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The Bluebell Informant – Chapter 7

If you’re not up to speed on The Bluebell Informant so far, the first five chapters can be found here.

Chapter Seven

‘Mister Barker.’

Barker’s face almost dropped when he caught sight of Giles marching towards him. It was understandable enough – the image of Giles walking intently at you was enough to make any suspect squirm. But Barker was different – he had personally offended Giles long before she had ever met him, and that made her dangerous.

And that made him wary.

‘Detective Sergeant Giles,’ he said. ‘Am I right in thinking you’ve changed your mind about me?’

‘I haven’t changed my mind about anything, Barker,’ Giles spat, coming to a halt in front of the former politician. ‘I just wanted to demonstrate to DI Harris here how I got so far so quickly in the service.’

‘Oh?’ Barker eyed Harris curiously. ‘And what has that to do with me?’

‘One name,’ Giles spat. ‘One name that everybody has heard of. Granted, not everyone would necessarily know mine, but I’m sure a little digging through the headlines would come up trumps for you.’ She paused to look around. ‘I got to hand it to you though, it was a good attempt.’

‘I don’t understand what you’re talking about…’

‘You say you were fighting with the victim over the gun, correct?’

Barker blinked twice before nodding. ‘That’s right.’

‘That’s funny, because the bullet wound in the back of his head says something different. In fact, I’d stake my reputation on that bullet being fired from quite a considerable distance – probably from inside the bunker. The same bunker that you crawled into…’ she pointed at his shoes, ‘… hence the dust and powder marks on your shoes.

‘You probably disposed of the bullet casing, the same way you disposed of John Doe’ wallet, keys and phone – chucking them in the river. But you weren’t quite quick enough to hide the body, were you? You got spotted by…’ She turned to Harris. ‘What was the name of the lady who came across them?’

Harris’s hands quickly plunged into his pockets and pulled out a notebook. Rifling through the pages, he searched for the name whilst Barker stood, quivering and afraid beneath Giles’ icy glare.

‘This is ridiculous,’ Barker announced, his voice trembling a little. ‘I have already said, the man attacked me…’

Giles sneered at him. ‘You’re a politician. Lies are second nature to you…’

Beside her, Harris had finally found what he was looking for:

‘Miss Maisy Dawlish…’

‘And what did Miss Dawlish report seeing, sir?’

Harris read a few words before speaking:

‘She saw Mister Barker crouched over the victim, seemingly going through his pockets.’

Giles raised an eyebrow. ‘Going through his pockets?’

‘I had just been attacked,’ Barker pleaded. His eyes scanned all about him as though looking for a way out. ‘I had to be sure he didn’t have any more weapons on him…’

‘Or maybe you were just gathering his belongings,’ Giles said, turning back to Harris and saying: ‘What happened next, sir?’

‘Miss Dawlish said she recognised Mister Barker straight away. He told her there had been a horrible accident and that she needed to call the police…’

‘Yes, I did,’ Barker replied defiantly. ‘I had been targeted by someone, I wasn’t about to just run and leave a body lying about.’

‘You couldn’t run,’ Giles agreed, letting loose a small smirk. ‘You’d already been identified. Short of killing Miss Dawlish herself, you had to stick around to face the music…’

‘That is a preposterous suggestion…’

‘Careful, Giles.’

Giles felt Harris’ cool hand grasp a loose hold of her wrist. As she turned to him, she saw in his eyes a glimmer of fear. Whatever her convictions, this was still Harris’ investigation. Any fall out from Giles’ actions would land firmly on him – she had to tread carefully.

‘So, you sent Miss Dawlish to call for help?’ she asked, her voice a little softer this time.

‘Yes,’ Barker replied, a moment of relief and mild satisfaction crossing his face as he eyed Harris.

‘That’s a little strange. After all, you did have your own phone.’ Giles smiled cynically at him. ‘Why couldn’t you use that?’

