(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2019)
Life is never simple for DC Lucy Clayburn of the Greater Manchester Police. As if it isn't tough enough working divisional CID in the high-crime Crowley district, she's still at daggers drawn with Frank McCracken, her estranged father, whom she never even knew about until she was an adult and yet who is now a senior lieutenant in the Crew, Manchester's most powerful and dangerous crime syndicate. It's especially awkward, as he now appears to be attempting to rebuild his relationship with her mother.
On top of all this domestic strife, Lucy's routine duties have never been busier. She has been working on closing down a local dog-fighting ring, which is peopled by yet more pathetic and disgusting excuses for humanity - only to find herself bemused when she learns that many of the pets reported missing in recent months have not been abducted by the dog-fighters. She now hears a rumour, though it sounds initially like an urban myth, that a mysterious black van, which has been prowling the housing estates at night, might be responsible.
However, things take an infinitely more serious turn when this van continues to be sighted, only now it's people who are disappearing. First of all the homeless, then OAPs, then healthy young adults.
Frank McCracken, meanwhile, feels increasingly cornered. The leadership of Manchester godfather, Wild Bill Pentecost, is becoming ever more erratic, while other ultra-ruthless forces in the cartel are also jockeying for power.
Where Frank and Lucy are concerned, it's a case of 'never the twain shall meet'. In other words, they deny each other's existence and hope their relationship remains a secret. But by sheer necessity now, they're going to have to join forces and scratch each other's backs if they want to make progress in the various battles they are fighting. All the while, of course, completely antagonistic to each other.
STOLEN is the third book in the Lucy Clayburn series, which follows the investigations of a tough and very efficient young female detective in the Greater Manchester Police, who constantly must struggle to overcome a past in which she made so serious a mistake that a colleague almost died, and the secret knowledge that the father she never knew is a now a high-flying gangster with a vicious streak. Lucy is still horrified that she's related to such a man, but with people disappearing around Crowely, and only a creepy urban myth to go on, she realises that she needs all the help she can get - even, if necessary, from the criminal community. Her father, meanwhile, has troubles of his own ...
A crumbling mass of half-collapsed brickwork was all that remained of the wall in front of her. On her right, down in the pit, Lucy saw railway buffers peeking through the dense, rancid foliage. On her left, an entrance gaped, a corridor of sorts, which appeared to lead into the very guts of the warehouse. She glanced back along the platform to her rear, just to ensure that hostile forces weren’t encroaching from behind.
It wasn’t easy to be sure. Beyond a couple of dozen yards, the dimness obscured much, allowing for optical illusions. What appeared to be someone crawling towards her on all fours, and freezing on the spot when she looked, gradually resolved itself into a crumpled heap of cardboard.
She glanced back into the passage on her left. If it had ever had a door, it was long gone, but it seemed to offer a direct thoroughfare from one side of the building to the other. That was the obvious way to go next, though Lucy wasn’t convinced that it would be sensible. It wasn’t as if she was anticipating trouble – if so, she’d have called for support. The problem here seemed to be that the place was empty. For all that this dark, decayed environment was menacing, she was sure that no one back at the nick would think any less of her if she delayed this thing until daylight tomorrow.
But that was assuming she’d be able to find the time tomorrow, which she wasn’t certain about. Also, she wanted to make progress quickly. Lucy didn’t like knocking things on the head before she’d even tried, and the suspicion that she might be onto something with these so-called disappearances would not go away. She needed answers of some sort, and she needed them promptly.
She stepped forward into the passage and found herself stumbling over broken planks and littered, tattered newspapers, her nostrils filling fast with a stench like stagnant urine. She became aware that she was passing more entrances, both left and right. It was now so dark that she was forced to switch on her Maglite and shine it through every doorway. In the first she thought she saw a pale face peeking over the top of a mouldy old quilt, only to realise that it was a roundish patch of malodorous fungus on the wall behind. In all the rooms after that, she saw only rusted pipework and bare, moss-covered bricks.
She glanced repeatedly over her shoulder as she proceeded, the rectangle of dimness that was the entry to this passage steadily receding. Another twenty yards further on, she came to a point where the roof and left side of the corridor had collapsed, forming a landslip of rubble on one side. She was shocked – gut-punch shocked – to see a featureless figure perched on top in an apelike crouch.
