Monday, 7 December 2015
Common sense/self-defence tips for women.
As the party season draws ever nearer I thought it might be an idea to share a few safety tips with you all. At around this time last year I tweeted a number of safety tips for women. After having received some very positive responses about those tweets I have decided to put them out again this year. This time I have compiled them into a list so that you can cut, paste, copy and keep. They are in no particular order of preference as I believe each one holds equal status of importance.
These concepts are pretty much what you already know, however it doesn't hurt to have a little reminder, especially now that the Christmas and New Year celebrations are rapidly approaching. I don’t want you to get paranoid I just want you to think a little differently when you girls are out and about.
OUT AND ABOUT.
When you are out walking alone walk briskly, keep your head up and look around in a confident manner and keep your body erect as you are walking. Most street robberies will be perpetrated against people who look like suitable victims, your body language can give you away, for example being hunched over and moving slowly with your head down looking at the pavement. Muggers will be looking out for these signs, so don’t make yourself look like a victim, switch on as soon as you close that front door and stride out with confidence and purpose.
- Always go out with a crowd, you are far less likely to be attacked when in a group. People who are out and about on their own make the easiest targets for muggers.
- When out walking alone take the occasional glance over your shoulder to see if there is anyone behind you, if your gut instinct tells you something is wrong cross the street or go into a house that has its lights on and knock on the door.
- If you have to walk down a side street alone at night try to keep away from dark doorways and entrances to alleyways, stay to the edge of the kerb/sidewalk.
- If a car were to suddenly pull up beside you when out walking alone, never ever go over to it, do not speak to the occupants, increase your walking speed and keep moving. If necessary find a public place and call the police.
- When out walking alone face the traffic flow if possible. If someone were to try and force you into the car run across to the other side of the road this will make it difficult to turn the car around to come after you. Run as quickly as you can and find the nearest public place and again call the police.
- If you are coming home alone late at night to an empty house take a moment to look for obvious signs of a break in, if you do notice something suspicious do not enter the property, back off and go to a friend’s house if possible and phone the police immediately.
- It is in my opinion best not to accept drinks from strangers, and it’s also a good idea not to leave your drink unattended. It’s better to buy your own drinks that way you know what you’re drinking and how it should taste. It’s worth remembering that the drug most commonly used to spike drinks is in fact alcohol.
- If drinking from a bottle a simple and effective technique to combat drink spiking is to put the tip of your thumb over the top of the bottle. If drinking from a glass and you become suspicious just keep your hand over it. It’s also a good idea not to drink something you didn't open or see being opened or poured out by the bar staff.
- If you’re in a bar and feel light-headed, dizzy or that you are about to throw up ask someone you trust for help. If you’re alone tell the bar staff or the bouncer, don’t be afraid to approach the bouncer’s that’s what they are there for.
- If you’re alone or waiting for a friend in a bar and someone you don’t know is becoming a little creepier than usual make an excuse and go to the ladies toilets and use your phone to call your friends to come and rescue you.
- Always make sure you are picked up by a licensed cab that you have ordered. When ordering a cab make sure you are not overheard by strangers, someone could be listening in to your conversation and obtain your name and address.
Be smart be safe!
Please feel free to drop me a line, if you would like some more self defence advice just leave your email address at the top of the page and I’ll get back to you.
If you want to find out more about self defence check out www.billcarsonbooks.com
Thursday, 13 August 2015
"I used to be a murder squad detective, and a damned good one at that until I told them where they could shove it. It’s a long story. Now, I’m an inquiry agent, or what some people might call a private detective. I like to gamble and have the occasional drink. I'm old school, and I put my trust in my gut instincts and my brass knuckles." Nick Harland.
Charles Thorpe languidly strolled down the sunlit high street. He stopped at a bookshop and studied his pale, gaunt features in the reflection of the highly polished window.
He suddenly froze like a statue. His eyes widened as his gaze was drawn to a pretty young blonde girl in a short skirt, and a tight red T-shirt. His shameless stare enveloped her as she went by. His eyelids began to flicker as if in the midst of a convulsion, his eyeballs rolling back in their sunken sockets. Her aroma lingered on the warm, summer air, the fleeting moment had stirred something deep within him. He tilted his head back and his entire body tingled as he drank in her fresh, exquisite fragrance. He opened his eyes and savoured the last molecules of the sweet perfume of her youth. His jaw tightened and his pale lips drew back, revealing a set of coffee coloured teeth. He stood stock still and concentrated his gaze on the undulating cheeks of her pert backside.
'Satan is with thee, my child,' said the little voice inside his head.
Thorpe had served seventeen years for the murders of two young women, and in the eyes of the law the slate had now been wiped clean. His debt to society had been paid in full. The murderer was now out, and free to walk the streets once more. 'A reformed character and a model prisoner,' the Parole Board had said. Charles Edward Thorpe, A.K.A the Fallen Angel had fooled them good this time. As for his victims, they are but a distant memory, faded photos on dusty mantelpieces.
It was two o'clock in the morning and the air was thick, still and warm, and it was far too hot to even try to think about sleep. Through the opaque window of the Harland Detective Agency a dim yellow light burned. Inside, Nick Harland was sitting at his desk, deep in thought.
Me, a father? I can't seem to get my head around it, it feels so weird Nick thought. He was puzzled by the fact that he didn't seem to feel the same way everyone else did about the forthcoming happy event. He reached for the bottle of Bourbon on his desk, filled the shot glass to the brim, drank it, and drew on his cigarette. He eased back in the chair, and became lost in thought once more. His face was black and invisible now it was covered by the shadows. The tiny red tip of the cigarette glowed as he sucked the warm nicotine out of it. He aimed a long funnel of blue smoke at the ceiling, ran his fingers through his unkempt and damp hair and watched the small oscillating desk fan make strange shapes out of his cigarette smoke.
