Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for The Red Hand of Fury by R.N. Morris! I will be sharing an extract from the novel. There is also an international giveaway going on for a hardback copy!
London, June 1914. A young man is mauled to death at London Zoo after deliberately climbing into the bear pit. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from the notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.
Following a third attempted suicide, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process …?
Extract of The Red Hand of Fury:
The investigation in The Red Hand Of Fury is prompted by the bizarre deaths of three young men. Apparently suicides, the deaths share a number of common features, most strikingly that the dead men are all naked. The first of these deaths takes place in the polar bear enclosure at London Zoo…
Harold didn’t like the way the bear was looking at him.
Sitting there in its grubby white coat. Stuffing its drooling snout with cold, dead fish, the blood staining its chops as it relentlessly crunched down on its disgusting meal.
It envied him, he knew it. Why wouldn’t it? It had been wrested far from its home, to be gawped at by the world and his wife. And with only raw dead fish from a stinking bucket to feed on. Not to mention having to defecate in the same place as it dined. Even a bear must object to that.
He could feel its hostility and its envy.
Now and then, he could even hear the bear’s evil thoughts. Naturally, the animal was not capable of verbal thought. Which was how he knew that it was the bear’s thoughts he was hearing. They came to him as unpleasant vibrations and strident screeches that he felt in his solar plexus. And even though they were wordless, there was no doubt about the malice they bore.
Oh, it was a sly one all right. Pretending to be absorbed in the fish, or from time to time breaking off to consider the long claws of its toes with perfect complacency.
It seemed to be saying to him, ‘It would be an easy thing for me to rip you apart, you know.’
Harold noticed how it turned its head in every direction except towards him. Sly! Very sly!
He looked around to see if anyone else shared his suspicions and his outrage. But no, the other visitors to the Mappin Terraces at London Zoo seemed perfectly enchanted by the bear’s demeanour.
Could they not see how it wished them all harm?
The polar bear was man’s enemy. The only thing that had prevented war between man and polar bears was the accident of geography; neither had very much interest in the other’s territory.
But the zoo authorities had made a fatal mistake in bringing this beast to London and placing it in the midst of the civilian population, without any form of military supervision. Not only that, they fed it and kept it alive, with only a low railing and a shallow pit to protect the public.
The bear could easily climb out and run rampage. Go berserk, in fact. A teacher had once told him that the word berserk had something to do with bears. Wasn’t it to do with warriors who fought like bears, ripping their enemies apart with their teeth and bare hands? Who fought without arms or armour, protected only by the bestial rage that possessed them.
He seemed to remember it came from the Norse. Or was it Russian?
He couldn’t remember exactly what the teacher had said now. The lesson had been given in the context of his own behaviour at the time. Apparently he had gone berserk himself, and old Mr Beesley couldn’t resist the opportunity for a lesson in etymology.
The bear looked peaceful enough now. At this moment it was holding its toes, as if it had only just discovered they were attached to it. Feigning simplicity, Harold had no doubt. It liked to give the impression that it was some kind of arctic Buddha. It was fat enough. A deceitful smile played about its chops. But Harold knew what was really going on. It was trying to hide its envy with a smile. But it lacked the control over its facial muscles to pull it off: the bear was not a good actor.
It pretended to be a simple creature, content with a bucket of fish and a pond to swim in. But it did not know that Harold could hear its malign thoughts.
He had the measure of that bear, all right. He knew how, despite its demonstration of placidity, deep down, it hated all humans. And Harold especially. Perhaps it had an inkling of his power as a bear mind-reader and feared him as its natural master. All creatures hate that which they fear.
Did it expect them all to bow in homage to it? Or to pay it tribute of some kind? To throw it iced buns or a freshly sacrificed child?
It must have sensed that it would never receive such obeisance from Harold. And hated him all the more for that reason.
No, he would never bow to it. On the contrary, he would teach that bloody polar bear a lesson!
About the Author:
R. N. Morris is the author of eight historical crime novels. His first, A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger. The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin House, The Dark Palace and now The Red Hand of Fury, published on 31 March, 2018.
Win a hardback copy of The Red Hand of Fury!
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.