End Game by Matt Johnson #BlogTour #GuestPost @Matt_Johnson_UK @orendabooks @annecater

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour of End Game by Matt Johnson! First of all thank you to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for having me on the tour for the final novel in the Robert Finaly series (a trilogy).

I have a great guestpost to share today in which Matt Johnson explains why he started writing but let’s have a small introduction first:

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Robert Finlay seems to have finally left his SAS past behind him and is settled into his new career as a detective. But when the girlfriend of his former SAS colleague and close friend Kevin Jones is murdered, it’s clear that Finlay’s troubles are far from over. Jones is arrested for the killing, but soon escapes from jail, and Finlay is held responsible for the breakout. Suspended from duty and sure he’s being framed too, our hero teams up with MI5 agent Toni Fellowes to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. Their quest soon reveals a plot that goes to the very heart of the UK’s security services. End Game, the final part in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, sees our hero in an intricately plotted and terrifyingly fast-paced race to uncover the truth and escape those who’d sooner have him dead than be exposed.


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Matt Johnson Author PictureMatt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years.

A keen biker, Matt rides a ’99 Harley Davidson Fatboy and is patron to the UK based ‘Armed Forces Bikers’ charity. He is also patron to a newly-formed charity, ‘Shoeboxes for our Heroes’.

In his spare time Matt keeps honey bees and produces his own honey. He scuba dives, collects unusual hats and enjoys hill-walking with his three dogs at his home in Wales, UK near the Brecon Beacons.


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A reason to write

I’ve spoken many times on how a form of therapy that included writing helped with my treatment for PTSD. And I’ve explained that it was a comment made by my counsellor that first planted the idea in my mind that I might write a book.

What I’ve never fully explained is why I agreed with the suggestion to the degree that I was sufficiently motivated to go along with the suggestion. To do so, I need to take you back to 1985. I was a PC in those days, and had just passed the promotion examination to become a sergeant. I was posted to Tottenham and Hornsey police stations for a short period to work as an ‘acting sergeant’ while I waited to go on my pre-promotion course at Hendon police college.

On my first evening at Tottenham, a young man came running in from the street, screaming and shouting. He jumped over the front counter towards me and collapsed in a heap on the floor. I moved towards him and saw blood, a lot of blood spreading out on the floor around him. He had been stabbed and had run into the police station to escape his attacker. This was my first introduction to Tottenham in the 1980s.

I also spent some time at Hornsea Police station where I met a sergeant called David Pengelly. David gave me some tips about the job and about what to expect on my sergeants course. He introduced me to some of his community beat officers, we called them ‘homebeats’ in those days, including PCs Keith Blakelock and Richard Coombes.


Pc Keith Blakelock

I left Tottenham when my promotion course started. As I did so, I was aware that trouble was brewing in the local area. Mobile car patrols had been stopped on certain estates and foot patrolling in the area was only being done by well-known local PCs and, even then, they were always in pairs. There had been some sporadic outbreaks of hostility towards police officers and some vehicles had been damaged by stone-throwing youths. It seemed that the area was a powder keg just waiting to explode.

On 5th October 1985, the Broadwater Farm riots started. David Pengelly, the sergeant who had befriended me at Hornsey, was deployed with several of his homebeat officers into the fray. They were ill-prepared, inadequately equipped and completely unaware of what they were going into.


Police during rioting on the Broadwater Estate in which PC Blakelock would be killed

That evening, in the darkness and confusion on an estate they were unfamiliar with, they were stoned, petrol bombed and, eventually their position was over-run and they were isolated. They ran for their lives. Keith Blakelock slipped on wet grass, fell to the ground and was set upon by the rioters. He was killed – stabbed and hacked to death. Showing immense bravery and armed with ridiculously inadequate wooden truncheons, PC Coombes and others attempted to rescue PC Blakelock while Sergeant Pengelly fought alone with the rioters to try and buy some time for his colleagues.

David Pengelly was awarded the George Medal for his bravery that evening.


But there were many other police officers at Broadwater Farm that night. As with the officers from Hornsey, they were also ill prepared for what they faced. Many were injured, all were traumatised.

