THE RECKLESS ENGINEER by Jac Wright
The aftershocks of an affair reverberate out to those in the lives of the lovers, who will NOT take it lying down.
Jack Connor lives an idyllic life by the Portsmouth seaside married to Caitlin McAllen, a stunning billionaire heiress, and working at his two jobs as the Head of Radar Engineering of Marine Electronics and as the Director of Engineering of McAllen BlackGold, his powerful father-in-law's extreme engineering company in oil & gas. He loves his two sons from his first marriage and is amicably divorced from his beautiful first wife, Marianne Connor. Their delicately balanced lives are shattered when the alluring Michelle Williams, with whom Jack is having a secret affair, is found dead and Jack is arrested on suspicion for the murder.
Jeremy Stone brings in a top London defence attorney, Harry Stavers, to handle his best friend's defence.
Who is the bald man with the tattoo of a skull seen entering the victim's house? Who is the "KC" that Caitlin makes secret calls to from a disposable mobile? Has the powerful Douglas McAllen already killed his daughter's first partner, and is he capable of killing again? Is Caitlin's brother's power struggle with Jack for the control of McAllen Industries so intense that he is prepared to kill and frame him? Is the divorce from his first wife as amicable on her part as they believe it to be? Are his sons prepared to kill for their vast inheritance? Who are the ghosts from Caitlin's past haunting the marriage? What is the involvement of Jack's manager at Marine Electronics?
While Jack is charged and his murder trial proceeds in the Crown Court under barrister Harry Stavers' expert care, Jeremy runs a race against time to find the real killer and save his friend's life, if he is in fact innocent, in a tense tale of love, friendship, power, and ambition.
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Excerpt: Jeremy Gets a Disguise
Otter had nowadays moved into acting and backstage production and was today doing the costumes for the stage adaptation of the acclaimed Ealing comedy The Ladykillers at the Gielgud Theatre.
Jeremy got off the taxi at Piccadilly Circus and picked up the ticket he had booked on the phone. The show was due to start at 7:45 p.m. He presented his ticket at the entrance. Then he jotted his name down on the back of a Barrett Stavers business card, handed it to one of the ushers, and asked for Otter. A few minutes later he was led backstage where he was greeted with screams of delight by the man in person.
‘O. M. G., Jeremy! Welcome, welcome to my parlour baby boy. How is Harry? I was gonna give him a call soon anyways because . . .’ He lowered his voice into a whisper, bringing his mouth next to Jeremy’s ear and covering it with his hand: ‘. . . I have an offer from a Broadway producer to join a gig in New York for a spell.’ Otter withdrew from his ear. ‘Yeah? So how exciting is that? My black grandma would have been thrilled if only she were here, bless her soul.’
He winked and clapped his hands.
‘Come, come this way.’ Otter took Jeremy’s hand in his and led him to an empty dressing room lit with dim yellowish-white lights that looked like a dungeon full of colourful costumes, makeup, props and chests of showbiz treasures, the door of which he carefully closed and locked behind them.
‘I need to get Harry to look at this contract of mine and see how soon I can get out of this one without badly riling somebody’s feathers.’
Otter pulled out an old brown wooden suitcase from under a desk, its exterior covered with badges of West End shows stuck onto it. He dug into it through a pile of costumes, masks and other props and pulled out a cardboard folder.
‘Take a look at this. What do you think?’
He pushed Jeremy onto the sofa covered with costumes, tossed the file onto his lap, and stood expectantly with one hand on his hip jutted out sideways.
Jeremy turned the pages, pretending to read through and understand it all.
‘I’m going to have to get our expert, Harry, to take a look at this also, Otter. Why don’t I take a photocopy with me tonight?’
‘A photocopy, yes. Well, there’s no copier in here, Gem. I don’t want any of these bitches to see me doing this because you know they are fucking gossips.’
‘There are several newsagents outside. Why don’t I find a copier and make a copy? I can bring this back to you in ten minutes,’ Jeremy suggested.
Otter sat up next to him and put a hand on his knee.
