Authors: Leah Giarratano
Table of Contents
'Clinical psychologist turned thriller writer Leah Giarratano brings a wealth of professional experience to her art . . . a page-turner, note-worthy for its expert characterisation and often chilling psychological veracity.'
is more chiller than thriller. It's cleverly plotted and crackles along at an electric pace. I'm sure Giarratano has a growing fan base and it's great to see local talent getting an outing.'
'This is a seriously good read. Giarratano is taking on the big guns, and winning.'
MX Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney
'I suspect a series. Bring it on.' Sue Turnbull,
Sydney Morning Herald
'Plumbing the depths of her experience . . . Giarratano's writing has an air of authenticity missing from the work of her peers. Creepy, nasty and oddly compelling, it's definitely not light reading.'
Vodka Doesn't Freeze
'There's a true-crime relentlessness about
Vodka Doesn't Freeze
that suggests it's been written from the heart by someone who really cares deeply about child abuse.' Sue Turnbull,
Sydney Morning Herald
'Giarratano writes with a style that immediately grabs and holds your attention, diving unerringly to the heart of each scene and describing it in full, no-nonsense detail. Her characters are filled with flaws that beg to be examined more closely and she satisfies this need, laying bare the good and the bad in equal measure.'
'Particularly nasty crime fiction that threatens to keep you awake at night can always be dismissed with that hoary old chestnut "It's only make-believe" . . . No such comfort with a debut book by Leah Giarratano.' Lucy Clark,
Also by Leah Giarratano
odka Doesn't Freeze
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the
Australian Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
ePub ISBN 9781864714289
Kindle ISBN 9781864716627
is a work of fiction. All the characters and scenes in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, or to any current or past event, is purely coincidental.
A Bantam book
Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney, NSW 2060
First published by Bantam in 2009
Copyright © Leah Giarratano 2009
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian
Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia.
Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at
National Library of Australia
Policewomen – New South Wales – Sydney – Fiction.
Cover illustration by Super Stock
Cover design by
Internal design by Midland Typesetters, Australia
Typeset by Midland Typesetters, Australia
Printed and bound by Griffin Press, South Australia
For Joshua George. Semper Fidelis.
This book is dedicated to Aunty Nancy.
In vino veritas.
Monday 1 April, 4 pm
Seren ignored the sting of the fly sucking blood from her ankle. She pushed her lips into the salty skin of her knees, pressing the sobs back behind her teeth. This is the last night, she told herself. The last night with her back to the wall, shrunk into the corner, praying for morning. Whatever happened tonight, it would be the last time she slept with the lice scrabbling for purchase on her near-shaved scalp, and nesting in her pubic hair.
She'd walk out or they'd carry her out. And if they carried her, it would be to an outside hospital or to the morgue. No way would she spend even a single night in the prison hospital. She had a six am release and she was going to keep it, one way or another.
In the meantime, she waited for Crash and Little Kim.
One of the screws had told her that Crash got her nickname at age four when her father threw her through a plate glass door. Apparently her little brother had mimicked the noise it made, and her family had thought it cute. Broke the tension while they waited for the ambulance.
Seren couldn't figure how Little Kim got her name. The only little thing about Little Kim was her eyes, her facial features blurred and contracted by Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Hek – probably the most respected screw in the Silverwater Women's Complex – had tried to help Seren understand why they disliked her so much. He told her she shouldn't have made such a big thing out of the letters she got from her son.
'Their kids don't write to them,' he had explained a couple of months ago while she had been sweeping the yard.
'Their kids can't write,' Seren had retorted.
She'd felt like a bitch as soon as she said it, but since the smacking she'd copped from Little Kim the day before, her top lip split every time she smiled. Not that she did that a lot in here.
'What's even worse is that Crash and Kim can't read. You make them look stupid,' he'd told her.
make them look stupid?' Seren had snorted, and her lip had split again. The whole left side of her face throbbed. 'Don't make me laugh, Hek.'
'Besides,' he'd said, 'they don't really hate you. Little Kim seriously hated her last cellmate.'
'I heard,' Seren had said, eyes on the broom.
'We know everyone knows what happened,' Hek had said, 'but no one will make a statement.'
'Would you?' Seren had asked.
Rhonda Whiteman, Little Kim's previous cellmate, had died in the shower block, stabbed thirteen times in the back. When she was found, the shiv was still protruding from her right kidney, jammed in up to the handle. So Seren knew she could've had it much worse. Angel, who got to sweep in the nurse's office, told her that Little Kim's weight was listed in her med file as 128 kilograms. She could've snapped Seren's neck her first night there. Seren suspected that Angel was the reason the girls hadn't hurt her too bad. Everyone loved Angel.
But she knew they were really mad now. She was going home. Six months early, because her appeal had come through.
'And how is that fucking fair, bitch?' Crash had asked her at breakfast this morning. 'We don't get to go home. You get everything you want, don't you, you pretty little slut?'
Yeah, Crash, Seren thought now, crouched on the filthy mattress. Life has been
good to me so far. She pulled her knees closer to protect her stomach. Hek had warned her at lunchtime that she was going to get a goodbye flogging. Maybe that was true. But no one was going to hurt her badly enough to keep her from seeing her son tomorrow. She reached behind her back and pulled the broken broom handle a little closer.
One filament in the ceiling light above her popped and fizzed, dying. She stared at the door, her eyes seared with the waiting. Suddenly she slapped hard at her leg. The fly dropped, broken, onto the mattress.
Seren pushed her back further into the corner and waited for Crash and Little Kim.