A photo of a pretty young girl in a red dress lay on his desk. The picture had been taken two years ago at the girls twenty-first birthday party. Her smiling eyes seemed to reach out to him. He leant forward, picked the photo up and began to study the beautiful face.
Missing persons, I hate these cases. It’s been a week now, so it'll now be a murder hunt for sure. She’s dead, I know it, and the last thing her family will want to see is a bill from me for my failed services he thought as he glanced at the invoice he'd just typed out.
"Where are you Sally? Come on, give me something to go on, God damn it" he said, asking the question as if in direct conversation with her. Nick stubbed out his cigarette and strolled over to the front door. He opened it and sucked in a long deep breath. A booming rumble of thunder came rolling in from the North, sounding like some colossal locomotive at full speed. Sheets of heavy rain turned the pavement into a black mirror within seconds. He stepped into the deserted street, turned his face skyward and gratefully accepted the downpour. He went back inside and took another shot of bourbon and opened the desk drawer. He swept his Colt 45, brass knuckles and car keys from the top of his desk into it and slammed it shut.
His damp shirt did its best to cling on to him as he wrestled out of it. He threw it over the back of the chair, switched out the lamp and slumped onto his comfy old sofa. He laid back and stared into the darkness. Listening to the hum of the little desk fan and the rumbling sky, he thought about Sally Fenton.
Nick woke to the warble of the phone. He threw his arm out and grabbed the handset. The call was from Detective Inspector Fleming. He told Nick that the body of a young woman fitting the description of Sally Fenton had just been discovered in West London.
The crime scene was ten miles from Nick's office and he arrived at the location within the hour. Nick pulled off the Great West Road and took a sharp left. As he turned the corner, he drove into the kind of neighbourhood that had you looking over your shoulder. The area was run down, and even at the height of a bright summer morning the place seemed to be a few shades darker than it should have been.
Up ahead, he could see the shiny ribbons of crime scene tape stretched across the road. He pulled over, switched off the engine and had a smoke. Even before he'd seen the body he was already thinking about how he was going to break the news to Sally Fenton’s mother.
Nick approached the first line of crime scene tape and was handed some CPE shoe covers by the police officer on duty outside the door of the disused factory. Nick ducked under the tape and it felt like a dozen cockroaches had just scuttled up and down his spine. It always felt like that with murder cases; no matter how many times he'd dealt with them, he always felt the same way - sick to his stomach. But even more so with this one. He entered the gloomy corridor of the disused factory.
It was semi dark inside and he had to play hopscotch with puddles of stagnant water. The shaft of light from the open doorway twenty feet away told him where he needed to be.
As he entered the room, the powerful spotlights erected by the crime scene team blazed down upon a slim, naked, pure white body of a young woman who was laid out on the cold concrete floor of the old workshop. Nick said nothing as he simply stood and surveyed the room. He crouched over the body and studied the burst blood vessels and purple spots on her once unblemished, attractive face. Such a great looking girl, and now. It's hard to believe it’s the same person, Nick thought as he lifted the page of the Bible that had been covering her face. He drew back her eyelids and the tiny pinpricks of red in the sclera of her eyes told him what he already knew. He cast his eye over her protruding tongue and stared into her bulging, bloodshot eyes. 'Strangled,' he whispered.
The girl’s delicate alabaster-like hands had been deliberately placed at her sides. Her hair had been brushed back and she was lying flat on her back with her legs together. His eyes moved slowly over the body and he took note of the two burned-out black candles. One was at her head and the other at her feet. The photo of her on his desk flashed into his mind.
"Morning Nick, she’s been unofficially identified, and it is Sally Fenton," Fleming said matter of factly as he pointed to a neatly folded pile of clothes in the corner. Her small black purse was on top, and on top of that was her credit card.
"Yeah, that’s her alright, poor kid," Nick said.
He moved in a little closer to examine the ligature marks around her slender white throat and then glanced at the candles once more. What is this, some kind of sick ritual? he thought.
"The killer used a thin cord, or wire cable perhaps?" Nick said and continued to study the marks around her throat.
"According to the doctor, the temperature of the body indicated that she was killed at around three this morning," Inspector Fleming said.
Nick got up, brushed the grime from his hands and went outside for a smoke, his tenth this morning. He took a huge draw on the cigarette and slowly released the smoke through his nostrils as he thought about the girls' parents.
Strangled eh? That page from the Bible’s a bit weird, and why nail the thing to her forehead? I hope that was done post-mortem, haven't seen anything like this for a while,he thought as he jotted down the details in his notebook.
You look dog rough, mate," Inspector Fleming said as he placed his hand on Nick's shoulder.
"Yeah, I couldn't sleep last night, and you ain't no oil painting either," Nick said, noting the two, fat, slug-like bags under Fleming's eyes.
"You fancy a breakfast, Nick? There’s a little café just up the road. You can get a couple of fried eggs, a greasy slab of bacon, a lump of slimy black pudding and a cup of lukewarm tea for two ninety-nine. Fleming said, noting the indications on Nick’s face of a possible hangover.
"No, I'm alright thanks, I think I'll give that a miss. Have you informed the next of kin, yet?" Nick said as he ripped off his shoe covers.
"No, not yet, I was thinking that seeing as you are working for the family directly, it might be better coming from you? And we do need an official identification of the body as well if you could swing it." Fleming said.
"Okay, leave it with me, I'll see you around," Nick said as he flicked his cigarette stub into the gutter and climbed into his black Ford Mondeo. He gently bumped the car off the pavement and drove slowly away. He kept his foot off of the accelerator and wasn't in a hurry to deliver the bad news.
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
"How do you write a good page turner?"
Read the first chapter of my latest crime thriller DARK CITY
Recently I was asked a question.
"How do you write a good page turner?"
I thought about it for a while and is was my response.
