Read The Bones Beneath Online

Authors: Mark Billingham

Tags: #Crime

The Bones Beneath

BOOK: The Bones Beneath
4.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

No.1 bestseller Mark Billingham has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel, and has also won a Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer. Each of the novels featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne has been a
Sunday Times
bestseller, and
Scaredy Cat
were made into a hit TV series on Sky 1 starring David Morrissey as Thorne. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.


Visit the author’s website at:


The DI Tom Thorne series


Scaredy Cat


The Burning Girl



Death Message


From the Dead

Good as Dead

The Dying Hours


Other fiction

In the Dark

Rush of Blood



Published by Little, Brown




All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Copyright © Mark Billingham Ltd 2014


The moral right of the author has been asserted.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.


The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.



Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

The Bones Beneath

For the little girl who grew up

seeing a lighthouse winking at her across

Cardigan Bay, and never forgot it.



He’d thought they were burglars.

Reasonable enough assumption, all things considered. His eyes snapping open at the terrible melody of breaking glass, the creeping downstairs in his dressing gown, the two dark figures so out of place in his tiny white kitchen.

Something about the stillness of them not quite right though, thinking back. The absence of anything even close to panic and the hands thrust deep into pockets, like nobody was in any rush. The way they seemed to be waiting for him.

All so bloody obvious, in hindsight.

He’d thought he could tell what they were looking for. He’d glimpsed something in their flat, wide eyes and guessed that maybe they knew how he earned his living, that they thought there might be stuff lying around the place.

‘If it’s drugs you’re after, you’re being stupid,’ he’d shouted. ‘I don’t keep anything like that at
.’ He’d taken a step towards them, moved into the dim, greenish light to make sure they got a good look at him.

The digital clock on the pristine chrome cooker said 02:37.

‘Come on, just piss off and I’ll go back to bed and we’ll pretend this never happened, fair enough?’

He’d seen the hint of a smile then, the pale face of the taller one framed by the dark hood. Caught the glance and the nod from the shorter of the two and been shocked to see the tight, sharp features of a girl. A slash of cheekbone and full lips and something glinting on the side of her nose.

They were just a couple of junkies, for Christ’s sake.


He’d decided he could take them, could give it a damn good go at any rate, so he’d yelled and rushed, trying to take them by surprise, to get one or both of them off balance. His pricey Japanese knives in their smooth wooden block were too far away, so, lunging, he reached for the wine bottle he’d emptied only a few hours before. A hand fastened hard around his wrist. The boy leaned forward and pulled him close, training shoes squeaking against the floor tiles as weight was adjusted and purchase gained. There was warm breath on his face and he struggled to turn his head, just in time to see the girl’s hand emerging from the pocket of her hoodie; small white fingers wrapped around a handle.

Chipped, black fingernails.

Not a knife, something else…

Her arm stretched – arcing almost lazily towards him – and he braced himself for the punch, the slap, the scratch. Instead he felt the crack of voltage and the kick of it that dropped him hard on to the floor. Above the sound of his own screaming he heard one of them say, ‘Behave yourself and we’re not going to hurt you.’

His muscles were still cramping from the shock as the hand pressed the damp rag hard across his face and there was no choice but to suck in the darkness.

And what was that, twenty-four hours ago? Thirty-six?

There’s no way to keep an accurate track of time in a room without any windows. He’s slept, but he’s been given sedatives of some kind, so it’s impossible to say how long for. It’s no better than guesswork really, based on how often they bring food or the rise and fall in pitch of distant traffic hum. How many times one of them brandishes the Taser while the other unlocks the handcuffs so he can piss into a plastic bucket.

It’s a basement room of some kind, he’s pretty sure about that. There’s a damp smell rising up from the grubby carpet and the walls are grey painted brick. There are a couple of ratty chairs and a chest of drawers in one corner but most of the space is taken up by the single bed he’s spreadeagled on top of; Flexi-cuffs fastening wrists and ankles to the metal rails at either end.

He’s been on his own most of the time. He’s not even sure that there’s a lock of any kind on the door. Not that it matters, because it’s not like he’s going anywhere and one or other of them sticks a head into the room every so often. He’s not quite sure what they’re checking on, but he’s grateful for it all the same.

It seems important to them that he’s not actually dead or anything.

There was gaffer tape across his mouth to begin with, but the boy took it off and now whenever they bring in the fish and chips or the tea and toast or whatever it is, he tries talking to them.

What am I doing here?

Listen, you’ve got the wrong bloke, I swear.

Who the hell do you think I am


Neither of them says anything, except once when the boy shook his head like he was getting sick of it and told him to shut up. Actually,
him to shut up and didn’t put the tape back either, which he certainly could have done.

They’ve never been less than polite.

It’s usually one or other that pops in, except when there are trays or buckets to carry, so he can tell that something’s up when they come waltzing in together and sit side by side in the ratty chairs for a while.

‘What’s going on?’ he asks.

The boy’s fingers are drumming against his knees. He stares at the girl, but even though she’s very much aware she’s being stared at, it takes a while before she looks back at him. The boy widens his eyes, nods and eventually the girl takes her hand from the pocket of her hoodie.

He raises his head from the bed, straining to see, and this time there’s no mistaking what she’s holding in her small white fingers.

He knows perfectly well what a scalpel looks like.

The girl stands up and swallows. She takes a breath. It’s as though she’s trying
hard to look serious. To be taken seriously.

,’ she says. ‘Now, we’re going to hurt you…’

BOOK: The Bones Beneath
4.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Over You by Lucy Diamond
Recovery Road by Blake Nelson
1911021494 by Michael Hambling
Legacy of Blood by Michael Ford
Death of a Dapper Snowman by Angela Pepper
Deeper Illusions by Jocoby, Annie
Promise Me Anthology by Tara Fox Hall
London Overground by Iain Sinclair
The Heavenly Surrender by McClure, Marcia Lynn