Facts and Fictions

Will Amazon ban Switzerland?

Amazon is suffering from user fury again, but on a smaller scale than over their behaviour towards Wikileaks. They have recently been deleting books from their Kindle store without giving a reason beyond a generic statement that “these books were removed from sale for violating our content guidelines.” The content guidelines are very vague about what subject matter would be in violation, but the books removed have been primarily about adult incest fantasies. Not a subject that many people are comfortable with but not one which is explicitly barred from their site. What’s more, the banning of books has the appearance of being arbitrary, as other books with similar, or even more bizarre, subjects have not been banned.

Most likely, after a furore about a self-described paedophiles’ handbook a few weeks ago, Amazon have become more nervous about complaints and are knee-jerk jumping to ban almost anything which is complained about. They’re a commercial entity, they have every right to run their business this way. But it could harm them in the long run if they are seen to be doing the censors’ work for them and harming free speech. If the banning net is cast any wider every one of the independent authors publishing through Amazon would have reasons to be nervous. Sounds of Soldiers could be viewed as anti-American (to paraphrase one of the Dilbert collections, I’m not anti-American, I’m anti-idiot), and goodness knows there’s a lot of very loud, very dim Americans who’d gladly complain about that if they were told to. I reckon I’d be safe, but you never know. The best solution would be for Amazon to either include a list of subjects they will not sell (eg. incest, paedophilia, bestiality, biographies of talent show contestants etc.) and stick to it (not the preferred method, even if it would clear Jedward and SuBo from their shelves) or be more open, and more open to counter persuasion, with the people whose books they do ban.

On the subject of incest, the upper house of the Swiss parliament has drafted a law which would decriminalise consenting sex between adult family members.

Daniel Vischer, a Green party MP, said he saw nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex, even if they were related.

“Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law,” he said.

There are some obvious jokes about a certain bunch of castaways, but does this also put a whole country in danger of being delisted by the world’s biggest bookseller?

Proposal: The ….For Smartys series of books

During a conversation a few weeks ago I suggested there would be merit in going through The Da Vinci Code and editing out all the bits where Dan Brown treats his readers like idiots. Stuff like the horrendous flashback used to explain phi and the redundant repetition of information because he assumes his readers have tiny attention spans. I reckoned I could cull nearly a third of the verbiage and make it a less painful book to read. It still wouldn’t be great, because it’s a dumb premise, but it could be easier to get through. We’d call it Dan Brown for Smartys.

Over the weekend I got thinking about other possible ….for Smatys books. The idea could lend itself to so many better uses than improving Dan Brown’s prose. The series title, obviously, is a play on the ….for Dummies books, and they would serve a similar purpose. Despite their name, the ….for Dummies books don’t assume you’re some sort of idiot. I’ve got Blender For Dummies and it’s a great resource. It presumes the reader is an intelligent person who simply hasn’t used the software before and can grasp the concepts providing they’re explained well. The …..for Smartys books would expect intelligent readers and cover areas where the main, or at least loudest, people talking about them assume their audience are morons and can be lied to with impunity.

Yes, …..for Smartys would mostly cover tabloid fodder and stuff which attracts loud and dissembling deniers. The books would look at claims made around a controversial subject and fact check them, much like blogs such as Five Chinese Crackers do. They would also present the data in cool infographics, just because I’m a fan of cool infographics. Weight would be given to data based upon how many times it had been corroborated, rather than by how much it appealed to the readers presumed prejudices.

Immigration for Smartys would trace the population of the country back through many censuses as well as using Freedom of Information requests to get councils to reveal who gets to live in council houses (just a hunch, but I doubt “newly arrived immigrants” will top the list, no matter what the Daily Mail may say).

Climate Change for Smartys would look at the scientific evidence for and against man-made climate change. It would examine the more outlandish claims made for global warming as well as the those that it’s not happening at all. It would also run a side by side projection for a do-nothing family and a make-a-change family to see who is better off, even if all the evidence is wrong and there is no climate change. The no-changers would keep their car, not bother insulating their house etc. The make-a-changes would trade in for a smaller, more efficient vehicle, which they used less, upgrade insulation, upgrade their heating, install solar panels etc. There would be a comparison of expenditure, which would be easy enough, and a less scientific look at quality of life.

