Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.
To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.
Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...
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Mrs Doughton called the agency this morning, with urgency in her voice, and asked for a meeting that very afternoon. She requested Egan and I come as soon as we could, for a job of the utmost importance. She refused to divulge more information over the phone, but my curiosity was piqued. I promised her we would honour the appointment — besides, we didn’t have any other clients banging down our door.
We stop at the front door of a typical Victorian terrace house and I press the doorbell. The door swings open, before I have a chance to remove my finger from the button, revealing a slim woman in her forties with short curly hair, high cheekbones and tired eyes. I note in passing she’s long overdue for a root touch-up to hide the silver strands eating their way down her brown hair.
She’s wearing a wrinkled blouse and a pair of jeans. She beckons us in, with a quick, nervous gesture. ‘Ms Neve, Mr Egan, please come in.’ She leads us to the living room of the small house and has to remove papers from the settee to make room for my colleague and I to sit down.
My stomach clenches as I catch sight of the documents: missing person posters. I only catch a glimpse of the documents, but the word MISSING printed in bold and capitals is impossible to ignore and they show a picture of a young girl with dark wavy hair.
Mrs Doughton drops the leaflets on a nearby table, already filled to the brim, and turns back to face us. I nod at the notices she just put away. ‘Your daughter, I presume.’
‘Yes,’ the woman says in a tired voice. She sits down, looking both exhausted and distressed.
‘She disappeared last weekend. I… I have no idea where she is.’
Egan frowns and asks, ‘Have you contacted the police?’
‘Of course I have. It was the first thing I did, Sunday morning, when I couldn’t reach her,’ she replies, her hands twisting in her lap. ‘I called all of Isa’s friends, the other dancers, her teachers, everyone in our family… everyone I could think of.’
She takes in a breath, bites at her lower lip. ‘No one’s seen her, not since Friday afternoon. At first I assumed she’d spent the night at a friend’s, but when I still couldn’t reach her on Sunday… She’s never been gone so long, and she always calls me back.’
She shakes her head, and worries her lip again. ‘The detectives think she ran away. I tried to tell them she wouldn’t—’ she clenches and unclenches her hands nervously, ‘—I tried and tried to tell them my daughter isn’t like that. No matter how it looks, she wouldn’t leave me. It’s been just the two of us since my husband died three years ago. Isa wouldn’t leave. She just… she wouldn’t.’ Tears fill Mrs Doughton’s eyes and she seems ready to fall to pieces.
Damn it, I hate jobs like this one. I force an amiable smile, lean forward, and try to get the poor woman’s full attention, to draw her away from the brink before she falls apart on us. ‘Tell us more about your daughter. How old is she?’
In response, Mrs Doughton reaches for one of the missing person posters and places it in my hand, while she dabs at her eyes with a tissue.
I find my answer underneath the smiling face of a young brunette with a cheery smile and her mother’s dark eyes. I read the words aloud, for Egan’s benefit: ‘Isabella Doughton, age 24.’
Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.
Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.
She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.
Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Cristelle%20Comby&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerankGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/CristelleComby