‘I’m . . . I’m looking for Sister Cassiopeia,’ she said, thinking it wise not to shine her light up there.
‘Good luck,’ came a whispered response ...
SHADOWS Lucy Clayburn #2
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2017)
Now readmitted into the ranks of the divisional CID in Crowley, Greater Manchester Police's busy November Division, Lucy Clayburn is still working routine cases that don't really challenge her. But then, when she plays her part in collaring a violent cash-point bandit called the 'Creep', she comes to the attention of the elite Manchester Robbery Squad under the uber-cool DI Kathy Blake and the very fanciable DS Danny Tucker.
Romance is in the air for Lucy, along with a potentially much more interesting career, because not only does it now look as if she'll soon be working with the Robbery Squad, a series of gruesome robbery/shootings commences in the city, and they are forced to pull out all the stops.
There is only one problem where Lucy is concerned. The targets of these latest robberies are all themselves villains. In fact, they are villains affiliated to the Crew, the Northwest's top crime syndicate, of whom her own estranged father, Frank McCracken, is a leading light.
Thanks to the events in STRANGERS, Lucy has a mutually convenient truce with McCracken. But how long will it last now that his firm is under threat? How long before the whole of Manchester explodes into a bloody gangland war?
SHADOWS is the second book in the Lucy Clayburn series, an ongoing Northern Noir saga, in which a very capable young policewoman is hampered in her investigations of organised crime in her native city by her recently acquired knowledge that her estranged father is a top-dog gangster. If this info were to come out, it would be mutually disastrous for both their careers, but how long can Lucy sit on the fence while an unknown enemy attacks, robs and murders her father's henchmen, and how long will he hold back from full-scale retaliation?
As Lucy scrutinised the mountains of rubbish on either side, her eyes fell on a fragment of metal, an old beer can lying trampled in the middle of the footway.
I heard something clatter in here, she reminded herself.
Then she saw the rest of the beer cans. They’d spilled from a torn open bin-liner a couple of feet away. This bag also sat on the footway, having been dragged out of a gap between two skips on the left. Had this happened some time ago, perhaps during the drugs raid all those months back? Or more recently?
The space between the two skips was probably still jammed with refuse, but not necessarily jammed solid. A space had been made in there, but space enough for a man to hide?
Everything else in the cave-like darkness melted to irrelevance, as Lucy gazed at the narrow slice of black. She didn’t notice that a large, hooded figure had slid out of concealment behind her. Had he not set his foot on a rat, which scampered off, squeaking, she’d never have noticed.
She twirled around just as the curved steel exploded towards her, a glimmering blur in the moonlight. She dropped to the floor. It swept past, thunking into the plastic side of a wheelie-bin, laying it open like a human corpse, foul detritus disgorging like entrails. Lucy made a frantic forward-roll away from her attacker, but as she leapt back to her feet, he came at her again, this time with a backhand slash. She jumped backward, again just evading it. As before, the blade sliced into the nearest bin, more filth spurting from the wound.
Lucy caught a flying glimpse of the face under the hood; it looked unnaturally pale, and yes, she could see that fixed Halloween grin that so many who’d survived the Creep had reported. As he wrenched the sword free, she spotted that it had a guarded hilt at one end, just like an old-fashioned cavalry sabre ….
STRANGERS Lucy Clayburn #1
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2016)
PC Lucy Clayburn is a 10-year veteran of the job, who despite her high ambitions, is still working uniform on the tough streets of Crowley, Greater Manchester Police's notorious November Division. Of course, there's a reason for this. Four years ago she made CID, but fouled up in the most spectacular way during her very first week.
Thus, when a series of sex murders of male motorists commences locally, she jumps at the chance to join the enquiry. With the suspect believed to be a deranged prostitute who is slaughtering and mutilating her clients, and whom the press dub 'Jill the Ripper', the cops opt to put out a large number of policewomen as undercover sex-workers.
Lucy is one of them, her job to mingle with the nightlife of the backstreets and gather as much intel as she can. This is far from easy or safe work. Many of the prostitutes are themselves hostile and dangerous, while their pimps and clients are all that and more. The killer is somewhere among them too, though even then Lucy could never have guessed at the astonishing revelations that lie in wait for her during this harrowing investigation, revelations that will bring the whole horrible scenario terrifyingly close to home.
