For fans of Nicci French and Sophie Hannah, Corrie Jackson’s explosive new thriller will leave you questioning how far you would go for friendship.
Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily’s world falls apart.
Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie’s troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man – she trusts Charlie with her life.
Then Charlie flees.
Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she’s drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily’s unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts.
As she begins to question Charlie’s innocence, something happens that blows the investigation – and their friendship – apart.
Now Sophie isn’t just fighting for justice, she’s fighting for her life.
The sitting room curtains are half-drawn and the air is heavy with the caustic reek of wilting flowers. Emily curls up on her sofa and picks up an interiors magazine, trying to quieten the noise in her head. She flicks to the photographs of a beautiful Georgian farmhouse in Bath. The interior is arctic-white: walls, rugs, curtains, furniture. The owner, an elegant woman with grey hair that hangs as straight as rain, gazes serenely at the camera. ‘My life was so hectic but, after my encounter with God, everything made sense. Part of my epiphany involved chucking things out, stripping them back.’
Emily drums her fingers against the chair. Where is Charlie? It’s been three hours since she got home.
It’s just nature’s way.
The doctor had peeled off his latex gloves and shrugged, like he was apologising for the weather. Emily dials Charlie’s number again but it goes to voicemail.
‘Baby, where are you?’ she says, her voice high and pleading. ‘Please come home.’
She throws her phone onto the coffee table. She shouldn’t have to be alone, not today. Doesn’t Charlie realise that? Doesn’t he love her? Her skin starts to vibrate. Emily glances at the abstract painting on the wall and its garish colours shout at her. The panic lodges in her throat. Too much noise. Too much colour. Too much everything. What did you expect, Dumpy Danson? That you were going to live happily ever after?
All of a sudden, Emily can’t breathe. Her skin screams. She lurches forward and rips the painting off the wall, then she shoves the mosaic coffee table and kicks the striped rug to one side. Feeling giddy, Emily stumbles over to the window and yanks down the purple curtains. Sunlight streams through the window. She opens the cellar door and staggers down the steps, returning with a wedge of bin liners. An hour later, Emily has torn through the entire flat filling the hallway with bin bags. She’s ordered a glass coffee table, a white rug, white curtains. An encounter with God. But it’s still not enough. She crawls to the bathroom and picks up her nail scissors.
The relief is instant.
Emily slumps on the toilet lid, watching blood dribble out of her thigh. Four cuts, one for each hour she’s been alone. She waits for the noise in her head to die down, then busies herself tending to the cut.
The key turns in the lock, and Emily winces as she pulls up her knickers. Charlie has to shove the door open to get past the rubbish bags. He stares at the sitting room open-mouthed. ‘What the hell happened?’
Emily feels dazed. ‘Where have you been?’
Charlie strides towards Emily and pulls her onto the sofa beside him, nuzzling her hair. The smell of him makes her dizzy. She wants to ask again where he’s been, but the desire to hold onto this moment, onto his warmth is too strong. She has to trust Charlie. Her eyes grow heavy and she sinks into his chest.
Emily pictures her parents. Middle-class, ordinary. That’s what everyone thought. But she grew up watching the trust dissolve between them. Even now the smell of Sunday roast flings her right back to family meals spent in itchy silence. She vowed her own marriage would be different. No secrets. No suspicion. Her marriage will be perfect.
Charlie flicks on the TV, she knows without looking it will be football. Emily clings to her husband, and drifts off to sleep. She sleeps so soundly, she doesn’t feel Charlie slide out from under her, or hear the front door close as he disappears into the darkness.
Corrie Jackson has been a journalist for fifteen years and has worked at Harpers Bazaar, The Daily Mail, Grazia and Glamour. She has lived in London and Los Angeles, and now resides just outside New York with her husband and two children.