When Mark is invited back to Leila’s flat and ordered to strip, he thinks he’s about to have the experience of his life. Waking later he finds Leila gone from his side. Keen to leave, he opens the wrong door and finds he’s entered a nightmare; behind the swaying Barbie dolls that hang from the ceiling is the body of the girl he just had sex with. Rhona Macleod’s forensic investigation of the scene reveals the red plaited silk cord used to hang Leila to be a cingulum, a Wiccan artefact used in sex magick. Sketches of sexual partners hidden in the dolls provide a link to nine powerful men, but who are they? As the investigation continues, it looks increasingly likely that other witches will be targeted too. Working the investigation is the newly demoted DS Michael McNab, who is keen to stay sober and redeem himself with Rhona, but an encounter with Leila’s colleague and fellow Wiccan Freya Devine threatens his resolve. Soon McNab realizes Freya may hold the key to identifying the men linked to the dolls, but the Nine will do anything to keep their identities a secret.
BACK GROUND TO THE SPECIAL DEAD
My lecturer in astronomy at Glasgow University was Professor Archie Roy. He really was ambidextrous and could draw two circles and fill them in with diagrams at the same time. I met him again many years later when he had become the foremost authority on the paranormal in Scotland, while also Emeritus Professor of Astronomy, with an asteroid named after him: (5806) Archieroy. I called him up one day to discuss a speculative piece for television that I was writing and we met in the university common room where he told me many tales about his work with the Scottish Society for
Later I attended a series of lectures run by the SSPR at the university in which he told the story of the old library and what it contained and how this had sparked his interest in investigating the paranormal. So that much is true. I merely substituted Freya at Newcastle University for my own experience at Glasgow. The Ferguson collection does exist and details about it can be found on the university library’s website, some of which I used. As far as I am aware, it is still intact, and is still as valuable in terms of its contribution to our understanding of such matters. When I tried to locate the exact position of the old library as described by Professor Roy, I was unsuccessful, so I chose my own location in the tower, mainly because I used to have lectures in moral philosophy in one of the tower lecture theatres. I particularly remember the cooing sound of the pigeons directly above us as we tackled Plato’s Republic
As to Wicca, I found during my research much to commend it as a way of worship, including the Wiccan Rede, often quoted in the text. Witchcraft is not merely legendary; it was, and is, still real. Some would say its doctrine is far more relevant to the times than the majority of established church texts, insofar as it acknowledges a holistic universe,equal rights, feminism, ecology, attunement, brotherly and sisterly love, planetary care – all part and parcel of Witchcraft, the old, yet new, religion. However, misconceptions still abound and my knowledge is not great enough to prove them all wrong. Suffice to say that every religion has its dark and bright side. And every for good can be changed into one for evil. You only have to recall the Inquisition to know that. Torturing and killing women by naming them as Witches was a job perfectly designed for those who delighted in the sexual torture of the female of the species. As Magnus says in the book, there were psychopaths back then too. I couldn’t help but think as I did my research that Rhona’s knowledge of forensics and the science of DNA would have been seen as a type of Witchcraft not so long ago. In fact in some parts of the world, Rhona, the forensic scientist, would be regarded as a Witch at this very moment.
THE SPECIAL DEAD BOOK TOUR
Saturday 12 September from 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Forensics with Lin Anderson & Val McDermid Two fantastic authors and a whole lot of fascinating science – a must for CSI fans.
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For further information, contact Becky Fincham email@example.com / 0207 843 4859