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“Hi, I’m Katherine Howell, author of crime novels Frantic, The Darkest Hour, Cold Justice, and Violent Exposure. I’m reading today an excerpt from my new thriller, Silent Fear, due for release in Australia in early 2012.
The radio crackled. ‘Thirty-two.’
Paramedic Holly Garland grabbed the microphone off the ambulance dash. ‘Thirty-two’s on Missenden Road near King Street in Newtown.’
‘Thanks Two,’ Control said. ‘Head to Beaman Park in Vera Avenue in Earlwood, cross street is Flinders. Twenty-nine-year-old male collapsed while playing touch. Call-taker’s giving CPR instructions. You’re the closest but I’m searching for back-up.’
‘Two’s on the case.’ Holly rehooked the mike with her heart already increasing its pace. They were three cars back from a red light, traffic packed in around them on every side. The cars on King Street were a solid line across the intersection. She looked at her shift partner, Joe Vandermeer, sitting up straight with both hands on the wheel, his black sunglasses pushed up hard on his face. He put his hand on the switches for the lights and siren. In traffic like this, with no room at all for anyone to move, you sometimes just had to wait until a space opened up, but Holly guessed he was thinking what was in her mind too: a cardiac arrest. In a twenty-nine-year-old.
He flipped the switches. Holly saw the driver of the blue Ford in front jerk in his seat, look around, and edge forward a few centimetres. Nobody could go anywhere.
‘Shit,’ Joe said.
Then the southbound lane on the far side of the intersection started to crawl along. Joe punched the horn to change the siren to yelp. People crept their cars forward and tried to squeeze into the next lane. Joe inched along, flashing the high beams. Holly shifted in her seat as if that could help. ‘You know the way?’
‘As far as Dulwich Hill.’
She opened the street directory and ran her finger down the route to Earlwood—King Street, Enmore then Stanmore then New Canterbury Roads, turn off at Wardell then over the Cooks River. Main shopping streets. She could just imagine the swerving and near-misses that awaited them there, but taking the back streets would be worse—slower, twistier, and potentially full of playing kids, especially this time of year and on a day like this, so hot and bright. It was Saturday, three weeks before Christmas, and every second person seemed to be out and about. She herself wanted to be at home, in the pool to be precise, lolling in the shallow end with a book in one hand and a mojito chilling the other. It’d been pushing thirty degrees by seven am and now it had to be close to thirty-five. The heat coming in the window was practically burning her arm though the aircon was cranked all the way up, and ahead of them was a sea of brake lights, and time was ticking away, and if the poor guy was really in cardiac arrest his chances were ticking right away with it.”
ABOUT KATHERINE HOWELL:
Katherine Howell is a former paramedic. Her first novel, Frantic, set paramedics alongside detective Ella Marconi in ‘an adrenaline rush of a thriller’ (SMH). Second in the series, The Darkest Hour was described as ‘finely paced and engrossing’ (Guardian, UK). The third, Cold Justice, made the Australian bestseller list, while Bookseller&Publisher described the fourth, Violent Exposure, as ‘arguably her best yet—four stars’. She has won awards and is published in multiple countries and languages. Currently studying for her PhD at the University of QLD, Katherine also teaches and mentors writers.
“I first attended Varuna in 2001 for a group mentorship programme with Tegan Bennett-Daylight. It was a significant experience in that it helped me feel like a ‘real’ writer, and Tegan’s advice on my work helped me see it in a whole new light and identify some of my strengths and weaknesses. I took part in a similar programme with Mark Mcleod in 2004, and had the good fortune to receive an editorial mentorship with Judith Lukin-Amundsen around that time too. In 2008 I returned as part of the selection panel for the Harpercollins MS Award, and once more experienced the learning and the camaraderie that make Varuna such a special place.” Katherine Howell
Frantic, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2007.
The Darkest Hour, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2008.
Cold Justice, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2010.
Violent Exposure, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2010.