Some of them were from Barnet police station, where I was posted on promotion. In the aftermath of the riot, an enquiry team was set up and all officers who had been present were told to write statements including as much information as they could about what had happened to them, what they had seen and any evidence they could include to help bring rioters to justice.


In many cases, the statements produced by the officers from my station were woefully inadequate. Often they said no more than “I went with my serial to an estate in Tottenham. We stood behind plastic shields while hundreds of people tried to kill us with petrol bombs, knives and rocks.”

I was given the job of obtaining better statements from these officers. It wasn’t easy. Many of them were resentful, angry and upset by what they had been through. Many simply didn’t want to talk about it, let alone write a statement.

I remember one particular PC, I’ll call him Michael. He was in his early twenties. In the months that followed the riot, Michael steadfastly refused to write a full statement. He was interviewed by senior officers and even threatened with disciplinary action but nothing could persuade him. He was thought of as a bad egg, not a good police officer. He had started drinking, often to excess and was regularly late turning up for work. He seemed to have an ‘attitude problem’ was insubordinate to senior officers and surly. One day, he was arrested for drink-driving. He was disciplined and sacked. Nobody missed him.


I forgot about Michael until many years later. I was undergoing counselling for PTSD and I began to realise that young Michael, and many of the PCs who had been at Broadwater Farm had been displaying similar symptoms to my own. I hadn’t recognised it at the time, indeed I had never heard of PTSD.

Nothing was done for them by way of counselling or post-trauma care. They were simply left to fend for themselves.

It was too late to help Michael, but I was left thinking ‘if only I had known, if only I had been aware, maybe I could have helped him’. I felt guilt as I knew that I had failed him, as had the organisation I worked for, when we allowed his behaviour to deteriorate to the point where he was arrested and kicked out of the police.


I promised myself then that I would do my level best to make amends for my failure. So, when my counsellor suggested the idea of a book, it sparked an idea. An idea that one day I might write a book that could educate and inform people about PTSD and about how it affects people’s lives.

But I knew that as one individual former soldier and police inspector, I had neither the power or the influence to bring about change, to ensure that all men and women in all the armed and emergency services are prepared for the trauma they will face and properly supported when they do. But, it occurred to me that what I might be able to do is introduce people who can influence change to the realities of PTSD, through the medium of creative writing. Where people might not be inclined to pick up and read an informative work on PTSD, I might be able to pick up a thriller.

And so, I began to write.

Make sure to check out the other tour stop today as well: @Chocolate’n’ Waffles blog

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The Intruder by P.S. Hogan #BookReview

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William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in when the owners are out. But what will happen if he gets caught?

What will he do next?

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star three and a half

William Heming seems like a righteous man at first but looks can be oh so deceiving and don’t I love it!  That hidden side of people is so fascinating to discover and what’s better than a voyeuristic side of one’s personality to explore? His voyeurism doesn’t apply to people though, there’s no funny business, but he likes to look at people’s lives and homes.. the things that really tell a story about them. Now if you’re following the voyeur around, do you become one yourself then too :-)? I must assume so. I didn’t really mind slipping inside and looking into the houses myself so hmm maybe everyone has a little bit of that side in him or her and that’s why this novel is so fascinating?

It’s actually quite funny how Heming thinks of himself as a ‘concerned citizen’ and a model for the community and succeeded so well in making me wonder if he’s really bad or just someone harmless with a few quirks. I wouldn’t find it okay either if people didn’t pick up their dog’s poo or would damage a car’s mirror and just leave without taking responsibility for it. He wants to do something about it and even though it is wrong in every way I couldn’t help but feel somehow relieved someone wanted to right a wrong.

That feeling diminished however the further I went into the story and I realised he really had a nasty side. It’s not that Heming became unhinged because his personality never really changes throughout the novel, he is who he is, but while he cleverly holds up the façade for his co-workers, I became more intimate with his true self and he’s so creepy in his ways of addressing the reader and stating what the obvious for him, defending his ways as if they are normal.

I am simply sharing an experience, a life as it happens. Think of me as an invisible brother or uncle or boyfriend. I’m no trouble. I may be there when you are, or when you’re gone, or more likely just before you arrive. I agree it is an idea that takes some getting used to.

