‘In this powerful thriller, Hogan plunges us into the world and mind of her psychopathic killer from the first line and relentlessly tightens the tension until the very last page’ (Cover Quote)
Bad boy Scott Carluccio Randall is back in Cat Hogan’s follow up to They All Fall Down.
There Was A Crooked Man has JUST been published by Poolbeg Crimson and when the wonderful Cat Hogan asked me to join the blog tour I jumped at the chance. I have only just received my copy, literally hot off the press, so I’m looking forward to finding out what the psychopathic Scott has planned on his return to Ireland.
Today I have an extract for you all as a taster of what you will find between the stunning covers of this new release….
It’s cuppa time folks…sit back, relax and enjoy this exciting scene from Chapter One….
Scott makes enemies everywhere. Powerful people want him dead. He’s coming back to Ireland to finish what he started. But first, he must make it out of Marrakech alive.
Jen knows Scott will come back. Every day, she waits. He almost killed her last time and, fuelled by hate and arrogance, he’s not a man to ever just move on. He will kill her and he will kill her young son. But her husband and friends believe she has spiralled into paranoia.
So she knows, when he returns, she’ll face the psychopath alone.
The second hurdle was getting to the car with the body. I kept a car outside the city walls but moved it regularly for two reasons: one, to keep the engine ticking over, the other to ensure it was never in a place long enough to arouse the attention of local thieves or the police. In my game, an exit strategy was prudent.
I felt nothing for this young girl. Another junkie mignotta – a whore. She deserved it and now the city had one less parasite. The ebb and flow of life. One was exterminated – another would take her place very quickly.
Darkness swept in over the Atlas Mountains and swallowed the voice of a muezzin. It was time. The network of alleyways surrounding the riads would conceal us. Clad in the local attire, hoods up, we looked the part and we knew the route through the alleyways. I originally envisaged Fran carrying the carpet by himself and me following behind, but he looked conspicuous straining under the weight of what was supposed to be flooring bought in the souk. We carried the carpet together, on our shoulders. Fran was in front.
Our destination was The Tanners’ Gate and the quickest route was though the souks. It would take us less than ten minutes.
The labyrinth of laneways was a landscape of pure darkness save for the bare bulbs of street lamps casting sodium light on flaking plaster and clay walls. We zigzagged along the laneways, moving quickly but not so much as to be noticed.
‘Turn right here.’
The souks were as easy to identify by smell as they were by sight. I liked to spend time down here in the markets. We entered Souk El Kebir. I knew it well and we weren’t far from where we needed to get. The chant of the woodturners selling their wares was constant. The smell of cedarwood hung heavy in the air. We kept to our pace and didn’t stop. By now the woollen djellaba was stuck to my back with sweat, as we swam, with our cargo, against a sea of bodies. We arrived at Kissaria Square. It was noisy, hot, sticky, smelly, and overrun with tourists. Even under the circumstances, the assault on the senses never failed to amuse and amaze me. Here was a riot of sound and explosions of colour from clothing and fabrics.
‘Vous deux, arrêtez – où allez-vous?’
A tall merchant with dirty caramel skin blocked Fran’s path.
He knew we weren’t tourists but he also guessed we weren’t natives – hence the French. The locals were used to all sorts living within the walls of their old city.
Fran could barely speak English.
‘Entrez, entrez, amis! Voulez-vous acheter? J’ai le meilleur haschisch de qualité dans tout le Maroc!’
Fran was shaking his head and trying to sidestep him.
‘We do not want to buy hash,’ I responded in French.
‘Vous achetez! Vous achetez!’ He was insistent and had Fran by the arm.
‘Keep walking,’ I muttered.
Fran didn’t move. He was swaying on his feet and sweat was staining the fabric between his shoulder blades.
‘We do not want to buy. Move out of our path.’ I spoke in French again, this time more aggressively.
‘Vous achetez! Vous achetez!’
This plan was unravelling. We were faced with a potential scene in front of tourists, or worse again, the secret police that frequented the city – they spent so much time trying to look inconspicuous that they stuck out of the crowd. My eyes had become adept at spotting them. But at that moment, I didn’t have the luxury or the freedom to move around and watch.
In front of me, Fran’s shoulders were hunched and his legs were shaking. If he dropped the carpet, it was game over. The square was filling up. Crowds were pushing and jostling to get past us.
‘Move!’ I said.
He did not obey me. The merchant still had him by the arm.
My eyes swept over the square. I needed an exit strategy. If it was going to go bad, I needed an out. The minaret of Ben Youssef Mosque was in my eyeline, just to my left. Go there and double back down the alley. Fuck Fran. I had no reservations about saving my own skin.
The merchant shook his head and muttered something. His arms flew into the air and he roared at me, in Arabic this time. Then, bored with the exchange, he turned his back and accosted a pair of backpackers.
Fran almost broke into a trot. That was close. Maybe we should have taken the longer route but it was too late to back out now. Bab El Debbagh was near – once we reached that gate, we should be out of danger.
We were in the very north of the medina – the old city. A sea of bodies was flooding towards the square for the evening spectacle of street food, storytellers, dancers, conjurers, and hustlers.
‘Turn right, and head for the tanneries.’
