The sleeping bag was thin and threadbare, offering little warmth and less comfort. Ryan drew his knees towards his chest, wondering how long he’d been asleep. He raised his head, slid his arm out from beneath it. Tried to remember when he’d last slept in a proper bed with pillows and a duvet. Reaching down to his jeans pocket, he pulled out his phone, the smell of his unwashed body drifting up from inside the sleeping bag and making his nose wrinkle. Ten thirty. He’d had about three hours’ sleep. Not bad.
He sat up, rubbing his hands over his face, and leant back against the wall. He’d fallen asleep in a corner, out of the way at least. Who knew how many people had tramped through the room while he lay there, completely out of it. He had few belongings, but he always made sure they were pushed down inside the sleeping bag when he slept, with his body on top of them, not left out where anyone could see them. They wouldn’t be there when he woke otherwise.
There was a battered sofa on the other side of the room. A young man and woman, probably still in their teens, lay on it, their limbs entwined. Ryan recognised the dazed, unfocused eyes; saw the pipe, made from a whisky miniature bottle, in the girl’s hand. He felt the familiar tug of need and pushed himself to his feet.
In the kitchen, standing over the cooker and preparing the next batch, was Mulligan. The room was stuffy, hot, and Ryan licked his lips, sweat beginning to dampen his palms. Mulligan turned, threw him a smile. Ryan stuffed his hands in his pockets. What was he grinning about? The rumour was he’d killed his own cousin over a drug debt, and Ryan could believe it.
‘Morning, sunshine,’ said Mulligan. ‘Full English, or Continental?’
Ryan coughed, his chest rattling, pain thudding through it. ‘Not hungry.’
Mulligan smirked. ‘You want to lay off the smoking.’
‘Would if you could, I know.’
‘How would you pay your rent if I did?’ Was he slurring his words? Ryan couldn’t tell.
His stomach churned as he gazed at the frying pans on the cooker top. Crack. He hated it.
He loved it.
‘Looks like we’re boiling.’ Mulligan pointed to the nearest pan. ‘Looking good, boyo.’
‘Haven’t you got some that’s ready?’ Ryan heard the desperation in his own voice, and flinched.
Mulligan tilted his head. ‘Ah, pal. Is it bad? Need a helping hand this morning, is that it? You know, for a change?’
‘Come on, man…’
Laughing, Mulligan turned back to his pans. ‘I’ve only got a few rocks left, reserved for a special customer. Can’t let you have them, I’m afraid.’
‘Who? Whatever they’re giving you, I’ll pay double.’ The words fell out of Ryan’s mouth before he knew what he was going to say. Did he even have the money? He was pathetic, he knew it, and he didn’t care. Mulligan held him and many others in the palm of his hand. They all danced to his tune, would get on their knees and beg if he asked them to. And while they were down there… Anything.
And Mulligan knew it. Played on it, as often as possible, for as long as he could.
‘Mulligan? I’ll give you double.’
‘What?’ Mulligan’s lip curled. ‘Twice fuck-all is still fuck-all. No can do. It’s business. You’ll have to wait until this lot’s ready.’ He nodded at his pans. ‘I’m starting to cool it now, it’ll only be a wee while.’
Ryan clenched his fists, knowing as he did so he was making a mistake. Sure enough, Mulligan turned, saw the movement. Cleared his throat. In a second, two heavyset men stood either side of Ryan. They didn’t speak, didn’t even look at him, but there was no mistaking their message. Shut the fuck up.
Now they’re coming after Caelan’s team…
A tortured body is found in a basement. Drug dealing and people smuggling is on the rise. Then police start going missing.
There seems to be no connection between the crimes, but Detective Caelan Small senses something isn’t right.
Plunged into a new investigation, lives are on the line. And in the web of gangs, brothels and nerve-shattering undercover work, Caelan must get to the truth – or be killed trying.
And then there’s Nicky…
Utterly gripping, written with searing tension and remarkable dexterity, Tell No Lies is a blistering crime novel for fans of Angela Marsons, Rebecca Bradley and Faith Martin.
Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. She is currently working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel, as well as a new series with Canelo.