Book Jacket


rank 281
word count 92971
date submitted 30.03.2010
date updated 18.02.2014
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Popular Culture,...
classification: moderate

24 Hours From Tulse Hill

Fran Hiatt

Can a Scotland Yard detective recover from a bullet-shattered hip, damaged reputation, broken heart and his mid-life crisis? Does Bournemouth hold the answer?


Rob Trent is frightened, insecure, intolerant, vulnerable and a bit of a drama queen; just normal then for a bloke pushing forty.

Parting from his soul mate Sarah makes life unbearable for Trent, as well as for the people who have to work with him in New Scotland Yard's Bloc-Busters squad. Self-pity leads to neglect of himself and his work, and he is shot during a warehouse raid .

Convalescing in his seaside home town of Bournemouth, he tries to rid himself of his demons as well as his crutches. The local CID boss thinks Trent's salvation will come through helping his own depleted squad.

Soon Trent is leading the investigation into the killing of a musician in an ABBA tribute band. Three women are also murdered and a fourth missing, sparking fears of a serial killer at large.

A corrupt detective inspector convinced that Trent is agent provocateur plans his escape with his ill-gotten gains, but his long-suffering wife discovers the cash and runs off.

Trent's multi-tasking malaise isn't helped by a middle-aged detective constable trying to re-invent himself, and a policewoman who thinks he's Mr Right.

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Swansong in Swanage

  Ros Marnie walked from the kitchen into Trent's living room clutching her mobile phone, and sat on the rug in front of the sofa on which he was sprawled.

‘I’ve got some information for you about Ricky Parr, if you’re interested,’ she said, stretching out her long legs and leaning back.

‘What’s that, then?’ he muttered, half-asleep and not really caring.

With the Fiat off the road, he’d been practicing riding the Fireblade. He’d returned home suffering the stresses and strains of riding the superbike in his stiff and weakened state, but happy to be back on two wheels again.

My friend, Jane mentioned the rumpus in the newspapers about Ricky Parr,’ said Ros, unzipping Trent’s motorcycle boots for him. ‘She works for a letting agency and they’ve been desperate to find a long-term tenant for a beautiful thatched cottage in Studland, which belongs to Parr.’

Trent slumped back on to the cushions of the sofa, flexing his toes and fighting off the drowsiness brought on by the extra painkillers he'd taken. Ros nudged him and he sat up again and opened his eyes.

‘Sorry, Ros, what about this cottage?’

It’d been empty for about a while after the previous tenants moved out and Jane’s shown a few people round since, but no takers.’

Probably too expensive in Studland?’ said Trent, stifling a yawn.

‘Am I boring you, DS Trent?’ she said poking him in the ribs playfully. ‘So anyway, Jane cycled over to Studland earlier today as she often goes to the nudist beach there and rode by Parr’s cottage, and guess what?’

‘Amaze me,’ said Trent.

‘Someone’s living there already,’ she said dramatically. ‘Jane saw a man putting his car away in the garage, then he opened the front door and went inside the cottage.’

‘Perhaps it had been let out through another agency,’ Trent suggested. 

‘Jane’s is the only agency handling the property, and she'd spoken to Parr only last week about lowering the rent to attract more interest.’

‘And did he?’

‘He agreed to it so he was obviously still keen to let the place. All the time it's lying empty it’s costing him money.’

‘Interesting,’ said Trent, sounding more enthusiastic. ‘Did your friend get a look at the new tenant?’

‘The man she saw was mid-forties, dark lank hair and rather scruffy,’ Ros replied, pausing to light a cigarette, ‘His car was big, navy blue or black, quite old and very dirty.’

‘Did she get the make or registration?’

‘No, but I’ve got a fairly good idea who owns a car like that, who is also a scruffbag in his forties.’

‘Sorry, Ros I’m getting a bit brain dead in my old age,’ said Trent looked puzzled. 

‘Detective Inspector Colin Scotter of course, she said, leaning forward to kiss him on the lips. ‘He’s got a rather knackered old dark blue Rover.’

Brilliant,’ said Trent, suddenly feeling wide awake. ‘We’d better tell Westbrook.’

‘Not just yet,’ whispered Ros, her eyes lighting up into a mischievous sparkle.

‘Why not?’

‘I suddenly feel the urge to take all my clothes off.’


After a very early morning interview with remand prisoner, Ricky Parr in Dorchester Prison, Westbrook telephoned Trent to confirm that DI Scotter was hiding out in the Studland cottage. He was lying low waiting to arrange a meeting with Petro Gobek, to secure funds to aid his escape.

Trent sat astride his motorcycle at the head of the cars and camper vans, as the Sandbanks chain ferry rumbled its way across to Shell Bay. It was just after eight, and the bright morning sunshine danced gloriously across the quiet calm sea way.

Trent was in good spirits and felt a little more relaxed on the powerful motorcycle. After crawling from Ros’s clutches at five- thirty, he’d enjoyed a reviving hot bath and a steaming mug of tea to set him up for the start of the new day.

As one of the ferry crew opened the first gate to let the vehicles disembark, Trent accelerated gently away and headed for the toll booth a few hundred yards ahead. With the correct change in his gloved hand he dropped the coins into the receptacle under the kiosk window, and the attendant pressed the button to raise the barrier.

Within a few seconds the motorcycle was up to ninety miles per hour along the narrow straight heading towards Studland village, much to the annoyance of early morning hikers and cyclists who waved fists of anger in his wake. Once Trent reached the pretty little village, he slowed the bike down to the required thirty miles per hour. As he reached the small corner shop, he turned into the narrow lane running alongside it and headed towards the beach.

Parr’s property was an eighteenth century Grade II listed thatched cottage located a hundred yards down the lane. Its front garden was bordered by huge Rhododendron bushes, and on the right-hand side was a crumbling brick outbuilding.

