Excerpt from The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Invisible Guardian

by Dolores Redondo

The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo X
The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2016, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2017, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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1

AINHOA ELIZASU was the second victim of the basajaun, although the press was yet to coin that name for it. That came later, when it emerged that animal hairs, scraps of skin, and unidentifiable tracks had been found around the bodies, along with evidence of some kind of macabre purification rite. With their torn clothes, their private parts shaved, and their upturned hands, the bodies of those girls, almost still children, seemed to have been marked by a malign force, as old as the Earth.

Inspector Amaia Salazar always followed the same routine when she was called to a crime scene in the middle of the night. She would switch off the alarm clock so it wouldn't disturb James in the morning, pile up her clothes and, with her cell phone balanced on top of them, go very slowly downstairs to the kitchen. She would drink a cup of milky coffee while she dressed, leave a note for her husband, and get in the car. Then she would drive, her mind blank except for the white noise that always filled her head when she woke up before dawn.

These remnants of an interrupted night of insomnia stayed with her all the way to the crime scene, even though it was over an hour's drive from Pamplona. She took a curve in the road too sharply, and the squealing of the tires made her realize how distracted she was. After that she made herself pay attention to the highway as it wound its way upward, deep into the dense forest surrounding Elizondo. Five minutes later, she pulled over next to a police sign, where she recognized Dr. Jorge San Martín's sports car and Judge Estébanez's off-roader. Amaia got out, walked around to the back of her car, and fished out a pair of Wellingtons. She sat on the edge of the trunk to pull them on, while Deputy Inspector Jonan Etxaide and Inspector Montes joined her.

"It's not looking good, chief, the victim's a young girl." Jonan consulted his notes. "Twelve or thirteen years old. When she didn't arrive home by eleven last night, her parents contacted the police."

"A bit early to report her missing," observed Amaia.

"True. It looks like she called her older brother on his phone at about ten past eight to tell him she'd missed the bus from Arizkun."

"And her brother waited until eleven before saying anything?"

"You know how it is, 'Aita and Ama will kill me. Please don't tell them. I'm going to see if any of my friends' parents will give me a ride.' So he kept quiet and played on his PlayStation. At eleven, when he realized his sister still hadn't arrived home and his mother was starting to get hysterical, he told them Ainhoa had called. The parents went down to the station in Elizondo and insisted something must have happened to their daughter. She wasn't answering her cell phone and they'd already spoken to all her friends. A patrol found her. The officers spotted her shoes at the side of the road as they were coming around the bend." Jonan shone his flashlight toward the edge of the tarmac where a pair of black-patent high-heeled shoes glistened, perfectly aligned. Amaia leaned over to look at them.

"They look like they've been arranged like this. Has anyone touched them?" she asked. Jonan checked his notes again. The young deputy inspector's efficiency was a godsend in cases as difficult as this one was shaping up to be.

"No, that's how they found them, side by side and pointing toward the road."

"Tell the crime scene technicians to come and check the lining of the shoes when they've finished what they're doing. Whoever arranged them like that will have had to touch the inside as well as the outside."

Inspector Montes, who had stood silently staring at the ends of his Italian designer loafers until this point, looked up abruptly as if he had just awoken from a deep sleep.

"Salazar," he acknowledged her in a murmur, then walked off toward the edge of the road without waiting for her. Amaia frowned in bewilderment and turned back to Jonan.

Excerpted from The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo. Copyright © 2016 by Dolores Redondo. Excerpted by permission of Atria Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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