BONUS MATERIAL

Most authors face the problem at some point that they have over-written. The book is too long or part of it is a diversion too far. Or, in our case, we liked one of the characters a little too much and gave him a comprehensive backstory. Very comprehensive. In the end we realised that this background material slowed the flow of the main narrative and, reluctantly, we cut it out. Still, we believe that knowing more about this pivotal figure will add to  the enjoyment of NOBODY GETS HURT, which is out today (Jan 11th). And so, as a PDF, that material is arranged as a short story (HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER), which can be read as a pdf on any device. Click on the link below.

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HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER

 

Despite what it says on the cover, Sam barely features in HTMAM. The story acts as a prequel to the novel below, where she definitely does.

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EVERYBODY HURTS

This is a review of the new Sam Wylde thriller (due out next week) in Mike Ripley’s Getting Away With Murder column for Shotsmag. See

http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/column_view.aspx?COLUMNIST_ID=1

for the full version. The title, by the way, is ironic – almost everybody gets hurt.

“A MOST DANGEROUS GAME

I have noted before now the growing number of female thriller writers (action thrillers rather than crime novels) and how many prefer to be known by initials, such as ‘C.J.’ or ‘L.A.’, rather than their full forenames. Another one forms one half of ‘R.J. Bailey’, the husband-and-wife writing team (aka Mr and Mrs Rob Ryan) behind Nobody Gets Hurt, which is published by Simon & Schuster this month.

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It may be a thriller which is half-written by a female, but the protagonist is wholly female, this being the second outing for Sam (Samantha) Wylde, ex-British army now retrained as a bodyguard, or Personal Protection Officer, and security consultant, currently on assignment at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Whilst searching for a missing daughter and an ex-husband (possibly dead), Sam Wylde needs all her considerable military skills and resourcefulness in a plot which encompasses gun-running to the IRA and a tense, hair-raising journey across France and into Spain which reminded me of Gavin Lyall in his heyday. And I can’t say fairer than that.”

Mike is right about the Lyall influence, there is at least one set piece, featuring a Facel Vega, which pays homage to Lyall’s Midnight Plus One, although we didn’t fire bullets across the top of petrol cans to see if a round could ignite the fuel in a Citroen DS, as he apparently did. I know, what wussies.

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“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.

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ONE LAST JOB

Bodyguard Sam Wylde is back. Coming soon is the e-book of NOBODY GETS HURT, with paperback to follow later.  Sam is searching for her daughter Jess, who was taken by her ex-husband at the end of  SAFE FROM HARM. Having depleted her bank account criss-crossing Europe, and desperate for money to pay experts to trace Jess online, she agrees to take a job from Colonel d’Arcy, the man who run’s Europe’s premier Personal Protection agency. It might be her last.

This is an extract, where she learns what she’ll be up against. Or thinks she does.

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Eventually the Colonel took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. ‘So, the good news is, I can advance you the money for a job. This one is right up your street. I mentioned it last time you were here, but it wasn’t greenlit then. PPO needed. Client has to be in Luxembourg for an emergency board meeting. Client lives in New York. And is afraid of flying.’

I  remembered now. ‘So what am I meant to do? Row across the Atlantic?’

He put his head to one side and gave me a quizzical look. I suspected he thought I should be more grateful. ‘They’ll come by sea.’

‘Not that much of an emergency then.’

‘The fear of flying dictates the transport. It means time will be of the essence once the client reaches this side of the Atlantic.

‘Why do they need a PPO?’

‘Well, apparently there are parties who would rather the Luxembourg meet didn’t take place.’

‘What kind of parties?’

‘The unpleasant kind.’

‘The armed and dangerous kind?’ I asked.

He showed me his palms in a what-can-you-do? gesture. ‘You could say that.’

‘Surely the client could bring their own home-grown muscle?’

‘Apparently not.’

I thought for a moment. ‘Even if I liked being an armed guard – which I don’t – I’m not licensed to carry a weapon in France. And I wouldn’t be approved in the current climate. Nor, it went without saying, with my SIA suspension. ‘I don’t want to end up doing five years in a French prison because I had to carry a pistol. Just on the off chance there’ll be trouble.’

 

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‘That’s not your problem. We have a FITLO.’

A FITLO was yet another of the acronyms the world of close protection loves. Firearms Trained and Licensed Operative. ‘French?’

‘Hungarian.’

I had a mental flash of a bullet-headed thug like Bojan, the Serbian who once tried to stab me in what was his idea of a fair fight (although only he had a knife). ‘Who is he?’

‘George Konrad.’

Europe is awash with gorillas with guns. They were mostly hitmen. That was where the easy money was. Offing someone’s rival for cash, no questions asked on either side except who, where and how much? But the real thing, the FITLO, was a rare bird, because his or her job was to stop the hit. Some did it because it was morally more attractive than mere assassination, others because it was more of a challenge. And then there was the attraction of it being a less crowded field. ‘George Konrad? I don’t know him, do I?’ I asked.

‘Unlikely. He’s good, so I am reliably informed, and that’s all you need to know.’ His eyes flicked to the screen. ‘Very good, so they say. You’ll be in charge of driving and choosing the route. He’ll be there in case a situation arises.’

The PPO world not only loves an acronym, it loves a euphemism, too. A ‘situation’ in this case meant some bastard opens fire on us. With real bullets. ‘I have control of all transportation? Right? No arguments?’

‘I’ll make it clear to him.’ You might think that two professionals assigned to look after a Principal would agree on most things. It was rarely the case. Even deciding which road to take could cause disagreement. It was much better if tasks and responsibilities were assigned beforehand. Compartmentalisation was the key to the harmonious and safe transport of a client.

‘Where is the client now?’

‘Somewhere in the Atlantic aboard a private yacht. They’ll be dropped off in France in a couple of days.’

