5 Star REVIEW - A well written, and most unusual thriller book..It really went with pace. For a first time author I thought it was very good and grabbed your attention.. It certainly kept you on edge wondering what would happen next.
5 Star REVIEW - From start to finish I could not put this book down. This book has ignited my new passion for reading as read it from a recommendation.
5 Star REVIEW - A really good read with an interesting concept. Impressed that it is the authors first book! It makes me want to read more by him so can't wait for the next one.
Please note some of formatting on this excerpt is different from the actual published novel.
Chapter 1 - Meditations on Murder
I wanted to kill someone.
It could be anyone.
I wasn’t holding a grudge.
I just felt like it.
I could start small. Just for practice. Feel warm blood on my hands.
See what it’s like…
I felt the warmth of the Jack Russell puppy by my feet.
See if I liked the thrill of it.
I lay in bed thinking about it – thinking about killing someone.
Taking a life. A murder. I rolled that around my brain.
Me, a murderer...
Time for a new career. Just like something catching the corner of my attention in the jobs listings of the local paper. I suppose it was, if you thought about it logically. I was as pissed off with my current job as a city banker who's just seen his Christmas bonus flushed down the tubes.
The career advisor at school popped into my head. I’ll never forget his name, Mr Jacobs. He sneered at my ambitions and stifled my dreams by siding with my parents who wanted me to become an engineer and join the family business. I wanted to be a writer, but his influence, and blind adherence to family duty on my part, eventually stifled me.
I could murder him easily.
He died falling through a skylight trying to fix his roof. So that’s off the cards. Karma, indeed.
So, was becoming a murdering bastard my new career? I thought about it for a while. It was not an obvious first choice, I’ll grant you, but it was an option I could explore.
I wanted to take a life. Any life, I didn't particularly care.
It was something to work on, wasn't it?
The downside was it didn't pay as well as what I was already doing, and I had bills to pay, you know?
I didn't want to join the ignoble bands of assassins and hit men, and earn wads of dollars that way. I'm way too old to join up for Queen and Country, travel to distant lands, meet interesting people, and kill them. So that was out.
Plus, I didn't have the expertise to become a mercenary or close protection guy in Afghanistan or Iran. Or did I mean Iraq? I wasn’t sure, I’d Google it later, but they earn pots of money if they live to spend it.
Neither did I want to be one of those creeps who cosied up to old widows and knocked them off for their money.
No. I wanted to kill someone – not little old ladies, but someone.
I'm not a creep.
The dog stirred at the foot of my bed. She growled gently in her sleep, her paws twitching.
I could kill Snooky.
Do the dog?
How though? It was one in the morning, and this had all come in something of a rush. This urge to kill.
I wasn't planning on becoming a murderer. It dawned on me. I was lying in bed wide-awake, wondering what the best option was. Some toast or a bit of a read? In the end, I decided to kill someone – the toast could wait for later.
I forgot the dog while I considered whether I'd become a psychopathic maniac. Surely one should work oneself into a psychopathic rage to start killing people? Didn’t murderers and psychopaths start young, doing things like burning ants with a magnifying glass and pulling wings off flies? I never did any of that. Okay, I suppose I did the ant thing once or twice, but every boy did that when they were young. It was before colour telly, computers, and smartphones. Back then, we were always outside with the magnifying glass you got in the science kit for Christmas. I never, ever, tied fireworks to cats’ tails. We threw them at girls instead – fair game.
I had no terms of reference to decide whether I was a psychopath. I couldn’t decide. Could I be one?
I'd Google it in the morning.
Back to the hound snoring gently at my feet. How should I kill the dog, I wondered. What was the best method? These thoughts were undermining my shaky diagnosis of psychopathy, as I’m sure if I were a proper psychopath the dog would’ve been toast long ago, along with a multitude of ants, spiders, flies, and cats.
It could be a good start though.
A real test of my fortitude, my determination, and my competency at a new bloody career in murdering.
Snook Doggy Dog moved, scratched, and then settled down again. She had minutes to live.
How to do it?
I leant across the bed and switched on the lamp. Yes, there it was. My trusty Swiss Army penknife, right where I’d left it after opening the wine with the handy corkscrew bit.
