Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn ~Goodreads~
Published by Clink Street Publishing
Thank you to Rachel at Authoright for inviting me on another blog tour of Lee Cockburn’s.
Today I’m bringing you an extract from Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents as well as my review, if you love crime thriller’s then Cockburn is the author you need to read!
I’ll provide the synopsis first and then the chapter extract, followed by my review.
Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks is back and in charge of tracking down a sadistic vigilante, with a penchant for torturing paedophiles, in this unsettling crime thriller by a real-life police sergeant.
High-powered businessmen are turning up tortured around the city of Edinburgh with one specific thing in common — a sinister double life involving pedophilia. Leaving his ‘victims’ in a disturbing state, the individual responsible calls the police and lays bare the evidence of their targets’ twisted misdemeanours to discover, along with a special memento of their own troubled past — a chilling calling card. Once again heading the investigation team is Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks, along with her partner Detective Constable Marcus Black, who are tasked not only with tracking the perpetrator down but also dealing with the unusual scenario of having to arrest the victims for their own barbarous crimes. But with the wounded piling up the predator’s thirst for revenge intensifies and soon Nicks discovers that she is no longer chasing down a sinister attacker but a deadly serial killer.
Vivid, dark and deeply unsettling Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents is the perfect next read for serious crime and police thriller fans.
Chapter 7 – Saviours
“Going back 22 years
“POLICE, POLICE, open the door! POLICE, open the door or we will break it down. We have a warrant, we have power to enter your premises, and we will. Open the door.” There were sounds of scurrying around and a chilling squeal from a child inside. Megan had barged past Amy with such force it sent the little girl flying off her feet and into the wall, striking it with force. Nathan kept back out of the way, until he could get to his sister safely and help her. He shouted to the police outside, “Help us, help us, please get in here quickly”. Amy was struggling to breathe, the air had been pushed so violently from her lungs and pain seared through her. Megan’s bottom wriggled and wobbled in comedic manner, as her overweight frame tried to squeeze into the void under the sink, which appeared impossible at first glance. Seconds later the door was hammered by the huge public order officer, sending it crashing up against the wall.
“POLICE, POLICE,” was again shouted loudly as they entered the disgusting house. “Hey, watch out guys, there are a couple of kids up the hall. Get the medic up here too. Right now!”. The first two pairs of public order officers rushed past the children and into the rooms beyond, and a further two pairs rushed up the stairs to cover the remaining rooms and negate any danger that could come from within them. Next in were the public protection officers, who quickly knelt down beside the children to take care of them. Nathan rose up from his kneeling position and faced up to them, eyes wild and feral, animal instincts kicking in to protect his injured sister from these unknown strangers, his mistrust of adults ingrained in him since birth. He lunged violently at the first female officer, not trusting anyone. He tried to scratch at her face and got hold of her hair, pulling it as hard as he could. The officer winced as her head was jerked to the side. A reaction like this was unfortunately not that uncommon. She gripped his hand and pushed it down on her head with enough force to spread his fingers out like a cat claw, making him release his grip. She kept hold of his hand and ducked to avoid the other that came swinging round balled in a fist to try and punch her straight in the face. She took hold of both his little arms and wrapped them round the front of his body and held him with enough force to control him but with the minimum force necessary to contain him and attempted to comfort him. The other officer knelt down beside the little girl lying there, still gasping for breath on the floor. Both children were clearly emaciated and unwashed for months, possibly years. The female officer holding Nathan spoke to him in a calm, gentle and caring voice and said, “Relax young man, we’re here to help you. We’re here to help you both. We need you to help us now, we need to help your sister, help us help your sister. What’s her name?”. He screamed out and struggled so violently he nearly broke free. “Leave her alone, leave Amy. Don’t you fucking touch her you fucking bitch. I’ll look after her, let me go, let me fucking go you fucking fat slag, you fucking ugly cow, fuck off, fuck off, let me fucking go or I’ll hurt you so fucking bad.”