The novel slowly reveals not only what an oddball he is but also how his actions of spying on people, of lurking in the shadows and tresspassing started in his childhood. The author goes back and forth and while he’s trying to convince me of his harmlessness his childhood is slowly starting to make me doubt him.

His actions and his focus of attention become highly worrying, both for him as for his mark, a girl he lays eyes on and he’s smitten with from the moment he sees her red cape, just like Little Red Ridinghood. What he doesn’t see though is that he would be the Big Bad Wolf :-). I can’t tell you how the plot evolves but it does get a bit out of hand and dangerous and he’ll have to try to jump through a lot of hoops to keep himself the unsuspicious guy he’s been for most of his life. The ending did feel a tad anticlimatic for me because I expected maybe an extra twist as a final topping on an ice sundae but it wasn’t a bad ending per se. It makes you think even more about what you don’t know that is going on under your own nose.

This was a great unsettling read, very character-driven, and Heming was fascinating to read about. He felt quite real and his way of talking to the reader directly didn’t miss its effect.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Kiss Me Kill Me by J.S. Carol #BlogTour #Guestpost

Thank you to Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kiss Me Kill Me by J.S. Carol. I have a super interesting guestpost for you today about the strong pull of domestic noir on you and me these days.



How far would you go to escape the one you love?

When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive.
It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid.
And there’s no way out.

Or is there?

Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again.
But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe.

Be careful who you trust . . .


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James CarolJ. S. Carol is the author of The Killing Game, which has been shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. As James Carol, he has also written the bestselling Jefferson Winter series. Broken Dolls, the first of these, was published in 2014 to rave reviews and reached #1 on the Amazon fiction and thriller charts. In addition James is writing a series of eBooks set during Winter’s FBI days. Presumed Guilty is the first of these.

James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children. When he’s not writing he can usually be found in a pair of headphones, recording and producing music.


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Old Monster, New Face

Over the last few years a new breed of monster has snuck out from the darkness and made its way onto the pages of our novels. This one doesn’t have supernatural powers or snarling teeth; it doesn’t sleep in a coffin and drink blood. These monsters look like normal people on the outside but inside the darkness runs deep. These are the monsters who share your lives and beds. These are the monsters you’re married to.

But how different are they from the creatures who inhabited the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker or Stephen King? Or to put it another way: is Domestic Noir just a way of repackaging the horror genre?

Back in the seventies an author could call himself a horror novelist and get away with it. However, at some point during the eighties, horror became a dirty word in publishing and that has carried on all the way through to today. Present an agent or publisher with a horror novel and you’re likely to get met with a polite but firm “thanks but no thanks”. Serve up a slice of Domestic Noir, though, and you might just find yourself getting a seat at the table.

That doesn’t mean those monsters have gone away. No, sir. Remember these monsters are masters of disguise; they’re shapeshifters. One of my all-time favourite writers is Thomas Harris. Dr Hannibal Lecter is without a doubt one of the scariest horror monsters ever created. This is a character who can be mentioned in the same breath as Dracula or Dr Frankenstein. And for anyone still not convinced that he’s a horror monster, take a look at where he lives. A dungeon. That’s right – he lives right down there in the dark amongst the crazed and the insane.

So how did Harris get away with writing a horror novel when the genre was as fashionable as flares and platform boots? Simple. He called his monster a serial killer and sold the book as a psychological thriller. Next thing you know his dark little horror tale has shifted a gazillion copies and landed an armful of Oscars. And who would have thought that? A horror film winning an Oscar! Do you see how sneaky these monsters can be?

Fast forward to the present day and the monsters have got tired of living in the dark; they want to live in the light. What better than a nice suburban house in a nice suburban neighbourhood? I mean, what self-respecting monster doesn’t crave a little bit of comfort every once in a while? Even Dr Lecter managed to escape his cell and swap it for a luxury palazzo in Florence.

Like modern-day vampires they need to be invited into our lives, though. Authors do this by enticing us to open up their books. In the brilliantly creepy Behind Closed Doors, BA Paris invited us into Jack and Grace’s lives, then scared the living daylights out of us. And isn’t that what a good horror novel is supposed to do? Lull you into a sense of security then rip the rug out from under your feet?

