Rain and Bullets


A Death In Didsbury- 10

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 9

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 8

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 7

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 6

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 5

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 4

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 3

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury- 2

This content is being serialised for Patreon supporters. You can get it for as little as $1 a month. This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.
This content is available to Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

A Death In Didsbury

I’m serialising A Death In Didsbury here and on my Patreon. For as little as $1 a month, you can get to see the first draft unfold in near real time. (The real time of writing it, not of the events, obviously.)

This is book five in the Rain & Bullets series. You can get books one and two for free if you sign up to the mailing list. Book three, Solstice, is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores. Book four, Kettled, is also available from Amazon, Smashwords, and other stores.

Here’s the first two scenes of A Death In Didsbury, to get you started.

It doesn’t always rain in Manchester, no matter what people may say. The rainy city is a myth which the locals are happy to help propagate. Annual rainfall is below the national average, as is the number of days on which it precipitates. Manchester has its fair share of glorious days.

It was raining in Manchester.

Rachel Evans had watched the rain come in, the sky and then the ground darkening. This late in the afternoon, weather like this would put a cap on the day, and she didn’t expect any more customers. She looked down at the newspaper open on the counter before her, and started dreaming about buying a house.

There was a tapping sound from the front of the shop, distinct over the hiss of cars along the wet street. Customers never knocked to ask if they could come in to On The Wall, so Rachel had a good idea what she would see when she looked up.

Standing in front of the gallery was Joe Hill. Bedraggled, looking like a sad, wet puppy, he was an amusing sight. He let go of his bike long enough to give a shrug at being caught in a downpour without waterproofs. Rachel grinned as she shook her head. She pointed to her right, telling him to go round to the alley that ran along the back of the row of shops. Joe did a little bow, then mounted his bike and rode off.

“Mind the fort for a while.” she told her assistant.

“Oh absolutely. Because south Manchester’s art lovers are all out today.” Julian had to be the campest straight man going. At least, he claimed to be straight, Rachel had yet to see any evidence for or against.

“It’s the rain. It brings them to the surface. Just like worms.”

By the time Rachel had released all the locks and bolts on the back door Joe had made his way around the block and along the alley to it. “I told you this would happen.” she reminded him.

“Next time I shall pay attention to your weather forecast, honest.” Joe propped his bike against Julian’s and kissed Rachel.

“Don’t drip on the artwork.” Rachel ordered, “Hang your shirt over there and let it dry.”

A few minutes later, the glass teapot was sat on a tray in the middle of the sales counter, brewing. Three cups crowded around it, eager to be filled. Joe had stripped off his wet shirt and T-shirt, and changed into a long sleeved top he had stashed in the office some time earlier.

“You’d think, after all these years, you’d know to pack a waterproof when you go out for a ride in Manchester.” Rachel told him. “I mean, I learnt quickly enough.”

“Oh, I packed a waterproof. I just didn’t think I’d need it. It started out as that sort of misty drizzle. You know, the tiny dots of water that seem to sit on your clothes without getting them wet. Then they started soaking in, and it was too late. Then it started pissing down. But by then I was on Burton Road, so carrying on and getting here as fast as possible was the best bet.”

On The Wall sold art, but the front of the shop was still decorated in the tiles that had served so well when it had been a butchers. The stainless steel behind the old counter, were the cutting and hacking had been done, had been removed. The sales counter was a rectangle of dark blue slate now, the back room an office with internet access and tea making facilities.

Some of the pieces on the walls were by Joe. They hadn’t just found their way there because he was sleeping with the manager. “Does that sticker say sold? Is that the last of the Burton Road series?” he asked, pointing at one canvas in particular.

“Burton Road Ten.” Rachel told him. “Sold it today. Well, provisionally. They have to make sure they have the cash. If they do, it’ll be out of here in a couple of days.”

Joe nodded approvingly, trying not to grin. “That’s a big canvas. That’s a three grand painting.”

“I know. How do you want to celebrate?”

“Blow job.” suggested Julian, picking up the glass teapot and started pouring into the cups, “It should always be a blow job.”

“Julian.” Rachel feigned shock.

