Rebecca Yount – The Erlking: A Mick Chandra Mystery

erlkingfinal_option1Title: THE ERLKING: A Mick Chandra Mystery

Author: Rebecca Yount

ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-4675-3378-2

Page count: 438

Genre: Crime

Price: $.99


Author Bio:

REBECCA YOUNT trained from childhood as a concert pianist, is a published poet, and worked in education reform in Washington, D.C., but she always wanted to write. Coming from a family of writers, it wasn’t hard for her to put pen to paper, but it took an actual unsolved murder to give her the idea for her first novel. On a home exchange in England — something she and her husband regularly do — a villager told her about a local murder that remained unsolved, even by Scotland Yard. Sitting under a tree in a fallow field one day, she began to imagine what might have happened. The result was A DEATH IN C MINOR. In 2010 Rebecca underwent open heart surgery, which left her unable to write for two years. When she returned to writing she decided to publish the entire Mick Chandra series herself as e-books. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, author and columnist David Yount.


Tell us about your book:

Detective Inspector, Mick Chandra of New Scotland Yard, struggles to link the murder of the young wife of a popular British Member of Parliament to the seemingly random death by drowning in a north London canal of 8-year-old Josie Stephens. The forensic pathologist discovers that Josie was abused before she was murdered. Mick is informed by a Quaker Friend who knew Phoebe that she, too, may have been physically abused. Mick realizes he is getting close to the fire when his live-in love, American expatriate and renowned England-based concert pianist, Jessica Beaumont, is suddenly harrassed. During a concert, someone even takes a shot at her. Seconded to the Yard’s Pedophile Unit, Mick and his partner, Sergeant Elizabeth Chang, receive help in breaking the case. The Unit’s chief informs Mick that a notorious pedophile ring is working out of north London, headed by someone who calls himself The Erlking. Day by day, more children are reported missing in north London. How is this linked to Phoebe’s death? What is the connection between Phoebe and Josie? As Mick struggles to expose the identity of The Erlking, help arrives from a most unexpected source.


How long did it take to write the book?

Approx.  a year to write.  The research took several months.


What inspired you to write the book?

I write about those issues that outrage me, and child abuse is one such issue.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

First, I have no systematic writing process.  I just tap into my word processor.  Before I begin writing, I have already constructed the first and last sentences of the story.  Insomnia helps – all those sleepless hours that I use to spin the story in my head.  I do vast amounts of research.  For The Erlking, I conducted a great deal of it through New Scotland Yard, and interviewed police officers who are “on the ground.”  I also relied on current press reports, plus current stats that are available through Google.  There are some very helpful books on the topic of child abuse as well, many of which I used as references.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I want readers to know that child abuse is epidemic, both in the US and UK.  I want to let readers know that pedophiles are “the nicest men in the world,” as one police officer put it to me.  I want to let readers know that pedophiles are relentlessly patient, sometimes waiting years to pounce on a chosen victim.  That pedophiles are probably not “curable,” that they are very much in our midst, acting like perfectly normal, congenial people. That pedophiles often enter activities or professions that attract children, or can present themselves as people who “care deeply” about children.


Where can we go to buy your book?



Barnes & Noble:




Any other links or info you’d like to share?


“I am in love with Rebecca Yount’s writing….I can’t wait to read the third installment in this series and I urge you all to get the first two books as soon as possible. I envision a series of movies on these books and can’t wait to say I knew Mike Chandra from the beginning.”—


“With a chilling opening, Yount’s mystery packs a punch and keeps delivering….The author has handled a difficult and often disturbing subject matter with sensitivity without losing any of the dramatic impact to the story….Another brilliant, well thought out and intelligent mystery. The handsome Anglo-Indian detective is just as charming and even more likable as his is stunning partner, Jessica. Old friends are met again and despite it being the second book in the series, this is still a stand alone mystery….Overall, this story is a real page tuner and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. With the inclusion of the first chapter from the next installment of the series, I am very much looking forward to meeting up with the charismatic Mick Chandra once again. A highly recommended read.”—Shalini Ayre Book Reviews


Excerpt from book:


Excerpt from Chapter One

On the October morning that the semi-nude corpse of eight-year-old Josie Stephens was discovered floating in a north London canal, Detective Inspector Michael ‘Mick’ Chandra had no idea that the next several weeks of his life would be dedicated to tracking down her murderer.