At some point our interest in Domestic Noir will fade. That’s as inevitable as the sun setting at night and rising the next day. Tastes change; fashion moves on; people decide that flare and platform boots do look kind of ridiculous. That doesn’t mean the monsters will just disappear, though. That’s not how it works. They’ll just morph into something else. I for one can’t wait to see what face they’ll choose to wear next.

Check out the other blog tour stops as well. Coming up tomorrow: Favourite Novels


Hangman (Detective William Fawkes #2) by Daniel Cole #BookReview

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Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

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Hangman is the second novel of Daniel Cole’s trilogy about the Ragdoll murders. His first novel, the original ‘Ragdoll’, left me with a lot of anticipation in the end and I was quite eager to see how the story would continue but I’m afraid the plotline didn’t pick up where it left off and the focus in this novel is really on Baxter who teams up with detective Rouche and Curtis in this novel while she also still manages to get assistance from Edmunds on the side (poor Edmunds helps out in his own private time). Baxter has been promoted to Chief Inspector and thrown into an international inquiry to assist the FBI and CIA when they are facing their own Ragdoll murders, which takes her from London to New York. Meanwhile new murders commence in London once again as well.

Hangman is everything Ragdoll was but more. It was more gruesome, it was more (way more) spectacular, it was bigger, it was bolder, it was more complex and with a much higher body count.

I really liked the new team surrounding Baxter and I even think I liked the team’s interactions more than the murder inquiry here for most of the story. Ragdoll was perhaps a bit easier to follow than Hangman as well. Rouche (pronounced like whoosh) was very likeable and the brilliant opening scene where Baxter is being interviewed had me fearing the worst already for what was about to happen. The hunt for the killer wasn’t as much about finding out who was responsible but more their efforts for capturing him without going under themselves. In the final and third part of the novel I was almost breaking a sweat as the situation became increasingly dangerous when they try to infiltrate and get closer to the killer. Mr. Cole doesn’t hold back at all and it already felt like a movie. Seven will get some competition soon ;-).

This was a good follow-up for Ragdoll – even though that remains my favorite for reasons I can’t really point out other than that this one is perhaps just a little bit more chaotic to read with everything that is happening in both countries – and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next one in the series!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen #BookReview

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When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

It’s about a jealous wife, obsessed with her replacement.

It’s about a younger woman set to marry the man she loves.

The first wife seems like a disaster; her replacement is the perfect woman.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.

You will be wrong.

The Wife Between Us is the first collaboration between Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen; a gripping thriller with film rights sold to the creators of The Girl On the Train.

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What an exhilirating read! I’ve read some quotes telling me this novel is in the vein of The Girl on the Train but it’s nothing of the sort as far as I can see. This is not to be compared and doesn’t need any comparison to other novels. I even predict that future novels will be compared to this one. I really hope that is the case because I really want more of this!

The story starts off with Vanessa’s & Nellie’s story and their perception of the man they love or loved. I know lots of people would like to know a bit more about the actual story and I’m telling you that the budding romance of Nellie and at the same time the discarded feelings of Vanessa regarding Richard will certainly have you turning the pages.

Vanessa is living with her aunt after her husband left her for a younger model. She had to take a job at Saks selling clothing to get by. An old acquaintance runs into her and informs her her ex is getting married again. That is the last thing she wants to happen so she’ll do anything to stop him from marrying again. She already knew everything about ‘the other woman’, where she works, lives.. but a marriage wasn’t something she was anticipating.

Nellie teaches her little cubs at the LearningLadder and is a waitress. She tried to escape her past, fleeing from Florida after graduation so she’s pretty much on her own. She knows nothing of the world and is completely smitten with Richard.

Of course I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was on high alert but alas, I was deceived as well. This initial, first twist in the story came much sooner than I thought and I think it might be the one I even enjoyed most of all.

When I recovered and I got back on my feet it was time to find out more about the reasons why Richard left Vanessa.. he seems so attentive, considerate, you know someone who wouldn’t even look at other women (or pretend not to). I couldn’t wait to find out the reasons for their divorce. What could have been so bad that he didn’t want her anymore? Well I wasn’t prepared for this but it certainly had me gripped.