How I write:
Lots of people have a story to tell and its how it is told that makes the difference. For writing to be effective you must be able to understand the basic elements of storytelling. There are many fundamentals that make up a good intriguing story or page turner.
I would consider my crime thrillers to be what is sometimes referred to as hard-boiled or crime noir. I must confess I do favour narratives about good people who do bad things for good reasons. My stories are full of action and intrigue, I don’t just want the story to flow I want it to surge. I write about characters that are tough and quirky, carefree, exciting, loving, loyal, larger than life and dangerous. I like to write about the power of one and people who are up against the odds but carry on no matter what the cost. I write about people who are right at the end of their tether, and then I drop them in the deep end to see how they survive, if at all. I try to make the good characters likable and of course the opposite applies to the villains, I make them utterly detestable creatures.
The basic ingredients for writing a story:
Points of view, setting and dialogue.
Before you start your story you must make sure you know who is going to tell it. Simply put the first person narrative is when one of the main characters tells the story. The reader is ‘with’ the same person all through the book. The third person point of view is when both the writer and the reader know what is going on. The third person narrative can put one character on the stage all the time or there can be multiple view points, the action moves along from person to person. Third person point of view can be all knowing, the narrator knows everything that is going on in the characters minds and therefore can reveal these thoughts to the reader. By using breaks between the scenes and new chapters I can jump from one character to the other. I’m mindful not have too many characters telling the story as this can be confusing for the reader so I set a limit.
For me, it is essential that the description of the setting that the character or event is taking place in, must be described in detail in order to convey the right atmosphere. I must admit that I’m guilty of over doing this aspect on occasion, and I have to remember to reign myself in. I start with the basics, and embellish the scene until it feels right.
Basic points to remember: Is the scene taking place inside or outside? The elements are always important for conveying mood. Is it busy outside are there traffic jams are people rushing around? What time of day is it? Is it hot or cold outside etc? The sights, sounds, smells and colours of the world around your character must be described in succinct detail. I try to paint the picture for the reader and then lead them into it.
Setting: extracts are from Necessary Evils:
1. As he stepped outside a gigantic flash of lightning lit up the entire street, followed a split second later by a terrific detonation of thunder that shook the ground; he stood for a moment and gazed up in wonder as the battle raged amid the dark clouds.
Where is he going what does the scene convey to the reader? There is great drama building here.
2. He pulled the warm quilt over his head, curled into a ball, and tuned his ear to the sounds of the world outside, a despondent yelp of a dog, a rumble of thunder, the wail of a police siren.
Why is he hiding under the quilt? What has done? Where has he been? Are you hooked, do you want to read more do you feel the need to turn that page to find out what’s happened here and why?
Dialogue is quicker to read and therefore moves the reader faster through the story. Dialogue defines the character. I must confess that I do tend to use a good dose of colourful language in my dialogue, but for me, with the type of characters that are in my books, it would be strange not to have the odd curse or swear word in there somewhere.
Dialogue makes the distinction between characters, by the way they speak to each other. I keep it real, and just like an everyday conversation the sentences are kept relatively short.
Writing is an art form, a craft which takes a long time to perfect. The more you do it the better you become, for me it’s a slow process full of pitfalls and hurdles to overcome and can be a tremendously frustrating undertaking at times. However, to have a book that you have lost sleep over and have spent a year or two writing sitting in the palm of your hand, is a truly extraordinary experience.
Warm regards from your humble narrator, and best of luck with your writing endeavors,
Friday, 22 May 2015
The new thriller by Bill Carson
Greetings thrill seekers, epiphany is upon you, your journey has begun, enlightenment awaits.
The manuscript is now with my editor, so it won't be long now. Here's a sneaky peek at the cover.
The manuscript is now with my editor, so it won't be long now. Here's a sneaky peek at the cover.
It’s taken a while, but I am pleased to say that I am in a position to announce that I am in the final stages of completion of my new crime thriller, which is entitled Dark City. In this one we follow private investigator Nick Harland on his most perplexing and disturbing case to date as he tracks down a killer from the past.
This book has a rather complex plot and has lots of misleading clues and unexpected twists that are sure to keep you entertained well into the night. And that’s why it has taken me a little longer to write it.
The book is full of strange characters and there is a sense of danger lurking at each turn of the page. The story has a paranormal thread woven through it, and we meet Mr Marker who is a real odd ball psychic who Nick employs to help him find a serial killer. And so this book will also appeal to fans of the paranormal genre. There’s plenty of action in this one too, as would be expected. Also in this book for the first time I offer a glimpse inside the mind of Nick Harland, and we delve deeper into his mindset as the plot unfolds. And in doing so, we are asked to pass judgement on him, is he the good guy or one of the bad guys? The ending is cataclysmic but things are not quite what they seem, nothing is clear cut in this story and just when you think its over, it's not.
I think it's safe to say that you will have read nothing like it before, it is a very strange, absorbing and slightly disturbing, but nonetheless thrilling story. If you have read Never Say Die you will have been intrigued with the way that book ended. On the last page of Never Say Die, which is the prequel to Dark City, we are briefly introduced to a rather disturbing character called Charles Thorpe. Thorpe is an ex Catholic priest who has just been released from prison after serving seventeen years for murder.
I’ll say no more than that for now.
I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks for dropping by,
Saturday, 16 May 2015
Nemesis Kindle crime thriller free 1st chapter
Old school villains and non stop action 16 April 2014
Old school villains and non stop action 16 April 2014
Carson writes with energy and style. The villains are hard and the violence uncompromising. It read like a movie and the descriptions are vivid and the tension slowly escalates to the explosive finale. Really appreciated the technical writing and felt that Carson had a good handle on the London criminal scene and provided the humour and snappy dialogue of 'Snatch'. Would recommend this to anyone who likes their heroes and villains thoroughly hard boiled!