The alleyways were more deserted here, save for the odd scooter or an old man and his donkey. Tourists came down here during the day, but never at night. It was a good plan to come this way after all. The vats were kept covered during the day because of the heat but the dark unleashed the smells. I didn’t buy into the superstitions of the locals – it was the living I had to watch out for. The locals believed the tanneries were inhabited by demon spirits, the traces of hair, blood and the dirt under my feet adding weight to their argument. The tanneries were located on the outskirts of town and the rancid trade was one for the poor.
On Rue Bab Debbagh, it was like stepping into medieval times. Stinking tanners, with their stinking children and their piss-pots. We wouldn’t be bothered here. The smell of urine, dung and decaying flesh made my eyes water. The old traditions, still alive and well – the scraping and stretching of dead skin.
Weybridge Estate and the harbour flashed before my eyes. The ‘old sod’, Ireland, the green grass of home – an appealing vision while here in the bowels of hell. The heat was making me soft. Fuck Ireland. That thought, and the faces in my mind made my breath quicken. I imagined for a moment it was her broken body here with me in this place. That made me feel better. One of these days, I thought, Jen would get what was coming to her.
But I wasn’t at liberty to fantasise – Fran was speaking to me over his shoulder. He could see the gate ahead, the russet tones of the carved pisé – the straw-and-mud walls enclosing the city – signifying the light at the end of the tunnel. That put a spring in his step.
Outside the city walls, the air was slightly cooler. Even though we could have done with a rest for a moment, we couldn’t risk stopping.
The car was where I had left it. I had bought an old Mercedes – it was an obvious choice – the most common car in Marrakech. A fine layer of dust had settled on the bodywork and crude graffiti had been scrawled across the back. The car had once been wine in colour, now it looked sandblasted.
Luckily, Fran seemed to have got over the incident in the market and was more alert. The boot opened after a groan of protest and we put the carpet in there. It took a bit of bending and pushing but it eventually fitted in.
I, too, was feeling calmer. The muscles in my back were loosening after the strain of our cargo and I was tempted to go for a coffee. She was in no hurry after all.
Fran looked as though he might start blubbering again. He was a sympathetic sort of fool when all was said and done. There was more to this story than he had told me originally – I would get that information from him, one way or another.
Things were different here in the Red City. I needed to be ahead of the game. Trust no one and always have an escape route. That was my code. Ireland was different, but the liberties and sway I had there were gone. My fault, I suppose, but that bitch Jen back there had pushed me to it. I wouldn’t let go, I couldn’t let go. Thanks to her, I now owed my boss and I was trapped here.
‘Scott! Are you listening to me?’
‘Yes. Get in the car. Let’s get this done. You drive. Head south, on the main road. I’ll tell you where to go.’
He did not object.
He was calmer now and driving well, I noted as we set out.
‘Why couldn’t we leave her somewhere in the medina?’ he eventually asked.
I had pondered this while waiting for sunset back in the riad. Why not throw her into a dustbin and forget about it?
‘We can’t take the risk of her being found.’
I had other reasons too.
Fran was sloppy. He wasn’t telling me everything. He had a big mouth and a penchant for kif. Not a good combination.
We drove for ten more minutes in silence and darkness bar the tunnel of light from the headlights. The sky was a shade of inky blue, with a smattering of bright stars. The dusty landscape was broken up by billboards advertising the Royal Golf Hotel Marrakech. Golf courses meant lots of space and a lack of houses.
Fran saw the billboard before I did. La Maison Marie Rose.
Another hotel. The white lettering and logo stood out against the backdrop of blue, the up-lights making the words pop out.
‘What are the odds of that?’ he said.
Fran was superstitious and this city suited him – they were all the same here with their talk of black magic, jinns and demons. It was nonsense and didn’t hold sway with me.
‘I don’t like this,’ he said.
I could hear the nerves in his voice.
‘I’ve told you before, I don’t believe in superstitious nonsense,’ I said. ‘Now keep your eyes on the road and take your next exit to the left. That’s a dirt road into waste ground. That’s where we need to go.’
It had been quite some time since I’d had any reminders of Ireland, or Jen and Andy. Now twice in the one night. An odd coincidence: a hotel in Africa sharing a name with Andy’s trawler all the way back in County Wexford. I didn’t believe in karma. Maybe I should have started right then.’
Doesn’t this sound so exciting!! Soooo looking forward to getting stuck into it soon.
You can too now –.> Purchase Link ~ There Was A Crooked Man
Cat Hogan was born into a home of bookworms and within spitting distance of the sea. Her father, Pat, a lightship man, instilled in her a love of the sea and the stars. Her mother, Mag, taught her how to read before she could walk.
Writing, storytelling and a wild imagination is part of her DNA
The beautiful County Wexford, Ireland is home to Cat, her musician partner Dave, two beautiful sons Joey and Arthur, and her tomcat Jim Hawkins. There they live a life of storytelling, song and adventure. The other love of Cat’s life is food. A self-professed foodie, there is nothing she loves more than feeding a houseful of friends round her kitchen table.
When she is not conjuring up imaginary friends, she can be found supporting local musicians and writers of which there is an abundance in her home town.
There Was A Crooked Man is Cat’s second novel, following on from her debut novel They All Fall Down ( Read my review HERE )
Twitter ~ @Kittycathogan