Excerpt from Final Witness by Simon Tolkien, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Final Witness

By Simon Tolkien

Final Witness
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  • Hardcover: Dec 2002,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2004,
    320 pages.

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Chapter 1

My name is Thomas Robinson. I am sixteen years old. Today is Thursday, the sixth of July, and I am making this statement to Detective Sergeant Hearns of the Ipswich Police. I have made two statements already in these proceedings. Everything that I say is true to the best of my knowledge and belief, and I make this statement knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have willfully stated anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.

I live in the House of the Four Winds, which is on the outskirts of the town of Flyte on the coast of Suffolk. The only other person who lives here now is the housekeeper, Jane Martin, who looked after me when I was a boy. My father never comes to visit me anymore.

My mother was killed in this house on the thirty-first of May last year. I described everything that happened in my first two statements. Two men came and murdered her. One of them had a ponytail and a scar behind his jaw. I was here too but hidden in a secret place behind the great bookcase at the top of the stairs. It was made for Catholic priests to hide in when the Protestants were searching for them hundreds of years ago. I hid there but my mother didn’t. She couldn’t because there was not enough time. That’s why she died.

The men didn’t see me, but I saw the man with the scar through the little spy hole in the bookcase. He was bending down over my mother, and I saw him when he got to his feet with something gold in his hand.

I remember his face more clearly than any face I’ve ever seen, although I only saw him for a second or two. It’s like my memory took a photograph. Small, dark eyes, thin, bloodless lips and a thick scar that ran down from behind his jaw into his strong bull neck. You could see the scar because he had his black hair in a ponytail.

I’d seen the man before. He was with Greta in London. It was six weeks before he killed my mother. I only saw him from behind, but I know it was him. He had the same ponytail and the scar.

Yesterday evening at about seven o’clock I saw this man again. For a third time.

Jane Martin goes to the town hall in Flyte on Wednesday evenings for the Women’s Institute, and so I was alone in the dining room eating my dinner. There are windows looking out to the front and toward the lane on the north side of the house. They were all open. I think I was listening to the sea and remembering things like I sometimes do.

I don’t suppose I would have heard them come if the television had been on, but I felt that something was wrong as soon as I heard the car pull up in the lane. We use the lane to go down to the beach, but nobody else does. It’s too far out of town and I wasn’t expecting any visitors.

They came through the door in the north wall just like they did on the night my mother died. They must have had a key. I saw them coming down the lawn to the front door. They were moving quickly, and there was no time for me to get upstairs to the hiding place behind the books where I’d hid before. I ran instead to the old black bench, which is beside the door going from the dining room into the hall. It has a seat that opens up, and I got in there. There are carvings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on the front, and you can see out through the holes in their eyes. When I was small, I used to climb in there when I played hide-and-seek with my mother and Aunt Jane, but now I didn’t fit very well and I was frightened, very frightened.

The police have installed a panic button in the house, and I pressed that before I got in the bench. It’s connected to Carmouth Police Station and makes them come when I need them.

I was in the bench when they came in through the front door. There were two of them and they used a key. I’m sure of that. The one with the scar was in charge, but he didn’t have his hair in a ponytail this time. He wore it long so I couldn’t see the scar. He called the other man Lonny. They wore leather jackets and jeans, and Lonny was wearing a baseball cap. He was overweight and looked like a boxer. I’d never seen Lonny before. I’d say they were both in their thirties, but they could have been older.

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Excerpted from Final Witness by Simon Tolkien Copyright© 2002 by Simon Tolkien. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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