Fast and Furious! 6 Feb 2014
By M. Turner
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was drawn in by the end of the first page. The story pulls you in, and then takes you on a tense white knuckle ride as the characters try to right perceived wrongs. Second guessing doesn't work and you find yourself surprised at how the story unfolds. Great read, recommended.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bill Carson has excelled himself with this superbly written book. It grabbed me from page one and had me on the edge of my seat until the last page. The plot raced along like a roller coaster and I was gutted when I finished it. John Kane as the main character enthralled me - I empathize with him and fought alongside him. Everyone, at some stage in their life, has felt the "system" has let them down - and John Kane is your modern day Robin Hood who sets out to bring the establishment down. A great second book to Necessary Evils. If you haven't read them yet - what are you waiting for?
Copyright ©Bill Carson Books 2013
Bill Carson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author or publisher.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
Edgar Allan Poe.
The Sangin district of Afghanistan's Helmand province.
A small sandstorm of filthy brown dust came hurtling in out of nowhere. It swept up a myriad of plastic carrier bags, old newspapers and a host of other pieces of detritus, and deposited them all over the small, dirty, desolate war-torn town. It had been a particularly hot and oppressive morning. The mornings here were much the same weather-wise and the temperature was steadily rising. By the afternoon it’d be up somewhere around a hundred degrees, which would make the inescapable rancid stink of the place even worse.
Inside the bedroom of the three-storey abandoned building, the sniper had tacked some tattered, soiled, blood-spattered bed sheets to the walls and ceiling which sagged like the ragged sails of some ancient ship-wrecked vessel. The bed sheets were designed to conceal movement and to deflect the searing sunlight away from the two men hiding in the top floor flat of the crumbling apartment. The bipod of the AS50 anti-material sniper rifle rested on top of a small chest of drawers. The barrel of the formidable weapon poked out of a hole in the sheet and was pointing directly at the hole in the wall which had been made by a 40mm thermobaric explosive projectile during a fierce fire fight the previous day.
Suddenly, from beneath his desert camouflage netting, the sniper spotter noted a movement and it was the black-garbed mortar fire director who was the target they had been hunting for the past three days. He was moving back and forth behind a brick wall at fifteen hundred yards out and dead ahead.
This particular mortar team had been responsible for a bombardment of incredibly accurate and destructive ordnance on the forward operating base of the British forces. However, the elusive leader of the mortar team was now at just over three quarters of a mile away and had finally made the mistake they had been waiting for. He had moved the mortar tube to another location which was a little closer to the base. At this distance, he and his team had no reason to suspect that it would be an unsafe spot to operate their deadly Russian 82mm mortar from. They were wrong. From their observation post the British forces could see that part of the wall that they were hiding behind had a large chunk missing out of the top which had created a crescent shaped dip, and that’s where the shot had to be taken.
Andy Ryan steadied the bipod on the rifle and carefully slotted in the magazine, and then slowly pulled back the bolt which loaded a massive .50 calibre round into the breech.
He readjusted the optics and concentrated the scope on the middle of the crescent-shaped breach in the wall. The black turbaned head of the target filled the scope, and Ryan’s right eye immediately zeroed in.
“The next time you do that you’ll be history, my old son,” he whispered.
He took a slow deliberate breath and settled his heart rate, offset the shot a fraction allowing for the breeze, and by using the chevrons on the optics he calculated the amount of bullet drop compensation. The waiting was torture.
What if he’s fucked off for a kip or something? We might never get another crack at this bastard, thought Ryan.
The deliberation had barely left his mind when the huge black-tipped projectile exited the barrel in a flash of a moment and was travelling toward its target at three thousand feet per second. Just over a second later the unfortunate recipient’s existence ended in an abrupt manner.
“Sayonara,” Ryan whispered.
The extraordinarily long-range kill was confirmed later that day by a Ghurkha patrol, who had found a black-clad body behind the wall minus its head.
Porn king Tony Costa had been dead for a while now, murdered on that fateful night by his nemesis, the deranged John Kane, but Tony didn’t run the family business alone and above him was his infamous older brother Jimmy. Even though Tony (God rest his soul) used to be a real hard man in his day and had personally put quite a few people in the ground, Jimmy made Tony look like Mary Poppins in comparison as he was the real psycho of the family. Abandoned by their Italian father at a young age, they were brought up by their domineering, aggressive and sometimes violent mother, and Jimmy and Tony had decided early on that no one was going to look after them and so they would have to take what they could get on the streets and look after themselves.
Armed with this self-seeking survivalist mentality, they became a law unto themselves. Jimmy was thirteen when he committed his first murder. He did it by taking a screwdriver from the tool box in his garden shed. The next day he took it to school, and while the ten-year-old Tony held his victim down, Jimmy pushed the long, thin steel shaft of the screwdriver through the throat of the school bully. Jimmy and Tony were both sent to the notorious Borstal prison in Rochester, where they spent the next three years being groomed and indoctrinated into the fine art of the violent criminal, and this was where they began to learn the profession of sadism which Jimmy seemed to excel in.
After their release, Jimmy had progressed from hand tools and for his next murder his name would become legendary. At the age of nineteen he captured a local drug dealer who thought that he could operate independently on his manor. Jimmy decided to send out a message to all other would-be transgressors to dissuade anyone with similar thoughts. Jimmy had taken the drug dealer back to his lock up garage, tied him to a chair and proceeded to slice the man in two from head to groin with a chainsaw.
His name and reputation grew steadily with his penchant for this type of extreme violence, and he was soon becoming a much feared and respected individual. By the age of twenty-five the very mention of his name, or that of his brother, would send a shiver down the spine of even the most callous of the gangster fraternity.