I don’t know if an Evolution for Smartys would be necessary. I’d mostly point people at The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Dawkins can be strident, but he knows his subject and explains it well.

Religion for Smartys would be a tricky one, because some people can’t help but get violent over their choice of deity. I imagine it as a timeline from the earliest known religions through to the present day with pullouts for similarity of themes and recurring motifs. There’d also be a “Who do you hate and who do you love?” section which would list the various things and peoples considered evil or divine across several holy books.

All I need now is a publisher willing to put up the money needed to fund me whilst I do the research and design the graphics.

It may be time for a pseudonym 2

The great thing about being an independent author is that I’m not tied to anyone else’s scheduling. If I have an idea and the time the turnaround on a book can be two or three months, less if it’s a novelette or short story. Of course, this can also work against me. Deadlines for planned books are self imposed, and I’ve always been my own worst enemy. It’s all too easy to get distracted and go off to do something else if a story just isn’t gelling.

Which is what happened to me in the last few days. The next planned Irwin story is titled A Death in Didsbury. It brings back characters from So Much To Answer For. (Which is sort of -1 in the Irwin series in that it shares the same universe, but doesn’t feature him. He hadn’t even moved to Manchester when the story was happening.) There’s ghoing to be dilemmas for Kay Wood, and decisions which will change the nature of her relationship with Irwin, and I get to re-use some characters I enjoyed. The problem is, A Death in Didsbury is going together very messily and slowly and some of the plot threads I wanted to use are refusing to merge, no matter how hard I push them together.

Then, yesterday morning, I had a silly idea for a schlocky, over-the-top horror/comedy. It’s one of those ideas which is so obvious it’s probably been done before, but I’ve decided to kick it around until I’m certain. So yesterday I did some reading around the subject and started planning the tale. It’s the oppposite of Death in Didsbury in that sense. I’ve created a yWriter project and filled it with chapters, scenes, characters and locations. Each extra layer of detail suggests scenes and plot details. If I carry onlike this it may be the first story for which I’ve had a decent framework for years.

And if I do finish the story it will be different in many major ways from my other work. It’ll be silly, violent, dirty and trashy (in the best possible way). Readers who enjoy it may not like my other stuff and my regular audience might wonder what I bashed my head against. So, whilst it will still be published by Spinneyhead, maybe I need to give its author a different name.

Indie superstar Joe Konrath gives a similar explanation for having a horror alter-ego Jack Kilborn. When I read his post I was still planning to put my own name on everything I write (I say as much in the comments), but now I can understand why I should reconsider.

The question, then, is- if I need a pseudonym for certain genres, what should it be? I’m tempted to go with just Gareth Pattinson, as Gareth was one of the other options for my first name anyway. Or perhaps Gareth Owen, because in the early days- pre web- Spinneyhead’s full name was Owen Spinneyhead. (There is already a writer called Gareth Owen, however.)

Suggestions anyone?

Greater Manchester Police to lose a quarter of its personnel

This news makes me worry about crime in Manchester. But, as my priorities are skewed that way, I find myself devoting more time to pondering how it will affect future Irwin tales.

Greater Manchester Police will lose a quarter of its staff, including front-line officers, as it faces a £134m budget cut in the next four years.

Greater Manchester Police Authority (GMPA) said nearly 3,000 posts would have to be cut from its 12,000 staff.

The Christie method

Agatha Christie’s novel planning was chaotic, with notes in multiple books, ideas which took years to be used and many a dead end.

I’m sure I recently read a quote attributed to her which suggested that she wrote until she was two thirds of the way through a story, then went back, worked out who had done it and rewrote as much as was needed to lay down more clues. This sounds just like the process I’m using in my current project- I just killed a completely different person to the planned victim, in a far louder way than intended. I think I know who did it.


For research purposes, the Wikipedia entry on HUMan INTelligence in espionage.