Trent rode slowly passed the garden gates, glancing at the front door. He pulled up further along the narrow road, out of view of the cottage windows and parked the motorcycle. Removing his crash helmet and leather jacket, he placed them on the ground alongside the front wheel and limped back towards the cottage.

He could see a dormer window visible at the front of the roof, which commanded a good view of much of the lane. He walked close to the side of a thick laurel hedge of a neighbouring house, and stopped as a car turned into the lane accelerating towards him. The driver recognised him and the car pulled up alongside him.

DC James smiled as he wound down the passenger window to greet the detective sergeant, and was surprised at the expression of anger on Trent’s face.

‘Westbrook said I might find you here,’ said James. ‘I’ve just been to Wareham.’

‘Lucky fucking Wareham,’ said Trent, as James’s police radio blurted out a routine message from under the dashboard. ‘Just drive away, now, and stay out of sight.’

A puzzled James did as instructed and pulled away. He stopped further down the lane at the National Trust car park, and parked facing the glorious sea view.

Trent waited several minutes before resuming his approach to the cottage. After a few more yards he noticed the wall of tall conifers at the side of the garden, and through the gaps he could make out the garage and a dirt track running towards a distant derelict barn.

He made his way along the track slowly and silently, before easing himself between two tall conifers close to the side wall of the garage. He peered through the side window and saw the Rover parked inside.

Moving to the back of the garage Trent looked into the landscaped rear garden, with its extensive flower borders in full bloom and immaculate lawn. White painted wrought-iron garden furniture and two steamer sun beds sat on the patio, with wooden planters crammed full of pansies added a splash of colour.

On a low wall separating the patio from the lawn Trent spotted a crystal tumbler standing next to a gold packet of Benson and Hedges cigarettes and a red disposable lighter. Keeping an eye on the rear windows for movement inside the cottage, he scurried across the patio towards a side door and looked through the small glass panes into a kitchen.

There was no sign of anyone so he turned the door knob gently, hesitating momentarily before going inside. He froze as her heard Scotter’s voice coming through the half-open door leading to the next room.

‘Yes, okay don’t worry I’ll be there,’ he said. ‘The girl, what about her? ……but I thought we’d agreed……….okay, keep your hair on, I’ll do it, leave it with me………she’s as good as dead.’

Not hearing anyone talking, Trent realised that the detective inspector was talking on the telephone. As he waited by for the conversation to end, a noise outside distracted him. It sounded like a low moan and appeared to be coming from inside the concrete coal bunker outside the kitchen door. Trent stepped outside and gently lifted the hinged wooden lid to peer inside.

A pair of terrified eyes stared up at him, and he was so shocked he almost let go of the lid. The features were barely distinguishable through the caked-on soot and grime, but Trent could see it was the bruised and battered face and body of a frightened young woman. In the cold dark bunker she was lying naked on her side, her wrists and ankles bleeding and rubbed-almost red-raw as she’d struggled to free herself from the tightly bound ropes. A crude gaffer tap gag encircled her mouth and long dark matted hair.

Trent raised a finger to his lips to warn the girl to be quiet, and smiled at her reassuringly. He waved his warrant card at her, which was all he could think of doing. He reaching inside the bunker and she struggled as he gently touched her shoulder, which was ice cold. Removing his shirt, he placed it over her as best he could before quietly lowering the lid.

He stepped back inside the cottage kitchen and heard Scotter pacing the wooden floor in the next room. He leaned up against the door and opened it further and could see Scotter moving towards the front door quickly, opening it and slamming it shut behind him. A few moments later Trent heard the sound of the up and over garage door being raised, followed by the tired old engine of the Rover firing up.

Trent moved through to the living room and concealed himself by the curtain to the side of the front window. Taking out his mobile phone, he watched as the car moved slowly out of the garage, and stopped in front of the front door of the cottage. Scotter climbed out and closed the garage door, while Trent staying out of sight.

He was just about to summon DC James, when the Rover’s engine went silent. A few moments later he heard the sound of a key in the front door lock, and Scotter walked back into the cottage and through to the living-room.

‘Where did I leave those bastard fags?’ he said to himself angrily, impatiently rattling his keys.

He stopped dead when he saw Trent standing in front of him.

Detective Sergeant Trent, said Scotter calmly. ‘I’m glad you’re here, I’ve been working on a case and the trail led me to this place. It belongs to Ricky Parr you know.

Trent remained silent as he moved slowly towards the rogue policeman, his right fist clenching in readiness. Scotter’s eyes flitted from side to side nervously before hurling his keys at Trent, the heavy bunch hitting his forehead like a stone. Scotter ran from the cottage, glancing behind him before sprinting up the lane towards the main road.

He reached the village shop on the corner and saw a stationary Renault Scenic complete with mountain bikes attached and its engine running. A young woman was adjusting the straps on the rear mounted cycle carrier, whilst the driver was sitting with his door open enjoying a cold drink.

Scotter dragged the man from the car, punching him hard before taking his place behind the steering wheel and accelerating away at speed. One of the mountain bikes was only half-strapped on, and was dragged along the road as the woman ran behind in futile pursuit.

Trent had been too slow to catch up with Scotter on foot, and seeing the Renault drive off he limped  back down the lane towards his motorcycle. On the way he phoned DC James and told him about the girl at the cottage, and without bothering with his helmet or jacket he started up the Fireblade and  rode away at speed, bare-headed and bare-chested.

After rescuing the girl from the bunker, James wrapped her up in a warm duvet and called an ambulance. Leaving her with a hot cup of tea, he drove up to the shop and showed his ID to the car-jacked couple. He telephoned Sergeant Cripps in the Control Room with registration details of the stolen car. After remembering to retrieve Trent’s expensive crash helmet and leather jacket, he headed back to the girl at Parr’s cottage.

Trent rode the Fireblade fast along the narrow twisting lanes towards Corfe Castle, but was forced to slow to a crawl when he came upon a convoy of touring caravans wallowing around the B-road bends like a procession of circus elephants.  

