Shadowridge Press titles in detail...

Paul Kane
LOST SOULS
Trade paperback / 6 x 9 / 250 pages / Publication date / Oct 2018
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A journalist is offered the interview of a lifetime with unexpected consequences, while another young man is convinced he’s being followed... Something as simple as a train journey becomes a living nightmare for one couple, and another, parted by death, are reunited in a very special cave... And as one ghostly sighting leads the world’s most famous detective abroad to solve his case, a group of other people go out searching for spirits at Halloween... A unique set of stories by award-winning and # 1 bestselling author Paul Kane (Hooded Man, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, Before), ladies and gentlemen these are the Lost Souls. With an introduction by bestselling author Jason Arnopp (The Last Days of Jack Sparks) and cover photography by Michael Marshall Smith (Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence), this is one collection you might just get lost in yourself....

 

The Stories-  Lady / The Cave of Lost Souls / The PI's Tale / The Refuge Collection / Signals / Followers / To the Power of... / Presence / When Push Comes to Shove / The Case of the Lost Soul (Sherlock Holmes) / Life-o-Matic / Ghost Walk

HERE'S A PREVIEW FROM LOST SOULS

LADY

Oh, how the mighty can fall. 
Aidan Marsh thought this as he examined his surroundings: the streets covered in garbage, the crumbling, graffiti-covered walls of the buildings. And the people, Jesus, the people…
He’d already been propositioned twice since he entered this part of the city – by bus, as he wasn’t about to leave the car parked around here – and he didn’t even want to think about what was going on down those alleyways. Larry, his friend from The Gazette, had only recently mentioned this area when he was doing a spread about national urban decay. Aidan could certainly see why. Even in the daytime, it was the reason he’d brought a screwdriver in his jacket pocket. The reason he was clutching the strap of his shoulder bag so tightly he couldn’t feel his fingers. (His digital camera – for a potential photo op – and Dictaphone would be worth a fair bit if anyone was to grab it, or look inside.) 
But it would all be worth it in the end.
To be honest, he still couldn’t quite believe he’d got the call, right out of the blue like that. And to actually get an invite to his home. 
“This is a wind up, right?”
“No joke,” replied the raspy voice. “I’ve been following your ‘Where are they now?’ pieces; I’m impressed.” Aidan nodded. That series had done really well for him, boosting both his rep and his bank balance. “Think I might make a good addition?” 
A good addition? He’d said it so casually, like the entire Western world hadn’t been wondering where the hell Trace Edwards vanished to almost twenty-five years ago. Of all the ex-celebs Aidan had covered – pop stars, directors, entertainers – this was definitely the Holy Grail of subjects. Snatching up a pen, Aidan had scribbled down a day, time and address. It was worth checking out on the off chance this actually was for real, and not some con orchestrated by one of his rivals. It could be the biggest break of his career so far. 
He hadn’t been able to tell anyone, though – hadn’t dared risk it. Not even with Denise…especially not Denise. Reclusive, clingy Denise, who had seemed such a catch at first, but was now starting to really get on his nerves. 
It was just another thing he was keeping from her, like the fact Brenda from advertising had recently been coming on to him (probably because of his own dalliances with fame), breaking down his resistance with skirts so tight he couldn’t believe she could walk in them, let alone bend down to pick up dropped items near his desk, giving him a flash of her ample cleavage. Breaking down his resistance until–
Aidan shook his head. Now was neither the time nor the place to be having erotic thoughts, not when he could get mugged at any moment. So instead he concentrated on what he was going to say when he finally met the man he’d braved this neighbourhood for. “How have you been keeping?” just didn’t seem to cut it somehow. Besides which, Aidan figured the guy hadn’t been keeping well at all – not if he’d been forced to live in this shithole.
 And hardly surprising after what happened. From his research, Aidan knew the stuff that was made public back then, but suspected there was much more to the story than had been reported in the papers and on the news. God, Edwards had gone through the wringer back then, hadn’t he? A terrible business, what had happened in that hotel room. Some might say he’d brought it all on himself, but it was terrible all the same. And as for the accident… 
Who could blame him for dropping off the face of the Earth like that?
