Our Little Secrets – Peter Ritchie | @PRitchieAuthor @bwpublishing

At a dark place in Edinburgh’s heart, secrets refues to lie dormant.

At Police Scotland HQ, Grace Macallan has pitched up in Counter Corruption. But the demons of her past are never far behind.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s gangland is in turmoil. As a new breed of upstarts challenges the old criminal order, their battle for territory causes serious havoc.

Into the war steps DI Janet Hadden. Ambitious, hardbitten and addicted to risk-taking, she knows how to throw opponents off balance. But when she’s thwarted, Hadden seeks help from a notorious underworld fixer, a man who keeps secrets but always extracts a price.

Beset by violence and double-crossing, Grace is soon embroiled in a savage game of cat and mouse with colleagues and criminals alike. With all sides driven by dark desires, theirs is an endgame that will take Grace down unless she holds her nerve.

Our Little Secrets was published on the 27th June 2019 by Black and White Publishing.

I’m thrilled to be able to share an extract from the book with you today, this is chapter 7….

Tonto clasped his hands together over the table and looked around every few seconds as if something would change in the almost-bare, windowless interview room. He’d been in plenty of these soulless boxes in his time and usually he just took it on the chin, said hee-haw and did his time. He was brought up to say nothing to the law, and the offers he’d had in the past for a deal if he grassed up a few people were met with a deafie.

But each time he went inside it just got harder and harder. The days behind the doors were like a lingering death, especially on that last stretch where his co-pilot had been a manky bastard; just remembering the guy made him want to spew his ring up. He tried to block out the memories of what the perv had wanted and tried to do to him night after night. The perv was what he was, though, and to make it worse he was a strong, violent man who could take the likes of Tonto with an arm tied up. Eventually the screws had him moved, but the prison nightmares were locked into his brain and erupted every so often.

He’d lost something of his youthful self, who at one time had almost looked forward to the inevitable stretch inside as if it was just a holiday minus the bevvy and a bit of female company. Young as he still was, his old, ever-optimistic nature was gone already and it was frightening. He spent more time staring at the broken old men in the bars who’d been just like him, and he realised the future wasn’t as far off as he’d imagined only a few years earlier. The time inside had aged him, maybe not in his body but in his mind, which was full of doubt, and no matter what he did there he had an underlying suspi­cion that there was no happy ending for him. The brash teenager who had just wanted to get a name on the street was gone and the thought of prison was like something that was forever on the horizon. He was a criminal, so he knew almost everything he did to make a living might again lead him through those gates that crashed behind you every time you moved from section to section.

‘Are you fucking listening?’

The sound of Hadden’s voice snapped his attention back into place and he caught her eyes again. The woman scared him and he couldn’t figure out why. He’d never been afraid of a woman before and he’d met a few radge females in his time. Hadden was something else: she looked like she was carved out of some sub-zero mate­rial; even her skin looked chilled and white in the harsh light of the interview room. He was sure she could see right inside his napper and examine all those little dark places he kept to himself.

‘We’ve been on your arse for a while, Davy, and you’re so thick you never saw a thing.’

Hadden opened a packet of chewing gum and unwrapped a piece, taking a moment to let the words sink in nice and slow. She left the implications for a bit and let them ferment – he’d worry about the mistakes, what they might have seen and heard. She knew letting

his imagination run riot was all in her favour; stoking up paranoia and letting it do the job for her was one of her favourite tactics. She leaned forward and he recoiled as if she was about to stab him or draw back her lips to expose a couple of vampire fangs.

‘That’s fuckin’ out of order, by the way.’ He tried a bit of defence, but his voice let him down. The tone was too high and the warble of fear gave the show away. Tonto was shitting bricks, and trying to mount a counter-attack had only exposed his anxiety and hopeless position. The older and wiser neds always said to keep it shut, because once you’d opened your gob, the bizzies would stick their arm in and pull out your guts.

‘Look, Davy. You see a recorder in here or anyone else but me?’ She was leading him to the slaughter, and he was following her every time she tugged the rope.

‘Well, no. What’s the score then?’ His eyes widened as the bait dangled just in front of him.

That was exactly what she wanted to hear. She’d shown him the tiniest glimmer of light and he was blinded by it. The man was a fucking cretin and she wanted to smile, but it wasn’t time yet.

‘You had enough dope on you to put you to the High Court. Correct?’ She waited – watched him open his mouth slowly and start to nibble at the bait.

He nodded a couple of times as if he had no choice. ‘Aye. Fair dos.’ He was a man looking for a break and she played with him like a cat with a three-legged mouse.

‘Well, I want something, and to be honest I can live without sticking you in the pokey. In other words, Davy, I can make this go away.’ She sat back again, letting the words ferment.

In the past this would have been the point where Tonto would have said, ‘No fuckin’ way am I grassin’,’ but that had been in a different life before those nights in the cell

with the perv. He knew what was coming and the combi­nation of prison memories and this woman fucking with his brain was just too much. Tonto sat up and swallowed the bait whole, almost begging for more of the same.

‘Okay, what’s the Hampden then?’ He opened his mouth and eyelids at the same time, and she saw the non-verbals were flashing green and all good to go.

