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When Heather O’Brien reports a vicious rape, other similar rapes are looked into.  The rapist becomes a murderer when an undercover policewoman sent in as bait, is attacked, fights back and is killed.

Detective Inspector John Sentinel heads the investigation which uncovers a wide variety of suspects including past rapists. Solving the case looks impossible until, after another decoy is sent in, a vital clue is revealed which leads to the arrest of a very disturbed man.

In Store Price: $AU23.95 
Online Price:   $AU22.95

ISBN:   978-1-921574-35-1
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 179
Genre: Fiction
/Crime Thriller
Cover: Clive Dalkins

 

 

Author: Carole Roscoe
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2009
Language: English


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AUTHOR PROFILE  

Carole Roscoe is qualified in general nursing, midwifery, maternal and child welfare and psychiatric nursing. While undertaking psychiatric nursing training at Mount St Margaret Hospital in Ryde, her tutor advised that she was gifted in this area. She worked as the clinical instructor in Psychiatry at Prince Henry Hospital at Little Bay in Sydney while completing BA (Honours) in Psychology. She then completed the Master of Clinical Psychology (M.Psychol) degree also at the UNSW. 

She worked as a Clinical Psychologist at Bondi Junction Community Health Centre then took up a research officer position with the Commonwealth Government in Canberra.  

Carole returned to Queensland because her sister and her family live in Brisbane. She  is now writing full time which is what she has wanted to do for years.

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CHAPTER ONE

 

 

O

n 17th August three nursing sisters from the Children’s Ward left the hospital together. They were late and it was getting dark. Storm clouds signalled oncoming rain and Ann Thompson and Beth Harris were in a hurry to catch their bus home. Heather O’Brien only had to walk across the park to get to her apartment. They paused to exchange a few words about the remarkable recovery of one of the children on their ward.

“Doesn’t it worry you to walk across the park?” Ann asked Heather.

“No, it only takes me seven minutes and I’m home.”

Heather entered the park scarcely aware of her surroundings. She was thinking about four-year-old Billy Vaughan who’d been ill for weeks before being admitted to hospital. He’d been lucky. His blood cultures had identified the cause of his infection and an intravenous antibiotic had been available to treat him. Within days the change in his condition had been dramatic and he would soon be going home. It was times like this that made nursing so worthwhile. Her mood was buoyant as she hurried through the park.

Most of the path was fairly clear and well lit but there were some parts where the trees grew closer together. Here the shadows were deeper but lost in thought Heather scarcely noticed. A shadow detached from the darkness and followed her but she heard nothing but the soughing of the wind. Suddenly something snaked around her neck from behind and was tightened immediately pulling her off balance. She tugged futilely at the tight band around her throat and became disoriented gasping for air as she was dragged into the bushes. “If you don’t keep quiet I’ll kill you,” said a hoarse voice in her ear.

A wave of fear swept over her as she struggled to breathe. She tried to fight off the attacker but her efforts were ineffectual against his greater strength. Her heart was pounding in her ears as she became cyanosed and began to lose consciousness. He hit her hard across the side of her head and she experienced sheer terror as she thought she was about to die.

What followed was a series of nightmarish impressions. Her uniform was torn open, her legs forced back and she felt a heavy weight pinning her down and severe pain. There was a pungent smell which she associated with death. Her assailant finally rose. She could hear him giggling to himself.

“I’ve had me a slice of pie.”

Heather lay sprawled on the ground struggling to focus. She waited in abject fear not daring to move in case he was still near. When she felt she really was alone she tried to sit up and found that she was shaking like a leaf. She seemed to have no strength left. She pulled her uniform and cape around her and tried to stand. She was in emotional turmoil. She desperately wanted to get home to shut out the world but when she looked down the path she would have to walk her courage failed. Instead she turned back towards the hospital. The side entrance would be deserted by now and maybe she could get help.

Dr Catherine Sentinel, Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, was packing up for the day when she heard the timid knock on the door of her consulting room. “What is it?” she asked as she opened the door to find a dishevelled figure leaning against the wall. She took in the torn uniform and two enormous eyes in an incredibly pale face which she hardly recognised.

“Sister O’Brien? Heather, it that you? Come in child. What has happened?”

Heather was still shocked and was shaking uncontrollably. Her throat felt tight and it was difficult to swallow. She tried to talk but was incoherent.

“Sit down and take a few deep breaths,” said Catherine Sentinel as she looked in more detail at the state of her clothing and saw the thick welt across her throat.

“There was a man in the park,” Heather began. She shuddered and began to cry. “He attacked me.”

Catherine Sentinel drew in her breath as she began to understand. “Have you been raped?” she asked sharply. Heather could only nod. “Take your time and tell me what happened,” Catherine demanded.

It took Heather a few minutes to find her voice.

“I was walking…walking home across the park…like I always do,” she said in a bewildered voice. “It happened so suddenly. I didn’t hear anything. I felt something tight around my throat and I could hardly breathe. I struggled and pulled and pulled at it but I couldn’t get my fingers under it. He just pulled it tighter and I couldn’t fight back. He was too strong. He said he’d kill me if I didn’t keep quiet.

He hit my head really hard. I was terrified. I thought I was going to die. He tore at my clothes and got on top of me. He was heavy and he smelled of something that made me think of death. He was giggling when he’d finished, giggling like it was something funny! I didn’t know if he’d gone so I kept still. When I got up I tried to go home but I couldn’t walk through the rest of the park. I was too frightened so I came here. I thought you might help me.”

Catherine found Heather’s pulse was racing but her skin was cold and clammy. Heather was still extremely shocked.