HUMINT, a syllabic abbreviation of the words HUMan INTelligence, refers to intelligence gathering by means of interpersonal contact, as opposed to the more technical intelligence gathering disciplines such as SIGINT, IMINT and MASINT. NATO defines HUMINT as “a category of intelligence derived from information collected and provided by human sources.”[1] Typical HUMINT activities consist of interrogations and conversations with persons having access to pertinent information.

Licence renewed

Warren Ellis on the hero-coming-out-of-retirment subgenre. He’s talking about the film version of his comic Red, which I’m looking forward to. I read the first two issues of the comic then, for one reason or another, completely missed the rest of it. Plus the film version has, as Ellis kept pointing out, Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle.

The Irwin tales fall into the unretired spy genre, after a fashion. Irwin has retired from MI6, though he did it far younger than Bruce Willis’ character in Red. After being injured one time too many he called time on a career that was trying to kill him, and has managed to find some less dangerous pastimes to take up his time. Of course, as the Irwin stories unfold, we’ll see him being dragged back in, as well as getting into dangerous situations entirely of his own accord.

Art of Tea

As the next Irwin tale is tentatively titled A Death in Didsbury, I shall be spending some time over the next few weeks down here trying to soak up local flavour. I’m currently in The Art Of Tea on Barlow Moor Road, making the most of their free WiFi and casting about for inspiration.

I remember when this was a bookshop with a mod inspired sign, which started selling drinks as an extra earner. Now it’s flipped. The bookshop still exists in the rear of the building, along with the picture framers, but the last time I was here the lights were off in the back room so I didn’t venture in. Maybe when I’ve finished my green tea I’ll go for a browse.

In praise of Oklahoma

Between a third and half of Tiger was written in a cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter called Oklahoma. Every so often I’ll be unfaithful and go looking for another place to drink coffee and Earl Grey (or the lightly spiced hot apple I just tried), whilst writing and occasionally checking the internet. As yet, none of them has been as good.

I Starbuck’d out in 2001 and vowed to thenceforth give them as little money as possible. I’ll only go into one if someone else drags me or if the charity I’m collecting for gives me a free drinks voucher. Nero’s is okay, but they rarely have free power sockets for the laptop and you have to pay for WiFi. Costa likewise. (Costa used to give extra shots of espresso free, at least in 2001, so I’d always have one in my latte. I like to think I’m the reason they stopped doing that. [I drank a lot of coffee in 2001, my stomach lining is still recovering.]) The cafe in the International Anthony Burgess Foundation has the power sockets and the free WiFi, but just doesn’t feel as friendly.

So I keep coming back to Oklahoma. Half of it is a wonderful shop full of kitsch goodies where I have bought a few presents over the years. It’s where I meet up with my sister when she’s in town. It’s lovely and not too far from anything. I don’t yet visit often enough to be recognised as a regular, but I’m working on that.

When Irwin is sat in a cafe in the Northern Quarter, I like to think it’s Oklahoma. I don’t know where else he’d get the internet access to check his stocks.

Tiger- Part twenty-one

Jed answered his mobile phone. “Hello there hero.”

“All cleared up at your end then?” Irwin asked.

“Two kidnappers cable tied and sedated and ready for a discreet journey back to Blighty.”

“And all with an hour and a half to spare.”

“Is that all? You’re getting slow. Retirement’s making you rusty.”

“Your Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me.”

“I’m sure they don’t. Next time I need some help in your neck of the woods…”

“You’ll call someone else.”

“Stay safe old boy.”

“You too.”

Irwin put the work phone away. Police vans had arrived to take away the kidnappers, and a car was waiting to whisk Karen and Simon Edwards home. Kay had worked her way out of the crowd and walked over. “Are we going to get a visit from secret intelligence thugs to magic those guys away?”

“Probably. They could be a mine of intel.”

“We could do with something to show for all of this.”

“You have a car thief. They’ll probably let you keep him.” Kay made a dismissive noise. “And the people smugglers you found.”

“Crumbs. But I guess they’ll look good on someone’s spreadsheet.”

