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Spare Me The Truth

Shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel

In the grip of amnesia, Dan Forrester believes he’s just an ordinary man. Until a stranger approaches him with a startling revelation – and an explosive request . . .

Banished from the Met in disgrace, Lucy Davies’ life is falling apart.
But when a serial killer strikes in her new provincial posting, might it be her chance of redemption?

Stunned by her mother’s sudden death, Grace Reavey’s grief is
interrupted by a staggering act of blackmail – one that challenges everything she knew about her mother.

Three Strangers. Countless secrets.

One deadly truth.

“Read it!”
Meg Gardiner

“Nothing short of brilliant”
Michael Jecks

‘From page one, Spare Me the Truth runs flat out on all cylinders. CJ Carver gives us everything: high-octane action, vivid characters, and thought-provoking mystery. Read it!’

Meg Gardiner, author of The Burning Mind

‘CJ Carver is a top notch thriller writer and Spare Me The Truth is right up there with the best.’

Simon Kernick

‘Nothing short of brilliant … Carver has created a wonderful story here, sort of Jason Bourne meets Silence of the Lambs.’

Michael Jecks, author of Blood on the Sands

‘Brilliant. Read it, and lose yourself’

Frost Magazine

‘A high-wire act of a thriller, with a plot as ingeniously constructed as a sudoku puzzle’

The Lady

‘One of the best on the market’

Chris High, book reviewer

‘A gripping intelligent thriller . . . highly addictive’

Off-the-shelf book reviews

‘An incredible roller-coaster of a read. Brilliantly and intricately plotted. Don’t miss it’

Mystery people

‘Carver knows exactly how to hook a reader and keen the tension going’

Northern Crime Reviews

‘An action-packed, Bourne-esque mystery thriller – impossible to put down’

Mason Cross, bestselling author of the Carter Blake thriller series

‘A high octane mix of Jason Bourne game playing and gritty Brit noir, CJ Carver puts the pedal to the metal and doesn’t let up…!’

Jack Grimwood, bestselling author of Moskva

‘Spare Me the Truth is a complex tale of betrayal and deception. CJ Carver writes with compassion about characters she really cares about’

Parker Bilal, bestselling author of City of Jackals

‘A fast-paced, high concept thriller that ticks all the boxes and then some. Strong women, international covert intrigue, and a nasty serial killer. I’m so glad this is the first of a series: I want more!’

Julia Crouch, author of bestseller Cuckoo

‘A rattling good story with enough twists and turns to keep any crime fan’s brow knitted . . . (but) it’s the characterisation that really scores for me’

Chris Curran, author of bestseller Mindsight

One Sunday, I spotted an article by the Telegraph’s science correspondent Richard Gray, who stated, ‘Researchers have found they can use drugs to wipe away single, specific memories while leaving other memories intact.’

Browsing the Internet further I read that ‘similar research led by Professor Joseph
LeDoux has been carried out at New York University on rats; scientists were able to remove a specific memory from the brains of rats while leaving the rest of the animals’ memories intact. An amnesia drug called U0126 was administered’.

Great, I thought. A memory-erasing drug!

But when I looked closer it became clear that most of the research was actually looking at erasing fear from memory. Not quite the same, but who am I to split hairs when creating a story.

Three weeks ago, Saturday 3 November

She steps into a corridor. She is behind Peter Miller and Suzie Lui who are chatting excitedly, seemingly oblivious of any danger, but Stella takes one look at the four men and knows things have gone terribly wrong.

She is already bending forward, reaching to grab the case from Suzie, planting her weight on her right foot to spin round, make a run for it, but the men are fast. Much faster than her. She has barely moved and they’ve drawn their guns. A Glock, an Uzi and two MAC-10 auto sub-machine pistols which are immediately trained on her. The Uzi is on Peter, the Glock on Suzie. The men’s hands are steady, their eyes hard and cold. They’ve done this before. They’re pros.

Suzie gives a little scream. Peter goes as white as chalk and makes a soft whimpering sound. There are places Stella will remember all her life – a shabby house in the East End, the hospital room where she gave birth to her daughter, a serene Mayfair street with rows of glossy black railings – but there will be nothing branded more deeply in her memory than this moment.

How had Cedric found out?

Nobody knew about this. Not even Bernard.

Had Peter or Suzie let something slip?

She suddenly sees how stupid she’s been. She thinks she’s so clever, but he’s always been one step ahead. Was it the arrogance of age? The fact she thought she’d had a lifetime’s experience? She’s due to retire next year – perhaps she thought she’d go out in a spectacular shower of success but instead she’s facing monumental dishonour and disgrace. Something that the office will whisper about in decades to come. How Stella Reavey, one of the so-called best, brought not just ignominy and humiliation to their front door, but how she risked their families, their friends, and their country. All in the name of hubris.

The man with the Glock moves to take the case from Suzie. The young woman recoils.

‘No!’ she protests violently. ‘No!

In one smooth movement the man raises his pistol, aims it between the young woman’s eyes and pulls the trigger.

The bullet enters Suzie’s skull, leaving a neat hole the size of a pebble in her forehead, but the back of her head is a mess of blood and bone, brain matter.

The woman’s body drops into a soft crumple of slender limbs and cloth.

Peter is trembling head to toe. A keening sound comes involuntarily from his throat.

‘You didn’t need to kill her,’ Stella says. She is glad her tone is authoritative and doesn’t reveal her fear.

The man doesn’t answer. He grabs the case.

The weapons remain trained on her and Peter as the man steps backwards down the corridor. She watches him and his men leave. The instant they are out of view she races after them but the door is locked. She spins round and tears to the other end of the corridor to find that door is locked too. By the time she summons help, it is too late. The men and the case are gone.

It is after midnight and Stella stands quietly and alone, wondering how to salvage the situation. She needs something from left field that can’t implicate her, something unpredictable, something random, as her daughter might say. When an idea comes to her, she closes her eyes and wonders whether her conscience will ever forgive her for entering his life again.

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Published by: Zaffre
Publication date: 7th April 2016
ISBN: 978-1785760334