“Welcome back, Sam.”

In January, the second Sam Wylde thriller, Nobody Gets Hurt, finally escapes from e-book limbo into the solid world of real books (pre-order here: https://tinyurl.com/ycvp2ga7). It features a villain with a complex backstory (IRA, ETA, MI5) and so we have written a companion piece about him, which will be available as a free download here and on robtryan.com. We’ll keep you posted.

How To Make A Monster Ebook 4NOBODY GETS HURT PBB

NOBODY GETS HURT (Well, almost nobody..)

This is an extract from the new Sam Wylde thriller, Nobody Gets Hurt, which is available as an e-book now. It is written by “R J Bailey”, which is 50% me.

Screenshot 2017-05-25 09.34.57

Short of money to search for her missing daughter Jess, Sam has accepted a job to escort Mrs Irwin, a US citizen with a fear of flying, from Normandy to Luxembourg, where she has financial dealings. Sam has been hired as a driver. The muscle is George Konrad, a Hungarian who doubles gunman duties with working as an armourer on film sets. Here, they have just finished a meal and are set to pick up the car they will use to deliver the client. Contains strong language.

 

Konrad examined the carnage on the plate before him, dipped his fingers in the lemon water and wiped his hands on a napkin ‘I’m done here.’ He nudged the Gitanes packet. ‘Mind if I have a cigarette?’

‘Mind if I join you?’

‘You’d be very welcome.’

We smoked two each, not saying much, lost in our thoughts. Eventually he said: ‘How about we get the car now, drive back to the hotel, check out and drive down and look at our very own Omaha Beach.’

I glanced at him through the last wreaths of my smoke. ‘Omaha? Hardly. At least I hope not.’

‘I worked on Saving Private Ryan. Tom Hanks’s Thompson was one of mine. Nice guy.’

saving-private-ryan

All this seemed a long way from Hollywood film stars and re-enactments of D-day. If it were me, I think I’d stay with replicas and bank the pay packet. At least nobody would be shooting real bullets at you. But then again, it was possible that men like Konrad needed the adrenaline that the work gave you. And I was one to talk. What the fuck was I doing there, smelling the breeze off the ocean, wondering where a woman who was worried about her secret fortune was right now? You can tell yourself you are doing it all for Jess, but part of you wants this.

‘What’s your real story?’ he asked.

‘How do you mean?’

‘Everyone on the Circuit has something inside them, a little kernel of hate or addiction or love that brings them back.’ He looked at me. ‘We’re all damaged in some way.’

‘Apparently, you know more about me than I do. You tell me.’

‘I heard lots of things about you. Dead husband, missing daughter, some trouble in a garage in London. It’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t.’

I laughed. ‘Thing is, it’s all true.’

He gave a low whistle. ‘Wow. I guess some of us are more damaged than others.’

‘Fuck off,’ I said softly, but with feeling.

‘Sorry. I meant.. some of us carry a heavier burden. My English..’ An apologetic shrug. ‘It doesn’t always work right.’

‘Yeah. Forget it. OK, let’s go see what wheels they left us. Let’s hope it comes in black.’

We settled the bill. I checked the Seamaster. It was after nine and the streets were growing dark as we walked towards the car’s location, but the air was still warm. I refused a third cigarette but Konrad lit up. ‘Last one for a while,’ he promised. I didn’t have to ask why. It wasn’t because he was worried about passive smoking risks for me or the client. It was so he would always have his hands free and never have to worry about dropping a lit fag in his lap in the heat of the moment.

I had asked the Colonel for a French car and something with a boot, rather than a hatchback, which ruled out the Citroen DS5 that I would really have liked. The Colonel had sourced me a Peugeot 508 GT Line saloon, which was nice and roomy for three people, with enough space in the rear for the Principal to lie down if need be. Not the fastest car on the road, maybe, but more anonymous than, say a BMW M5. And besides, I was hoping to avoid any high-speed chases. Slow but steady would be my watchword. I saw it as soon as we turned into the place, parked at the southern end of the square, well away from a brightly lit brasserie.

I found the keys on the wheel and pointed the fob to unlock it. Konrad put a hand on my wrist to stop me.

‘Not yet,’ he said. ‘Give me a minute.’

He shucked the knees of his trousers and got down on the ground. From his pocket he took out a compact Maglite and examined the chassis. He ran his hands around the bumpers, too, and the wheel arches.

‘OK, open her up.’