Irwin was studying the moped. He realised he still had the helmet on. “I don’t seem to have damaged this. Let’s get it back to Bootle Street and give it back to Gloria.”

“You do it.” Kay handed him her helmet. “You’re far too dangerous. I think I’d rather walk.”

Tiger- Part twenty

Irwin was conscious of a man with a gun standing beside him, aiming at the man in the back of the van. “You’d best be allowed that toy,” the black clad Police officer hissed, “or there’ll be a shit storm.”

There was a clatter of something being dropped inside the van. Then the side door was pulled open. The gunman in the doorway looked around. The woman took the chance to pull loose from his grip and dive out of the van.

Kay was standing by the front passenger door when the side door opened. A small, struggling body was tossed out to land and roll on the grass. The man who had thrown the boy out found his exit was less graceful than he’d expected, as Kay grabbed him and pulled him off balance to land face first on the ground.

“Put the gun down and get your hands above your head!” the armed officer shouted.

The gunman in the back of the van looked, very briefly, like he wouldn’t comply. The slightest move from the armed officer made him flinch and then he was slowly putting the gun down and getting out of the van.

Armed officers swarmed around the three kidnappers. Karen Edwards sat up slowly. “Where’s Simon? Where’s my son?”

“He’s here.” Kay was carrying the boy as best she could, but it was the clumsy, over careful hold of someone who doesn’t spend much time around children. “He was very brave. He didn’t cry at all.” She handed the confused little boy over to his mother then held up a mobile phone. “Would you like to speak with your husband?”

Tiger- Part nineteen

Vanessa waved to Jed then pointed at the wall. The message was obvious, they were getting another phone call next door. It wasn’t on schedule. Jed headed for the door. Terence and William followed.

The Jedi fished a card key from his pocket. When he reached the door to the adjoining room he slid the card into the slot but didn’t pull it out again. He knocked on the door then stepped aside. William took his place.

Jed could hear snatches of conversation from inside the room. “What do you….. Get the fucking door will you….. If this is them, they’re early.” Jed nodded to William, who pulled out the card key and swung the door open. He didn’t quite catch the man who had been coming to answer the knock, but he did surprise him and put him off balance. William grabbed the shocked kidnapper in a bear hug, lifted him off the floor and let himself tumble and take him to the ground. William’s full mass landed hard on the man, who couldn’t even summon up enough breath to shout out.

At the end of the room’s double bed a second man had a phone in one hand and pistol in the other. Terence stepped over William and his victim and raised and fired his taser in one easy move. Jed had hardly had the time to count to three and the threats were neutralised. He walked over to the man convulsing at the foot of the bed and pried the phone from his hand. “Are you still there?” he asked.

“Who are you?”

“I’m with MI6. Give up now and you’ll live.”

Other fiction by Ian Pattinson

Ruby Red– available as an ebook through Lulu.com or for the Kindle.

So Much to Answer For– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Global Weirding– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Sounds of Soldiers– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Tiger- Part eighteen

The van’s front right wheel, the rim damaged when it hit the kerb, was flat by the time it reached the top of the hill. Still with a lead on the moped, it turned left down a side road. Which turned out to be a dead end. They faced an open space that a fully inflated car could have crossed, but the van crunched to a halt.

Back down the road Irwin pulled the moped to a halt. He even took the time to deploy the kickstand before dismounting. He and Kay drew their guns, but then they hesitated. “I’ll go first,” Kay volunteered, “I’ve got a vest on.”

“I’m not arguing with that.” Irwin looked around. They were drawing a crowd. “Armed Police! Please go indoors!” Some of the crowd even did as he said.

“I’m supposed to say that.” Kay raised her gun and aimed in the general direction of the van. “What are we supposed to do? They’ll just use the hostages.”

“Let’s keep them occupied until Armed Response get their act together.” He raised his gun, but kept his finger outside the trigger guard.

Irwin headed to the left and Kay to the right then they moved in as a pincer toward the van. Down the hill the Armed Response Range Rover’s siren stopped blaring.