STRANGERS is the first in a series of hard-hitting crime novels featuring Detective Constable Lucy Clayburn, a blue-collar lass from the wrong side of the Manchester tracks, but who nevertheless is highly focussed on her police career and determined to bring in the bad guys. The fact that her own family has criminal connections is an inconvenient fact of life, which continually interferes with her plans for promotion. So, it soon becomes clear to Lucy that, if she wants to rise in this job, she's not just going to have to be as good as her male colleagues, she's going to have to be a whole lot better ...
Lucy shuffled forward with caution. ‘Ma’am?’
There was no reply. Until a fierce red light seared through the windows, a loud series of rat-a-tat bangs accompanying it.
More fireworks … but even so Lucy froze.
In that fleeting instant, she’d seen a figure standing in a corner.
Indistinct but tall – taller than she was – and wearing dark clothing, including some kind of hat pulled partly down over its face. It stood very still between an old wardrobe and an upright roll of carpet.
Lucy pivoted slowly towards it. As the firework flashes diminished again, only its outline remained visible – its outline and its face, which, though it was partially concealed, glinted palely, and, she now saw, was garish in the extreme; grotesquely made-up with bright slashes of what in proper lighting would no doubt be lurid colour.
An icy barb went through her as she realised that the figure was wearing a mask.
It could even be a clown mask.
And yet still it didn’t move. Its build was difficult to distinguish, but there was something slightly “off” about it, she now thought: it seemed to sag a little.
Injured maybe? Tired? Or playacting?
Lucy hadn’t glimpsed any kind of weapon, neither a blunt instrument nor a blade, but the hunk of brick in her hand suddenly felt ungainly and inadequate.
KISS OF DEATH Heck #7
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2018)
With the Serial Crimes Unit in danger of disbandment thanks to the non-stop police cuts, SCU boss Detective Superintendent Gemma Piper, in a bold effort to prove that her department is still cost-effective, authorises her elite detectives to pursue 20 of the UK's most dangerous fugitives from justice.
Reunited with spiky Gail Honeyford, whom he first met in HUNTED, Heck is sent after career kidnapper and bank robber, Eddie Creeley. The chase takes them to a run-down corner of Humberside, but though Heck finds no trace of Creeley, he uncovers evidence of what might have happened to him - and it isn't pleasant, a crackly piece of video footage showing the blagger engaged in a desperate battle for his life.
Only now does it strike Heck why so many suspected killers have recently vanished in Britain. The next question then must be how much risk to himself is this investigation worth? Just how far should the British police go to protect some of the UK's most brutal and sadistic offenders?
KISS OF DEATH is the seventh in the DS Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg series, a bunch of hard-hitting 'Brit grit' thrillers set in Scotland Yard's specialist Serial Crimes Unit, where one detective in particular, Heck, walks a tightrope through a world of violent crime, and in the process encounters some of the vilest villains in the book.
In no time, the sleek white shape of the Audi slid back into view on the right.
Heck braked, and pulled up next to its open window. With no headlights or interior lights switched on, Jackson would be blind as to who exactly this was, though in return Heck couldn’t see much of the drugs-dealer. Thanks to the faint red glow of the dashboard clock, he thought he could picture an immense barrel torso, a short-sleeved Hawaiian-patterned shirt, the glint of neck-chains in the V-shaped opening at the top, the black bush of a beard.
But Heck wasn’t really looking at the driver. What he was looking for, he found straight away: the keys dangling from the ignition. Jackson said something, but Heck wasn’t listening. Instead, he reached down with his arm and snatch-grabbed the keys, shoving them into his anorak pocket.
‘Hey …?’ the dealer blurted, only for Heck’s hand to reappear with a wallet in it, which he flipped open, showing his warrant card.
‘You’re locked up, pal,’ he said. ‘Suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to …’
With a roar of near-bestial rage, the driver kicked his door open.
It slammed into Heck’s side, and as he was still astride the bike, he toppled over, landing full-length on the road. Jackson, who was spry for such a big man, literally sprang out after him. Heck glimpsed a huge, bowling-ball shaped figure, immense shoulders, but also a hefty gut straining under that luridly-patterned shirt. Before he could see more, Jackson landed on top of him with both knees. The guy weighed twenty stone at least ...
