As has become a bit of a habit, i've put up the first chapter of my latest novel. It's the Sequel to When Good Men Do Nothing, which is about to hit publishers' desks.
Let me know what you think...
Jerry licked his gloved fingers and smoothed a stray piece of hair into place using the small diamond paned windows in the door to check his reflection.
Tugging his collar up nervously he pressed the bell again, glancing back over his shoulder to where Donna waited in the car at the end of the gravel driveway, the idling engine just audible in the quiet road.
The heat was intense, particularly for September, and he shrugged his thick jacket to settle it more comfortably over his shoulders. He wished that he didn’t have to wear it, but it was part of his disguise in case anyone saw what was about to happen.
In his twenty four years of life Jerry had learned a few things, and one of them was that people giving a description would often latch onto a piece of clothing. Shed that clothing and you could walk right back past them without so much as a raised eyebrow.
Pressing the bell again, he stepped back and looked up at the detached house, searching for a twitch from the upstairs curtains or any other sign that someone was in.
He had to admit that the house was impressive. It sat surrounded on all sides by well kept gardens, set back from the road with a gravel drive and tall Leylandii hedges that hid the property from nosey passers-by.
The walls were brown brick with matching window frames, all double glazed in a fake lead diamond pattern. Above the door a white plastic box flashed with a tiny green light, warning anyone foolish enough to risk it that the house was alarmed.
Pushing his shades further up his nose, Jerry rang the bell one final time, listening carefully as the sonorous chimes echoed through the house. Finally satisfied, he waved at Donna and she reversed into the drive, stopping a few feet from the front door.
As soon as the car stopped Jerry opened the boot, pulling out a squat, heavy ram made of red painted metal that he’d lifted from an unlocked police van a few weeks before.
The officers had been dealing with a massive fight on St James’s Street and he’d taken the chance that life had given him. As the officers piled out of the van past him the last one slammed the sliding side door shut, only it bounced back and there it was, the perfect burglar’s tool just sitting there begging him to take it.
Of course it hadn’t been easy to get away without being seen, the thing was damn heavy, but he was nothing if not resourceful and he’d found a way.
Grinning as he hefted the ram, he gripped the handles and swung it back to gain momentum, slamming it into the door with a bone-jarring crunch.
The UPVC door flew open at the first hit, the inside handle smashing chips from the wall as it struck.
Dropping the ram back into the boot, Jerry ran for the alarm box at the bottom of the stairs. Flipping open the case he took a slow breath and squinted at the buttons as it beeped a warning at him.
His patience paid off and he grinned as he saw the first four buttons were the only ones with worn numbers. Pressing them in order from one to four, he grunted with satisfaction as the alarm stopped beeping.
Shaking his head at the idiocy of people who spent so much on an alarm and then never changed the factory set combination, he stuck his head back outside.
“Oy, Don, we’re in”.
Donna turned the engine off but left the keys in the ignition. No one was likely to steal it around here but having the car ready to go could mean the difference between getting away clean or spending the night in a cell.
Lifting her shades and planting them firmly in her lank blonde hair, she grinned at her boyfriend and grabbed two large black holdalls from the open boot.
Passing one to him, she hurried into the house and straight up the stairs while Jerry looked for any sign of a basement.
They had a formula for spinning houses. She would go straight for the bedrooms and look through the jewellery, picking out pieces that would be worth something. If she left it to him he’d grab the shiniest pieces and more often than not they’d be worth next to nothing.
In turn, Jerry would head for the basement or garage and the tools. Usually in the posh houses they worked, the tools were bought as expensive presents and then rarely used, keeping their resale price high.
Once they had done their respective floors, the couple would then meet back in the hallway, and if they had time they’d spin the kitchen and the lounge for electrical goods.
That was another rule that Jerry was adamant about. Even if they killed the alarm they spent no more than seven minutes in the house, no matter what.
The average police response time in Brighton was just over ten minutes, but averages had a way of catching you out if you started relying on them. He’d spent almost half his life in prison and unlike some he had no wish to go back.
Donna hurried up the stairs, her special edition Nike trainers making no sound on the thick carpet as Jerry moved into the kitchen, trying doors at random until he found one that was locked.
Checking the cupboard under the sink, he found a toolkit and raided it for a hammer and a good sized chisel. Grinning once again at the predictability of the people he robbed, Jerry put the chisel against the wood above the lock and hit it hard.
On the third blow the lock clattered to the floor and the door swung free, bringing with it a gust of cold, dank smelling air. Finding the light switch by feel, he flicked it and the bare bulb burst into life, illuminating a narrow set of stairs.
Dropping the tools he hurried down the steps and into the basement, eyes already scanning for the racks of expensive DIY equipment he expected to find.
As usual his hunch was right. Every wall was covered by rack after rack of tools, only they weren’t the sort you put up shelves with.
Pinching the tender skin between thumb and forefinger to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, he broke all the rules and ran back up the stairs screaming Donna’s name.
“What?” She shouted, pounding down the stairs with her favourite knife out, eyes flicking left and right for the source of the danger.
“You won’t believe this babe, you gotta come see this!” He babbled, grabbing her arm and hauling her towards the kitchen. “We’ve struck the fuckin’ jackpot!”
Refusing to answer any further questions he guided her down the stairs, blocking the racks from view with his body until he had her in the centre of the room.
Then with a flourish he stepped out of the way and watched in amusement as Donna’s jaw fell open.
“Oh. My. God”, she said after a moment, her eyes huge. “What the fuck have you found?”