There is one serial killer who has shaped and defined police profiler Tony Hill’s life. One serial killer whose evil surpasses all others. One serial killer who has the power to chill him to the bone: Jacko Vance. And now Jacko is back in Tony’s life.
Even more twisted and cunning than ever before, he is focused on wreaking revenge on Tony – and DCI Carol Jordan – for the years he has spent in prison. Tony doesn’t know when Jacko will strike, or where. All he knows is that Jacko will cause him to feel fear like he has never known before? and devastate his life in ways he cannot imagine…
Escapology was like magic. The secret lay in misdirection. Some escapes were accomplished by creating an illusion through careful planning; others were genuine feats of strength, daring and flexibility, both mental and physical; and some were mixtures of both. But whatever the methods, the element of misdirection always played a crucial role. And when it came to misdirection, he called no man his master.
Best of all was the misdirection that the onlooker didn’t even know was happening. To accomplish that you had to make your diversion blend into the spectrum of normal.
Some settings made that harder than others. Take an office where everything ran like clockwork. You’d struggle to camouflage a distraction there because anything out of the ordinary would stand out and stick in people’s minds. But in prison there were so many unpredictable variables – volatile individuals; complex power structures; trivial disputes that could go nuclear in a matter of moments; and pent-up frustrations never far from bursting like a ripe zit. Almost anything could go off at any time, and who could say whether it was a calculated event or just one of a hundred little local difficulties getting out of hand? The very existence of those variables made some people uneasy. But not him. For him, every alternate scenario provided a fresh opportunity, another option to scrutinise till finally he hit on the perfect combination of circumstances and characters.
He’d considered faking it. Paying a couple of the lads to get into a ruck on the wing. But there were too many downsides to that. For one thing, the more people who knew about his plans, the more prospects there were for betrayal. For another, most of the people inside were there because their previous attempts at dissimulation had failed dismally. Probably not the best people to entrust with putting on a convincing performance, then. And you could never rule out plain stupidity, of course. So faking it was out.
However, the beauty of prison was that there was never a shortage of levers to pull. Men trapped on the inside were always prey to fears of what might be going down on the outside. They had lovers, wives, kids and parents who were vulnerable to violence or temptation. Or just the threat of those things.
So he’d watched and waited, gathering data and evaluating it, figuring out where the possibilities offered the best chance of success. It helped that he didn’t have to rely on his own observations. His support system beyond the walls had provided the intelligence that plugged most of the gaps in his own knowledge. It really hadn’t taken long to find the perfect pressure point.
And now he was ready. Tonight he would make his move. Tomorrow night, he’d be sleeping in a wide, comfortable bed with feather pillows. The perfect end to a perfect evening. A rare steak with a pile of garlic mushrooms and rosti potatoes, perfectly complemented by a bottle of claret that would have only improved in the dozen years he’d been away. A plate of crisp Bath Olivers and a Long Clawson stilton to take away the bad taste of what passed for cheese in prison. Then a long hot bath, a glass of cognac and a Cuban Cohiba. He’d savour every gradation on the spectrum of the senses.
A jagged cacophony of raised voices penetrated his visualisation, a routine argument about football crashing back and forth across the landing. An officer roared at them to keep the noise down and it subsided a little. The distant mutter of a radio filled the gaps between the insults and it occurred to him that even better than the steak, the booze and the cigar would be the freedom from other people’s noise.
That was the one thing people never mentioned when they sounded off about how awful it must be to be in prison. They talked about the discomfort, the lack of freedom, the fear of your fellow inmates, the loss of your personal comforts. But even the most imaginative never commented on the nightmare of losing silence.
Tomorrow, that nightmare would be over. He could be as quiet or as loud as he chose. But it would be his noise.
Well, mostly his. There would be other noises. Ones that he was looking forward to. Ones he liked to imagine when he needed a spur to keep going. Ones he’d been dreaming about even longer than he’d been figuring out his escape route. The screams, the sobs, the stammering pleas for mercy that would never come. The soundtrack of payback.
Jacko Vance, killer of seventeen teenage girls, murderer of a serving police officer, a man once voted the sexiest man on British TV, could hardly wait.