Here at Bookish we love a good mystery, almost as much as we love a giveaway. And today we’re combining both. We’ve got two copies of Simon Toyne’s The Searcher up for grabs. This is the first book in a new series by Toyne, and it has already been optioned for TV. It focuses on Solomon Creed, a man who wakes up in Redemption, Arizona with no memory of how he got there. He’s convinced that he has a purpose, though, and he thinks it has something to do with the burial in town on the day of his arrival. Already craving more? Whet your reading appetite with this excerpt and then enter the giveaway below.
In the beginning is the road—and me walking along it.
I have no memory of who I am, or where I have come from, or how I came to be here. There is only the road
and the desert stretching away to a burned sky in every direction
and there is me.
Anxiety bubbles within me and my legs scissor, pushing me forward through hot air as if they know something I don’t. I feel like telling them to slow down, but even in my confused state I know you don’t talk to your legs, not unless you’re crazy, and I don’t think I’m crazy—I don’t think so.
I stare down the shimmering ribbon of tarmac, rising and falling over the undulating land, its straight edges made wavy by the intense desert heat. It makes the road seem insubstantial and the way ahead uncertain and my anxiety burns bright because of it. I feel there’s something important to do here, and that I am here to do it, but I cannot remember what.
I try to breathe slowly, dredging a recollection from some deep place that this is meant to be calming, and catch different scents in the dry desert air—the coal-tar sap of a broken creosote bush branch, the sweet sugar rot of fallen saguaro fruit, the arid perfume of agave pollen—each thing so clear to me, so absolutely itself and correct and known. And from the solid seed of each named thing more information grows—Latin names, medicinal properties, common names, whether it is edible or poisonous. The same happens when I glance to my left or right, each glimpsed thing sparking new names and fresh torrents of facts until my head hums with it all. I know the world entirely it seems and yet I know nothing of myself. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t even know my own name.
The wind gusts at my back, pushing me forward and bringing a new smell that makes my anxiety flare into blind fear. It is smoke, oily and acrid, and a half-formed memory slides in with it that there is something awful lying on the road behind me, something I need to get away from.
I break into a run, staring forward, not daring to check behind me. The blacktop feels hard and hot against the soles of my feet. I look down to discover that I’m not wearing shoes. My feet flash as they pound the road, my skin pure white in the bright sunshine. I hold my hand up and it’s the same, so white I have to narrow my eyes against the glare of it. I can feel my skin starting to redden in the fierce sun and know that I need to get out of this desert, away from this sun and the thing on the road behind me. I fix on a rise in the road, feeling that if I can reach it then I will be safe, that the way ahead will be clearer.
All prizes and samples are provided by HarperCollins.
Simon Toyne is the bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy: Sanctus, The Key, and The Tower. A writer, director, and producer in British television for twenty years, he worked on several award-winning shows, one of which won a BAFTA. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages and published in more than fifty countries. He lives with his wife and family in England and the south of France, where he is at work on his second Solomon Creed novel.