“There are a few things we must do,” she said in a down-to-earth manner. “I need to examine you and collect some specimens if I can. Put on a hospital gown and get up on the examination table for me. I’ll get a plastic bag for you to put your clothes in.” Heather did as she was instructed. Catherine carried out her examination quickly and efficiently.

“I’ve taken some specimens,” she said. “I don’t know if they’ll be of any use but we can try to identify his DNA. How far are you in your menstrual cycle?” Heather struggled to understand why she’d asked the question.

“About mid-cycle I think. Why?”

“Are your cycles regular?” persisted Catherine.

“Yes, I don’t have any problems,” Heather replied.

“Are you taking any contraceptives?”

“No.”

“If you are mid-cycle then you may get pregnant,” said Catherine. Heather was absolutely stunned. The possibility of a pregnancy following what had already happened was almost beyond her comprehension.

Catherine went on, “We must also check that you’ve not contracted a sexually-transmitted disease or HIV. I’ll see that blood tests are done when they need to be done and will keep you informed of the results. Hopefully the man was not a drug addict. Also the police must be notified. Heather looked up aghast.

“I can’t. I’m sorry I just can’t. I don’t want anyone but you to know what happened. I just can’t deal with this.”

“Don’t worry. I’m not proposing that we go to a police station. You certainly couldn’t cope with the additional pressure. My son John is in the rape squad at present. I’ll talk to him in a few minutes. No one is going to deal with you except through me. He’ll want to photograph that welt around your neck and may take some swabs and it will need to be done before you have a shower.”

John Sentinel was still at his desk when Catherine phoned. He listened as she told him what had happened.

“I’ll have to tell the DCI,” Catherine cut in.

“John, this girl is very distressed. She’s only just holding herself together. If you want to speak to her, photograph her neck or take swabs you must come now. If there is any trouble I’ll deal with your DCI, Gerard McAbee. No one is going to submit this girl to any more pressure. She’ll have a hard enough time recovering from what has happened. Come to my consulting room now please. You can tell your DCI about it later.” John collected a camera and went to the hospital.

Catherine insisted that Heather’s face was not included in the photographs. She suggested that he use the name ‘Mary White’ as a pseudonym. John carefully examined the swelling and bruising on Heather’s neck. A welt four centimeters wide was vividly red against her throat.

“This wasn’t done by a cord,” he commented thoughtfully. “I’d say he used material of some kind. Let’s see if we can get something to examine. He wiped the area carefully and put the swabs in a collection bag noting the contents, date and time. As he made notes he said, “This is the third case of rape in that park in the evening in the last six weeks. We really need something to identify the perpetrator or there will be more.”

Catherine stared at him. “That’s the first I’ve heard of it. It hasn’t been in the papers and we’ve not been advised by the hospital.”

“The DCI didn’t want any publicity. He wanted to catch the rapist in the act as it were, not frighten him away.” Catherine looked as if she didn’t believe what she was hearing.

“Has it not occurred to Gerard McAbee that women need to know that it’s not safe to walk across the park after dark?” she asked in an icy voice. “What you are saying is that the rape of this young woman was preventable. Is your DCI so callous that he has no understanding of the trauma involved and how long it will take her to get over this?”

“I don’t think he cares now,” John Sentinel replied. “All that matters to him is the number of closed cases he can claim. Before his wife died he was more aware of the effects violent acts had on the victims.” He hesitated for a few minutes.

“You have to understand Catherine that he’s had it very tough himself. I’ve worked with Gerard for some years and he’s a good officer. He didn’t marry until he was in his early forties. His wife Jeanette was a teacher and he thought the world of her. They had twin boys about a year or so later and everything seemed to be going well for them. One night when the boys were about four and Gerard was working late as usual tragedy struck.

Three adolescents, who had been experimenting with methamphetamine, tossed a bottle of petrol with a wick which they’d set alight against the front door of Gerard’s home just to relieve their boredom. They’d already lit a fire in a shopping centre in the next suburb. Jeanette had dropped off to sleep in front of the television. She phoned the fire brigade and raced upstairs to get the boys out but because of the accelerant the fire took hold quickly.

When they tried to get back downstairs the staircase was already alight. The upstairs windows were blocked by security grills. By the time the fire brigade arrived the whole house was in flames and the three were dead. Because of their ages the perpetrators literally got away with murder. Gerard changed overnight. Perhaps a person can only take so much.” Catherine was silent.

John Sentinel left with the samples Catherine had collected, the swabs, clothing and photographs.

Catherine gave Heather a bottle with a few sedatives in it. “Take one tonight and after that if you need them. When are you on duty?”

“Not until Monday. I’ve got a few days off,” Heather replied.

“See how you are by then,” Catherine said. “If you need more time I’ll arrange it.” Heather nodded. Catherine drove her to the apartment block and Heather finally entered her home.  

She’d only left it that morning but now it appeared strange to her. She tore off the hospital gown and stumbled into the bathroom. Although she stood under the shower for what seemed like an eternity and washed herself over and over again, no matter how long she tried she felt dirty and contaminated. Finally exhausted and spent she crawled into bed but sleep eluded her.

 

In a small apartment not far from the hospital a man sat drawing deeply on a joint of marijuana. He felt relaxed yet excited, almost euphoric. It had been a really good night, a wonderful night. He’d had a few of them lately but this one had been really good. For years he’d been so quiet and unsettled. Everyone had treated him like a loser but now he knew it was a case of getting what he wanted, what he needed.  He felt a surge of power course through him and he felt like a god. He’d let them push him around for years. Well, that wasn’t going to happen anymore. He’d had a slice of pie and it felt so good, so very very good.  

 

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