Title: Underneath the Killing Tree, first in series
Author: Marijka Bright
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published: 28th May 2017
The year is 1920 and Mary Loxley’s sister has been hanged from a tree in the gardens of Loxley Hall. The authorities have ruled it a suicide, but Mary knows her sister was murdered, and she intends to hunt down the culprit.
One hundred years later, John Quinn is discovered dead on the floor of his factory. Detective Inspector Andy Bliss, from New Scotland Yard CID, leads the murder investigation and as he delves deeper into the life of the victim, he discovers that there is much more to the Quinn family than meets the eye. Inspector Bliss follows the evidence to the outskirts of Sheffield, where Loxley Hall has stood towering for generations, and what he and his team uncover underneath the ‘Killing Tree’, will haunt them forever and horrify the entire nation.
‘Underneath the Killing Tree’ is the bone-chilling debut novel from exciting new author Marijka Bright. This wonderfully intriguing tale spirals between 1920 and the present day. Detective Inspector Andy Bliss and his team must unravel a mystery which has its roots embedded firmly in the past, while Mary Loxley tries frantically to piece together why her sister, Emlyn Quinn, was murdered and she must uncover the conspiracy whose web she had become inextricably entangled in.
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The opening scene of chapter 5:
- Whatever will be, will be
During his short 25 years in this world, he had been exposed to so much darkness, so much hatred and despair, that he had thought there was nothing left that could touch him any longer. Nothing that could throw him back into the depths of desolation which he had found himself wading through at the end of the Great War. Nothing which could surpass the torture he had put himself through every single day for the last two years, for sending so many other young men to their violent and decidedly anonymous deaths from the trenches. But all that was war – this on the other hand was something so unexpected, so much out of the blue, that Baden Hope could no longer see any meaning to life; not any of it, none at all.
She was his only reason for still being alive – he had carried the hope of her in his heart all the way through the war. Even when he had received news of her impending nuptial to some stranger – he knew in his soul that Emlyn still loved him. She was the reason he had eventually pulled himself out of the mire and had returned to Loxley from his self-imposed exile. He had returned determined to take back what the war had taken from him. And now that she was gone, she was the reason that he was finally going to set himself free from the tribulations this life had thrown at him.
“We will be together again soon my love,” Baden mumbled to himself as he finished securing the end of the thick rope to the base of the tree.
He wanted to double himself over and scream and squeeze and twist and contort until he could wring all of his rage, all of his feeling out of himself. But he had been doing that for the past week and none of it had worked, and although Baden still felt the fire of emotion searing through every fibre of his body and of his soul, he knew that he had made the right decision. The decision which he had already made peace with many years before.
For someone called Hope, he was certainly running in short supply of it.
He hadn’t washed; not for a week. He could smell it – but he didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. He looked up at the branch, the one where she had chosen to put an end to their twisted fates. He picked up his rope and he flung it through the air so that it wrapped around the branch twice. It hung like a python awaiting its prey. He took the end of his rope and he stepped up onto the old, wooden bench. It was a place so familiar to him. It was the place where he and Emlyn were, and he realised how fitting it was that it was the place where they would forever be.
He tied the hangman’s knot and then slid the noose slowly over his head, letting it rest heavily upon his broad shoulders. Standing in the exact same place where she had been, he thought only of her and what she must have felt in her final moments. He had loved her; he still did. But this love was no longer a source of any kind of comfort. Pain stabbed at his heart and anguish burrowed relentlessly into the pit of his stomach. He wanted to vomit. He wanted to rip open his insides and pull them all out, bit by bit, and be free from all of his sorrow.
He yearned for her; he wanted nothing more than to be with her. How could he have ever considered any kind of future without her?
He uttered, “The hand is past, the time has come,” as he collapsed away from the safety of the bench.
As he began his deathly swing through the air towards his final salvation, a desperate cry rang out from somewhere behind him, but he was beyond all of that now.
Time slowed in that moment and he could feel every sensation coursing through his body. The coolness of the breeze against his skin, the strong beating of his heart, the coarseness of the rope which had tightened around his neck and the freedom that only a dying man can possibly know. And then the pain – excruciating pain.
About the author
Marijka Bright is originally from Australia; however, she has been living in Berlin, Germany, for the past four years. She has degrees in Biomedical Science, Psychology and Accounting and relinquished a very secure job at a large firm, to pursue her dream of becoming an author. ‘Underneath the Killing Tree’ is the first of two novels to be released this year, with her second novel – ‘The Never After’ in the final stages of editing. Marijka had her short story, ‘The Glooms’ published in ‘The Wild Word’ magazine at the beginning of 2017, and she has a collection of short stories which will be released at the end of 2018.
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