Under the Rock – ‘The Island Connection 1’
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The first book I wrote, Chasing Paper, was originally written during 1999 and 2000 (with some updates in 2015). My second book, Walking on Water, though written shortly after Chasing Paper, was not finished and published until 2016 – a case of the manuscript collecting dust until circumstances dictated that I should do something with it.
Under the Rock was virtually written by the characters themselves. I’d become quite attached to some of them and they made it easy for me because they were already fully formed. With the addition of three or four new arrivals, it was easy to get a story from my friends who had occcupied the first two books in the series.
By now, you have probably already gathered that “home” for me is the Isle of Man, a little independent Crown Dependency in the middle of the Irish Sea. Much though I love being in France for six months of the year, I also revel in the the beauty and tranquillity of the Isle of Man for the other six months. It is an island full of myths and legends, gorse and heather, calm beauty gently stroking the glens and raging storms beating on the granite cliffs. Turn a corner and you’ll always discover something new to entice and amuse.
The concept of a small country that is British but not part of the United Kingdom, that has its own wholly independent parliament yet no passport controls to mainland UK, may seem a little strange to many, but those are the facts about this Crown Dependency and they make for all sorts of tantalising possibilities and opportunities if you are up to no good – and some of the new characters in Under the Rock are definitely up to no good!
UNDER THE ROCK – OPENING PAGES
Sean Legg was not used to being told what to do. Normally, it was the big Irishman who did the telling. Sean was built on a grand scale, like a Russian war memorial, with a personality that equalled his stature and, ten years ago, he might have been tempted to have a go, but at the age of fifty-five Sean knew his limits and knew he was no match for four armed thugs. Discretion being the better part of valour, he allowed himself to be manhandled into the back of the delivery van and blindfolded. His wrists were then bound with plastic ties.
“You keep quiet and speak when I tell you,” said the foreign-looking man who had been holding the gun.
Sean had no plans to speak; he was busy listening and sensing as the engine came to life. On an island that was just 35 miles long and 12 miles wide, he was pretty sure he could pick out their route by instinct, using the vehicle’s movements, speed, braking and gear changes. It helped, of course, that he had lived on the island for the best part of thirty years and new its roads and lanes as well as anyone else, and better than most.
He concentrated hard as the van left the government building service bay and took a right and a left, accessing one of the main roads in Douglas. Another right, another left and then a long sweep down to the traffic lights. Easy enough, so far. Bending right at the lights, the road suddenly became smoother. Peel Road had just been resurfaced, so that was a no-brainer. A while later, the double roundabouts at Quarter Bridge, then they were heading west on the road from Douglas to Peel.
Sean relaxed. Now it was easy to follow every twist, turn and movement of the road, like he was reading a map in his head. They were, after all, taking the road he took home every evening.
Twenty minutes later, the van stopped and, in one swift movement, somebody cut off the plastic ties that had been holding his wrists. After a moment, the side door opened and Sean was helped out. Despite the blindfold, he knew exactly where he was and the strong smell of seaweed helped confirm it. There had been a storm the day before and Fenella Beach was always a seaweed trap during westerly gales. Sean also had a pretty good idea why he was captive, though he couldn’t puzzle out why he’d been brought to this particular place late on a windy evening.
With a man holding each elbow, he was led down the stone ramp from the small car park onto the pebbled beach. Then they crossed the beach until they reached the cliff face less than one hundred metres away. The man who had been waving the gun cursed as he stumbled over a rocky protrusion. “I swear by Allah that accursed rock gets me every time.”
They moved forward a few paces and Sean had the feeling that he was in a partially enclosed space. He stretched his arms as if relieving the discomfort of having had his wrists bound. There was rough granite on each side and he sensed the same just above his head – confirmed when a drop of water landed on the thinning patch that Sandy teased him about. If it was the shallow cave in the cliffs where kids played in the summer, it was a strange place to be taken to unless, of course, these guys intended to dispose of him there.
But Sean didn’t think that they intended him any permanent harm; after all, he was of much more use to them alive than dead. Anyway, it was his birthday and you don’t go killing the government’s Chief Minister on his birthday – it’s just not sporting.
By Nadine Sgouraditis on 14 April 2016
3rd in the Manx Connection series. You really don’t need to know anything about the Island it is set on. Descriptions are very good and it really could be any island around the British Isles. Some characters from the previous books we get to know a little better and a few new ones, make this an interesting addition to the series. Don’t be fooled by the beautiful tranquil cover picture this is a thriller that keeps you on your toes. Another good story in the Manx Connection but this time all …
By Amazon Customer on 29 Aug 2016
Another good story in the Manx Connection but this time all based on the lovely Isle of Man. I related strongly to a couple of the characters and was kept in suspense throughout. However I almost felt disappointed in how a couple of nasty characters exited the story.
Image used and published according to the licence granted by the artist
Two triggers launched the plot – a friend who wanted to start an unusual business and a real, genuine, little cave on a beach near to where we live. When you read the book, you may find these photos helpful.