I pressed the button. The car flashed its sidelights and the interior lit up. I opened the door and was hit by the new-car smell of leather, plastics and faux-wood. I sat in, adjusted the rake of the steering wheel and moved to fire it up. ‘No. Before you start the engine.’

He leaned inside and looked under the dash, checking all the panels were tight.

‘Pull the bonnet release, can you?’

Another quick inspection around the engine bay and he slammed it closed.

‘Trunk.’

‘Boot,’ I corrected. It took me a while to find that one.

‘Sorry, we’ll be doing this every time we have left it unattended. I need to check.’

‘For trackers?’

‘Yes. I’ve got a GPS and RF detector I’ll run over it too. But I’m also looking for something nastier. Used to be they used mercury tilt switches,’ he said. ‘Easy to spot. Now they use the same technology that puts a spirit level in your iPhone.’ He held thumb and forefinger a few millimeters apart. ‘Tiny. But the first corner you lean into…Boom.’

todseelie

‘You honestly think..?’ I began.

‘I don’t know. No stone unturned, eh?’ He brushed dirt off his hands, then his knees, and walked to the rear of the vehicle.

‘Right. No stone unturned.’ I watched a cohort of jerky black shadows diving above the lights on the square, scooping up a final meal of insects. Bats. My insides felt as if there were a couple of them trapped inside me, flapping about. I hadn’t figured on worrying about bombs.

‘Sam,’ Konrad said. ‘Come here a second.’

I got out and walked around to the rear of the Peugeot. At first I couldn’t see what he was referring to, just the yawing black hole of the boot’s interior, but then he flicked the Maglite’s beam on, just for a second, long enough for me to take in the curled-up body and the grey pallor that only death can lend to human skin. The delivery driver, I assumed.

‘Welcome to Omaha Beach,’ said Konrad softly.

Nobody Gets Hurt is available here:

https://tinyurl.com/y7l6z2zn

NOBODY GETS HURT PBB

 

SOMEBODY GETS HURT…

This is a second extract from the new Sam Wylde thriller, Nobody Gets Hurt, which is available as an e-book now. Short of money to search for her missing daughter Jess, Sam has accepted a job to escort Mrs Irwin, a US citizen with a fear of flying, from Normandy to Luxembourg, where she has financial dealings. Sam has been hired as a driver. The muscle is George Konrad, a Hungarian who doubles gunman duties with working as an armourer on film sets. Here, they have just finished a meal and are set to pick up the car they will use to deliver the client. Contains strong language.

NOBODY GETS HURT PBB

Konrad examined the carnage on the plate before him, dipped his fingers in the lemon water and wiped his hands on a napkin ‘I’m done here.’ He nudged the Gitanes packet. ‘Mind if I have a cigarette?’

‘Mind if I join you?’

‘You’d be very welcome.’

We smoked two each, not saying much, lost in our thoughts. Eventually he said: ‘How about we get the car now, drive back to the hotel, check out and drive down and look at our very own Omaha Beach.’

I glanced at him through the last wreaths of my smoke. ‘Omaha? Hardly. At least I hope not.’

‘I worked on Saving Private Ryan. Tom Hanks’s Thompson was one of mine. Nice guy.’

Unknown

All this seemed a long way from Hollywood film stars and re-enactments of D-day. If it were me, I think I’d stay with replicas and bank the pay packet. At least nobody would be shooting real bullets at you. But then again, it was possible that men like Konrad needed the adrenaline that the work gave you. And I was one to talk. What the fuck was I doing there, smelling the breeze off the ocean, wondering where a woman who was worried about her secret fortune was right now? You can tell yourself you are doing it all for Jess, but part of you wants this.

‘What’s your real story?’ he asked.

‘How do you mean?’

‘Everyone on the Circuit has something inside them, a little kernel of hate or addiction or love that brings them back.’ He looked at me. ‘We’re all damaged in some way.’

‘Apparently, you know more about me than I do. You tell me.’

‘I heard lots of things about you. Dead husband, missing daughter, some trouble in a garage in London. It’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t.’

I laughed. ‘Thing is, it’s all true.’

He gave a low whistle. ‘Wow. I guess some of us are more damaged than others.’

‘Fuck off,’ I said softly, but with feeling.

‘Sorry. I meant.. some of us carry a heavier burden. My English..’ An apologetic shrug. ‘It doesn’t always work right.’