Although his speech was still childlike, and some words weren’t pronounced correctly, the tirade of abuse, with the venom and level of aggression shown was a shock even for them. She pulled him closer once again. Tears were rolling down his young cheeks now and his anger was changing to sadness, highlighting the vulnerable little five-year-old boy that he was. The tension in his skeletal frame began to release and his sobs were audible and getting louder. The officer holding him changed her grip to more of a hug and she spoke softly to him. “We’re here, we’re here now, to help you, help you and your little sister. It is your sister, isn’t it?” He twisted his head round to look at her, his big sad eyes stared at her as he nodded to her. “That’s Amy, I look after her, she needs me. Is she alright, will she be alright?” The paramedic came through the door and had to squeeze in beside everyone, getting close enough to take a look at Amy, who was lying in pain on the floor. The officer shuffled backwards still holding Nathan in her arms on her lap.
“SUPPORT,” was shouted out by the public order officers in the kitchen, “SUPPORT”. Officers came rushing through from the other rooms that had already been cleared within the two storey flat. The officers in the kitchen had pulled out a very overweight woman from a cupboard under the sink and she had turned quickly towards them holding a knife. Lashing out at them violently, her teeth gritted together, she rasped obscenities, saliva spraying out of her disgusting mouth filled with decaying teeth. “Get the fuck away from me or I’ll fucking stab you, ya cunts, and ye better no touch ma fucking bairns. What are you fuckers doin’ in ma fucking hoose anyway, fucking scummy wankers, cunts, fucking bastards.” She lunged forward stabbing out at the officers. The knife cut through the boiler suit of one and sliced into the pads beneath. She was manhandled to the floor by the front two officers with a combined weight of at least 50 stone, and was forced to release her grip on the knife. Handcuffs
were jammed on to her wrists, her stubby arms stretching to meet one another behind her back ass he still tried with all her might to fight the police.
“You are detained under Section 14 of the Criminal Procedures Scotland Act 1995 for suspicion of abduction. You are not obliged to say anything but anything you do say will be noted and may be used in evidence. Do you understand this caution, do you want to make any reply to this caution?”
The officer that stood in front of her carried on to read more of the procedure to Megan, who was now in a sitting position. “Fucking reply, I’ll fucking kick your bollocks off, you fucking prick. Let me fucking go, I know ma rights, ya fucking arsehole, and how the fuck can I abduct ma own fucking kids, ya stupid wee prick?” The words rattled out from her depraved mouth like bullets from a machine gun. “Lovely,” the officer said as he smiled at his colleague, unaffected by the tirade of abuse that hadn’t stopped since she was discovered jammed under the sink. Both raised their eyebrows at each other at the choice words they heard frequently, a total lack of respect regularly shown by the worthies of the area, through indoctrinated hatred of authority of any kind taught from birth. The dark humour that the cops shared always allowed them the release from reality required to prevent anything affecting them. The paramedics provided medical care for Amy, the day’s injury being the least of her problems. The children were taken out of the house, Amy on a trolley chair and Nathan carried by the officer who he had tried to attack initially but was now clinging to and not wanting to let go. He allowed her to hold him like a mother would hold a child. He could feel her kindness and warmth and for the first time in his short little life he became sadly aware of how things should have been for him and his sister.
The detaining officers left holding on tightly to their prisoner, with another two for back up just in case. The others remained to search the remainder of the house, a house that displayed a severe lack of hygiene and signs of obvious cruelty. What appeared to be the children’s room sent shivers down the spines of the most hardened officers. Blood, semen, vomit, rotten food, a couple of baby teeth, urine and faecal matter soiled the floor. A thin mattress with clothing for pillows and unrecognisable bedding, stained dark brown, had not been washed for years if at all. The mother’s room was no better, a vision of a chaotic and depraved life. The children had never been out of the house by the looks of it, it was a miracle that they were still alive. The tip-off had come to the police from a family who lived nearby. The child had been given a telescope for his birthday and had used it regularly to watch through all of the windows in the houses and flats nearby. One day he had spotted Nathan in the afternoon and could see that he was bleeding from his face. He had run to tell his mum and she looked through the lens, giving her son a row at the time for being nosey, only to see, even at a distance, a man come up behind the little boy and take hold of his hair and yank him back away from the window with obvious force. She called the police immediately and further enquiry into the address pointed out by the boy and his mother, revealed enough concern to carry out an immediate raid on the premises as there was no record of any children living or registered there.
