By Russel D McLean
I'm redrafting folks, going through copy edits on FATHER CONFESSOR which, you know. is released in the UK this September. I know you're as excited as I am about this book, so you're going to want to pre-order from your preferred retailer.
So in lieu of actual content I present a little rough cut sneak preview of the opening page of FATHER CONFESSOR. Those of you who know the series will know that I start every book with a little teaser, and this book's no different.
So here, for the first time (since I read an early draft of this last year at Blackwell's bookshop), is a brief excerpt from book number the third:
I wasn't there.
If I had been, things might have turned out different.
I’d like to believe that.
Some would argue, of course, that I’d only have fucked things up.
For months afterward, I would spend the hours past midnight – the hours when I couldn't sleep, when the guilt of the past always seemed at its strongest and when I felt at my most powerless and insignificant – thinking about what had happened that evening.
Seeing events through his eyes.
Trying to imagine what it must have been like. Trying to think about the chain of events that ended in a moment of blood and fear and pain.
As I tried to imagine how he felt, my heart would pound as his must have. A surge of adrenaline. An expectation.
He must have known that he was going to die.
One way or the other. He must have known how things would end.
Maybe he had come to terms with that idea.
Looking back over his last few months, talking to friends and colleagues, I think they all knew that something was wrong with him. They had sensed his growing unease. They had noticed that he was more tense than usual. Most put this down to pre-retirement nerves. After all, he was due to quit the force in the next year. And like any good copper, he had a lot of unfinished business.
So I can imagine how he felt that night.
Walking into the warehouse, he might have called out. Perhaps listened to the echo of his own voice, heard it come back to him. A ghost-like echo. As though he was already dead. His own footsteps – polished shoes striking hard concrete – would have bounced and echoed around the wide space and made it appear as though there were others walking alongside him.
Those for whom he was responsible.
Maybe he was thinking about why he was here. The reasons he was alone in this warehouse, meeting a man he must have known could kill him.
He would be thinking about his career. And his daughter.
His daughter who was under investigation for possible criminal conspiracy. His daughter who had always been the centre of his world, who had idolised her father so much she followed him into the force.
I would wonder what he was thinking.
How he felt.
And I could never know for sure. But I had to pretend, to try and gain some insight the hard facts could never uncover.
I do know that he took the stairs to the mezzanine slowly. His shoes clanking off the metal grille, his hand running up the banister. A feather touch. More for reassurance than balance.
But then, maybe his grip was tighter than usual. He was afraid of falling away. Of losing his grip.
Maybe he came knowing that he faced death.
He would do that on his own terms.
The idea makes me feel better in a way.
There had been no signs of a struggle when the coppers arrived on the scene. He did not fight back. He did not try to run.
On the metal walkway high above the main floor, he would have been confronted by the man with the shotgun.
Did they speak?
Did he understand why the man was there to kill him?
I don't know. I wasn't there.
And I wish I had been.
Some nights I wish it had been me and not him.
The impact of the shot knocked him over the safety rails. Did he have time to register what was happening?
Did he say a prayer as he fell?
I wonder about his final thoughts. What he saw. What was revealed to him as he lay crooked on the floor of the abandoned mill, his blood pooling around his hand, his limbs twisted.
Did he think of his killer?
Of his daughter?
I would have been the furthest thing from his mind. But if he felt a small twinge of disappointment, perhaps he was remembering me and the last time we spoke, the things I said to him.
But I don’t know any of that.
I just believe that I could sleep easier if I knew what he was really thinking in those last moments.