Monday, June 29, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

Hodder love Nightingale the book but not the title! My agent is now trying to come up with better titles, which is no easy task!

Here are a few suggestions:

The Price of a Soul

The Price of Your Soul

The power of the devil

A date with the devil (one novel four years ago)

Deal with the Devil – (three novels in the last five years)

The Mark of the Devil

You’re Going to Hell

Descent to Hell

The negotiator

Negotiations with hell

Negotiate with the devil

The Fall to Hell

The Fall

The Falling Man – (Falling Man is a novel by Don DeLilo, 2007/2008)

You Can Fall Forever

Supping with the Devil – (Supping with the Devils is non-fiction political journalism by Hugo Young, 2003)

The Devil You Know – (At least five novels in the last five years)

The Fires of Hell

The Smoke From Hell

The View From Hell

The Map of Hell

A Date with Hell

Blood From Hell

The Cost of a Human Soul

The Map of the Human Soul

Map of the Soul

The Blood and the Fires

Blood and Fires

There is no Redemption

No Judgement but the Last

Nightingale and the Devil

Nightingale and the Fires of Hell

I think of all of them I like Nightingale And The Devil best, but we'll see what Hodder think!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Land Of Smiles

I’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand over the past twenty-five years, and have always enjoyed my time there. But the country has started to change, and not for the better.

It’s no longer as good value as it used to be, and food and drink is now often as expensive as it is in London. The pollution is terrible, the food full of pesticides, and the roads are probably the most dangerous in the world, with a death rate four times that of the UK.

But it’s the crime rate that has really gone through the roof, with tourists being targeted for robbery, fraud and physical attacks on a scale unheard of before. I used to recommend Thailand as a holiday destination for all my friends, but now I’m reluctant to do so.

A recent scam is to falsely accuse people of shoplifting at Bangkok Airport. It has been widely reported in the local press but not so much overseas because the scam artists usually target South East Asians, especially Indians. But recently they entrapped a British couple, so the story has been reported by the Sunday Times of London.

I have to say, I no longer shop at the Duty Free stores at Bangkok Airport because I am worrioed about being caught in a simlar scam!What happens is that goods – sometimes as small as a packet of cigarettes – are planted on a tourist. The goods are magically discovered by a security guard and the cops are called. The tourist is then told that if he pays ‘bail’ of several thousand pounds he can leave the country. If he doesn’t pay, he goes to prison and it can take years for the case to come to trial. Almost everyone pays. Frankly you’d be stupid not to!

Anyway, the British couple have vowed to fight the case in the Thai courts, but previous experience suggests that they would be wasting their time!

Having said that, the company that runs the duty free shops in the airport has put its CCTV footage on line which does seem to show a wallet being pocketed! Have a look for yourself!

A recent survey found that more than fifty per cent of the Thai people regarded their institutions as corrupt, but that on balance corruption was a good thing because it helped society function! So long as that attitude persists, things will only get worse in the Land Of Smiles! My advice to anyone coming to Thailand is to do your shopping in the city - most goods are cheaper there anyway!

A British couple who were falsely accused of shoplifting in Bangkok airport and were forced to pay £8,000 in bribes to secure their release are to take legal action for compensation.

They were the victims of an extortion racket that has ensnared other foreign travellers at the airport, which handles most of the 800,000 British visitors to Thailand every year.

Stephen Ingram, 49, and Xi Lin, 45, both technology professionals from Cambridge, were detained by security guards as they went to board Qantas flight QF1 to London on the night of Saturday, April 25.

They were accused of taking a Givenchy wallet worth £121 from a King Power duty-free shop and were handed over to the police. An official release order from the local Thai prosecutor’s office subsequently conceded there was no evidence against them.
They were freed five days later after a frightening ordeal in which they said they were threatened and held against their will at a cheap motel on the airport perimeter until they had handed over the money.

The bribes were paid to an intermediary named Sunil “Tony” Rathnayaka, a Sri Lankan national in his fifties who works as a “volunteer” interpreter for Thailand’s tourist police (motto: “To serve and to protect”).

“Our main motivation is to protect other innocent British tourists from being caught up in this nightmare,” said Ingram last week. “We intend to take every legal means to recover our money and obtain justice.”

Last week Rathnayaka admitted in a telephone interview that he had received cash and money transfers amounting to more than £7,000 from the Britons. He said the money was for police bail and for a payment to a figure he called “Little Big Man” who could withdraw the case against them.

“In Thailand everyone knows it’s like that,” he said. “They can go to jail or they can just pay a fine and go home. It is corruption, you know?”

Rathnayaka also agreed that the “bail” — about £4,000 — was never returned to Ingram and Xi. Thai law says bail should be refunded.

In a detailed statement the couple said they were first detained at an airport office of the tourist police and later taken to cells at a police station in an isolated modern building on the fringes of the airport.