‘You work for the Grainger boys. Correct?’ There was no point in using their Christian names because they both knew who she was speaking about. ‘Now they interest me. So basically, Davy, you sign on with me, I keep you nice and safe and all I want to know is what the boys are up to. Added bonus is there’s no risk. Don’t want you to be in danger or anything else. Just be my eyes and ears and I’ll take them out another way.’ She kept it slow and easy, left little quiet breaks in the offer, let him think, avoid panic. She leaned forward and acted out a friendly smile. ‘It’s a good offer, Davy, and you get paid decent money.’ She waited again and watched him swallow the bait camouflaging a great big poisonous hook.

‘They’ll cut ma baws off if it goes tits up.’ He looked beaten. It was the old dilemma of ‘do you want shot in the left arse cheek or the right one?’ Fucked if you do and fucked if you don’t. ‘What happens next then?’

‘Tell the truth, Davy, it’s Dominic I want. But the younger brothers will do as well.’ She smiled but injected some warmth this time to kid him on they might become friends.

‘I’ve got fuck all goin’ wi’ Dominic. He’s the big man. Disnae get his hands durty. Know what I mean? I only work wi’ the brothers. The story is that Dom runs the show but well back. Know what I mean?’

Hadden reeled him in and gutted him. The cocaine would go into the private stash she kept well hidden for

a rainy day or in case she needed to fit someone up. It had all come together nicely.

Tonto shook his head a few times, but he kept reminding himself that at least he didn’t have to go back behind those doors. The Pole was dubbed up; Hadden promised him that the mad bastard wouldn’t see the light of day for years. In any case, he’d likely end up in Carstairs with a bit of luck and would probably spend his days assaulting staff and adding to his time. He was that kind of turbo-charged bampot who acted regardless of the consequences; a kind of Polish Charles Bronson with a dash of Scots senseless violence thrown in.

Tonto walked out of the station a few hours later and headed for the boozer. His shoulders slumped and he stared at the pavement a few feet in front of him all the way to the bar, where he ordered his first drink, prom­ising himself that he’d get wrecked before heading to the rat box he called home. He’d been mesmerised by the process of becoming a covert human intelligence source or CHIS. Hadden had called in another bizzie and they did it all nice and official. She’d told him he was an agent, had explained how it would work and he’d felt like his world would never be the same again. And he was right.

Inside the station he’d just wanted to cooperate and get the fuck away, but as soon as he walked back into the cold night air it was as if someone had loaded a stone-filled rucksack onto his back. He’d signed on as a grass, and if he made the slightest mistake or said the wrong thing with a few drinks in him, he was dead meat. He’d seen what had happened to the odd rat in the past, and if the Graingers ever got to know then it was goodbye cruel world.

He stood in his usual spot in the boozer and realised that the Graingers would hear about the drama outside

Tynecastle and want to know what had happened in the station. Christ, the whole fucking world would know what had happened with the bizzies who’d deserted their post then the gunfighters arriving on the scene like the cavalry. He looked up at the telly, gulping his beer, and the next thing he was snorting it through his nose when he saw the Sky News clip of the first cop belting away from the scene.

‘Fuck’s sake, Davy, are you pished?’ The barman looked annoyed and with good reason because what had sprayed through Tonto’s nasal passages had splattered the bar. He hadn’t paid attention to the news clip and hadn’t yet realised that Tonto had been part of the chaos outside Tynecastle.

‘Sorry, pal. Bit of a heid cauld.’ It was all he could think of and would do for the time being.

He guessed that his name wouldn’t come out in the press just yet, but the grapevine would provide the story to the streets so the Graingers would find out. He knew the cops who’d been there would blab as soon as they hit the boozers because it was a great story. That was fair enough – he was the one being chased, but the Graingers would know he was delivering gear, so the first ques­tion they’d ask was: where the fuck was the dope they’d supplied him with?

The next question they’d ask was: if the pigs had hold of him, did they find the gear, and if they did then why the fuck was he not on a lie down?

The only thing he could say was that he’d dumped it when the cavalry arrived on the scene and it was gone when he went back to look for it. It might work, but he knew exactly what Sean and Paul Grainger would say before they even opened their gobs. They acted like they were the Krays, and if it hadn’t been for Dominic they would have run out of control years ago.

The trouble was that Dominic stayed well away from the limelight. The younger brothers would demand payment regardless, and up the tax he was already struggling to pay. That was if he was lucky – because if losing the first stash was bad enough, losing a second was trouble.

The way things worked in crime-land, even if they couldn’t prove something, it would annoy them, and anything else that went wrong would be his fault, even if he was in Magaluf when it happened. There wouldn’t be a third chance if he survived this, because that was way too generous in his world. Gangsters always needed someone to blame. It was a funny old day, but a drink had to come first and he had to work hard to numb his worries for a few hours. He gave it his best shot and wired right into the bevvy.

Peter followed his forefathers and started his working life at 15 as a deep sea fisherman.

He eventually joined the police service moving through the ranks of CID/Murder Squad/Regional Crime Squad in Scotland. He then went on to manage the Organised Crime Unit in the National Criminal Intelligence Service in London where he ran a multi agency team drawn from various branches of the law enforcement and the security services. This was a unique concept at the time and Peter travelled to many parts of the world in this role. He was subsequently appointed as the UK Liaison Officer to Europol in The Hague where he spent five years.

He returned to Lothian and Borders heading the Major Crime Team before taking on an advisory role for a project in Croatia. Following his retiral he worked on a number of private investigations before spending the next few years as part of the public inquiry team looking into the murder of the LVF leader Billy Wright in the Maze Prison.

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