The van’s driver’s door opened. Kay’s pistol twitched around until it was aimed at the figure that was revealed. The teenager already had his hands above his head. “Come out slowly.” Kay commanded. He slid from the seat, almost tumbling when he didn’t reach out for any hand holds. “Face down on the ground, hands behind your head.”

Whilst Kay dealt with the driver the rear doors opened. Half standing in the opening was a woman being held in place by a man with a very big handgun. Behind them Irwin could see another figure in the farthest corner of the load area. He was holding tight to a child. Irwin’s finger slid inside the trigger guard.

“You just killed her husband.” the man in the door announced.

“Right. How do you think we got on to you?”

Kay had moved closer to the driver, so she could stare into the van. The front seats were empty, and a partition separated them from the cargo area. The Armed Response Range Rover finally pulled into the road with dramatic tyre squealing. “Behave,” Kay told the driver, “they’re armed too.” the driver nodded and she carried on round the front of the van.

“Have you made the call?” the man with the big gun asked.

“I’m making it. I’m making it.” his companion replied. “They’re not picking up.”

Tiger- Part seventeen

“They’re coming to us!” Kay shouted into Irwin’s helmet.

“On this road?”


“Any backup on its way?”

“Somewhere. I’m getting nothing on how far away they are, though.”

Irwin had slowed the moped to a sedate pace. Relatively new housing hemmed them in as they headed downhill. Ahead they could see the road flatten then rise again up to the stadium at the top of the hill. In the line of traffic heading toward them there was one white van. “I’ll pass them and swing round behind them.” Irwin announced.

“Then what?”

“We’ll think of something.”

They passed a K-junction just before the bottom of the hill, with two roads heading off to their left. Heading up the hill they passed the van coming the other way. “That’s the reg.” Kay said.
Irwin nodded. He carried on a little further then stopped, ready to swing across the road and change lanes. Two cars passed them, then there was a gap. However, before Irwin started turning, they both turned to look in the direction of sirens sounding back up the road.

“Oh shit. This is going to give us away.” Kay pulled the microphone on her helmet close to her mouth and shouted, “Armed Response are going to screw this up! Get them to turn off, make it look like they’re going somewhere else!”

Too late. The van wiggled across the road, then abruptly stopped. Kay reached for her gun, but before she reached it the van was accelerating again. It swung into the oncoming traffic, clipping the rear corner of a Mini, which skidded, over compensated and ended up driving off the road just behind Kay and Irwin. “Bollocks!” Irwin opened the throttle and hauled the moped around as sharply as he could manage then raced along the centre line after the van.

With a crunch the van mounted the kerb as it aimed for the first street off the junction. An oncoming car braked hard, then jumped forward as it was hit by the lorry which had been following too close behind. Irwin swerved around the front of the car and squeezed past it to the junction. Behind the lorry the Armed Response Range Rover was trapped, trying to find a gap large enough for it.

The van and the moped which followed it- neither of them the greatest of accelerators- started a slow drag race up the hill.

Tiger- Part sixteen

The helicopter flew beyond the City of Manchester stadium and turned to survey the surrounding area. It went as far east as the grand, run down Philips Park cemetery then came back to study the traffic on the wide Hulme Hall Lane and Alan Turing Way. With no clues from the ground it was going to be a hard time finding the white van they sought. There were several, heading in multiple directions, any of which could be the one they should be following. They called in vans as they spotted them and waited for some plod on the pavement to spot the target.

The call came from an officer on a bicycle, who had just popped up from patrolling nearby canal towpaths to have a look around. The van was heading southeast, toward the junction by the City ground. The eye in the sky acknowledged the call and took up a viewing position.

The van turned right, heading down another side of the football stadium and toward the city centre again. The helicopter dipped its nose and headed in roughly the same direction.

Other fiction by Ian Pattinson

Ruby Red– available as an ebook through Lulu.com or for the Kindle.

