Dan Shaw, a promising but often overlooked Interpol Agent finds himself embroiled in a life or death struggle with an organised criminal gang. Nothing could have prepared him for what was to come, after being stuck on the copyright infringement task force at the Brussels Interpol Headquarters. Dan has to rely on his instincts and wit to survive as he battles against ruthless gang members who will stop at nothing to get to him. Unsure of who he can trust, Dan faces tough decisions which risk endangering the people he cares about.
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love crime dramas from the point of view of law enforcement and I wanted to create my own character universe to set my novels in. I also noticed recently that there weren't many if any novels that used Interpol/Europol (worldwide law enforcement agencies). This gives me a lot of freedom in terms of setting as well as keeping the novels as realistic as possible.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Dan Shaw is our protagonist and is based on a collection of ideals (although not without flaws) that I longed for when reading novels like this, certainly in my late teens and twenties. I wanted a main character that I could relate to, rather than an all singing all dancing multi-talented hero that you typically find in stories like mine.
Gregor allowed himself a quiet chuckle as he fingered through some of his older stock. The memories the old covers were evoking made him reminisce about his early days in the damp, dark alleys of Brussels. He remembered the thick black long coat he used to wear, which despite its appearance, did little to keep the bone numbing chill out of his limbs. His English was so poor back then that he was barely ever aware of the DVDs he was flogging. A linguistic misunderstanding had led to the nickname that he still bore today; Blackbeard. With his limited language skills, he deduced that the client that had first used the expression had done so because of his fuzzy black beard, a typical trait of most Balkan men. It was only some years later that he was able to fully appreciate the dry humour of a pirate’s name for the vendor of pirated movies. Simple as it was, he had done nothing to dispel the use of it.
Gregor put his thought provoking, memory inducing movies into a box and then put them to the side to take home with him later. ‘Maybe I will even watch one of them tonight’, he thought to himself. He liked to stay in the shop until at least 8pm on a Thursday, as he knew most of his shadier clients preferred coming through the back streets of Schaerbeek once the city had fallen into dusk. Situated on a quiet street near to the rail line, Gregor’s shop was a modest affair. A medium sized room with thick metal grating adorning the glass frontage. A scruffy white sign ran the length of the grating, with faded red lettering urging customers into ‘Eric’s Electronics’. Gregor had found the sign years ago in a scrap yard just as he was transitioning from a street merchant to an established retailer. At first the electronics had been merely a front for his bootlegged DVD business but the growth of online streaming in the last decade meant he had come to rely on second hand goods more and more heavily. Most of these items were of course still stolen goods, but the mark-up was nowhere near as favourable when compared to his DVDs. There was still plenty of demand for his wares, especially amongst the poorer immigrant population where families often had limited access to the internet. Hence his stock room was still three quarters DVDs and then a few boxes of electronic junk that wasn’t worthy of display in his shop.
The door to the stock room was directly behind where Gregor now sat, at his check-out desk complete with an old school cash register and a separate extra-large calculator which saw most of its use during one of the regular bargaining sessions that often occurred between Gregor and some of his cheekier customers. Gregor longed to leave the shop and the criminality of it all behind. He hated the long boring days and was well aware of the ever-decreasing pay-outs that his chosen line of work was providing him. When he had started out nearly 20 years ago, the shady dealings and skirting of the law had scared him but also filled him with adrenaline. These days it just left him dreading a prison sentence. Unbeknownst to most of his associates, Gregor had a family back in Sarajevo which was the destination for most of his profits these days. He kept just enough for food and drink, and so that he could continue to pay the landlord in cash, so that any authorities were kept well in the dark over the business as well as his identity.
Blackbeard often had to hold his nerve whilst local police or detectives snooped around his shop. However, he knew that they would never be able to produce a warrant as he had never given them cause, which was why all of the illegal items were kept in the back. He was confident that plausible deniability would be enough to save him, should any of the stolen electronics be traced back to him. Generally, the people that bought goods from him were less likely to co-operate with the authorities than he was anyway, he just had to ensure that he didn’t slip up in front of them or mistake them for a genuine customer. He had even had a few local police and Interpol agents sniffing around his supply routes at the docks in Antwerp, so he was always in a state of alert should he ever have to make a run for it. He always kept a blade taped to the underside of the desk as well. Having some ‘insurance’ was important.
Just as he was about to call it a night, Gregor noticed a sleek, black Audi SUV pull over on the far side of the road. He did not recognise the car as one belonging to anyone on his street and could not make out the face of the bald man that was illuminated by the interior light as the driver’s door opened away from his view. The man quickly shut the door, locked the car and hurriedly crossed the road; shoulders hunched to keep out the drizzle that had begun to fall. It became clear that the man was heading into the shop, and Gregor caught glimpses of face through the metal railings. He thought the man seemed familiar but could not place him. He was sure that this man was not a regular customer and yet he was heading for the shop with an air of confidence that implied he knew exactly where he was going. In seconds, the glass fronted door opened with a soft creak at the hinges, and the mysterious man’s face was illuminated with the harsh white light of the strip fittings of the shop. Stepping into the shop, the man extended his neck from his bunched shoulders and discreetly shook off the water that had collected on his coat, as well as his hairless scalp. He looked up and locked eyes with Gregor, and at that moment the shopkeeper knew where he had seen this bald, eastern European man with a stubble strewn chin before. Years before, he had held a meeting with a Ukrainian gang member about becoming a merchant for their stolen goods, which yielded a fair agreement on the acquisition of electronic goods. That agreement was still in place and was through which he acquired the majority of his stolen stock. On that day, as the gang member left the shop, he glimpsed a face through the open door of a hulking range rover, of a bald, rough looking man with a face that oozed authority over those around him. That same man was now slowly walking towards the desk at which he sat. Gregor’s palms were immediately damp with a nervous sweat. He felt under the desk, to the hilt of his hidden knife. The knowledge of the knife made him feel ever so slightly safer, but it didn’t last long. With only seconds left before the man reached him, Gregor’s mind was racing through all of the possible reasons that this mysterious, thuggish looking criminal could have for entering into his shop. Silently he prayed that he had not done anything to anger his dangerous business associates, as a hidden knife would do little to deter a bullet to the head, he thought ruefully.
In heavily eastern European accented English, the bald gangster began to speak at Gregor, ‘You are Blackbeard yes? I need DVD for my daughter’.
Gregor breathed the most titanic sigh of relief. There had been nothing to worry about…
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