Added on 21 November 2008
The Amazon page for the new edition of The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson now has the Search Inside facility added, so anyone wanting to see an example of the New ImprovedTM text, can read the first chapter. Although, I guess you’d be hard pushed to spot the difference, unless you had the original to hand.
I could, of course, just have put some of the New ImprovedTM text here, with some of the old alongside it, but that would have been too easy. Instead, there follows an excerpt from The Final Cut. I blog about various stuff every day, but the essence of my writing, the reason that tens of billions of people all around the world hang on every word that I write, is the crime novel, and in particular bloody murder. The problem with this is that generally, on a day to day basis, I don’t commit murder. So I end up writing about the kids or really dull stuff like what I watched at the movies the night before.
Here, in lieu of any actual murder to report, is a short scene from The Final Cut:
‘See what I mean?’ he said. ‘That’s how it is these days. Fact is, Harley, if you say anything in life with enough conviction, you’ll be believed. They’ll fall for it every time. Lower fat? What the Hell is that? Who cares? The pond life still troop along and buy the damn stuff, and when they don’t lose weight, they blame it on the fifteen bottles of Tesco’s Chilean chenin they quaffed at New Years. People believe what they want to believe, and even then they’ll buy any crap you tell ‘em if you look ‘em in the eye and mean what you say. That’s what we’re good at.’
‘The company is awesome,’ he continued, as she was giving him some space. He was warming to his subject, building to the climax that would result in him leaning across the table, grabbing her by the hair and kissing her forcefully on the mouth. ‘We are totally going to be kings in this business. That’s why you’re making a good move hooking up with me, babe. Bethlehem is good, Garrett’s good, but you and me together, we can be better than any of them.’
‘Still,’ she said, the smile a little more wicked than before, ‘only the eighth biggest in Britain at the moment.’
‘Seventh,’ he said. ‘Three years ago we weren’t in the top twenty, now we’re kicking ass. Thomas for sure, but all of us. Another two years and we’ll be up there, especially with you and me at the helm. You’re doing the right thing, baby.’
She ran her finger along her bottom lip. A fine final eruption of enthusiasm from the lad Derkins, she thought, and now presumably he will make his move. Good luck to him.
Derkins read the whole finger along the lip thing completely wrong, but that was inevitable, given that had he known the true agenda of Harlequin Sweetlips it was pretty much a dead cert that he wouldn’t have invited her to dinner.
He squared up to her across the table. The smile died on his face, it being time to show her who was boss.
‘It’s time,’ he said. She nodded.
His hand shot out, like an unfettered lion pouncing on a wildebeest, grabbed her roughly by the hair, and brought her head forward so that their faces met across the table. His tongue plunged into her mouth like a 25 stone diver crashing into the Caribbean. Her head twitched, her lips matched his, she took it for a few seconds, then bit hard onto his tongue.
His head shot back, surprise on his face, tasting blood in his mouth, but the smile broader than before, the pain flaming his desire. He loved pain; loved it when they fought back.
‘Hey!’ he said. ‘That was brutal.’
She didn’t say anything. Her eyes blazed.
‘Lets do it,’ he said, leaning forward again.
She nodded her head slowly.
‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘Lets.’
She lifted her empty wine glass and held it up to show him, as if offering it for a toast. He looked at her quizzically, immediately assuming she had some weird sexual thing in mind. But when she moved it was with speed and grace, an almost balletic quality to the motion.
She brought the wine glass down on the edge of the table, so that the cup snapped off with a loud crack at the top of the stem and spiralled into the air, then in the same flowing movement she brought the stem up and plunged it into his right eye, through the ball and deep into the socket, forcing it in the full six inches, so that the base of the glass rested up against his face.
The initial spurt of blood was arrested by the bottom of the glass, so that as Derkins pitched forward, his head thudding noisily on the table, the blood squirmed uneasily from underneath the glass and began to spread across the white table cloth, which had up until now only been despoiled by a smidge of blette.
Then she caught the cup on its downward spiral.
She drained the dregs from the glass, pushed her chair back and rose to her feet. She looked down at the back of Derkins’ head, the blood now spreading to contaminate his Harvey Nicholls smart but casual.
‘Brunoise of scallops,’ she said softly, shaking her head. ‘Pretentious little shit.’
And with that said, Sweetlips lifted her bag, took out the small kit she had brought along to wipe the scene clear of evidence while planting a false trail along the way, and got to work.