As far as Mick was concerned, he was on his way from his Stoke Newington home to spend the morning putting the final touches on a sting operation with his team at New Scotland Yard. A call from the Yard’s Commissioner changed all of that. Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Albion Road, Mick was informed over his cell phone that he had just been seconded to the Yard’s Pedophile Unit. Given only the sketchiest of details, he was instructed to make his way to the Grand Union Canal in Islington to meet with Detective Chief Inspector Kip Brodie, head of the Unit.

After another maddening thirty-five minutes of snailing through the rush hour traffic on upper Essex Road, Mick was standing next to Brodie, watching divers retrieve the child’s body from the murky, trash-infested waters of the canal.

Fifty-five-year-old Kip Brodie was a twenty-three year veteran of the Criminal Investigation Department, better known as the CID. Revered by his staff, he had a reputation as a dogged investigator into crimes of child abuse and pedophilia. Of middling height, stocky build, with piercing pale blue eyes and a full head of light brown hair just beginning to turn grey at the temples, Brodie’s high-flushed coloring betrayed his Scottish heritage.

He stood in conspicuous contrast to the thirty-five-year-old Chandra, himself a fourteen-year veteran, seven of them with the Metropolitan Police, and another seven and counting specifically with the CID. Mick’s Anglo-Indian heritage was obvious from his dusky good looks, onyx-black eyes, straight patrician nose, and black-brown short cropped hair, gifts from his Kerala Indian father. His 6’1″ height and muscular build were attributes from his Welsh mother’s side of the family. What both men did share in common were stellar reputations within the CID.

“How many scenes like this have you witnessed, Kip?”

Brodie grimly shook his head. “In my nine years with the Unit, more than I care to remember.” He trained his intense blue eyes on Mick. “‘Hope you don’t mind that I pulled rank to have you seconded to the Pedophile Unit, Mick. I’m desperate for additional help, especially the kind you can offer. You have the best record of anyone in the CID for breaking the cases that have gone cold. Just when we’re up against a vicious pedophile ring, the Home Office cut my budget to ribbons.”

“Happy to be of service,” Mick assured the Chief. “However, I would like to have Detective Sergeant Chang seconded to the Unit as well,” he added, referring to his partner, Elizabeth Chang.

Brodie smiled, causing the lines around his eyes to deepen into crevasses. “I’ve already requested her. The Commissioner agreed, after Elizabeth conducts this morning’s orientation for the sting you’ve been planning.”

“Brilliant. What can you tell me about this pedophile ring?”

“Not much. What we do know is that it probably operates somewhere out of north London, because all of the children who have gone missing are from the Hackney Borough.”

“How many children are missing so far?”

“Before this morning, four.” Kip nodded toward Josie’s corpse. “Now three.”

“Sweet Jesus,” Mick muttered. “Anything else?”

“One thing. From persistent rumors we’re getting on the street, one of the participants in this ring — perhaps even its leader — may be a member of Parliament. According to the little information we’ve been able to gather, the head of the group refers to himself as ‘The Erlking.’”

“That’s curious. I vaguely recall a poem entitled The Erlking about a troll who snatches children.”

“Well, I don’t know much about poetry,” Brodie said, “but I do know we’ve got a serious problem on our hands, and no child in north London will be safe until we can break up this group.”

The two men lapsed into silence as they watched the police forensics team comb the area around the canal while the divers, protected from the cold in heavy-rubber wet suits, struggled through the numbing water to bring Josie’s corpse to shore, depositing it on the bank near them.

“She’s wearing nothing but a pair of knickers,” Kip noted. “The bastards obviously disposed of Josie like a piece of rubbish once they finished with her. God, look how pretty she is. What a bloody waste!”

It pained Mick to see the nearly-nude child lying on the wet grassy bank exposed to the early morning cold. He resisted the impulse to take off his storm coat and drape it over the child’s pitiful blue corpse.

“What’s her full name?”

“Jocelyn Ann Stephens,” Kip answered, still looking at her.

“Are her parents here?”


“Single mother?”

“Isn’t that usually the case?”

“Where’s the father?”

Brodie shrugged. “Who knows?”

“So another deadbeat dad goes missing. Mind if I speak with the mother?”

“Go ahead. She’s sitting in my car,” Kip said, jerking his head in the direction of the Yard car parked on the grass near the lip of the canal.

As Mick approached the vehicle, he could see Josie’s distraught mother sitting in the back seat with her head between her knees. He rapped gently on the window.

“Mrs. Stephens, Inspector Michael Chandra,” he announced through the glass, displaying his badge and ID. “May I have a few words with you?”

Slowly lifting her head, the woman nodded, wearing the expression of a somnambulist. Mick opened the door, sliding in next to her.

“I realize this is a terrible time for you, Mrs. Stephens, but the more information we can get now, the sooner we’ll be able to apprehend whoever did this to your daughter.”

