Blood Bath is written by one of the UK's best thriller books authors, Stephen Leather, celebrated as a leading writer in the Thriller genre. Two of his novels, The Stretch and The Bombmaker have been made into films.
The original story by the author is about a string of mysterious deaths that occur in a struggling hotel and are investigated by supernatural detective, Jack Nightingale.
Jack Nightingale appears in the author's full-length novels, Nightfall, Midnight, Nightmare, Nightshade and Lastnight.
PLUS, as a bonus, the author has included six versions of Blood Bath written by fans and writers who drew inspiration from the Blood Bath title and its book cover above.
Top writers Alex Shaw, Matt Hilton, Andrew Peters and Conrad Jones contributed to the collection.
Jack Nightingale placed his camera on Jenny McLean's desk and grinned. 'Twenty-odd shots of Mr Clifford with his secretary, in her car, checking into the Holiday Inn Express and leaving ninety minutes later,' he said. 'Some nice video of them exchanging saliva.'
Jenny picked up the camera and began checking the shots as Nightingale took off his raincoat and hung it by the door. She was wearing a pale blue dress and had tied her hair back in a ponytail. 'How are you with haunted hotels?' she asked.
'I try to steer clear of them,' he said. 'Why?'
'There's a Mr and Mrs Stokes on their way in,' she said. 'They own a hotel in Brighton.'
'And it's haunted?'
'Apparently.' She connected the camera to her camera and began downloading the pictures and video that were about to make Mr Clifford's divorce much more expensive and have him out of the family home by the end of the week.
The door to the office opened and a middle-aged couple walked in. The man had a receding hairline that suggested baldness was only a year or two away and bifocal spectacles indicated that he had problems seeing things no matter how far away they were. He was wearing a Barbour jacket and had a red scarf wrapped around his neck. His wife was a small woman, barely over five feet tall, and was wearing a jacket and scarf that matched her husband's. She had a thin, drawn face and Nightingale noticed that her nails were bitten to the quick. 'Speak of the devil,' whispered Nightingale, but regretted it immediately when the woman flinched. She'd obviously heard him. He flashed them a beaming smile. 'Mr and Mrs Stokes?''
The couple nodded. Nightingale pointed over at a sofa by the window overlooking the street below. 'Why don't you make yourself comfortable?' he asked. Jenny stood up and took their coats and scarves and offered them coffee.
As Jenny made the coffees, Nightingale sat down behind her desk and asked them what their problem was. Mr Stokes did the talking. He sat with his legs and arms crossed and had a habit of grinding his teeth when he wasn't speaking. He explained that they had bought a hotel in Brighton six months earlier. 'We were getting by for a month or so,' said Mr Stokes. 'At least we were covering our costs, pretty much. But then a website called Haunted Brighton wrote about the hotel, saying that there had been a number of deaths there and that the hotel is haunted by a malevolent spirit.'
'A ghost?' said Jenny, her mug of coffee poised on its way to her lips.
'A ghost we could probably live with,' said Mr Stokes. 'The website said it was a vampire.'
Nightingale laughed out loud. 'A vampire?'
'It didn't actually say vampire,' said Mrs Stokes, flashing her husband a withering look. 'It described a demon that craves blood, that encourages suicides so that it can feed.'
'Complete bollocks, of course,' said her husband.
'But people believe what they read,' said Mrs Stokes. 'And the problem is that if you Google The Weeping Willow Hotel, Brighton, that bloody website comes up on the first page. So every potential booking is cancelled before it even gets started. I mean, who in their right mind would stay in a hotel that had had half a dozen suicides.' She glared at her husband. 'And who in their right mind would buy a hotel like that?'
'That's the name? The Weeping Willow?'
Mrs Stokes nodded.
'It's a nice name,' said Jenny.
'It's a lovely hotel,' said Mr Stokes. 'Everything about it is great. The rooms are lovely, we're close to the beach. It should be a goldmine.'
'Instead of which it's a money pit,' said Mrs Stokes. 'We have to pay the housekeeping staff and the night manager and the chef and the waitress.' She shrugged. 'It's a nightmare.'
'You said suicides,' said Nightingale. 'The website talks about suicides? I thought the website talked about a vampire?'
'Well...' said Nightingale hesitantly.
Mr Stokes shook his head in annoyance. 'The website said there was some sort of vampire killing guests. It was the first we'd heard about deaths in the hotel but once we looked into it we discovered that there had been several suicides. At least six over the past ten years. But there was nothing unusual or suspicious about them. Just suicides.' He shrugged. 'Sometimes people get to the end of their tether and they just want to end it all.' He looked over at his wife and she glared back at him.
'Theses suicides, were they all guests?' asked Nightingale.
'Five of them were guests but the wife of the last owner also killed herself in one of the bathrooms,' said Mrs Stokes. She began rubbing her hands together as if she was washing them.
Nightingale's jaw dropped. 'I'm sorry, the wife of the guy you bought the hotel from, killed herself there? And you still bought it?'
'We didn't know that at the time,' said Mrs Stokes. 'But yes, that's what happened.'
'The seller didn't mention it?' asked Jenny.
Mrs Stokes shook her head. 'Though to be honest, we never spoke to him, everything was done through the estate agent. Mr Dunbar had already gone back to Scotland.'
'Mr Dunbar was the pervious owner?'
'The estate agent said that he had health problems,' said Mr Stokes. 'Now of course we realise it was just a way of keeping him away from us.'
Nightingale nodded. "I'm not a legal expert, but shouldn't your surveyor have picked up on something like this? Due diligence or whatever they call it. You made an investment on the back of a surveyor's report, presumably?'
'The building is fine,' said Mr Stokes. 'It's a hundred years old and will stand for at least another hundred. The roof is fine, there's no damp, the electrics and the plumbing were overhauled five years ago.'
'Don't sellers have to tell you about any negative aspects?' said Jenny. 'Things like noisy neighbours and dry rot.'
'Apparently suicides aren't covered,' said Mrs Stokes. 'That's what our solicitor tells us.'
'But you looked at the books, surely?' said Jenny, her pen poised over her notepad. 'Didn't they let you know that something was wrong?'
The couple exchanged a look and Mr Stokes flinched even before his wife spoke. 'I told you we should have done that, didn't I?' she said.
Mr Stokes threw up his hands. 'We were buying the building. The building is fine. I just assumed that the hotel would have guests. That's what hotels do, right?' He looked pleadingly at Nightingale as if he was begging him to agree with him.
'I guess so,' said Nightingale.
'Well guessing isn't good enough,' said Mrs Stokes. 'We haven't had a single booking since the website piece. And it turns out that the hotel had been doing badly long before we bought it.'
'So the seller knew there was a problem?' said Jenny. 'Doesn't that mean he conned you?'
Mrs Stokes shook her head. 'He never actually lied to us,' she said. 'And we didn't ask the right questions.' She flashed her husband a withering look leaving them in no doubt that by 'we' she meant him.
'When we looked around there were people in the restaurant so we assumed they were guests,' said Mr Stokes. 'And he said that we couldn't see several of the rooms because they were occupied.' He held up his hands again. 'With hindsight, I screwed up.'
'And the hotel has always been losing money?' asked Nightingale.
'I think things got worse about six months ago,' said Mr Stokes.
'About the time that Mr Dunbar put it up for sale,' said Mrs Stokes, glaring at her husband.
Before Mr Stokes could respond, Nightingale raised a hand, hoping to cut short any argument. 'So what exactly is it you want me to do?' he asked.