ASHES TO ASHES Heck #6
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2017)
The only place Detective Sergeant 'Heck' Heckenburg has said that he'll never return to, either to work or to live, is the sooty borough of Bradburn in industrial Lancashire. Too many bad things happened there when he was young; the memories are awful. But when the criminal he is currently hunting - a torturer-for-hire called John Sagan - flees London after a police ambush goes wrong, and apparently heads north, fully intending to lie low in the town, he has no option.
Bradburn has other problems, however. It's already being terrorised by another killer, a maniac armed with a flamethrower, whom the press have dubbed the 'Incinerator'. This madman isn't picking his victims at random, though. He is clearly in the pay of a crime syndicate, and only now - with more than a little bit of horror - does Heck realise the truth.
Sagan has been hired to work for the other side.
All of a sudden, his innocuous hometown lies at the heart of a vicious underworld war, with two of the deadliest hired assassins imaginable pitting their terrible skills against each other. As the battles are waged, the body-count goes steadily up, collaterals as well as actual targets.
There are torture-slayings and frequent burnings.
Heck doesn't think he's ever felt as desperate a need to bring a bunch of villains to justice. And yet this is Bradburn. The town he was born in, the town he utterly hates.
ASHES TO ASHES is the sixth in the series of full-on British police actioners, telling the ongoing story of Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, an investigator who obsessively hunts the evil and depraved, and for whom no pursuit of justice is too challenging. Though on this occasion, Heck's own troubled past may be at least a difficult and obstacle as the demented hoodlums he is gunning for. He can't stand this place, and for very good and personal reasons ...
Kayla peered at the half-wrecked Peugeot in bewilderment. Another impressive performance, Heck thought, reaching for his handcuffs – at which point they were distracted by a figure rising from a place of concealment between the Peugeot and the alley wall.
The first impression was that this figure was massively built. Though that might have been because of the heavy-duty, dark-silver fatigues it was wearing, not to mention the leather harness holding the long steel canister slung down over its back, or its motorcycle crash-helmet which was specially augmented with an opaque, gold-tinted faceplate. In its thickly-gloved hands, it gripped what looked like an elongated oxyacetylene torch: a handled, triggered device with a fire-blackened jet-nozzle attachment. This device was connected to the fuel-tank by a lengthy rubber tube.
Heck grabbed Kayla’s arm and dragged her backward, but already the terrifying shape was clumping around the front of the Peugeot, hemming them into the cul-de-sac. Before they could even shout, it pumped its trigger and liquid fire ballooned towards them ...
HUNTED Heck #5
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2015)
After his traumatic stint in the Lake District, Detective Sergeant Mark‘Heck’ Heckenburg is back in the Serial Crimes Unit at Scotland Yard, where he is cautiously feeling his way around his patched-up relationship with ex-girlfriend and current boss, Detective Superintendent Gemma Piper.
As a favour to Gemma, Heck heads south to Surrey, to look into the apparent open-and-shut case of a fatal car accident. Wealthy businessman Harold Lansing has died in a horrendous, fiery car-wreck. However, Heck then discovers that Lansing had only recently left hospital, having survived a bizarre near-drowning accident a couple of weeks earlier.
Local cop, Detective Constable Gail Honeyford is also suspicious about this, but while she thinks that Harold Lansing was involved in dodgy business dealings, Heck wonders if something even more sinister may be afoot. His enquiries then uncover a whole range of unlikely and elaborate fatal accidents stretching right across the county – a pair of car thieves bitten to death by poisonous spiders, a sales rep impaled alive by a piece of scaffolding.
Is it possible that some kind of crazy prankster is at large?
A rollercoaster ride then follows as the duo – initially antagonistic to each other, but soon working hand-in-glove – follow one tenuous lead after another, following a winding trail, which takes them from the idyllic farm country of rural Surrey, to the rich suburbs of the stockbroker belt, and finally to the desolate badlands of inner South London.
And the truth, when they finally uncover it, will shock even Heck to the core. It will also put him on the spot in a way that no previous case thus far has ever done. Because he and Gail are a team of only two, which puts the odds firmly in favour of a clever but also exceedingly deranged perpetrator.
HUNTED is the fifth in a series of no-holds-barred British police thrillers, featuring the dogged and energetic Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, an investigator who literally lives to bring felons to justice, and a guy whose reckless determination to hunt down the depraved takes him all over the country and sometimes into the orbit of some truly insane killers.
