Tracy Buchanan – Her Last Breath (PB 29 June)
The perfect life. Or the perfect lie?
A fifteen-year-old girl has gone missing. They say Poppy O’Farrell has run away from her celebrity parents, and the media is in a frenzy. But none of this has anything to do with successful lifestyle blogger Estelle Forster - so why would someone send her a picture of the missing girl – and a note, claiming to know Estelle’s secrets?
One small photograph will push Estelle’s pristine life to the brink of disaster. To find out who is threatening her, Estelle must return to her coastal hometown and the shameful past she thought was long behind her.
Estelle knows there’s more to Poppy’s disappearance than teenage rebellion. A dangerous game is being played, and the answers lie in the impenetrable community she once called her own.
But how will anyone believe her, if she can’t tell them the truth?
Her Last Breath is an addictive, twisting and emotionally powerful book that will have you hooked until the very last page.
[Extract 10 from Chapter 4 pp. 33-35]
It usually calmed her sitting out here, especially when it was early summer: not too hot nor too cold, the tops of the trees heavy with blossom, the sun a warm yellow globe above.
But there was no sense of calm today, the Polaroid photo kept playing on her mind.
‘That girl we were talking about last night hasn’t returned yet,’ Seb said. Estelle froze. ‘They’ve delayed my radio piece because of some special on runaway kids,’ he added.
‘Oh, Seb,’ Estelle said, leaning across and placing her hand over his. ‘I’m sorry about that; I know how excited you were about it.’
He shook his head in disgust. ‘And all for a teenager. She’s probably gone off with some boyfriend or another.’
Estelle closed her eyes. She had to say something. ‘Seb, I need to talk to you.’
He frowned, putting his paper down. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘I received this strange photo in my meat delivery this morning.’
She showed him the photo she’d taken of it on her phone – the real photo she’d placed in a drawer in her office.
He examined it then peered up at her. ‘I don’t understand.’
‘Don’t you recognise the girl?’
He looked closer, then it dawned on him. ‘The presenter’s daughter. Why the hell would you receive a photo of her?’
‘I have no idea.’
‘Have you called the police?’
‘Of course. I’m not sure they’re taking it too seriously.’
‘But the message written on it!’
‘You’re telling me.’ She stood up. ‘I need some fresh air. I might go for a bike ride.’
Seb looked up at her in surprise. ‘You’re not going to even tell me what it means?’
‘I have no idea myself! I’m sorry, there’s not much more to say. I – I need to get out.’ She grabbed her keys and jacket, giving Seb a quick peck on the cheek. ‘I’ll be back in an hour.’
As she headed out of the door, she heard the clink of glass and the hiss of Seb opening a bottle of beer in the kitchen. Fine, if that was the way he wanted to cope. This was her way. She wasn’t prepared to open up about her past. She wanted it to remain there, not here in her present life.
She went around the side of the house and got her bike from the shed, jumping on it and pedalling straight to the Thames. It was busy out (wasn’t it always in London?), but there was a jovial feel in the air too, smiles on people’s faces as they took in the sun’s soft rays.
But Estelle couldn’t feel happy. She mulled over the photo and the note scrawled on it. The words rang a vague bell. I know everything about you. Maybe they meant her past. Her parents. Was it a threat to expose her background? Not great for someone who was advocating pure and healthy living. And then there was what happened in Lillysands.
But what did all this have to do with Poppy?