The Penance List by S C Cunningham
Stylish thriller, being adapted for film.
Day three, Chelsea, London
Standing over the mattress, he took a leisurely sip of wine and stared down at her beautiful naked body, pinned out, star shaped, waiting his attention. The delicious vulnerability made his cock hard. He smiled; she was ready to be cut.
As she slept through the drugs, he had stretched her out on thick plastic sheeting and staked her limbs to the bedposts. He set up two spotlights; one at each end of the bed, their harsh light burnt directly onto her tanned skin, blanching it ethereal white. He gently stroked the length of her body with a wet cloth, bathing away the musky sweat of their sex. Her body glistened, she was beautiful, it was a shame, he would miss her.
He painstakingly applied makeup to her sleeping face; the finishing touch, a slash of whore-red lipstick dragged across her mouth. He stroked the blonde fringe from her forehead and fanned her soft tresses out onto the plastic sheet, gently combing through the tangles, trying not to pull on her scalp. The long blonde hair formed a golden halo around her head. She was his angel… fallen, but his.
The preparation complete, he fist-whipped her face. Knuckles smashed backwards and forwards until a snap of bone cracked the air; she gave a low moan through the drugged coma. Red welts crept across her skin, lipstick smudged her cheeks. It was time to wake up, time for penance; he had waited nearly twenty years.
Standing over her, he picked up the bottle of red wine and stretched his arm out high over her head, ready to pour. He waited patiently as she regained consciousness. The drugs were wearing off.
She woke to the heat of the spotlights burning her skin; their harsh light piercing her eyelids. Why was it so hot? She tried to move away from the source, but her heavy limbs barely moved. What was happening? Her mouth was parched, her throat locked tight, a searing pain ran through her jaw as she tried to swallow… what the fuck!
She rocked her head backwards and forwards, groaning with the waves of pain, trying to clear her mind. Where was she? Memories began to tumble back into place… fuck! Where was he? She knew he was somewhere near; she could smell his expensive cologne, could hear his agitated breathing; he was aroused.
She squinted through the light, her darting eyes anxiously trying to find him. On a bedside table, a few feet from her head, something glistened. She strained towards it, pulling the glint into focus. Her heart stopped. A neat row of surgical instruments lay on a silver tray, his tools of torture set out in an orderly fashion, soldiers ready for duty, their polished blades shimmering in the light.
‘Unfinished Business’ is every bit as good as ‘The Penance List’. You did not disappoint. Well done’
‘A hard-hitting, forceful narrative that is about as powerful as anything I’ve seen, writing doesn’t get much better than this. This book is hard to ignore and damn near impossible to stop reading’
‘Bravo! Cunningham artfully weaves a compelling tapestry of murder, mayhem, and Martinis’
‘Delicious and salacious, this novel offers a new twist on the modern romance and the classic psychological thriller’
‘My God you shocked my shoes off. Excellent work! ‘
‘I raise a glass, I’d love to meet anyone who writes like this. Blown away to the point of speechless. Shocking, vivid and bloody well written!!’
‘Have to say the book is fabulous … I’m pretending it’s not my cup of tea as supposedly a girlie read but for boys too, genuinely brilliant!’
‘God I loved your book! It was intense, great narration, and wonderful dialogue’
‘Wow this is powerful and vivid. It is nice to see someone writing in the thriller/romance genre, your contrast between the horror and the chick lit is fabulous. Several interwoven stories and delving into the past make this an interesting read’
‘I just love it, can’t put it down, I really like the way you write’
‘I must applaud you for the wonderful vivid descriptions, your characterization is perfect, intuitively observed. You came up with an amazing setting and an intriguing plot to go with it. By the smooth flow of your writing, wittiness, effective dialogue, and descriptions, you did an excellent job taking me along the ride in what proved to be a compelling read’
‘Wow! What an exciting author, bring on book two and three. This sex fuelled thriller is not one to be read by your parents…but a great read and I’d highly recommend it. Murders, sex, London girls, a beautiful psychopath and a hot blooded Italian footballer, this book has it all’
‘This is an incredibly powerful piece of writing. Few could make a man they’d already shown as a monster into an object of pity. This is masterful, dark and suspenseful writing, with you expertly exploiting tensions between the erotic and the macabre, your characterisation of David is phenomenal’
‘Your prologue grabs the reader and doesn’t give us a chance to catch our breath. Right of the bat with naked bodies – ready to be cut – drugs – we know something very strange is happening here’
‘I wholeheartedly back this. You know how to elicit exactly the reaction you want readers to feel. That’s an awesome gift’
‘The conversations on sex will keep anyone’s attention as we gladly listen, fly on the wall. Your narrator is top rate. You’ve managed to do what I’ve seen very few people do – give your narrator a personality. That gives this a tone / mood – sometimes tense and scary and sometimes light. How could one not be drawn into their conversation with the creepy “clicks” going on in the background’
‘You’ve given us a reason for David’s behaviour, not an excuse, a very scary character. Giving us his background provides some clues to why he’s so sick, this draws us in. You’ve written a very engaging book. It’s hard to stop reading it – I’m backing this one without a doubt’
‘I hadn’t seen this book before today. Where have I been? OMG!’
