Hardback Publication Date:

6th April 2017

Hi welcome to my stop onTHE DOG WALKER blog tour, Im thrilled to be involved, today I will be sharing an extract from the book and a review. I hope you enjoy my post and continue to following the exciting tour using the Twitter hashtag TheDogWalker


Stella Darnell is the detective’s daughter. She’s convinced she’s found a crime scene. But what was the crime, and who was the victim?

“A haunting novel about loss and reconciliation, driven by a simple but clever plot.”

The Sunday Times

“A clever mystery plot…its excellence is in the characters, all credible and memorable.”

Literary Review

“Lesley Thomson is one of our leading crime writers.’

Elly Griffiths


January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Until a young woman, Helen Honeysett, set off for a run from her riverside cottage and never came home. Her body has never been found.

Twenty-nine years later, Helen’s husband is still searching for answers. He’s asked Stella, the detective’s daughter, and Jack, a tube driver, to find out what happened all those years ago. But the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets. And as winter tightens its grip once more, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting for a killer whose trail has long gone cold…


Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a #1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies.

For more information please contact Blake@headofzeus.com or call 0207 553 7996


Chapter Three

Monday, 4 January 2016

‘One, two, Buckle my shoe; Three, four, Open the door…’

The chanting was eerie at three in the morning.

Jack leant against the tunnel wall, oddly soothed by the cold from the tiles penetrating his coat. Above came the sporadic scrawl of a passing car or lorry. The Great West Road, a major route into London and to Heathrow Airport, was never quiet. But in the dead of night, he had the subway to himself. He shut his eyes and concentrated. He didn’t have to wait long for the ghosts.

… here’s your cocoa, drink that and you…
Mum, you are a…
… I’ll put the dog out, you get that down you…
I love you, Mum…
In the 1950s, streets of houses had been demolished to extend

the Great West Road. Jack was standing on the spot where the kitchen of 27 Black Lion Lane had been. At night, he caught snatches of chatter, the bang of pots and pans, cutlery clinking, a phantom domestic soundscape. He imagined himself in the warm kitchen, windows fugged with steam from washing on a drying rack while someone’s mother made him cocoa.


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I love you, Mum.
Get on with you. Drink that and get yourself upstairs!
Had he ever told his mother that? Had she ever made him

cocoa? Oblivious to the tang of urine, Jack strained to hear what came next, but the voices were silent. He resumed his chant:

‘Five, six,
Pick up sticks; Seven, eight,
Lay them straight…’

Jack lifted the iron knocker on the front door. It was fashioned as a short-eared owl and he stroked its feathery chest with a finger. ‘Hey, you,’ he whispered as he lowered it. Swiftly he inserted his key in the lock and went inside. The piano lid was up. A music book was open at Beethoven’s ‘Pathétique’, the second movement, his mother’s favourite piece. Jack wandered into the dining room and dreamily traced the music notation. Modulated notes, poignant and haunting, filled the room. He flicked the page over, but was too late, the music stopped, the quiet like a rebuke. When his mother played, Jack had turned the pages for her; he’d never missed a beat. Now climbing the staircase, he remembered – or supposed he remembered – that he couldn’t have done this. She had known the sonata off by heart. She hadn’t needed him.

‘Nine, ten,
A big, fat hen; Eleven, twelve, Dig and delve…’

At the turn in the stairs, he hunkered down and peeped through the banister spindles down to the hall.

Jack had left Bella, his erstwhile partner, an hour ago. (Erstwhile, because they had agreed they didn’t want something serious.) She grumbled that he behaved as if he was having an affair with her,


lesley thomson

sneaking out of bed before morning to go home. At forty-nine, Bella Markham had declared herself in the ‘monstrous grip of the menopause’ and was suffering from what, post a trawl of the internet, she called ‘mood disturbances’. Jack’s sympathy cut no ice with Bella. ‘Don’t be some pony-tailed tosser in socks and sandals trying to be down with the girls!’ Jack, who would never dream of having a pony-tail, couldn’t explain about needing to leave to hear the Great West Road ghosts. Or his other ghost…

His mother was craning over the table peering into the mirror. From this angle he couldn’t see her face. He ran downstairs to her. There was an oval outline where the mirror had hung. It had broken years ago. His mother wasn’t there.

