Dancing On The Grave by Zoe Sharp
In one of the most beautiful corners of England,
Something very ugly is about to take place…
A sniper with a mission…
a young cop with nothing to lose…
a CSI with everything to prove…
a teenage girl with a terrifying obsession…
There’s a killer on the loose in the Lake District, and the calm of an English summer is shattered.
For newly qualified crime-scene investigator, Grace McColl, it’s both the start of a nightmare and the chance to prove herself after a mistake that cost a life.
For Detective Constable Nick Weston, recently transferred from London, it’s an opportunity to recover his nerve after a disastrous undercover operation that left him for dead.
And for a lonely, loveless teenage girl, Edith, it’s the start of a twisted fantasy—one she never dreamed might come true.
Guest Post by Zoe Sharp:
Edith in Dancing On The Grave: a standalone crime thriller
I like conflicted characters. They make life interesting. When I started writing my latest standalone crime thriller, Dancing On The Grave, I originally envisaged that the story would centre around the two official characters, CSI Grace McColl (who I first wrote about in a short story called ‘Tell Me’) and DC Nick Weston. As is so often the case, however, the story changed direction in the telling.
Instead of being a straightforward police procedural, as soon as I introduced the ex-military sniper and PTSD sufferer, Patrick Bardwell, and the disturbed teenage girl, Edith Airey, who becomes his spotter, they owned the story. The sniper himself was a complicated mix of predator and victim, but Edith fascinated me.
Edith is seventeen, bored, misunderstood, lonely and loveless. She’s undoubtedly a very screwed-up kid, but not because of the conventional reasons. She’s never been physically abused, but she has been mentally neglected, her problems ignored by her family until they become part of a larger tragedy.
She partly grew out of conversations I had with a friend who took on school-leavers as apprentices in her business. She lamented the fact that the teenagers she employed were largely not prepared to start at the bottom and work their way up the ladder. They simply wanted to be famous. The explosion of semi-reality TV programmes, where it seems there are no depths people won’t sink to in pursuit of fleeting celebrity, cemented my ideas surrounding Edith’s character.
Where others might see the beauty of the Lake District surrounding Edith’s home as a privilege, she sees it as a prison. She feels trapped by the lack of opportunity, ground down by her parents’ lack of ambition—for themselves or for their daughter—and so desperate to escape her existence she’ll take any escape route offered to her.
She’s a fantasist who borders on being unable to discern truth from fiction. In some ways remarkably brave, quick-witted and inventive. And in others, terrifyingly naïve. I couldn’t bring myself to hate her for what she does, but I did end up feeling sorry for her, even so.
At one point in the story, Grace quotes Henry Thoreau in regard to Edith: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” To which Nick adds, “And go to the grave with the song still in them.” Although Thoreau is not thought to be responsible for the second half of the quote, nevertheless, it sums up Edith for me.
Zoë Sharp spent part of her life in the English Lake District, where Dancing On The Grave is set. A photojournalist for 25 years, she now divides her time between writing novels, crewing yachts, renovating houses, and international pet-sitting. She is currently working on the next in her award-winning Charlie Fox series of crime thrillers.
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