Today marks the publication of A Window Breaks by bestselling crime author Chris Ewan ( Safe House, Dark Tides, The Good Thief’s Guide To…) with a new nom de plume. Following the growing trend for British and Irish authors to diversify into tense Hollywood style action thrillers, Ewan has produced a genuinely nerve shredding tale full of breathless action that romps along at a fast clip like an increasingly violent adult version of Home Alone. You’ll be on the edge of your seat. Guaranteed.
You are asleep. A noise wakes you.
You stir, unsure why, and turn to your wife.
Then you hear it.
Glass. Crunching underfoot.
Your worst fears are about to be realized.
Someone is inside your home.
Your choices are limited.
You can run. Or stay and fight.
What would you do?
Rachel shook my shoulder.
‘Tom, wake up.’ She whispered, close to my ear: ‘I think I heard something.’
I groaned and mashed my face into my pillow.
‘Tom, it sounded like a window breaking. I think there’s someone downstairs.’
I groaned some more. Rachel is a light sleeper. She hears bumps in the night. And I’m the one she’s turned to – again and again – to get out of bed and creep downstairs to investigate.
It was warm and fuggy under the covers – my legs were tangled in Rachel’s legs – and I could so easily drift off again. I could hear the hitch of fear in Rachel’s voice but it wasn’t quite enough to tug me back to full consciousness.
Then a vague distant noise made me stir. It could have been the sound of glass crunching underfoot.
My heart clenched as Rachel yanked on my upper arm. ‘Tom? Wake up. Please.’
Eyes open, listening hard.
The room was black. The only light was the faint glow of my wristwatch. It was just after 2 a.m.
Another slight crunching sound.
I blinked and stared into the pulsing darkness as a great sucking fear invaded my chest. In my mind I was watching a kind of home movie rendered in fuzzy greyscale. I was picturing a long, uninterrupted tracking shot – the visual equivalent of the auditory hunt I was carrying out with my ears. The camera in my mind’s eye went snuffling across the carpet and out of the bedroom door. It sped low along the unlit hallway, sweeping left and right in small, tight arcs, like a bloodhound following a scent. When the camera reached the mezzanine it pitched up and then down over the polished steel banister rail overlooking the vaulted space below. It dropped on a wire, spinning and sweeping, sniffing out the source of the gritty crunching I had heard.
‘I’m scared, Tom.’ ‘Shh.’
Was that the whisper of the sliding glass door on to the deck being pulled back? And now the dull thud of the door hitting the rubber buffer?
Rachel clutched my arm again. I didn’t have any clothes on under the covers. And all right, it shouldn’t have been a big deal right then, but it’s amazing how being naked can make you feel more vulnerable.
Silence. I waited.
My heart jackhammered in my chest, pushing me up off the mattress. Rachel’s fingers dug into my flesh.
The silence persisted, but this was no natural hush. It felt loaded. Felt forced. Like somebody was holding their breath downstairs.
I was listening so intensely it was as if I could hear the throbbing of the very air itself – the sound of millions of tiny molecules rubbing and vibrating against one another. It was a sound like no other. The sound of pure fear in the middle of the night.