‘Compelling, it shows the genesis of the devil and yet he is sympathetic. I read whole chapters without taking a single breath, which is most unusual for me’
‘My God! Good for you! You are one gutsy broad!!!! Think about selling this one to Hollywood!’
‘This reminds me a little of American Psycho only so very much better! You are a talented writer and I WANT MORE!’
‘You’re a seriously good writer. Twisted, dark, nasty, but excellently written, the characterisation and dialogue reads like a dream’
‘A riveting tale filled with colorful characters, suspenseful sequences, and titillating twists’
‘A fabulous read for those who dare!’
‘My goodness you pull no punches, do you. I appreciate good writing when I read it’
‘A really good read preferably in daylight! One minute horrified the next laughing out loud; I finished the book covered in goose bumps’
‘Couldn’t put it down – a real page turner. Nicely crafted and highly unusual format with all the threads coming together right at the end. In a category all of its own, would make a great film. I look forward to the sequels. Well done’
‘The Penance List, I’m loving it!’
‘The Penance List is a compelling novel. Even though the read is 470 pages, I found myself snatching it up every chance I could, wanting to see what David would do next. The book is dark, naughty…sometimes downright nasty. Cunningham will hold your attention to the very end’
‘This reminds me a little of American Psycho only so very much better! You are a talented writer and I was compelled to keep reading and now I’m frustrated because I WANT MORE! I’d not only buy this but I’d buy it for friends!! BACKED 100%’
‘It’s very clear that you put your craft at the service of creating emotional tension; anger, fear, even the poignancy of destroying that which could have flourished between a man and a woman. You quickly grab the reader and I have to confess, I became a part-time voyeur’
‘Your opening paragraph starts out erotic and becomes disturbing, quite an achievement in three sentences. Your writing is bold and delivers the narrative quickly and simply, a compelling read, well-constructed’
‘A thrilling dark mystery with twists and turns galore, you will be on the edge of your seat, or with all of the lights on in your house when immersed in this novel. I’m a grandmother, so some of the subjects were a bit intense, but the well written story really held my interest. I can hardly wait for the following two books’
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Press Release; DAVID ‘The Penance List’ by S C Cunningham (Book II of The David Trilogy)
A visceral account of the corruptive power of sex and one man’s murderous rampage.
S C Cunningham’s debut novel ushers in a high-octane world of glamour, obsession and pure evil in this summer’s most libidinous thriller.
Life for a select group of London’s glitterati is about to change forever. Their indulgent serenity will be torn asunder because of their unfortunate connection to a man called David. David will seduce them, ruin them and wreck the lives of their friends and family in order to satisfy his desire for revenge, at any cost. They will be lucky to escape with their lives.
David is a damaged idol, a vision of beauty and perfection that masks a dark heart and a tortured soul. Having been brutalised as child at the hands of his school headmaster, he has a distorted world view and a cold disregard for human emotion. He is also a sexual tour de force, bending his victims to his will through his salaciousness, while being consumed by an almost carnal need to exact his own brand of justice. Three Chelsea girls, a Premiership footballer, an ex-army chauffeur and a secretly gay photographer will be his first victims in this warped quest to dominate those he meets.
S C Cunningham’s provocative debut novel David: The Penance List is a graphically violent examination of the indiscriminate nature of evil and the abuse of the power of sex. It’s a brave, terrifying and pulsating read fuelled by Cunningham’s first rate storytelling, astonishingly intense sex scenes and a throbbing, sinister tension. S C Cunningham’s own life experiences — she has twice crossed the paths of serial killers (unscathed) — afford David: The Penance List a level of authority and sincerity rare in fiction. This is the first book in Cunningham’s The David Trilogy series, which will follow her captivating psychopath David as he stalks the movements of London’s showbiz class, offering an ambitious and exciting thriller set to inject new life into the fiction market. She exposes the baseless lives of Londoners captivated by fame and fortune and shows how easily anyone of us can be seduced by money, sex and celebrity. David: The Penance List will be followed by Unfinished Business and For My Sins, which complete The David Trilogy.
About the author: Siobhan Cunningham was born in Surrey, educated in Berkshire and has her roots firmlyplanted in Eire. A former model, she was once married to acclaimed musician Raf Ravenscroft, whose stellar career included providing the saxophone solo for Gerry Raffertys ‘Baker Street’ and working with the Pink Floyd.
Cunningham has worked extensively in both the music and sport industries, notably for Chelsea Football Club and the management company responsible for the careers of David Beckham, Michael Owen, John Terry and Alan Shearer… alongside the infamous Rebecca Loos.
After a five year stint with horseracing’s elite at The Jockey Club she decided to focus on her passion for writing. Cunningham lives in London with her artist daughter Scarlett Raven. Supporters of Scarlett’s work include Take That, the manager of ‘Queen’, Conservative MP, Live Nation HQ, Chairman of Lonhro, England footballer Mathew Upson and actor Orlando Bloom.