It seemed like just one small mistake of judgment, but somehow there was no stopping the flood of events that followed on from it.
When young police constable Helen Anderson takes the files for a forthcoming court case to study over the weekend, she commits a cardinal error. For those files are not supposed to leave the police station – and the moment they fall into the wrong hands, Helen’s ordinary, uneventful life begins to spiral out of control.
For one small lie will lead to another, then another – culminating in a rendezvous in an ordinary suburban house in an ordinary Bristol street … the scene of a gruesome and extraordinary murder.
But that is only the beginning of Helen’s saga of increasing personal insight, desperate concealment, and more and more shocking crime.
My name is Helen Anderson, and I’m a murderer. This is my story. It isn’t a confession, as those tend not to make very interesting reading. It’s my story – how I came to do the things I did, and why. For all their diligence, I don’t think the police fully understand what happened, and this is my chance to explain – for myself, as much as for anyone who happens to read it.
It won’t be easy to write, given that I’ve learned things that no one should ever have to know: how to kill, how to conceal it, and how to lie to protect myself. There was a stage when I exulted in the power that brought – to offer a hint and watch the police doggedly follow the road I had selected, knowing their efforts would be wasted. But mostly, I was just scared and confused.
I suppose I should start at the beginning. It sounds trite put like that – all stories should start at the beginning. But when did mine start? The first time I met James Paxton? Our single, fumbling, sordid date years later? The point when he realized that a friend in the police might be good for more than a few cheap jokes about handcuffs? I think I shall go back to the very beginning, when we were still young, although even then there was a sharp distinction between his world and mine.
The distinction became clearer as we grew older, and perhaps that’s where the problems started – my ridiculous gratitude at being noticed by the bright star that was James; my pathetic pleasure at being invited into his exclusive world. But, of course, that was before I learned that all that glitters isn’t gold.