He moved out to overtake, and the motorcycle accelerated passed the ambling pack. Trent had to cut back into his side of the road just on the apex of the bend, narrowly missing the front offside corner of an oncoming delivery lorry.

As he approached a T-junction , Trent spotted a mountain bike lying in the middle of the road. He slowed down to avoid it before taking a left turn towards the seaside resort of Swanage.  He soon encountered more caravans, a coach from Germany and a combine harvester before he finally had a clear road ahead of him. As he took the motorcycle up to a hundred and twenty, insects were hitting his face and upper body like hailstones and the G-forces contorted his facial features with lips flapping, eyelids forced open and his eyes streaming.

He slowed down to a relative crawl to take the next left-hander and down the hill to the outskirts of the town, heading for the sea front. He spotted a police car ahead parked across the road in front of the stolen Renault, which had been abandoned halfway on the pavement. The remaining bicycle was hanging from the rack, its front wheel buckled and forks twisted horribly out of shape.

Trent pulled up beside the police car waved his warrant card at two traffic policemen.

‘Your fugitive’s pinched another car, sergeant,’ said the older of the two, pointing to an old man standing on the pavement looking distressed. ‘He stole this poor chap’s Honda Jazz.’

‘What colour is the car?’ Trent said impatiently.

‘Yellow, do you want the registration number?’

Trent ignored him and accelerated away, causing the other police officer to quickly step back to avoid being knocked over. Trent rode slowly through the town centre traffic, braking frequently as unpredictable holiday-maker pedestrians stepped into the road without a care in the world. Some pointed at the topless and helmetless motorcyclist, as he rode towards the far end of the High |Street.

The road leading to the pier was a dead end, and so Trent turned right up a steep hill leading away from the town centre.  A youth on a skateboard shot out in front of him from the entrance of a public car park, and Trent braked hard, stalling the engine and almost losing his balance on the steep incline.

He swore at the youth, who was now long gone down the steep hill. The detective sergeant frantically clicked his left foot to find neutral, before restarting the engine. The weight of the bike was slowly giving in to gravity, rolling backwards and putting a tremendous strain on its rider’s injured hip. Trent glanced towards a car park entrance in case of further hazards before pulling away, and spotted the rear end of a yellow Honda Jazz parked haphazardly in a disabled bay.

Trent pulled into the car park and parked the bike immediately behind the car. It was unlocked with the keys still in the ignition, and the owner’s Panama hat and sunglasses resting neatly on the passenger seat. As he looked at the view from the hilltop car park, he saw a footpath running down the through public gardens leading to the sea front and pier.

Trent looked towards the pier at the masses of people dressed in summer shorts, colourful tee-shirts and bathing costumes. He spotted a man walking amongst them, wearing a dark suit and looking out of place. Retrieving his mobile, Trent called Sergeant Cripps in the Control Room.

 ‘Scotter abandoned a second stolen car at the main car park in Swanage,’ said Trent. ‘I’ve just spotted him walking on the pier.’

‘He’s probably catching the tripper boat from Swanage pier back to Bournemouth,’ replied Cripps. ‘Which makes sense because he’s supposed to be meeting up with that Petro Gobek bloke, who’ll more than likely be embarking from our end.’

‘I’ll follow him, and if you’re right we can get both of them when it moors back in Bournemouth,’ said Trent.

He ended the call and put on the old man’s Panama and sunglasses from the car. Hurrying down the long steep footpath towards the sea front, he mingled with the crowds on the pier but couldn’t see Scotter. At one of the kiosks he bought a bottle of water and an extra-large sized tee-short emblazoned with ‘Swanage Pier Preservation Society’. Darting into the public toilets, he washed his face, eyes and upper body before putting it on. Re-emerging into the sunshine, he saw the bright blue and cream tourist boat making slow progress towards the pier.

 It was another twenty minutes before the July Rose moored alongside, its passengers eagerly disembarking for their day out in Swanage. Trent waited inside the exit door of the pier’s museum, so he could observe people queuing to board the ferry for the return journey. He spotted Scotter near the front, and the detective inspector had removed his suit jacket revealing huge patches of sweat in the armpits of his grubby white shirt.

As soon as Scotter had walked up the boarding ramp Trent moved quickly to join the end of the queue, and a few minutes later he too had boarded the vessel. He spotted Scotter sitting on the front bench seat on the open deck facing the bow. He was soon to be joined by another man as the seats quickly filled to capacity. Trent moved astern, the Panama, tee-shirt and sunglasses doing a good job of making him look as much like a holidaymaker as possible.

It was hot and sunny when the boat departed Swanage but ten minutes into the voyage, patches of mist interrupted the blue skies and dark rain clouds formed overhead. The sea became choppy, and the swell made standing passengers cling on to the safety rails under the inky-black sky. Trent looked towards the west and could just make out the coastline around Old Harry Rocks, the landmark partially obscured by the fast moving mist. The cool breeze soon changed into a biting wind, and Trent’s new tee-shirt soon became saturated with rain and sea spray.

Passengers formed an orderly queue to move under cover into the saloon, as the light drizzle quickly turned into torrential rain. The wind was getting stronger and started to howl. Trent was cold, wet and miserable and desperately wanted to join the others in the warm and dry. He looked over at Scotter as the last of the passengers seated next to him stood up to go inside. Scotter was sitting alone on the bench wearing his jacket again and the collar turned up. His head was facing down at the deck, and he appeared to be taking the battering from the wind and rain in his stride.

Something triggered alarm bells inside Trent’s head and he walked unsteadily across the rolling deck towards Scotter, losing the Panama hat to the gale force winds. He grabbed the detective inspector’s shoulder and Scotter’s head rolled backward, his black eyes staring up at Trent and a huge gash across his throat. The blood has seeped into the front of his shirt and jacket, forming a pale red puddle mixing with the rain and sea water on the decking underneath.

