THERE HAD TO BE RULES. OTHERWISE IT MIGHT ALL BECOME TOO EASY… AND HE LIKED EACH NEW VICTIM TO BE A CHALLENGE.
Robert Naysmith is a successful executive playing a dark and deadly game. Unlike other serial killers, his motive isn’t rage or sexual pleasure. He doesn’t even choose his victims. Each is selected randomly – a chance encounter, followed by a period of grace before the hunt begins. So when he hungers for a new victim, he has no idea who it will be… only that the first person to make eye contact with him after midday will be unlucky.
When the body is found on Severn Beach, Detective Inspector Harland is the investigating officer on another apparently motiveless killing. It’s only when he links the case to an unsolved murder in Oxford, that the police begin to guess at the awful scale of Naysmith’s work.
But how do you stop someone who murders without any personal motive? Harland knows he has to find the answer before Naysmith kills again.
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There were people on the path ahead of him. A young man came first, Chinese by the look of him, a little under six foot tall, spiked hair, slight build, listening to his iPod. Clean, white trainers. His clothes seemed too good for a student but he couldn’t have been older than early twenties. They drew closer, until Naysmith could hear the tinny beat from his earphones… but he passed by without ever looking up. A moment later, a heavy-set woman in her fifties – somebody’s aunt. Greying hair, floral print top, expensive bag. She had an aura of disapproval about her, steering herself towards the edge of the path as they came near each other and carefully avoiding his eye – her type often did. On another day, he might have felt a slight twinge of offence at this deliberate evasion, determinedly keeping herself to herself – after all, there was nothing about him or his manner that anyone should find threatening. And yet, today, she was quite right. Next were two younger women sitting on a bench – both in their thirties, one fair-haired, the other a red-head. Both were smartly dressed, midday fugitives from an office perhaps. They were talking as he approached, catching up on gossip before they had to return to work. The red-head had her back to him as he approached, but her friend looked up as he passed, her eyes flickering to his for just a second before she continued her conversation. She would be the one. And now, his pace faltered just a little as he bent his whole attention on her, taking in each detail, remembering, fixing her into his mind. She looked to be of average height – hard to say while she was seated – with a relatively slim, athletic figure. Her grey trouser suit was presentable, if not flattering, and there was no ring on the hand that held her Starbucks cup. He took another step… Shoulder-length hair, straight, with cheap plastic clips to keep it out of her face, mousey with fading blonde highlights. …another step… Her skin was quite pale, delicate chin, high cheekbones, small nose, not too much make-up, pierced ears with small lobes. He burned her mouth-shape into his mind, the slightly too-pronounced pout of her lips, then gave the last seconds over to her eyes… pale grey-green with nice lashes. …and then he was past her. A fleeting moment, but that was all it took. He never forgot a face.