Five different people. Five separate lives. Sixty minutes to bind them for ever.
Hassan, Jim, Shuna, Dan and Nadia come from very different worlds. If life were straightforward, their paths would never cross. But our lives are rarely that simple and, as the clock ticks away the minutes of a single hour on a July morning, fate draws all five together in a headlong rush towards disaster.
Who are the heroes and who are the villains?
Tony Salter’s latest novel leaves us guessing right up to the last page.
It had to be a coincidence.
Of course it wasn’t a bloody coincidence. Shuna could remember how she’d pressed herself back in the seat of the cab that night as though it would help her to keep away from him. She’d wanted to scream, but all she could manage was a whimper.
‘Please don’t hurt me.’
‘I’m not going to hurt you. What makes you think I would want to do that?’ His disembodied voice crackled over the intercom and Shuna wanted to scream out the list of reasons why she didn’t believe him – his aggression at the airport, his face after the tribunal, the fact that he’d been following her and taking photos, the fact that he’d abducted her and locked her in the back of his taxi. What did he expect her to think?
She didn’t say any of those things. She knew that she needed to stay calm. ‘Please let me out,’ she said. ‘Just pull over here and open the doors. I won’t tell anyone.’
‘I will. I promise,’ he said. ‘But not quite yet. I want to talk to you first.’
‘Talk about what?’ Shuna could see his eyes in the mirror, watching her as she reached for her phone.
‘No. Don’t do that. Don’t call anybody.’ The taxi stopped sharply, and the phone flew out of Shuna’s hands as she was slammed into the seatbelt, the coarse webbing cutting through her thin coat and dress and biting into her right breast.
She sat back, shocked and aching and the taxi pulled away again. She could see her phone on the floor, too far to reach with her foot.
‘Shuna. Can I call you Shuna?’ His voice was hoarse and grating or was it the speakers? He sounded desperate, pleading, a different man from the oaf at the airport. ‘I just want to talk to you for five minutes. No more.’
The click of Shuna’s seatbelt releasing was unnaturally loud and his eyes widened. ‘Stop that,’ he shouted. ‘What are you doing? Don’t …’
But it was too late. Shuna threw herself onto the floor, grabbing her phone and bracing herself for another sudden stop. His voice was still booming from the speakers, but she wasn’t listening.
Simon picked up on the second ring and Shuna blurted out the words in a stream. ‘Simon … It’s me … No, just listen … I’m in a cab … On Piccadilly … It’s him … I’m locked in … Call the police … Help me …’
Simon hung up. He was always calm in an emergency and she knew he would be calling the police, giving them complete precise information. He would call her back when he was done. There was nothing else she could do, and she lay curled up on the floor, her nostrils full of the stale stench of London which lingered in the carpet.
The taxi stopped. She heard the clunk as the door locks released. Was he coming into the back? Should she fight back? Why was he doing this?
Paralysed by indecision, Shuna lay there shivering, eyes closed and both hands clasped together in desperate prayer.
‘Get out.’ The noise of his voice condensed into those two small words. The doors were still closed, and he hadn’t moved from his seat. What was happening? Was this some sort of trick?
‘Get out. Now.’
Shuna scrambled to her knees, pulled open the door and rolled out onto the pavement. They were in a side street in Shepherd’s Market, nobody in sight, but close to the middle of the busy West End. She saw his face appear at the open passenger-side window. He wasn’t angry, and she saw something broken and beaten in his eyes.
‘I only wanted to talk,’ he said. ‘You didn’t have to do that.’
And then he was gone, the open door swinging closed with a final thunk as the sound of screeching tyres faded.
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Tony’s latest thriller, Sixty Minutes, was released on 29th August 2019. Tony is the author of bestselling psychological thriller, Best Eaten Cold. He writes pacy contemporary thrillers which explore different themes, but all share Tony’s thought-provoking plots and richly-painted characters. Sixty Minutes is his fourth novel. His second novel, The Old Orchard – a gripping family thriller – was published on the 7th of November 2017 and the sequel to Best Eaten Cold, – Cold Intent – was published in November 2018. Highlights of his early career include (in no particular order) three years as an oilfield engineer in the Egyptian desert, twelve years managing record companies for EMI Music in Greece, India and across Eastern Europe, running a caravan site in the South of France and being chauffeur to the French Consul in Sydney. Having survived the Dotcom boom, he went on to be a founder of the world’s largest website for expatriates, a major music publisher and a successful hotel technology business. In amongst this, Tony found the time to backpack around the world twice (once in his twenties and once in his fifties), learn six languages (including Norwegian and Greek) and to find a beautiful Norwegian wife. He now lives in Oxfordshire and writes full-time. He has recently turned sixty and is married with three children and five grandchildren. You can find out more about Tony at www.tonysalter.com
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