My first crime novel A Fair Wack was published in Spring 2014 and is available as a paperback and ebook on Amazon. In July 2016 the book was accepted by Awesome Indies for their list of quality books that meet mainstream publishing standards. The setting is divided between Liverpool and Middlesbrough. I still feel guilty for the gruesome end of Wacker Hughes, enthusiastic money-launderer and reluctant hit man. I had to do it for the good of the book, Wacker lad!
AMAZON AND GOODREADS REVIEWS:
- If you enjoy atmospheric crime novels, A Fair Wack delivers the goods’
- ‘A compelling debut novel’
- ‘A dog-eat-dog, no holds barred, gutter brawl’
- ‘Gritty and at times brutal but balanced by black humour’
- ‘This book is full of action and includes a surprise ending.’
- ‘A fast paced book, well written’
- ‘A very thrilling book, I couldn’t put it down’
- ‘After a couple of chapters to set the scene the story just flows – like warm golden syrup over a hot sponge pudding’
BACK COVER BLURB:
Fresh scratches in old scar tissue. Old burn scar tissue. That’s got to hurt.
Paul Eston has blown the whistle on some bad people and gone to ground with vital evidence in the North East of England.
Wacker Hughes must track him down. He has not been involved in the violent side of the Liverpool operation for years but now everything that he has worked for is under threat.
But what made Eston blow the whistle? Will he find out the truth behind his father’s murder? And how did he get that scar on his back? And those scratches? Only a woman’s fingernails could do that much damage.
A Fair Wack is for the fan of the fast-paced crime thriller. If you like Christopher Brookmyre, Ted Lewis (Get Carter) and Martin Edwards, you’ll love this.
Eston woke, his body twisted inside the car, cold and stiff, the windows steamed up. His back itched and ached at the same time. Fresh scratches in old scar tissue. Old burn scar tissue. He wiped a hole. Mist over the North York Moors, a hint of morning sunlight. His ripped jacket was on the back seat, the memory stick in the pocket.
He stumbled out onto the rough track. The car was well hidden from the road behind conifers and the hillside. The track led to a gate with a new padlock and a sign: Danger! Mine. Keep Out! in red. He clambered over the gate, but his pants caught on something. Barbed wire. Great start. The track continued up and around to a yellow sandstone, red tiled house with a good view of the entrance.
A large pool was fringed by rushes and reeds. An expanse of yellow sand rippled like a beach. Spooked, gulls lifted off the water, followed by a heron, which flapped low over the trees. Not so good. A heron could mean fishermen and birdwatchers.
The mist cleared. For a moment a ray of sunlight lit up the sand and water, giving the illusion that he was on a tropical island. The mist closed in again and he was back looking at a derelict site on the moors.
Beyond the sand, he followed a second track. It ended abruptly at a mine entrance in a low cliff-face. Dark and threatening. John Scalby had brought him here when they were kids. John had told him that the mine was where gangsters dumped their victims and hid their treasure. And Paul had believed him.
Water dripped in the darkness. Moss and ferns clung to the far wall. He leaned over carefully but couldn’t see anything. He dropped a stone in and it was several seconds before the thump sounded far below. Something scrabbled in the darkness. Bats. He leapt back and almost ran to the house.
Out front was an area of tarmac with weeds pushing through splintered lumps of rotten wood and rusty old iron sheets and pipes. The house itself had not been lived in for some time. It was roughly boarded up with plywood sheets, already swelling in the damp. A few tiles had slipped but the roof looked reasonably watertight. He kicked in the back door and made a quick recce. It was not as bad as it might have been. One main room and a kitchen downstairs, two bedrooms upstairs. In the main room a rough wooden table and two chairs stood on a red tile floor in front of a large brick fireplace, a stack of logs to the side. Someone had been living here—hippies or squatters—but not recently. The ashes in the fireplace were damp. A layer of dust on the table. No electric points. He checked the kitchen; a single cold tap produced nothing but a burp and a dribble of dirty water that quickly stopped. But an ancient hand pump just outside the back door delivered a stream of clean water.
He decided to stay. He had protection from the elements, water and heat. He’d not had time to bring much from home, just some clothes and outdoor gear. He’d bought some food from a 24-hour shop on the way.
He checked the defences. Behind the house stood a little copse of mature oak trees, their stems thickly encrusted with green moss. A stream you could easily step across trickled through earth heaped with dead grass and bracken. As he paced, he noticed plants trying to push through the dead material, and a damp, pungent smell of wild garlic.
He leaned against a tree and thought about the time he and Linda wheeled their bikes down through the dark woods, the thick smell of garlic in his nostrils and the sound of water gurgling in the stream until he could hear the waves and the cries of gulls. And then they were out on the wide sands, the garlic smell swept away by the clean, salty air—her smooth sixteen-year-old limbs in the clear light.
He carried on, up through old quarry workings. They were full of oak, birch and willow saplings—with the odd little conifer like a miniature Christmas tree. Rusty iron rails led past stone buildings with no roofs. Quarrymen had worked and died here. There was a good chance he’d die here himself. In the silence it was easy to imagine ghosts or gunmen.
He walked up a small glen A brook gushed over large sandstone boulders between steep slopes of bracken. On the edge of the plateau the mist had cleared. He sat on a rock and watched the sunlight sparkle off the distant sea. He could taste a hint of salt on the back of his tongue. To the south, the Fylingdales early warning pyramid squatted on the horizon. To the north, weak spring sunshine picked out stonewalls and fields in the valley beyond; the shadows of trees long in the low sun. Rooks wheeled over a stand of big trees, the harshness of their calls in the distance strangely sweet in the otherwise silent air. He could just make out the dirty smudge on the horizon, which marked Teesside. No one about. Not a soul. No one lived in this tiny dale.