Heck had encountered all kinds of creepy killers in his time, but as a rule the creepiest were those who prized the chase more than the catch. These were the slow hunters, the patient planners, the ones who set themselves complex tasks and gradually brought them to completion, revelling in their own genius as they did. Unless he was way off in his assessment, this was very possibly what they had here – though in some ways it could be even worse. The pet shop thing, not to mention the hideousness of the actual attacks – death by inflation, by slow burning, by poisonous spider – all that was bad enough, but apparently other buttons were being pushed as well. Finding pleasure in horrific suffering? Finding comedy value in it? There was an abnormal, and then there was super-abnormal.
Of course, it all boiled down to the same thing in the end.
‘Enjoy your sadistic gratification while you can, boys,’ Heck said to himself. ‘Time’s almost up.’
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2014)
After a calamitous disagreement with colleagues in the Serial Crimes Unit, Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg has now left the National Crime Group and is cooling his heels at a scenic but remote posting in the heart of the Lake District.
However, the winters up there can be brutal, and when the worst November fog in living memory descends on the fells and tarns, everyday life grinds to a halt. Not a good time for the Stranger, a mysterious killer long thought dead, to start claiming victims again - this time at a terrifying pace.
Cut off and blinded by the fog, and with only one inexperienced copper to help him, Heck soon realises that he may be the only thing standing between this frightened, isolated community and complete annihilation.
The only solution, apparently, is to play the madman at his own game, throwing away the police rulebook in the process.
DEAD MAN WALKING is the fourth in a series of in-yer-face British cop thrillers, featuring the young and relentless man-hunter, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, who normally feels collars for fun but on this occasion is taken far out of his comfort zone. However, Heck is nothing if not versatile. Dark city streets or bleak, foggy moors, it's all the same to him - the bad guys are out there, and he's gonna nail them.
Heck felt queasy at the mere thought of Mary-Ellen – who, for all her confident athleticism, was still only a young lass – having to face this guy on her own.
With such fears in mind, it was probably not the ideal time for him to spot the writing on the far wall of the boathouse interior. This only happened slowly, as his eyes adjusted to the deep gloom, but once the piece of crude graffiti had swum properly into view, he jumped to his feet.
Now that he was fully out of the water, it was bitterly cold. Ice felt as if it was forming inside his clothes, but fleetingly Heck was too distracted to notice that. He limped around the interior to the far pier, so that he could examine it up close.
There was no question about who’d written it or what it meant. In the dimness he was colour-blind, so he didn’t immediately realise that the sentence had been inscribed in blood ...
THE KILLING CLUB Heck #3
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2014)
It's business as usual for Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg. He is busy investigating a trio of murders in the Northeast of England, when news suddenly reaches him that Mad Mike Silver, former head of the Nice Guys operation in Britain, has been broken out of Gull Rock high security prison, leaving a trail of police corpses in his wake.
But it doesn't end there. More murders follow. All across the country, wealthy men of high standing are found atrociously tortured and killed. The Nice Guys Club, it seems, having written Britain of as a business venture, are now 'cleaning house' - literally wiping out anyone with a possible connection to them: informers, operatives and even ex-clients.
When a massive counter-operation is put in place, the Serial Crimes Unit joining forces with the Serious Offenders Control and Retrieval programme, or SOCAR, Heck, as one of the original arresting officers, fully expects to be part of it - only to find himself brusquely and inexplicably sidelined. Even Detective Superintendent Gemma Piper, his former girlfriend and closest ally inside the job, is cool with him, seemingly wanting him out of the way.
But Heck is determined to play some part in sending these villains down. The Nice Guys have been the bane of his career for many years. He doesn't want to go AWOL in order to confront them again; it would be too much an abrogation of duty. But when a vicious effort is made on his own life, it becomes apparent that he may need to go on the run just to stay alive. Heck isn't just after the Nice Guys, the Nice Guys are after him ...
THE KILLING CLUB is the third in a series of no-holds-barred British police thrillers, featuring the young but obsessive DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, who hunts his foes relentlessly, and yet thanks to his status as a detective in the Serial Crimes Unit, frequently finds himself pitted against killers and madmen who literally know no boundaries.
He too wore a woolly hat - but was now in the act of pulling it down over his face, to reveal that it
The twosome at the back of the Romeo did the same, and spun around.
