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Syndrome (The Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, #2) by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli


What is the difference between dedication and obsession?

While investigating the murder of two known offenders with connections to a notorious, recently escaped London drug trafficker, the Scotland Yard forensic team headed by DCI Eric Shaw becomes involved in a child abuse case. A nurse had accused a mother of a series of violent, feverish attacks on her ten-year-old son, Jimmy. The woman would exasperate the condition of her child to draw the attention and compassion of health workers at the hospital.

Eric learned of this accusation by chance because he is dating Catherine Foulger, the paediatrician looking after the child. She is an old flame, and he is seeing her again in the hope of putting some order back in his life after discovering the identity of the serial killer nicknamed Black Death.

But this is a relationship his former partner Adele Pennington, still working as an investigator in Forensic Services, has not really accepted.

DCI Eric Shaw returns.

Detective Eric Shaw Series:

1. The Mentor (2015)
2. Syndrome (2023)
3. Beyond the Limit (2023)


Syndrome Book Cover

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What was that? They looked like gravitational drops, evenly spaced, elongated in the direction of movement.

A laugh from one of the sweethearts reached her. They were crossing the street and heading towards her.

Adele lowered on one knee, as though she were tying a shoe, but instead she ran her left forefinger on one of the stains. The white tip of the glove turned red.

He was wounded. The shot she’d heard at St Nicholas must have come from Eric’s gun. And it had hit him.

The couple reached her and walked past. They were speaking in a low voice and laughing. She kissed him, then dragged him up the entrance steps. They arrived at the door and she took out a set of key.

Adele snapped to her feet and headed towards them, making an effort to look casual, but it didn’t really matter how she behaved. Those two weren’t paying attention to her, anyway.

They walked in and the door started closing slowly. Adele stopped it with a hand.

She waited for the heel-clicking of the girl to fade away, then she sneaked in. The light was still on.

She tried to orient herself. She’d seen Baxter’s sign on the outer wall to the right of the entrance. Ignoring the stairs, she headed for the first door. A smaller plaque bore the same information she’d read outside.

What should she do now? What could she do now?

Hesitantly, she raised her right hand. The left one was on her gun. She couldn’t just knock. Or perhaps she could?

She slipped her fingers down the panel until they landed on a doorknob. She tried to turn it, and it didn’t resist.

The brief struggle between her satisfaction with that pleasant surprise and the fear of an ambush made her hesitate just for a second. The worst that could happen to her was death. If Eric didn’t make it, she would be dead anyway.

She waited for the light in the corridor to turn off, then she cracked the door open.

At first she couldn’t see anything inside, but in a few moments her eyes began to get used to it. A light source cast long shadows on the floor. It came from a second half-open door across the room.

She walked in and stood still, while the details of the place became clearer and clearer.

There was a distant rustling, then a groan followed by an imprecation. Then silence again.

Adele spotted a few chairs along the wall. On the desk in front of her, she could make out the rectangle of a computer monitor. Beside it, a dark shape. A head?

Measuring her steps, she moved closer.

It was a person slumped over the piece of furniture. A woman.

Adele placed two fingers on her, searching for her heartbeat, but she was cold, dead for hours, perhaps since that same morning.

Another rustling drew her attention to the other room again. It had to be Baxter’s office and the corpse in the waiting room had to be an employee of his.

She reached the half-open door, focusing her gaze through the crack. Some folders on a bookshelf, the front of a chair, the shoulders and head of a body lying face downwards on the floor, the white shirt stained dark red, clotted blood, on the collar and on the back. Killed by a gunshot to the back of the head. She reached out to push the door a little more.

An intense vibration on her right side blocked her. She shut her mouth right in time, before any sounds escaped.


Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli Author PhotoRita Carla Francesca Monticelli is an Italian science fiction and thriller author. She has lived in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy) since 1993, earning a degree in biology and working as a writer, scientific and literary translator, and freelance web copywriter. In the past she also worked as researcher, tutor and professor’s assistant in the field of ecology at ‘Dipartimento di Biologia Animale ed Ecologia’ of the University of Cagliari. She has written original fiction since 2009.

In 2012-2013 she wrote and published a hard science fiction series set on Mars and titled Deserto rosso. The whole Deserto rosso series was also published as omnibus in December 2013 and hit No. 1 on the Italian Kindle Store in November 2014. Deserto rosso was published in English, with the title Red Desert, between 2014 and 2015. It includes the following books: Red Desert – Point of No Return, Red Desert – People of Mars, Red Desert – Invisible Enemy, and Red Desert – Back Home. She also authored three crime thrillers in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy – The Mentor (Il mentore, 2014), Syndrome (Sindrome, 2016), and Beyond the Limit (Oltre il limite, 2017) –, an action thriller titled Kindred Intentions (Affinità d’intenti, 2015), five more science fiction novels – L’isola di Gaia (2014), Per caso (2015), Ophir. Codice vivente (2016), Sirius. In caduta libera (2018), and Nave stellare Aurora (2020) – and a non-fiction book titled Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore (2020).

Her crime thriller The Mentor was first published in English by AmazonCrossing in 2015 and became an international bestseller hitting No. 1 on the Kindle Store in USA, UK, and Australia in October 2015.  This is a new edition of The Mentor (published in November 2022). The other two books in the trilogy, Syndrome and Beyond the Limit, are expected in 2023.

She’s also a podcaster at FantascientifiCast, an Italian podcast about science fiction, an Italian Representative of Mars Initiative, and a member of the International Thriller Writers organization.

She’s often a guest both in Italy and abroad during book fairs, including Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino (Turin Book Fair) and Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair), local publishing events as well as university conferences, where she gives speeches about self-publishing and genre fiction writing. She has also taught a class on self-publishing at the University of Insubria (Varese, Italy) since 2016.

Her books have been reviewed or recommended by national magazines and newspapers such as Wired Italia, Tom’s Hardware Italia, La Repubblica, Tiscali News and Global Science (magazine of the Italian Space Agency).

As a science fiction and Star Wars fan, she is known in the Italian online community by her nickname, Anakina, which has become the name of her imprint.

Follow Rita on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her website.


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