Halfway by B.E. Jones
If everyone is lying, who can you trust?
The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass and hidden deep in inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, two women end up knocking on the door, seeking refuge as a blizzard takes hold.
But why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father trying so hard to tell them?
At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the local district nurse is missing, she jumps at the chance to investigate her disappearance.
The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm, but soon realise they might have been safer on the road. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas . . .
The prologue opens on 22nd December 2017, we are aware of an armed and frightened female. Then the novel cuts away to the present moment, of a hitchhiker stranded in a snowy isolated Welsh scene…
‘There will be noise and fury. There will be damage. There will be casualties’
The novel spans around various characters and their current circumstances. Which includes the local law enforcement. We become aware there is a crime scene at a farmhouse and the majority of the police have dispatched there. Leaving PC Lisa Lloyd (6 months out of probation) and soon to be retired Jim Price.
There are little snippets of information cleverly woven into the plot. Such as, we know the hitchhiker is making their way home and to a farmhouse. We also get the scene of an old man caring for his son Brian and bed bound wife Rose. The three main perspectives are from the old man, local cops and the hitchhiker, who has now been picked up by a district nurse.
As the plot develops, I never felt I could trust any of the individual characters. But when all the characters collide at a closed pub The Star, nicknamed Halfway… ALL will be revealed!!!! This title is a psychological thriller, perfect for the winter months! 4*
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Excerpt 1 – Prologue
When she sees the hatchet in his hand she knows it’s going to happen, right here, right now. It’s been coming for hours, longer probably, since before the storm howling and keening around the eaves began its slow creep across the countryside, before the car was abandoned at the side of the snowbound road.
This moment was waiting even before she raised her hand and knocked on the door of this godforsaken place, squatting below its slipping slates and bowing brickwork, beneath the low iron sky, under the weight of winter.
So here they are.
She’s glad now that she’d had the foresight to arm herself, downstairs, when the unpleasant ticking started in her chest, when she’d finally realized the answers to the questions plaguing her since her arrival: Who are these people? And why are they lying?
She’d been sure that something was very wrong for hours. She just hadn’t been able to gather the quiet nudges in the back of her brain into a single, clearly defined thought until now, now it’s punching itself to the fore, bullying her into the realization she’d have been safer out in the storm.
But it’s too late to leave, now that there are only three of them left alive, assembled under the twinkly Christmas star: a hitchhiker, a nurse, a landlord, , everyone, everything, bending itself into this moment, before the weight of what has been and what is to come. How could she have imagined for even one moment that she was the only one with anything to hide?
She knows it’s her own fault for allowing herself to be caught off guard, first back on the road and then over and over again until she stepped into this room. It happened so easily because this is the sort of place that’s supposed to be safe and steady, a quiet, nothing-ever-happens-kind of village where people look out for each other, still leave their doors unlocked and never, ever try to kill you.
Trouble is, you should never read only the surface signs and signals of anywhere or anyone, she knows that. There’s a lesson here, never assume you’re the biggest, baddest thing in the woods unless you’re prepared to prove it.
So this is it.
That bloody balding donkey understands, his red and white trimmed Santa leaning at a jaunty angle as he gives her that look again, as if he’s thinking what she’s thinking, knows what she knows – not all of them will leave this room alive. He may be happy to wait passively for the outcome but she isn’t, so she readies herself, plants her feet firmly apart on the floorboards, aware of every inch of her body, every twitch of muscle fibre and sinew, careful not to show that her hands are waiting and ready to move.
The ticking in her chest tells her it’s too late to stop the countdown, there’s no way back, the explosion is overdue. There will be noise and fury. There will be damage. There will be casualties.
So here they go!