Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
Dane Wade works in an electrical store. He has a girlfriend, a younger brother, a best mate and likes his best mate’s sister, Cait, more than he should.
Unfortunately for Dan, his best mate, Robbie, good looking, persuasive, smooth and charming with women, is not the whole shilling. He’s basically a crook. And when he tries to con a man named Hank O’Brien out of some money – and gets found out – he uses his own sister and Dan to get him out of trouble.
Net result: O’Brien ends up dead under Dan’s car (courtesy of Robbie deliberately pulling on the wheel to mow him down), and only Dan’s finger prints are all over it. Robbie refuses to acknowledge his own guilt, while openly pointing out that the police would only have Dan’s word against his.
Meanwhile, the dead O’Brien has left behind a raft of secrets, the main one being that he was involved with some very nasty characters. These include the Blakes, a seemingly ordinary married couple, who fear that O’Brien might have left behind evidence of a huge blackmail scam they have been building together. Aimed at a large global business, part of this scam involves using some of the proceeds to fund charity work in Africa… although the Blakes have such a twisted idea of what charity really is, they see no reason why crime shouldn’t benefit them handsomely, too.
What the Blakes don’t know, but suspect, is that O’Brien was more devious than they thought, and will have left evidence of their plans that will shatter their lives if it ever comes to light. And they want vengeance.
They call in Stemper, a ruthless and amoral professional killer, who begins tracking down the killers of O’Brien to tidy up any loose ends before the police get involved. He gradually closes in on Dan, Robbie and Cait, dispensing a little casual death, destruction – and even some sinister homo-erotic therapy - along the way.
A clever tale of unintended consequences, of friendship gone awry and of basically ordinary people running themselves into extraordinary circumstances by dint of their own weaknesses, this is also a good crime set-piece novel, less of a whodunit, more of a which ones will get away with it?
Tom Bale manages to balance the seemingly ordinariness of his characters with their facility for lying and self-deception in such a way that you still can’t help but hope that they survive the nastiness that is heading their way like a runaway train.