The Good Daughter

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I am a writer of psychological suspense, thrillers and mysteries.


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THE GOOD DAUGHTER is a gripping psychological thriller debut set in south east London.

Edith Charring, a 17-year-old sixth-form student from Dulwich, enjoys going out and clubbing the night away in Brixton with her small coterie of equally privileged schoolmates.

But her seemingly perfect life is a LIE.

For Edith carries a terrible burden: six years ago, in a seedy part of town, her mother fell under the wheels of a Tube train in suspicious circumstances.

As Edith looks deeper into her mother’s death, she unearths a web of secrets and lies that she was never meant to uncover …

And is she going crazy?

Or is her mother really leaving her a trail of clues to follow from beyond the grave?

Perfect for fans of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, GILLIAN FLYNN, NICCI FRENCH and C.L. TAYLOR, THE GOOD DAUGHTER is a gripping tale of mystery, family secrets and psychological suspense. 

 

 


Monday, 31 August 2015

I’m about to turn off the TV when the newsreader mentions a scandal involving the family firm.  The most damaging scandal in the company’s entire history.

OMG.  I need a news story to use for a school Media Studies project: a genuine scoop no one else knows about.

And this is it.

The story accuses the pharmaceutical wing of PharmaChem Holdings PLC of peddling antipsychotic drugs to treat patients with Alzheimer’s.  When I google the story on my phone, I’m swamped with search results.  But we’ve got to pitch our projects to the tutor today.

I trawl through the first few results but find nothing new.

Then I have an idea.

Hen gave me this word processor software ages ago.  But I’ve no clue how to use it and I’m too embarrassed to ask her for help.  But, also on the disk, is a computer hacking tool called BZ.  It’s called a password encryption program.  Hackers use them to get into computer databases and networks from the outside.  We learned all about hacking in a PSHE lesson on internet safety.

Hen assured me that even a computer lame-o like me should be able to use it.  You just push a button and it does it all for you.

I stop.

If I get caught, I’m in a lot of trouble.  But if I get my hands on some documents or memos or something, I’ll get an A grade.  And I need to get into a good university this year: I need Dad to be proud of me.

‘And you, Mum.’  I still talk to Mum every day.  ‘I need you to be proud of me most of all.’

I slip the disk into my laptop and click on the new icon that appears on the busy, disorganised desktop.

Weird icons blink and flash at me on the screen: I’ve no idea what they’re for.  One of them, an adorable hula-dancing bear, seems to mock me every time I boot up the machine but I don’t know how to get rid of it.

Hen said the program could take up to eight hours to crack a password – if it works at all.  But it’s worth a try if I can break into PharmaChem’s computer network and find out something about the drugs scandal that even the media don’t know about.

I leave the laptop on the dresser, working away at the password, and rush downstairs to help Jayne with breakfast.

When I get to the kitchen, Dad’s on the phone.  He looks pale.  OMG.  Is it because of the news?

He puts down the phone.  ‘Come and sit down, Edith.  It’s about your Aunt Margery.’

‘Settle down,’ booms Mr Cheapside at the front of the class.  ‘Asseyez-vousasseyez-vous.’

The class goes quiet.

‘This fine young gentleman is Edward Prince.  Edward has just moved to the area and, as it’s his first term here at Harvey Hall, I’d like you all to make him feel welcome and help him get his bearings.’

Edward gives the class a little wave.  ‘Hi, everyone.’

‘Hi, Edward,’ says the class like a bunch of bored drones.

Bloody hell.  Who’s this?

He stands there right in front of the whole class, a whole roomful of strangers, with zero embarrassment.  I’d be crapping myself.

I wonder what he looks like naked?

Then I think about Auntie Margery.  And Mum.

I haven’t stopped crying about Auntie Margery all morning.  My eyes are puffy and red, and my nose is all, like, snotty and stuff.  I haven’t washed my hair or had a shower but, even though I smell, I’m finding it hard to care.  I only changed my underwear and put deodorant on for the benefit of other people.

Maybe I’m still in shock, but I’m just numb.  Didn’t I love Auntie Margery?  Maybe I’m a bad person.  Even though I’m upset, I must admit I haven’t seen Auntie Margery or Uncle Harry (Mum’s younger brother) in years – not since Mum died.  We used to go on holiday with them and see them all the time when I was little.

But then everything changed.

