A single act turns James Blake's life upside down. He comes home to find his wife, Julia, shot and bleeding. She dies in his arms.
The police are no help. He's sure they're trying to fit him up for the murder.
He checks Julia's messages and finds just one. It says 'help me'. It comes with a strange, old image of a woman being seduced. It's all he has to go on. That and the fact that someone is trying to kill him.
But he will find Julia's killers, no matter what it takes.
4/5 star reviews:
'A cracking read........'
'Take No More is an absolutely stunning thriller from a new author, I can't remember the last murder mystery I read that was so good…….'
'This is an outstanding debut novel by Seb Kirby. He captivates the reader from the first page, and remains gripping and compelling throughout. I could not put this book down...'
'This is action-packed from page one, and the reader is instantly thrust into murder, suspense, and intrigue.........The writing gives you the feel of actually being in Italy - you can taste and smell it. The plot is action-packed and a real page-turner........ I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys a great crime thriller! And fans of Harlan Coben and Simon Kernick will love it!'
'It hooked me from the first chapter and keeps the pace going throughout.....'
'One of the best thrillers I have read in the past year.....'
'Take No More' is fast-paced, 69,000 words, about 260 print pages.
Here's the main sample: Read the first seven chapters
Oh, and here's a new bonus extract from later in 'Take No More':
Gianacarlo met Emelia on the corner of Via Ricasoli and Via degli Alfani, quiet streets just a short walk away from the Academia.
He had not told her why he had suggested that they meet there.
She had been crying, he could see that. 'You all right?'
'Not really,' she said. 'Why are we meeting here?'
'There is something I want to show you.' He took her arm and walked her along Via Ricasoli towards the Academia.
They didn't make it easy for locals like Emelia to see inside. Most days the museum was besieged by tourists waiting for up to an hour to get in. But Giancarlo had a pass and that meant they could just walk in past the lines. Emelia did not complain but it was clear that she was apprehensive about where he was taking her.
'Why here? Why here?' was all she would say.
Gianacarlo moved them on through the entrance hall and, in a few short minutes, they were standing in the Gallery of Slaves, the long corridor-like space that housed Michelangelo Buenorotti's unfinished sculptures - partially completed figures trapped in the huge blocks of stone from which it seemed they had failed to escape. They had been donated by Michelangelo to Cosimo Di Medici after they had been turned down by the Vatican for Pope Julius III's mausoleum.
Emelia stood and stared. Giancarlo did not say a word. She knew immediately why he had brought her here. Yes, he thought that her life was that of little more than that of a modern day slave, no different from the life of those souls trapped in those blocks of stone. She caressed the form of the Awakening Slave, running her hands over the cold, hard stone, feeling how the body shape had been worked out of the hidden structure of the stone, feeling the tool marks left behind as Michelangelo's chisels struck with such precision all those years ago. And she began to cry.
Gianacarlo was concerned that the gallery staff would have them removed for touching the sculptures but in the event, no-one came.
'So you brought me here, to show me this, to tell me that my life is no better than this?' The anger in her voice matched the tears in her eyes. 'Is this some new way you have found to drive me further down?'
'It's not designed to make you feel worse about yourself _______'.
'Then why bring me here to tell me something that I should already know? Don't you think that that is humiliating? Nothing to lose, eh?'
'That's not what I'm trying to say.' He tried to hold her but she pulled away.
'And I am so much the slave that I wouldn't understand any of this if you hadn't brought me here?'
'Look up,' Giancarlo said. He had managed to place his arm around her and was pointing her towards the statue of David in the circular gallery beyond. 'What do you see?'
Michelangelo's statue of David, fully three times life size, rising high above the surrounding tourists, looked back.
'We trap ourselves. We make slaves of ourselves,' he whispered. 'We make our own chains. The powerful look on without a care, inflated by the pride made possible by our entrapment.'
'And the David looks down on the gallery of slaves, and it's been like that for as long as anyone can remember,' she said. 'Where is the hope in that?'
She looked at him and he could see the anguish in her eyes. 'And you are no different. You use me and abuse me just like them. Why should I care if the sight of art gives you an excuse to seek to ease your conscience?'
'It doesn't have to be like that,' Giancarlo said. 'I'd never have known you if we hadn't both been as we are, here and now.'
'You mean, if I was not a whore that you pay and choose not to screw.'
'If you had not been driven to this by the Landos and all they stand for.'
'So why do you care?' she asked. 'What makes you want to stand up for we poor slaves?'
'You want what I want,' he said. 'We have a common cause. To bring the Landos down. To put an end to that arrogance'.
She did not know if she could trust him. That came as a surprise; after all he had been the only person she could turn to, yet there was still the fear, ever present, that this might be a trap. It was hurting her to think this but she could not tell if this was not some cleverly conceived plot by Matteo to test her loyalty.
'Why should I be interested in any of this? You know that I'm Matteo's, that I belong to him.'
Giancarlo looked back at her; his eyes were saying that he did not believe what she was saying.
'You don't know whether you can trust me.'
'We know each other, Gianni. But I don't have any idea who you really are, any more than you really know who I am.'
'So there can be no trust amongst the slaves?'
'Maybe that's what explains why things have been as they are for so long.' She attempted a smile. 'So, what do you want, Gianni. Always assuming that I might help you.'
'Information. Something I can use to bring the Landos down.'
Emelia nodded. She knew that what was suggested was anything but easy. She had to take a chance, she knew that, if she was begin to repay Alfieri for the harm that he had done. The thought of that made the risk worth taking even though she knew that price of failure was in reality too high.
Giancarlo said no more. It was time to leave; the gallery would soon be closing.
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