To celebrate the release of Kathy Reichs' new book- 'Two Nights' we have an exclusive extract for you...

Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs

My right- hand neighbor thinks I’m crazy, so she brings me cheese. I heard the one-two crunch of her boots on the path. A pause, then the oyster shells crunched again.

I lifted a corner of the towel covering my kitchen window. She was already five yards off, a shadow- laced smudge among the live oaks.

Six years, and I still didn’t know her name. Didn’t want to. Had no desire to exchange recipes or comments on the tides. I cracked the door, snagged the plastic-wrapped package, and shoved it into the fridge.

Truth is, I don’t mind the cheese. What I hate are the sharp little eyes plumbing my soul. That and the pity.

And the goats. When the wind is right, the bleating bullies into my dreams and I’m back in Helmand with the blood and the dust.

Or maybe I’m reading the old gal wrong. Maybe the cheese is a bribe so I don’t murder Billie or Nanny.

My left- hand neighbor hanged himself from the end of his pier.

His dog curled up and died by his head. Double suicide. Maggot jamboree by the time the bodies were found.

Arthur was a wood- carver, Prince a collie. I prefer their silent company. Fits my two-pronged plan for life. Need no one. Feel nothing.

I ran six miles and put in time with my free weights. A beer and a sandwich for lunch, then I spent the afternoon shooting Cheerwine cans off a dune at Gray Bay. The beach was deserted and not far away. Nothing is.

Goat Island is a skinny strip of sand just a monkey’s spit wide, uninhabited until Henry and Blanche Holloway rowed over to escape the stresses of 1930s Charleston. Legend has it they spent decades in a hole covered with driftwood and palm fronds.

Now that sounds warp- speed psycho to me.

But Henry and Blanche had one thing right. For solitude, Goat Island is the cat’s meow. Even today there’s no ferry, no paved road, ergo no cars or trucks. No access except by private boat. Outsiders rarely find reason to come.

The few scrappy residents live in cottages cobbled together from wreckage ignored or tossed ashore by Hurricane Hugo. My porch roof is the ass end of a disemboweled rowboat. Goat Lady’s shed started life as Arthur’s latrine.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t live hole- in- the- ground au naturel batty. I’ve got electricity, a septic tank. All the advantages.

The downside to Goat is the spring mosquitoes, some large enough to carry off St. Bernards. By six the bloodsuckers were organizing into squadrons, preparing to strike. Over and out for moi.

I was home rubbing aloe on bites when the bell above the stove jangled its jerry- rigged warning.

The moths did their frenzied dance in my chest.

I dug the shotgun from my duffel, thumbed shells into the chamber, and crept to a window. The sun was low, flaming the waterway orange and making me squint.

Far below, a figure crouched on my dock, securing lines. Both human and boat were featureless black cutouts against the tangerine glow.

My grip tightened on the stock, ready to pump.

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs is out now from William Heinemann. Buy it on Amazon now