Barker stumbled to a halt:

‘I…,’ he stammered. ‘I… Well, I was…’

‘I’ll tell you why,’ Giles interrupted again, beginning to enjoy herself. ‘Because you hadn’t counted on being seen. A well-known scumbag like you committing a murder – you wouldn’t last five minutes once the police had all the facts. You had to improvise. You found the two tickets in John Doe’s pockets…’

‘No,’ Baker replied shaking his head. ‘No, I never…’

‘And you scribbled a name on each – yours on one, mine on the other – to make it look like some sort of professional hit…’

Something snapped in Barker’s mind. Before them all, his fists curled up into balls and he looked, for just a moment, like he would lash out at them all. As his blazing eyes glared down at Giles, she could feel the hatred and anger that fuelled him and his convictions. He wasn’t a psychopath or a man just born to hate – his environment had created him that way.

‘And why do you think I wrote your name, Giles?’ he bellowed, snarling wildly at her.

As the last echoes of his voice disappeared into the distance, the scene fell silent. Everyone, from Harris to the escorting constables, stared motionlessly at Barker as he breathed heavily in and out. For some the realisation was instant, for others it took a little while. From behind her, Giles felt Harris take a step forward to examine Barker.

‘You admit it then?’ he said quietly. ‘You wrote those names on the tickets?’

Barker was the last to realise what he’d done. Even as he glared down at Harris, his eyes seemed to soften as the implication of what he had said planted a seed of terror in his mind. He took a few steps back, his eyes scanning wildly from Giles to Harris as his fingers quivered – ready for a fight.

‘No,’ he murmured. ‘No, I didn’t mean…’

Giles took a step towards him.

‘Like I said, it was a very good attempt; the bluebell fields, my name on the ticket, the brief mention of the Bluebell Killer to Harris here. Had you been anyone else, I might have been convinced.’ She leaned a little closer. ‘But the thing is I don’t like you. I despise what you stand for and nothing will give me greater pleasure than watching you fall…’

She took a step back away from him.

‘The Bluebell Killer is dead, Mister Barker,’ she said loudly for everyone to hear. ‘He isn’t coming back.’

Barker shook his head.

‘How close were you, Evelyn?’ he asked quietly. ‘Did you even know what you were looking for before I gave you a hand?’

Giles’ mind stopped. There was no anger, no disgust, no excitable logic. It was as if all conscious thought had been replaced by a moment of sheer shock and awe. Without even thinking, she stepped a little closer towards Barker, her face no more than a few inches from his. With a hushed whisper, she said:

‘What are you talking about?’

Barker smiled.

‘You think this all ended with Donnovan. You haven’t got the faintest idea what is still out there.’ For a moment, Giles thought he might kiss her as he leant forward – his lips barely an inch away from her face. ‘You were warned before. And if you want to know the rest, you’ll have to get me out of this…’

A flurry of questions rippled through Giles’ head. It forced everything about the day out of her mind. She forgot the body. She forgot the tickets. She even forgot her victorious unmasking of Barker. She forgot it all in the wake of a thousand thoughts and memories – images she had spent the last year trying to force into the back of her mind.

In the midst of the silence, Harris placed a gentle hand back on Giles’ arm and gently pulled her back from Barker. She didn’t resist, she just let herself be led back until Harris was left alone in front of Barker.

Barker – for his part – continued to stare pointedly at Giles. He barely reacted as Harris read out his rights and two uniformed officers cuffed his hands behind his back. And when Harris had finished, he allowed himself to be led over to the side of the clearing where he was sat down whilst Harris held a hurried discussion with his colleagues about what to do next.

But all that was a blur for Giles.

In her mind, she pictured tens of dead bodies. She remembered months of fruitless paperwork. She recalled the lost man-hours chasing shadows through the streets of London.

And through it all, her mind settled on a mental image of a man.

A man sat alone in the dark.

A man making furtive phone calls and collating secretive packages.

A man completely unknown to her – and yet he was closer to her than many others in her life.

But the man she imagined looked nothing like Daniel Barker. He didn’t even sound like him or speak with the same calculated intelligence. There was nothing about him that related to that vile excuse of a man that she watched sitting at the side of the field.

Everything she knew, or thought she knew, of this man shattered into a thousand pieces. Everything she assumed was gone save one thing…

A name.

A single, fake name.

Max…

nick1Nick R B Tingley is a crime writer from the UK. After several years working as a ghostwriter, Nick released his debut novel The Bluebell Informant– the first in his DS Evelyn Giles series. He is currently working on the second in the series – The Court of Obsessions – as well as a Victorian-era mystery novella called The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow. 