“I sold the painting. I’m sure I can make a little fun.”

“Maybe you should get the blow job.” Joe offered.

“You really aren’t my type. No matter what my boss may say.”

“Oh well, you’ll just have to settle for the commission then. Nice one, Jules.” They bumped fists when Julian had put the teapot down.

Joe spotted the newspaper, and pulled it toward himself. “If it’s Thursday, you must be looking at the house listings in the Evening News.” he said. There were some very nice properties for sale in the area, but the prices had rocketed up so much in the last few years that they were far out of the reach of first time buyers.

“A girl can dream. If you can sell a few more paintings, I think we could afford the deposit.”

“I’ll see what I can do. But we can’t forget Julian’s contribution in selling them.”

“I should hope not, darling.” Julian said, saluting with his cup.

“You have been busy today, haven’t you? Not just riding around in the rain.” Rachel nudged Joe with her elbow. She already knew what he had planned to do with the day. I’m going to have some spare wall space soon. If you haven’t got anything to go there I’ll have to put up something by one of the artists I’m not sleeping with.”

“The fast food collection’s almost done. But they’re all quite small. I packed in early and went for an explore.” Joe opened his bag and pulled out his battered old digital camera. “I found something interesting. Where is it? Ah, there.” He put the camera on the table so they could both see the image on the view screen.

Julian cocked his head to one side as he puzzled out what he was supposed to be excited about. “Graffiti?”

Rachel nodded, “Is it a Banksy? It would be cool if there was another Banksy in Manchester.” She appraised the image some more, “It doesn’t look like a Banksy.”

“It’s not a Banksy. But it is rather impressive. I found it in one of the buildings they’re demolishing near my studio. It’s like they’re taking the building down around it.”

The graffiti depicted a cartoony countryside scene, where chaos reigned. Famous rabbits and ducks chased each other with swords and axes, whilst Disney princesses did something sapphic behind a bush. Exactly what was going on in the shrubbery was only hinted at by ecstatic faces and stocking clad legs sticking out on either side. Julian, who had been trying to remember why it all looked so familiar, slapped the table, “That’s the Wally Wood Disney orgy isn’t it? I knew I recognised it.”

“Almost. It’s definitely got some of the elements in there. But there are Hanna Barbera characters in there, Looney Tunes as well. And some characters I don’t know which might be from some obscure anime or could be entirely new creations.”

“What’s this Wally Wood orgy all about?” Rachel asked.

“Have I not shown you it? It’s a cartoon of all the Disney characters misbehaving because Walt’s died and he’s not around to control them any more. I’ll show you it later.”

“Before or after the blow job?” Julian enquired.

“There’s inventory to be done if you don’t behave yourself.” Rachel warned.

* * *

Nathan Vincent still had all his hair. He carried more weight around his waist than his doctor would like him to, but he could afford to have suits cut to hide that. He didn’t need any little blue pills to perform in the bedroom, and an Audi was the right mix of practical, luxury and performance. His mid-life crisis was going well.

All he needed now was the younger woman, and she seemed to have found him. Jenny wasn’t young enough to be his daughter. She wasn’t old enough that his son would call her a cougar, either. The age difference was more than enough to be inappropriate, and he would have it no other way.

If anyone asked, their relationship could be explained away as mentor and student. It wasn’t- she had come to him with the information he was about to use to make himself rich- but it wasn’t yet sexual, either. That would change in the next few days, he was sure.

It was another late night session, as they prepared their play. She was at his dining table, poring over photographs and old reference books, learning everything there was to know about their score. Her dark hair was piled up on top of her head, held in place by crossed pencils threaded through it. The look was so effortlessly practical in appearance, that it must have taken a long time to perfect. The thick, wavy strand that hung down from her brow, bouncing when her breath hit it, was likely calculated as well.

She was trying to look at ease, perfectly happy to be here, in his house, late at night, working with him. He thought he might love her for the effort she was putting into the pretence. “Are you absolutely sure I can’t get you some wine?” he asked, as he took the seat beside her at the table. He had a cut crystal glass of single malt in his hand. A little Dutch courage before he asked her to stay the night.

