Bloodlust: Mortlake Series Book 3
Bloodlust: Mortlake Series Book 3
Bloodlust: Mortlake Series Book 3
Bloodlust: Mortlake Series Book 3
Bloodlust: Mortlake Series Book 3
Bloodlust: Mortlake Series Book 3

Bloodlust: Mortlake Series Book 3

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Terror lurks beneath the streets of London…

Marcus Mortlake is haunted by the past. No matter how many supernatural menaces he defeats, it is never enough. He is still tortured by nightmares, memories of those he failed to save from a diabolical cult years ago—including Cassandra, the woman he loved…

When Mortlake is linked to a series of grisly murders in fog-shrouded London, he is once again compelled to investigate. And what he discovers is a shocking supernatural mystery beyond imagination. Victims, drained of blood, and a series of kidnappings that fit a very select profile… The targets all possess some degree of psychic power.

After one of Mortlake’s closest friends goes missing, the case becomes even more personal. The trail of clues leads from the city streets to the dank sewers deep below. And Mortlake must come face-to-face with his deadliest adversary… a man he thought had already died.

But this villain is aided by a powerful entity from Mortlake’s past. Something that knows exactly how to hurt him the most…

Will Mortlake survive? Or will his past plague the present?



Chapter 10


That night, his dreams were chaotic and absurd but did not hint at manipulation. If Crowe had planted ideas in Mortlake’s sleeping brain, they were a surreal mess. He rose at seven-thirty, had the usual shower and shave. As he dealt with his mild stubble, he examined himself critically in the mirror. He was showing definite signs of nostril and ear hair. He was not far off thirty and could get senior lectureship before the big Three-Oh. But instead, he was about to enter the domain of a cult leader who could manipulate minds.

“Love,” he said, making a serious face. “You’ve got it bad, you moron.”

He grinned at himself, finished shaving, then rinsed the razor out under the tap. He thought of David Ruddick, his death in a fire, and the news item. It had mentioned a police officer by name. Mortlake had no reason to believe that any copper would talk to him about a case, especially one that was probably closed now. But Ruddick’s death was looming so large that he decided he would try it. He had nothing to lose.

He went back online and checked the details. Ruddick had died in a fire in central London. That made it simpler, in theory. He got through to Scotland Yard quickly enough. He then found himself talking to a very obstructive person who saw no reason to put him in touch with anybody. Mortlake, not having had the time to conduct a plausible story, stuck to the facts.

“I’m calling about the death of a man called David Ruddick, back in 1997,” he said. “I understand Detective Constable Westall handled the case? I may have some new evidence.”

“It’s Detective Sergeant now,” the voice on the phone informed him. “Did you say Paddock?”

For the next couple of minutes, Mortlake explained the same things three times. He was assured that DS Westall would call him back if he had the time. The clear implication was that he would not. Frustrated, Mortlake slammed the receiver down.

“Tony Blair needs to get his act together,” he muttered. “Tough on crime my arse.”

He spent a few minutes rummaging through some magazines and journals and eventually found what he was looking for. He clipped a picture from the header of an article then finished dressing and checked the time. It was still before nine. Monty might be about to get up but it was debatable. Professor Carrington had no morning lectures and that usually meant a lie-in.

Mortlake decided not to bother his friend and instead checked some emails and phone messages. There was nothing work-related that would interrupt his excursion to Stanhope. He collected his rental car and set off for the commune just as the rush hour began to subside. Predictably, his cell phone rang just as he was heading out onto the motorway north of Cambridge. He punched the hands-free button and heard a gravelly voice. It was Westall, the Scotland Yard detective.

“Thanks for getting back to me,” Mortlake said loudly, turning off the radio. “I wanted to ask if David Ruddick was linked in any way to someone I met recently. A man called Nathaniel Crowe?”

Several seconds passed. Mortlake heard background noise from a busy office. Phones rang, a printer rattled, somebody shouted something incomprehensible. There was a burst of laughter, more loud voices.

“I’m afraid I can’t reveal any details of a case, as you should know, sir,” said Westall firmly. “That would be most improper.”

Before Mortlake could reply, the detective’s voice grew quieter, more confidential. Mortlake imagined Westall turning away from his colleagues, trying not to be overheard.

“But if I were you, sir, I would tread carefully with Mr. Crowe. In my opinion, David Ruddick did not take that gentleman seriously enough.”

“I’m currently about to meet with Crowe,” said Mortlake quickly. “Place called Stanhope Manor. Would you advise me against that?”

The detective’s voice rose in volume again, and his tone reverted to politely formal.

“If you have any more information for us, sir, please get in touch. Good morning! And please drive carefully.”

The call ended. Mortlake cursed, quietly but very sincerely, for about a mile. He had hoped that Westall would say there was no link. He had hoped, in fact, to get no callback at all, to be ignored as some troublesome crank. That would have been oddly reassuring. But this just added to his general sense of wrongness about the whole setup.

Mortlake drove carefully to the outskirts of Stanhope. He slowed and parked near the village church. Then he tried to detect any signs of mental interference. The question of how he would know if his mind was being probed or manipulated was one he’d mulled over with Monty the night before. They’d reached no firm conclusions, just a series of ad hoc ideas about how a person might baffle a psychic. Such powers were, after all, notoriously erratic.

Except, of course, that Crowe claimed they could be more disciplined and focused. Again, the image of the razor-woman popped into his mind. He saw her close-cropped hair, her impassive face. He saw her tall bony frame in the mirror, dim light gleaming on the steel blade.

“Get a grip!” he ordered himself.

He smiled politely at a little old lady peering at him over the church wall. Perhaps she was afraid he was casing the joint, planning to come back and steal some valuables from the altar. The old lady moved out of sight. He imagined her visiting her husband’s grave. She looked, somehow, like a widow. A grass widow. Where did that expression come from? Mortlake couldn’t recall.

My mind is a disorderly attic, he thought. I’m the anti-Sherlock Holmes.

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