Greetings on a beautiful October day in my neck of the Maine woods. Apologies for not checking in more often. I’ve been finishing THE DEAD SAMARITAN, a new crime novel written with my daughter Emily Westbrooks. The book is set in Ireland, where Emily lives with her husband Michael Westbrooks. Lots of nasty crime in the old sod and we tapped into a particularly rough patch.
SAMARITAN is set in Dublin, mostly, with forays to Limerick and Belfast. No shortage of nefarious characters in those lovely cities and we think we captured a few of them pretty well.
Hint: It’s not what you think.
Preview: Sean Deery is American, fresh out of college. Rejects his dad’s push for a business job, takes a $25,000 inheritance and sets out to write a travel blog.Sean is looking for the unexpected but gets more than he bargained for. In this very early scene he makes the acquaintance of Manny, an African newspaper seller on night in a very rough section of Dublin. They’re accosted by masked guys in a back alley. It unfolds like this:
The four were close now, the lead man halfway across the courtyard, the others trailing so they formed a wedge and he was the point. They turned as they approached and the wedge became a circle. Choreographed, like a marching band.
The first guy approached. Smiled maybe. A movement around his mouth under the mask.
“You lads got a cig, do ya?” he said, like it was normal, chatting with a guy in a mask.
Sean said, “Don’t smoke.” Manny flipped the phone shut, put it away. Stared.
The guy was five feet away, hands in his sweatshirt pockets. Bigger than Sean, slimmer than Manny. Shuffling in his Nike trainers, like a boxer waiting for the bell. The other three moved up, the noose tightening. Two were short and thick, one round-faced, one thin, black eyes close set. The third was slimmer, mouth that hung open in the mask hole like he was surprised.
“You’re a smart one, not smoking,” the leader said. “Filthy fucking habit.”
They were inching closer, the leader still talking, the voice muffled.
“Started when I was eleven, me da leaving ’em all around the flat. I’d go out on the street, thinking I was a tough guy, butt in me mouth.”
He looked to Manny, eyes like shiny wet spots in the fabric. The mask twitched. A grin. Like this was normal, talking to a guy in a mask.
“Got any reefer? You Africans, you like the ganja, right? Makes you feel like you’re back in the jungle playing the bongos, huh? Or maybe not the jungle. Maybe the slums of Nairobi. Must be in bleedin’ heaven, in Ballyer. Got da running water, mahn. Got da electric lights. Don’t have to shit in da gutter wid da pigs.”
The other three smiled, lips spreading in the mask holes. The leader looked to Sean, shook his head.
“Country going down the shitter. Immigrants, you know. Bad for the tourism. Americans come all the way to the old sod, they don’t want to be seeing bloody Africans.’”
Sean said, “I’m American,” as in, what would the IRA want with me?
“Oh, brilliant. The dude’s a Yank, lads. Makes him special.”
A snort from the others. A nod to Sean’s back.
“You got a laptop in there? I need to check my e-mail.”
Snorts all around now, wet mouths in the wooly holes.
“Can’t help you,” Sean said.
“Then I’ll help myself, like the Lord says. There now. Be a good Yank and hand it this way, and we’ll all have a nice night.”
“Let him be,” Manny said.
“Wait your turn, Nelson Mandela,” the guy said. “We’ll be getting to you.”
Sean took a step back along the wall, two of the guys moving past him, turning, cutting him off. He tensed. Felt it coming—
And away we go. Manny intervenes and gets the worst of it. Sean is thrust in a world blogs don’t explore: murders, beatings, beggars, and an Ireland that doesn’t make the travel blogs.
So when can you read it? Still early days. And that brings me to another question I’m mulling: How will we read in the very near future? Hardcover books for $26.95? Or e-books for $2.99? Keep checking in here and on Facebook (more news on my author FB page) I’ll let you know where SAMARITAN ends up.