Blog Tour: Read an extract from The Killing State by Judith O'Reilly @judithoreilly @HoZ_Books @lovebooksgroup



Michael North, assassin and spy-for-hire, is very good at killing bad guys. But what happens when his shadowy bosses at the dark heart of the post-Brexit British government, order him to kill an innocent woman and North can’t bring himself to do it?

The woman is rising political star, Honor Jones, MP.  She has started asking dangerous questions about the powerful men running her country. The trouble is, Honour doesn’t know when to stop. And, now that he's met her, neither does North…


He carried the cup across to his desk, and sat staring at the envelope.

There was no name on it, but then there never was. The name that mattered was inside. Who was it this time? Would he recognise the face? He felt the familiar rush of adrenalin.

North never liked to hurry opening his orders. There was, after all, a man’s life at stake. It merited some ritual – a degree of reflection. He sipped the scalding coffee, savoured the earthy roast, tasting the promised notes of dark chocolate. He put down the cup, then slid the butcher’s knife under the flap, opening its crimson throat in one smooth sweep. There were no ragged edges.

The dozen 10x8s were snapped in a hotel foyer. An oversized lamp was on, so it had to be late. He lifted the first photograph. It was of a couple and he scrutinised the man. Twenties. Denim jacket. Full-blown hipster beard. His phone must have rung at some point because he took a call, turning away from the coffee table to face the camera. But instead of closing in on him, the pictures were suddenly all about the woman. Confused, North fanned them over the table looking for more close-ups of the man, but photo after photo was of the woman. She was dressed in an evening gown, and even in the black and white of the photography, it shimmered. The draped folds of its cowl neck exposing the elegant shoulders, chin resting on her fist, slim fingers covering her mouth as she listened to her companion. Her glance to one side, a slight smile. Even in two dimensions North felt the pull of her.

North flipped the photos with the knife – reluctant suddenly to touch them. On the reverse of the best one was a label written across in cramped moss-green ink. “Honor Jones (31), Tory MP for Mile End, East London. Extreme security risk. Status: critical. Termination: essential. Proposed disposal: random/sexual attack in public space. Deadline: one week. Authorisation: Tarn.”

About Judith O'Reilly:

Judith O'Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Judith is a former political producer with BBC 2's Newsnight and ITN's Channel 4 News, and, when she isn't writing novels, she writes for The Sunday Times. Judith lives in Durham.

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