Jenny looked up from the book that had engrossed her. As if noticing the strand of hair for the first time, she brushed it back, and tried to twine it around one of the pencils. She smiled at him, but he was drawn to her dark brown eyes more than her lips. “Oh no. I couldn’t. I have to get home. I mustn’t have any alcohol if I’m to drive.” Arthur hadn’t pinned down the hint of an accent she had. There was the occasional, almost musical, lilt to her voice, as she put the emphasis on inflections others would slide past.

The little voice in Arthur’s head told him that this was the point in the script where he suavely brought up the subject of his spare bedroom, and told her she wouldn’t be putting him out at all if she stayed. Then there would be some wine for her. A chat about things other than art missing since the Second World War, and her being charmed into the main bed rather than the spare one.

He smiled back at her, and took a long sip of whisky instead. “Of course. Most sensible.”

She did want to sleep with him, he was certain. There were the coquettish laughs at his jokes, the way she listened so intently when he talked about art, and how he kept catching her looking at him when she thought he didn’t notice. But this was a big job they were working on. It could make both of them the equivalent of several years worth of income, possibly even millions. So, it made sense that she was concentrating on the preparation so much.

There would be time for celebrations when they had pulled off the job, and collected their rewards. There would be champagne, good food, perhaps an expensive hotel, and the lovemaking he knew they both wanted. For now, going over the details one more time couldn’t hurt.

Arthur took another sip of whisky, then pulled an old, battered, German book on art toward himself.


Forensics lab ‘manipulation’ could mean ‘hundreds were wrongly convicted’ – police chief

This has been sitting in an open tab for a while. It could make for a good plot point in a future Ran & Bullets storyline. I must investigate further.

People could have been wrongly convicted following allegations of “data manipulation” at a forensics lab in Manchester, a police chief constable has warned.The head of the Dorset force, Debbie Simpson, said 484 cases were being reviewed after a criminal probe was launched into the matter.Two men have been arrested by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) over allegations that hundreds of cases handled by Randox Testing Services were affected by what the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) called “data manipulation”.

Source: Forensics lab ‘manipulation’ could mean ‘hundreds were wrongly convicted’ – police chief | Granada – ITV News


Dropping a bunch of book prices (if you’re not in the US or Europe)

The lowest I can price my books on Amazon is 99 cents. In the UK and Eurozone, because of VAT, they price match to 0.99 (pounds or Euros). In other shops- India, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Canada- it matches the local currency. But, in all those places, I could price them lower. So, I just went through my catalogue and lowered the prices of my cheapest books. The following are now available at bargain prices, if you’re in the right place-

Sounds of Soldiers

Tiger

GOD Hunt

So Much To Answer For

Chosen Ones/Source

Kettled

Britain Looks To The Future

Britain Turns To Crime

Alternative Facts


What’s In The Bag?

kETTLED-CVR-150Throughout Kettled, Irwin has his trusty courier bag with him. He produces a few useful bits and pieces from it. Questioned about the bag’s inventory, he says that everything in it can be bought from Amazon or Ebay.

So, what is in the bag? I thought I’d do a little browsing and draw up a list. I’m restricting myself to products available on Amazon UK.

Please note, unless otherwise stated, I do not own any of these products, have not tested them and cannot vouch for their effectiveness. I may still use them in a story, though. Links should redirect to your local Amazon, and some items available in Britain may not be available where you are.

Bump Keys

Lock bumping is a way of opening locks by jarring the pins out of position, then turning the lock whilst they leave it open. A more detailed explanation is given in the wikipedia article linked. This 24 key set is made to fit the most common locks used in the UK. The seller will only send them to ‘legitimate’ purchasers, but I’m sure Irwin could get around that.

Fire brigade master keys Master keys for communal doors, padlocks etc., so firemen can get in when needed. There was a point in Tiger (free when you join the mailing list) when Kay and Irwin could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if he’d been carrying them.

He may back these keys up with a drop key. This one includes a lift door key, for when he wants to play at being John McClane.

Lock pick set Bump keys can be noisy, and sometimes you want to be more subtle. You’d think lock picking sets would be illegal, but there are loads of them- and training booklets and practice locks– on Amazon.

