An excerpt from The Woman Before Me, a CWA Debut Dagger award winner, by Ruth Dugdall (available May 9, 2013).
Emma has everything Rose lacks: a faithful husband, beauty, and a healthy baby boy. Rose meets her in the hospital after her own baby dies from premature birth, and when Emma’s child dies in a suspicious house fire shortly after, the obsessive and unstable Rose is the primary suspect.
Now, after almost five years in prison, Rose is up for parole, but probation officer Cate Austin must first decide whether this accused murderer can be released or if she really is a threat to society. The answer seems obvious at first, but as Cate delves deeper into Rose’s disturbing past the probation officer becomes entangled in the inmate’s dark world.
Creeping across the threshold, I listen to the silence of the sleeping house. These middle hours, between three and four in the morning when deepest sleep can be reached, make the kitchen seem larger and emptier than in daylight. Different. Although the difference is me. This time I’m saying goodbye.
The fragrance of Emma is everywhere, the delicate tang of her green apple perfume. That small wooden box, holding an assortment of tea bags, on the shelf—I’ll never again see her bend over it, her hair falling like a veil, sweeping it away as she dithers over her selection. And Luke. She told me I’ll never see him again.
There’s a large picture on the wall, a print of the Eiffel Tower, a place she visited on her first honeymoon. On the work surface are unwashed plates, remains of their last meal encrusted on the cutlery. I thought she was so neat, but then I never really knew her. Not like you did.
[Read the full excerpt of The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall...]