“Do you see the pain? Do you act on the suffering? I will save them.”

Detective Inspector Samantha Templeton switches from Homicide to Vice. She returns to her family home in Poets Corner, a notorious estate on the outskirts of the red light district.
“My roots are here. This is where I grew up, survived […]. I’ve not just seen the suffering on this estate, I’ve lived it.”
A deranged killer, hell bent on vengeance, begins a reign of terror in Poet’s Corner.  The victims are gruesomely ‘educated’ and their children go missing. Sam joins forces with psychotherapist and profiler Ryan Anderson in the race to hunt down the monster.

The body count is rising. More children are disappearing.


Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.
Henry Ward Beecher, reverend and social activist.

Chapter 1   

The Servant

‘Hello – Donna here. Can I help you?’
‘Hi, got your name and number from a friend, you free for an hour or two?’
‘If you’re paying – yes.’
‘See you then.’ he grinned. What a great night to die.
It didn’t take long to get there; the red-light district was on the outskirts of the town, well away from prying eyes; it suited him. The toms were all up for it, bright eyes, red lips, sashaying up to the cars. One stuck out her butt, talking to the guy in the car upfront. She was hot, gold top clinging to her tits, and those tiny shorts did it for him. She must be new; bright smile, bright eyes, huh, give her a year she’ll be slouching, smoking, eyes slit, mouth a red slash. Yeah, there’s the pimp, shaved head, tats, face cutlery and swagger; Nicholas nearly stopped the car; the fuck turned and grabbed a skinny blond by the hair, pushing her towards the kerb, no way to treat a lady, tom or not.
A bunch of kids, hung out on a corner, couldn’t be more than ten years old, bloody blatant about it, lit joints, jeans hanging off their backsides; as for the girls, Christ, pelmets for skirts, ragged fishnet tights. Where the hell were the parents? Did they have a home or were they runaways? The mothers were probably teenagers themselves, lighting up the thirtieth fag of the day, pregnant again, to get more benefits.
Reaching Tennyson Street, he slowed up, pulling the hood down low over his face. Who the hell named this mire of grief after a poet? It was an end terrace house; she opened the door on the first knock. Hah, slut for the slaughter.   
Nets twitched, the nosy parkers from across the road watching; lucky for him, it was getting dark.  She’d have been a looker, but for the haggard lines on her face. His stomach turned, as he followed Donna into a room smelling of smoke and dirty nappies. Cigarette butts spilled from full ashtrays, whilst grimy cups and plates, fought for space with children’s toys.  
‘Take a chair darlin’. Would you like a drink before us—?
Shaking his head, he pulled off the hood and unzipped his jacket. No way was he sitting on a greasy stained chair.
Donna posed in front of a fawn brick fireplace fashionable in the seventies.  ‘So what’s it to be? Straight or—
Nicholas’s stomach lurched at the mask of paint, eyes outlined in thick black Kohl, lips a garish crimson gash. Assuming she aroused him, she opened the black lace negligee, revealing a voluptuous body; heavy plastic boobs spilled out of a scarlet half-cup bra.
His lip curled, ‘Straight. So let’s get on with it.’
With a mischievous smile she moved closer, wiggling them under his nose, revealing the scars underneath. Fury surged through him; those bloody breasts cost thousands, whilst her kids starved. Dark curls sprouted each side of the black thong; the bitch didn’t bother to shave.
‘That’ll be forty pounds up front darlin.’
Damn her, he felt himself responding. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his wallet and peeled off two notes.  
Tucking the money in her bra, she smiled archly, ‘Now let’s make you happy.’
Nicholas wondered where she’d put the children, were they with a neighbour or upstairs? Following her into the passageway covered in cheap fawn linoleum, cracked and curling up around the edges, they passed the kitchen and from the smell, a downstairs toilet.
Taking out a pair of plastic gloves, Nicholas pulled them on.  A child’s cry startled him, and he shoved his hands into his pockets.  Another seemed to join in. Where were they?
Stomping to the right, Donna unlocked a door under the stairs. Two small faces peered out, tears running down their gaunt cheeks. Behind them, lay an infant sound asleep.
‘Shut the fuck up. I told yer, I was working didn’t I?’  Slamming the door shut, she turned the key, scowling. ‘Sorry ‘bout that, little sods never listen.’
As they climbed the stairs, he didn’t trust himself to speak; at least, he knew where they were.  She led him into a cheap version of a room out of Moulin Rouge, the gold tasselled curtains already drawn, tangled fluffy rugs on the wooden floor boards, beside a double bed covered with a black and scarlet throw. Closing the bedroom door, she pulled the cover off the bed. ‘Let’s get comfy’
Nicholas looked down on the greying sheets to see a couple of black pubic hairs nestling in the creases. He swallowed and looked away, only to see Donna coming towards him, peeling off her negligee, giggling as she lifted one of the heavy breasts, pinching the painted nipple. He remained still, expressionless, as she peeled the thong down tree trunk thighs. Again, he responded, what the hell was wrong with him?
‘Come on darlin',’ she purred, pushing up his tee shirt.
‘You disgust me.’ he said, his voice seething.
‘Ooh you like it rough do ya. Well now, come to … uhh … uhh.’
She grunted, her fat body bending over the knife, sliding into her belly. He felt the resistance of flesh and pushed further, ‘I said, you disgust me.’
‘Don’t …  do….’ She gurgled, her eyeballs seeming to start from her head, those painted lips forming an almost perfect ‘O’.
 ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’ he whispered, aware of her body jerking, hearing the choking gasps as bright red blood poured over the white plastic gloves.
Pulling out the knife, Nicholas smiled down into her eyes, now narrowing, sliding away from his gaze. ‘Got a fat belly on you, haven’t you. What about the children hey? Starving. You lazy bitch.’  
Pulling out a rag from his pocket, he stuffed it into her mouth.  She watched him yank a plastic bag from under his jacket, her scream now a mumble, as he laid out the knives and scissors on the grimy sheets.  He grinned, his voice low. ‘Now let’s get to work. They’ll start taking notice now. Get off their arses; start doing their job.’
Maybe an hour later, a child cried out, jumping up; he moved swiftly, racing down the stairs to the small door.  Unlocking it, his heart wrenched on seeing the little faces staring up at him, pleading, so trusting. He lifted up the baby, stroking the soft curls on her forehead rocking her. ‘Alice, sweet Alice. You’re safe, precious, safe.’ She seemed asleep, but he guessed the bitch drugged her with Ritalin. The twins climbed out, and stood back, sucking their thumbs; their small faces emaciated. He winced seeing the little bodies like tiny skeletons, hair dank and dirty, clothes, stained and filthy. No more, no more. Kneeling to them, he cried, ‘Patrick, Callum, don’t worry, you’re safe. Daddy’s here.’