Trent looked over to the saloon, its Perspex windows steamed-up with heavy condensation from the large number of passengers sheltering inside. Pulling out his mobile and selecting Westbrook’s number from his contacts list, Trent could barely hear if the call had been answered. He tried a second time and gave up, opting to send a text instead.

Scotter dead, PG on boat send photo

A few minutes later the incoming message tone beeped, and Trent saw the Petro Gobek’s photograph on the display. He looked very different to his elder brother, with a large red face, blonde hair and a flat top haircut with the sides of his head shaven. Trent tried to recall seeing him amongst the passengers but couldn’t, but then most people had been covered up in coats, hats and hoods against the awful weather.

By the time the ferry came alongside Bournemouth pier, the storm had subsided and it was bright sunshine again.  Westbrook had already concealed some special constables in plain clothes in the queue waiting to board the ferry, and other officers were covered any potential escape routes.

The passengers stood in line to disembark, and Trent stood well back so he could get a good view of the queue. He noticed a large man wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses push his way forwards to the front, a rucksack secured on his back. A rather obese young mother carrying a toddler in her arms stepped nervously on to the gang-plank, and the large man squeezed on close behind her. The woman was making slow progress and impatiently the queue jumper waited for her to move forward, step by step.

His eyes darted around the people waiting on the pier to board. A man in shorts and a tee-shirt looked up at him, then down the display on his smart phone and back at him again. Gobek bent down and quickly snatched the toddler from the terrified mother, pushing her away hard as he squeezed passed. She lost her footing and tumbled backwards, the momentum carrying her over the safety rail and into the sea fifteen feet below. The special constable who’d given himself away immediately jumped in to rescue the young woman.

‘Get back, we don’t want anybody else getting hurt do we?shouted Gobek to the queue of anxious looking passengers.

People moved away from the gang-plank to allow the big man through, carrying the toddler under his arm like a parcel. He ran towards the pier entrance where two plain clothes officers tried to close in on him. They saw the terrified child with its neck cradled firmly in the crook of Gobek’s arm, and stepped aside to let him pass.

Emerging on to Pier Approach, Gobek saw a Ford Transit police van parked on the pedestrian area next to a shiny black Rover 75.  A grey-haired man in the smart suit was leaning against the car talking on his mobile, and Gobek walked up to him.

‘Give me your keys?’ he said, holding out his free hand.

‘Petro Gobek, I presume,’ said Westbrook casually. ‘Now don’t be silly, just let the child down gently and then we can go back to the station and sort this mess out.

Gobek lifted the child to his chest and put his arm around its neck, oblivious to the toddler’s terrified crying.

‘Keys, now,’ he screamed. ‘I’m not fucking around with you people, I will break the kid’s neck.’

‘In the ignition,’ said Westbrook. ‘But you won’t get far, there are road blocks everywhere.’

Gobek hurled the child at Westbrook, who just managed to cling on to it as he fell backwards on to the ground.  The Ukrainian climbed inside the car throwing the rucksack on to the passenger seat, and started the engine.

He accelerated sharply away, heading for the metal barrier across the entrance to the main road. He slammed the brakes on and got out of the car to raise it as two policemen in plain clothes ran towards him. The tyres screeched as the stolen Rover sped away, the open driver’s door smashing into a concrete bollard and slamming itself shut. PC Rollins was sprinting after it like a man trying to catch the last bus home, and leapt the last few feet and landed on the boot lid. After being dragged for several yards he hauled himself up on to the roof, gripping the sides tightly as the vehicle increased speed.

As the car pulled out on to the main road in front of a camper van, Gobek tried to shake the young constable off by swerving the vehicle from side to side. The car veering sharply at a mini-roundabout to go towards the West Cliff, and Rollins was almost thrown clear.  

A quarter of a mile further on, the car was travelling at sixty miles per hour along the narrow streets. Gobek braked hard and swerved to avoid a pedestrian in the road in front, and a terrified Rollins lost his grip and screamed as he slid off , landing heavily on to the bonnet of a parked car before rolling painfully on to the pavement.

Gobek accelerated again, checking his rear-view mirror for any signs of pursuit. He unfastened the rucksack on the seat next to him, glancing down to retrieve an automatic pistol. As he looked at the road ahead of him again, he saw the side of a delivery lorry reversing into the narrow hotel entrance blocking the road. Gobek tried to brake but the Rover hit the steel outriggers on the side of the truck, the car wedging itself underneath the chassis.

The airbags deployed and saved Gobek from hurtling forward into the laminated windscreen, but the already mangled driver’s door had been twisted and buckled by the impact. The collapsed steering column and dashboard were pinned against his legs, and he panicked and struggled to free himself. Steam spurted from the gaps around the crushed bonnet and radiator grille, and unburned fuel splashed out of the fractured fuel lines on to the hot exhaust manifold, igniting almost immediately.

The stunned lorry driver opened his door and jumped down from the cab, clutching his injured right arm and tried to open the driver’s door of the Rover with his left hand.  The frame had almost welded itself to the central pillar and roof, and it wouldn’t budge.

Moments later a breathless and limping PC Rollins rushed over to help, and the two men tried desperately to open the door with brute force. The lorry driver was tiring fast and he stepped backwards as a whoosh of tall flame darted out of the twisted engine bay, singeing his hair and eye lashes.

He reached up into his cab to retrieve a fire extinguisher, but before he could make use of it the Rover’s engine bay caught alight sending out-of-control flames in all directions. Black smoke billowed into the now cloudless afternoon sky, as the punctured front tyres succumbed to the raging fire. The unbearable heat drove the two men back and they had little choice but to stand well away from the stricken Rover.