‘Yeah. Forget it. OK, let’s go see what wheels they left us. Let’s hope it comes in black.’

We settled the bill. I checked the Seamaster. It was after nine and the streets were growing dark as we walked towards the car’s location, but the air was still warm. I refused a third cigarette but Konrad lit up. ‘Last one for a while,’ he promised. I didn’t have to ask why. It wasn’t because he was worried about passive smoking risks for me or the client. It was so he would always have his hands free and never have to worry about dropping a lit fag in his lap in the heat of the moment.

I had asked the Colonel for a French car and something with a boot, rather than a hatchback, which ruled out the Citroen DS5 that I would really have liked. The Colonel had sourced me a Peugeot 508 GT Line saloon, which was nice and roomy for three people, with enough space in the rear for the Principal to lie down if need be. Not the fastest car on the road, maybe, but more anonymous than, say a BMW M5. And besides, I was hoping to avoid any high-speed chases. Slow but steady would be my watchword. I saw it as soon as we turned into the place, parked at the southern end of the square, well away from a brightly lit brasserie.

I found the keys on the wheel and pointed the fob to unlock it. Konrad put a hand on my wrist to stop me.

‘Not yet,’ he said. ‘Give me a minute.’

He shucked the knees of his trousers and got down on the ground. From his pocket he took out a compact Maglite and examined the chassis. He ran his hands around the bumpers, too, and the wheel arches.

‘OK, open her up.’

I pressed the button. The car flashed its sidelights and the interior lit up. I opened the door and was hit by the new-car smell of leather, plastics and faux-wood. I sat in, adjusted the rake of the steering wheel and moved to fire it up. ‘No. Before you start the engine.’

He leaned inside and looked under the dash, checking all the panels were tight.

‘Pull the bonnet release, can you?’

Another quick inspection around the engine bay and he slammed it closed.

‘Trunk.’

‘Boot,’ I corrected. It took me a while to find that one.

‘Sorry, we’ll be doing this every time we have left it unattended. I need to check.’

‘For trackers?’

‘Yes. I’ve got a GPS and RF detector I’ll run over it too. But I’m also looking for something nastier. Used to be they used mercury tilt switches,’ he said. ‘Easy to spot. Now they use the same technology that puts a spirit level in your iPhone.’ He held thumb and forefinger a few millimeters apart. ‘Tiny. But the first corner you lean into…Boom.’

todseelie

‘You honestly think..?’ I began.

‘I don’t know. No stone unturned, eh?’ He brushed dirt off his hands, then his knees, and walked to the rear of the vehicle.

‘Right. No stone unturned.’ I watched a cohort of jerky black shadows diving above the lights on the square, scooping up a final meal of insects. Bats. My insides felt as if there were a couple of them trapped inside me, flapping about. I hadn’t figured on worrying about bombs.

‘Sam,’ Konrad said. ‘Come here a second.’

I got out and walked around to the rear of the Peugeot. At first I couldn’t see what he was referring to, just the yawing black hole of the boot’s interior, but then he flicked the Maglite’s beam on, just for a second, long enough for me to take in the curled-up body and the grey pallor that only death can lend to human skin. The delivery driver, I assumed.

‘Welcome to Omaha Beach,’ said Konrad softly.

 

 

Nobody Gets Hurt is available here from July 6:

https://tinyurl.com/y7l6z2zn

 

SEEING DOUBLE: THE BODYGUARD

Last Tuesday (April 18th) one of us had a piece published in The Times T2 about the rise of female bodyguards and how they are now paid more than men on the commercial “Circuit”. It featured interviews with Dublin-based Personal Protection Officer Lisa Baldwin and PPO trainer Neil Davis of Horizon, which is based in Glasgow. Later that same day an article appeared in the Independent (online) about how there is increased demand for female bodyguards etc. that featured quotes from, oh, Lisa and Neil. OK, so it mentioned The Times as a source, but there wasn’t anything original in the piece at all. And they managed to neglect to mention our book Safe From Harm, which was to some extent the object of the exercise. Still, as they borrowed the entire content from us, I am sure the Indy won’t mind if we borrow it back. Here it is:

 

 

images

 

The chances are that when you picture a bodyguard, you’re imagining a tall, big, broad, burly man with biceps the size of tree-trunks and hands that could crush skulls.

But more and more these days, that image is wrong. Increasingly, women are being hired as bodyguards – and average-sized women too.

