Blog Tour: Hell’s Gate by Malcolm Hollingdrake @MHollingdrake @bloodhoundbook

I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Hells’s Gate. Read on for more information about the book and an extract.

Amazon US|Amazon UK
About the book: 

Hell’s Gate: an explosive, gritty and utterly gripping new crime thriller

A disused railway tunnel where, cruel and sinister deeds are executed.

A policeman on a mission.

A killer who will stop at nothing.

The formidable DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen of Harrogate Police find themselves embroiled in a series of bizarre events. 

A domestic dog attack on a child soon leads to a more complex case – the macabre discovery of a jigsaw of featureless, indiscernible body parts amongst bin bags littering a quiet road on the outskirts of the town.

While under the leadership of a Chinese Mafioso, a team of Eastern Europeans spreads its tentacles into the sordid underworld of people trafficking, dog fighting, prostitution and murder.

Bennett quickly has his hands full investigating a gambling syndicate, the discovery of a mutilated corpse, the death of a prostitute and the case of a badly beaten police officer.

As Bennett and his team are stretched to capacity cracks begin to appear.

Is there a link between these cases and can they catch a twisted killer before he strikes again?


Chapter One

The cold had a cruel habit of creeping slowly into his bones once he was tucked away from the dissipating day’s heat. Even the new cardboard bedding he’d dragged in seemed suddenly damp. He twisted the cork from the bottle of cheap brandy and allowed the amber liquid to tumble to the back of his throat but even that failed to take away the insidious chill. At least he felt safe. This place was fairly secure and unaffected by the vagaries of the weather, although the constant, cutting draught that permeated through the grilled, yet open entrance seemed to constantly gnaw at him. He was, however, tucked well into the manhole that had been expertly crafted into the stone wall’s façade and this was, for him, a psychological cocoon that he failed to find out on The Stray. 

A small candle flickered weakly, illuminating dimly his grim surroundings. Bulging black bin bags of clothes were stuffed casually into the corners of his temporary accommodation. White needle-like stalactites hung from the brick, arched ceiling and the occasional flying bat distracted his eye. It was his fifth night in his new dwelling and he liked its darkness and security. 

It had been a squeeze getting through the entrance bars. He had attempted entry on other occasions but the grids were too secure. However, this time they had seemed looser. Had he been capable, metaphorically, of reading the illegible graffiti on the wall, he might not have entered. He might have turned and found another shelter, but the dry, secure home, despite the constant sound of dripping water, was worth the trouble and the degree of risk. He looked at his shaking hand in the flickering, yellowy light; nails black and grimy. He had not always been this way, once he had had a family, a job, a home and a car but…the drink and the gambling had seen an end to such comforts. He could not now recall which hurdle had tripped him first and really he did not care. He took out his wallet, empty apart from three photographs. He looked at each in the dim flicker of candlelight and the images brought him a degree of warmth that was sadly tainted by the bitterness brought to the lump in his throat by his own selfish immaturity. He pulled the wallet to his chest and whispered the words, “Forgive me!”

It was the unexpected noise near the entrance that made the vagrant’s heart beat more strongly and instinctively he blew out the candle. Hot, molten wax spilled onto his hand. The last thing he wanted was a gang of youths pissing about and tormenting him. He cocked his head and looked towards the echoing, alien sounds. Lights, thin white beams, danced around the arched roof like ancient searchlights, enlarging and deforming shadows and human features. He squashed himself tightly into the corner and prayed they would leave. His anxiety was real and suddenly he felt no cold, just the warmth of the fear he had so often experienced; he knew all about man’s intolerance of man.

The human snuffling and snorting sounded more porcine than human, growing deeper as the youth was manhandled through the grid. Even though the youth was fully aware that his efforts were useless, vapour streamed from both his nostrils, his chest heaved as he squirmed and struggled. Tears had already begun to blur his vision and streams of snot dribbled onto the knotted cloth that filled his mouth, blocking breath and conscious sound alike.

Hands on the youth’s shoulders forced him downward. The discarded garden seat on to which he was dragged was wet and cold against his naked buttocks, the steel frame rusty and rough against his sweating skin. His clothes had been discarded some time ago. Mud oozed between his toes and he could feel the sharp pain where broken glass and pieces of stone had punctured the soft soles of his feet. The people around him proved difficult to see; each wore a powerful head torch that created a contrast between blinding lights, silhouettes and shadows. Occasionally, when one head turned to the other, he identified the familiar faces of those surrounding him, once his friends. Large, electrical ties secured his elbows behind him, pushing out his chest pigeon-like. All seemed to grow quiet apart from the occasional plop of water hitting some distant, dark puddle but it was the next occurrence that the frightened youth could never have anticipated. 

There seemed a moment of absolute silence where satanic forces grew more alive, co-operating fully with the present evil; even the falling droplets co-operated but the quiet was short lived. Hands forced the elastic band of a torch around his head holding it in position just above the eyebrows. The figure directly in front was handed a staple gun and immediately the sharp pain made his body twitch as the thin, metal staple penetrated the skin on his forehead and then splayed against his skull, trapping band to flesh. Blood trickled down his sweat-wet face and blended with the snail-path of snot, then another click of the gun, more pain and then another. Quickly the band was stitched to his head. 

“We’ll need to be able to see your progress, you shit! We’ll need to see where you go and we don’t want you to lose the light. The switch will be broken. There’s only one way to run and that’s what you do well, right little runaway? But you failed at that last time you were caught and brought home. This time you need to win or else…The way you run is that way. Get on top of the wall and you’ll be safe, you’ll be given another chance, just one more chance, but fail, and nobody will hear from you again.” 

The face moved closer and the garlic vapour, like a small cloud, filled his nostrils. It was pungent but somehow ridiculously reassuring that he had eaten the same meal. His mind spun, he recognised his error and his recklessness, definitely foolish and certainly inexcusable. Blood dripped onto his thigh before running down his leg to be diluted in the stinking mud. The penetrating beams of light hurt his eyes. It suddenly seemed that his senses had come alive and had increased ten fold, the pumping adrenalin and crippling fear had made sure of that.

“You get four minutes, four. Run fast and keep running. You really don’t want what is behind you to find and catch you!” 

The speaker spat directly into the captive’s face. 

“That’s for your disrespect. You were treated like a son. It’s now up to you, bastard.”

The torch on his head was illuminated and the switch snapped off before the straps holding his arms were cut.

“Go!” they all screamed, the echo reverberating within the confined, black space.

After a brief pause, his heart racing and his pulse thumping in his ears, he started his slippery run, arms pumping, and eyes wide, into the chasm, into the unknown. Mud oozed between his toes as he moved over the parallel indentations running across the floor, making movement difficult. He just had to get away, he had to escape. He was unaware that an unknown, unsympathetic pair of eyes would briefly watch his progress.  

“Run you little shit, run!” they all called, striking in him more fear and uncertainty of what was to come. Their sounds of laughter boomed as they bounced off the stonework 

“Get them ready!”

Drew Sadler pushed himself as flat against the wall as possible, his breath instinctively held. Sweat now beaded his face as the heavy breathing and whimpering of the desperate youth grew louder as he approached. The cavernous space amplified the sounds that accompanied the naked figure running and stumbling past. Light beams danced on his back but it would be the next moment, the next split second that would bring the sudden and unexpected terror into Drew’s private world.

Check out all the stops on the tour!

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