Rogue excerpt

rogueI thought it was about time I shared a snippet from ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, the story I’ve just had published in ‘Rogue’ from Near to the Knuckle.  So here you go!  Hope you enjoy it, and if you’d like to buy it, check out the links here.

Eddie Monack. They called him The Monk, behind his back. Partly the name, partly the spreading bald patch the exact same shape and size as a medieval tonsure. Mostly because he spent his Sundays singing hymns in a loud and tuneless voice in his local church, as though he was a good and holy man.

Monday mornings he was straight back to work, though, and there was nothing good or holy about what he did. ‘Looking after people’, he liked to call it, but there wasn’t much care involved. Or only the kind that cared about its own ends, about making the most money in the least amount of time. The kind that says ‘pay up and we won’t actually break your other leg’.

I’d heard the name before, and the frightened whisperings, mostly from the guy’s victims. I get to meet quite a few of those in my line of work. But the first time I really took notice was when the boss called me in.

“This Monk character. Got a bit out of hand. If you know what I mean.”

I knew. The boss has to be careful. Can’t say too much in case it gets back to him. There’d be an outcry, if people found out what we get up to. Police, the media, decent folk shocked to the core. And quite right too.  A few more details might be helpful, though. It’s always nice to know what you’re letting yourself in for. “What’s he done?”

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Got any spare criminals?

Then send them to the Netherlands.

No, I haven’t gone mad, or developed a sudden dislike of the Dutch.  This is actually a brief article in a recent edition of the ‘i’ newspaper, which explains that falling crime rates in the country have led to a problem with unemployment for prison officers and other related staff.  As the article explains, “…they have come up with an innovative solution… justice officials from the Netherlands and Norway met… and signed a deal: the Dutch will provide the cells if the Norwegians provide the inmates.”

Pretty eye-blinking stuff, really, but this wasn’t even published on April Fools Day and appears to be quite serious, and quite genuine.  About 250 convicts from Norway will be transported to the Netherlands to serve out their sentences at Norgerhaven prison, which will safeguard the jobs of around 240 Dutch people.

There’s no mention of any language barriers or arrangements for visiting family and friends, and it does raise a few spectres of the mass transportation of criminals that went on from Britain to Australia in the 19th century.  But I guess if you’ve got the spare capacity you might as well use it…

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Is Tess a Rogue?

new rogue coverFellow ‘Rogue’ contributor Graham Wynd has begun a series of fun mini interviews with the other authors in the collection and today it’s my turn.

So, to find out what crime I’d like to get away with, whether I really am a criminal mastermind or not, and (hopefully) a bit more about my story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, head over to Graham’s blog pronto.

While you’re there, track down the previous interviews by J David Jaggers and Richard Godwin which are well worth the read.

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Locked and Loaded cover reveal

And now, ladies and gentlemen [insert drum roll] – the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  Here’s a sneak preview of the brand new cover for Locked and Loaded, the third volume of dark short stories from Shotgun Honey.  And it’s a doozy.

shp-bbv3-locked-loaded-front-cover-c2

I’m in this collection, with a story called ‘Running Late’, in which a gang of baddies call time on a bent copper with some rather disastrous consequences.  It’s due out towards the end of the month and you can bet I’ll be jumping up and down about it when it arrives, so please keep an eye (your good one, if this cover is anything to go by) on my blog.

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Psychic police?

Well, no, actually, but the end result might be the same.  This fascinating article in a recent issue of New Scientist magazine looks at the use of crime prediction software in the US, UK and Europe to try to beat criminals at their own game.

Several large software companies have developed programmes which measure statistics and probabilities once stuffed with the relevant data.  Some focus on one particular type of crime (burglary, say) while others are more geographically based, but all use a database to try to predict where crimes are most likely to happen.

Surprisingly, it seems to work, although I’d be interested to know whether sheer luck has been factored in or out.  The case quoted in the article, for instance, where a police force in Kent was directed to an area they wouldn’t normally have concentrated on and found a violent crime in progress could easily have been down to coincidence.

The article lists various benefits, including the obvious better targeting of limited resources.  However, they don’t mention the tendency to rely too much on the software rather than good ‘old fashioned’ information-gathering, which might lead to a “too many eggs in one basket” approach where all the resources are focused on a few areas while the crime pattern is actually more widely spread.  Also, could there come a time when the criminals themselves exploit this approach – perhaps by committing lots of minor crimes in one area in order to divert police resources away from their real target somewhere else?

Food for thought; perhaps the police need a crystal ball after all to answer all the questions raised.

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No more delays, Rogue is here!

Tnew rogue coverhe editors of the ‘Rogue’ anthology must have paid a sizeable bribe, threatened Amazon with a fate worse than death, or generally bust a gut, because against all the odds the anthology has been published today after all!

To say I’m delighted is a massive understatement.  The book contains a grand total of 22 stories by some of the biggest names in the genre (Paul D Brazill, Aidan Thorn, Gareth Spark, Keith Nixon, Graham Wynd, Ryan Bracha… the list goes on…), so my story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’ is in exalted company.

As you might expect from a title like ‘Rogue’, my “hero” is really anything but, and the story itself treads some fairly dodgy moral ground – as any good noir story should.

You can find out more over at my website, or head to Amazon to get your sticky mitts on your very own Kindle version of ‘Rogue’ for only £2.49.  Bargain!

