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The McLaren Mysteries, Book 6
Luke Barber went missing from his village, leaving no clue to his whereabouts or why he left. Now, three years later, Luke’s father hopes ex-cop Michael McLaren can find a trace of Luke, alive or dead.
As McLaren pokes through the case details, he wonders if the pressure of succeeding in tennis or music, or his upcoming marriage, was too much for the lad and he simply ran away. And McLaren’s suspicion may be correct, for he soon is assaulted and left for dead—a hint that he’s upset someone connected with this case.
McLaren unearths the lies and false identity shoved at him, and uncovers what became of Luke, a discovery aided by idolatrous love and an ancient stone man.
He told Jamie later that he didn’t know what woke him. Perhaps it was his copper’s sixth sense, still ingrained after decades in the job. Perhaps it was a sound that, though hardly indistinguishable, warned his subconscious it was foreign. He lay in bed, his body taut, his ears straining to hear. After a minute he sat up, the top sheet and duvet falling from his chest. The beads of his necklace shifted position and the opposite side of the beads rolled and lay against his chest. When he thought about it afterwards, he supposed the air and the beads had been cold, but he wasn’t aware of them then. He slid out of bed and tiptoed into the living room. A sound so faint as to be nearly inaudible came to him in the stillness between owl calls. It was the sound of breaking glass.
McLaren returned to the bedroom, slipped into his jeans, shirt and shoes, and snatched the torch from the top drawer of his bedside cabinet. As he passed through the living room he grabbed the fireplace poker, then slipped outside by the kitchen door.
The night air shocked him and he clenched his teeth to keep them from chattering. He remained on the step by the door, rooted beside the rose bush, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness for, although he had kept all lights off inside the house, the blackness outdoors was deeper than he’d ever seen.
He focused on his car in the driveway. The dark shape of a person stood beside the passenger’s side. He seemed to lay a crowbar on the grass, for he bent down briefly, then rose without the long object in his hand. He reached into the car and the faint click of the door catch releasing came to McLaren. The door opened and the interior light fell on the intruder’s face.
McLaren moved away from the bush, eager to see the person’s identity. He kept to the strip of grass beside the gravel drive and hugged the greenery embracing the house’s foundation.
The intruder had dressed for the occasion, for he was clad in dark jacket, jeans, gloves and a knitted ski mask.
McLaren watched for several moments, curious as to the object of the man’s search. He bent over the front seats, evidently looking beneath them and then in the glove box and the pockets in the doors. When nothing of consequence yielded to his search, he opened the hatch back door and looked through the back.
McLaren tiptoed down the length of grass until he came opposite the car’s boot. As the intruder straightened up, McLaren grabbed the man’s arm. The man gave a startled yell that quickly changed to anger. He twisted away from McLaren and fumbled in the grass for the crowbar. Seeing what the man wanted, McLaren lunged for the man’s legs. He fell short and crashed to the ground. The fall knocked his torch from his hand and he watched it roll beneath his car. He lay there for several seconds, trying to clear his mind. The gravel bore into his chest with its cold and sharpness. He pushed away from it, wanting to distance himself from the ache and pain. As he got to his hands and knees, the man kicked him in his side, turned, and ran down the driveway into the night, leaving McLaren cold, hurting, and wondering what he had interrupted.
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