Gobek was still wriggling in the driver’s seat, panic-stricken and screaming. The lorry driver rushed forward again to try and force open the rear door this time, but Rollins dragged him away. A small explosion in the fuel line sent more flames and smoke lapping around the doors from the underside of the vehicle, and the young constable pinned the lorry driver to the ground as he heard the sound of a gunshot. Gobek’s screaming had stopped, and a few moments later the fuel tank exploded scattering glass, burning plastic, scorched metalwork and human remains across a forty yard radius.




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Billie Storm wrote 217 days ago

A title, Robert Rankin would be proud of. Tripped through this with ease: funny, fast and enjoyable. Good sense of satire, I liked the ironic generational refs, doc martins and charity shop suits. Sometimes the names mangled a bit, and I forgot who was talking to whom, but maybe down to my concentration. Been up here for some time, hope you get ahead soon. Starred and all the rest.

MC Storm wrote 382 days ago

I read through the first chapter. Well I must say there is certainly plenty of action throughout. The dialogue amongst the three cops is great. You get a sense of who they are. The sarge, the newbie. I really thought something was going to happen to him when two pairs of powerful arms seized Trent from behind! The next sentence i caught a small typo:
Wrenching him away , he was forced him to relinquish his hold....guess either they forced him or he was forced to relinquish...
Overall, well writen and a great start I've given this high stars.
MC Exposed

Seringapatam wrote 386 days ago

Fran, This is my kind of book and I like what Trent is all about. I like the challenges you have in store for him and how he deals with them. that in itself tells me how much work you have done before you started writing and then again once you started this magnificent book. I just love how well it is written and I feel you had me hooked at such an early stage. So so well done and I wish you all the luck in the world.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

franhiatt wrote 704 days ago

I felt immediately that I was an onlooker, transposed from my place of comfort to the dark, dank and threatening warehouse confrontation. An action packed start that promises well for the chapetrs that follow and instantly hook the reader.
The only achilles heel - the variable quality of the much used similies. Some brilliant, others (e.g. 'Trent's heart was pounding like a heavy metal drum solo') struggling in my view to earn their place in the otherwise excellent and authentic sounding dialogue and fast moving chronicle of events.
Tony C - about to submit 'Happenstance'

Thanks for the terrific comment, and I've now removed 'heavy metal drum solo' . Thanks.

Tony C wrote 712 days ago

I felt immediately that I was an onlooker, transposed from my place of comfort to the dark, dank and threatening warehouse confrontation. An action packed start that promises well for the chapetrs that follow and instantly hook the reader.
The only achilles heel - the variable quality of the much used similies. Some brilliant, others (e.g. 'Trent's heart was pounding like a heavy metal drum solo') struggling in my view to earn their place in the otherwise excellent and authentic sounding dialogue and fast moving chronicle of events.
Tony C - about to submit 'Happenstance'

franhiatt wrote 727 days ago

Brilliant writing.
Found two little grammar errors or typos.
Great work though, clean smooth copy and compelling words..
Good luck on your writing,
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

Chapter 1 now corrected, thanks. I'm constantly editing all my stuff on here, but I still miss a few things.

fledglingowl wrote 728 days ago

Brilliant writing. Only read the first chapter but goodness, what a sympathetic and heroic character you've got in Trent. Just read Adeel's book on Not for Sale, then open this and we're back trafficking humans. Small world, but just a wonderful beginning, totally hooked. Like the medic and the dog bit, like all of this. The superhuman restraint we require of our protectors against the vilest and meanest of human beings. Give me Dirty Harry any day. Poor Trent , his wife left him, the big goofus is hurt and alone.
You just punched all my buttons and I can't wait to read more.
High stars for now, will keep you on my watchlist until I've read more. But it is great.
Found two little grammar errors or typos. First is in the sentence -- most gang members has slipped into the U.K. -- change has to have or had
Second, He just wanted to alone, locked away. - to be alone.
Great work though, clean smooth copy and compelling words..
Good luck on your writing,
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

Shelby Z. wrote 739 days ago

Thrilling opener here. I enjoy the way it gets right into exciting elements. The thrill is heavy and drawing to the reader's interest.
I would say to add something about the accent the man has int eh beginning. Give a hint describe it.
The opener flows very very well. I like the action of what is happening.
Not too excited about the swear words, but otherwise, I really enjoyed the action of it.
Super work!

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

P.S. When you have time, Please take a looked at my pirate adventure. :)

Kim Padgett-Clarke wrote 751 days ago

This is a real mixture of comedy and despair. Trent reminded me of a mixture of cops from TV series. The main one I thought of when he was laying into the perpetrator was Jean Hunt from Life On Mars. Trent obviously has major issues which I am sure will become clear later on. Well written and entertaining. I will read on because I am intrigued to find out what happens to the Abba tribute musician (sounds like something that would happen in Blackpool)

Kim (Pain)

SouthernBrat wrote 786 days ago

Excellent, and to think I was heading to bed. Love the way it flows, very easy to get hooked. Thanks for sharing.

RoyEarle93 wrote 834 days ago

I was really impressed by your first chapter, it is written very well and fast paced, and is loaded with tension. You build your characters very well too.

Roy Earle, "Bad Men and Bad Odds"

Good Luck!

Bobby's Girl wrote 835 days ago

Genuine tension and loads of humour as well. A great combination! Rated and backed.

Crispy wrote 838 days ago

Hi Fran,

I just started to read your book having been pulled in by the "play on words" title. This is brilliant. Fast paced and dramatic. The characterisation is spot on and I loved the fact his stubble was "more derelict than designer". I will be reading on and may comment further.

Perhaps you would do me the honour of glancing at Marking Time; a satire on the English education system, with an otter.