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Forgive the delay…

roguecoverThe anthology ‘Rogue’, from Near to the Knuckle, was on track for release today, complete with my short story ‘Singing From the Same Sheet’, and a whole heap of other stories from some fantastic writers.

Sadly, Amazon are currently Experiencing Technical Issues, which is delaying what’s usually a 12-hour process by as much as a week.  Lots of other people with books due out are affected, and apparently there’s no way of telling whether Rogue will be available today, tomorrow, or a month on Sunday.

It’s very frustrating, particularly for the editors who have put in a huge amount of work getting the anthology ready and publicising the release.  But I promise that the minute Amazon pull out their collective fingers and the book’s available, you’ll be the first to know…

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Making a splash

bettyfedora1The other day I promised a snippet from my latest short story, ‘Going Off the Deep End’, and here it is:

My old friend Joanne’s really getting up my nose. All this poncing about with new clothes and new shoes, not to mention the new fast car. New house, too, in a posh road where all the houses have these bloody electric gates so you can’t even see over the hedge let alone get in.

Some people get in. The cleaner and the pool man and the gardener and all the deliveries for all that glitzy tat she buys online. Her friends get in too. Her new friends, that is. All long blonde hair and tight little tushes in skirts up to here and boots. ‘Course, none of it’s real. They’ve all had tucks and tweaks and injections and Christ knows what. New boobs and new noses to match the bicycle-pump lips and pared-down thighs. Amazing how much bloody work’s involved in looking good these days. Amazing too what ten grand a week will buy.

I barely make that a year. Struggle on twelve grand with two kids to feed and a partner who scarpered for the hills the minute I was pregnant with the second one. Scarpered for Lindsey Bains, more like. Little cow he met at work, wears skinny-rib jumpers too tight over her boobs. He told me she understood him, as though I didn’t. Fact is I understand him better than he likes to think. I understood he wanted a younger, more attractive model. Wasn’t hard to work that one out when he told me I’d ‘let myself go’.

Don’t forget – you can find the rest of the story in Issue 1 of the new Betty Fedora magazine which is available in Kindle or print right now!

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Get out of jail free

This story on the BBC website reads like a cross between a game of Monopoly and the film ‘I Love You Philip Morris’ (in which Jim Carrey’s con-man character manages to talk his way out of prison several times).

In this particular case, a fraudster got hold of a mobile phone, created a fake email account, and then used that to email the prison his “release papers”.  Rather amazingly, they fell for it, and let him out on bail.  His deception wasn’t discovered until three days later, when his solicitor turned up to speak to him and found he was no longer there.

Cue some very red faces at Wandsworth Prison where this happened, but at least the guy handed himself in to police a few days later so no real harm done.  I’d give him ten out of ten for initiative, if somewhat less for honesty…

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Betty Fedora available

bettyfedora1Talk about buses – nothing for ages then three come along at once.  Next month I should have two short stories coming out (in the ‘Rogue’ and ‘Locked & Loaded’ anthologies) and yesterday, rather unexpectedly, the first issue of Betty Fedora hit the streets.

This is a brand new magazine focusing on ‘kickass women’s crime’ which sounds like an absolute blast.  My own story, called ‘Going Off the Deep End’, features a woman who’s been dissed by her ex-best friend and decides to make something of a splash by way of revenge.

The magazine is available in both kindle and paperback versions from Amazon US, and in Kindle from Amazon UK.

I’ll try to remember to post a brief excerpt from my story in the next day or two but in the meantime I’m already having evil thoughts about a story to submit to their second issue…

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Come and get some

roguecoverWow, those guys at Near to the Knuckle really know a thing or two about promotion.  The ‘Rogue’ anthology hasn’t even hit the streets yet, but we have our very own video on YouTube!

Go here to have a look for yourselves.  It’s pretty amazing and I’m delighted to be #2 on such a fantastic list of authors.

Come and get some indeed.

A word of warning: you might need sunglasses for the first few seconds…!

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Snatched in Carlisle…

snatchedNo, this isn’t some nasty news item from the north-west of England, or even the title of a kidnapping drama on tv (although… watch this space on that one!)  Thursday evening saw me pottering over to Carlisle on the train, first to meet writing friend Lucy Cameron for a meal and mooch round, and then to attend Graham Smith’s book launch/party/general knees-up for his debut novel, ‘Snatched From Home’.  Hence the title of this post!

The launch was amazingly well-attended, with upwards of 50 guests crammed into the upstairs of Waterstones book shop in Carlisle city centre.  I’ve been to some launches where it’s not much more than the author, his mother, a couple of friends and the publisher who turn up so this was a refreshing change – and no more than Graham deserves, both for the quality of his writing and for his ceaseless hard work in promoting crime fiction in general.

The session took the form of a mini-interview between Graham and Cumbrian crime writer Matt Hilton (which was a fun idea and less prone to lengthy silences than when the audience are asked for questions…), followed by Graham himself reading the first few pages of his book.  I haven’t read it myself, but it involves a gang kidnapping a couple’s children because the father owes them money, and sounds thoroughly tense and gripping.

Here’s to the success of both the book and Graham’s future writing career, and here’s hoping for a few more equally enjoyable launch parties in Carlisle in the years to come.  Mind you, the less said about my train journey home again, the better…

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