I've been rereading the first three Allie Shenton books as I'm now ready to add to that series again. It's been seven years since Only the Brave, the third one, was published so I've been checking things for continuity.
I have to say I'm loving reconnecting with Allie and the team again, so I thought after showing the prologue for Broken Promises last week that I'd add chapter one to the blog.
If you've read the first three books, this is a getting to know the team again. The usual morning banter in the station...
My apologies for the formatting - it has no indents. And if you'd like to read the prologue first, you can find that here.
Detective Inspector Allie Shenton sat at her desk, her hands wrapped around a half-empty mug of tea. The night before, she and the team had been celebrating Sam’s birthday with a meal at Chimneys, the local watering hole next door to Bethesda Police Station. On the spur of the moment, they’d decided to stay a while longer. More drinks had been ordered and it had been great fun.
Until she’d been unable to sleep once she was home. That had led to her and husband, Mark, having words that morning. He’d stormed off in a huff and she’d pulled a face at his disappearing back, even though she hated leaving the house on a sour note. Still, at least she had a quiet day ahead of her. There was a meeting with the Staffordshire Stay Safe team marked in for eleven and she was determined to tackle some of her backlog of paperwork.
A knock on the doorframe, her door always open, made her look up. Allie’s office wasn’t much bigger than the six-by-six bathroom she and Mark had extended when they’d moved into their home. Anyone in her team could come and speak to her whenever they felt the need, but there was no room for everyone to gather, hence she spent a lot of time with them on the main floor.
‘Hiding, boss?’ DS Perry Wright came in and sat across from her.
She leaned back in her chair. ‘I think I’m too old to party on a school night.’
Perry sniggered. ‘You’re forty-six, not ninety-six.’
‘Insomnia.’ She grimaced. ‘I’ve barely had a wink of sleep.’
‘I slept like a baby until Alfie bounced on me just after six.’
Alfie was Perry’s four-year-old son, a wonderful bundle of excitement and mischief whenever she saw him.
‘I hate you,’ she replied with affection.
In the open-plan office, people were arriving for the day. Allie spotted the other members of her immediate team, DC's Sam Markham and Frankie Higgins.
‘Morning,’ she greeted them as she perched on Perry’s desk. ‘Everyone good?’
‘Yes, boss.’ Frankie yawned, stretching his arms into the air. ‘Great do last night.’
‘The next one will be Grace’s hen party,’ Perry said. ‘Will us blokes be invited to that?’
‘You’d never get an invite, old man.’ Frankie laughed.
‘For that, you can make a brew.’ Perry passed him his mug.
Frankie exhaled and stood up. ‘Anyone else want one?’
Several mugs were held in the air, and he collected them all.
‘It was a great birthday.’ Sam picked up a card that she’d left on her desk, showing a large cuddly bear. ‘But I wish I didn’t add a kilo in weight year on year.’
‘Get off with you,’ Allie replied. ‘You’re beautiful as you are.’
‘Flabby at forty-odd was not my intention, though.’ Sam pointed to the parting in her blonde hair. ‘Nor having to die my roots every eight weeks to hide the grey.’
‘Behave! You look amazing for your age.’
As Sam gave her a high-five, Allie glanced around her team. Changing roles had served its purpose for Allie once her sister, Karen, had died and her attacker was finally caught. She’d needed a break from the stress of what had happened.
And although Allie had enjoyed working in another team, she’d much preferred being part of the Major Crimes Team. All police officers to a certain point became investigators, but she loved getting justice for victims of hard-hitting crimes.
There had been recent changes now too and, despite being worried about the dynamics altering once DS Grace Allendale had left, so far things had been better than she’d expected. Grace had moved to work in the city centre, almost a year ago now, based in an office in Stafford Street. Allie had been stationed there herself for a couple of years when she’d been head of the Community Intelligence Team, working on the estates around the city, gathering intel and looking after the victims of lower-level crimes.
When DI Nick Carter had retired in 2020, Allie got his position and Grace got hers, although as a detective sergeant and with a smaller team. Frankie had joined her as a rookie detective, but they’d worked from the station.
During that time, Grace had been involved in breaking up and convicting a large grooming gang. Several of the people involved had gone to prison, and she’d got to know a lot of the girls in the city as she collected their evidence and witness statements, as well as working in the local community.
When CIT had been disbanded due to cutbacks, Grace had transferred to SET, the Safer Estates Team, a multi-agency initiative. Frankie had stayed on with the Major Crimes Team, so they were back to four again. There was a position for another detective, but it hadn’t been filled yet.
Allie’s desk phone rang. ‘Oh, that’ll be for me,’ she stated the obvious, jogging across to pick it up. ‘DI Shenton.’ She listened. ‘Right? How long? Yes. Okay, we’ll be there soon.’ She replaced the phone, grabbing her coat on the way.
‘There’s been a suspicious death. Uniform have ID’d him as Billy Whitmore.’
‘Billy Whitmore?’ Perry parroted.
‘Looks like he’s finally had his comeuppance. A rival hit?’ Sam suggested.
‘He’s been stabbed multiple times, so more than likely. Let’s hope it isn’t something brewing on the estate.’ Allie looked over at Frankie walking towards them with four full mugs. ‘Speaking of brews, leave the tea, fella. You’re with us.’ Her eyes went back to Sam, who was the designated office manager. ‘You know what to do here. I’ll leave you to it.’‘Sure thing, boss.’ Sam grinned. ‘At least I get to drink my tea. Now where are those ginger biscuits?’