Scarlet Murder Prologue

Here’s a taster of a crime thriller I’ve been playing around with. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Javier took a slow sip from the lemonade bottle as he leaned against the back of his convertible. His wife wanted him to stop having fizzy drinks but she did not push the matter too forcefully. Like he told her, lemonade was better for him than beer. He was honest enough that he could admit to being a mean drunk.

Something in his trousers pinged insistently. Javier pulled the mobile out of his jeans pocket and looked at the screen. The number was unknown. He slipped inside the car and turned up the volume on the radio.

“What are you looking for?” He asked.

“One piece, it doesn’t need to be clean.”

“You can pay?”

“I’ll bring cash.”

“Do you know where?”

“It’s a hotel.”

“Adios.”

Javier slammed the driver’s side door closed and tossed the empty bottle into the street. His littering did not worsen the appearance of the street in any noticeable way.

Two large rubbish bins were parked against the side of a decaying block of flats but the bin men always seemed to pass his neighbourhood by. The bagged rubbish left over from a time when people still bothered to make an effort was buried beneath a growing mound of cartons, cans and rotten food.

Buying a convertible in a neighbourhood with no rubbish collection had been a very expensive mistake. The seats were beginning to smell like the inside of a skip.

Javier put his foot down and the car shot out onto the hot tarmac. He was heading towards the seafront. If he had been going at that speed in summer there would have been a whole pile of pale, fat English and German corpses piled up on his bonnet.

But that part of the coast stayed pretty quiet in the winter. He did not mind the quiet; it helped his business run more smoothly.

The mobile was ringing again. He took his hands away from the wheel and tried to ease it out of his pocket. It was harder sitting down. Maria was right, he had put on weight.

He finally wrestled the phone free from his jeans and saw his wife’s name lighting up the screen. Javier swore and put one hand back on the wheel.

“Why didn’t you pick up?” She asked.

“I just did. We’re talking right now.”

“Are you drinking?”

“No, I’m driving.”

“Are you drinking and driving?”

“No, I’m just driving. Why are you calling me?”

“A client called.”

“I know. I spoke to him.”

“Don’t be late and don’t get ripped off again.”

Javier hit the end call button with his thumb and threw the phone into the passenger seat. The money was easy but sometimes he missed construction work. He hated economic recessions.

He had not even heard of a recession until he was in one. Empty apartment blocks loomed up on either side of the street. He would have been tempted to break into one if he did not know from past experience that there was nothing worth stealing inside.

His car rolled up to the front of the hotel and he climbed out onto the pavement. The waterfront was even emptier than usual. He took his sports bag out of the boot and strolled into the reception.

A weary old man in glasses peered at him as he approached. Javier tapped his hand on the desk and the man slid a room key across it. He passed him a five euro note and walked towards the lift.

“It’s not working.” The old man called after him.

Of course it was out of service. That was typical of a rundown hotel like this. Javier wondered if he was the only guest who visited the place. Perhaps there was an even older man in a suit sitting in an office behind reception counting his five euro notes and lining them up in neat stacks.

There were brown stains on the white painted walls of the staircase. Javier wondered if it was dirt or mould. It did not matter much to him but he was curious.

His room key said one hundred and three. He knew there were less than a hundred rooms in the hotel, he had been in nearly all of them, so the one meant first floor.

It was odd that the receptionist always gave him a different key, not in a worrying way, just something strange to think about.

He stepped into room one hundred and three. It looked identical to every other dingy room in the building. The paint was flaking off the walls, the mattress was stained and the television was a relic from when he was a toddler.

Someone knocked on the door a few minutes after he arrived.

“Wait a second.” He called.

There was nothing familiar about the man in the doorway. He hid his eyes underneath a low baseball cap and moved inside as soon as the door was open.

Javier knew better than to look too hard at his guest, people did not like feeling as though someone would remember their face.

“Do you have it?” He asked.

“It’s in the bathroom.”

The man dropped a plastic shopping bag and stepped into the next room. Javier heard the toilet flush as he was counting the money. They always had full bladders, something to do with nerves. That was what gave him the idea of leaving the merchandise in the bathroom. That way he could deny knowing it was there if the police caught him.

He furrowed his eyebrows and started counting the small wad of notes again. Unless he had counted wrong the first time, there were a few missing.

Walking towards the open bathroom door, he heard the sound of a running tap. The second count had given the same result. Javier hoped the buyer had not climbed out of a window. Maria would scream herself hoarse if he was ripped off again.

His worst fears were realised when he got to the bathroom door. The toilet seat was up and the tap was running in the sink. His sports bag lay open on the counter, emptied of one small calibre pistol, silencer and a magazine of seven rounds. Javier swore.