“Josie was only eight,” the woman muttered to no one in particular.

“I know,” Mick responded gently. “When did you last see her?”

She blinked back her tears, trying to remember. “A week ago this past Tuesday — in the morning, when she left for school. I couldn’t walk with her that day.”


“I…couldn’t because….” The words stuck in her throat like a bone. “I work as a server in a cafe at one of the Marks and Spencers. That morning — the morning Josie went missing — I was on breakfast duty… you know, for the commuters. So I had to leave home earlier than usual.”

“Josie was home alone?”

Mick’s question prompted an avalanche of convulsive sobs.

“Yes…yes. God, I hate myself!”

Considering the circumstances, Mick wasn’t about to lecture a grieving mother on the illegalities of leaving a child of eight at home without proper supervision. Since many working single mothers could not afford child care, Mick knew it was common practice for them to risk leaving an underage child alone.

“Did Josie walk to school by herself that day?”

Wiping her eyes with a much-used tissue, the woman nodded. “Usually she went with a friend from the neighborhood, but she was sick that morning, so Josie had to walk to school by herself.” Giving in to despair, Mrs. Stephens covered her face with her hands. “I know what you’re thinking, Inspector. I’m a bad mother.”

Mick peeled the despondent woman’s fingers from her face. “No. You’re a good mother who was trying to earn a paycheck so you could clothe and feed your daughter.”

Observing Mrs. Stephens more closely, he saw a woman who embodied hardship and disappointment. She may have been pretty at one time, but life had turned Josie’s mother into an overweight plain entity who lacked the time, money, and will to invest in her appearance. Everything about this woman resonated her sense of futility in life.

“Can you think of anybody — a stranger — who may have approached Josie on the street while she was playing, or tried to engage her in conversation before she went missing, Mrs. Stephens?”

“Well, there was that social worker,” she answered, blowing into the shredded tissue, prompting Mick to give over his handkerchief to her.

“What social worker?”

“The one I reported to Social Services.”

“Fill me in, please.”

“A woman who claimed to be a social worker came to my door about…oh…three weeks or so ago. She told me the agency had received a complaint from a neighbor about my occasionally leaving Josie alone in the morning. She threatened to take my daughter away from me.”

“Did she show you an ID?”

“I demanded one, but she refused. She also refused to show me the agency’s paperwork on Josie’s case, saying it was none of my concern.”

“What did you do?”

“I grabbed something that was on the table next to the front door — I can’t remember what — and told the bitch that I was going to bash her face in if she didn’t leave immediately.”

“And did she?”

“Yes. But she was very shirty about it. She said, ‘If that’s the way you want it, fine,’ or words to that effect.”

“Did you see her car?”

“Umm…yes, but I don’t remember much about it. It was white, is all I know.”

“Sedan? Hatchback?”

“Sedan, I think.”

“Two doors? Four?”

“I…I can’t remember, Inspector.”

“Did you get the license plate number?”

Mrs. Stephens lower lip began to quiver again. “Sorry, no.”

“Don’t be sorry. You’re giving me a lot of helpful information.”

“I did report the incident to Social Services, though,” she added, brightening a little.

“Excellent. What did they tell you?”

“That they would look into it.”

“Right, but not before hell freezes over,” Mick offered cynically. “Can you describe this woman?”

Wearily closing her eyes, Mrs. Stephens leaned her head back. “Middle aged, heavy set.”

“Hair color?”

“Dark brown. But it looked phony.”

“A wig?”

“No, dyed.”

“Long hair? Short?”

“Jaw length.”

“How was she dressed?”


“Can you be more specific?”

“Blazer, skirt, blouse, sensible pumps — that sort of thing.”

“Did she carry a briefcase?”

She thought for a moment before answering. “Yes, she did. And a matching purse.”

“What color?”

“Black, I think. Maybe dark brown.”

“Had you ever seen this woman before in your neighborhood?”

With her eyes still closed, Mrs. Stephens shook her head slowly. “No…no. I’m certain I hadn’t. I would have remembered her.” Opening her eyes, she looked directly at Mick.

“Did she take my baby, Inspector?”

“It’s a possibility.”


Still a novice on child abuse, Mick decided to leave the responsibility of explaining the details of the Erlking’s ring to Kip.

“I’m not entirely certain, Mrs. Stephens. We’re looking into possible motives,” he hedged.

“But why? If she was a woman who wanted a child, why would she kill Josie?”

“We don’t know yet if she’s the one who killed your daughter. If you like, I can…”

Mick was rescued by Kip, who opened the door and stuck his head in.