Jimmy had quickly moved on from getting his hands dirty on the murky little sordid vice-ridden streets of North London, and left the sleazy side of the business to his brother, who seemed to revel in it. Jimmy’s strategy, like all good strategies, was simple and he just simply tortured and murdered anyone who got in his way. However, the trademark murders were of a particularly nasty and unpleasant nature and involved the use of industrial tools. He had of late acquired a particular fondness for the use of power drills. With the implementation of such tactics, the message soon got around and he was quickly crowned the youngest king to ascend the throne of Britain’s underworld.
And so over the years Jimmy Costa had been busy, and had managed to merge all factions of the underworld unto him. Now he had a vast international multi-faceted drug distribution empire in operation, interwoven with a net of fear that was cast far and wide. But, for the first time in his reign as king of the underworld, doubt had been cast upon him.
He was very much concerned by the attack at the Vamps night club and the subsequent murder of his younger brother. The thing that bothered him most was the rumour of it being a possible take-over bid by a rival gang. The part of it that was puzzling was the fact that he was sure he would have heard a whisper about anyone having such designs on his realm, given the countless numbers of eyes and ears he had out there on the streets. But there was nothing, not before the murder or after, and for the moment there was no indication of who the perpetrators were. There was no clue and so the whole thing was a complete and utter mystery. However, after twenty-five years of rule there was one thing that he was sure of, and that was that someone somewhere knew something. He knew that if he did enough asking/interrogating, it wouldn’t be long before a few arses started twitching and a few tongues would start to wag, and someone would eventually be spilling their guts.
To him it was all about saving face, and in this precarious game you couldn’t be seen to be taking a backward step; you could only go forward. Jimmy now felt in the strongest terms possible that he had to regain the respect he considered he’d lost with the attack on his brother’s domain. In the culture of the gangster, respect was the most important element and it simply had to be upheld, and he was prepared to do almost anything to uphold it.
There were some very serious repercussions brewing from the destruction of brother Tony’s domain; the loss of the influence that he held over all of those judges, MPs and high ranking police officers was now gone, due to their exposure in the newspapers. His most prized possession, ‘reputation’, was now on the line and it was clearly getting to him. Paranoia, that dreaded dark slayer of rational thought, had crept inside Jimmy’s head. Paranoia is the worst thing that can happen to men who hold absolute power, and when they start to feel as if they’re losing their grip, all the other advantages that got them to the top start to slide as well.
Over the past six months he had become utterly obsessed with what had happened to his brother. He lived in fear of the thought that it may well happen to him, and that these unknown executioners of his own flesh and blood could be now secretly calculating his downfall as well. Who are they? Can they be some of my very own people? Who can I really trust? he kept saying to himself. To compound the issue, he’d heard on good authority that his name had been mentioned across the water. Whether it was true or not it didn’t matter; it’s like that with paranoia, everything gets blown out of proportion and an innocuous off-the-cuff remark can sometimes develop into a gigantic conspiracy.
Jimmy had decided to summon all of his captains for an important meeting, and had prepared a magnificent four-course dinner at his superlative headquarters, a private hotel in the wilds of the Essex countryside. This ten-bedroom hotel was set within a beautiful, stunning location, with one long straight road in and one long straight road out. The solid rectangular sandstone building stood alone amidst green fields and rolling hills, the spectacular views occasionally interrupted by groves of colossal oak trees. Amongst their unyielding branches were the ever-present mobs of bickering crows. Aside from their peculiar disjointed haunting cries, it was always unnervingly quiet out there and the place was almost church-like in its construction and aura, and that’s why he liked it.
Jimmy had once stayed at the hotel many years ago and had liked the place so much that he immediately made the owner an offer. Even though it wasn’t up for sale, he was sure he could persuade the owner to come around to his way of thinking. Basically, the message was, either lose your hotel or lose your life, and he got it across by nailing the poor chap’s feet to the floor, where he was left to contemplate the issue. He decided on the lesser of the two evils. The place became the hub of Jimmy’s operations as it was here that he felt safe, and so it was the perfect venue for this unpleasant gathering.
The guest list read like the cast of a horror film, and first to enter the ominous gloomy banqueting hall was the Glasgow pyromaniac, Rubber Legs Jim, and his associate, Robert the Juice, so named for his expertise with the use of electricity when torturing. The hunched-over skulking figure of the north-eastern assassin, One-Eyed Jack the Crippler slipped in next. The vile Avonmouth Axe-man strolled in a moment later, and looked very much at home within the medieval surroundings of the hall. He was followed by Ahmed Ali, the Butcher of Bradford, who actually was a real butcher, amongst other things. He and the Axe-man never saw eye to eye, and so Jimmy had to have them at opposite ends of the table to avoid an unscheduled bloodbath.
Last to enter the smoke-filled, alcohol-fumed hall were the scourges of the south: Derek the Devil, Billy ‘Potty’ Brooks of Brentford, and Johnnie the Ice-Man Carter, so called because of his fondness for freezing his victims prior to their disposal, and his pal Pete the Pill. These four were Jimmy’s drug distribution and extortion racket specialists.
The handles that these gentlemen had acquired may sound a little quirky to some, or they may even seem to evoke a kind of roguish old world charm. You may even find that their monikers have a slightly amusing air to them. There was absolutely nothing remotely quaint or amusing about these people, they were the most sadistic band of killers to have been assembled under one roof since Hitler’s henchmen were put on trial in Nuremburg. They were just as scary and as ruthless as their aforementioned counterparts, and collectively were responsible for the murder, torture and blackmail of thousands of innocent law-abiding hard-working citizens.
After the main course had been devoured, Jimmy rose slowly from his chair. He removed his black dinner jacket and hung it on the back of his chair; he then unpinned his diamond studded cufflinks, and rolled up the sleeves of his silk shirt which revealed his powerhouse forearms. He was a big, good looking man with the kind of face that would turn a women’s head whenever he walked past. Sadly, for them, he’d never been interested in the female form.