So Much to Answer For– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Global Weirding– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Sounds of Soldiers– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Tiger- Part Fifteen

The Mancunian Way is a stretch of raised motorway arcing around the south of Manchester city centre. Irwin was pushing the scooter along it as fast as it would go. Far faster than some of the cars they passed would have expected. With such small wheels the bike was going to be thrown by the slightest bump or pothole, so he tried to ignore everything else but navigating safely. The work phone buzzing against his chest was one distraction in particular that he had to ignore. The Jedi would have to wait.

The road angled down, and the terrain rose to meet it, and they were no longer on the section classed as motorway. Irwin slowed as the surface became less even and they swept through a long left hander to a long arch under the railway. He slowed more as he spotted red lights at the junction ahead. When they came to a halt he turned on the saddle, “Where to next?”

“The Manchester City ground. That’s where they were last seen.” They both looked up as they heard the helicopter pass overhead. “That should make things easier. Green light, go.”

Tiger- Part Fourteen

It was coming up to the next deadline for a call in. Jed checked his gun for the tenth time in as many minutes. He wasn’t about to use it unless absolutely necessary. Bloodshed would be so hard to explain, and as he didn’t have a suppressor, so much harder to keep quiet. At the table by the window Terence checked a far more useful weapon. He popped a battery pack from the charger and swapped out the perfectly good one which had been in the taser he’d been issued. Across from Terence, William was doing stretches, limbering up the large frame which had been born for rugger but had adapted surprisingly well to a mix of martial arts. When it came time to enter the room these two would do the violent work. The fourth member of the team was Vanessa, lounging in front of the receiver on the dressing table, garish Skullcandy hi-fi quality headphones blocking out any external noise and indifference shielding her from the smell of three tense men in a warm closed room.

Jed took his phone into the bathroom. With no adjoining wall to the room they were watching there was less chance of being heard by the subjects. He speed dialled Irwin’s number, and listened to it ring and ring. Was this a good sign? Was Irwin too busy saving hostages to pick up his phone? Or had something gone wrong?

Vanessa clicked her fingers to get Jed’s attention. When he walked over she held out the plain, and far less comfortable, standard issue headphones which had come with the listening equipment.

Notes Well, the first draft of Tiger is finished and I have sent it to a couple of people who foolishly agreed to proofread and continuity check for me. I’ve decided that the published version will have bonus features, much like a DVD. Exactly what these are I haven’t yet decided, but there will probably be two versions of the tale in the ebook file. One will just be the prose, the other will have links to authorial comments, maps, photos and maybe web pages with further information. The Kindle can browse, but it won’t be so good for photographic content because the screen is greyscale. However, other readers shouldn’t have this problem.

Skullcandy headphones are wonderful, garish things. My employers sell them, but I haven’t yet been able to do a test of a pair to see how good they are. I gave Vanessa a pair as much because they do an Agent range as anything else.

Tiger- Part Thirteen

“What? Hold on a moment.” Kay leaned forward and shouted into Irwin’s helmet, “Turn around!”


“Turn around! Wrong van!”

“I think this evening we may need to take your DWP friends out for a few drinks. We just raided a forgery factory, complete with three trafficked women in a back room. James thinks they’re speaking Czech, but he’s not really sure.”

“But not the wife and child.”


“Time to look at the other van. We’ll head for Ancoats and…… What the Fuck?”

They had been heading along Regent Road toward Eccles New Road and the industrial unit. It was dual carriageway with crash barriers separating the opposite flows of traffic, so an easy turn was out of the question. Irwin had braked hard as they approached a junction and thrown the scooter into a harsh U-turn, pitching it so far over that the bottom of the fairing almost scraped the ground. A dab of his foot on tarmac had kept them from toppling, but only just. Now, to a backing track of car horns, he was accelerating toward town again as fast as the squealing engine would allow.

“Are you alright? What was that?”

“An idiot in charge of a moped. I’ll tell traffic about him later. We’re heading for Ancoats now. Any update on the other van’s location?”

“Last seen heading for the City stadium. The helicopter will be there soon, we’ll patch them through to you, see if they can vector you in.”

“No uniform in the area?”

“None armed. We’ll have as many as possible to back you up if we don’t get there in time.”

