Well, today it’s an exclusive excerpt for you to devour from Who Cares If They Die. However!! We also have some reviews and a snippet from the audiobook too. So much in one little post!
Who Cares If They Die by Wendy Dranfield
Series: Dean Matheson #1
Published by Ruby Fiction on September 25, 2018
Also by this author: Who Cares If They Die, Where the Snow Bleeds, Won't You Save Me, Where the Snow Bleeds, The Girl Who Died, Who Cares If They Die
Did she jump or was she pushed?
It starts with the hanging woman in the Maple Valley woods; the woman with no shoes, no car, and no name. On paper, it’s an obvious case of suicide – but to Officer Dean Matheson, something doesn’t add up.
Then there are the other deaths, deaths that also look like suicides – but are they? The victims are all women living on the fringes of society, addicts, and criminals. Who will miss them? Does anyone really care if they die?
Dean Matheson is making it his business to care, even if it means he becomes a target...
Officer Dean Matheson stands shivering against the cold night, trying not to look at the gruesome scene before him.
‘Matheson? Get over here. If I have to look at this, you have to look,’ says Detective Miller.
Dean moves closer to the tree the woman’s body is swinging from. The strong wind has her dancing around like she’s doing the jitterbug. The weather is threatening more snow and, although it’s almost dawn, it’s still pitch black out here in the woods. His colleagues, Officer Marty Swan and Sergeant Steve Dalkin, helpfully light up the woman’s lifeless body with their flashlights. Dean wishes they wouldn’t. He’s going to have trouble forgetting the sight of her bulging tongue and puzzled expression next time he eats. It won’t be the first meal he’s been unable to eat, thanks to this job.
He makes himself look at her for a moment longer. He knows she won’t be immediately recognisable to any of her family like this. If this was his wife Linda, he wouldn’t want to have to remember her this way. But then Linda isn’t speaking to him at the moment. He doesn’t expect she’ll stick around much longer now she knows about his affair, so there’s little risk of him ever having to identify her if she’s involved in an accident. Not that this was any accident. Discarded on its side under the woman’s bare feet, he notices the stepladder she must have used to reach the branch she’s hanging from.
As Miller takes notes nearby, Dean wonders where she got the ladder from and whether she carried it here herself or was given a lift by someone. Maybe she hitchhiked. There are no cars parked nearby apart from their police vehicles and an ambulance, so she certainly didn’t drive herself out here. And where are her shoes? This feels odd to him.
‘Are you building up the courage to ask her out on a date or do you actually intend on helping us cut her down sometime soon?’
Miller’s a condescending jerk. He refers to Dean and Marty as his ‘minions’ but he would never talk to Steve that way because Steve’s their sergeant. Dean decided a long time ago that once he’s worked his way up to homicide detective he intends to treat the cops on the ground with respect. He doesn’t believe in shit rolling downhill.
‘You hold the flashlights then,’ he says.
All three of them throw their flashlights towards Miller and use the discarded stepladder to reach the hanging woman. Dean almost slips on the ladder’s steps, as they seem greasy. He reluctantly removes his thick winter gloves and stuffs them in his pockets, feeling the cold immediately. Steve uses his pocketknife to start cutting through the rope above her head while Marty reluctantly grips under her armpits. Dean holds her lifeless legs. She’s wearing a skirt, exposing her bare skin. She still feels slightly warm despite the bad weather, so she can’t have been here too long. There’s no purse in sight and she doesn’t have any pockets to carry anything that would identify her. With what he hopes is the natural instinct of a detective, Dean starts trying to piece together what happened and when.
Maple Valley isn’t the smallest town in New Hampshire, but it’s small enough that most residents either know each other, are related to each other, or have dated each other. But Dean doesn’t recognise this woman, which isn’t completely unusual, but at least one of the cops showing up at a crime scene is usually quick to identify the victims in this town.
‘Anybody know her?’ he asks.
‘Not me,’ says Steve.
‘Nope, me neither. She’s too good looking to be one of my exes.’ jokes Marty.
Dean smiles. Sometimes you need someone like Marty to lighten the mood. Especially when you’re holding a dead body.
‘Okay, almost there. You all got her?’ asks Steve.
Before they can answer, her dead weight falls into their arms and they almost drop her. Dean wobbles on the stepladder and struggles not to fall back. He thinks how, for a slim woman, she sure weighs a lot now she’s dead. Carefully, they carry her down to the blanket they had already placed over the wet grass, under the tree. Dean notices the medical examiner is patiently waiting nearby, jumping on the spot to try to keep warm in the cold wind.
