Read on for an excerpt from The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards and a chance to win a copy of the book!
About the book
It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.
What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.
As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.
About Mark Edwards
Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.
He is the author of three #1 bestsellers: Follow You Home (a finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015), The Magpies and Because She Loves Me, along with What You Wish For and six novels co-written with Louise Voss. All of his books are inspired by real-life experiences.
Originally from the south coast of England, Mark now lives in the West Midlands with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat.
Excerpt from the book
‘Do you know how to access the library? In the basement?’
His eyes widened like this was a weird question. A forbidden topic. ‘I don’t know. It’s by invitation only. I guess they’re worried about people touching all the super-valuable old books.’
‘Have you ever been down there?’
‘Me? No – I’ve never been invited. I don’t know anyone who has, to be honest. People say it’s haunted.’
‘You’re winding me up.’
‘Nah, one of the cleaners apparently saw something one night. She was so freaked out that she didn’t come back.’
‘That’s crazy. It definitely doesn’t put me off wanting to go down there.’
‘Come on, you have to tell me now.’
‘Well.’ His voice dropped to a whisper. ‘I heard someone died down there. A suicide.’
The lift reached the third floor and the doors pinged open. Matt’s phone rang and he mouthed an apology as he took the call.
Sophie headed back towards her desk. Someone had committed suicide in the library? She shivered, no longer keen to go down there. She didn’t believe in ghosts but she did believe that tragic events left an imprint on the places where they happened, an echo that lingered in the air.
Her thoughts returned to her lunch with Franklin. Thank God she’d bumped into Matt, because after Franklin’s claim to have glimpsed some painful ‘secret’ in her she had been convinced that he did indeed know who she was and had been testing her openness, a test she would have failed. She’d almost blurted it out and had felt guilty for not doing so before telling herself that she had done it to protect his feelings. That would be her defence if he ever brought it up, anyway. She was reluctant to admit that she was actually protecting herself.
She sat at her new desk for the first time, taking a moment to enjoy it, adjusting the height on her chair, switching the monitor on and waiting for the computer to boot up. Someone had left a pile of stationery for her and she sorted through it, writing her name in the front of her notepad, feeling like the new girl at school. She sensed that someone was watching her and looked up to see Cassie staring at her across the bank of desks before quickly snapping her attention back to her screen and continuing to work with a serene expression.
There was a wooden pedestal with three drawers beneath Sophie’s desk. She tried to open it but it was locked. Matt noticed. ‘I have a feeling Miranda took the key with her when she left. You’d think Facilities would have sorted it before you started, given you a new one.’
‘They’re bloody useless,’ Tracey said. ‘Here, let me call them for you.’
A couple of minutes later, a man in his fifties appeared. He apologised to Sophie and told her that they didn’t have any spare pedestals at the moment.
‘The spare key is probably locked inside,’ he said, scratching his belly. ‘That’s what most people do. Am I right?’
Everyone around the bank of desks looked guilty, except Cassie, who said, ‘I lost my spare key ages ago.’
‘Anyone got a paperclip?’ the man asked. Cassie handed him a large paperclip and he unbent it, leaving a hook at one end. ‘These are the world’s most basic locks. I just need to slide this in and . . . lift the catch. Voila.’ He slid the top drawer open.
‘I’ll remember not to leave my diamond earrings in my pedestal,’ Tracey said.
‘And here’s the spare key,’ said the man from Facilities. ‘Humans. They’re so predictable.’
He handed the key to Sophie and strode off.
‘Is it still full of all Miranda’s crap?’ Tracey asked, coming round to Sophie’s desk. She flapped her hand in front of her face. ‘God, it stinks. What did she leave in there?’
Matt got up from his desk too, while Cassie remained in hers.
‘I wonder if that box set I lent her is in there,’ Matt said.
Sophie slid open the bottom drawer, the deepest of the three, and Tracey gasped as the smell hit them.
‘Jesus!’ said Matt.
‘It smells like something died in there,’ Tracey said, her hand over her nose and mouth.
Sophie peered in. She had developed a pretty strong stomach over the last four years, after dealing with copious amounts of dirty nappies and vomit. She could just about bear the stench coming from the pedestal.
‘I thought there was a weird smell around here,’ Tracey said. ‘But I blamed it on Matt’s feet.’
‘Oh, my God.’ Sophie backed away from the open drawer. She closed her eyes for a second but could still see the squirming shapes. The vile creatures.
Cockroaches. The thing she feared most in this world. She thought she was going to be sick, could feel little legs crawling on her skin beneath her clothes. She pulled at her blouse, half-convinced one had got up there.
‘What is it?’ Matt asked, peering in, with Tracey looking over his shoulder. ‘Oh, fuck.’ He slammed the drawer shut.
People from across the office had drifted over, wondering what the fuss was about.
‘What did you see?’ Cassie asked, her words addressed to Matt and Tracey, her gaze fixed on Sophie.
‘Somebody call pest control,’ Tracey yelled. ‘We’ve got roaches. Feasting on some sandwich that dirty cow Miranda left behind. There are dozens of them. Massive, like this.’
Among the ensuing hubbub, Cassie drifted around the bank of desks and guided Sophie to her chair. ‘Are you all right?’ she asked.
Sophie couldn’t speak for a moment. ‘I just . . . I have a phobia of cockroaches, beetles, anything like that.’
Cassie touched her arm. ‘Not the kind of thing you expect to find in an office, is it?’
Sophie hugged herself, forcing a laugh. ‘I’ve worked with a few pests before, but this takes it to a new level.’
The man from Facilities reappeared and wheeled the pedestal away, the excitement dying down as people drifted back to their desks and returned to their work.
‘That dirty cow,’ Tracey repeated. ‘I’ll make you a cup of tea, with plenty of sugar, yeah?’
‘I’m fine, Tracey. Honest. It just gave me a shock. Let’s forget about it.’
‘All right. You’re the boss.’
Sophie stared at her screen, the sensation of insect legs on her skin subsiding, remembering the last time she had encountered a cockroach, fifteen years before.
‘There are far scarier things, Sophie,’ Liam had said, grinning at her. ‘I actually think they’re quite sweet.’
She rubbed at her bare arms, the hairs standing on end, aware that Cassie was still watching her, as if she was an entomologist and Sophie an interesting bug.
Excerpted from THE DEVIL’S WORK © Copyright 2016 by Mark Edwards. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.