Welcome to my stop on The Girl on the Bus blog tour! So excited to be able to provide you with an extract from this book!
But first, check out the synopsis!
A retired detective and a young woman are about to face their worst fears.
Vicki Reiner is emotionally isolated and craves the fleeting happiness she experienced in the years prior to her college graduation. In an attempt to recapture this, she invites her former friend and room-mate, Laurie, for a break at her deserted beachside home. However, despite booking an online bus ticket, her friend never shows up and seems to have vanished.
Unable to accept the bizarre circumstances of the disappearance, Vicki approaches the police who dismiss her concerns before enlisting the reluctant help of Leighton Jones – a newly retired detective who is haunted by the death of his teenage daughter. Despite trying to remain detached from the case, Leighton is drawn to Vicki and her search for justice.
The unlikely pair face numerous obstacles but using a combination of methods he and Vicki track the killers who are working across the dusty freeways of North America.
Soon Vicki and Leighton find themselves nervously waiting at a remote bus stop expecting the arrival of the bus.
Will they ever discover what happened to Laurie?
And can they both escape with their lives?
I don’t about you, but the synopsis alone gives me a bit of anxiety! Keep reading for an exclusive excerpt!
Leighton Jones was a relatively happy man. He had survived the final week of work with his dignity intact, and was finally getting acquainted with his dwelling. Having spent four days cleaning and de-cluttering, his small apartment was now more like a home than it had been in twenty years. His only stumbling block had been a drawer in the kitchen, where photographs and emotions lay undisturbed, but he promised himself unconvincingly he would get around to that whenever he finally felt ready.
However, in the process of tidying his wardrobe, he had dug out a pile of paperbacks he had previously started reading but never finished. They were now stacked neatly on a small table next to the patio door, and it was Leighton’s plan to spend each evening after dinner sitting in the setting sun, with a book in one hand, and a glass of iced rum or white wine in the other. There was something fundamentally relaxing about the warm evening air combined with a good book – though, the drink undoubtedly helped, too.
Tonight, he had eaten a small caesar salad with home-made croutons for dinner, and, having washed up, had moved out on to the patio, where he sat in shorts and a faded denim shirt, with the sleeves rolled up. He took occasional sips from a tall glass of crisp Orvietto, dipping in and out of a Dan Brown novel. This, for Leighton, was as close to contentment as he ever got.
When the car pulled up in front of his small, neatly mown lawn, Leighton glanced absently up from the pages of the book. He took no specific interest in the vehicle; it was amazing how quickly he had slipped off the cop mentality when he had handed in his badge. Not recognizing the license plate, he returned his attention to the book in his hand, and did not look up until the shadow of a figure passed over him. Glancing up, he found himself staring at the fresh-faced girl he had spoken to outside the station, three weeks earlier. Her shoulder length hair was tied into a neat ponytail, and she wore jeans with a grey t-shirt.
‘Hello again, Detective,’ she said. ‘I need your help.’
Leighton’s mind was momentarily knocked off balance, as he struggled to recall the nature of their previous interaction. He gestured her to sit, and smiled politely.
‘What can I do for you, Miss?’
‘My friend is still missing,’ she said in a matter-of-fact way.
‘Ah, now, I remember.’ Leighton nodded. ‘The bus girl, right?’
‘Yeah, that’s right,’ she said flatly. ‘The bus girl.’
‘Okay.’ Leighton took a deep breath. ‘Let’s start at the beginning. I’m Leighton Jones, and you are Vicki?’
‘Yeah, Vicki Reiner.’
‘Okay, Miss Reiner. Would you perhaps like something to drink?’
‘No, thank you.’
‘Well, please take seat. Can you remind me who your friend is, and where she was headed?’ Leighton arched his hands into a steeple, and leaned slightly forward.
The girl sat down, but remained rather rigid. ‘Her name is Laurie Taylor. She’s a college friend, who booked a bus ticket from her home in Barstow to Oceanside – she was coming to stay for a while – but she never showed up.’
‘OK, and it’s been how long since you last heard from her?’
‘Are you in contact with any members of her family?’
‘No, she only had a mother, who died a few years ago.’
Leighton raised his eyebrows, unsure of the best way to tell this sincere young lady she was most probably wasting both his, and her, time.
‘Well, to be honest, look…’ Leighton hesitated too long, and the girl’s expression hardened.
‘I damn well knew it,’ she said sourly, and began shaking her head. ‘You’re still going to tell me to wait.’
‘No, I was actually going to tell – ‘
But, the girl had already reached into her bag, and thrust a number of A4 sheets of paper across the table to Leighton.
‘Have a look at this, Detective, then, tell me I’m wrong.’
Picking up the sheets, Leighton looked over the top of them at Vicki. ‘What are they?’
‘Laurie’s cell phone call logs.’
‘Call logs? How did you get these?’ he asked curiously.
‘Just look at them, please. They begin on August 4th, that’s when the last number, at 1.42am, was a SMS message sent to my phone. After that, she was picked up by the tower at Barstow Station. Then, Oceanside West cell tower picked up her phone, three hours later.’
‘So, Detective, from the moment she boarded the bus, Laurie Taylor never used her phone again.’
About the Author:
Norman M. Brown is an author living and working in Scotland. He attended secondary school in Stirling where he spent more time in the library or in the nearby park with a paperback, than he did in classes… Ironically, having graduated from Stirling University with a degree in English, he soon ended up back on the classroom again – where he has shared his love of fiction for two decades.
Having experimented with poetry, scripts and short stories over the years, he finally decided to write sit down and write the type of fiction he would like to read. The result was his crime thriller –The Girl on the Bus. As result, Norman was delighted to be signed to Bloodhound Books at the start of this year. The Girl in the Bus, is his first published novel. He is currently writing a second novel based on its protagonist – detective Leighton Jones.