‘Hey, Doctor Sheila. Hope we’re not interrupting date night for you?’ jokes Marty.
‘Oh yeah. I’ve got a dozen men lined up at my door,’ she answers. ‘Unfortunately, that’s the morgue door and they’re all dead.’
Dean tries not to look at her as she leans over the body. He starts making his own notes in the small pad he carries with him.
‘So, who found her?’ asks Sheila.
He waits to see if anyone else will answer first but she’s looking at him. ‘We got a call from Eric Petty who said he was driving home from vacation with his kid when some lightning flashed in the woods. It lit her up. He pulled over to check what they thought they saw and then ran back to his car and immediately phoned us,’ he tries to avoid her eyes. She has great eyes. ‘We’ve already taken his statement but that’s pretty much all he said. He’s pretty shaken up. I’ve asked him not to talk about it with anyone until we release a statement.’
Sheila looks back down at the body as she puts on some latex gloves. She crouches down on the crunchy grass and examines the woman’s neck for a few minutes. She turns the woman’s head to the left, then to the right. She beams a light in her eyes one at a time. Everyone remains silent as she makes her notes. Then, after taking almost twenty photographs of the unidentified woman, she’s done. For now, anyway.
‘Is there a suicide note?’ she asks as she removes the gloves.
‘Not on her,’ answers Steve. ‘Maybe it’s at her house.’
‘Okay, I’ll get them to bag her up and drive her over to the morgue.’ She turns to Miller. ‘I’ll let you know when my report’s ready.’
Sheila gets in her car, an old Civic, and flashes Dean a smile that makes him want to follow her instead of going home.
This takes me back! Wow, I can’t believe I read this nearly two years ago! Dean is an Officer! Miller is still a jerk and it’s the old team together! This is the thrilling start to the series!!
What bloggers and reviewers said?
Rea Reads says :- The pacing of the story is steady and has a few twists along the way to keep the momentum going. What makes this story a little different is that the reader discovers things that the police don’t regarding the killer. You see the investigation play out knowing so much more, I guess in a way this made me feel a little bit more involved in everything that is happening. I also can’t finish my review without a special mention going to Rocky who was a great addition to the story.
Goodreads reviewer says:- This is a police procedural, but not one that follows the standard old school format. Dean is not the most likeable character, really. His thoughts are all over the place when it comes to the women in his life, which didn’t exactly endear me to him, especially in the beginning…..Readers will be able to see early on which direction the story is moving, but this is most certainly by design. This is one of those cases where the reader is gradually clued in, but our protagonist is still working out all the facts. We are then left to watch helplessly, as he slowly processes the situation, and can only hope he connects the dots before it’s too late.
Audio Killed the Bookmark says:- The story was uniquely structured, we were privy to who the bad guy was far ahead of Dean… now usually I like solving the crime right along with the detective…. however, in this book this slightly unusual approach works really well…. A layer of tension was added as we watched Dean discover the truth….
Goodreads reviewer says :- I really enjoyed this police procedural story that has compelling characters even though I didn’t always like or agree with them. I have to admit that I figured out the who but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story as I needed to find out the why and with moments of excellent tension, WHO CARES IF THEY DIE by Wendy Dranfield really sucked me into the story without much effort. This is a crime fiction story that is sure to creep you out and is definitely worth reading.
Waggy Tales says:- I flew through this book, it had just the right amount of suspense to keep my attention and characters who certainly kept me wanting to read more. I warmed to Dean over time, at first he came over quite arrogant but his relationship with Rocky, the dog, showed a much softer side. At times my heart raced as I worried about Deans safety and the ending was gripping and really well thought out
Sanity Looms says:- I really enjoyed reading this book. I like a thriller, and even better one which gives away the ‘baddy’ towards the beginning. By doing so, the author runs the risk of the big reveal not being the pivotal outcome, but here, you are led through the back story of the characters and kept avidly reading to the end and climatic finale. Very well constructed and thoughtfully planned
14 in 2014 says:- Unlike a lot of the thrillers/mysteries/suspense books I’ve read, the identity of the antagonist is revealed quite early in this story. This unusual approach seems to work really well in this story because it added a layer of tension for the readers as we watched Dean discover the truth. Readers are provided with a very compelling story with some surprising twists and turns. The characters are well written and the flow of the plot goes very well.
And your final treat for the day is, a snippet from the audiobook!
Come back tomorrow where I will re-share my review of Who Cares If they Die and where it all began with Dean.
Until next time xxx