Good morning! It is a real pleasure to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty today! I have a fabulous extract to share with you all but first, here is what this fourth book in the Claymore Straker series is all about!
My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater!
Author : Paul E. Hardisty
Title : Absolution
Series : Claymore Straker #4
Pages : 450
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : March 30, 2018 ebook | May 30, 2018 paperback
It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.
So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.
Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolution is a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.
25th October 1997. Paris, France. 02:50 hrs
Chéri, mon amour:
My husband has disappeared. And so has my son.
As I write this, my tears stain the page. How many have I wept onto these pages in the three and a half years since you and I first met? Has it really been that long? It is as if I have known you forever, and not at all.
I am frantic. I can feel the panic churning in my breast. It has been two days since I discovered that they were gone. God, help me, please.
I wish you were here.
It was a Tuesday. A normal day. We got up, had breakfast at the usual time. I got Eugène ready for the day. Hamid left for the office as he always does, taking Eugène with him to drop him at the crèche.
I replay that morning in my mind, trying to identify something – anything – that might have been different, out of the ordinary. Something that may give me some clue. The coffee and bread on the table; Eugène in his high chair attempting to spoon puréed vegetables into his beautiful little mouth; the radio playing in the background – Radio Nationale, something about the international chemical weapons treaty coming into force. Hamid is dressed in his favourite suit with the silk tie I gave him for his birthday last year – the grey one that sets off the silver that has begun to fleck his temples. I wanted to make love with him that morning, but he was in a hurry – a big case he is working on – so he kissed me, rolled out of bed and got into the shower.
As usual on Tuesdays, I went to the bureau. I worked on my latest piece – child slavery in the Philippines. I was a little late coming home. I usually return by two o’clock so that I have plenty of time to start dinner and welcome my husband and son when they get home, which is normally at about three o’clock. That day I didn’t arrive until just before three. Hamid and Eugène weren’t home yet, so I started preparing the vegetables, marinating the filet. By half past three, they still had not arrived. Hamid is fastidiously punctual – always calls if he is going to be late. I waited another quarter of an hour and then tried his mobile. He did not answer. I left a voice message. At a quarter past four I tried again. Still no answer. I called his office. His executive assistant told me that he hadn’t been in the office all day. I sat, stunned.
I waited, told myself that it would all be fine, that the rising panic I was feeling was ridiculous, that there was some logical explanation, and that very soon the door would open and my husband and son would be there, smiling at me.
The hours crept by. I drank cup after cup of coffee. I telephoned everyone I could think of that might know where they could be: Hamid’s sister in Toulon, his law partner, our family doctor, all of the other mothers that I know from the crèche. Later that evening, I even called Hamid’s mother in Beirut. No one knew anything. at night I did not sleep at all.
Yesterday, I went to the crèche first thing in the morning, as soon as it opened. The manageress confirmed that Hamid had dropped Eugène off on Tuesday morning, as usual. She showed me the registration records. Hamid’s signature was there, very clearly. The time was 08:25. This is part of our arrangement, how we have decided to run our life together. Three days a week, Hamid takes Eugène to the crèche on his way to work in the morning, and then collects him again at half past two and brings him home. We eat an early supper together as a family, and then Hamid goes back to the office, or works in his study at home. This allows me to go directly to the bureau three mornings a week. I catch the bus and the metro. It means we only need one car. On Thursdays and Fridays, I work from home, and we both try to spend the weekends together, and avoid work for a time. We are a very modern Muslim family, and for that I am grateful. It means I have been able to continue my career.
Our life, I thought, all considered, was good. Happy. I still cannot believe they are gone. I look around the room, smelling them both, feeling their presence in every object, expecting at any moment to hear the echo of their footsteps on the parquet floor, see their smiling faces peering around the doorframe.
I met Hamid not long after I returned from Cyprus after losing the baby. Our baby, chéri. I was still damaged and withdrawn after everything that had happened – the time in Istanbul with you, then Cyprus and the minefield, the explosion … the miscarriage. Hamid was thoughtful and patient, sending me flowers and listening to my stories, and when he asked me to marry him we still had not slept with each other. In fact, during our three-month courtship, all he ever tried to do was kiss me. He was very respectful, a perfect gentleman. We were married in spring, in the countryside in Normandie, and Eugène was born a year later, healthy and strong and holding his head up in the first month. Every time I look at him I wonder what might have been.
I have never told you any of this, I know. Those two letters you sent me from prison in Cyprus still lie in my bureau, read and reread … but unanswered. Only here, in these pages, have I shared my life with you. Any other way would have been too hurtful – for us both.
It has been just over two years now since Hamid and I married, and Claymore, I want you to know that he has been a good husband. He treats me well and is never disrespectful. He works long hours, and over the past year he has had to travel quite frequently for work, mostly to meet with clients he is defending. I miss him when he goes, but I have not had any reason to worry, to think he might be unfaithful. Not until recently. He is a gentle man, quietly talkative yet considered. Delicate, in a way. Everything that you are not.
Hamid is a good Muslim – better in many ways than I am. But his faith is not overt. As with everything he does, his piety is quiet and understated and thoroughly planned. He goes to the mosque on Fridays, occasionally, if he can get away from work, but otherwise I have never seen him praying at home or anywhere else. He does not smoke or drink, and I have not seen him lose his temper or raise his voice since we have been together. Above all, he is open and communicative in a way you never were, and probably never can be, wherever you are, Allah protect you.
Perhaps Hamid has taken Eugène to the country. Maybe he just needed a break, some time to himself. I know he has been under a lot of stress recently. This latest case in Egypt has been very difficult for him. He has not told me much about it – he never does, but a wife knows these things. This is what I tell myself. That I know. That everything will be alright. That, despite two days of silence, he will pick up the phone and call me.
He must know that I am worried beyond sickness. Yes, he would know. The only reason he hasn’t called is that he cannot. Something must have happened to them on the way home. Mon Dieu, I cannot bear to think of it.
And yet, I have telephoned every hospital in Paris. No one bearing the name Hamid or Eugène Al Farouk has been registered anywhere. I called the police, of course, and completed a missing person’s report, but have heard nothing back yet. It is as if they have vanished. As if they have been erased from the surface of the Earth.
I need to sleep now. I can barely see the page. I have cried myself out. And I realise that without them – without you – I have no one.
I am completely alone.
I don’t know about you but that had me completely gripped! If you want to read more, and of course you do, Absolution is available for purchase in ebook format now! The UK paperback will be published at the end of the month.
For the past 30 years, Paul E. Hardisty has worked all over the world as an engineer and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, and rehabilitated village water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Yemen in 1994 as the civil war broke out, and in Ethiopia as the Mengistu regime fell.
In 2015, his first novel, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, was published to great acclaim – it was shortlisted for the CWA Creasy dagger award for best thriller or crime novel in 2015, and was one of the London Telegraph’s 2015 crime books of the year. Lee Child called the sequel, The Evolution of Fear: “A solid, meaty thriller. Hardisty is a fine writer and Claymore Straker is a great lead character.”
He lives in Western Australia, and is a keen outdoorsman, triathlete, and martial artist.
Author link : Twitter