Book 2, Mélisende thriller series
She’s hunting arms smugglers. But who is hunting her?
One dead body, two badly injured operatives and five crates of hijacked rifles.
In Rome, former French special forces intelligence analyst Mélisende des Pittones is frustrated by obnoxious local cops and ruthless thugs. Despite the backing of the powerful European Investigation and Regulation Service, her case is going nowhere. Then an unknown woman tries to blow her head off. As Mel and fellow investigator Jeff McCracken attempt to get a grip on the criminal network as well as on their own unpredictable relationship, all roads point to the place she dreads – the arid and remote African Sahel – where she was once betrayed and nearly died. Can Mel conquer her fear as she races to smash the network and save her colleague’s life?
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In Rome, Mel and carabiniere Captain Giordano are leaving the murder scene on the way back to the police station.
Just as they turned the corner into the main road, Mel caught sight of a tall, thin man, leaning back against the wall opposite and watching them. The same leather-jacketed man who had stalked out of Franco’s bar.
‘Stop! Stop the car!’
‘That man, back there. He was in the bar. He came through from the back. He could be our killer.’
Giordano smacked his hand down on the driver’s shoulder and the car brakes shrieked. Mel scrambled out and sprinted back. Giordano was close behind. But the man had vanished.
Putain,’ she swore and jerked her head left and right to see if she could spot him. Nothing. She steadied herself and scanned the Salita del Grillo more slowly, up three storeys of each stuccoed building to the rooftops and down again. Giordano snarled into his radio.
‘You do the other direction,’ she shouted back at him as she hurried down the street. She stared into every large cafe window, through every ironwork grill and tried every street door. Most were old wood, the type that would shudder then creak when you opened them. All were locked, and louvred shutters firmly closed against the heat.
She circled the parked cars, then jogged further down the sloping street. To her right an iron fence topped with long sharp spikes guarded the red-brick and stone ruins of a terrace of narrow ancient Roman buildings. She peered into the deep arches, black-shadowed in the strong sunlight, but saw no movement. She glanced up to the right. A door set in the wall, but solid looking and padlocked. It must lead to the upper level on Trajan’s Market.
Then she saw it. A flash of black against the stone. He was running up the steps at the side, pulling himself up for speed by the tubular handrail, then he vaulted in one clean movement over the barrier. He jumped through an old window space and vanished.
Mel tore down to the end and, hitching her dress up, climbed over the official gate into the site. The spikes were mere centimetres high. Scarcely had she landed than she belted along the side passage, ignoring a uniformed guard who shouted at her to stop. Up the steps to the main level of the market. She searched around. No sign of the man in the leather jacket.
She paused by an arch twice her height and grabbed her breath. Which way? Down the steps to the ground floor level or up to the walkway round the upper curve of the market building? She screwed her eyes up against the hot glare of the sun. Just a few tourists bumbling around, hands clutching guidebooks and phones. No sign of the leather-jacketed man. She’d lost him. Putain dix fois.
Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her nine-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the 21st century and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but with a sharp line in dialogue. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history. Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her latest two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. Oh, and she’s writing the next Roma Nova story.
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The Carina strand
INCEPTIO where New Yorker Karen Brown is thrown into a new life in mysterious Roma Nova and fights to stay alive with a killer hunting her
CARINA, a novella, Carina’s first mission abroad. What could go wrong?
PERFIDITAS, six years on, where betrayal and rebellion are in the air, threatening to topple Roma Nova and ruin Carina’s life.
SUCCESSIO, where a mistake from the past threatens to destroy the next generation.
The Aurelia strand
AURELIA, in late 1960s Roma Nova, Aurelia Mitela battles her life-long nemesis, silver smuggling and is forced to choose between her love, her child and her country
NEXUS Mid 1970s, London, where a simple favour for a friend becomes a chilling pursuit across Europe
INSURRECTIO, where Aurelia Mitela struggles against a manipulative tyrant grabbing power. But it may already be too late to save Roma Nova…
RETALIO, a classic tale of resistance and retribution – the endgame between Aurelia and Caius