Jimmy always kept himself in good shape and trained every day in his purpose-built gymnasium in the basement of his hotel. Jimmy was wide shouldered and slim-waisted, and his tailored white silk dress shirt accentuated his robust upper body musculature. With his slicked-back black hair and olive skin and lantern jaw he looked like something out of a 1940s gangster movie, which was exactly how he saw himself. He stood still for a moment with his hands on his hips, and glanced around the table at each of his guests. Then he lightly tapped the side of his crystal champagne flute with the blade of his knife. The din dissipated to a soft murmur as he began to speak.
“OK, lads, I’m going to start by asking you all to join me in a toast,” he said, and as he raised his glass out in front of him they all stood up. “Here’s to old friends and to friends and family who are sadly no longer with us.” He paused as he surveyed the faces around the table. “I’d like to make another toast, here’s to loyalty.”
He then took a small sip of champagne and peeked over the rim of his glass, his black eyes swivelling from side to side as he scrutinised each of their faces as they all followed suit.
“Now, I suppose you’re all wondering why I’ve called this unprecedented little gathering.” He paused once more and studied them again for a moment before continuing. “OK, I’ll now put you out of your misery. This meeting was called in order to establish a few things. It’s cards on the fucking table time, lads, and I’m gonna ask you all a very important question which I want you to seriously think about. What I want to know is, are you all happy with your present situations?”
The question completely flummoxed them, and the room became deathly quiet. Jimmy gave them a few seconds for the gravity of the question to sink in and then spoke up once more.
“OK, so no one seems to have an answer, so from that I can assume then that you are all happy in your work and no one has any delusions of grandeur or ambition, then?”
He then began to swagger around the table, pausing here and there, but all the time continuing with his speech. He started to talk about his brother’s murder and then dropped the bombshell that he thought that there may be a traitor amongst the ranks. He deliberately timed the proclamation to coincide with his arrival behind Pete the Pill’s chair and, as he stopped the temperature in the room seemed to plummet. His olive-skinned face suddenly turned pale and twisted into a grotesque mask beset with two small black diamonds for eyes as he produced a club hammer from behind his back.
The hammer was swiftly brought down onto the top of Pete’s skull with a powerful, sickening crack that echoed around the room. The skull was virtually split in two from the blow, and part of Pete’s brain was now made clearly visible to all. Jimmy quickly and aggressively wedged Pete’s limp body against the edge of the table with the chair, and then began to smash the lifeless head into an unrecognisable, stomach-turning, oozing mush. With the last blow, Pete’s jaw shattered and a number of his teeth shot out in all directions. One flew up and plopped straight into Rubber Legs Jim’s whiskey. He calmly fished the offending article out and downed the scotch without another thought. By the time Jimmy had finished, Pete’s head had become flatter than the dinner plate he’d been eating from a few minutes beforehand.
After brutally battering Pete, Jimmy calmly turned and walked back to his chair, hammer in hand, and resumed his place at the head of the table. His white silk dress shirt was covered with blood splats and small blobs of red and white jelly from Pete’s brain. Despite his sickeningly cruel desecration of a human being, there was absolutely no traceable emotion on his face.
“Right then, anyone got anything they wanna fucking tell me? What about you, Bill? Pete was one of your crew, you got something you need to get off your chest?” he said, as all eyes in the room now suddenly focused on Billy.
“No, guvnor, not me,” Billy said nervously, and gazed at Pete’s sagging pathetic body as his blood and cerebral fluid trickled from the table top like extra thick treacle. Billy nervously turned and glanced over his shoulder at Johnnie Carter, his eyes boring into him, pleading for some form of assistance.
“Hey, Johnnie what about you? Anything you wanna say about Pete’s last supper? You two go ways back, so come on, speak up. Ice Man, you’re not usually lost for words, you got a problem with that?” challenged Costa derisively, and gestured toward Pete with the moist hammer head.
Pete and Johnnie were old pals. They’d grown up together and Johnnie’s heart burned with hatred toward Costa for what he’d just done, but he hid his true feelings well. He had no choice but to do so as he knew that he was being goaded and set up into making a move, and if he did he’d be next to get nailed. Billy was still eyeballing him, and Johnnie knew that if he gave Billy the nod he would go straight for Costa’s throat with the steak knife: he wasn’t called ‘potty’ for nothing. But the Ice Man nonchalantly sat back and shook his head, which sent two messages, one to Billy to relax, and one to Costa in answer to his question. Inside, though, he was just itching to reach down for the small Smith and Wesson Derringer pistol strapped to his ankle.
However, he knew it would have been a futile attempt, as at that moment out from the shadows at the back of the dimly lit hall the monstrous figure of Costa’s bodyguard presented itself. This was undefeated bare knuckle boxing champion, six-foot-two-inch, twenty-stone, scar-faced Frank ‘Iron Jaw’ McConnell. He ambled toward the table in a slow and deliberate manner, and was like some kind of deranged Frankensteinesque automaton as he came to a halt behind Costa. He stood still for a moment and then got everyone’s undivided attention with the swift click-clack of the forestock on the pump action shotgun as it loaded a buckshot shell into the chamber.
Costa raised his open hand and stood and glared at them all for a moment as he waited for the room to quieten. Standing there with the way he was dressed and with the manner of his pose, he really did look the part of the legend that was ‘psycho’ Jimmy Costa.
This illustrious horde of villainous murderers was spellbound and captivated, totally awestruck at the sudden explosion of extraordinary viciousness toward one of their own. Pete had done nothing wrong, and had only served as the sacrificial lamb to the slaughter in order to send a clear message to those doubters out there that Jimmy Costa was still as ruthless as ever, still the boss of bosses, still the absolute guvnor. For the next five minutes he went into a rant and was thumping the moist club hammer against the oak table top to emphasize each point, his face a deranged twisted mask of pure evil as he spat out his words of venom.