Rathnayaka confirmed that he met them in the cells on the morning of Sunday, April 26, and arranged the “bail”. The police kept the couple’s passports. Rathnayaka then escorted Ingram and Xi to the Valentine Resort, a lurid pink motel a few hundred yards from the runways. They were to remain there for four days.

During that time, Rathnayaka warned them not to tell anyone about their plight, especially the British embassy, lawyers, friends, family or the press.

However, on April 27 they sneaked out of the hotel and found their way to the embassy, where they met Kate Dufall, the pro-consul.

According to the couple, she told them the embassy could not interfere with the Thai legal system and put them in contact with Prachaya Vijitpokin, a lawyer.

Vijitpokin and a colleague, Kittamert Engchountada, of the Lawyers Association of Thailand, urged them to stay in the country to fight the case and have since assembled a dossier for potential prosecutions.

However, Ingram said the couple were so terrified by this stage that they decided to meet the demands for money, which they raised by bank transfers from Britain direct to Rathnayaka’s account. The Sunday Times has copies of the transactions.

Ingram and Xi were put on a British Airways flight to London early on Friday, May 1, having received their passports with official documents from prosecutors and police stating that no charges were to be brought against them.

They have said they are willing to return to Thailand and testify to try to stop the extortion if the government will guarantee their safety.

That could become a priority for Thailand, which has suffered a series of blows to its tourist industry through economic and political upheaval.

Inquiries last week established that Rathnayaka and his accomplices have continued preying on tourists who end up in police custody after being accused of theft from the airport duty-free shop. “I am just helping people,” he explained. “I don’t get paid to do this. All the embassies know me.”

Officials at the Danish embassy confirmed that a Danish woman fell into Rathnayaka’s hands about two weeks ago and was allowed to leave Thailand only after handing over more than £4,500.

When a Sunday Times journalist posing as a businessman in trouble contacted Rathnayaka last week, the first thing he said was: “If it’s a case, for example, of shoplifting at the airport duty-free then I can help. Bail is 100,000 baht (£1,800).” He later declined an interview, saying the Sri Lanka embassy — which employs him as an interpreter — had told him not to speak.

The Foreign Office said consular officials had offered to raise the case with the Thai authorities at the time but had been asked by the couple not to intervene.

A spokesman for King Power duty-free said the company had strict rules for evidence to be submitted to the police in shoplifting cases, but added: “We cannot control what happens after that.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Not Getting Much Work Done

I'm not getting much work done as my daughter's two kittens keep walking over my computer! Hodder have decided to publish the Nightingale book in January (with a different title!) so the new Dan Shepherd book will now be published in July 2010 so I have plenty of time!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flat Out!

Haven't posted for a while because I'm flat out on Dark Justice. I hope to finish in the next ten days. My friend Anthony Horowitz won our race - he has already finished his new book but then his did come in at 85,000 words! I'm just about to hit 110,000words.

I got some good news this week in that Hodder and Stoughton want to publish Nightingale (though they don't like the title!) They want it and two more books so for the next two years I'll be doing two books a year, which will be interesting! With any luck I'll be taking a few hours off tomorrow to go and see a screening of Anthony's new TV series, Collision. Okay, got to go, my laptop awaits!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction

Unbelievable! I'm working flat out on a book about vigilante cops in North London(Dark Justice, 103,000 words) and what happens? Vigalante cops are arrested in North London. Am I ahead of the game or what?

Six Metropolitan Police officers have been suspended after being accused of using a form of water torture against suspects.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the alleged ill-treatment, said to have taken place during drugs raids in Enfield, north London, last November.

Scotland Yard is refusing to comment on the nature of the allegations but sources say the officers have been accused of pushing suspects' heads into buckets of water.

The claims came to light during an internal force investigation, when a police employee raised concerns with the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) about the conduct of a handful of officers.

The DPS conducted its own investigation before referring the matter to the IPCC in April.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Whilst the investigation is ongoing it is not appropriate to make assumptions. That said, these are serious allegations that do raise real concern.

"The Met does not tolerate conduct which falls below the standards that the public and the many outstanding Met officers and staff expect.

"Any allegations of such behaviour are treated very seriously, as this case illustrates, and if found true the strongest possible action will be taken."

In February, ten officers from Enfield's crime squad were suspended and another two placed on restricted duties after an anti-corruption probe into claims over the mishandling of property.

Eight, including one detective sergeant, remain suspended and two remain on restricted duties. The six suspended over the conduct allegations are among them.

A spokeswoman for the IPCC said: "During a proactive Metropolitan Police Service Directorate of Professional Standards investigation into allegations of mishandling of property by the crime squad in Enfield Borough which is being investigated by the IPCC, the IPCC was briefed regarding the actions of police officers executing the specific warrant."

Five people were arrested during the raids on November 4.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Money From South Africa

I am flat out on the Dan Shepherd book - just hit 102,000 words - otherwise I'd get in touch with Mr Thembi!

