The new novel is coming along fine. It is a work in progress (WIP) and progressing more now since I started using programs such as Katie Weiland’s and signed up for the Scrivener coaching program from Joseph Michael. That program has been immense in teaching me all the wrinkles with Scrivener. It has also given me the confidence to use Scrivener instead of Word.
Author J.M. Northup recently featured my WIP on her blog so I reproduce that blog post below:
Tell us about your work-in-progress, or WIP, as it’s known as in the industry or New Release…
What is the story about?
Steve Regan, undercover detective, is tempted by the riches of drug smuggling so he can be free of debt and petty police bureaucracy. He does one deal, which backfires, and he is shot and left for dead by Bill Morris, a Canadian drug lord, but recovers in time to track down Bill, who is about to murder a judge.
Who is the main character?
Steve Regan, British undercover detective
What inspired this tale? How did the story come to you?
It is a spin-off from my bestselling memoir, ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.’
Did you have to research for this novel and if so, why?
No, owing to my experiences as an undercover cop on one of the world’s largest and most famous drug busts.
Do you relate to your character? Is your protagonist anything like you personally?
That would be telling! I will say “yes”, but that isn’t true. He is a “mouthpiece” for me in telling one aspect of the story. There is a temptation to go “rogue” if you work deep undercover, and take on another completely different personality.
What made you write this character; what made them important to you or made you want to tell their story?
This is partly answered above.
I also wanted to fantasize or fictionalize about two real characters I met while working undercover.
Is there anything you specific want readers to know about this piece of work?
Yes, if they read my memoir, they will know two of the real characters who I was involved with over a huge cocaine importation plan. But, remember this is fiction, not fact – faction, I guess?
When will the novel be available for purchase?
Hopefully by October 2017.
Maybe that has whetted your appetite? If it has, here is a sample from the opening of my new novel, a WIP. The working title is ‘Sixth Sense’ but may end up as ‘Who The F*** Am I?’
I do hope you enjoy the sample:
Prologues, I am told, have become outdated. That may be the case, but for you, the reader, it is essential you are aware of something of the background to this story.
I penned a bestselling memoir, ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.’ It tells the tale of my role as one of only four undercover detectives on what is still one of the world’s largest drug busts. It was pioneering work and is still a point of reference today for all British covert policing and training of undercover operatives.
In that book, I write about uncovering a huge plot to import massive quantities of cocaine into Britain from Bolivia via Miami back in the 1970’s. The two people involved in that conspiracy were known to me as Bill and Blue. They were never arrested by the British police. Yet, I was told by my former operational boss, Dick Lee, that they had been arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a branch of American federal law enforcement. I was further informed they ended up doing serious time in a federal penitentiary.
I always had my doubts about who Bill and Blue really were. Were they “bad guys” or something completely different? It is that question that inspired me to write this novel. Please remember what you are about to read is fiction. None of the characters are real. The question has been in my mind for many years. What follows is a figment of my imagination with one proviso – the episode you will read about what happened in Liverpool and the journey back to Wales is real, save for some minor changes. I transplanted it from my memoir as it serves a useful introduction to all the main characters including undercover cop, Steve Regan. He is not me! Red is not Eric Wright. I have not got a clue who the real Bill and Blue were; they are not the characters of the same name in this novel. Caroline Sewell is fictitious and bears no resemblance to any of the barristers I knew during my days at London’s Criminal Bar, well, only small bits.
The following story is set in 1976. Back then few people knew of the existence of GCHQ. Perhaps some vaguely knew it had connections to Bletchley Park and the cracking of the Enigma Code during World War Two. The end of that war saw the beginnings of the Cold War. It is then that the work of GCHQ expanded.
GCHQ, as the Government Communications Headquarters is better known, is housed in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Most people know it as the “eyes and ears” of the United Kingdom government. Some know it as ‘spooksville,’ using the Americanism of ‘spook’ rather than the British ‘spy.’ It employs ‘spies in the sky’ as well as other sophisticated eavesdropping devices to monitor activities deemed to be injurious to the state or its allies. Its work, as of necessity, is shrouded in secrecy.
What is not generally known is this organisation is also tasked with assisting in intelligence gathering to combat serious organised crime. Just like invisible eyes and ears, it oversees many law enforcement activities including police and Customs undercover operations. It oversees in the sense it watches and listens, and gathers intelligence. In particular, one department holds this brief – the Composite Signals Organisation (CSO).
