Image shows author Rob Gittins and front cover of Can I Trust You?

Front Page Fridays Week-3

Front Page Fridays Week-3

Welcome to Front Page Fridays Week-3. Every Friday I highlight a recently published book by showcasing the first page.

My Front Page Fridays Week-3 guest is Rob Gittins and his latest thriller Can I Trust You? Here’s the first page:


Twenty Years Ago

Trust. They always say it, and it’s true. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The young girl stared out over the water for a moment, then rose to her feet, damp sand clinging to her jeans. Stray sounds echoed around as she walked towards the waves. Looming up out of the darkness, she glimpsed the indistinct form of an old, disused, lighthouse. In days gone by she’d dreamt of swimming out to it. But now there were just her metronome-like steps, pressing her forward, pushing her on.

The sea was always there. Sometimes it was so close to the shore she could reach down from the harbour wall and touch it. Sometimes, like now, it was out on the horizon, waiting to make its return. But in a world where few certainties still existed, the sea remained.

She could trust that at least.

Which was when she heard it.

From behind.

The sound of someone approaching.


Can I Trust You? by Rob Gittins. Published October 2023 by Hobeck Books.

Purchase link: Can I Trust You? eBook : Gittins, Rob: Kindle Store


About the Book


Twenty years ago, his daughter vanished.

He was the last person to see her.

Twenty years to the day, a second girl vanishes.

He’s the last person to see her too.


Axel Petersen’s life imploded when his teenage daughter disappeared. Many

years later, no one knows where she is or what happened to her.

On the twentieth anniversary of his daughter’s disappearance, Axel meets a girl on

a train. She’s almost exactly the same age as his daughter was when she vanished. When they both leave the train at the final stop of a small rural line, he offers her a lift to her holiday cottage.

That girl disappears too.

With suspicion about his role in the two disappearances now at fever pitch, Axel plunges into the search for this second missing girl, becoming increasingly convinced there’s a strong connection between the present-day disappearance and the twenty-year-old mystery.

And he’s right, although in ways he can hardly begin to imagine…


Inspiration for Can I Trust You?

Author Rob Gittins explains here the unnerving personal experience that inspired his story:

We all have ‘What If?’ moments. This is mine.

A few years ago, I was on a train going home. There were just myself and a girl in her late teens in the carriage. We started talking. She told me she was on holiday, staying with friends in a village not far from my own. I gave her some tips on local sights.

At the station I went to collect my car, but then I heard her on her mobile, checking for taxis. There was a two hour wait, possibly longer. I also heard her checking on buses, but ours is a small rural halt. The last bus leaves the station at 8 pm. It was now well gone 9 pm and dark.

I hesitated, but then went back. I remember holding up my hands, almost in a surrender gesture as I approached. I was aware even then how dodgy this could look – a middle aged man approaching a young girl in this way. But she was on her own in a strange town with no means of getting where she needed to go. I told her I passed the small village where she was staying and offered her a lift.

Understandably, she hesitated too. But then she agreed. We got in my car, made small talk. But as we approached the village, she told me to drop her at the top of the lane leading down to the houses. I took that at the time as a sensible precaution. She trusted me enough to get into my car, but she really didn’t want a stranger to know exactly where she was staying.

The next morning, I made the reverse journey back to the station to catch another train. As I approached that same lane, I saw scenes of crime tape blocking it off. A uniformed officer stood guard, a police van and two white-suited figures visible behind. I stopped and asked what had happened. I’d later find out other drivers had slowed as they’d passed, but only I’d stopped. The officer told me a young girl had been attacked on that lane late the previous evening and was now in hospital.

In that moment I felt as if it wasn’t just me, but the whole world that was holding its breath. I’d given a lift to a young girl to that very spot that previous evening. Her DNA had to be all over my car. There were no witnesses to my story that I’d simply dropped her off and then gone home. And what was the very first thing I’d done the next morning? I’d returned to the scene of the crime.

That’s the starting point of Can I Trust You? published by Hobeck Books. It’s about a moment when things change forever.

In real life, the girl who’d been attacked was not the girl I dropped off. The girl who’d been attacked turned out to be the victim of a domestic assault and, so far as I know, the girl I met went on to enjoy an otherwise uneventful holiday. But what if she had been that girl?

I was also not taken in and questioned for a crime I did not commit. But what if I had been?


About the Author

Rob Gittins has written for a great number of the UK’s most successful long-running drama series, including CASUALTY, EASTENDERS, SOLDIER SOLDIER, EMMERDALE, HEARTBEAT, THE INDIAN DOCTOR and THE BILL.

In recognition of his work as the longest serving writer in the history of the show, Rob recently received an Outstanding Achievement Award for EASTENDERS.

He has also created and written two original TV series – TIGER BAY (BBC1) and IN THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS (ITV) – and twenty-five original plays for Radio 4.

Other writing work includes over a hundred episodes of THE ARCHERS; a drama series, LOSING PARADISE, which won the Gold Drama Prize at the New York International Radio Festival; and episodes for children’s series THE STORY OF TRACY BEAKER.

Rob was Executive Producer and joint lead writer on BBC Wales’ drama series CRASH, and Script Executive and writer on Sky 1’s STELLA, created by and starring Ruth Jones. Rob has also written a number of novels – including INVESTIGATING MR WAKEFIELD, currently being developed for television – and his feature film BLUE MONDAY received a premiere at BAFTA.

Rob’s eleventh novel, PRIVATE INVESTIGATION, will be published by Hobeck in June 2024


Website and Social Media


Twitter/X: @Gittins2Rob


I hope you enjoyed Front Page Fridays Week-3. Come along next Friday for another post.

And please take a look previous posts in the Front Page Fridays series:

Blood Ribbons by Lin Le Versha –

Fatal Blow by Brian Price –

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. She writes the Gloucestershire Crime Series, published by Hobeck Books. The first title is Her Deadly Friend, and the second is Her Charming Man. Her titles with HarperCollins are: The Roommates, a psychological thriller set in a university during freshers' week; The Good Teacher, a detective mystery, featuring DC Pippa “Agatha” Adams, and The Perfect Neighbours, a psychological thriller set in Germany. Rachel studied at Aberystwyth University, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her family. She holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham.

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