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Niall O’Brien is a veteran living on the edge of a rundown estate, refusing to sell his house to developers. He’s the only remaining resident, alone and frightened by a series of break-ins. He’s been threatening to shoot the next intruder but he can’t be serious…what if the next person through the door is a police officer trying to help?
Elsewhere, on a bright Manchester morning, a vehicle screeches across a junction and wipes out a prison van. Two prisoners run for it, leaving the police to track them down.
They don’t have long to wait.
Hours later, one of the escapees is hanged from a motorway bridge. Was he broken out solely to be killed, or is there something deeper going on?
Meanwhile, someone’s conning pensioners out of their savings and there are rumours that the bareknuckle British middleweight title fight is coming to the city. DI Jessica Daniel fears finding herself in the middle of an all-out war, not knowing the biggest threat might come from a frightened pensioner.
‘There will be so many things I wish I could’ve told you in person. I won’t get the chance, so perhaps this is my only way…’
It’s Poppy Kinsey’s birthday.
She should be blowing out candles and ripping into her presents – but hers falls on the type of heart-wrenching, agonising anniversary she would far rather forget.
The worst day of them all. The day her mother died.
But this year brings a gift she would never have expected: a set of letters from beyond the grave. There’s one for each of her next ten birthdays.
As Poppy opens them year by year, she realises that lessons from the past can just as well be pointers for the present.
Megan was ten years old when her older brother, Zac, went missing among the cliffs, caves and beaches that surround the small seaside resort of Whitecliff.
A decade later and a car crash has claimed the lives of her parents.
It’s summer: Megan and her younger sister have returned to Whitecliff for the first time since their brother’s disappearance. Megan says it’s to get her parents’ affairs in order. There are boxes to pack, junk to clear, a rundown cottage to sell.
But that’s not the real reason Megan has come to confront her family’s past. It’s the postcard that arrived on the day of her parents’ funeral. The one with photos of Whitecliff on the front and a single letter on the back.
‘Z’ is all it read.
Z for Zac.
THE GIRL WHO CAME BACK
When five-year-old Olivia Adams disappeared from her back garden, the fallout stretched far and wide. How could a young child vanish in the middle of a cosy English village? With false accusations flying, more than one divorce and a suicide attempt, the community pulled itself apart.
Thirteen years on and someone claiming to be Olivia is back. Her mother is convinced it’s her but not everyone is sure. If this is the missing girl, then where has she been and what happened to her on that warm spring afternoon?
If it’s an imposter, then who would be audacious enough to try to fool a child’s own mother – and why?
Then there are those who would far rather Olivia stayed missing. The past is the past and some secrets are better left undiscovered.
THE DEATH AND LIFE OF ELEANOR PARKER
Seventeen-year-old Eleanor Parker wakes with a splutter and a cough. It’s the early hours of a Sunday morning and she’s in the river that runs through the centre of her village with no memory of how she got there.
All she has is an overwhelming sense that something bad happened to her. No, something worse than bad. As terrible as it gets.
She remembers a hand on her chest, another on her head, water in her throat, those final gasps for air.
But if she drowned, then why is she still alive?
And if someone killed her, then who?