The employees at GCHQ may as well have no name. They are faceless civil servants, UK government employees. They are not spies nor are they law enforcement officers. Some, like an anonymous middle-aged man I will call Jack, are frustrated cops. They see and hear of the exciting adrenaline fuelled lives of the men and women in the field. They marvel at the skills deployed by the undercover operatives living duplicitous lives and the inherent danger they place themselves in. Jack did all of that. Jack knew he was good at his job within CSO and was content to play a role in the fight against crime and terrorism; a desk bound role that fulfilled him until he heard some terrible news from an old friend.
Regan had dozed on the long journey to Liverpool. He snoozed for a short time. You may call it a cat-nap. ‘Who the fuck am I?’ was the theme of his dream fuelled by identity confusion. He also had a fear of talking in his sleep. Undercover cop Steve Regan trusted his partner Red with his life; and Red also knew how to drive – funny how good drivers have a sixth sense. Knowing he was safe with him, Regan had dozed. He dreamed. Little did Regan know how things would turn out. He had no idea that in just a few hours a cold-eyed mobster would threaten his life. Regan possessed a quickness of thoughts and an uncanny ability to smell trouble. Yet, Regan’s sixth sense did not see the threat coming.
The noise of a car horn woke Regan. Through half-closed eyes he saw the Jaguar overtake the van. What a beautiful machine! Sleek, powerful and sexy! My police pay could never afford one of those. Those kind of thoughts were a recurring theme for him. Steve Regan is not his real name. That is the name on his fake driving licence, a part of his legend or backstory. Red drove an old blue van, also part of the legend with a ghost registration.
The Jaguar pulled into a gravelled drive and crunched to a halt outside a large, white two-storey detached house. As they drove by, Regan noticed the long slender stockinged legs swing out from the driver’s side. She had beautiful blonde hair blowing in the breeze. He felt envious. I bet her old man is a drug dealer. Why can’t I meet a rich, good-looking blonde? Fleeting thoughts, and he fell asleep again. He dreamed of money, and fears of turning into a rogue cop if offered the right drugs deal. As soon as he went through that nightmare scene, he relaxed knowing it could never happen with Red by his side, dependable, solid Red.
Regan loved the thrill of undercover work. It freed him from the tedious paperwork of ordinary police activity. It also distanced him from the petty bureaucracy of the ordinary police world, a world of ‘everything in triplicate.’ He did not love the feeling of being undervalued and underpaid. Red may as well have had no first or last name as part of his legend because everyone knew him as Red owing to his long red hair and beard. He could have been an extra in a movie about raping and pillaging Vikings! Red the Viking!
Red stopped the van somewhere outside of Birkenhead. Regan woke up, startled. He had one of those where the fuck am I? Who the fuck am I? moments, a mild panic until he recognized his surroundings and snapped into his faux identity. There was the familiar sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach in those moments. The feeling translated into a question in his head – Did I talk in my sleep? There was always a moment of panic, then relief as his secret was still safe. His sleeping lips had stayed immobile. Only he knew the answer to ‘Who the fuck am I?’
The sight of Blue in the van also jolted him back to reality; that and the sound of Red’s voice. They had met Blue about six months earlier. Blue was a part of the ‘hippie scene’ in mid-Wales where Regan and Red had established themselves to infiltrate an LSD drugs gang, a police investigation known as Operation Perfume. Both men had been undercover for twelve months, a year of ‘living a lie’ as infiltrators. The first few months had been spent living in the van. It was an old Ford Transit with faded blistered pale blue paint. Its panels decorated with many scratches and streaks of surface rust. But it had been home for the two undercover cops evidenced by the mattresses, sleeping bags and detritus that had gathered over time in the back of the van.
“Steve, shift yer arse. It’s your turn to drive. We’ll be at the Mersey Tunnel in a few minutes,” the unmistakable West Country tones of Red rang out.
That was the arrangement. Regan knew Liverpool and reckoned he could find the hotel in Mount Pleasant, where Blue had arranged to meet his Canadian friend, Bill. The two undercover cops had agreed to drive Blue to Liverpool to meet the Canadian. Blue had said enough to whet their appetite. Bill sounded like a ‘player’ in the drugs world.
The hotel had seen better days. The disinterested receptionist told all three men to go to Room 207. Bill let them into the room. Blue and Bill chatted and caught up on old times. Regan and his partner drank the whiskey that Bill poured, and listened. An hour passed by before Bill wanted a change of scenery.
