Each murder brings him one step closer to the perfect death.
Ex-priest, DI Farrell is called on to investigate a gruesome death in rural Scotland. All evidence points to suicide, except for one loose end: every light in the cottage was switched off. Why would he kill himself in the dark?
The question sparks a murder investigation that leads to the mysterious Ivy House, home of ‘The Collective,’ a sinister commune of artists who will do anything to keep their twisted secrets hidden.
And when the remains of a young girl are uncovered on a barren stretch of coastline, Farrell realises that there is something rotten in this tight-knit community. Now he must track down a ruthless killer before another person dies, this time much closer to home…
(From Prologue of Perfect Dead)
Ailish opened her eyes then closed them again as her head started to throb. She stumbled to her feet, fighting the urge to throw up. Unwelcome flashbacks of the night before painted her face in disgust. Looking at her slight form in the mirror with yesterday’s make-up blurring the lines of her face, she felt older than her nineteen years. She glanced at her phone and tears prickled. It was her mother’s birthday. She could picture her sister and father laughing and chatting as she opened her presents in Ireland. It was as if she had ceased to exist, such was the disgrace she had rained down on them when she ran off with Patrick, three years ago. He had completely turned her head with all his big talk. She had fancied they would live in London, not the tiny harbour town of Kirkcudbright tucked away in a corner of south-west Scotland. Instead of the romantic existence she had pictured for them, they had wound up living in this glorified hippie commune or, ‘The Collective’, as they liked to be known. At first it had been fun, exciting even. A world away from the parochial narrow-minded community she had left behind. She had been proud to be Paddy’s muse and loved nothing more than to bask in the warmth of his regard as he painted her from various angles.
Lately, she had felt Patrick’s love receding like an outgoing tide. He was preoccupied and distant and hadn’t asked her to pose for him in ages. The atmosphere in the house was different as well. She had a feeling they were all keeping secrets from her and each other. They had always used drugs but lately the drugs had become harder and the parties more forced and a little weirder. There was a powerful undertow dragging them all down to God knows where.
Suddenly, as she looked out of the window, she knew with unusual clarity that she didn’t want to be part of this toxic environment anymore. She would lay it on the line with Patrick and ask him to leave with her. He had been holed up in his studio for days now. She’d been warned off disturbing him as he was working on something new. Well, tough! This couldn’t wait. He would see sense. He had to.
After a quick shower she threw on her favourite dress and swept up her long curly hair, just as he liked it. A slick of lipstick and a touch of mascara and she was ready to do battle.
She flung open the door to the studio and stood, open mouthed, tears spilling from her eyes as she took in the scene before her. A beautiful young girl stared back at her insolently, maintaining her pose. She was reclining naked on a velvet chaise longue, one arm positioned behind her head. Only the blush of colour staining her chest betrayed her.
Patrick turned round, and their eyes met. He dropped his gaze. There was nothing left to say. Wordlessly, Ailish spun on her heel and left the studio. She was done. It was time to go home and beg for forgiveness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. However, she now practices in Dumfries as a hypnotherapist which is where her novels are set. Married, with two grown up children, she has filled her empty nest with Golden Retrievers. She can often be found in a forest walking the dogs, covered in mud and with twigs in her hair.