Work in Progress
Although I frequently decide to concentrate only on one book at a time, I inevitably find myself with more ideas than I need, so end up with several works in progress. At the moment, I’m busy with several new books, including:
Six Feet Under
Why do bad things always happen on a Friday?
As an old friend of mine used to say, the day had been a crock of crap from arsehole to breakfast time. Torrential rain and the promise of thunder on waking up that morning, left me in no doubt that a forty-mile-round-trip wasn’t a good idea. But time is money, as some boring fart once said, so I told myself to get on with it and stop complaining. In any case, the journey wouldn’t take much more than half an hour each way, and if the story turned out to be true, I needed to know for sure.
Thunder came and went, but the rain persisted. Standing by the window in the flat I shared with Carol, I congratulated myself for having the sense to take another day off from taxi driving—shitty weather’s bad enough, but shitty weather and whinging punters would tip the balance the wrong way. By late afternoon, it became obvious the dull grey clouds had no intention of moving on, so grabbing my keys and my old Parka, I headed downstairs.
Once I hit the A1, the traffic thinned out—sensible people were staying indoors. By the time I turned onto the last stretch of road that led to my destination, the sky had taken on a nice shade of murky with a touch of gloom. The narrow lane and overhanging trees made it difficult to see the entrance to the old airfield, forcing me to slow right down so as not to miss it completely.
Pulling into the entryway, I parked next to a wide metal gate. With my hood up, I climbed out of the car and splashed across to the fastening that held the gate shut, but a loop of chain and a hefty padlock told me I wouldn’t be getting through this way anytime soon.
With no option but to walk, I locked the car and checked up and down the lane. No-one around. Not that it mattered—wasn’t as if I intended doing anything illegal. My phone told me it had just gone four o’clock, though from the state of the sky, it could easily have been the middle of the night.
The five-bar gate blocked the road but left enough room on either side for a medium-sized amateur sleuth to slide through. On the other side, I stood gazing down the cracked concrete road that, years ago, had been the domain of bikers every weekend, as they raced each other down the quarter-mile stretch before the road veered off to the right. Before the bikers found it, the place had been used to train air gunners during World War Two. More recently, it had come into use as a site for car boot sales, the long runways perfect for lines of cars and hopeful sellers, with their displays of household goods, second-hand clothes and other shite.
Tranwell Woods bordered the site on one side, encroaching over the handful of old wartime buildings that still nestled here and there among the trees and along the fringes of the runways. From the main track I couldn’t see anything that looked remotely like what Lennie had described, but according to the map he’d given me, the entrance ought to be about a hundred yards down and over to the right, close to the trees.
The rain had finally let up a little, and pushing my hood back, I started towards the x-marks-the-spot point Lennie had marked on the map. Reaching the bend in the weed-infested road, I stood for a moment staring at the runway and the immediate area near the trees, searching the ground for any sign of a man-made structure. Thirty or so yards in, I could make out the corner of a long-forgotten shed, its remaining walls overgrown with weeds and ivy. According to Lennie, the hatch had been close to the ruins of one of the old sheds. But he’d been adamant that it lay on the fringes of the woods, on the edge of the old concrete road. And anyway, no-one in their right mind would consider digging tunnels or anything else right in amongst the dense undergrowth. No. It had to be out here. Turning slowly around in a full circle, I surveyed the remains of the airfield, stretching out to the west.
I walked along the road, as it curved around to the right, but there were no signs of anything other than occasional piles of household rubbish dumped by people who couldn’t be bothered to traipse along to the Council tip. Gazing around, I wondered if Lennie had got it wrong? He wasn’t the brightest spark, but I’d taken him at his word. And even knowing what I did about the BMW, I couldn’t imagine the whole story would be a lie.
Facing the woods again, I forced my way through the brush, hands stretched out, pushing away spindly snake-like creepers. Ducking down to avoid an overhanging branch, I straightened up again. And that’s when something fist-shaped came out of left field and collided with the side of my head.
As I fell backwards, a patch of blue sky appeared high above me. The sight of it might’ve brought a smile to my face if the owner of the fist hadn’t chosen that moment to deliver a hefty kick to my ribs. A grunt from behind made me twist round as I hit the earth. The hooded figure of a man loomed over me, muttering words that made no sense. As I opened my mouth to say something, the boot zoomed in for another go and everything went black.
Blood on the Tyne: Head Shots
The dance invitations came by way of my barmaid friend, Cindy, who’d wangled herself two free tickets and then fallen down the back steps at the club and put her ankle out. My commitments to Ricky and the band, as well as my new regular spot at the Majestic, restricted my free time, so a night off was something to be cherished. And given that my current list of friends could be counted on one hand, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to develop an actual social life. With only my drinks to pay for, I quickly ran out of excuses not to go.
Dragging our Sheila along for company ensured there’d be someone to talk to if the evening turned out to be dull. My sister’s new resolution to return to work and her need to ‘get back into the swing of things’ after all that trouble with Charlie Box and that bent copper, seemed reason enough—even Bob encouraged her to let her hair down a bit.
Catching the bus into town made it feel like old times again, though Sheila hadn’t entirely given up her whinging nature, and complained about her new shoes pinching all the way along Bridge Street, until I insisted she take them off. We reached our destination—the Oxford Galleries—and joined the queue to get in, chatting to a couple of Sheila’s pals. Then Lucy turned up and squashed in front of us, telling the folks behind that we’d ‘kept her place’.
That Saturday night was the first time I’d gone anywhere remotely exciting since moving into the new flat. It was also the first time I met Lucy Clayton—a flighty blonde-haired school friend of our Sheila’s, who had her heart set on becoming a glamour model. Perhaps if I’d taken more interest in Lucy’s conversation, instead of drinking too many gin and tonics, I might’ve noticed her slightly odd behaviour, or seen something of the rabbit-in-the-headlights look that Sheila remembered later, after we read about what happened to her in the papers.
I saw Lucy again a few days afterwards, during a rehearsal. A band called The Wandering Wanderers had lost their vocalist and rather than force them to either cancel or find someone else, Frankie Fenwick had offered my services for their gig at the Majestic. I didn’t mind, as they were a nice bunch of guys and I knew all the songs, and though it was an extra date to what I’d arranged with Frankie, I didn’t like to turn work down.
We’d stumbled our way through the agreed song list during the afternoon and were about to take a break, when I noticed Lucy hanging around at the back of the hall with a couple of the staff. Her eyes were on me as she talked to Eddie the barman, pulling at his sleeve like a needy child. He gave me a little wave and jerked a thumb at Lucy—a sign I took that she wanted to see me.
Five minutes later, I crossed the hall to the end of the bar where Eddie washed glasses, upending each one on a towel across the rear counter.
“Where’d she go?” I said, leaning over the bar.
Eddie gave me a wink and nodded towards the back door. “Just nipped oot for a smoke, pet. Said she’d be back in a minute, like.”
But Lucy never did come back and the next time I saw her face it had been plastered across the Evening Chronicle, above the headline, ‘Newcastle Model Found Dead’.
I didn’t know it then, but Lucy Clayton’s life—and more importantly, her death—were destined to haunt me until I found the person responsible for putting a bullet through her head.
Introducing a new thriller series set Inverness.
Relic Black takes things that don’t belong to him—credit cards, golf clubs, toothbrushes. But when a hitman mistakes him for someone else, Relic lands himself in a difficult situation. With a dead man on his hands and a guilty conscience, he sets off to save the life of the man whose identity he has stolen. And that’s when the trouble starts…
Terminal Black is book #1 in the Relic Black Thriller series.