The dog yawned, looked at me, and wagged her tail, a little bit too half-heartedly I thought, given the circumstances. The canine had sealed her fate by her sleepy inattention.
It should be afraid, very afraid.
I poked the dog with a menacing foot. Snooky rolled onto her back, legs akimbo, expecting a tummy rub.
I opened the knife, carefully, in order not to break a nail. The blade was stiff and sharp. Sharp enough to cut my finger when I first got the knife; the scar on my finger ached when it rained.
Should it be a frenzied attack of a stab, stab, stab, stab, stabbing?
Or, the sly slash across the neck to let her life blood gush to the floor?
Perhaps not the floor, as I’d spent a wad of cash getting the floorboards sanded and waxed. They looked great.
I’d have to hold her over the bath or something.
Hmm, there's more to murdering than meets the eye.
There needed to be a modicum of planning and forethought.
That’s what they called it on the telly – “premeditated murder”. I better start meditating.
The dog farted silently and stank up the room. That was it. Once I had the right tools, the short reprieve I granted her would be over and her end was nigh.
While I meditated on my murderous intent, I fell asleep.
Snook Doggy Dog licked my face as I woke up. It was my first day as a fully committed murderer. The puppy, unaware, gambolled across my quilt wagging her tail. I tickled her tummy as she gnawed at my knuckles. She was young and into biting games. After a few minutes of watching the dog disembowelling an ever-deteriorating stuffed elephant, I remembered that I was a hard-hearted killer, and Snooky was for the chop once I got myself organised.
First things first. I needed a killer wardrobe.
What did the well-dressed slayer about town wear? I'd Google that later.
I needed a pee and a shower. The smart red Italian marble cladding the bathroom now looked as if the Ripper had gone about his bloody business overnight. I winced at the gory liver quality of it.
How had I not seen that before?
I stared into a large mirror as I shaved. Was I looking at a stone-cold killer or Charlie Simpson, 42, with brown, puppy dog eyes, instead of the steely-eyed look I needed? I leant in and touched the laughter lines that radiated from my eyes.
Crow’s feet, more like it. I bet crow’s feet had little relationship to laughter. All that perching on frosty branches must make them miserable. Their claws were probably freezing all the time. I hated cold feet, especially the ones the girlfriend stuck on your arse when she got into bed. That’s all year round, mind you. Not just in the winter.
I should stop thinking about girlfriends...
I bet crows were really wretched, what with their interminably cold feet and all that pecking of eyeballs. They never sounded too happy, either, caw–caw–cawing as they cartwheeled around the sky. I stared into my eyes, then at my crow’s feet.
I was miserable, too.
I'd Google crow’s feet later.
I glared at my reflection in a murderous fashion, and my face twitched as if I had some sort of palsy. I squinted at myself, trying to look mean, like what’s-his-face in those movies, Jason something or other, sounded like a London borough. After a few minutes gurning, I worried I didn't have the requisite killer’s face. I needed hard planes, chiselled looks, high cheekbones, thin lips, strong jaw, and a sexy five o’clock shadow, not the pasty, sandy-haired, plumpish, nondescript face that gazed back at me.
Perhaps I wasn’t cut out to be a killer. I didn’t have the killer look. I wasn’t mean enough. My girlfriend often told me I was too kind. “You are never mean to people,” she told me repeatedly.
I should stop thinking about girlfriends... my ex-girlfriend to be exact.
My ex-girlfriend of exactly three days.
I caught my reflection in the mirror, and I was looking murderous. Oh!
I left my central London flat to take Snook Doggy Dog for her last walk down to the park. Her tail wagged as she tugged at her lead, pulling me along as we headed down the street. As usual, the puppy was full of joie de vivre. She sniffed along the pavements and halted sharply at interesting odours, so I had to jerk her lead once or twice to get her going. She barked at the postman as he wheeled his squeaky trolley past, full of the day’s bills and divorce papers, bringing more despair to the breakfast table. She choked on her collar as she pulled this way and that, trying to chase the leaves. No doubt she hoped to meet her doggy friends for early morning fun and games.
I bought Snooky six months ago for the ex-girlfriend’s 40th birthday. Linda was thrilled, and the two girls bonded immediately. Linda left just three days ago.