Good luck

Rover Rabbit wrote 865 days ago

Hi, I have just read the first chapter which I think is impressive. I think that you have an eye for injustice and use it to good effect as a balance to Trent's gung-ho attitude towards the criminals. I wish the police were really so capable and brave....I will continue reading and I'm not going to comment on your composition. To me it runs very well... I hope the rest continues in the same vein.
Barry (Between Caligula's Toes)

sully wrote 866 days ago

I've just stuck five stars on your bonce - keep that editing going,
Good luck, Sully.

franhiatt wrote 868 days ago

Amongst the many do's and don'ts in the book, he emphasises the need to edit,edit and edit again. To pare it down to the bare bones.
Good luck Sully x

Excellent advice. Editing is quite a chore but a necessary one.Although writers hate cutting out what they think are good words that the story needs, losing the dross improves the reading experience. Thanks

sully wrote 870 days ago

Hi Fran. The story is beginning to build nicely in the second chapter, but I still think you should be more ruthless with your editing. You should read Stephen King's book 'On Writing'. Amongst the many do's and don'ts in the book, he emphasises the need to edit,edit and edit again. To pare it down to the bare bones.
However successful an author is, the first draft will never be the one that we see in the book shop. It may take a dozen or so drafts before the publisher is happy with the end product. For instance, near the beginning of chap 2: 'Fast approaching forty.... in a crowded coffee shop'. The sentence is not concise and lacks impact. Perhaps: ' He was fast approaching forty and not one for holding down long term relationships. But he had been smitten by the attractive young lady who'd shared his table in a crowded coffee shop.' By separating the sentence the two pieces of information have a slightly more dramatic effect.
And the next para: 'After an hour of conversation in the cafe.....see her again'. The sentence makes sense but doesn't flow too well. Maybe: 'They had enjoyed an hour of conversation in the coffee shop. When they parted Trent was too unsure of himself to ask to see her again'.
One more example of less is more: 'Westbrook sank his bulk into Trent's father's old winged-backed leather armchair...' It's a visual mouthful. and unless Trent's father is an integral part of the story it just gets in the way. 'Westbrook sank his bulk into an old wing-backed armchair and sipped his cup of tea'. It's cleaner, sharper and to the point. If it is not essential to the story-telling, get rid of it. Too much unnecessary waffle can come across as trying to pad out the story just to up the wordcount.
I hope you're not offended by my remarks Fran. We all do it - try too hard to impress and just end up muddying the water.
If you get to read my novel feel free to rip me apart. Good luck Sully x

FRAN MACILVEY wrote 881 days ago

Dear Fran

This book is as good, if not better than its sequel, which I read first. That's me, always getting things the wrong way round. This book has all the ingredients of best writing, including realism in spades, clear plot, believable lovely, ambiguous characters and accurate, great writing. A really enviable basket of skills. Oh, and you are reliably consistent too, which is a great bonus.

I love the witty chapter headings.

All the best

Fran Macilvey, "Trapped" :-)

franhiatt wrote 889 days ago

Impressive first chapter - sharp writing, tense and fast moving. Plenty of humour but be careful. I wouldn't try to put quite as much humour in the story, as it can detract from the seriousness of the situation in which Trent finds himself.
Also, I think some of your sentences are too long and therefore lose some of their impact. Hope you don't mind me giving you two examples: The sentence (near the beginning) that starts - 'They were observing a group of young men....' It would be much easier on the eye and pack more punch if there was a full stop after 'container' and then: It was parked in the internal loading bay inside the front of the warehouse. The austere vessel sat behind two locked, roller shutter doors.'
The second is in the next paragraph: I think a full stop after 'They were known as The Bloc-Busters' ( a great name by the way) would highlight your clever title; otherwise it gets lost in a sentence that's longer than my garden.
Then a full stop after 'Europe', then, 'These villains plied....'
It is a vital tip that was passed on to me by a harsh literary critic - hope your not offended. Sully.

Thanks, I always appreciate constructive comments and criticism, I'm here to learn. I've re-edited Chapter 1 now, which reads much better. The humour isn't comedy as such, it's just the way we are in those situations.

You may want to try the second book in the series, 'Cold Hearts and Candy Floss', but be warned Chapter 1 will make you cry.

Sheilab wrote 889 days ago

What's not to like about a book with Abba and Acton as tags? This is very pacy and very funny. I've only read the first chapter but hope to read more. On my shelf and will keep in my list to read on when I get a chance.

sully wrote 889 days ago

Impressive first chapter - sharp writing, tense and fast moving. Plenty of humour but be careful. I wouldn't try to put quite as much humour in the story, as it can detract from the seriousness of the situation in which Trent finds himself.
Also, I think some of your sentences are too long and therefore lose some of their impact. Hope you don't mind me giving you two examples: The sentence (near the beginning) that starts - 'They were observing a group of young men....' It would be much easier on the eye and pack more punch if there was a full stop after 'container' and then: It was parked in the internal loading bay inside the front of the warehouse. The austere vessel sat behind two locked, roller shutter doors.'
The second is in the next paragraph: I think a full stop after 'They were known as The Bloc-Busters' ( a great name by the way) would highlight your clever title; otherwise it gets lost in a sentence that's longer than my garden.
Then a full stop after 'Europe', then, 'These villains plied....'
It is a vital tip that was passed on to me by a harsh literary critic - hope your not offended. Sully.

sully wrote 889 days ago

Hi Fran. Just arrived on the site a few weeks ago. I like the sound of 24 hours it was a well worn joke when I was in the money market so you have my attention. Will get my nose stuck into it today. Would appreciate it if you would check out my novel Reasonabl Force. I also write poetry and perform stand-up musical comedy - writing songs about members of my audience. Up to this point my nose remains unbroken. If you have yesterday's Daily Mail my poem about Dawn French featured on page 48. Good luck, we need it in this industry. Cheers, Sully.

Jed Oliver wrote 901 days ago

Nicely Written! You do a good job of building sympathy for your PC, as well as developing his personality. From the first chapter, you had me wishing him well. I read four chapters, and can see the story developing nicely. Very best of luck with this. Starred and backed. Best Regards, Jed Oliver (French Roast and Lingerie)

Charles Bunton wrote 905 days ago

Very readable even if the 'Sarge', the setting and the villains are a bit BBC!
Best wishes

Lynne wrote 909 days ago

I see you are still editing and so I won't nit-pick over your punctuation. I found this highly entertaining and hope to read more later. Backed with pleasure. Lynne, Brooklyn Bridge.

franhiatt wrote 910 days ago

I don't believe you capitalize "sir".