“Find the pieces of shit that killed my brother. I want you to flush them out and bring them back here to me, and I want them alive,” he said, and then sat down and calmly poured himself a glass of Dom Pérignon.
Everyone in the room was momentarily stunned into silence; mouths were agape, eyes were wide and brows were furrowed. They all just sat and looked at one another for answers.
“Well, what are you all fucking waiting for, or do you want me to draw you a picture?” Jimmy roared.
And at that point it was safe to say that dessert had been cancelled and the dinner was over.
“Hey, Billy you and John hang about, I need to have a word,” Costa said, as everyone else shuffled out of the room.
Billy Brooks and Johnnie Carter were silent for the majority of the journey, and Billy broke the silence first.
“Whadaya think then, John? About what Costa done to our Pete, I mean?”
“I don’t like liberty takers Bill and never have done, and that was a stone cold fucking liberty if I ever saw one.”
“Do you think Pete had anything to do with turning over Tony’s gaff, then?” Billy said.
“Fuck me, Bill, of course not, he was with me the night that shithole was turned over. He was just being used as a scapegoat and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jimmy never liked Pete anyway. I think he came on to him once and Pete wasn’t having it, and that’s all it was and if Pete wasn’t there, it would have been some other poor bastard tonight. But when I say ‘liberty taker’, I meant about him telling us to get rid of the fucking body.”
At four a.m. the dark blue S-type Jaguar with Pete’s battered body trussed up in the boot purred through Richmond High Street, and headed up the hill toward the river.
“This was one of his favourite spots, wasn’t it, Johnnie?” Billy said, as the fat front tyre of the Jag thudded into the deep kerb and bounced up onto the pavement on the crest of the bridge.
“Get weaving Bill, we ain’t got all fucking night,” Johnnie said, as Bill hauled Pete’s body from the boot. They had prepared the body for disposal in their usual tried and tested manner, by firstly taking the body back to one of their lock up garages that they had dotted about the capital. Pete’s pathetic carcass was laid out on the floor, his legs were broken and trussed up behind him to shorten the bundle, and he was then bound in chicken wire and three twenty-pound weightlifting disks were secured to his ankles with a thick chain and a sturdy padlock.
This was the disposal method that they preferred; it was nice and clean for one thing and with no mess to clear up afterward. It was also preferable to freezing and then hacking the body into small chunks and as it was Pete, that just wasn’t on.
“What’s the delay, Bill? Just fucking sling him over the side will ya, before we get fucking nicked,” Johnnie Carter grumbled. As he checked the door mirror he could see that the road behind them was deserted for the moment. “Right, Bill, it’s all clear, do it now!” Johnnie said, as he revved the Jag’s engine.
It wasn’t the first time that they’d deposited something or somebody over the side of this particular bridge, and it probably wouldn’t be the last time, either. However, it was the first time they’d used it to dispose of one of their own crew and no matter what way they looked at it, it didn't sit right and was something that was always going to stick in their craw. As Pete’s body hit the swirling water it hardly made a sound, and it was as if even in death he was still honouring the underworld code of silence. The body immediately submerged, and the unforgiving ancient waters enveloped it like a big cold black blanket for all eternity.
“What are we gonna do about this one, Johnnie?”
The Ice Man thought for a moment before offering a reply. “Well what do you think we should do, Bill?”
“I dunno, but I do know I don’t like it, he was one of our own, John. It’s not on.”
“I need a fucking drink,” Johnnie said as Bill nodded in agreement, he then hit the accelerator and within seconds the red tail lights of the dark blue Jaguar had merged into the darkness.
And so, with Costa’s message well and truly hammered home, his ‘dogs of war’ were let loose and would now engage all of the middle and lower elements of his federation of fear. An angry hornet’s nest of the most vile, vicious villains had been shaken up and had been rallied for a nation-wide underworld search to find the mastermind behind this treacherous take-over bid. Jimmy wanted revenge, had to have revenge, and would have revenge.
There was only one other thing left for Jimmy to do now, and that was to contact a man called Harold Harper.
In all walks of life you have amateurs and professionals, and you also have individuals who have outrivaled all others at a particular occupation or pastime. Like a chess player or a black belt in the martial art of karate, for example, their skills having been honed through decades of unrelenting dedication to eventually reach the highest levels humanly possible and become grand masters of their craft.
Harold Harper was such a man, and his particular craft was assassination. To date there was none better in the land. He was at the very top of his game; a top drawer specialist of death, a consummate professional, and the most ruthlessly unrelenting executioner of the modern era.
To describe Harold was difficult, as he was an unassuming character, and yet at the same time there was something distinctly odd and memorable about him. It was more of a feeling that you got rather than the look of the man, because his outward appearance was rather ordinary. He was softly spoken and of average height and had a light physique, but at the same time was strong, quick and nimble. His face was unlined and his skin smooth, and some said that he was of middle age and others believed he was a little older, but the problem was no one had ever got a good enough look at him, so no one really knew.
It was a clever deception and it was no accident that he had acquired this type of secretive mysterious persona. It was a necessary and deliberate methodology, and something that persons employed in this cold, friendless and appalling line of work had to adopt if any longevity were to be attained.
And so Harold had chosen to lead a very cautious existence. He had a double life and no one really knew who he was or where he came from. He could be anybody. He was the kind of person you could pass on the street and you wouldn’t give him a second glance. By day, he could be the friendly postman with the pleasant smile as he bids you good morning, or the humble factory worker just going about his everyday business in an uncomplaining, quiet manner, or the man who sweeps the road outside your house.