Quinnell reacted, throwing his car into reverse, slamming the pedal to the floor. In seconds they were thirty yards away, but had to swerve sideways with a screech of rain-sodden tyres to avoid colliding with vehicles behind, before the two men opened fire with blistering flashes of flame and an ear-numbing dadadadadada! A strobe-like burst flared from the end of the rolled newspaper as the man in khaki opened up too.
Heck and Quinnell weren't quite caught in an enfilade, they were moving too quickly for that, but streams of lead raked the Subaru from different angles, safety glass exploding, bodywork buckling and puncturing on all sides, projectiles whining across the interior ...
SACRIFICE Heck #2
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2013)
Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg finds himself embroiled in the most distressing case of his career, when a bunch of faceless maniacs begin to ‘celebrate’ famous feast days with ghastly and ever more imaginative human sacrifices.
Once again, the Serial Crimes Unit, who have a remit to cover the whole of England and Wales, find themselves travelling from one location to another – Liverpool, Yorkshire, Manchester and the leafy North Midlands – in pursuit of a fiendish crew who operate seemingly without rhyme or reason, ready to select any victim anywhere and at any time – never with any kind of warning, but always with two things in mind: a determination to inflict the maximum amount of suffering possible, and a desire to shock and appall the rest of society.
What is more, they are highly organised and incredibly eager to write themselves into the record books. Heck and his colleagues aren’t just racing against the clock in their efforts to bring an end to the horror. They are racing against the calendar too – for with each special day another body is found. The tally goes up and up and up …
SACRIFICE is the second in a series of no-holds-barred British police thrillers, concerning the investigations of DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, a tireless and dogged hunter of criminals, who because of his status in Scotland Yard’s elite Serial Crimes Unit, almost invariably finds himself pitted against the very worst of the worst.STALKERS Heck #1
It was Heck who eventually gave voice to the numbing horror they all felt. ‘You mean he just ... played with her.’
Perkins nodded and swallowed. He couldn’t take his eyes off the butchered horror lying below; his face was white as a bowl of curdled milk. ‘All night, they reckon. He was still at it this morning, when the security lads arrived.’
‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ Shawna breathed.
She hadn’t intended it as a prayer, but Gary Quinnell continued it in that vein: ‘Have mercy on us all … and this poor soul, who died here alone and in such pain.’
None of the others held religious beliefs, but none of them objected.
(Avon Books, HarperCollins, 2013)
When Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg comes to suspect that 38 missing women may all have been abducted by the same unknown party, he finds himself embroiled in the most deadly and disturbing case of his entire career.
A case that will take him from the glitzy heartland of London's financial Square Mile to the desolate, decayed badlands of inner Manchester. From the menacing environs of high-level organised crime to the squalid underbelly of Britain's sex-for-sale industry, where weirdos, freaks and psychos of every description are lurking in the shadows.
It will also match him against the semi-mythical 'Nice Guys Club', a crime syndicate so infamously ruthless and cruel that most felons are too frightened to talk about them, while most senior cops don't even believe they exist (or rather, hope they don't) ...
STALKERS is the first in a series of hard-edged police thrillers, concerning Scotland's Yard's elite Serial Crimes Unit, and its most effective investigator, Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, a sharp, hard-working detective, who will stop at nothing to bring justice to the streets, but who, in this very first outing, may already have bitten off far more than he can chew ...
McCulkin laced his tattooed, nicotine-stained fingers in a tight, tense ball. ‘There are red flags all over this, Mr. Heckenburg. Any time it comes up in conversation, it’s like “you don’t talk about this”, or “do not even go there”.’
'That’s Halloween stuff, Pat. It’s designed to stop people asking questions.’
‘Look, these people are bad news.’
‘And I’m not?’ Heck leaned forward. ‘These bastards are going to find out different. Now you tell me every single thing you know.’
‘You really going to spread it that I’m a snitch?’
‘Just watch me.'
DARK NORTH (Abaddon Books, 2012)
The story of Sir Lucan, the infamous ‘Black Wolf of the North’, who held King Arthur’s northern
frontier against the Celtic armies of Rheged and the Pictish hordes of Alba.