Something moved in the mirror. He looked across the room and saw the man standing in the bathtub below the shower.

“Hey, there isn’t enough here.”

Something flashed and spat in the man’s hand. Javier felt his head hit the hard tiles. The man stepped carefully over him and he heard the door bang shut just as a black void closed in around him.

You can find:

  • a crime short story here
  • a historical-crime short here;
  • or a fantasy short here.

You can also find a novel I wrote on Kindle here.

Vikingr Introduction

VIKINGR COVER

The purpose of this post is to hopefully tell you everything you need to know about my new book, Vikingr.

Why Did I Write It?

I starting writing historical fiction while I was studying for a degree in Archaeology & Ancient History. Novels in the fiction and fantasy genres inspired by history always appealed to me, whether they were historical fiction by authors such as Bernard Cornwell and C J Sansom or fantasy novels with medieval elements such as George R R Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire.

I decided to write a novel set in the Viking Age so that I could show a different side of the early vikings. I’ve tried to present the Norse adventurers as poets and explorers of uncharted territories as well as raving pillagers and murderers, .

What Did I Have To Do To Publish My Novel?

A lot of research went into understanding viking society, culture and religion. Norse mythology plays a very big part in the novel. Erikr, the main character, is haunted by spirits from his past throughout the plot. The pagan Norse believed that wraiths of the dead would haunt the living until properly laid to rest, and this was a recurring theme in medieval Scandinavian sagas.

There was also a lot of planning, proofreading and editing. A further aspect which I put a lot of work into was designing the cover of the novel. It includes a vegvisir, a viking symbol or stave intended to help Norse travelers find their way through rough weather, something like a magic compass.

Where Is It Set?

The novel begins in a medieval drinking hall where there is a riot of noise and color, a feast in full swing. Then we travel with Erikr as he begins his voyage aboard a viking longboat which is seeking to establish trading ties with the Roman Empire in the east (a.k.a Byzantine Empire).

But not everything goes to plan and, after sailing along the coast of 10th Century Estonia and through the lands of the Rus’ or Gardariki (present-day Russia and Ukraine), Erikr finds himself in the strange and dangerous empire of the Khazar Khaganate.

Who Are The Main Characters?

Erikr, the protagonist, is a young Norseman taking part in his first Viking (a voyage overseas for trade or plunder). He dreams of becoming a vikingr, a Norse warrior and seafarer.

Alva is a girl slightly younger than Erikr with a fierce, proud personality which gets the pair into trouble. She is also a thrall (slave).

The sisters Ida and Saxa are also thralls. They are Saxon women captured in a viking raid on their Germanic homeland. Ida takes an almost mothering attitude towards Erikr, caring for him when he is injured. On the other hand, Saxa is bitter about their captivity and holds a burning hatred towards all Norsemen.

Holmgeirr and Ingridr are a pair of merchants. Holmgeirr used to be a vikingr but has now retired to a peaceful life, while Ingridr is the widow of another Norse adventurer. The pair do much to teach Erikr about what it means to be a warrior and a leader. They are his mentors and close friends on his voyage.

Want to find out more?

You can find the full novel on Amazon Kindle here.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0113AJ0RE?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Recently Published Historical Fiction / Fantasy Novel

VIKINGR COVERVIKINGR now available

My first novel, Vikingr, is now available on Amazon Kindle! It is a historical fiction / fantasy novel set in the medieval era at the dawn of the Viking Age around A.D. 900 in present-day Scandinavia, Estonia and Russia.

What is it about?

Vikingr follows the life of a boy named Erikr who takes part in his first Viking, an overseas expedition. The Norse explorers’ goal is to trade with the Roman Empire in the east, but failing that they will resort to pillage and plunder in order to turn a profit.

Their medieval voyage quickly goes awry as hostility builds among the crew. Erikr finds himself ostracized by the older viking warriors and makes friends in unlikely places, among the thralls (slaves) and merchants.

He is soon forced to take on the role of commander of this group and become a dreaded vikingr (Norse seafarer) in order to protect his new allies.

What to expect?

You can expect to be drawn into the violent, gritty world of a medieval viking explorer where you will meet diverse and interesting characters with a range of different personalities.

There are some elements of the thriller and Norse mythology is also present throughout the novel, bringing in tastes of fantasy.

Will Erikr grow into the vikingr he dreams of becoming? Will he be able to keep his crew safe from starvation, murder and hostile strangers?

 

Click this link to find out or copy and paste the URL below.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0113AJ0RE?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

You can also search for “Vikingr” on the Kindle store.