Lesley Pearse’s novels have sold over three million copies in the UK alone. Her twelve most recent books, including Gypsy, Faith and Hope, have all been huge bestsellers and are available as Penguin paperbacks. Lesley lives near Bristol, has three daughters and one grandson
In a Shepherd’s Bush bedsit, Amelia White dreams of being a reporter. The closest she’s come is selling advertising in the local paper.
Until the fateful day she stumbles on a truly shocking scoop.
Round the corner from her home, she discovers the body of a murder victim, dumped among the rubbish. When the police and reporters descend, Amelia is horrified at the assumptions made and lies soon to be spread about this poor young woman.
Determined to protect the victim from these smears and help her grieving family, she convinces her paper’s editor to allow her to take up her pen and tell the true story.
But when another body is found and the police investigation stalls, Amelia – uncovering new witnesses and suspects in her search for clues – discovers that she may be the only one with any chance of learning the truth and stopping more killings.
If only she can work out who the liar is . . .
As he followed her up the stairs to her room, Max spoke up. ‘How funny is this? I’ve been seeing you most days for ages, but we’ve never spoken before. Well, it’s not funny – in fact it’s sad that something bad had to happen to make us speak.’
Amelia had spotted him moving in about two years ago. She thought he was too straight for her taste, with his neatly cut hair and smart suit. Even when he wore jeans and a T-shirt he still managed to look as if he’d stepped out of Burton’s window. ‘That’s London for you,’ she said, as she unlocked her door, glad that she’d tidied up before going to work. ‘It takes an accident or a drama of some sort to make people speak to one another. The hippie scene made it more friendly for a while, but that’s drifting away now.’
‘You were a flower child when I first saw you,’ he said. His smile was an engagingly wide one that made his eyes crinkle. ‘You were wearing one of those loose cheesecloth dresses and a beaded band round your forehead. I think you had bare feet too.’
‘Did I really?’ She giggled. ‘The thought of bare feet among the rubbish and dogs’ doings turns my stomach now.’
Max stood for a moment, looking around her room. Amelia had painted it all white, including the table, chairs and an old wartime sideboard. She had a big jug of red gladioli on the table, a patchwork quilt covering an old armchair, and dozens of brightly coloured paintings on the walls. Even her bed in the corner was covered with a red blanket and cushions in primary colours. With the late-afternoon sun coming through the large sash windows, it looked beautiful.
‘Are the pictures by you?’ Max asked. ‘It’s obvious you’re extremely artistic.’
Amelia smiled. ‘Extremely nothing! I couldn’t draw to save my life, but I appreciate art. I picked up most of these from the artists who hang their work on the railings outside Kensington Gardens. I do sew, though – the patchwork quilt is my work – and I paint furniture.’
‘It’s a lovely room,’ he said. ‘Mine’s pretty squalid.’
‘Do sit down.’ Amelia waved her hand to a small sofa covered with a vivid turquoise Moroccan mirrored throw, then pulled back a curtain in an alcove that held a sink and a tiny Baby Belling cooker atop a fridge. She filled and switched on an electric kettle, then took two mugs down from a shelf. ‘This place was hideous when I moved in, but it was cheap and it had potential. I’ve grown quite fond of it now.’
‘So what happened to the hippie chick?’ he asked.
Amelia glanced at herself in her long mirror. She liked to think of her present style as Girl About Town: a black and white mini dress, her brown hair cut in a sleek bob. Back when Max had first seen her in 1968, she had modelled herself on the Pre-Raphaelites with a curly perm, and used henna to dye it a deep red. She’d worn flowing dresses, jingling bracelets and no bra.