A Publication Day Extract from The First Cut by Val Penny

There are some authors with whom a blogger seems to have an affinity and for me, Val Penny hits that brief. Val is always so supportive on social media and I’m delighted to feature here here on Linda’s Book Bag today by sharing an extract from her latest book in the Jane Renwick thriller series, The First Cut.

Val has previously featured on Linda’s Book Bag when I reviewed Hunter’s Rules here and to celebrate the audio version of her thriller Hunter’s Chase here. I also reviewed her super non-fiction book Let’s Get Published here.

Published by SpellBound today, 6th March 2023, The First Cut is available for purchase here.

The First Cut

Sometimes it’s hard to escape a brutal past. That’s the case for DS Jane Renwick, who learns via DNA a serial killer could be a family member.

This gripping police procedural is set in Edinburgh and Glasgow. A vicious killer is on the loose and victims include an academic and members of Edinburgh’s high society. But Jane is banished to the side-lines of the case and forced to look on impotently when the hunt for the killer ramps up, because the Murder Investigation Team believes the killer is related to her.

Has someone from Jane’s estranged birth family returned to haunt her? Could one of her relatives be involved? Where will the killer strike next?

This exciting novel is the first in Val Penny’s new series of Scottish thrillers.

A Extract from The First Cut

“Don’t know that name, but there’s nobody else here right now. I’m working. Please just go away.”

He felt the blow of dismissal, like everybody had always dismissed him. How dare they? How dare he? This foreigner didn’t even belong here. None of them did. None of them deserved the time of day, never mind the air they breathed. He would soon stop all that.

He smiled and took a few steps into the room.

“What you busy with? It’s late to be working.” He walked around the desk, took out his blade, and punched it into his victim’s carotid artery with practised precision. He dragged the blade across the neck to slice the artery, a quick second slice to make sure, but the first cut was the deepest. He made no errors, no mistakes. There was no hesitation. His victim stared at him, clutching his throat as the life blood ran out of him. All over the desk, all over the laptop computer, all over the important work that had required his dismissal. The blood sprayed over the desk, spattered the bookcase and into his mouth. That tinny, metallic taste he had come to enjoy. He would need to wipe his face before he left the room. It was a lucky break that he had a packet of tissues.

He smiled as his victim held his neck, the struggle, the gurgle, the death rattle of the man who tried to hold the life sustaining liquid in his body. They all did that. Again, ridiculous. It would never work. Not for long. It splashed through his fingers and onto the floor. That carpet hadn’t been up to much before, and it wasn’t worth shit now.

The man flopped over the desk. He wondered if that action had broken the laptop. Not that he really cared, the computer would come with him anyway. He grimaced. Having to rummage through the bloody pockets to get the phone was nasty, but he didn’t want to leave anything behind. Good! Got it first time. A decent one. It would get a bob or two.

He chuckled as he thought how confusing this would be, because this one didn’t fit with the profiles of the other victims at all. It wasn’t possible, this one had nothing to do with anything. Maybe it was a good thing he had missed her. Good name he came up with too, Joy Tuesday. Pity nobody would ever know or be able to share it. Poor Policeman Plod. This one would make no sense, yet they would have to make it fit.

He left as quietly as he had come, laptop under one arm, phone in his pocket, bloody blade in his belt. Then he saw her, the right fucking woman, whatever her name was, he couldn’t remember now because of the excitement. The green flash at the front of her hair was quite endearing. This evening, she had had a lucky escape, but he would be back.


Crikey! I know my TBR pile is almost reaching Mars but I have a feeling I need to add The First Cut to it too! That’s quite a dramatic extract…

About Val Penny

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.

For more information about Val, visit her website or blog.  You’ll find Val on Goodreads, Twitter @valeriepenny, and Facebook.

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