On the book tour for Helen Fields’ gruesome new book, “Perfect Prey’, read an extract from the unsettling tale.
Tripp looked like he didn’t know which way to run.
‘In you come, Tripp,’ Callanach instructed. ‘And you should shut your door, Bunny. It’s late.’
Safely inside, Tripp was a shade of beetroot.
‘New neighbour then, sir? She seems very, um, enthusiastic.’ Tripp raised his eyebrows and seemed to be struggling to control a grin.
‘Was there something important, detective constable? Only I was hoping to get some sleep for the first time in several days.’
‘Of course, yes. Couldn’t send the files over the internet. No time to securely encode them. Here you go.’ Tripp opened a laptop, and clicked on a folder in which two items sat. As the first played, Callanach could hear the now familiar song that the band had been playing when Sim Thorburn had hit the floor. The footage was taken from a few rows in front of the victim, on a mobile phone whose owner was obviously taking a selfie of herself singing along. For a split second, in the background, a shadow passed across Sim’s face. As the shadow cleared the screen, Sim could be seen slightly out of focus, looking down towards his stomach, his face registering confusion. Then he lurched to one side, out of shot.
‘Is that all?’ Callanach asked. ‘It doesn’t tell us any more about the attacker.’
‘One more piece of footage,’ Tripp said. ‘Top right-hand corner of the screen.’
Tripp pressed play. More mobile footage, this time obviously designed to show the scale of the audience, mobile held high in the air, turning around in a three-sixty loop. After a few seconds, Tripp pressed pause and pointed.
‘There,’ he said. ‘Only in shot for a second, but it’s clearer than in the previous footage.’
Callanach looked more closely. Sim Thorburn was hidden from view, but he could see Merel and Niek De Vries. To the left of them, walking in profile, was an adult with dark brown hair flopping over their face. The attacker was wearing large, dark sunglasses. Tripp let the video play to show the person’s sudden change of direction away from the camera and into the crowd.
‘Male or female?’ Callanach asked.
‘Can’t be sure,’ Tripp replied, closing the lid of the laptop. ‘But not that tall, slim and therefore able to move about relatively unnoticed. Caucasian. Hair could be natural or dyed.
Might even be a wig. Clothes didn’t stand out to anyone, so no help there.’
‘Perfect camouflage,’ Callanach said, leaning back on the couch and closing his eyes.
‘Could it be someone from one of the homeless shelters, do you think?’ Tripp asked. ‘Sim would have come into contact with plenty of people suffering mental health problems. No one keeping tabs on them, no one to recognise them.’
Callanach shook his head.
‘I wish I believed that, Max,’ he said. ‘Because sooner or later the person you’re describing would get arrested for something else, have a breakdown and confess, get drunk and show someone the knife. This took planning. It needed care and consideration. More than that, it needed nerves of fucking steel. Can you imagine the psyche of a person who can walk through a crowd of thousands, take out a weapon, cut hard and deep and precisely, then not rush away? To walk on slowly through the crowd, certain you’ve done such a good job that you have the time to get out of there, whilst putting the knife out of sight, making sure you don’t emerge from the crowd covered in blood. This person knew how to cut. They may be a psychopath but they’re not mentally ill, not in the way we think of it. This is someone who feels nothing at all. No panic, no fear, no sense of danger. Nothing at all.’
‘How do we catch them then, sir, if they’re that good?’ Tripp asked.
‘You know what, Tripp? I don’t have a fucking clue.’
Fancy finding out what happens next? You can buy Perfect Prey from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.