Amelia White was looking for the scoop of a lifetime … But she didn’t think she’d find it so close to home. Can she work out who the liar is before it’s too late?
Shepherds Bush, 1970
The stink from the bags of rubbish piled against a wall in Scotts Road made Amelia involuntarily gag and cover her nose. The local dustbin men had gone on strike, and the council appeared disinclined to make any alternative arrangement. People had resorted to piling their refuse on side roads like this one – anywhere just as long as it wasn’t outside their own home.
Amelia lived just around the corner in Godolphin Road. It was a street of Victorian three-storey houses with basements. They had been built as family homes with rooms for servants, but now practically all were in multiple occupation. The luckier tenants had a self-contained flat, but mostly the houses were divided up into bedsitters, with as many as ten rooms sharing one bathroom.
Amelia thought herself lucky. Her room on the first floor of number twenty-two was large and light, and there were two bathrooms in the house, along with a separate lavatory. But, then, her landlord was a decent sort – he lived in the basement flat and kept an eye on his tenants and his property.
Pleasant he might be, yet his house was still shabby. Cracked lino in the hall, a threadbare stair carpet and, despite all the tenants getting on quite well, no one was in favour of a cleaning rota. Mostly it was Amelia who cleaned the common parts. She daydreamed of having a real flat, with a proper kitchen instead of a cupboard, and her own bathroom, where she could arrange fluffy towels and pretty bottles of bubble bath. But on twelve pounds a week from her job at the West London Weekly, she couldn’t afford anything better.
‘In The Summertime’ by Mungo Jerry had been in the top twenty for most of the summer. It wafted out of shops, houses, and from car radios all the time. But while that song created a lovely image of sunshine and flowers, stinking piles of rubbish were growing all over London. Now in late August, this one in Scotts Road had become a small mountain. Mike, who lived in the bedsit next to Amelia’s, claimed he’d seen rats running around on it the previous night. He thought the army should be called in to take it away.
Amelia usually averted her eyes from it and hurried past as fast as she could, but she saw something white out the corner of her eye and turned her head to look. There on the rubbish was a pair of the gorgeous white boots she’d been aching to own. She’d seen an advertisement on the tube for them, a black girl with an Afro hairstyle sitting naked on a rock wearing only the boots. A girl in the office called them Durex boots because the legs were tight, stretchy and quite difficult to get on.
Amelia couldn’t believe that anyone had just dumped them there – the soles looked hardly worn. Glancing around first to check no one was watching, she went closer, braving the smell. She couldn’t see a size, but they looked like a five, her size. Checking around her once more, she climbed over a couple of bags and grabbed one of the boots.
It didn’t move, so she pulled it sharply. The rubbish bags shifted and, to her horror, she saw the boot was attached to a human leg.
She screamed and almost toppled over backwards as she let go of it. On reaching the pavement she saw the pile had collapsed further with her weight and now a tanned thigh was exposed.
Liar, the enthralling new novel from the 10-million-copy, Number One Bestselling Author, Lesley Pearse, will be out on June 25th 2020.