So why crop back up now? Why did he want to tell his side of things after all this time? Was he hoping for some kind of resurgence? A comeback to beat ‘em all? Hardly likely at his age, surely. But possible, still possible. 
Aidan checked his piece of paper and found that he’d walked right past the address he’d written down. Flats, with a buzzer at the base. He pressed the button for the right one and waited for a reply.  
“Hello,” came a croaky voice.
“Er…hi. It’s Marsh,” Aidan said into the speaker, looking over his shoulder in case he’d drawn undue attention to himself. 
There was a tinny beep, followed by a click, and he pushed open the main door. Aidan pulled a face when he got inside, his nose wrinkling at the stench. The streets outside had been bad enough, but at least that was in the open air. In here, there was no escape. He called for the lift, but decided against it when the fragrant aroma of piss greeted his nostrils. 
Aidan took the stairs to the fifth floor, then walked along the dingy corridor until he got to the room he wanted. He lifted his hand to knock, but found himself hesitating. Why was he so nervous? It wasn’t like him; he’d met much bigger names in this biz that was all show, and just treated them like they were Joe Bloggs from down the road. 
So what was the problem?
Was it because this guy had become a cult figure in his time away from the limelight? A virtual living legend? His films had become classics after all, the fact that there weren’t that many of them only adding to the allure. Nowadays stars were ten a penny and, thanks to magazines like the one he worked for, there was no mystique about any of them. Maybe that was it. Maybe he was so wired because there was – always had been – a true sense of the mysterious about Trace Edwards. How he’d scaled the heights from extra on a daytime British soap to become the toast of Hollywood was still the subject of much speculation. 
Now Aidan was about to find out exactly why. And if this went the way he thought it would, it’d also be a fast track to his own widespread acclaim. Hell, there might even be a book in this! He couldn’t think of one journo who wouldn’t trade their own internal organs to be where he was right now, as much as this corridor reeked of three-week-old takeaways. 
So, bloody well get on with it then! he told himself in that tone of voice he always used to get his arse in gear (which sounded more than a little like his deceased father’s). Knock on the door!
He was just about to when the door opened anyway. In spite of himself, Aidan jumped. There was a figure holding it back, but he couldn’t really make them out in the poor light from the corridor. They seemed to be stooping, though. 
“M-Mr Edwards?” Aidan asked. 
For a second or two, there was no answer. Then: “Come in. Close the door behind you.” Again, the voice had a raspy quality, nothing like the deep, rich tones Aidan was used to from watching Edwards’ movies. 
The figure limped away into the gloom, leaving Aidan to follow and do as he was told. Again, he paused, but not for very long this time. As much as his nerves had got the better of him, he didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with his most important, and lucrative, interviewee so far.
Aidan ventured inside and closed the door, trailing the figure who was now standing with his back to him in the flat’s living room. In fact it was the only room that Aidan could see, with attached kitchen – plus a table and two high-backed chairs that obviously served as the dining area. Where Edwards slept was another one of the mysteries surrounding him. The small window across the way only let in a fraction of the potential light available, making the room just as dingy as the hallway outside. Aidan couldn’t help letting his eyes wander, taking in the décor – or lack of it. What he noted first were the books, dozens of them, strewn all over the place: some open, some closed. Some new; some very, very old. He would never have pegged Edwards for a great reader. The carpets were brown, though whether this was the original colour or just because of the dirt, Aidan couldn’t tell. There was a lone settee against one wall which looked like it had been attacked by a crazed knifeman, hemorrhaging foam in various places. 
The walls were plain, and a yellowy pus colour. No posters or even postcards marked the fact that Edwards had once been the focus of so much attention (and possibly could be again?). It was all so different to photos Aidan had seen of Edwards’ mansion in LA from the 80s. 
A cloud of smoke formed around Edwards’ bent head, and now Aidan saw that the man’s arms were drawn into his body, protecting the cigarette that he now removed and held by his side. A cough followed that made Edwards’ whole body shake. Aidan almost went to him, then thought better of it.