‘You are a lifesaver, darling. But guard that with your life. Now what can I do for you?’
Jeremy slid the contract under his Jacket.
‘Well, I need someone who has seen photographs of me not to recognize me, Otter. Darker hair, maybe a moustache, slightly more aged and greying? A few extra pounds of weight perhaps? We can keep it light because these men have only seen my pictures on the newspapers and possibly on TV. I need it on me for Saturday.’
‘Of course, leave it to Otter. When I’m done with you your mamma won’t recognize you, Gem. Your mamma will say, whozaaatt?’
Otter got back up and gave him a hand up. Otter often shortened his name to Gem. Jeremy liked it. If he ever got into a stage career he would call himself Gem, he thought.
Guest Post: Writing a Legal Thriller Set in the English Courts
|Inside an English Crown Court|
Writing a legal thriller through the English courts was, however, a daunting task to take on. There are no legal thrillers set in the British courts that I was aware of. I had read Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series in my late teens, but these stories are set in an American court. Even most of John Grisham’s cases are based in civil litigation. Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer series is the strongest contemporary criminal litigation stories I know. I decided to base no part of my book on past literature, not only because there was no past thrillers I could find based in English courts, but also because I wanted this work to be real, contemporary, and original. I decided to write it from real experience of the English courts system.
Fortunately I have a close friend who is a barrister to help me with my legal research and in whose image I have cast Harry Stavers. I followed my friend and his solicitors through months of criminal litigation, from the initial arrest and interview of suspects at police stations through to criminal appeals in the high court. I have spent many a day sitting in a courtroom, absorbing the environment and the proceedings. The rigorous and solemn proceedings for a Crown court hearing is a grand affair with wigged and cloaked judges and court officers. I have also spent many hours reading my friend’s legal books searching for the right procedures and real case histories.
Behind the calm and solemn proceedings the police station and the courtroom is arena of fierce dueling and battle. The police lie, the prosecutors lie; the witnesses and the lawyers lie at times. Unfortunately, the rich and the powerful do get away with crimes or get light sentences while the poor get treated harshly unfairly in the British courts. I decided, however, not to explore that in the book. I decided to make the court system equally just and tough for the rich and poor alike in The Reckless Engineer.
The result is something unique––a traditional murder mystery closely woven together with a realistic and contemporary legal thriller through the English courts.
Jac Wright is a poet published in literary magazines, a published author, and an electronics engineer educated at Stanford, University College London, and Cambridge who lives and works in England. Jac studied English literature from the early age of three, developing an intense love for poetry, drama, and writing in Trinity College Speech & Drama classes taken afternoons and Saturdays for fourteen years, and in subsequent creative writing classes taken during the university years. A published poet, Jac's first passion was for literary fiction and poetry writing as well as for the dramatic arts. You will find these influences in the poetic imagery and prose, the dramatic scene setting, and the deep character creation.
These passions - for poetry, drama, literary fiction, and electronic engineering - have all been lovingly combined to create the first book in the literary suspense series, The Reckless Engineer. There are millions of professionals in high tech corporate environments who work in thousands of cities in the US, the UK, and the world such as engineers, technicians, technical managers, investment bankers, and corporate lawyers. High drama, power struggles, and human interest stories play out in the arena every day. Yet there are hardly any books that tell their stories; there are not many books that they can identify with. Jac feels compelled to tell their stories in The Reckless Engineer series.
Jac also writes the literary short fiction series, Summerset Tales, in which he explores characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances in the semi-fictional region of contemporary England called Summerset, partly the region that Thomas Hardy called Wessex. Some of the tales have an added element of suspense similar to Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. The collection is published as individual tales in the tradition of Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers and Thomas Hardy's Wessex Tales. The first tale, The Closet, accompanies the author's first full-length literary suspense title, The Reckless Engineer.
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The author, Jac Wright, is giving away two $25 Amazon gift cards to two random commenters on the blog posts on this tour on the 30th of January 2013. He will add two extra entries to anyone who shares this post on his or her Facebook page. Please enter your comment below and your email with the comment or on the Giveaway Web Form.