Published: 14th June 2018 by Black & White Publishing
Detective Grace Macallan is at crisis point. She’s unsure of her future, of whether she has the strength to continue with her role in serious crime. Events are threatening to run out of control, and this new investigation will test her to the limit.
An undercover officer is missing and a woman is washed up, traumatised and barely alive, on the shores of Berwickshire. She has witnessed horror on the dark waters of the North Sea, and her subsequent ordeal to survive turns her life into a nightmare.
As she untangles the woman’s story of trafficking and abuse, Grace is drawn into the world of organised crime in Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. At their head is Handyside, a brutal gangland boss who’s fought hard and dirty to control his territory. But there’s a traitor in his midst, and soon the most cold-blooded criminals in the North East of England and Central Scotland turn on one another in a desperate race to destroy the evidence that will lead Grace to them.
Grace must pit her wits against Handyside, knowing he’ll stop at nothing to protect his criminal empire. She knows, too, that one wrong move could end in tragedy.
Shores of Death is the third book in Ritchie’s Detective Grace Macallan series, I’ve read the first 2; Cause of Death and Evidence of Death, based on those books I know that this is going to be another great read….watch out for my review soon 🙂 I am thrilled to be a part of this blog tour and sharing the prologue to whet your appetite for what’s to come…
Tony Capaldi looked Italian, wore Italian designer gear and told a great story about his Italian background. From a distance he looked the real deal, but close up you could see the attempts to cover a hard life’s wear and tear. There was something a bit Liberace in his appearance although his sexual orientation was definitely the oppo- site of the great ivory tapper. It didn’t matter; although his appearance would have turned off the vast majority of the female gender, he did appeal to a certain kind of woman who only saw what she wanted to see.
The truth was that the nearest Tony Capaldi had been to Italy or an Italian family was when he was buying his favourite food, which consisted of a fish supper with lashings of brown sauce and two pickled onions, plus a full-fat Coke to complete his idea of fine dining.
The real name his waste-of-space parents gave him was Hugh Elvis McNally. The boy, however, despite his inspiring name and having the King blasted into his ears all day and every day of his young life, developed a deep hatred for both his moniker and the rock-and-roll legend. Eventually the day came when he couldn’t stand it anymore, stole his old man’s benefit money and fucked off forever. His parents were only concerned for about a day then forgot all about him.
McNally had been brought up in Ballingry in Fife and spent the rest of his life trying to forget that particular fact. God hadn’t given him a lot, but what he did have was Mediterranean looks and the gift of the gab, which he developed on his journey as a fraudster. He could con the fish out of the river, and he’d only suffered a couple of short spells inside, which was nothing compared to the number of crimes he’d actually committed. In his thirties McNally had latched onto the financial possibilities of online dating. At first it had only been to see if he could get for free what he normally paid for, but it had taken no time to realise the potential for conning lonely women out of their worldly possessions, or at least their savings, if he could get his sweaty little hands on them.
Given the type of life he’d led, he was fortunate in that he had no real friends or family to bother about or who might lead the police to his door. Half the forces in the UK were looking for him, and he’d even managed to get a blurred CCTV shot of his phizog on Crimewatch, so he was definitely a celebrity of sorts. More and more women were coming forward with stories about the Italian stallion who’d promised so much and left them with so little. Many of them had been devastated by their short, meaningless relationship with McNally and a couple of stories in the Daily Mail had racked up the pressure on the police to get their hands on him. He’d seen the headlines but thought if he was careful, kept on the move and canny about giving anything away, he could survive. He’d made a pile from his cons and planned to move to the Continent before his luck ran out. He fancied a country where the sun shone and he could rent a nice apartment by the sea. In his own deluded world, where guilt was something he just didn’t recognise, he believed he deserved a bit of a break from the miserable British weather and the miserable British people. Most of his needs were simple so he was able to save most of his earnings, although he did have a weakness for young blonde prostitutes, who he used on a fairly regular basis.
That night McNally had booked one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh: it had attracted rave reviews for the standard of its food and service. He hadn’t been in the capital for a couple of years and had been plying his trade across the south of England, but he’d probably taken one chance too many and now it was back to his homeland, where the women he met always adored the Latin-lover type. He’d arrived early at the restaurant and wanted to have a drink and think through his lines. He thought the latest one sounded interesting – not the type he would normally have expected to answer such a rank-cheese advert. The woman he’d spoken to on the phone sounded educated and her description seemed to suggest someone a bit younger than his normal dates. Grace. What a lovely name, he mused. He’d only had one other Grace, an unhappy widow who he’d actually found quite disgusting; however, she’d not only been loaded but couldn’t wait to give him the money for his ficti- tious mother’s cancer treatment in the States. She’d been convinced after their third wonderful date that McNally or Tony as she knew him – was the man of her dreams; in fact she wished she’d met him before her bastard of a late husband, whose only redeeming feature had been his considerable wealth. McNally had already arranged to get a prostitute he’d been with the previous evening to call him during tonight’s dinner and make it sound like an important business call from New York. He knew from tried and tested experience that kind of thing always worked a treat and was normally a sound investment.
