Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
Marnie Logan’s husband, Daniel, has disappeared. No notes, no explanation – and no record of his mobile or credit cards being used. Nothing. The police can’t or won’t help and Marnie can’t access his bank account or life insurance policy, putting the life of her and her children, Elijah and Zoe, on hold.
But Daniel has left her a disastrous legacy: a gambling debt, owed to a crook named Patrick Hennessy. Hennessy demands payment in kind. He doesn’t want it for himself, however, but for clients who will pay good money to sleep with her. At stake is the safety of her children - especially her young daughter, Zoe – and she has no choice but to become an escort, collected for each assignment by Hennessy’s brutal driver, Quinn.
As if that’s not enough, strange things start to happen, and Marnie feels she is being watched. But by who?
Is it the creepy Trevor, the caretaker of the building where she lives, always right there whenever she leaves or comes home?
Or could it be Daniel?
Or is it her imagination, fuelled by what she is going through and by her experience as a child when she witnessed her mother dying in a car accident?
Marnie is already seeing a psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, trying to come to grips with her past, and doesn’t want to face any further admissions about her state of mind, because that might mean losing her children.
When Quinn dies in a stabbing after punching Marnie as a punishment for not getting paid by a client, the focus of suspicion soon falls on her.
For Joe O’Loughlin, this is bad news. He’s not sure how much more Marnie can take. And when there is a break-in at his office, and the only file stolen is that belonging to Marnie, he calls in a friend, former detective Vincent Ruiz, to help.
Marnie, meanwhile, discovers an album Daniel had been putting together. It’s a closely-documented record of her life, from her birth up to the time he was still there, and is proof to her that he still loved her and would never have left without good reason. She wonders if anyone in the album might know what happened to him.
Ruiz soon turns up some disquieting evidence, suggesting that the Marnie described to him by Joe is not the person she portrays, and has enemies who appear to have real reason to wish her harm.
This is a brooding, sinister story with a number of different undercurrents and voices – not least that of the unknown watcher who appears to know Marnie as well as she knows herself. It is cleverly interwoven so that the reader won’t know if it’s real or imagined, male or female. But it is real.
It’s compelling stuff, and the truly frightening part is the portrayal of a person’s life becoming so easily unwired when everything – relationships, identity, friends, family, their past and present – become utterly disconnected by circumstances beyond their control, with no visible way out.