“Mrs. Stephens, do you want to accompany your daughter to the pathology lab?” he asked as solicitously as one could under the circumstances.

“Yes,” she answered firmly. “I’ll be along in a moment. I just need to ask the Inspector one more question.”

“Take your time,” Kip said, leaving the two of them alone, much to Mick’s considerable discomfort.

Struggling to compose herself, the woman twisted around in the seat, facing Mick head on.

“Inspector Chandler…”

“Chandra,” Mick corrected her.

“Very well. Inspector Chandra, I know you’re not telling me everything. It’s a mother’s instinct. Whatever it is, I’ll find out sooner or later, so you might as well tell me now. Why was my daughter kidnapped, then murdered?”

“Please, Mrs. Stephens. Chief Inspector Brodie will tell you everything you need to know.”

“No, I want to hear it from you! What did they do to my baby?”

Sighing heavily, Mick gave in to his inquisitor. “They — whoever they are — may have kidnapped your daughter in order to…to sexually abuse her. We won’t know for certain until the forensic pathologist examines her body. Josie may have been a victim of a pedophile ring that’s operating somewhere out of north London.”

The mother’s hand involuntarily jerked to her mouth. “They used my baby girl for sex? For sex? My God, she was only eight years old! What kind of monsters would do such a thing?”

“Very sick monsters.”

Under the weight of truth, Mrs. Stephens again dropped her face into her hands and sobbed inconsolably. Mick could do nothing but leave her to the dignity of her grief. Then, abruptly, she stopped and plaintively turned her tear-stained face to him.

“Are you going to catch them, Inspector?”


“For sure?”


“For Josie’s sake,” she pleaded, taking his hand.

Mick nodded. “For Josie’s sake.”


Jay Verney – Spawned Secrets

CoverTitle: Spawned Secrets

Author: Jay Verney

ISBN: Kindle: 9780987377906

ISBN: Paperback: 9780987377913

Page count: 228

Genre: Crime Fiction: Mystery/Thriller

Price: Kindle: $2.99; Paperback: $12.99


Author Bio:

Jay Verney is an Australian writer who has published two previous novels, Percussion (University of Queensland Press), A Mortality Tale (Allen & Unwin, 1st Edition; UQP, 2nd Edition), and a stack of other stuff including essays, articles, memoir, opinion pieces, newspaper columns, movie reviews, poetry, short stories, and theses.

A Mortality Tale was shortlisted for the Australian/Vogel and Miles Franklin Literary Awards, and Percussion got some pretty good reviews, too.  Spawned Secrets is her third novel, and the first to be published as both an ebook and a paperback.

Jay has a PhD (in genre and crime fiction), and a Master’s degree (memoir) in Creative Writing from Queensland University. In 2009, she received a Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research Higher Degree Thesis for her PhD. La-di-da and yippeekiyay, or exclamations to that effect. Seriously though, she was quite chuffed to receive the award and has it framed on her wall of – yes, framed things – at home. Occasionally, she shows it to her cat, Dotty, Jay_Verneyintending to pull her into line and create a sense of awe. So far, however, Jay remains the servant and Dotty the boss. The universe is as it should be.


Tell us about your book:

Spawned Secrets is a mystery/thriller based around the Global Financial Crisis and its aftermath.  It focuses on a particular group of fraudster stockbrokers as they attend a getaway weekend at a rainforest retreat.  What they don’t know is that they’re being stalked by an avenging assassin who has his own reasons for delivering payback.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Global Financial Crisis is in full swing. Banks and businesses are closing. Homes are foreclosed. Bernie Madoff has been arrested. Jobs and savings are lost forever. People are angry, very, very angry.

A group of disgraced (and disgraceful) stockbrokers are enjoying a rainforest getaway weekend as a severe storm front approaches. And a deadly secret blows in from their past, carried by a mystery stalker, ‘Guy Friendly,’ determined to execute each and every one of them with surgical precision and the wrath of an avenging demon.

Their only protection comes in the form of Garfield Fletcher, former ship’s cook, jilted lover, and now, fake private eye, courtesy of his ever-so-slightly-shady cousin, Henry Pinkert. The ink on Garfield’s newly printed Certificate of Accreditation is barely dry when he finds himself up against the mystery killer who will inspire the most difficult choices Garfield has ever had to make.

In Spawned Secrets, award-winning author, Jay Verney’s third novel, all of these ingredients, and more, come together for a surprising climax and aftermath, as old friends reunite in the strangest of circumstances, and new friends face tragedy and betrayal.


How long did it take to write the book?