I’ve often wondered why we didn’t see them any more.  They only lived in Islington, but we never saw them again – not even at Christmas.  Whenever I asked Dad about them, he would say they were too busy, or give me some other lame excuse.  But they would always send me cards and presents, as well as on my birthday.  Every year.  I used to think that they didn’t like me any more, that they didn’t want to spend time with a sad little kid who cried all the time.  But why would they remember my birthday if they hated me?

‘Take a seat, Edward,’ says Mr Cheapside.  ‘Anywhere you like.’

Please don’t sit here, please don’t sit here, please don’t …

Oh, no.

‘Hello.’  He takes the vacant seat next to mine at the front of the class.  ‘I’m Edward.’

‘Hello, yourself.’

Hello, yourself?  Idiot.

He holds out his hand to me like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

And then he smiles.  It’s dazzling.  It’s official: I’m dazzled.

His eyes narrow into bright, blue crescents.  His soft, pale features spring into life when he smiles and all the different parts come together, like one of those old Magic-Eye pictures.  His smile transforms him, elevates him above the merely handsome into a higher realm.

I push my stupid thick glasses up on to the ridge of my stupid snotty nose and shake his hand, like something out of bloody Jane Austen or something – like he’s asking me to dance.

I try my best to look cool, calm and casual.

‘And you are …?’

‘Sorry?’

He looks confused.  Then I realise I’m staring at him and not listening to a word he’s saying.  ‘Oh, sorry, my name’s Edie.  Edith, I …  Call me Edith.  Pleased to meet you.’

Hello, yourself?  Edie?

I try not to blush but prickly heat is creeping up my neck and over my cheeks.

Pleased to meet you?  Is that the best you can do?  You sound like you’re from the nineteenth century, you dork.  Relax, it’s only a boy, FFS.

But what a boy: tall and slim with long legs.  Gelled blonde hair and deep blue eyes.  Honeyed complexion with cute freckles.  Full, sensuous lips.

I wipe my mouth.  I can’t believe it: I’m actually drooling, like he’s a yummy coconut macaroon or something.  I never knew you did that when you fancied someone.  Is that normal?

My heart’s pounding in my chest and I’m sweating under the stiff collar of my school blouse.  The scalp under my greasy hair is itching like mad but I can’t scratch it or I’ll look like a dirty bag lady who doesn’t wash.

My hands are shaking as I hold my pen, so I put it down and lace my fingers together to stop myself fidgeting.

I feel the eyes of the whole classroom on me, especially the girls.  Burning into the back of my head.  Watching my every move.  A few giggles come from behind me.  I can imagine what they’re saying: Why is he talking to the ginger minger (my usual nickname), or, He’s too fit for that speccy super-geek.  The chattering stops when Cheapo glares their way.

I can’t think of anything to say, so I duck under the table and take the rest of my things from my bag.  Then, for some reason, I place all my things in front of me, like in an exam.  ‘So, w-where are you from?  H-have you come far?’

Have you come far?

‘Do you know Hatfield?’ he says.  ‘North London?’

But I’m not listening.  My eyes drink him in.  Sunshine streams in from the plate-glass windows that line the classroom, illuminating his hair and forming a gold halo around his face; two faint splashes of colour rouge both of his cheeks.  ‘Yes, I know it well.’  I’ve never been there before in my life.  ‘So.  How come you’ve ended up here?’

‘We moved here in the summer.  But I still don’t know my way around yet.’

I brush my greasy hair from my eyes and tuck it behind my ears.  ‘You’ll get the hang of it.  Do you know Margery Knight?  She’s from North London.’

‘Sorry.  It’s a big place, North London.  We’ve got our own streetlights and everything.  Are you from around here?’

‘Yep.  For my sins.  It’s a bit shit, really.’

Did I just swear at him?

I blush even more.  There’s something stuck in my throat, stopping me from talking or swallowing properly.  I want him to leave me alone, now.  It might lessen the chances of me saying something stupid – or, rather, something even stupider – which I know I will, sooner or later, the longer this painful conversation goes on.

‘I like Dulwich,’ he says.  ‘Did you know Tom Cruise and Margaret Thatcher both had houses around here?’

‘Yep.’

That’s it.  Keep it to words of one syllable.

‘I was hoping someone could show me around.’

‘Right.’

‘I don’t suppose you’d like to, would you?’

OMG.  Is he hitting on me?

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W H Brown

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