Three short days ago.
Final and non-negotiable.
Leaving the dog and me alone. We were bereft.
I practised my murderous face at a paperboy as he cycled past. He wobbled a bit as he took the full force of my glare, a pleasing effect which was mediated somewhat as he yelled, ‘fuck off, you miserable tosser,' as he pedalled away.
I needed to start a hit list.
I sat on the bench at a bus stop. Switching on my iPhone, I clicked on Notes. I remembered an old Clint Eastwood film I watched recently.
I entitled my list “The Dead Pool”. I'd Google it later to see if was appropriate.
The Dead Pool
This was working out well. I felt a little chuffed. Start small, then up the stakes. This was the start of a killing spree, I could tell. I felt happier now. I’d only decided I wanted to kill someone last night, and I already had two victims lined up. Admittedly, one was a small dog and the other was a chavy young boy with no manners. Still, I left the bench with a satisfied smile on my face. A five-minute walk later, we entered the park. I let Snooky off the lead, and she bounded around with her doggie friends, enjoying life. I sat and thought about killing. I played around with my iPhone, checking my various social media accounts. I went back to my notes and made another list.
1. I want to kill someone.
2. I'm a lean, mean killing machine.
3. To punish the paperboy for dissing me.
These were the first things I wrote. I wasn’t sure if these three sentences constituted pros, but it was a start. It wasn’t like I could write a list that started: “I’m going to kill someone, because I want...”
1. To steal their money/wife/car/drugs/life.
2. To stop them stealing my money/wife/car/drugs/life.
Okay. I do have money, but none of the other things.
3. To punish them for dissing my posse and me.
Right. I didn’t have a posse either, but this was why the paperboy was going to get his. I sat by the lake contemplating my new obsession. The iPhone was a great tool. I clicked back to read over my pros list.
1. I want to kill someone
2. I'm a lean, mean killing machine
3. To punish the paperboy for dissing me
4. To kill the bastard who took my girlfriend
Oh! I checked my phone again. 4. To kill the bastard who took my girlfriend.
Yep, that’s what it said. Did I write that? I couldn’t remember. Maybe I did?
Ah, that meant I'd added revenge to my second list, or was it my first list? I was confused already.
Was that a pro or a con? How did it get on my list? I'd have known if I’d written that, wouldn’t I?
4. To kill the bastard who took my girlfriend.
There it was. I shook my phone a bit to see if the words would disappear or fall off the screen or something. Was I being hacked? Was that possible? I'd have to Google it. After shaking it a bit more, it read: To kill that bastard Ross that stole my girlfriend.
Oh, my god, someone, or something, was changing my notes. It was a prank. It had to be a joke. Was I being filmed? I checked for cameras. No one. It was just the iPhone and me.
I almost threw it in the lake. I would have done if I’d taken the insurance deal in the shop. On second thought, I wasn't sure throwing one’s iPhone into the lake, because you thought the phone had been hacked, would convince a cynical insurance drone it was a good enough reason for the policy to pay out. I couldn’t take it to them as they’d want to sell me software, get their geeks to do techy stuff to it first – it would cost a fortune.
I switched my phone off and did a hard reboot. After it opened, I clicked on my Notes icon and scrolled to the end. There it was.
4. To kill that bastard Ross that stole my girlfriend.
There it was in black and yellow – proof. Proof, I tell you, that my best friend Ross had taken my girlfriend and deserved to die. Horribly.
The gods were on my side at last. If not the gods, then some informative hacker was using the medium of Notes to break the bad news.
Or was it the good news? Since it was only last night I had decided, quite independently, to kill someone – anyone – my guardian angel had now focused my intention with this news. I had a mission. The target was Ross, my erstwhile best mate, my buddy, chum, and confidante.
I couldn't quite believe it. This was like that scene in Mission: Impossible, just before the tape machine explodes in a puff of smoke. The bit where the guy with the gruff voice says, “your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fuck up Ross, your ex-best friend, and kill him horribly.”
I read the sentence again, lips forming the words. To kill that bastard Ross that stole my girlfriend.
I pecked at the virtual keyboard with my thumb, typing, ‘I accept.’