Around three to four months of daily chapter writing and revision, after a period of researching the subject and developing characters, setting, themes, and so on.  Then, more revision and re-drafting to get to the final draft – a few more months.


What inspired you to write the book?

Like most people, I was shocked and then angry about the Global Financial Crisis – its impact on so many innocent people who lost their homes, their livelihoods, their jobs and life savings, and in some cases, their lives.  It negatively affected so many people around the world and still the after-effects continue to rumble through many economies.  I thought it would be a great topic for a crime novel with a twist – use the GFC and a representative group of dodgy stockbrokers to develop a tale of revenge – the great thing about fictional payback is that it can be therapeutically cathartic but no-one gets harmed.  So the GFC was my starting point.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

My writing routine, once I’ve done some research and planning, is to write for however long it takes to reach a set word count or number of chapters.  In the case of Spawned Secrets, I wanted to draft at least 1,000 words a day.  Sometimes this equated to about a chapter, but often I would write two or even three chapters if I was having a really good day.  I didn’t hold myself to a maximum, only the minimum of 1,000.  Some days it was quite a challenge, but you just have to plough on regardless.  I think it was Graham Greene who said he would write 300 to 350 words a day without fail, and noted that at the end of a year, there would be another novel completed.  Sounds easy, but we all know it definitely isn’t.

I did a lot of research by reading newspapers and magazines, Googling extensively, listening to radio programs and watching TV documentaries about the GFC, and keeping up with general news reports as the crisis unfolded.  I’ve been a reader of crime fiction for a long time, and my first published novel, A Mortality Tale, has been shelved in crime fiction, religious and spiritual works (a misreading of the title, methinks!), and contemporary fiction. So it was fortunate for me that I had some runs on the board with the crime genre, both as an author and reader.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

My aim is always to entertain, and secondarily to provoke some thought and consideration of the characters, themes and ideas presented and how the storyline is executed.  I love to get feedback from readers to find out what they enjoyed and what they’d like to see more (or less) of in future novels.  I’d like to build a readership based on give and take and mutual respect.


Where can we go to buy your book?

I’m new to the indie/self-publishing venture, so initially I’ve joined Amazon KDP Select for the Kindle ebook and CreateSpace for the paperback.  I hope to go further with other outlets once I get some experience and feedback.

Both ebook and paperback are available from the same page on Amazon.  Just Google: Spawned Secrets Jay Verney, or use this link:


Any other links or info you’d like to share?

I have a website called Transient Total Focus at where I write about this, that and the other, mostly as they relate to reading, writing and publishing, with a few other tidbits thrown in.

Also, I maintain two poetry blogs.  These are:

Veranda Life at and

Zen Kettle at


Excerpt from book:

From Chapter 4:

‘We offer a full service protective detail, Ms Harding.’

Henry had a punter, and he was lathering it on.  Full service?  What did that mean?  Did you get fries with it, and a Margarita?  I stood near the kitchen door waiting for a cue to enter.

‘I’m the senior specialist, of course, and as CEO, I supervise all operations and assign the staff most appropriate to your needs.  Following a full analysis of your situation, of course.’

‘There’s nothing complex about this, Mr Pinkert.’

‘You’d be surprised how many people say that, Ms Harding.  But as a former Homicide detective with 30 years experience in one of the country’s most crime-ridden cities, I can assure you that nothing is ever as simple as it appears.’

Henry would be smiling benevolently as he spoke, trying to invoke a sense of trust and authority, a man who’s seen it all.  Hmm.

‘One person, Mr Pinkert, that’s all I need.  Male, big, strong, and he should look as though he knows what he’s doing.  Do they wear uniforms, your people?’

If male, big, and strong weren’t cues, I don’t know cues.  I walked into Edie’s living-room, now Henry’s conference room judging by the fat round table and its six heavy wooden chairs.

Ms Harding was a top shelf example of corporate panache.  Shining blonde hair in undulating shoulder length curls, face perfectly made up, but a little pale – the chic, sunless look.  Navy blue suit, crease-free, snug around the hips and breasts, but not blushingly so.

‘Ah, Fletcher,’ Henry said, staring at me staring at Ms Harding, urging me to be a professional something-or-other.  Not a trawler cook.  ‘Ms Sarah Harding, Mr Garfield Fletcher, security expert and expedition leader.’

Expedition leader?  Ms Harding offered me her hand.  She had a firm grip, but it was cool and eager to withdraw after an obligatory two seconds.  Fair enough.

‘How tall are you, Mr Fletcher?  Six?  Six-one?’

Ms Harding wasn’t curious about what kind of expedition leader I might be.  She looked me up and down.