I liked Nellie from the start but I really grew to like Vanessa as well and aunt Charlotte was so sweet, everyone would love to have an aunt like that! I didn’t like snob Richard or Richard’s sister Maureen from the start though, and I’m wondering if I’m the only one with weird thoughts but there was this unsettling vibe when I read about their sibling interactions. She was supposedly a bit of a little mother for Richard but it just didn’t feel enough like motherly love to me. Neither of Richard’s girlfriends picked up on that througout the story so it might only be my too twisted mind this time.

Just when I thought I finally heard Vanessa’s full story and every stone was turned and every secret unearthed, and the game was finally over, a final brilliant reveal is lobbed at you in the end. I’m very satisfied with the way the story ended. This was a gripping read with a whole lot of character that was pretty addictive to me and I’m very curious about the movie already! This is definitely a five-star read on Goodreads and Amazon :-).

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion. 

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land #BookReview

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What’s it about?

When Annie hands her mother over to the police she hopes for a new start in life – but can we ever escape our past?


Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way Annie can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

With a new foster family and a new name – Milly – she hopes for a fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But as her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of Milly’s past won’t let her sleep . . .

Because Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water…

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I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for soooo long! One of my favorite series since forever is the I Hunt Killer series by Barry Lyga where he wrote about the son of a serial killer and his inner turmoil. Well this one’s the female equivalent.

There’s only one POV in this novel and that’s Annie’s, or Milly as she is called now that she’s got a new life with the Newmonts, her temporary foster family. Her father and her brother fled from home a long time ago, her mother is waiting in jail for the court case to appear. After 15 years of living with her dear mum she has told the police about young Daniel and the other children that came to stay with them and were locked in the ‘playground’. It was enough, it had to stop. All she wants is a normal life and to feel normal but can she really?

Different. That was the first thing that went through my head when I started reading this novel. I didn’t know yet what this girl went through but she was certainly different from us. She continually assesses people, she’s a master observer of other people’s intentions, behaviour and even her smell is more developed than yours or mine.

Good Me Bad Me is Milly’s internal struggle between good and bad and it was quite fascinating to see how she is trying so hard but there are always those little pinpricks of conditioned behavior and of old memories where she’s back in the role of doing what her mother wants her to do. She doesn’t want to be like her mother, she wants to be good but she hears her mother’s voice inside her head who is telling her she looks just like her all the time. Even after all the terrible abuse that she suffered – divulged through small morsels throughout the story – she still misses her and doesn’t want to disappoint her.

I really liked hearing what was going on inside Milly’s head and her internal conversations with her mother made it even more disturbing. There was always a sense of foreboding that something could tip Milly over to the wrong side. Her friendship with Morgan proved difficult, she wanted to share who she really was but was afraid for the rejection as the daughter of a serial killer, and her stepsister Phoebe made it even harder. She’s a real bully but doesn’t know who Milly really is, and with all that’s going on in Milly’s little head… let’s just say I was anxious for the girl. It felt kind of dangerous playing with the daughter of a serial killer.

The build-up to the trial is pretty suspenseful and even then I didn’t know what she was going to tell the jury. In the end though there wasn’t anything I didn’t expect or see coming, I was anticipating something would be up. It’s not that kind of story of many twists and turns but even if it wasn’t, it was very captivating. I felt sympathy, sadness, pity and anger for Milly. At times I wished she had reached out and told her true thoughts to Mike, at other times I could certainly understand why she didn’t.

This is a great debut novel and I can understand why so many readers became so enthralled, it is really worth reading.

I bought a paperback copy of this book at full price. This is my honest opinion.

Author spotlight: Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts

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When I came across this novel I was very happy to do some extra promo for this author because let’s face it, that book cover looks great doesn’t it? And that blurb sounds good too don’t you think? Maybe all you need is another slight little nudge and maybe the extract will do just the trick. Check it out!

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What’s it about?

A gripping psychological thriller with chilling twists, from a unique new voice.

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?

Buy links

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About the author

Author JennyMortonPotts

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realised she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.


Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Connect with Jenny

Website: www.jennymortonpotts.com

Facebook: facebook/jennymortonpotts

Twitter: @jmortonpotts


Chapter 2 – Death Row

When they arrived at Turville, there were many cars in the lot. You might have thought you were attending a concert. There was no landscaping, nothing to soften the bricks of this death house which had been painted grey some time ago and had begun to flake. The Harfield logo hung on a large metal plaque. It too was faded and chipped.