“Okay. Got to give directions now.”

“Ancoats?” Irwin suggested before she’d had a chance to tell him.

“Ancoats. As fast as this thing will take us.”

Other fiction by Ian Pattinson

Ruby Red– available as an ebook through Lulu.com or for the Kindle.

So Much to Answer For– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Global Weirding– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Sounds of Soldiers– available as print on demand or ebook from Lulu.com or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Tiger- Part Twelve

“If we carry on going around the block they’ll spot us and get suspicious.” the young Detective Constable commented.

“I guess so, James.” the DI agreed, “Pull in over there and get the A to Z out. We’ll play at being lost for a while.”

James turned the unmarked car smartly into the spot the DI had pointed out. He killed the engine and fished in the door pocket for the street guide. Flicking through to the appropriate page he mused, “Do people still use these? I can get all the maps I need on my phone.”

“Some of us don’t like technology. I can hardly use text.”

“They’ve opened the shutters over the personnel door, but not the loading bay.” James observed.

“That’s not going to be easy to enter quickly.” the DI leant forward in his seat and stared upwards to see the helicopter he’d just heard. “The eye in the sky’s here. You get through to their controllers and I shall find out where the men with the guns are.”

Four armed officers were in an unmarked van one street further on, waiting for an entry team- with their battering ram to clear the door quickly- to turn up. Meanwhile, the helicopter was making wide, circling passes of the tram stop further down Eccles New Road but keeping its cameras focused on the industrial unit. Their infra red camera told them there was a huddle of bodies just inside the loading bay and another two or three in the room farthest from the road.

James and the DI passed information back and forth between the armed officers and the helicopter until the entry team turned up. “Okay. Go when you’re ready.” the DI ordered.

A minute later two vans pulled up in the car park of the unit next to the target. Armoured and helmeted officers jumped out of the vans and formed up on the largest of their group, who hefted a large tube with handles at one end and in the middle. They sneaked along the wall to the door, where the officer with the club took a step back and swung it. As the door gave way on the second swing James and the DI stepped out of the car and headed for the action.

By the time The DI and James had reached the shattered door of the unit the armed officers had swept through it and subdued all the occupants. Five men were sat at a long table in the loading bay with their hands on their heads. An officer escorted three young women from another room. “No sign of the hostages?”

“No sir.” responded the man with the hammer.


James was by the table, turning over items of paperwork the men had been working on. “I don’t know if it’s any consolation, sir, but…” he held up a passport, the space where there should have been an image of the subject was empty.

“Collateral success.” the DI sighed. He took out his phone and called up Kay.

Tiger- Part Eleven

“I thought you could ride one of these!” Kay shouted.

“I can. It’s just been a while.” Irwin had just rescued the moped from toppling over at the traffic lights. He’d misjudged the balance of the bike and hadn’t put a foot out fast enough when he’d stopped.

Whilst they waited for the lights to change Irwin fiddled with the strap of the open face helmet he wore. Kay released her safety grip on him and tried out the bluetooth connection from her phone to her helmet. She could hear ringing, but it was a bit distant. She adjusted the microphone so it was closer to her mouth.

“We’ve got them tracked down to an industrial unit just off Eccles New Road.” the DI announced when he picked up the phone, no time for formalities. “We’re going in as soon as armed response get here.”

“We’ll be there as soon as we can.” Kay tapped the side of Irwin’s helmet and announced, “Eccles New Road.” when he turned toward her. He nodded, and started working out which way he should go when the lights went green.

“What about the other van?” Kay asked, “Just in case.”

“No report on that since it was spotted near Ancoats. The call’s still out on it, so we’ll find it again soon enough.”

“We’ll be with you soon. Or he’ll crash this bloody thing and we’ll be in hospital.”

The lights changed. Irwin set off, turning left as he did. The moped wobbled at low speed and there was a moment again where it seemed they were going to fall. The problem was that he was being too timid, Irwin decided. He twisted the throttle hard and the little bike leapt forward with a pained revving. Kay hung up before her boss could hear the language she let loose.