Thanks for pointing that out, you're perfectly correct. I've changed the master copy now.

Brian Downes wrote 910 days ago

I've read chapters one and two, and you have succeeded in making me curious about what will happen with Trent, Cythia, Trent's new off-the-books assignment, the human trafficker from Eastern Europe, and Trent's old girlfriend. And that's the most important thing a writer can do.

There's some debate on this point, and the Queen's English may vary from Standard American, but I don't believe you capitalize "sir".

franhiatt wrote 910 days ago

The actual storytelling and language use really is top-notch, though I do agree with the comment below saying it could do with a good edit.

Thanks for the good advice, I've just edited Chapter 1 again and it does read a lot better. I will hack away at the other 26 chapters in due course.

whoster wrote 910 days ago

Comments on first chapter. Very skilled story telling and some lovely descriptive terms. 'Bloc-Busters' raised a smile, '...a mixture of Broken English and broken teeth,' and '...splitting both lips like burst chipolatas' are all superb. I'm not so sure about one or two of the other examples. I'd take out the 'stag party' reference in the sentence - 'He closed his eyes as his temples started to pound (rhymthmically like a stag party hangover), and prayed for the pain to stop.' I think this could help the flow of the reading, and also put more of a premium on your sparingly used other terms.

Minor typo: During the Cornish pasty mini-saga, you've missed a full stop - ...I'll make you eat two(.) Now give your....

No Man's Land (I think I'm correct in saying) should be 'nomansland.'

One sentence I'd be tempted to restructure is, "...adrenalin pumping round his system..." Perhaps - "...adrenalin pumping round his system slowed to the relative crawl of a hundred miles an hour" might work better and slightly economise it.

Very near the end of the chapter I'd be also tempted trim things up. - "If not, she'd read all about it in the papers. At the very least it should make the front page of 'The Evening Standard' and 'Metro' (obviously still in italics - which I can't use here). I don't think it's necessary to use 'London' or 'free,' and certainly not necessary to use the word 'newspapers' twice in consecutive sentences.

The actual storytelling and language use really is top-notch, though I do agree with the comment below saying it could do with a good edit. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how bloody tedious editing is, but I think you need to balance your obvious love for writing prolifically with the need for painstaking nit-picking. I gave my book a very thorough edit after a few agents told me, in so many words, it needed 'trimming and economising.' It really can make a huge difference, and the quality of your writing deserves it!

This is in the queue for a backing - quality descriptiveness and wry humour is always something I want to support. In the meantime, pleased to give it plenty of stars.

franhiatt wrote 917 days ago

This has all the right ingredients for a winner but needs a rigorous edit..

Thanks for the comments. I can write stories all day and every day but I find editing difficult. Take a look at the sequel 'Cold Hearts and Candy Floss' and see if this is better. I wrote it in three weeks and edited it today.

Hermione wrote 917 days ago

This has all the right ingredients for a winner but needs a rigorous edit. Better punctuation, including breaking up some longer sentences, would make a big difference. On my watchlist...

AMW wrote 918 days ago

Starting in media res is often mentioned as the best approach. However, in this piece, I felt the need for a line or two before the dialogue begins. Perhaps something along the lines of: Trent motioned for the detective constable to move to the right as they approached the man crouched by the corner of the warehouse.... or something similar. Immediately tells us we're dealing with police, they're approaching some sort of suspect, and the setting is a warehouse. Then maybe have the DC slap on the cuffs while Trent waves his warrant card. Oh, and how did they keep the bad guy from yelling out an alarm?

Your dialogue is very good and there are some very funny bits. You might consider removing the adverbs describing the characters' speech... "he said, defiantly", "remarked dryly" etc. Just go with a simple he said or better, the man said when referring to the criminal. Then show the defiance or the dryness either in the words or the body language.

I was bothered that Trent was so verbally threatening in this opening lines, and was relieved when he pushed the man "gently" on his back and threatened him with Cornish pastys. Remember, we don't know Trent yet, so his threatening to do physical harm initially can throw us off. I really began to like him after the Cornish pasty line.

Take a look at the paragraph beginning: As Trent moved slowly and quietly along the passage.. You've presented the same information two ways. I know you want the reader to get that Trent is tortured, but you don't have to rush that information. Feed it to us a bit at a time. His actions let us in on that as well as his thoughts.

You present a vivid scene inside the warehouse, although, I was expecting Trent to handcuff the guy. Trying to hold on to a "tall, well-built" bad guy while fishing out a warrant card is hard for me to picture... well actually, I picture the bad guy escaping! I would also expect more fight out of the bad guy. You might consider making him a smaller man? Other than that, I thought the interaction was well done and vividly presented.

One small thing for you to watch throughout is your use of "he". At times you are referring to Trent, sometimes to the criminal or the photographer, and it's not always clear. When I read "he", since I'm in Trent's POV, I think Trent before reading a word or two more and realizing you mean the other guy in the scene.

Personally, I find the reference to Trent's bad breath a turn-off. Also when referring to his eyes ("tired blue and blood shot") keep in mind description is often more powerful when it is more focused.

After Trent is shot, I doubt he'd be able to stand, let alone walk. And I'm bothered that both Trent and the dog handler were both so quick to attack suspects. Perhaps it's reality, but it still throws me a bit.

After Trent is shot, the initial part of the chapter repeats. Probably some kind of computer glitch... take a look.

You have a strong voice and this opening has a lot of energy. I'm giving it 4 stars and putting it on my watch list. Good luck.

