Book Excerpt – Victim of Compromise by Luke Johnson

November 27, 2018

The naked body of a young woman lay face down on the double bed like a discarded doll, a towelling cord wrapped tightly around her neck.

            “Dressing gown cord,” explained Donovan.  “The ‘otel supplies gowns for their guests.  The room’s been checked and photographed.  Mr Wallace said everything should be left as it was found till you arrived.  The doctor’s been and gone, and Forensic are waiting to move in when you’ve finished.”

            Ray had no idea why he had been summoned.  He had only received news of his promotion a month ago and was due to take up his new post in the Serious Crime Squad in two weeks.  The previous night he’d been out with the lads from the Flying Squad celebrating his promotion.  The evening had started well, then some bastard had put something in his drink.  Now his head was pounding and his tongue felt like an old dish-rag.  He had no track record of leading a murder inquiry.  However, investigating a suspicious death was part and parcel of police work, and he’d seen far too many corpses in his career – more than he cared to remember.  At least this one was relatively fresh and thankfully there was no blood.

            “When was she found?” he asked

            “About nine o’clock this morning, by the cleaning maid.”

            Ray looked at his watch.  It was one p.m.  He bent over the body, hoping he gave the impression he was an expert.  The girl was a brunette with short straight hair, cut in a bob, and may have once been pretty, but the blue and swollen face had changed all that.  He checked her fingers.  There was a silver ring containing a semi-precious stone on the right hand.  Her left hand showed no sign of jewellery, past or present.

            “Has her next of kin been informed?” he asked.

            “Yes, sir.”

            “Was she married?”

            “I don’t think she was.  We’re checking ‘er background – boyfriends etcetera.  The room was registered in the name of Mr and Mrs Roberts.  The receptionist says the register was signed by a man who was probably in ‘is forties.  She thinks she recognised him from somewhere but can’t think where.”

            Ray straightened up, glad that the examination was over and he had not felt sick.  He surveyed the scene.  A pile of clothing lay in an untidy heap on the floor.  His eyes registered a smart-looking black dress, black tights, black bra and pink panties.  He knew better than to touch anything.  They were in a double bedroom, expensively furnished with oak panelling, matching furniture and a marble en-suite bathroom.  In the bathroom, the towels were neatly folded and it looked unused.  The weather outside was hot, the hottest spring ever recorded, but both rooms were cold and he found himself shivering.

            Donovan noticed.  “I turned the air-conditioning up.  The doc suggested it – we didn’t know when you’d get ‘ere.”

            Ray nodded, relieved that it wasn’t the proximity of death that chilled the air.  He spoke quickly to maintain his air of professionalism. “Okay, tell me what you know.”

            Donovan opened his pocket book.  “The victim, as yet not formerly identified, is thought to be Mary Rayner, a twenty-two-year-old white female – up until the end of December, last year, she was a Detective Constable here at Wellstone.”

http://amazon.com/dp/B005HFLB4C

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The fate of fictional heroines

November 22, 2018

I have often wondered what happened to the heroines that James Bond ended up with at the end of Ian Fleming’s novels.  It is a long time since I read the books but I seem to recall that Bond fell in love with all of them.  I like to think that there must have been a breakup scene between one book and the next.  Two died (Vesper Lynd and Tracy Draco) so any problem Bond might have had with dissolving his relationship with those were resolved.  But it seems more likely he just abandons them without so much as a goodbye when he begins a new adventure.

Another hero I was a fan of at about the same time was the Leslie Charteris character, Simon Templar, better known as the Saint.  Templar seemed to treat his women in the same manner as Bond but one heroine, Patricia Holm, appeared as his long standing girlfriend in some of the novels despite the fact that he had other lovers in between stories.  Again, like the Bond girls, I have no idea how he broke up with these beautiful women, as they were always described as being beautiful.  It must have been hard on all concerned.

The above are only a few examples of heroines from two popular thriller writers and their effect on me is such that I may have regarded them as models for female characters in my own stories.  But the problem of how to resolve what happens to them at the end of a story remains.  I remember watching the TV western series Bonanza as a teenager in the 1960s and pitying the women who fell in love with Adam, Hoss, Little Joe or even Ben (Pa) Cartwright for they were most always doomed to die.

I have been tempted to develop some of my books into a series.  Such series can help to develop a fan base and become very profitable so it is extremely tempting.  But I am not a great fan of sequels.  My heroes tend to be men and what to do about their heroines will remain a problem that I have a difficulty in grappling with.

 

Keith Jahans


Book Excerpt – Gifford’s Games by Jack Lindsey

November 13, 2018

Guy sat back from the computer screen, folded his hands behind his head and sighed with satisfaction.  “Great, I’ve just withdrawn five billion from the Bank of England.”