The piano lid was shut and the music book closed. He hadn’t touched the piano or closed her book. The room was icy. Not the grounding cold of the subway tiles, but profound, like bones in a winter grave.

‘Thirteen, fourteen, Maids a-courting; Fifteen, sixteen,
Maids in the kitchen…’

His mobile phone was ringing. It was half past nine. He’d been sitting by the fire in his room – once his mother’s den – for several hours. He was sure he hadn’t been asleep, but time had slipped away. He looked around the room, vaguely taken aback that he was alone. Assuming it was Bella calling, upset that he’d left, he was surprised to see the name on the screen.

‘Hey, Stell!’ He was bluff and hearty. No point in telling Stella about his mother’s ghost.

‘Are you OK? You sound strange.’ While tending to miss subtleties of expression or mood, Stella could surprise him with sparks of perception. Jack kept himself hidden, but Stella always found him.

‘Yes. Is it another case?’ He and Stella had solved several 24

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high-profile murder cases. The last one was over a year ago. They rarely met socially and even less since he’d started seeing Bella. He missed her. He got up and going to the window, surveyed the square below.

‘Not as such.’ Stella sounded cagey.

Jack pressed his face to the glass. A woman and a little boy were pottering along the pavement towards the church. The boy had a toy steam engine. Jack blinked and looked properly. The pavement was empty.

‘… sure you’re all right?’ Stella was concerned.

‘Perfectly sure.’ If he told Stella he had seen his mother’s ghost – or worse, his own ghost as a boy – she wouldn’t be reassured. When Stella worried about him, she offered him cleaning shifts, her cure-all. When he wasn’t helping Stella solve murders, Jack took time from driving the Dead Late shift on the District line to work for Clean Slate.

‘I have a job for you.’
‘Murder or cleaning?’
After he hung up, Jack sat in his mother’s armchair watching

the dying fire. He realized with a jolt that it wasn’t his Great West Road ghosts, the real reason he’d left Bella’s was that he didn’t want Stella to call while he was in bed with someone else. Stupid. Why should she care? And Stella could call any time.

It was utterly unlike Stella to accept a job that entailed a ghost. In his head, clearer than his thoughts, more distinct than all his phantoms, Jack heard singing, light as spring air,

‘Seventeen, eighteen, Maids a-waiting; Nineteen, twenty, My plate’s empty.’

His plate wasn’t empty, Stella had offered him the ideal job. He would leave his ghosts behind and live with someone else’s.



I loved the visual offered by the eerie image of the book cover, and as I started to read I also fell straight into the story, drawn in by the rich language and descriptive narrative that I always enjoy so much in a read.

Thomson has a real talent for creating atmosphere, for depicting a scene or situation so accurately through her choice of words and writing style that its like switching on a high definition crime drama in your head. I was instantly transported to the streets of West London, to an an eerie, isolated towpath and into the investigation of a historical murder that begs to be solved. The book is beautifully written and is compelling from the opening page.

Don’t be fooled by the unashamedly literary element of the novel, the long , detailed passages enhance rather than detract from the pacy, mystery thriller that unfolds. Written in two timeframes which adds a very unique and interesting element to the book, a simple plot is cleverly written and expertly executed in a way that holds your attention and definitely deserves to be called ‘unputdownable’ The characters are fantastic I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic between Stella and Jack and their chemistry, they are likeable and utterly believable and they made this read all the more enjoyable.

I highly recommend this to any lovers of well written crime fiction who  enjoy an element of eeriness and a haunting, sinister feel to the setting. Thomson achieves this beautifully.