“You…You found the place okay?” Edwards wheezed eventually, still with his back to Aidan; his body half the size it should have been because of the stoop.
“Er…yes, it wasn’t that hard.”
Edwards gave a hollow laugh and coughed again. “Do you want a drink or anything, before we get started? 
Straight to the point. Aidan liked that. “No…no, thanks.” 
“Alright then.” 
It was now that Edwards turned and faced him. There was still a touch of the theatrical in how he revealed his features to Aidan. Still very much the actor playing a role. But instead of a hero from some action-comedy-romance, which had always been Edwards’ niche, what Aidan saw was more like something out of a cheap horror flick.
The once thick head of golden hair was thin, grey and wispy, but that wasn’t the most shocking thing – the guy was, after all, a lot older now than when he hit the big time. No, it was the face itself that made Aidan flinch. It looked for all the world like the crazed knifeman, having done all he could to the sofa, had turned his attentions to Edwards. His face was a patchwork of deep scars, including one thick half moon which started at his hairline and ran across to his left temple. One of his cheekbones was still obviously crushed: it was deflated and floppy, like a tent with no pole to hold it up. He had a sunken right eye which was virtually closed shut, and dents in his nose where there had probably once been gaping holes. But the mouth. Oh Christ, the mouth! Wider than any normal human’s should be, lop-sided and drooping on one side like melted wax, it revealed yellowing stumps of teeth that had once been perfect and white. To complete the picture, down the side of his neck and spread across the top of his chest – as far down the open shirt top as Aidan could see – was a web of burns, stretching the skin so taut it looked like it was going to rip open at any moment.  
Photo ops would most definitely be out of the question.
For a moment Aidan thought he was going to be sick. Then he breathed in a few times and forced down the bile. These were obviously old wounds, set in place a long time ago, but that didn’t make them any easier to stomach. 
Edwards smiled, or at least he attempted a smile. “Don’t worry,” he spluttered. “It always has that effect.”
Nobody had really seen Trace Edwards after his car crash, apart from the doctors who had treated him – supposedly the best money could buy. It looked more like a team of gorillas had gone at him with surgical instruments. Aidan doubted whether even Edwards’ biggest fan would recognize him now. It certainly explained how he was able to keep such a low profile. It also explained why there were no reminders of the man he’d once been on the walls. As Aidan continued to stare, Edwards took another puff of the cigarette and blew out the smoke, a dribble of saliva emerging with it. Edwards coughed again, less harshly than the last time, but with about a pint of phlegm in the back of his throat.
As repulsed as he was, Aidan’s mind was ticking over with questions: the most important of which was why the hell didn’t he get all this fixed? He’d had the time over the last quarter of a century. He had the money. Or did he? Perhaps that was it, perhaps that was why he’d finally decided to come out of hiding and tell his tale. Nothing had been discussed about payment, Edwards had seemed so keen that Aidan hadn’t needed to tempt him with promises of huge amounts of cash. 
That didn’t mean he wasn’t expecting them, of course. 
“I know exactly what you’re thinking,” Edwards said, looking at him sideways out of his one good eye. “And don’t think I didn’t try. The best plastic surgeons in the world have had a crack at this face, at least back when I could afford them.”           
Yep, definitely about the money.
“None of them could do a thing,” the former actor continued. “In fact they only made things worse. Every time they operated, infections would set in. It was as though my face wanted to stay like this, Marsh. Same goes for my shattered knee.” He tapped his leg to illustrate. “Hopeless.”
“But…but that was back then. Things have improved with–”
“Trust me, it wouldn’t do any good. I accepted that a long time ago.” As well as the distinctive rasp, there was more than a hint of defeat in the voice now. “Look, it doesn’t matter anymore; it’s all too late.”
“So you don’t want the money for surgery?” Aidan couldn’t believe he’d just asked that out loud.
Edwards sneered. “Is that what you think?”
Aidan shrugged, it was his only defense. And it was always instinctive.
“No. No, that’s not the reason I got in touch with you. Not the reason at all.”
“Then…if you don’t mind me asking, what was the reason, Mr Edwards? Posterity?” All notions about a return to acting were gone now. 
“Revenge, Marsh.” Edwards paused now for dramatic effect. He hadn’t lost his touch. “Revenge on the person who did this to me.”