“Pint of Guinness for me,” Regan said, as all four men walked into the American Bar in Lime Street. Blue went to the bar and ordered the drinks. In fact, he had bought most of the drinks on the way to Liverpool from Wales as his way of saying thanks for the ride. But on this occasion Bill handed him a fistful of £20 notes before Blue left the table. They settled into a dark corner of the bar, seated at a dirty greasy table that had seen gallons of beer spills in its lifetime. The beer mats stuck to the veneered top. They made a ‘glooping’ sound as Regan tried to reposition one.
“These are the two guys I was telling you about,” Blue said.
Bill sort of grunted. They carried on sitting at the dirty table, Blue now doing most of the talking. Regan weighed Bill up taking a good look at his face and the eyes in particular. Cold grey eyes like a dead fish. There was no glint, no soul, no expression in them. Just dead. On occasions Bill would turn his gaze in turn to either Red or Regan. Sinister, Regan thought and believed he was a serious ‘player.’
The chat, mainly by Blue, carried on for about an hour. During that time, the cops learned that Bill, although a Canadian, spent most of his time in Miami, Florida. Bill also confirmed that he had been searching for a fast motorboat. The search had taken him not only to the Isle of Man but also to Panama and the South of France. Regan drunk his beer throughout. Time flew, and he started to think ahead about where they could carry on drinking. It was getting towards that time when it would be too late to wander into a pub unless you were in the know and could find a ‘lock-in.’
Regan had been away from Liverpool for too long to have that intimate knowledge. And besides would not want to risk his cover in walking in to a boozer that he knew well. More to the point, where the clientele knew him, the real ‘him’,well. The pub idea faded. They decided to eat, and Regan knew an Indian restaurant in nearby Bold Street.
The drinking and conversation carried on throughout the curry meal. Bill had now regained the lead role in the talking stakes. He was telling Blue how much he needed to find a fast eighty-foot boat. Bill spoke to the undercover cops directly for the first time.
“Listen I’ve got an operation going over in BC involving snow, not any old shit, got my markets, nothing over here. Coke is pure straight from Bolivia. Retails at $24,000 a pound. If you guys are into that sort of bread, then I maybe your man. What do you say to that?”
Blue interjected, “Listen Bill these two guys are my friends, now we’re out for the night let’s not talk about this.”
“Excuse me, excuse me, Blue, Blue, Blue – let the guys think about it and sleep on it.”
There was no more conversation about cocaine in the restaurant. But they spoke with a friendly waiter. He gave them a quick guide to clubs to go to, hookers and prices and he mentioned the She Club. Regan knew it and they decided to go there. The waiter arranged for a taxi to take them. The only problem Regan foresaw was getting past security, as it was late. They weren’t members nor did a member accompany them to sign in at the door. Also, they had to factor in that Red, Blue and Regan, looked like members of a rock band. Some may have said they looked like hippies with their long hair, beards and denims.
But there are always ‘ways and means’. Regan did the talking as he had the local dialect, a dialect distinctive throughout Britain, an accent difficult to understand to the first time listener. In his pre-undercover days, a sight of a warrant card would have guaranteed entry. But that was the old Steve, he had kept his real first name. His pleas did not impress the security gorillas. But then he glimpsed a fist reaching across towards the chief gorilla. The fist belonged to Bill. It contained at least three £20 notes, maybe a week’s wages for these guys. No one spoke another word. In place of words there was a sweeping gesture by chief gorilla pointing towards the entrance.
Once inside, two things happened Regan would never forget. He started dancing but kicked off his shoes on the wooden dance floor. He had always wanted to dance bare-footed and now granted himself that wish! It helped that he was now inebriated. He had no sooner got on the dance floor and started to sway solo to the rhythms when he saw a good looking vivacious young woman. She was a brunette, slim and wearing a pencil skirt showing off her hips and legs. She joined him on the dance floor and smiled.
She laughed a lot. He liked that. He liked her. Her constant glances at his feet made him feel a little uncomfortable; he believed he had the ugliest feet in the world. But she simply said, “I have always wanted to dance with a guy who kicks off his shoes and dances barefooted.” He liked her even more.
They danced for a while, and when the slow stuff came on, got cheek to cheek. She smelled good too. He could feel her hips push into his groin and his ‘other brain’ reacted, pushing hard against his denim jeans. She liked that. She started to thrust and grind her hips to the beat of the music, a slow and sensuous rythm. He found out she was a nurse at a local hospital and clubbing with her friend, also a nurse, on their night off. She had all night free and threw in for good measure that she wasn’t in any rush in the morning either! Regan could not believe his luck.