As the cops were ready to escort Amy and Nathan, and Megan Thomson, Natt Spears had waddled round the corner lethargically and breathless from the bookies. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the large presence of police vehicles outside his block of flats. He turned round immediately and walked as briskly as his fat, slob-like frame would allow. Nathan wanted to travel in the ambulance with his sister but she was still not responding well and they didn’t want him to see what the paramedics were doing in case he thought they were hurting her. The police officer and Nathan sat up front, the little boy blinking hard in the bright sunlight. He was excited to be travelling in the front of the ambulance but he was also distracted by the separation from his sister.
The ambulance bounced gently over the speed bumps down towards Niddrie Mains Road, the main road into the centre of town and off towards the Sick Kids Hospital. Nathan was staring out to the front, gripping the seat, leaning forward as much as the seatbelt would allow waggling his feet back and forward like a normal little boy. Suddenly, he froze, eyes focussed on the rotund male on the pavement moving away from where they had been. He was wearing a stained vest and soiled trousers hung heavily on the damaged belt below his grotesquely sagging gut. The officer moved up off the seat as she felt a warm wet sensation seeping through her jeans. Immediately she asked the little boy what was wrong. The boy pointed at the man on the opposite pavement and started shaking uncontrollably as tears flowed down his dirty cheeks. “That’s my step dad,” was whispered tearfully from his lips as he laid himself as flat as he could into the officer’s lap. “Don’t let him get us, please keep him away, please, he hurts us, he really hurts us!”
The officer’s radio crackled and her words were clear and concise, “Outstanding male, south pavement, heading east on Niddrie Mains Road, filthy vest, brown trousers, overweight, late twenties, dark greasy hair, this is a hurry up, there are plenty of buses coming, don’t let this one go, I think it’s the outstanding suspect.”
Within seconds three squad cars screeched to a halt beside the man and took hold of him. He tried to act casual and completely unaware of why he had been stopped. Without hesitation, he was detained and taken into custody for questioning. He did not fight. He was a coward and did not want to be hurt. He was cruel and evil but, unlike Megan, would avoid any reciprocated pain. Medical examinations revealed both children were badly malnourished. Numerous old and new injuries, untreated fractures and sexual trauma were found. These had been painfully obvious to the medical examiner even before a full internal exploration was carried out.
Both accused were given substantial custodial sentences for their part in the systematic torture, sexual abuse, neglect and imprisonment of Megan’s two young children, and Amy and Nathan were placed into the care system.”
Chilling, seems the appropriate word to describe this book.
It deals with some tough themes such as pedophilia, murder, and self-harming. So its a tough read but nonetheless there’s no washing over the reality of such harrowing real life events that are present in today’s world. That’s what I greatly enjoy about Cockburn’s writing, its real and not tainted. Sure its “not nice” but again its gripping to read in the best way.
We meet our characters Nathan and Amy, and learn that they suffer abuse at the hands of their mother and step-father. As we witness the years progress people are being assaulted and bodies appear, and all of which have a connection to a crime group. The attacker leaves a ‘calling card’ with each of the battered corpses- I’ve never been a fan of dolls but good god I can admit that this spooked me a lot!
I really loved Detective Sergeant, Taylor who is very much the powerful woman; confident and very aware of her influence on other women. I think its great to see women in such big professional roles in books, and we see with Taylor how passionate she is in fighting for justice and doesn’t take no s*** from any of her suspects.
As with a lot of crime thriller’s, I was led astray by Cockburn’s writing and had the completely wrong suspect in my head and for me this is the nail on the head from crime writing- fooling the reader and giving them a shocking surprise and this is exactly what I got from this book. What I found alluring about the conclusion to this book however, was its openness to another potential book…? If so please hurry Lee!
The subject matter was tough certainly, but it is a book that keeps you on your toes and I can’t convey enough how brilliant Lee Cockburn’s writing is. If you haven’t read one of her books already then this is certainly a great start!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for sixteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for seven years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry. Her first book Devil’s Demise was published by Clink Street Publishing November 2014.
Follow Lee Cockburn: Twitter