Harold was very well suited to his line of work, and after years of killing he had become totally and utterly unfettered by emotion. He did have one or two quirks, and one was the fact that he was always extremely smartly turned out, and when working he would always wear the exact same outfit, of which he had several sets, all neatly hanging in a well-ordered row in his wardrobe. This apparel consisted of a long navy blue raincoat, a pair of navy blue trousers, a crisp white linen shirt, and a pair of brown brogues, all of which were always purchased from the same small tailor’s shop in Jermyn Street in London. The antiquated establishment was perfect for him, as it was devoid of any CCTV cameras, and the frail elderly eloquent man who ran the place was always very discreet. It was a refreshing delight for him to encounter such old world charm. The other reason why he’d also chosen this particular gentleman’s outfitters was simply because he liked the place; the Victorian décor and old ways appealed to him as Harold had adopted a mind-set that was in complete denial of the modern age.
Everything about Harold was clean, his white shirt was pristine and spotless, his dark blue trousers were clean and pressed with a military crease that you could cut your throat on, and his brown brogues were always immaculate. And like his outward appearance, his kills were fastidiously clean. Whenever possible he would make sure the location of the murder was clean and tidy afterwards, and he’d even straighten up the corpses and give the place the once over with a yellow duster which he always carried when working, and subsequently left at the scene. That’s why Jimmy gave him the nickname of Mr Sheen.
There were, however, some peculiar prerequisites when meeting with Mr Sheen, the most important stipulation being that he insisted upon the meeting taking place only after dark and in a room of semi-darkness. It must remain darkened for the duration of the meeting and also must stay that way until his departure from the building. Some years ago, there had been an unfortunate occurrence involving a small French firm in Paris. When this small outfit needed someone removed, they sent for the best in the business; the room was darkened on his arrival as per his instructions, but unfortunately as they concluded their business someone had inadvertently switched the lights on. Everyone saw his face quite clearly, which, sadly for them, was the last one they would ever set eyes on. Harold proceeded to kill every living thing in the room within a blink of an eye.
As the last delicate subtle quaint chimes from the antique French grandfather clock faded into the night, Jimmy’s phone buzzed with a message to say that the man he had been waiting for had arrived. A moment later there was a knock on Jimmy’s office door, and the room suddenly felt a degree or two cooler and the hairs on the back of Jimmy’s neck automatically stood endwise. Harold’s presence always left you feeling a little peculiar. No matter who you were.
“Good evening, Mr Costa,” Harold Harper said in a low, barely audible polite whisper, as he closed the heavy leather studded door to the plush darkened office at the very top of Jimmy’s hotel stronghold.
“Harold, come in, good to see you again old friend, how long’s it been, five years?” Jimmy said as he rose from behind his magnificent Chippendale writing desk. He turned the dimmer switch down another notch, to be on the safe side as he moved toward Harold. He offered his hand and then withdrew it just as quickly remembering another peculiarity of Harold’s, which was that he never ever shook hands.
“Four years and three months to be exact, Mr Costa. You may recall that it was the Craig gang contract when we last met,” he said, as he turned his back and faced the door and removed his black wax cap to shake the rain drops from it. He then quickly repositioned it and pulled the peak down low, and turned to face Jimmy once more, and all that could be seen of Harold’s features were his mouth and chin, the rest being covered by cap and shadow.
“That’s right, and what an outstanding piece of work that was; clean as a whistle and sweet as a nut.”
“Thank you, Mr Costa, that’s praise indeed,” he said a little excitedly. His eyes widened as the cogs in the twisted apparatus of his mind began to crank as he recalled the night of the half dozen murders, all clean shots, one apiece, all right between the eyes, all killed with his trade mark suppressed Colt 45 automatic pistol.
“Please take a seat, Harold. Now, I have a very important job that I would like you to consider, but before we start may I offer you a drink?”
“Yes, thank you, Earl Grey, black, if I may be so bold, Mr Costa.”
“Are you sure I couldn’t tempt you with something a little stronger, Harold?” Jimmy said as he held up the hand-cut lead crystal brandy decanter from the antique tantalus.
“No thank you Mr Costa, I’m totally abstemious, teetotal you understand. It doesn’t pay to drink alcohol in my line of work, got to keep the hands steady you see.” He held out his slender, long-fingered right hand to demonstrate the point.
“Glad to hear it Harold,” Jimmy said, as he phoned down to the kitchen for some tea.
They sat in the office and burned the midnight oil, and as Jimmy filled him in with all the details Harold became totally engrossed. After two hours, the fee and the terms of the contract had been agreed. The job would cost five hundred thousand pounds, with half to be paid in advance. Jimmy reached under the desk and handed Harold a silver aluminium security briefcase containing half the money, which Jimmy had personally counted, twice.
“Don’t you want to count it, Harold?” Jimmy said in a slightly flippant manner, as he handed Harold the case.
“Mr Costa, you jest, we are both consummate professionals and as professionals we have a bond of trust, do we not? And dearie me, I wouldn’t like to imagine the consequences of such an oversight,” he said as he slowly rose from the chair.
“Relax, it’s just my little joke, Harold, it’s all there, I counted it myself. The combination is one, nine, five, nine, and I hope to hear from you soon,” Jimmy said, as he slowly moved behind his desk while gesturing toward the door.
“You can count on that, Mr Costa,” Harold said as he nimbly backed out of the room, with one hand grasping the handle of the briefcase, and the other resting on the chequered wooden grip of the heavy 1911 Colt 45 automatic lodged in his fleece lined leather shoulder holster. His footsteps made no sound, and his eyes were locked on and never moving from Costa. Creepy little fucker. Jimmy thought. His shoulders involuntarily juddered as a cold shiver trickled down his spine like ice water as the door closed.
The next day, Harold and his silver briefcase were on board the night train bound for King’s Cross station in London, in pursuit of the murderers of Tony Costa.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you've enjoyed reading the first chapter of Nemesis. Please leave a comment.
Currently working on the fourth in the series Dark City release date: Autumn 2015
Best regards Bill.