Sometime later Regan and the sexy nurse made their way over to the table where Red, Blue and Bill were sat drinking and talking. Regan’s new friend called out to her co-worker to join them. They now had a six-some! The girls went to the bathroom to powder their noses. The four guys started to chat. This is when the second unforgettable thing happened.
While Regan had been dancing Red, Blue and Bill had clearly gotten around to talking business, drug smuggling. Red later told Regan the gist of the conversation that took place while he got busy on the dance floor.
Bill had said to Red, “You guys are into a bit of business with shit, right? You’ll have to think about what I said.”
“Sounds a bit heavy to me,” Red replied.
“You must have a man somewhere.”
Red responded, “It’s no good me saying yes or no until I’ve seen him though, is it?”
“Sure Ging, we’re talking about a lot of bread now and in the future. Talking of bread, do you know anyone who will handle jewellery?”
“Not really my area,” came Red’s reply.
Bill then carried on telling Red about a con trick to make $100 a day through his version of ringing the changes. Then he reverted to the topic of cocaine. Telling how he paid couriers $500 a trip, evading customs and using fast boats. Red listened and made a mental note of it all. There was also talk about legitimate businesses. Based in places like Nassau, Barbados, Antigua, Argentina, Panama, Miami, Georgetown Guyana and Vancouver Island.
Regan had missed all this because he had been getting “hot” on the dance floor. But no sooner had the girls left to go to the toilet, Red announced “Ask him. I’m sure he will be OK with it.” He nodded towards Regan his partner.
Regan thought, but dare not say, what the fuck is he on about!
Blue spoke up, “Bill wants to know if you two can organize bringing a few keys of snow into Europe from Miami.”
Fuck me! Regan thought but managed to keep a poker face.
The girls were away for about 30 minutes so this next conversation happened over 10 minutes, more or less.
“Yeah. It can be done,” Regan said.
“Obviously depends on a few things but yeah it’s a go’er.”
Bill had been quiet since Regan arrived back at the table. It made Regan jump a little when he spoke. Bill broke out from his taciturn shell by drawling on about how he was ‘connected.’ And how he was talking to the top echelon of the ‘Cartel.’ Of course he was referring to the drugs gangs of South America. They were some of the most notorious and violent drug gangs in existence. Regan started to feel a little nervous at this point. His earlier ‘lower regions excitement’ now subsided; an ‘excitement’ provoked by his newfound female companion. She had become secondary.
Bill ceased talking just like he started. No warning. No intros and no endings. One minute there were words and then nothing. It unsettled Regan. Total silence took over the whole table. Few people can deal with silence that goes on for longer than a few seconds. It feels uncomfortable. Many stupid people feel an urgent need to fill the verbal vacuum. Often with crap. This was not an occasion to become a stupid person. All kinds of thoughts started to rush around his head. Regan thought:
What if this? What if that?
Regan had often maintained no one can train cops about such situations or teach them how to react. He knew it’s not possible to go to undercover class to learn how to cope. He also knew calmness is inbuilt. Regan believed you either have it or you don’t. It’s that simple. Perhaps the silence lasted for about one minute. Or longer?
During the whole time Bill and Regan stared at each other. Not in any kind of confrontational way – just staring. Holding eye contact between the two of them. Bill’s grey cold eyes gave nothing away. Regan thought he had the eyes of a killer. He could be a killer. He’s a gangster – part of the mob. At that point Bill’s mouth moved again, no warning not even a clearing of the throat.
“Are you guys cops?”
The question rattled around inside Regan’s brain. He knew it is often asked when undercover. Regan knew the first time is the worst. Has my cover been blown? Am I a fucking useless undercover cop? Do I look, smell and talk like a cop?
Regan also knew it was a test. He decided to react with aggression, “You fucking what? Yeah course I am and you’re the fucking Pope!”
That took Regan by surprise. He didn’t think humour was part of the Canadian’s repertoire.
Then Bill’s killer look returned.
“If you guys are then… ”
The Canadian raised one hand next to Regan’s head. Then he joined his forefinger and middle finger and pointed the digits at Regan’s head. The shape imitated a gun. The ‘gun’ rested on his head so that Regan could feel the tips of Bill’s fingers against his skin.
What followed was a simulated assassination. A ‘double-tap’ from a silenced semi-automatic pistol favoured by professional hitmen the world over. A close range execution.
Regan went cold when he saw the Canadian mouth the silenced spitting sound. Twice, as two imaginary shells splattered his brains out of the gaping exit wounds at the far side of his head. This was personal.
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