CHAPTER ONEFor the rest, clickety-click here …
“We’re being followed,” Eugene McSorley said. The Ford Focus crested the rise, weightless for a moment, and thudded hard back onto the tarmac. Its eight-year-old suspension did little to cushion the impact. McSorley kept his eyes on the rear-view mirror, the silver Skoda Octavia lost behind the hill he’d just sped over. It had been tailing them along the narrow country road since they crossed the border into the North.
Comiskey twisted in the passenger seat. “I don’t see anyone,” he said. “No, wait. Fuck. Is that the peelers?”
“Aye,” McSorley said. The Skoda reappeared in his mirror, its windows tinted dark green. He couldn’t make out the occupants, but they were cops all right. The tarmac darkened under the growing drizzle, the sky a blank, heavy sheet of grey above the green fields.
“Jesus,” Hughes moaned from the back seat. “Are we going to get pulled?”
“Looks like it,” Comiskey said. “Fuck.”
Hedgerows streaked past the Focus. McSorley checked his speed, staying just below sixty. “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’ve nothing on us. Not unless you boys have any blow in your pockets.”
“Shit,” Hughes said.
“I’ve an eighth on me.”
McSorley shot a look back over his shoulder. “Arsehole. Chuck it.”
McSorley hit the switch to roll down the rear window and pulled close to the hedgerow so the cops wouldn’t see. He watched his side mirror as Hughes’s hand flicked a small brown cube into the greenery. “Arsehole,” he repeated.
Comiskey peered between the seats. “They’re not getting any closer,” he said. “Maybe they won’t pull us.”
McSorley said nothing. He raised the rear window again. The car rounded a bend onto a long straight, the road falling away in a shallow descent before rising to meet the skyline half a mile ahead. He flicked the wipers on. They left wet smears across the windscreen, barely shifting the water. He’d meant to replace them a year ago. McSorley cursed and squinted through the raindrops.
A white van sat idling at a side road. It had all the time in the world to ease out and be on its way. It didn’t. Instead it inched forward to the junction, the driver holding it on the clutch. McSorley wet his lips. He felt the accelerator beneath the sole of his shoe. The Focus had a decent engine, but the suspension was shot. Once the road started to twist, he wouldn’t have a chance. He eased off the pedal. The van drew closer. Two men in the cabin, watching …
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Banana-Shaped Free-Kicks, Stuart Neville And Me
If you’ve read Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE (aka THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST), and you’re a football fan, and particularly a fan of Brazil circa 1970, you’ll understand why, in my many private conversations with myself, I tend to refer to Stuart as ‘Nevellino’. All of which is a rather circuitous - indeed, a veritable banana-shaped free-kick - way of letting you know that Stuart has uploaded Chapter One of THE TWELVE’S sequel-of-sorts, COLLUSION, over at his interweb portal. To wit: