Saturday Sampler: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead by Owen Mullen

His motto: Never take a no from somebody who can give you a yes.

Gavin Law was a whistleblower.

Now he’s missing.

Just another case for Glasgow PI, Charlie Cameron, until he discovers there is more to Law and his disappearance than anyone imagined.

Wallace Maitland, the surgeon responsible for leaving a woman brain-damaged may have abandoned his sacred oath and become a killer. Did the hospital which refused to accept responsibility for the tragedy have Law silenced permanently? Or, with his wife little more than a vegetable, has David Cooper, believing he has been betrayed yet again, taken justice into his own hands?

Charlie comes to realize the world of medicine can be a dangerous place.

Across the city, East End gangster, Sean Rafferty is preparing to exploit the already corrupt city council in a multi-million-pound leisure development known as Riverside. The project will be good for Glasgow. But not everybody is keen to work with Rafferty.

With more than money at stake, Sean will do anything to get his way. His motto, borrowed from his old man, is simple. Never take a no from somebody who can give you a yes.

If that means murder, then so be it.

Charlie has crossed Rafferty’s path before and lived to tell the tale.

He may not be so lucky a second time.

Owen Mullen

Saturday Sampler: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Traffic was heavy. Annie’s mother cursed at a moron in a white Vauxhall going slow enough to be following a hearse.

She took her frustration out on the horn. ‘Come on! Come on! Move it, for Christ’s sake!’

At the first opportunity, she passed the car with a final irate blast. She was going to have to speak to her father. It wasn’t working. This was the second time he had let her down. On something else, she wouldn’t have a problem. Annie wasn’t something else, and Joan needed to be certain he would be there at three o’clock. Every day. Without fail. Last-minute phone calls weren’t on. The truth was, she hated the council. Growing up, she’d seen less of her father than other children. He was always at meetings or surgeries – something. Her mother had more or less raised the children on her own, while he was off doing “important things.” And it hadn’t changed. He was still at it, except this time it was her daughter who was suffering because of it. Annie deserved better, and she would have better. The world was full of crazy people. Kids needed to be protected. Now that was a job worth doing.

As soon as she came round the corner she saw her; blonde hair tied in a ponytail and carrying her tiny satchel. Usually, a crowd of adults gathered at the gates, waiting for their kids. Today there was no one.

Just Annie. And the man she was talking to.

Joan braked so suddenly she lurched forward and almost hit her head on the windscreen. Annie saw her and waved. Her mother ran to her and scooped her into her arms.

The stranger smiled. ‘You have a lovely daughter. You must be very proud of her.’

Something in his eyes made her shiver. Joan backed away, blurting out apologies. ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry, baby. I’m sorry I’m late.’

‘It’s all right, Mum. This man knows granddad.’

The innocence of it made her mother want to cry. Later she would, but not now. Joan held her little girl tighter. The news was full of pervs and child molesters. Her father had no right putting his precious council before Annie’s safety.

‘Does he?’

‘Yes. He knows all about him.’

The stranger made to walk away. He waved. Annie waved back. ‘Remember what I told you to tell your mum?’

Annie nodded and rolled her eyes.

‘You’re supposed to tell Granddad.’

Joan hesitated; afraid to ask. Her voice trembled. ‘Tell Granddad what?’

‘Sean says hello.’

——-

Lachie Thompson wasn’t surprised when Joan called and said she wanted to talk to him. Her tone told him all he needed to know: he was in the bad books.

He tried to sound casual. ‘Okay, when?’

His daughter didn’t mince her words. ‘Right now.’

Collecting Annie from school was a serious responsibility. Calling off at the last minute was unacceptable. A tongue-lashing was on its way and he deserved it. Too often, when Joan was young, he hadn’t been around. No outsider could appreciate how much they had sacrificed so he could attend a function or yet another meeting which – invariably – over-ran into the small hours. He returned to a house in darkness, his family asleep. Lachie remembered sitting downstairs, nursing a whisky, his mind still racing, too wired to go to bed.

In the beginning, Sally had been his biggest supporter but, in the end, even she couldn’t take the loneliness that came with public office, and divorced him. Thompson understood: it was the price. Then Annie had come along. His second chance. And he was blowing it.

Joan was waiting for him in the kitchen and from the look on her face he could tell she was upset. More than upset: furious. Her voice trembled with an emotion her father thought was anger; it was fear.

He sat at the kitchen table. Joan stood with her back against the sink, gripping the edge so hard her knuckles poked white through the skin. Her father began with an apology. ‘Look. Joan. About this afternoon. I’m very sorry. I…’

He didn’t get further.

‘Do you know what happened today? Do you have any idea?’

She’d lost him.

Joan barked her questions at him. ‘Who is Sean? Sean who? I want to know.’

‘What’re you saying? I don’t get it.’

‘Don’t you? Don’t you, really?’

She leaned across the table until her face was inches from his. ‘A stranger gave Annie a message at the school gates. A message for her granddad.’

Thompson shook his head. ‘What stranger? What message?’

‘He told her to tell him “Sean says hello.” So, I’m asking. Who the fuck is Sean?’

Thompson didn’t answer; he was too stunned. Finally, he got up and walked to the door. ‘I’ll take care of it,’ he said. ‘It won’t happen again.’

His daughter looked at him, her expression a mixture of disbelief and contempt. ‘What’ve you got us into, Dad?’

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