Padlock shims Though, with time and a Leatherman (see below), it should be possible to make a set of these from a drink can.

Handcuff keys Okay, this wouldn’t be much use in the courier bag. If you’ve got to the point where you’re handcuffed, they’ve taken the bag off you. So this is a plastic handcuff key, good for a few uses, that could be hidden somewhere convenient. If you want to put it in plain sight, you can get clippy buckles with the keys concealed inside them.

Cable ties Everybody needs cable ties. They’re almost as useful as baler twine and gaffer tape. Irwin uses them as impromptu cuffs during the story. Cable tie cuffs, similar to the type used by the Police, are available. Amazon has them listed as sex toys, but I can only think of how much they could pinch. Pain does nothing for me, so no thanks.

Evidence bags Okay, not evidence bags, but freezer bags. But you could keep evidence in them to reduce the risk of contamination.

Leatherman Another item that probably wouldn’t be in the bag. Leatherman tools usually come with a belt pouch. They’re more for when there’s time to fashion a solution rather than one needed right away. I used to take my Leatherman Mini everywhere with me. Nowadays, it lives on my desk beside the monitor.

This is just what I’ve thought of today (or wrote into Kettled). I’m sure I’ll add to it over time. I’m trying to think of an urban version of the survival tins outdoorsy types can get as well.


A wheeled wander past some Solstice locations

2015 isn’t likely to give us many more days as nice as today. So I got on the bike and went for a little ride- something I’ve consistently failed to do this year.

Weir on the Irwell

I followed a route I took several times last year- down to the Irwell, then upstream a way, freestyling the exact route on the many tracks available. If you’ve read Solstice, the weir above is the spot where the first body is found. In the story, it’s June, and the river is lower than this.

(If you haven’t read Solstice, you can get it from Amazon, Smashwords and several other online shops.)

Dappled

This rather lovely location is just over two and a half miles from where I live. Two and a half miles in the other direction is Manchester city centre.

What path?

At one point, the track got a little crazy. Lacking Boudicca style scythes on the bike, I worked a little way back and crossed the river on an old canal bridge nerby.

Under the M60

Having taken a photo of the weir where the body was found, I had to make it far enough upstream to get a shot of the location of the first murder, and opening scene, of Solstice. This track runs under the M60. I turned around and headed back along trails I didn’t discover last year. The ride was just under ten miles long. I did much longer ones last year when I was in the habit of heading out for a random ride most weeks. I need to get on my bike more often.


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Kettled- Rain and Bullets 4

kETTLED-CVR-200Kettled is published on October 2nd. Pre-order your copy now.

The Tories are in Manchester, and thousands have turned out to protest their presence.

In the midst of the peaceful protest, a small group of hired troublemakers are planning to cause trouble. They want to start a riot, to distract from the demo’s message, and usher in new laws.

Irwin has been working with an MI5 agent to track them down before they can do any damage. But now, she has been stabbed, and he is trapped in a big crowd being held on a square by Police. Just the right place to start a fight.

With the reluctant help of Kay Wood, Irwin must track down the troublemakers before it’s too late, and find out who stabbed the MI5 agent.


I don’t think I aimed high enough

When I was plotting Solstice, I needed a secondary threat, something longer term than a killer on the loose, which could also go some way to explaining his actions. After doing some research, an organised paedophile ring run by influential people was my choice, for renewed relevance amongst other reasons.

I’m beginning to think that I should have aimed higher, and made a few of them MPs, or even Ministers. When I was doing my research, Leon Brittan’s name came up a couple of times, but I was wary of the claims against him, as they seemed just a bit too far fetched. Then he died not long after I’d published the story, and the allegations against him are out in the open again. Not only that, but the evidence that there was a high level cover up is more convincing too.

The Daily Beast has an article about it, and the Manchester Evening News has a report about how accusations about Cyril Smith were revealed to Thatcher when he was being considered for a knighthood. David Cameron wants to introduce a law to punish teachers, councillors and care workers who ignore evidence of child abuse. How would he feel about it being extended to cover more senior politicians and civil servants, I wonder?