Hallet of the Sussex Police Holmes Unit; Brian Cook, Scientific Support Branch Manager; Detective Inspector William Warner; Senior Scenes of Crime Investigator Stuart Leonard; Senior Analyst Suzy Straughan; DS Jason Tingley; Family Liaison Officers DC Amanda Stroud and DS Louise Pye; and a very special mention to Senior Support Officer Tony Case of the HQ Criminal Investigation Department, who has been incredibly generous with his time, help and enthusiasm.

Huge thanks are also due to my fantastic Munich team of helpers: Kriminalhauptkommisar Walter Dufter, Ludwig Waldinger and Detlef ‘Ted’ Puchelt of Bayerisches Landeskriminalamt, Franz-Joseph Wilfling, Kriminaloberrat at Kriminalpolizeidirektion 1 Munchen; Andy and Sabine from Krimifestival Munchen; Anette Lippert for all her hard work with the Munich geography for me; and, of course, the Greatest Living German Actor, Hans Jurgen Stockeri, for his enduring patience in driving me to every landmark in Munich at least ten times in search of locations for scenes.

I’ve had great help from Essex Coroner Dr Peter Dean, consultant pathologist Dr Nigel Kirkham and Home Office Pathologist Dr Vesna Djurovic. And from Dr Robert Dorion, Director of Forensic Dentistry at the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Medecine Legale, Montreal, and author of the definitive ‘Bitemark Evidence’. And I owe a massive thanks to my wonderful friends at Brighton and Hove Mortuary, Elsie Sweetman, Victor Sinden and Sean Didcott, for their endless patience with me and their immense kindness and thoughtfulness.

Thanks also to Brian Ellis, Dr Andrew Davey, Dr Jonathan Pash, Tom Farrer, Pathology Technician, and Robert Frankis – one of the few people to have caught me out on cars . . . And thanks to Peter Bailey for his encyclopedic knowledge of Brighton modern and past, and the railway network. And I really owe a very special thank you to Post Adoption Counsellor Chrissie Franklin, who helped me energetically and enthusiastically in so many ways in very difficult terrain.

Thanks as ever to Chris Webb, who keeps my computer working and my back-ups safe, and a massive thanks for my unofficial editors, Imogen Lloyd-Webber, Anna-Lisa Lindeblad and Sue Ansell, who read the manuscript in varying stages and provided me with invaluable input. And thanks also to the hard work of the team at Midas Public Relations, Tony Mulliken, Margot Veale and Amelia Rowland.

I count my blessings to be represented by my fabulous book agent, Carole Blake – and I’m honoured that I help to keep her in a few of her three gazillion pairs of designer shoes! – and my film agent, Julian Friedmann. And I consider it a very great privilege to be published by Macmillan. To single out a few names, thank you Richard Charkin, David North, Geoff Duffield, Anna Stockbridge, Vivienne Nelson, Marie Slocombe, Michelle Taylor, Caitriona Row, Claire Byrne, Ali Muirden, Richard Evans, Chloe Brighton, Liz Cowen, my copyeditor Lesley Levene, and last, but most important of all, Stef Bierwerth – you just keep on getting more and more wonderful! And across the Channel I have to say again a massive Danke! to the team at my German publishers, Scherz, for their incredible support. Especially Peter Lohmann, Julia Schade, Andrea Engen, Cordelia Borchardt, Bruno Back, Indra Heinz and the quite awesome Andrea Diederichs, the Greatest Living German Editor!

Thank you as ever to my faithful hounds Bertie, Sooty and Phoebe for reminding me that there is a life beyond my study door.

And the penultimate but biggest thank you to my darling Helen – for believing that I could do it and never letting me consider there was any other option.

And lastly, once more, a very special thank you to all you readers of my books. Thank you for all your mail and all your kind words. They mean so much to me.

Peter James

Sussex, England





Darkness took a long time to arrive, but it was worth the wait. And besides, time was not a problem for him. Time, he had come to realize, was one of the things you have plenty of in life when you have little else. He was time-rich. Near on a time billionaire.

Shortly before midnight, the woman he was following turned off the dual carriageway and drove into the lonely glow of a BP filling-station forecourt. He halted his stolen van in the unlit slip road, fixating on her brake lights. They seemed to be getting brighter as he watched them. Glowing red for danger, red for luck, red for sex! Seventy one percent of murder victims were killed by someone they knew. The statistic was whizzing round and round inside his head, like a pinball looking for a slot. He collected statistics, squirrelled them carefully away, like nuts, to sustain him through that long hibernation of the mind that he knew, one day, would come to him.

The question was, How many of those 71 percent knew they were about to be murdered?

Do you, lady?

Headlights of vehicles flashed past, the slipstream of a lorry rocking the little blue Renault, making some of the plumbing implements behind him rattle. There were just two other cars standing by the pumps, a Toyota people-carrier that was about to drive off and a large Jaguar. Its owner, a plump man in an ill-fitting tuxedo, was heading back from the pay window, cramming his wallet into his jacket. A BP tanker was parked up, the driver in a boiler suit uncoiling a long hose, getting ready to refuel the filling-station tanks.

So far as he could ascertain in a careful sweep, there was just one CCTV camera scanning the forecourt. A

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