‘Six-two,’ I replied.  ‘Six-three in heels.’  I smiled what I thought of as one of my beguiling, Magnum, P.I. smiles.  Ms Harding dismissed me and turned to Henry.

‘I’ll need him tomorrow morning at 8.00, 167 Eagle, 13th floor.’  She turned back to me.  ‘See you then, Mr Fletcher.’

‘Ms Harding, the contract.’  Henry tried to regain control of things.

‘Bring it with you, Mr Fletcher.  Our CFO will sign and issue a cheque to Pinkert’s Protection and Investigation Systems and Services.  That’s the correct name isn’t it?  Anyway, it’s neither here nor there.  The whole thing’s cosmetic, as I explained earlier, Mr Pinkert.’  She paused.  ‘We’re good for it, you know.  Things are grim for some, but we have fat to burn.  We run responsible investment and hedge funds.’

There was such a thing as a responsible hedge fund?  You learn every day.  Not that I had more than the faintest clue about hedge funds.

At the door, she turned back to us.  ‘Don’t forget the uniform, Mr Fletcher.  Appearances are everything in my business.  And you may need a raincoat, judging by the sky.  I guess we’ll just have to play some indoor games over the weekend.’

‘Pardon?’ Henry said.

‘Good morning, gentlemen.’  She was gone.


Eamon Moroney – The Damage

Title: The Damage

Author: Eamon Moroney

ISBN: 9781301304424

Page count: ebook form – approx 292

Genre: Crime Thriller

Price: $4.99


Author Bio:

Eamon was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and apart from a time living in London has always called Sydney home. Eamon writes crime, thriller and mystery stories and novels. Having traveled the world extensively many of his stories have an international setting and flavour. He is the author of Price 2 Pay, Breaking Point, Death Follows Close and The Damage. As well as the currently available books Eamon will soon release both a thriller novella Cut and his second novel – a crime thriller set in Tasmania, Australia.


Tell us about your book:

One punch and a man is dead. Robert Doyle has seen the damage that can be done in one moment. Fleeing his past in Australia, Robert heads to London. Little does he know that a chance encounter with a childhood friend will soon send him on the run. A teenage girl has been abducted and his friend goes missing. When he goes looking for him Robert soon realises he is not the only one looking. And someone else is willing to kill to find him. With a killer on his tail, Robert is soon on the run. Can a beautiful woman he hardly knows be his only hope? Together can they find his friend before the killer does? The more they dig up the darker the world around them becomes. Could his friend be involved with the girl’s abduction? How well does Robert know his friend? How well does he know himself?

A fast paced thrilling ride through the streets of London, The Damage is page turning suspense.


How long did it take to write the book?

It took over five years from the initial idea to the finished work, with work completed on and off during that time.


What inspired you to write the book?

I was living in London at the time and wrote what I saw around me as an Australian in London. From there real life crimes and incidents both in London and Australia inspired moments and plot elements.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Initially it was a get the words on the page sort of thing, getting as many down as I could coming home from work or on days off. Then it became a retrospective research to fix things and improve the realism, events and plot. In the later stages I had switched to working in the early mornings and getting a set word count down, or researching.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I hope readers come away feeling they have had a good read. That they have felt a desire to keep reading and turning that page, wanting to find out what happened. I hope they have a suspenseful time, not sure how it will end. I hope it is a quick enjoyable read.


Where can we go to buy your book?

Amazon, Smashwords


Any other links or info you’d like to share?

Amazon UK


Excerpt from book:

Adrenaline pumped through her limbs. She could feel her muscles flex, contract and expand. When it left her mouth in short bursts her breath instantly formed steam. As she breathed in, the cold air stung her throat. She needed to be running. It was something her muscles had told her to do, the need to get out of the house, to run. When she was running her mind could be clear. She could think about her pace, breathing, the functions of the body. At school they learnt about the human body, anatomy, the muscles, the organs, the cells, the bones. When she ran she could feel them all in action. But most of all her mind would be quiet. She needed that now more than ever.

Music pumped into her ears, drowning out all the other noises. Volume turned up louder today. Dizzee Rascal, Tongue N Cheek, she liked the upbeat tempo. It kicked up her heartbeat and increased her pace. Soon she turned off the quiet residential streets with their large white houses, and entered Holland Park. Here, sheltered from the weak winter sunlight, it was colder. She zipped up her pink hoodie. Beneath her feet fallen leaves wet with damp, made her slow her pace to a jog. She was a good runner, always represented her school at athletic carnivals, had since junior school. A lot of the girls in her class went to the gym, spent more time preening themselves in the change rooms or looking at the boys working out she suspected. She was lean and athletic, her legs longer than most of the girls her age.