The reason is that huge stereotypical-looking bodyguards – technically called close protection, personal protection or executive protection officers (CPO/PPO/EPO) – actually draw attention to whomever is being protected.

Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be mistaken for nannies.

“Nine times out of ten the people I work for want someone who can blend in,” commercial PPO Lisa Baldwin explained to The Times. “They don’t want obvious security, like the kind used by Madonna or Britney Spears. Those bodyguards, the big guys, actually draw attention to the clients and put them at more stress and risk.”

Baldwin dresses down which allows her to look like a friend or nanny. “With the bulkier guys, people will think: ‘Why have those kids got a bodyguard?’” she says.

“And I’d like to see those big guys run. They are fine if you are just keeping fans back, but I am dealing with things like kidnap threat and might have to get out of a situation very quickly. Pure muscle isn’t enough.”

Baldwin is by no means a huge woman either and believes the ex-military look can be a disadvantage: “I remember the first job interview I had, when I was 20, I was up against another candidate who looked like GI Jane, all muscles and shaved head. And I got the job.

“They were more interested in whether I had protective driving skills, which I had, and a firearms cert, which I also had. In fact they didn’t want me to carry a firearm, but to show I had training in that field.”

       Since Baldwin became a PPO 13 years ago, the number of women in the industry has soared along with demand. She says that there’s been more interest from Muslim families in particular, “who might not want the women mixing too closely with men. And then there are the bathrooms — if you have a male bodyguard and a female client, that’s going to be an issue.”

But there are still relatively few female PPOs and not enough to satisfy demand, according to Neil Davis, a former army officer who runs a Glasgow-based security company called Horizon.

ext

“Clients who might not want their children looked after by a man often specify a woman,” he told The Times. “These days, the good female PPOs can work all year round while men struggle to find jobs, especially as there has been an influx from eastern Europe competing for work. Such is the demand for women, they get paid more than the men at the moment.”

However, Davis says women have to be the whole package – not only do they need to be trained but they usually have to be fluent in one or two foreign languages and qualified in something like scuba diving or skiing.

David Cameron and Tony Blair both had female bodyguards, and Davis says there are certain advantages to using a female CPO when the client is male.

“If I was putting together a security team of eight, I’d like at least two, maybe three, women in the mix. Do that and the group dynamic instantly changes. Women lower the testosterone level.”

To illustrate his point, Davis gives the example of when things start kicking off in a bar or pub: “If a man steps up to confront [your client] then the situation can escalate.

“If a woman does it, the aggression levels drop because, no matter how drunk they are, most men are conditioned to know it is wrong to hit a woman. A female PPO tends to be better at conflict resolution rather than making the situation worse.”

ENDS

Neil Davis by the way has a CV that reads like something from a Gerald Seymour novel:

“Neil is a former Warrant Officer in the British Army, serving for 24 years, leaving in 2006. His last 5 years was as an Advanced Agent Handler with JSG(NI) where he successfully recruited and ran covert HUMINT Sources from within terrorist organisations in various countries around the world and for which he was awarded a QCVS in the 2006 Honours List.”

       That’s not to mention a wealth of CPO experience in the world’s most hostile environments.

 

LANDMARK TRUST?

Our novel Safe From Harm features a number of North London landmarks, including this rather striking obelisk/bollard that sits on the slope of Parliament Hill Fields below so-called Kite Hill. It is known locally as the Stone of Free Speech. Towards the end of the book Sam Wylde is meant to meet her MI5 contact there and says:

photo

Just to the east of the bandstand on Parliament Hill Field is a white obelisk. Not very tall, it has no inscription on it whatsoever. Yet there it stands, a monument to.. something. I had heard it called The Pillar or Stone of Free Speech and it was mooted to be a gathering place for modern-day pagans. There were none of those about that I could see, but it made for a convenient landmark for a meeting with a spy. After all, aren’t they supposed to protecting free speech and the British way of life? Which included the right to call yourself a pagan without having a limb chopped off. Or your head.”

Several people have mentioned that, in fact, this is incorrect. Although many sources claim it is a 200 year-old rallying point for protestors against censorship or a cut-price Stonehenge for pagans/druids, the truth is more quotidian. It is a triangulation point for surveyors. There is also an MOD arrow on the base, which suggests it is a relatively recent addition to the Heath.

However, we did know this at the time of writing. It was just that we invoked what might be called The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Principle: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

That black shape is Joe, our Cockapoo (included for scale).