by Rachel Abbott
Cyberstalking, blackmail, murder and misunderstanding unravel secrets both new and old in New Melham, England. For a reader, the result is a suspenseful, complex tale of passion, human frailty and obsession.
Former Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Tom Douglas bought his cottage in Little Melham seeking peace after the stress of working for a bad boss at the Met in London. The village in Cheshire isn’t far from Manchester where his daughter lives with his ex-wife.
Ellie, Max and their twins are living in the beautifully remodeled farm where Ellie grew up. But for her sister Leonora (Leo) the farm has nothing but bitter memories of her father’s indifference. After discovering her mother’s suicide, Leo’s father packs up her things and drives Leonora to the farm where Leo is shocked to discover he has been living with a second wife and Leo’s half sister. Her new stepmother is bitter, resentful and quick to make her new stepdaughter pay for her father’s betrayals.
When Ellie inherits a surprise windfall at her mother’s death, she remodels the farm, hoping that her father who disappeared without a word during her teenage years, will return. Leo, with Douglas’ help, discovers just how misguided Ellie’s hopes are.
Ellie’s husband, a high school gym teacher, is feeling undermined by living on his wife’s wealth. He has a plan to equalize their relationship.
The village near Ellie’s farm is awash with shock, suspicion and secrets when 14-year-old Abby is found unconscious and barefoot on the edge of a back road. Abby had been struck by a car and dragged off the roadway. Inexplicably, her feet and calves are torn up and nettle-stung.
A number of Ellie’s friends and acquaintances could have seen something on the road or even been guilty of the accident. Could it have been her husband Max out late with fellow teachers (including the attractive Alannah)? The man obsessed with Ellie, whom she had slipped away from home to try to reason with that night? Pat, the tortured man trapped between an angry, betrayed wife and the bar maid he had an affair with?
Ellie, riddled with guilt about a dalliance with a local man and fearful that Max will leave her for Alannah, can’t shake the feeling of being stalked. When text messages from a blocked caller ID talk of entering her house and threatening her children, life becomes unbearable.
Leo and Douglas share an objective and observant view of the people and the situation that makes their growing closeness credible. After the indifference of her father and the abuse of her stepmother, Leo finds closeness — both physical and emotional — difficult. Her beauty, courage, brains and directness make her irresistible to Douglas.
The Author: Rachel Abbott
The founder and former director of an interactive media company in Manchester, England, before she turned to writing, Rachel Abbott is an e-publishing legend. She self-published her first book, Only the Innocent, on Kindle Direct Publishing. It became the Kindle store’s top selling book in slightly more than three months and was the second highest selling self-published book in 2012.
Abbott’s books often deal with obsessive controlling relationships between husbands and wives or stalkers and the women they are obsessed with. Her other books are:
- Sleep Tight. When Olivia Brookes’ husband calls to report her and her three children missing, the case is baffling. Her purse and keys are on the kitchen table and her car is in the garage — but every photo of her and her children has gone missing. DCI Douglas remembers being called in two years earlier, only this time it was the husband and children missing. Has her clearly controlling husband killed his family? Or is he being set up? This book might remind readers of Gone Girl, but with a much more sympathetic wife.
- Only the Innocent. When high-profile billionaire philanthropist Hugo Fletcher is murdered in his London home under scandalous circumstances, the media have a feeding frenzy. When DCI Douglas tells his widow Laura that he suspects the killer was female, she isn’t surprised. Secrets abound but are those who keep them protecting the innocent — or the guilty?