To stay up to date with Nick’s latest releases, subscribe to his newsletter now. They’ll be no spamming – I promise!

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The Bluebell Story…

When people ask me about my writing, they tend to ask two things…

Well, three things – but I’m not allowed to give the names of my ghostwriting clients so I can’t really go into that…

They tend to ask (1) why do you write, and (2) why write The Bluebell Informant?

The answer to the first question is quite simple: I enjoy doing it. Even as a youngster I loved making up stories, and every major aspiration I’ve had ever since has had something to do with creating stories – whether that was through theatre, film or books. It just made sense that writing would be something I’d do with my life.

So I embraced it.

Of course, there are other more personal reasons, which I touched upon briefly in my last post, but the long and the short of it is that I love writing and there isn’t really anything else I’d rather be doing.

As for the question of The Bluebell Informant – that’s a slightly different matter, and one that I will go into a little more detail about.

But before I do, let me ask you this.

Have you ever had a thought in your mind that was strong enough that you could think it, but not so fully formed that you could adequately describe it?

That’s what it was like when I first created Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles. She was there – at least the idea of her and what she stood for was there – but she seemed somehow distant, like she wasn’t quite ready yet.

And that was frustrating. 

You hear all these stories of authors who have their main characters wandering into their heads fully formed (J K Rowling being the obvious example). And yet my character was resolutely malformed. In fact she wasn’t even a she. Giles was a he. And not even a good he. He was a jumble of cliches wrapped up in a Sherlock Holmes-like intelligence with fragments of arrogance and smarminess tossed in for good measure.

I’d created a terrible character. A cocky, over-intelligent, white, middle-class, Detective Inspector who I – somehow – believed could portray weakness and humility despite the fact that everything I’d poured into his character said otherwise. I had created a monster – and this monster was supposed to carry my story…

But this was before I started penning The Bluebell Informant. Back then, it was simply a story called Giles – the story of a DI trying to weed out the corruption that seemed to have infested his entire department.

It didn’t take me long to abandon the story.

But Giles clung on – refusing to die, refusing to confine himself to the slush pile of forgotten characters. cropped-img_2652.jpg

And it wasn’t long before I resurrected him. Only now he was a she. And she was only a lowly Detective Sergeant. The Giles of this story was still middle-class, still white and still arrogant – but somehow she was a little bit more believable. As I began writing my second attempt for a Giles story – Obsession – this Giles seemed to become more real with each passing chapter.

But she still wasn’t perfect. She was still cliched to high heaven, stuck-up and a pain to work with. I almost considered killing her off, just to make my life more interesting…

And then the idea came to me. The problem wasn’t with my characterisation of her necessarily – it was with my knowledge of her. Here I had this strong female character who I’d been working with for some time and I didn’t really know anything about her. I didn’t know where she’d come from, what she was like outside her job. Hell – I didn’t even know about the initial events that led her to this story…

It was then that I sat down to write The Bluebell Informant.

It started out as just a theoretical exercise. I was going to write a prequel that explained how Giles got to the events of Obsession – for no one else’s benefit other than my own. I would establish her back story and that would be it.

But Giles wasn’t done with me yet. There was more to The Bluebell Informant than I had originally intended. The more I wrote, the more I began to realise that I was writing about my fears. I was writing about how easily people can be conditioned to hate others. I was writing about how human – and therefore corrupt – politicians and policemen can be. I was writing about a good woman trying to fight the good fight – and having to break a few rules in order to do it.

With each cover-2word I wrote, Giles became more defined. She wasn’t white, middle-class anymore. She was asian and working class. She wasn’t some over-entitled cow – she’d gotten where she was by hard graft and dedication. And by the time I’d finished The Bluebell Informant, I no longer had a character…

I had DS Evelyn Giles.

There are authors in this world that can just dream up characters, but mine had taken hard graft and enough headaches to cripple even the most resolute of human beings. But I could finally see her…

Evelyn Giles.

I don’t think she would’ve let me get away with not writing The Bluebell Informant quite frankly…

Do you?

 

It’s Release Day!

It’s been a long time in the planning, but the day is finally here. The Bluebell Informant has finally been officially released to download!! Check it out at Nook and Kobo to get it for free! (If you’re a Kindle reader, here’s the Amazon link – but read on if you want to get it for free!)