The problem for McNally that night was that about a week earlier he’d been with another rather attractive hooker just after he’d arrived in Edinburgh. He wasn’t to know that she was a registered ‘covert human intelligence source’ – or CHIS as they were known in the modern and politically correct police force. Another thing he couldn’t know was that she was an avid follower of Crimewatch and the blurred shape of the Italian stallion, as the Mail loved to describe him, was enough for her to recognise her client even with his clothes off.”
“Right on the time they’d agreed to meet, the doors opened and a woman wearing a light raincoat appeared. McNally was just a bit more excited than usual and prayed to the god of fraudsters that she was in fact his date. Her hair was cut short, almost boyish, and her sharp, clean features were definitely a break away from his usual clientele. He watched her speaking to the waiter, who pointed towards his table. She looked round, smiled in his direction and he became even more excited because she was certainly over a decade younger than the women who tended to answer his adverts.”
“As she approached the table he smiled across the room and tried to give her the look that he always thought had a bit of Colin Firth in it. As the coat dropped from her shoulders the smile stalled, because unless he was very much mistaken the woman either had some kind of abnormality or she was well and truly pregnant – and very much nearer to birth than conception.”
“‘Fuck that.’ He said it quietly, but it was loud enough for the couple to his left to look round and the guy gave him a full glare. They shook their heads in concert and went back to their meal.”
“McNally liked the look of this one but pregnancy was a deal-breaker, so he decided that as soon as he could make an exit he’d slope off to the toilets then offski and leave her with the bill.
‘Hi, you must be Tony.’ She stuck out a pale hand as he struggled to keep his cool and sense of frustration under control. He knew she could have been perfect for him – a real distraction after the acres of wrinkled or Botoxed flesh he often had to endure to make a buck. He stood up and took her hand. It was cool and soft. He stared into her green eyes, which even in the half-light of the restaurant seemed to glint with energy. Her smile suggested someone who was in control even though it was him planning a quick escape. He was fascinated even though he hadn’t spoken to her bar the crap he’d given her on the phone. He wondered why this woman had answered his advert. There was a tingling along his spine as a thin bead of sweat ran its way down the small of his back and was absorbed by the elastic of his lucky red boxers.
‘It’s nice to meet you, Grace. You look wonderful.’ He decided at that point to avoid her very obvious signs of pregnancy as the circuits in his brain tried to make sense of what he was seeing. There was a very slight tremor in his voice, which was unusual for a man who normally oozed confidence with his victims – vital where control was the key to unlocking their bank accounts.
‘I’ve been dying to meet you, Hugh, or do you prefer that I call you Elvis? Don’t know many people with the name Elvis,’ she paused, ‘apart from Elvis.’
The bead of sweat that had run down his back had turned into a stream. The sound of his real name put him on the edge of panic. Part of him said that she had to be a bizzy, but the woman sitting opposite him was pregnant and super tidy. It didn’t compute – unless the police budgets had been cut so far they were keeping the women on till they produced.
‘I’m sorry, what do you mean? My name’s Tony.’
That was a useless answer because she clearly knew who he was. It occurred to him that she wouldn’t be very nimble, being pregnant, so maybe it was time to fuck right off and not worry about meaningless conversation.
‘I just need to go to the toilet for a moment and then perhaps we can come to some arrangement.’ He said it as if it might work.
‘Off you go, Elvis, but so that you know – I have no intention of coming after you, given my condition. If you decide after your lavvy break that you might need a bit of fresh air before saying goodbye, there’s some of my team waiting for you. If you try to make a struggle of it, there’s a guy there called Jimmy McGovern. Nice bloke but a mean bastard with anyone who wants to have a go. Don’t get me wrong, he enjoys all that: ex-boxer and could have been a contender, as they say. What do you think, Elvis? The easy way or the hard way?’
McNally looked round the room and shook his head. He’d committed that most common of the seven deadly sins . . . greed. He’d just done a few jobs too many. It was over, and he knew that he was about to leave his world of fake dreams for a few years of good old Scottish-prison reality.
‘Easy way if it’s okay with you. Sorry, I didn’t get your name.’ He looked crestfallen – a date that had looked to have so much promise had car crashed in only a few short minutes.
‘My name’s Detective Superintendent Grace Macallan and you’re under arrest.
Peter Ritchie is a retired senior police officer. The real-world authenticity in his novels comes from vast experience gained working in CID, murder squads, Serious and Regional Crime Squads and Europol.