in Adriana’s case. With the hours I had to kill, I went back to the Mull Historical Emporium. If the complete history of Mull’s myths and legends was going to be anywhere, it would be there. The door was open but Skittles was nowhere to be seen. That was no bad thing as far as I was concerned, and I headed directly for the book section. Mull’s ancient history was covered in detail. There were several books on how the British Fisheries Society built Tobermory in 1788. Nothing about murders or mysteries on Mull. I checked the beams of the shop as I went. No taper burns there, nor herbs hung above doorways. The back room was dedicated to the sinking of a ship in Tobermory harbour. The San Juan de Sicilia was part of the Spanish Armada, and had been burned to the depths of Tobermory Bay in 1588. Rumours of gold and other treasures had circulated ever since. A quill pen on the shelf caught my eye, not for the quill itself but for the space in front of it. A tiny paper placard bore the legend, ‘Quill from an early salvage of the wreck by the Duke of Monmouth together with shell believed to have been used as an inkwell.’ I was slipping my camera from my pocket when a couple entered. Skittles came in from another door and took his place behind the till. Dust is not our friend, we’re told throughout our lives. It comes from human skin, and a lack of hygiene and cleaning. It indicates that we’re slovenly and poor housekeepers. But it also leaves evidence in its absence. Missing pieces of information that show where things were but are no longer. On the shelf, near that quill pen, was the outline of a large shell, maybe seven inches long, pretty wide too. Given how close up I’d gotten to the one that had been used to violate Adriana Clark, the space on that shelf required a serious explanation. Engaging the camera flash to combat the darkness and hoping it wouldn’t draw Skittles’ attention, I took a quick snap of the space where the shell should have been. Passing him as I exited, I caught him staring blankly out of the window and sucking his thumb, an infant stuck in an adult’s body. I headed for a quiet bench on the harbourside and called Nate Carlisle. ‘Sadie, I’m just headed into court to give evidence,’ he said. ‘I’ll make it fast. I need the conch shell. I have an idea of where it came from but I’ll have to put it on a shelf to compare it with a shape.’ ‘I can’t let you touch the shell. It’ll be an exhibit in the case if it ever gets prosecuted, and if I’ve broken the chain of evidence, it could get excluded. The best I could do is to have an officer deliver it to Sergeant Eggo and you can explain your theory for him to investigate.’ ‘If I do that and word gets out here, the opportunity to check the shell shape will disappear. It’s already precarious.’
I thought on my feet. ‘Hey, could you take a plaster cast and send it to me? Like a reconstruction. Then you wouldn’t have to let the actual shell out of your possession at all.’ Silence for a few seconds. ‘I guess that would work,’ Nate said. ‘And I’m going to text you the name of a guy who’s linked to the shell. Do you have access to the police database to check it out?’ ‘I have contacts who would do that for me, but that’s confidential information. If anything relevant comes up, all I can do is flag it to Sergeant Eggo. It’ll be up to him to decide what to tell you, so it might be faster for you to ask him to run the name at the police station there.’ ‘Fine,’ I said. I knew when I was losing a battle. ‘Thanks Nate. I’ll let you go.’ ‘Sadie, wait, I have some positive news for you. Whatever your concerns were about Adriana being involved in drugs seem to be unfounded. Her tox screens came back completely negative. Nothing in her system from the night she died and her hair shows zero long-term narcotics use.’ ‘Not even alcohol?’ I asked. ‘She was completely clean,’ he said. ‘And that powder you found in the velvet bag wasn’t drugs either. You can reassure her parents that she hadn’t got involved in anything they weren’t aware of. Cold comfort now, but they’ll appreciate it later.’ ‘Oh,’ I said. That was one theory busted. Part of me was hoping Adriana had been seriously drunk when she’d died. Anything to have numbed her awareness. Sadly she’d been denied even that. ‘What was the powder then?
About the Author
Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar. Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company. Perfect Remains is set in Scotland. Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with their three children and two dogs.