That’s right – after nearly two years of work, I’ve finally got the first chapter of the DS Evelyn Giles series out into the world, and so far the response has been awesome.

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?

One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…

A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?

For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…

‘It’s not over yet.’

The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?

Add on top of that – the first Giles Case is coming to its conclusion today. If you haven’t been following the case so far, check it out now. There is a chance to win some nice little goodies if you can guess the identity of the killer and the motive for murder – perfect for all you crime fiction buffs out there. The competition closes on the 14th April, so make sure you get your entries in by then. It’s free to enter and should be quite fun.

And – as if that wasn’t enough for today – I am delighted to announce that I am currently elbow deep in sorting out a paperback version of The Bluebell Informant, which should be released in the coming months. As some of you may know, I wanted to give the Bluebell Informant away, but a large portion of my readers are keen to have a physical copy even if it will cost them a bit to get it…

What was that rule about giving the people what they want…?

Anyway, more updates on that to follow.

Oh – and on the subject of cost…

Despite their price matching promise, Amazon are still charging for the Kindle version of The Bluebell Informant – for the time being at least. Sure it’s only £0.99 (or $1.23) but that’s still £0.99 more than I wanted to give it away for.

So – being a man of my word – I have set up my own giveaway so that the Kindle readers amongst you can still get a free copy to read. Just follow the link and you will be able to download a copy that you can then send to your Kindle address…

Just follow this link. 

Check it out and – if you get a chance – please take a few moment to leave a review as well. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The Cat is out of the Bag…

Yup – the cat is out of the bag!

As many of you will be aware, I will shortly be releasing my debut novel, The Bluebell Informant, as a free ebook download on the 7th April (not long now – getting quite excited). This will be followed up by a print copy that people can buy if they wish (although I haven’t got a release date for that just yet).

However, I received a report from Amazon that someone has managed to get hold of a copy of The Bluebell Informant – and worst yet that paid for it!

How did they manage that?

Well – simply put – in order to make an ebook free on Amazon, you have to first put it up on their sales page as a paid ebook. Once the ebook is live, you then have to find another site where the ebook is free and notify Amazon of this through their price matching scheme. Then – and only then – will Amazon make the book free to download, but that process can take anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

Needless to say, I made the book live on Amazon and then started taking the necessary steps to make the book free. It still isn’t free yet, but if you want to have a look at the live sales page for it, feel free to have a look here.

But – here is where it gets interesting – at some point between now and when I made the book live, someone has actually come across it and bought it! Which means that I have so far managed to make a small (and I mean very small – minuscule might be a more appropriate word for it) amount of money of what is intended to be a free ebook!

Now, most of you readers are already aware that the book will be free – and anyone who reads my Facebook or Twitter posts will be aware of it as well – which means that this mystery reader is probably not someone who was aware of me before buying the book. It also means they weren’t to know that it was going to be released for free…

And, whilst I could just take my thirty-odd pence (yes, it really is that little) and run off giggling into the sunset, something about that doesn’t quite feel right.

Why?

Because one of the most terrifying parts of releasing any book is the thought that no one will be interested in it – that all those years you’ve spent slaving away on it will all come to nothing in the end. And yet, before I’ve even had a chance to gear up the publicity on The Bluebell Informant, someone in the UK (who I can only presume is someone who isn’t generally aware of my work, or otherwise is generous enough to pay for something that will shortly be free) has stumbled across my work and has been excited enough by it to go and purchase a copy.

And that simple fact alone has given me one hell of a boost in the run up to the official release of the book. This anonymous person has given me that extra push of confidence and I am – as you might expect – tremendously grateful for that.

And I’d like to show my gratitude. I would like to give that person a signed copy of my prize winning short story Dressed to Deceive as a thank you for buying my book when they didn’t need to. But first I need to hunt down the person who bought the first copy of The Bluebell Informant.

And this is where I need you…

Please share this post. Share the images I will put up on Facebook and Twitter and help me find the person who bought the first copy of The Bluebell Informant. In return, if the buyer is found, I will also provide the person who they heard about my offer from with a signed copy of Dressed to Deceive as well!!

Consider it a gift from a grateful author.

Thank you all – and standby for the official release of The Bluebell Informant. It’s going to be fun!

Photo on 26-03-2017 at 13.42