Forged in battle from his earliest days, Lucan was one of the most difficult characters for Arthur to manage at his Round Table, combining knightly beliefs and skills with a vengeful nature and innate ferocity, which made him almost unstoppable on the battlefield and a dominant warlord in the wintry wilds of northern Britain. Only the constant presence of good people – his older brother, Sir Bedivere, his idealistic squire, Alaric, King Arthur himself, and more important than any of these, his beautiful wife, Trelawna – kept Lucan on the chivalrous straight and narrow. In times of peace, he became as good a lord to his tenants and as loyal a subject to his king as anyone could ask for. But in times of war, a more sinister personality would emerge.
What then can Arthur’s court expect when a war to end all wars is declared on Camelot and its allies? How will the volatile brotherhood of the Round Table respond when an army more colossal than any previously seen in Dark Age Europe masses on the other side of the Channel, its intent to invade Britain and wipe out every last vestige of the Arthurian renaissance?
In Le Morte d’Arthur, Thomas Malory (1405-1471) writes tantalisingly about an attempt to reconquer Britain by the newly reinvigorated Roman Empire. Few real details are given, but he hints at prolonged and torturous campaigns, epic battles and astonishing death-tolls – he describes a war comparable with modern wars in terms of the numbers involved and the destruction wreaked. He talks of Albion (pre-Saxon England) as a nation-state suddenly battling for its very existence.
This is the backdrop to DARK NORTH. This is the theatre in which the Black Wolf of the North must finally come of age as a warrior and a man – because for Lucan there will be a war within this war. Not long before Rome’s intentions are made clear, his beloved wife, finally seeking a better life than that she has known in Lucan’s rugged castle at Penharrow, absconds with a young Roman officer. Lucan thus answers his monarch’s call to arms with angry delight. For him, the coming battle, with all its slaughter and devastation, will be very, very personal … but there are other forces at work here, not least the fearsome Malconi clan, to whom Trelawna has unwittingly attached herself: a ancient Roman dynasty with the power to raise demons!
SPARROWHAWK (Pendragon Press, 2010)
In December 1843, embittered Afghan War veteran, John Sparrowhawk, is released from the debtor’s prison by the beautiful but enigmatic Miss Evangeline.
Penniless, alone and tortured by the demons of his past, Sparrowhawk has no option but to accept
employment with his mysterious new benefactor. The job she offers him is to stand guard over a house in Bloomsbury for the duration of the Christmas period. It sounds simple enough, but as the coldest winter in living memory descends on London, Sparrowhawk senses the presence of an unseen but very dangerous enemy, who will soon start to manifest in the most horrific and terrifying ways …
STRONGHOLD (Abaddon Books, 2010)
In the year 1295, a band of English knights is sent over the border into Wales to quell an uprising. Their leader, Earl Corotocus of Clun is a skilled but brutal marcher baron, who is determined to impress King Edward with his efficiency. He thus massacres the Welsh rebels and terrorises and punishes the civilian population. Afterwards, he and his men take hostage the daughter of Countess Madalyn, a Welsh noblewoman, and hole up in the impregnable Grogan Castle, from where they will rule the district with a rod of iron.
Not all of Corotocus’s retainers are comfortable with their overlord’s methods. One knight in
particular, Ranulf FitzOsbern, has fanciful notions that knighthood is should be about honour and chivalry, and is ashamed of his involvement in these atrocities. However differences between the English disappear when a terrifying new enemy emerges through the woodland mist.
Countess Madalyn has made a pact with the druids, who have raised a host of the dead and set it against the English interlopers. A nightmarish siege follows, as the English defend their ramparts against an army whose rotted, raddled soldiers can be hacked, stabbed, slashed, burned and mutilated, but just will not die …
CAPE WRATH (Telos Books, 2002)
An elite university team heads to Craeghatir, a lonely rock off Cape Wrath, mainland Britain’s most northerly point, and a place wreathed in mystery, superstition and a primitive fear of the unknown.
The island is scenic but wild, embattled by crashing waves, roaring whirlpools and thunderous gales. However, the team – led by the beautiful and domineering Professor Jo Mercy, are a hardy bunch and will not be put off. They are here to unearth and excavate a long lost Viking tomb, by which they hope to make their names.
Unfortunately, an ancient energy lies dormant in the rocks of Craeghatir. Even buried deeply, its uncanny influence has reached out over the centuries to cause terror and madness. But now people have come here with picks and shovels. They intend to dig, to tear the island open … and an unstoppable force is set to be released!