Without a word of leave, the escorting officers walked away from the passengers and new staff took over. The minibus occupants were told that their belongings would be locked in the van until post-procedure. They were asked if they would like to take quarters into the building as there was a vending machine with snacks and drinks.

Then another officer, a woman, just young, set about asking them security questions and issuing tags on neck bands. ‘You have to sign your name in a ledger. That’s first.’ She made herding movements with her arms and the group passed through a body sensor and then there was a cursory pat down. The officer held her thumb and forefinger up, like a diver’s affirmative. Good to go.

Keller noted that indeed the older man he had marked out as a journalist, was permitted to take a notepad in with him. The redhead girl was also permitted writing material. Their pens were tested in a small scanning machine and he overheard the girl saying that she was preparing her doctoral thesis.

‘Nice subject for a PhD,’ Keller muttered beneath his breath. ‘Classy.’

Somehow, he thought there would be a long walk now, time for contemplation but almost straight away the group were led into a small waiting room. The walls were solid, there was no viewing window. This was not the place then. But there was a vending machine. Keller could see fresh apples in the bottom row.

The redhead sat opposite Keller. He wondered if she would like the look of him. Women usually did, at first. It wasn’t really the time or the place but a woman like her was hardly one for etiquette. She looked at her watch and said to the student wearing the plaster cast that she could barely cope without her cell. She then realised that there was some sort of joke to be made of the pun on ‘cell’ and actually laughed. Keller had a sudden vision of being in a lifeboat, sitting next to her, and pushing her over the side. She scribbled away in her big A4 pad, a ring with a diamond on her wedding finger. She was engaged then, and no doubt believed that she had everything to live for. The death penalty has a way of driving home a point like that. The girl sighed, like she had done a hard day’s work. As if taunting him, she let the pad rest upside down on her lap, so that he could make out the words. She had big, babyish writing. Not like the American cursive they were taught. She had a bit of an accent too. Probably went to one of those expensive schools in Europe. Keller looked down at her notes.

…2002 Uzbekistan authorities boiled men to death in water… China have mobile death units, small buses with in-house execution equipment which travel to far lying provinces…. Neighboring South Carolina executed a 14 year old in the electric chair…

Keller stared hard at the redhead. What a charming companion for the day. Fleetingly, he wondered if he should follow her home tonight and get in a bit of target practice. He could get himself match ready and make the world a better place without this member of the population. He dug his knuckles into his thigh and told himself to stop getting distracted.

Keller knew that there would be no stay, and no clemency. He knew that the procedure would begin at 12 noon prompt. He closed his eyes and let his head rest against the cool plaster of the wall behind the bench. Without vision, the thrum of the AC filled his ears fully and he shut out the hushed voices and fell asleep, as he had done in moments of stress as a child. He had Aunt Joya to thank for that technique. Every time she locked him out of the house, he’d nap, no matter what the temperature. If he were to have died of cold before waking, that wouldn’t have been much of a tragedy. There was a point in the coldness when you stopped noticing and the sleep just washed gently over you. He trained that sleep to come to him when he needed it, like a faithful dog.

When Keller was woken in the Turville waiting room, his legs had loosened and sprawled out before him. ‘It is time,’ someone seemed to have said in his ear. As the day’s reality cleaved through his head afresh, the redhead opposite had the nerve to offer him a look of disapproval. She picked her way through his sleepy limbs and walked out of the door, sober and straight-faced.

There was a walk now. They passed doors, like random choices. They all looked the same, all the colour of pale nicotine. But some of those doors were in the business of living and some were not. As you walked past them, you could feel hope slipping away. Which door? Which one? It was like a game the devil might play as you entered hell. Eventually the passengers reached the end of their journey and were shown into another room which was similar in size to the last but with what looked like a window on one side. The window was dark for the moment, with a black blind pulled down and opposite, there was a gallery with seating. The seating was slightly raked, like a theatre. They were here for a performance.


Hiding Book Jacket

Let me hear your thoughts about Hiding! Are you tempted in any way to read this or not? All opinions are appreciated!