Ann Warner - Absence of Grace

Kris Mikelson wrote 929 days ago

Punctuation is a little off but WOW you hit the nail on the head! Giving it 4 stars and putting it on my shelf to finish. Impressive. Engrossing. Extremely engaging!

The Only Toojiboo wrote 931 days ago

After reading the write-ups, especially Lj Traffords, I'm going to give it whirl...I do like black comedy.

Forgotten Treasure wrote 939 days ago

This is good. Will back without even reading chapter 2.
Ron Ron

Lj Trafford wrote 939 days ago

Gosh this is good. I really engrossing, funny, crime read. And, AND the quips are funny! In a world of movies with such lame one liners, shoe horned in because thats what you do since Bond - yours are generally good. The tone is comic yet what you write about, from the first chapter of sex slavery is hard hitting and somehow you make the jokey and the tough work. Big well done.
I also like the Bournemouth setting, which makes a nice change from big city crime novels.
Favourite line? The bit about if you can remember betamax and dexys midnight runners you have no right chatting up young barmaids.
Backed. Best thing I've read in a while.

celticwriter wrote 946 days ago

Hi Fran, you grabbed with me with your synopsis, and didn't let go.
Nice tale!


franhiatt wrote 970 days ago

Pedantry corner - there is no such paper with the London Evening Standard

Thanks for the comments Strachan, I get the Evening Standard most days and you can see by the link that officially it calls itself the London Evening Standard,, which most people know it as.There is no such newspaper as the Bournemouth Bugle, which is also mentioned, but I wouldn't want to advertise the real local rag.

strachan gordon wrote 971 days ago

I love the detail about the murder of the Abba tribute band member ,if only it had actually been the band itself say in about 1978 , when they presumably had never made a record , what an agreeable developement that would have been. I think you have caught an excellent tone which verges at times on affectionate brutality ,also you have introduced a really good idea of convalescing in Bournemouth and then getting caught in mayhem. Pedantry corner - there is no such paper with the London Evening Standard on its masthead , it is just called the Evening Standard. Sorry about that , I debated with the impulse to resist telling you , but failed . I wonder if you would have the time to look at the first chapter of my novel 'A Buccaneer' , which is about Pirates in the 17th century, with best wishes Strachan Gordon. Watchlisted.

Jesse Powell wrote 984 days ago

Lol, I like Arnie, Stand and Eric. So Trent has two steamy affairs-ish with Cynthia and Sarah. Is Sarah's tale there to showcase Trent? or does she return? I like the errogenous baiting, well done. Complecated storywriting. You know, you could even begin with Chapter 3, but I like the action-prologue then protag intro in one. You get to an editor, you could open that as an option to show flexability.

Ian Walkley wrote 986 days ago

The pitch got me in. Something kept me reading, not quite sure what. I liked some of the humour in the Trent character. As a prologue it is too long, I think. Why not make it chapter 1? Best of luck with it. Ian

CharlieChuck wrote 1031 days ago

The title attracted me, I think 24hrs from Tulse hill was a Carter USM song from back in the nineties, I may be wrong though, I usually am. I read the first chapter, you built up good pace and I was immersed in the story. Couldn't see any typos, enjoyed it.

MarieG wrote 1043 days ago

Hi Fran. A good first chapter - lots of tension and action, well done. Added to my watch list. Marie

franhiatt wrote 1080 days ago

Hi Fran, is this a single book or is it part of a series? I was absolutely hooked right through but am now quite confused by the end and i think I will need to do some rereading to try and make sense if it.

Apologies for the confusion but the choice of ending was to leave 'unfinished business' , so that the end of the story wasn't too cosy and happy ever. It demonstrated that the main villain, Gobek, was still able to flex his muscle from behind prison walls, but fortunately for Trent he failed. It also left it open for me to write a sequel, using the same police characters, and Gobek is dealt with early on so it will be a separate story in its own right.

I hope to complete this soon, but as with most people, pressures of the day job limit my writing time and its taking longer than it should. This is a shame because I've two more completely different books in note form that I also want to complete, and I have had people interested in Measuring For Curtains as a stage play.

I should have married someone rich so I could sit in the drawing room of the country pile gazing out across manicured lawns, sipping a Bucks Fizz and tapping away novel after novel on my laptop, in-between coffee mornings, opening village fetes and arranging flowers in the church.

C.E.Wildgoose wrote 1080 days ago

Hi Fran, is this a single book or is it part of a series? I was absolutely hooked right through but am now quite confused by the end and i think I will need to do some rereading to try and make sense if it... Ce

LadyRobertson126 wrote 1087 days ago

Great start! You paint a great picture and its not all black, I love the wry humour in there. Backed with pleasure.
If you get a chance have a look at What Lies Within by Audrey Finch

writingbear wrote 1090 days ago

I was looking at your book again and I still like it, so I decided to back it. Please take a look at either of my two novels, DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS or MY GENTLEMAN FRIEND for you possible backing. Your help will be appreciated. Good luck and happy writing.


CMTStibbe wrote 1129 days ago

This is a sharp narrative with first-rate dialogue. It’s believable and extremely funny. Trent is my hero. He must wash his hands after handling a perp’s file and keep away from the dogs to safeguard his police warrant card. Great visuals – ‘his temples pounding rhythmically like a stag-party hangover.’ He’s a meticulous sort although it’s amusing to note that he has already traced (and probably stalked) Sarah all the way to Balham. And how did Trent manage to turn up at the same wedding as Sarah? This book is superb. I have rated highly and put on w/l for backing. Claire ~ Chasing Pharaohs.

J.Kinkade wrote 1134 days ago

Love the detail. Love the dialogue. Really good stuff here, Fran. Backed with pleasure.

writingbear wrote 1143 days ago

I liked your synopsis so I decided to back you book 24HOURS FROM TULSE HILL. If you would take a look at my two novels, DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS or MY GENTLEMAN FRIEND for a possible backing it would be very much appreciated. Thank you and happy writing.