As she continued deeper into the park she focused on the music. A new song started, Dirtee Money. The lyrics struck her. The repeated phrase of the familiar song hit her. Money talks…. He had said that today. She had met him reluctantly, but she could still not decide what to do and he had persuaded her to meet. His exact words, money talks, what can I offer you to keep your mouth shut. He had offered her so much. Maybe she should have taken the money. Save her the humiliation and embarrassment, when it all came out. It would be easier to have taken the money.

At once she realized that she could hear her feet hitting the ground and her breathing. The music was gone. She pulled the iPod from her pocket and looked at it. She pushed a button but nothing happened. Out of battery.

“Shit.” She said to herself.

She stopped and wound the earphone cords up and shoved the iPod back into her pocket. She settled back into the rhythm of her stride, now aware of the sounds around her, of the rustling of the bushes, the tweeting of a couple of birds, the crunch of the leaves. Her breathing. There was something else there as well, something that seemed to match her footsteps and breathing. She listened hard. She could hear another set of footsteps. Just out of sync with her own. She looked around. A man in dark coloured running gear was behind her, his hood up. She turned forward again and quickened her pace.

Behind her the man’s footsteps continued, still at the same volume. He was staying the same distance behind her. She felt her heart beat a little faster. She tried to concentrate on her breathing. Ahead of her was a junction, the path she was on joined another. Normally she would turn left up around the outdoor theatre, but that was the most common route all runners took. The man behind her would take that route too. She would prefer to run with no one behind her. So she changed her normal route and turned right, down a slight hill around the back of the park. As she turned she adjusted her speed into a quick sprint.

When her breathing got too hard and the muscles of her legs began to ache a little she slowed down. It was then, only then, that she heard the footsteps again. They were still there. She turned around. The man was still behind her, a few yards, but just as close as before. She faced the front again. Now a little scared. It was times like this that she felt like a little girl. She looked back again at the runner behind her.

His head was down, swaying slightly from side to side. The tip of his hood faced her the edge covered his face. He held his arms high at his chest, his hands in fists. She realized he was wearing jeans. Who goes jogging in jeans? She was getting scared. Her mother’s tones filled her

ears. You shouldn’t be out running in the park alone. Not at those hours or at your age. But she wasn’t a kid, she was growing up.

Suddenly she heard breathing. Not her own breathing. But someone else’s. The footsteps were louder, closer. She sensed someone right behind her. Her heart seemed to stop and her body twitched. She wanted to cry. While she had been thinking the man behind her had got very close.

In an instant he was beside her. She smelt sweat and saw the steam shoot from his mouth as he breathed. She turned her head to look at him. What was he going to do to her, she thought. Panic filling her mind. Her foot caught something and she fell. She pushed out a hand to catch herself. All she saw was the dark dirt of the ground and the pale crinkled surface of dried leaves. Still sprawled on the ground she looked up. The man had stopped and turning to approach her. She looked around, she was in an unfamiliar part of the park, near one of the smaller, less used entrances.

The man in the jeans was leaning over her, extending a hand to her.Let me help.” His voice was familiar, making her heart beat faster.Instinctively she took the extended hand. It gripped harder than she expected. Then the arm

pulled her closer. Another arm was suddenly around her shoulder. She felt another body behind her, wrapping itself around her back, lifting her.

A hand was clasped over her mouth. She felt herself raised from her feet. Arms shifted along her torso and wrapped around her upper legs. She squirmed but they held fast. She felt a tug at her head and a violent push as her hoodie was forced over her face. Suddenly in darkness she began to sob. She felt herself being carried through the air. She could hardly breath between her sobs. She felt her nose running. She wanted to be home.

Now she wished she had taken the money.

Chapter 1

Robert Doyle looked at his right hand. He flexed his fingers, tightening and loosening them. Balling his fingers to form a fist, he studied it. His fist seemed so small. He opened his hand with a sudden, almost violent, movement. Just bones, tendons and muscles, he wondered how it was possible his hand had killed a man. But that’s what it had done. What he had done. One punch, a single act that changed his life in an instant. And ended another’s.

He looked up, casting his gaze around him at the street in south London. Rows of two storey terraced houses stood behind short front gardens. The street was long, snaking in a slight curve in the middle. It was in this bend that Robert stood, looking at a house less than fifty metres away, across the road. Several real estate agent signs jutted out from front fences along the street. Like random pixels of colour they stood out against the grey background. An abstract geometry of different sized rectangles, against the solid blocks of buildings. The sign beside where he stood, hung further into the street, loose from its support, like it was fighting for attention with the overgrown hedge of the next house. Robert used them to hide himself. Together they shielded him from the target of his observations.

