I would of course, as every #BlogTour like to thank Sarah & Emma for letting us feature their new book; A PRESENCE OF ABSENCE on our blog.
To kick off, we have the “blurb” for the book;
A Presence of Absence is the first book in The Odense Series. Although this is a solid crime novel, it also begins and ends with grief for many of the characters, personal demons and life decisions.
A gritty murder case gets in the way of the characters’ everyday lives and sends the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish city of Odense, into a panic.
British detective Simon Weller escapes the fallout from the recent suicide of his Danish wife, Vibeke and heads out to her home city of Odense. But once there he is paired up with a local detective, Jonas, who is also about to his rock bottom in his home life, and they must overcome their differences and personal problems to try and catch one of the worst serial killers Odense has ever seen. The case takes them back into past decades as history starts catching up with some of the local inhabitants. When Simon realises that his wife’s suicide may not be all it seems and her name appears in the cas, his integrity within the case is compromised, how far will he go to find out the truth of Vibeke’s past and hide it from his already troubled police partner?
Back home in London Simon’s family are struggling with their own web of lies and deceit and the family is falling apart.
With one family hiding a dark secret, the whole case is just about to reach breaking point.
I am excited to share two exclusive extracts from both the Prologue & Chapter 21 of A PRESENCE OF ABSENCE.
1981, near Faaborg, Denmark
The angel plucks a large handful of flowers, and they carry it with them up to God, where the flowers bloom more brightly than they ever did on earth.
— “The Angel”
The farm was eerily quiet. The animals were sleeping and recuperating from dealing with the harsh weather which the day had brought. The landscape surrounding the farm painted a very imposing background, and this only added to the desolate position it was perched in. Farms in Denmark were sparse but necessary to the country’s survival, or so it seemed. The isolated spot of this farm had only increased the distance between its inhabitants and the local town. Although they were known, they were not always accepted and this sadly sat well with them.
The barn door slamming open and shut in time with the wind was the only sign that something had been disturbed there. The more the door called for help, the more it became withered until eventually, it started to hang slightly off-centre.
The man inside the farmhouse had just been tending to a stockpot which held the evening’s dinner of stew, made two days before. It would be devoured again tonight, he was sure, through pure hunger rather than enjoyment. Hearing the barn door call its last and loudest scream, he hesitantly put on his boots and decided to head over to the barn to quieten it. With the rain slamming down on him from all angles as the wind picked up speed and direction, he felt like he was being pushed back, away from the barn. He called out suddenly, questioning who was there as it became apparent that the lock was hanging off the barn. Relieved that he had on instinct picked up his rifle as he left the cottage, he pulled it up closer to himself as he slowly made his way to the door.
In a flash the door threw itself open, as though to expose its visitor to what was inside. The man froze in position. The figure before him was still. Surrounded by the haystacks and wooden pallets which sent out a musty smell, the barn was a holding place for surplus requirements.
Heavy breaths were the only sound in this space now, but under the surface, there seemed to be silent cries and a heartbeat which was racing, trying to catch up with itself.
The man stumbled forwards and stood in front of it. Shaking uncontrollably, the man used his hands to feel the figure, following the outline of the face until he had memorised every inch. Not moving, the figure was open to this touch. It didn’t resist the kindness which was being shown, the gentle touch. The dangling figure let the man work through his fear and sadness for some time. Suddenly the man let out a shrieking cry which stirred some of the animals outside who had gathered to watch.
Cutting the figure down from where it was hanging, he pulled the body close to him and fell to the floor with it, making sure he protected it from the fall. Turning the body towards him, he once again slid his fingers down the face, this time closing the bright blue eyes that were looking at him, and tried to turn up the mouth so that it didn’t hint at the fear it had known moments before its passing. As the body lay lifeless in his arms he wiped at the tears which had stained the cheeks of the figure, then cut the rope from his neck.
Running his fingers along the old scars on the body’s wrists, the man was angered at himself for not seeing this before. A previous attempt had obviously been made to erase the hurt, but he had found this too hard.
Sitting in the barn throughout the night was comforting in a way. As the darkness erased the scene of death in front of him, for a few hours the man could sit in his own denial. Now the barn door only gave out a sadness: the shouting had gone. The man had found what he was supposed to find and the barn held this secret with dignity.
They say that scenes in life can leave an imprint on the surroundings, and as soon as Simon arrived at Klosterhaven, although unaware of the tragedy which had taken place the night before, he seemed to have a slight unease about the place.
The leaves were blowing along the ground as if trying to sweep away the incredibly frenzied violence which had taken place on this very soil, and the birds tweeted loudly as though they were trying to convey their version of the horrors they had witnessed. It wasn’t just an imprint: the wind was carrying the smell of death, and the magnificent cathedral that looked down upon the gardens cast a shadow that engulfed everything in darkness.
Simon had visited the Klosterhaven gardens many times with Vibeke; she had said that the locals neglected this beautiful garden, a small piece of wonder surrounded by chaos. The growing popularity of Denmark as a tourist attraction and the strong commitment of the Odense Tourism Board to turn the city centre into a large Hans Christian Andersen memorial had taken its toll on the locals’ love of places such as Klosterhaven; and now it was hard to visit and not be bothered by confused tourists glancing at a map or large groups pushing their way through.
Simon walked through the parklands and was instantly greeted with news station vans. After Elsbet’s high profile murder, it wasn’t surprising that the local news had caught onto the biggest crime to happen in Odense in at least a decade. A reporter noticed Simon and pulled the cameraman along as she approached him, microphone heading straight for his face. Before Simon had the chance to react, Jonas had jumped into the scene.
“We are not taking any questions at this time,” Jonas said, pulling Simon away and under the yellow tape. The two men walked in silence towards the crime scene, and Simon noticed the blood on the concrete path. He didn’t notice the body hanging above it until sometime later.
I cannot wait to read this debut in full and let you know how the story progresses!
A PRESENCE OF ABSENCE is out now and can be purchased at the following outlets;
Amazon (UK); http://amzn.to/2o6FzTf
Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Blog Tour. See below for further details and be sure to follow all of the action across Twitter!