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By Nicci French

ISBN-10: 0141957360

ISBN-13: 9780141957364

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She held herself well, she was confident without being irritatingly arrogant, and if she could stand in front of a class, she could sing a few old country songs at a wedding. I lured her to my flat under false pretences. I fed her on bagel chips and white wine and asked her advice about colour schemes and light fittings. She had strong opinions, of course, much stronger than any of mine. I inquired casually whether she was going away for the summer. She wasn’t; she didn’t have the money for it.

I would never want to tell anybody about it, not ever. ‘I have a horrible feeling that I’m going to regret this, but I won’t go to the police. ’ ‘I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do. But what I don’t understand is what I am supposed to be doing. ’ ‘I thought –’ I stopped. I couldn’t really remember what I’d thought. ’ Sonia’s voice was sharp, calling me to attention. ‘Why am I here? ’ It was my turn to pause for a long time. ‘I said I called you because I didn’t know what to do and I thought you’d somehow be able to tell me.

It seemed to me – perhaps because it was true for myself as well – that it was in playing music he felt least self-conscious and most at home with himself. I spend a lot of my time in a cacophony of sound, screeching and puffing and banging, but Joakim could really play: the flute well, the electric guitar loudly, the violin with outstanding intonation and feeling. It was this that made me ask him to join us – and that I’d known he was at a loose end this summer, waiting for his exam results and for the next stage of his life to begin, pretending not to care, biting his nails.

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Complicit by Nicci French

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