No one inside number twenty-seven would be able to see him. That was the house where the Galloways lived. He feared they might have moved, needing a fresh start. But yesterday he had seen them. Watched them from the taxi, as they walked back from the local shops, laden with plastic bags. That had been his first chance, but he could not move. Impotently he stayed in the taxi and watched them. At least they had not seen him. He was sure of that. At one point as he closed the small wooden gate, Norman Galloway had turned to the street. His face seemed to look straight at Robert. But Robert had been hidden, the sheen of the light reflecting on the cab window prevented Norman from seeing him inside. He should have got out, taken his chance, but he had been too afraid. Instead he watched the front door close and told the cab driver to take him back to the hotel.

Today he was back. His second chance. Once again he watched, mustering his courage. A tall Indian-looking man, came from one of the houses up the street and walked towards Robert. In front of him a small white terrier tugged at it’s leash. As he passed Robert the man glanced at him. His deep brown eyes lingering on Robert’s for a moment. What did he see, Robert wondered. Why was it that whenever he made eye contact with a stranger he felt the need to look away? As if they could read in his eyes what he had done. It was as if he thought that he projected his guilt through his eyes and it was only a matter of time that someone caught him out.

The man and his dog, its little legs racing to keep up, continued along the street and turned at the corner in the direction of the high street. Robert reached into his breast pocket, his hand touching the letter as it sat secure beside his Australian passport. It was a safety net, a last resort if all else failed. Feeling the texture of the envelope soothed his anxiety. It was that anxiety that told him to just jump to the letter, forget the face to face. Push it through the letter slot and walk away. A flight half way across the planet to post a letter. That would be cowardice, he told himself, pulling his hand from his pocket. But just having the letter made him feel better. He focused on number twenty-seven. The Galloways were in, he was sure, sitting down to their breakfast.

He had not meant to kill their son. But that’s what he had done. In one anger-fueled motion one single punch had killed Martin Galloway. Legal phrases labeled his actions, distanced them from him, made them seem unreal. Manslaughter down to self-defence. Martin had thrown the first punch. But his actions were just that, actions, not words. He had passed through the trial in a daze. It was after that his memories told him the truth. It was not self-defence. Martin’s punch had been drunkenly uncoordinated, missing him by miles. What sort of defence was needed against that, Robert thought. From the moment he stood over the dying man in the street the realization of what he had done had turned to guilt. Guilt which plagued him to this day. Guilt and the realization he had enjoyed the moment the punch hit. At that second his anger was joined by another emotion.

It all came down to emotions. Rejection, depression, anger, self-loathing. Emotions and alcohol. Robert could blame them all for the moment he lost control. Sometimes he blamed Laura for breaking up with him, for leaving him for that other guy. Like some walking cliché Robert had reacted badly to the breakup, sinking into a downward spiral of negative emotion fueled by alcohol. They were all excuses.

At the thought of walking up to the door of number twenty-seven Robert had a flash. A image entered his mind, an image of an event that would never happen. He saw Martin walking the same journey to the door, returning home from Australia, backpack on his shoulders. Martin’s holiday had ended one summer night outside a pub in Sydney. Robert had made that happen. He looked up and down the street, he scanned the windows of the houses near him. Had people spotted him, was someone standing behind the curtain? Looking at him as he loitered. Would they call the police? He should move he thought, but he could not. To go left and on to number twenty-seven was too hard, to go right and back to the train station would be another failure.

His father was sure this trip would be a failure. As sure as he had always been that his son’s life would be just that, a failure. That he would have to step in to pick up the pieces. How much Robert had hated proving him right. It was his father’s pleas against his trip that in part made Robert more determined to go through with it. Was it a need to undermine his father’s money and power, he had often wondered. As if by rejecting his advice he was belatedly rejecting the slick lawyers his father’s money had bought him. The lawyers who had bought him a no conviction. Proving that justice could be bought. Was that it, he wondered. Did he think he deserved to be in prison, not walking the streets a free man? Did part of him want the justice Martin Galloway’s parents hungered for.

He could not do it. Robert turned right, away from the Galloway’s house. He walked fast now his mind had been made up. He needed to get as much distance between him and the house as he could.

On the train, as it made its way back to the centre of London and his hotel, Robert felt the regret sink in. His second chance and he had been too afraid again. But this time had stayed longer. Next time he might do it. Maybe next time, he thought.