Published by Clink Street Publishing on May 5, 2016
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This contemporary crime story takes place over three weeks in November and unfolds against the multi-cultural backdrop of Soho, London. Branen had to leave the UK six years before to escape his complex clandestine history and the consequences of a crime that achieved worldwide notoriety. When his daughter is brutally murdered in Soho he believes that he could be the reason. He returns to his old hunting grounds to find the killer. His search brings him into conflict with the British Secret Service and Soho's underworld. He is forced to flee Soho again after a tragic meeting with his ex-wife. His past has caught up with him and the hunter becomes the hunted. Now forty years old Branen wants to stop running and to remove forever the continuing threat to his life. In an effort to get rid of his pursuers he is faced with the prospect that his only chance of survival could lead to his death.
Read a couple excerpts:
#1 Having just returned to Soho Costas has recommended a cheap hotel for Branen to stay in on his first night…
Hotel California had a small entrance in Tisbury Court, a paved alleyway between Wardour and Rupert Street.
The frosted glass door had a red glow behind it; the kind that brothels have. He mentally thanked Costas and tried the door, noticing it swung both ways, he suspected like some of the guests, and making it easier to eject unwanted customers.
The reception area was particularly attractive. On the right-hand side there was a desk, resembling a cheap pulpit. Behind it sat a tabloid newspaper which didn’t reveal its reader.
“I need a room,” he said. The newspaper seemed to be studiously ignoring him. “Have you got a room?”
The newspaper lowered revealing a shabby, unshaven man with a thick neck and the shoulders of a wrestler. Without looking up he pushed the register across the desk and the movement of his paper wafted fumes towards Branen; the man had been drinking and hadn’t been washing.
He examined Branen then looked past him. Branen followed his gaze and was met by an apparition in black leather sitting on an orange plastic sofa. She returned his stare and smiled from underneath her maquillage. She had a kind face, or was it desperation? The melamine table lamp had an orange shade and the walls needed another coat of maroon paint. He had no idea why red was considered sexy in this environment; it did nothing for her complexion or the view up her skirt.
He could have waited an hour for his answer.
Eventually the owner asked, “Fer ‘ow long?”
“A couple of weeks.”
“Fifty quid.. cash.. a day.”
Before Branen could answer he pulled back the register and returned to his newspaper.
#2 Branen returns to one of his old haunts after being away for eight years…
A few months into the new job, whilst he was back in London to photograph an anti-government demo, Branen decided to drop in on the Empire Room in Dean Street.
He was familiar with the club from his early days in Soho and he wanted to catch up with the owner, Ayo Wood.
“Look who we’ve got here, darlings…” said Ayo, as Branen hesitated in the doorway. “…My God man, come in… where have you been?”
There was the sharp smell of spirits mixed with stale cigarette smoke.
A punter sitting at the bar turned to look and fell off his stool.
Branen squeezed in and put his camera on the bar.
“What can I get you, Ben?” asked Ayo, who only knew him by his real name.
“Give me a whisky and water and get yourself a drink… how’s tricks?”
“Same as ever… same old faces, hiding from reality, not wanting to go home. I hate ’em and love ’em… and they pay the rent,” said Ayo, turning to the man who had struggled back onto his stool. “Time to face the real world, Nigel.”
“The real world is an illusion… reality is here in the bottom of my glass…” said Nigel as he tried to stand up. “…Fuck the real world…” He smashed his glass down onto the bar. “…I want love.”
Ayo showed him the door. “I don’t want you kissing my customers again… be careful on your way down the stairs.”
Nigel descended the stairs one by one swearing revenge at every step.