Today I’m thrilled to have an extract from Fighting Monsters on my blog. This is the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series by Rebecca Bradley, Shallow Waters and Made to be Broken being the first two. As a former detective, Rebecca writes with great authority and authenticity.
24 hours after he walked away from court a free man, cop killer and gang leader Simon Talbot is found murdered. In his possession; the name of a protected witness from his trial. For DI Hannah Robbins, it’s a race against time to find Talbot’s killer, and locate the bystander before it’s too late.
But as Hannah delves deeper into the past, she begins to question the integrity of the whole operation. Where do you turn when you can’t trust the police?
Lee felt suffocated as the usher pulled the doors to, as the thick wood closed with a gentle whoosh. The courtroom was filled with a hushed expectation.
All seats were taken. The public gallery had been rammed since the trial had started. Family of the defendant. Multiple reporters from local and national papers, as many members of the public that could be accommodated and the family of the deceased, PC Ken Blake, shot in the line of duty nine months ago at the address of the defendant, Simon Talbot.
Not only was interest high because this was the murder of a police officer, but, it was at the hands of Talbot, the head of the most powerful crime family in Nottingham. They ran drugs and guns and girls through the city. No one moved unless they said they could. Unless they paid Talbot to do so. Talbot in prison was big news. People were fascinated. If Talbot went down then there would be a massive power struggle for the area of the city that the Talbots controlled.
Whether the family could maintain that control with Simon on the inside, while the rival Buckhurst crew pushed at them in his absence was under question because no one knew if Nathan Talbot, Simon’s brother, was strong enough to keep competition at bay and run the family operation.
There was a buzz of excitement as everyone waited for the court session to start again. Three and a half weeks of trial and now after only two and a half hours of jury deliberations they were about to come back and the expected verdict was guilty.
Though the weapon had never been found the prosecution had two witnesses to the offence. Both of whom had been present, in the room, at the time PC Blake had been killed.
Nathan Talbot sat bolt upright next to his mother, Karen. He was silent. His jaw set. Karen was dressed in black as though at a funeral, and many said she was. This was the end of Simon. They didn’t believe Nathan had what it took to keep the family together.
Behind them, Ken Blake’s widow, Lisa, sat with her head bowed, her hand held by her friend.
The door behind the public gallery opened and Simon was brought into the defendant’s box and his handcuffs taken off. He looked out at the courtroom. His best suit on, but unshaven. He didn’t need to make an impression, time for impressions was past.
Blake’s widow kept her head down.
‘All rise for Her Honour Judge Clay.’ The courtroom shuffled to its feet and Margaret Clay walked in and eyed her court, for she knew that there would be outbursts today. She requested the jury be brought in and the twelve men and women of the jury who had listened to the evidence against Talbot over the length of the trial filed in. Their heads bowed, hands clasped in front of them. Their eyes firmly on the floor where they walked. With a final shuffle of clothes, they sat, in the positions they’d assumed for the duration of the trial.
Margaret Clay addressed the court, ‘If anyone should disturb my courtroom this afternoon, they will be removed without prior warning. I will not tolerate disorder. I understand you have waited a long time for today but you are here to view these proceedings in silence.’ And with that she nodded to the court usher.
‘In the case of the Crown versus Talbot for the murder of PC Kenneth Blake do you find Simon Talbot guilty or not guilty?’
The foreperson, a woman on the end of the jury line looked along at her peers, bit her lower lip and rose from her chair. She was a rotund woman with hair that curled around her face. This afternoon that face was flushed, her eyes dark and small in her face. Her mouth a set line, so pale you had to look hard to see it. Her hands shook but were clasped tight in front of her.
‘We find—’ her voice cracked, she tried again, ‘We find him not guilty.’
Well, there’s a gripping start to a book – a suspected cop killer released! So what did I think about the rest of the story?
The DI Hannah Robbins series is set in Nottinghamshire. It’s great to see police procedurals set outside of London. I don’t know Nottingham that well but there are some places and things that I can picture. The book starts with a murder suspect being found not guilty of killing a police officer. The verdict hits the Force hard, not least the officer’s former partner, Lee. Less than 24 hours after being released, the suspect is murdered. DI Hannah Robbins and her team are tasked with the job of finding the suspect’s killer. Not an easy job at the best of times but made harder by the fact that they have to consider the possibility that another police officer may be responsible.
As a former DC, Rebecca Bradley writes with authority. She manages to balance giving the reader enough authentic police procedure without detracting from the plot. This is a complex story and what starts with a murder of a suspect, soon escalates into something else. There are some new characters in the team and I particularly liked Pasha, the new DC. I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops in the future. I was also pleased to see that Rebecca Bradley has a character with Asperger’s – DS Aaron Stone. In my opinion (and I have personal family experience), his characterisation has been handled well and he hasn’t been stereotyped.
There are various viewpoints in this novel and that helps to keep the tension and the pace going. Although I had some ideas about who was responsible, I was kept guessing until near the end to find out the complete truth. And we’ve been left with an absolute cliff-hanger. There’s going to have to be another book!
You can buy the book by clicking here.
Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective and lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day, and if she could she would survive on a diet of tea and cake.
You can find out more about Rebecca on her website, Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the links below.