“That’s cool,” murmured Howard from where he was sitting huddled over his monitor on only the other computer console in the room.  “Great hacking.”

The room was part of the Telesoft offices.  The main entrance led from the twin lift doors.  To the left of the lift was a coat stand on which hung two wrinkled anoraks, one green and one blue.  A large desk spanned the left wall.  It contained the two computer consoles and two telephones.  Guy and Howard were each sitting at one of the consoles.

“Not me this time, my son, Trickster Trader,” explained Guy.  “It’s a game I’m road testing.  You’ve got to withdrawal as much money as you can from the world’s largest banks, escape from Hong Kong, keep out of jail and catch a plane to the Bahamas without the world’s press, your wife and your mistress, in Newport Pagnell, being none the wiser.”

http://peatmore.com/giffordsgames.htm


We shall remember them: Book Excerpt – MY WORLD WAR II. A Wren’s Story by Vera Jahans

November 2, 2018

Being on the top floor, we were also exposed to air raids and doodlebugs but I couldn’t leave the board.  The Commander would send the teleprinter girl down to the basement during raids, but he instructed me to stay at my post, to always wear my tin helmet and if it got very noisy to get under the board for a bit.  If it got very busy, the Commander would send for a matlow in Royal Albert Dock to come over to KG5 to give me a break for half an hour.  Our board was manned for 24 hours.  There were 4 of us and we took it in turns to have weekend breaks.

There were also, girl boat crew members, termed ships messengers, who would deliver messages to the ships to tell them the next destination of their boats.  Part of my “Board” worked for Dock Turco which controlled the arrival of the boats and when they could go across the channel ferrying troops and supplies for the D Day Army.

As mentioned earlier, we were also known as Port Radar.  The radar equipment on top of the boats were very vulnerable to attacks from the German aircraft and army and the view from my window at KG5 was excellent for watching craft return from across the channel often with their radar antennae shot to bits.  My board had 3 or 4 private wires (PWS).  Telephone engineers would climb up ladders and tap on my window for me to open and let them take a wire through to attach to my board.  Then crew on the ship could ring for whatever was needed so that the ship would be ready for the next crossing.

There were a number of switch boards around and we would chat to each other to pass the time.  One matelow had a great voice and would sing “When the blue of the night meets the gold of the day”.  Sadly the Albert Dock had a direct hit and I believe he was killed.

http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B075DGR1HC


Book Excerpt – Magic Bullets by Keith Jahans

October 13, 2018

Absent-mindedly, he stuffed his right hand in his jacket pocket and felt the jar.  He drew it out, looked through the glass at the white lumps of organic matter inside and said aloud to himself, “Magic I don’t think so.”  He tossed it in the metal waste bin then, as the clanging sound his action had caused resonated around the room, he had another thought and looked in the bin.  The jar was still intact.  He retrieved it, put it down on the laboratory bench, discarded his jacket and put on his labcoat.  What followed next led to the discovery of Floracillin.

Read http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm


Fictional Scientists

September 12, 2018

There have been many celebrated scientists in fiction.  A disproportionate number of these have been depicted as mad, working on outlandish experiments to change the world and often nearly destroying it in the process.  They usually end up destroying themselves.  I often wonder if it is because of these fictional caricatures that people regard scientists and the science they produce with suspicion.  However, the real reason is almost certainly because of their inability to communicate properly with the public.

I have spent most of my working life as a biological scientist while writing fiction in my spare time.  Up until a few years ago I have been reluctant to publish any fictional science.  I know how much effort goes into researching real science and getting it to work.  Fictionalising it, by making it up goes against the grain.  But what in the past has been regarded simply as science fiction is often now becoming science fact and so  this form of fiction is now a real force in driving fact.

My novel Magic Bullets at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

 

Keith Jahans


Music in Fiction

August 29, 2018

Conveying music in fiction is hard to do.  I have read novels where an author has written an original song and printed the lyrics on the page.  A good example of this can be found in the works of Tolkien where his penned “folk” songs are sung by his heroic characters.  But when reading these stories I find it hard to visualise these songs without a tune to put them to.  This is of course where film and audio adaptations have the advantage over the written word where the producer is able to hire musicians to write a fitting melody.  I suppose the author could add a short piece of sheet music to fit the lyrics but the musically illiterate such as myself and even those among my readers might find this a distraction.

Instead, I have merely opted to describe the sound without going deeply into its substance.  In my first novel, Cogrill’s Mill, I have simply suggested that my fictional characters were listening to local folk music or when they were listening to contemporary country music I chose a well known song, namely Dolly Parton’s Jolene.  My latest novel features a young female singer who becomes a star and I applied the same technique here.  In this way I hope to show my readers that her singing and the sound of her voice are essential ingredients to the plot.

Copyright: Dmitriy Cherevko / 123RF Stock Photo
Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

Keith Jahans