Urgent Transfer From:Mr.Thembi Zakiri.
18 Sunheight Randburg East
Johannesburg South Africa.

Dear Sir, or madam
This may appear a bit surprising to you but very beneficial as a matter of urgency,I am desperately looking for a foreign partner whom i can trust to handle some investment or fund movement.

I am Mrs.Thembi Zakiri,Son of late Mr.Frank Zakiri, who was murdered by the Zimbabwean veterans and irate black people. I am writing from South Africa.if well executed as your contact is via AMERICAN ONLINE INTERNET NETWORK through the consultancy directory during my search for a reliable and honest person to transact this business with.

I write to solicit for your special assistance to a family shattered by a tyrannical government led by a dictator and his(ZANU-PF)ruling party-president Robert Mugabe. Because of land and farm land crisis in Zimbabwe,the government secretly sponsored the war veterans and some irate party members to dispossess the land being occupied by white farmers.This action has led to the killing of some members of opposition party including my father(Frank Zakiri).

But before the death of my father,he anticipated some dangers and so he deposited the sum of US$15.4m(Fifteen million four hundred Thousand United States Dollars) with the help of reputable Bank in south Africa with the intention of using it to open fertilizer manufacturing company among other companies in our neighbouring country (Swaziland).

The war veterans and some supporters of(ZANU-PF)ruling party trooped into our compound and axed him(my Father)to death.Since then,they have been terrorizing me. I managed to escape to a neighbouring country,South Africa as a political asylum seeker(Refugee).But my position in South Africa does not permit me to open an account or run any huge financial business.

That is why I want this fund to be transferred into your private account so that you will assist me to invest it in your country.Hence,if you agree to assist me,i will offer you 20% of the money for your assistance,5% will be for the possible expenses incurred in the process of this transaction,while 75% will be for my investment in your country through your assistance.I need your urgent and confidential response.

Best regards,
Mr.Thembi Zakiri

Upon your immediate response,I will immediately arrange and send to you all the informations that will empower your good self in finalizing the transaction with the bank here in south Africa I will also send to you the agreement that will protect both interest.And also further information about yourself is necessary for I can not play on this.Waiting for your prompt and positive response

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pattaya Interview

Johnny Diamond has put the interview he did with me in Pattaya on You Tube so I can share it with you!

I'm in Dublin, head down on the new Dan Shepherd book. I hit 100,000 words tonight and it's all coming together!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cutting Comments

Just about to hit 90,000 words on the Dan Shepherd book. I now think of it as Dark Justice, though Jack Higgins did have a book withthat title some years ago. I think I'll write a good vigilante scene today, lots of blood and broken bones. Lovely.

I saw the following story about kids and knives today. Because it's now an offence to carry most types of knives, older kids are getting younger kids to carry knives for them, like caddies!

Here's what I don't understand. When I was a kid, eight or nine, I carried a knife. Most of my pals did. Usually a sheath knife with a four-inch blade, quite definitely illegal these days! I was a cub scout and it was virtually part of our uniform, and as kids we hung out in woods and played around trees. Knives are just something we played with. And I had a very large pocket knife I used when fishing. Also illegal these days. But we never, ever, used them aggressively and certainly wouldn't even think about attacking someone with a knife. It isn't knives that are the problem, it's people! And I do resent all the laws that have been brought in to restrict the carrying of knives. I have a decent collection of flick-knives which would result in a prison sentence if I'm not careful but I have no intention of disposing of them!

Children as young as seven are being used like "golf caddies" to carry deadly knives for older youths, a report has revealed. The older teenagers are pressuring very young children to help them, in order to try to avoid being caught, the Home Affairs Committee report found.

It also revealed that children believe blades are so widespread that they have to arm themselves to keep safe.

The report claims the average age at which children begin carrying knives is just 11 years old, as they make their transition from primary to secondary school.

Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz MP called for an immediate stop to the knife crime "arms race" among children.

He said: "Young people carry knives because they fear that others are carrying knives.

"This spiralling of knife possession puts all young people at risk. Too many tragic deaths have occurred because of this.

"Some young people feel the need to protect themselves with knives. We are clearly failing them. Children, of all people, should not feel unsafe in our society."

Currently only one in five of those caught with a knife is jailed, and more knife carriers are given cautions than are imprisoned.

Making someone carry a knife for you was made illegal in 2007 with a maximum sentence of four years.

But no-one was prosecuted for the offence that year. Figures for 2008 have not been released yet.

Wesley Oger was stabbed to death four years ago by a man who began carrying knives in his teens.

His mother Ann Oakes-Odger now campaigns to educate children about the dangers of knives.

She said: "The actual shock of a child being murdered in a violent way and knife crime is so personal, it's such a violent way to kill someone, it just ripples through the whole family."

Tougher sentences, coupled with more investment in prevention, are the report's main recommendations.

They come too late for Ann - but hopefully not for many other families.