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Video: Amanda Coetzee Reads from Bad Blood

Bad BloodAmanda Coetzee reads from the prologue of her debut crime novel, Bad Blood, which Mike Nicol says “doesn’t let up for a moment… it’s a rollercoaster ride that’ll have your pulse pounding. I finished it in a sitting.”

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Here’s the text of Amanda’s reading:

7 June 1985
Brighton Fairground, 8.36 p.m.

Swallowing the acid taste of bile and fear, the woman pushed forward into the crowd. She gripped her son’s hand tightly, aware of the irony that she was only moments from letting him go. The sounds of the fairground, reminiscent of happier times, seemed jagged and tuneless to her screaming nerves.

Her eyes darted wildly as she searched for the gentle blue eyes of the old man who worked the Waltzers. Despite his faded tattoos and dirty jeans, there was a kindness that radiated from him like a soft mist onto the kids who queued for his ride. She had watched him from the shadowy corners of the fairground as the neon lights illuminated his ready, if tired, smile.

She took a deep breath and crouched to look directly into her son’s troubled eyes. There was already a watchfulness around the corners, and her throat tightened at its cause and her inability to protect him.

Forcing a smile, she palmed him two pounds and motioned towards the Waltzers.

‘Here you are, love, I know it’s your favourite and there’s enough for three rides. Happy birthday.’

The boy smiled before narrowing his eyes thoughtfully.

‘Go on, son, I’ll be watching, but stay on the ride till I come and get you.’

Squeezing him tight, she slipped a single piece of paper into his pocket and watched his tiny frame, dwarfed by the ride, struggle to climb into the still-rocking car. She stared as the Waltzer picked up speed and began to rotate faster and faster, throwing the boy from one side of the carriage to the other. She continued to watch him, till he became a blur of movement and colour, listening for his sudden laugh over the sound of slot machines and sirens.

Hiding the sound of his whooping deep within, she finally turned away, hearing the unmistakable sound of her heart snap. She moved blindly into the crowd, soon swallowed by the darkness and the silent keening of her grief.

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