In preparation for our book club meeting this week, why not dip your toes into this gripping prologue of The Storm by Amanda Jennings.
The chill December wind blows in gusts, turning drizzle to slivers of glass and scoring the sea with angry white slashes. A boat emerges through the dawn mist like a ghostly galleon. The man at the helm is still and rigid. He cuts the engine and the small vessel drifts into dock. He moves to the side of the boat and bends for a coiled rope, which he throws over a bollard with ease. He pulls the rope tight and secures it at the cleat. His movements are sure, his features set in sombre concentration. The man reaches down and takes hold of the boat’s hose and, grim-faced, he washes the deck down. All the surfaces and edges and crevices. He takes great care.
He climbs out of the boat and begins to walk up the jetty. But he stops halfway and his head and shoulders slump forward like a marionette with snapped strings. For a few moments he is motionless, spent, his arms hanging limp at his sides, but then he rallies, straightens his back, forces himself along the gangway past the discarded fishing nets and stacked crates patched with algae and salt stains. Each step is heavy with the air of a condemned man approaching the gallows.
He thinks the port is deserted. He thinks he’s alone with only the waking seagulls and the echo of his laboured footsteps for company. But he’s wrong.
He isn’t alone.
There is somebody watching.