The Mayfly by James Hazel
The Mayfly is James Hazel’s debut novel, published by Zaffre and in shops now.
A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making.
When Charlie Priest is attacked in his own home he quickly learns that his violent intruder is on a desperate hunt to track down information he just doesn’t have. Charlie is lucky to escape the altercation with his life and is only starting the put the clues together the next day when his attacker’s photo lands on his desk. The man has been murdered and the police are looking to Charlie for answers. But while the police think he’s guilty, the murdered man’s family have other ideas, offering Charlie a chance to clear his name and boost his bank balance. But as his investigation continues a Nazi threat comes back from the past and poses a new threat to people closest to him.
From the first handful of pages, James Hazel pulls you into the terrifying world of medical testing and torture used by the Nazi regime during the World War 2. Ex-policeman Charlie Priest is unknowingly drawn into an investigation that uncovers an evil that has gone on behind closed doors since the end of the war. He’s a highly likeable hero with a quick mind and a colourful team behind him but with his own struggles. Suffering from a dis-associative disorder he’s often plagued by hallucinations and disconnection from what is going on around him and even his own body.
If you’d like a sneak peak into the gripping world of Charlie Priest then look no further! Below you’ll find part of the explosive first chapter. If you’re not dying (no pun intended) to know more after this then you have a stronger will than me.
December. Post festivities. The frozen earth was veiled in a thin covering of snow that crunched under Detective Chief Inspector Tiff Rowlinson’s boots. In a glade, the log cabin looked as though it had come out of a fairy tale, complete with a tall stone chimney and heart-shaped etchings above the door. A local landowner had built it for his daughter as a summer house sixty years ago. Financial misfortune had the family to abandon the woodlands and find a home in the city. The cabin had been abandoned, and was now swathed with climbing plants and moss. A sanctuary built out of love and innocence—now defiled in the most grotesque manner.
Rowlinson slowly circled the little wooden structure, his hands behind his back and his coat collar turned up inside the white plastic coverall. The crime scene investigators mingled uncertainly, watching where they trod. They had established a perimeter with reams of blue and white plastic tape around the glade. Rowlinson had been here before, too many times. He had seen too many bodies, too many weeping loved ones and too few prosecutions. He didn’t feel much anymore. The endless cycle had anaesthetised him.
Except in these woods.
In these woods, Rowlinson felt again.
He approached the entrance to the cabin and ducked through the doorway. Inside, the air was stale and heavy. He fumbled for the inhaler in his coat pocket. Felt a little relief at feeling the familiar plastic tube and the tip of the metal canister. He no longer noticed the bitter cold.
The room was empty, save for the victim. And the flesh-eating flies swarming around what was left him. The victim’s head was slumped over the back of a wooden chair, mouth and eyes wide open. His skin was yellow and withered. A reaction to the poison, Rowlinson had been told, but he now understood a comment one of the SOCO team had made a short while ago— “Poor bastard looks like someone sucked his soul clean out.”
He was naked and his arms were covered with deep lacerations, but that was nothing compared to his chest. The flesh was hanging off, exposing a crimson network of muscle and tissue. There were similar wounds on the lower half but everything was so saturated in blood, it was hard to make out which parts of him remained intact and which didn’t.
“Jesus,” a voice behind Rowlinson gasped.
He turned to find Hardwick in the entrance, hand over his mouth.
“What the hell have we got here, guv?”
DS Hardwick was a foot shorter than his superior but still managed to fill the little cabin with his portly frame. He was a city boy with a swaggering gait, but a decent copper despite his lack of charm.
“The damage is self-inflicted,” Rowlinson said quietly.
Rowlinson peered more closely. Ptyalism—excretion of foamy saliva, but to such an extent that the victim had been unable to control it by swallowing alone. At some point, he had introduced his fist into his mouth in order to induce vomiting but had ended up biting down so hard that he had almost taken his hand clean off.
“The alkaloid caused unimaginable pain for many hours. To combat it, the victim attempted to fillet himself.”
“To get at his heart, Hardwick. It was the only way to end the pain.”