‘Where in France?’

‘Do you want the job?’ he asked.

I was intrigued, but I gave a noncommittal shrug. ‘I assume a landing as close to Luxembourg as possible?’

‘Well, no. Don’t assume that. The coast towards Belgium is still very tightly patrolled, thanks to the refugee problem.’

A few tumblers clicked into place in my still-addled brain. I found a little cubicle for Jess and parked her there. There was something else he wasn’t telling me. It made no sense not to land close to the destination. Unless . . .

‘What’s the PoFU?’ Potential for Fuck Up.

‘A Red Notice.’ Colonel d’Arcy said this as if it were a golf handicap. But his eyes were darting about. I’d never seen him look properly shifty before. He usually stopped at mildly evasive.

I found myself wanting it spelled out. ‘An Interpol Red Notice?’

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‘Yes.’

‘Anything else?’

He cleared his throat. ‘The client is also carrying an outstanding EAW.’

‘A Europol Arrest Warrant?’

‘Yes,’ he snapped. ‘So it will all have to be under the radar.’

It would be best under the fucking ground – tunnelling to Luxembourg. A Red Notice was only a request to detain a suspect. The EAW was trickier. That required the police force of a member state to arrest the suspect. So if we came up against a cop with a computer, there would be an instruction to detain. And then what have I got – a Hungarian willing to shoot his way out?

‘What’s Konrad’s OD when it comes to the police?’ The Operational Directive established any ground rules. I just hoped there were some.

‘I’ll make sure he knows it’s the same OD that applies to all my people. To put his hands up and go quietly. He’s not there for cops. He’s there for . . . any others.’

That was something at least. A gunfight with cops was never a good idea.

‘And before you ask, we don’t know who the said “any others” are.’

Not so good. ‘You had time to prepare any fake documents?’

‘No, but that will be the first port of call after landing.’ He knew what my next question would be. What was the EAW for? Rape? Murder? There are some things that are beyond the pale even for a PPO.

‘The warrant is for bribing a trader at Deutsche Bank to rig the Euribor rate.’

The needle barely gave a jerk. Insider trading and market manipulation was the norm with many clients. Few of them got extremely rich and kept clean hands. Every yacht in Monaco harbour was built with somebody’s tears. Or somebody else’s money. I didn’t know much about finance, but knew the Euribor as some sort of exchange rate set between European banks. Like the better-known Libor, it could be manipulated to give traders an edge. And a big profit. ‘How serious is it? The offence?’

He tried to sound dismissive, as if it were nothing. ‘It’s an unsubstantiated historical allegation.’

‘How long ago?’

‘Four years.’

‘How seriously will the cops take it?’

The Colonel shrugged. ‘You can never tell. At the moment, as you know, bankers and investors are pariahs to some sections of the press. But in the scale of banking offences that have been committed in Europe? Small beer. However, there is always a risk of running across a policeman who thinks he is Eliot Ness reborn.’

‘Did he do it?’

The Colonel’s wrinkled visage gained a few more crevices as he frowned. ‘Who?’

‘The client. The man we’ve just been talking about for fifteen minutes. Did he bribe someone four years ago?’

The glint in the Colonel’s eyes illuminated the garden path I had been led up. ‘Didn’t I say? Why you are perfect for the job? The client isn’t a “he”. It’s a “she”.’

 

To be continued. A short story linking the events in Safe From Harm to Nobody Gets Hurt will also be available soon.

 

Armoured Cars

One of the first things we discovered when we started researching Safe From Harm is that cars feature prominently in the life of a Personal Protection Officer. They rarely like their clients to travel on regular transport – the general public are to be avoided (there is a phrase for them in the book that cannot be repeated here) – and they will often be driving specially modified vehicles. Companies such as Jaguar, Mercedes and BMW offer powerful, off-the-shelf bullet- and blast-proof models for diplomats, potentates and unpopular oligarchs (although I suspect every oligarch is unpopular with someone; I guess they just have to hope it isn’t Putin).

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In Safe From Harm Sam Wylde drives a long wheelbase, armoured 7 series BMW. The 7HS is compliant with the requirements of the class VR7 ballistic protection standard. Which means you can fire 400 7.62mm rounds at it from every angle with zero penetration. It is also blast-proofed against fragmentation and ordinance hand grenades. Each of the corners is reinforced for those times when the driver has to punch through parked vehicles or reverse his or her way out of trouble.

Sam’s version has been somewhat modified by a character called One-Eyed Jack. He is actually based on a guy who used to do my MOTs when one of us was involved in the car business (racing and renovating) in South East London. The real Jack had two perfectly good peepers, but if he spotted a fault he’d always say: “I’ll turn a blind eye to it this time, but get it fixed.” Hence the nickname.

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Sam regularly loses her no-claims bonus

When air bags first appeared, one of his customers came in and asked for them to be disabled on the driver’s side. Why? I asked. Because if you collide with another vehicle, Jack explained, you don’t want a Rover-style balloon (that’s a reference to The Prisoner for you youngsters) exploding in your face. It turned out the customer was one of the last of the old-school robbers who liked to stop armoured cars by ramming them. So it gave me the idea that Sam would have her air bag disabled in case she had to ram her way out of trouble. Which she does.

So, cars of many stripes play an important role throughout Safe From Harm, as a means of secure transport, rapid escape and, in two cases, as a lethal weapon. They figure even more prominently in the sequel, Nobody Gets Hurt, when Sam is faced with that old conundrum: how do you bump-start a vehicle with no battery? In this case a vintage Facel Vega. You’ll have to wait and see for that one.

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The beautiful but capricious Facel Vega.

 

Part of this piece first appeared in Crimetime (www.crimetime.co.uk). Thanks to @BarryForshaw3.