The Hashtag Killer
Catch a killer or save a child. What would you do?
DI Jen Flowers thought she’d seen it all after fifteen years on the force, but when a vigilante serial killer hits the city and uses social media to gather supporters, she must fight the public and her doubts to catch a murderer and save her daughter.
Suffering from blackouts and abandoned as a child by her father, Ruby Vasquez has been chasing that one scoop to make her an internet star. Living with an alcoholic mother who hates her, Ruby discovers a secret about the vigilante’s first victim, which puts her in the killer and DI Flowers’ sights.
Jen and Ruby have to overcome the secrets in their past while battling each other to discover the Hashtag Killer’s identity. Jen will have to choose between keeping her daughter safe or finding a killer, while Ruby will need to decide if becoming famous is more important than doing the right thing.
This is the introduction to Ruby Vasquez, the young internet journalist looking for the big break in her career in The Hashtag Killer.
I had a puppy crush on the new girl in the all-night McDonald’s. It was the only reason I was lingering near the park so early in the morning. It was the first time in my life unrequited romantic attention had any benefits at all. And what benefits they were. The chance to see a murder victim before the coppers did.
My good fortune was down to the social media app I’d created which collected keywords about crime. It ran across different web platforms and sorted them into categories depending upon importance. Then the results rolled onto the screen according to relevance, frequency and location. I’d considered selling it through the Google or Apple stores, but came up with a better idea. Modern crime reporters didn’t need years of training or stupid qualifications, only the ability to get to the scene before anyone else, and then put it into the most compelling words possible. I may have had a shit time at school, but I was always creative. I could write. I just needed a story to spark my career.
And here it was.
The Facebook post got me to the park, and then I used the location tracker to get me to the right spot. I hated running, but had no choice. The rain was a nuisance, spitting into my face as I ran. As soon as I got through the gates, the police sirens cut through the air. My legs moved, but not how I wanted them to. I was always embarrassed about doing any exercise in public. My body wasn’t designed to go at a pace where my feet travelled faster than my brain; after a hundred yards, my lungs felt like they’d been transplanted from a chimney. I grabbed the nearest bench and slumped into the wood. As I did so, the uniforms approached from the opposite direction.
‘Fuck!’ I wouldn’t waste this opportunity. I could still get there before the media did. I controlled my breathing and jogged across the grass. The police secured the area as I got there. Apart from the coppers, all I saw was a woman in the tightest shorts created by man, and they had to have been designed by a bloke, and a strange shape on the floor.
And amongst the blue uniforms stood someone I recognised. My luck was still in.
The smell of jasmine and death hung in the air. The rain stopped as I pulled the hood on my jacket down. I grabbed the pills in my pocket as my contact walked towards me.
‘What are you doing here, Ruby?’ I loved how the bird tattoo on Grace’s neck fluttered when she got flustered. I also loved how Grace looked in her uniform. I preferred her half in and half out of it, but this was good. She appeared authoritative and nervous at the same time, a vulnerability hard to resist.
‘What happened here?’ I brushed my fingers against Grace’s hand and smiled at her.
‘I can’t tell you anything, Ruby; I could lose my job.’ Grace glanced anxiously around. The rest of the police were dealing with the scene, waiting for the detectives to arrive.
‘I need one little thing, Grace. It’ll help me in my work, and nobody will know it came from you, I promise.’ My hand lingered on hers. ‘And I’ll make it up to you later.’
Author Bio –
Andrew French is a man of no wealth and little taste. He lives amongst faded seaside glamour on the North East coast of England. He likes gin and cats but not together, new music and old movies, curry and ice cream. Slow bike rides and long walks to the pub are his usual exercise, as well as flicking through the pages of good books and the memoirs of bad people.