Hold My Hand: The addictive new crime thriller that you won’t be able to put down in 2018

Hold My Hand: The addictive new crime thriller that you won’t be able to put down in 2018
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‘Superb, gritty and realistic’ MEL SHERRATT, million copy bestsellerHow long do you hunt for the missing?A horrible vanishing act…When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared…Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether?And then another child disappears…


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Hold My Hand

Published by Avon an imprint of

HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

1 London Bridge Street,

London, SE1 9GF


First published in Great Britain by HarperCollins Publishers 2018

Copyright © M.J. Ford 2018

Cover photographs © Shutterstock

Cover design © Claire Ward 2018

M.J. Ford asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008258825

Ebook Edition © March 2018 ISBN: 9780008258832

Version 2018-11-27

Somewhere, a girl was screaming, but the sound died on the air and became wild laughter. Josie spotted Kim and Bec by the Twisters the moment they were through the main gates, and started tugging at her brother’s hand.

‘Stay close,’ said Paul, breathing two jets of smoke through his nostrils. He’d lit up the first ciggy as soon as Dad’s car was out of sight, and finished it in the queue. Josie didn’t get smoking at all – she’d had a puff on one once and it had almost made her chuck.

Dad had made her promise to stay with her brother, but Kim and Bec were only eight too, and she knew their parents didn’t give a monkey’s if they went off on their own. And why should they? What does Dad even think is going to happen?

She saw Kelly Adams with an ice cream, and waved.

The circus had been here all week, but tomorrow it was moving on to another town. In fact, there were already patches of discoloured grass, and she guessed some stalls had packed up already. The first few days had been really rainy and there was still the odd muddy puddle on the churned-up ground. The 50p Gran had given Josie was sweaty in her palm. She wondered what it would get her.

Her brother suddenly stiffened, and Josie saw Helen Smith hanging around with a group of her friends. Everyone said Paul and Helen had done it, and Josie had helped spread the rumour, pretending to know what it was, and feeling slightly special for the respect her brother’s actions conferred upon her. Helen was wearing a denim jacket, and her massive pile of blonde curls spilled over the top.

Paul threw the cigarette on the ground and twisted the heel of his trainer on top. ‘Come on,’ he said, taking Josie’s hand.

She resisted. ‘I don’t want to hang round with you and Helen Smith,’ she said.

Paul hesitated. He looked at his watch. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘Meet me back here at three o’clock. And don’t you dare tell Dad I left you.’

Josie nodded. ‘Wicked.’

Paul smiled at her. ‘Be careful. And don’t talk to strangers!’

Josie was already running off to where she’d seen Kim and Bec, but they’d moved on. She thought about jumping on one of the spinning cups – it was 10p a go – but stopped herself. She should check everything out first, and spend her money wisely.

She wandered slowly through the crowds, passing a load of stalls where you could shoot airguns, or throw tennis balls at coconuts, or fish for prizes with plastic rods. There were kids screaming on the dodgems, smashing into each other. In front of the haunted house, a bored man with grey skin and fake blood painted on the side of his face was taking money from the people queuing. Right in the centre of the field was the big top, a massive red-and-white striped tent with flags across two towers and long ropes fixing it to the ground. Josie made her way over to it. A clown on stilts tottered past.

There were barriers set up outside the big top for queuing, but the gate was closed across the front. A sign outside read ‘Magic and Mayhem’, and there were shows every three hours, but the next one wasn’t until half two. Josie had heard there was a dog that rode a horse, fire-breathing men, and someone who juggled chainsaws. Apparently, on the opening night, Tom Banks from fourth year had volunteered to be cut in two, even though there was a rumour that someone had died in another town and the circus had covered it up.

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