Spargo sat alone in the hotel bar, picking at crisps and nuts. Sipping at the whisky, he remembered the no alcohol warning he’d been given at Raigmore when they dosed him with painkillers. He limped to the bar again. Came back with a coffee.
‘Looks like you’ve lost fifty dollars and won five.’ The voice was distant and had a soft Texan drawl. ‘Don’t much like drinking alone,’ it continued. ‘You mind if I come over?’
Spargo grunted. The last thing he needed was company. He swivelled in his chair and caught sight of a tall, lean man lifting a chair.
‘Couldn’t help noticing you were driving a Volvo,’ the man said as he carried the chair towards Spargo’s table. ‘Great cars. Had one just like it in the Gulf.’
Spargo willed the man to go away. It didn’t work. He turned again, this time seeing him properly for the first time and taking in his weather-worn features and long dark sideboards. Also the white shirt, the white designer jeans and the jewellery. Draped around the man’s neck was a heavy chain – solid gold, Spargo guessed. On it hung a heavy medallion – more gold – that swung hypnotically when the man moved. And there was still more gold, two signet rings, a watch and its expanding strap. The only metallic object he wore that wasn’t gold was a heavy belt buckle of brass. There was, Spargo realised, something of Elvis about the man…
EXTRACT – THE MAN WHO PLAYED TRAINS
Mr Luis pronounced Mister like Meester. Sinister, the way a Mexican bandit might say it. Didn’t look sinister though, not upstairs on the bus. If anything he looked a wee bit camp with his knees tight together and his hands clasped in his lap. To Midge this was part of the man’s cover, a certain coolness Midge would have been happy to emulate – and may have done had the rolled-up Argos bag he carried not kept slipping from his lap.
‘It is not convenient that you do not have a car, Mister Rollo.’
Midge, lost in the double negatives, gave a nod and a grin: ‘My idea,’ he said. ‘Taking the bus. Not so conspicuous. Clever, eh?’
Not so much clever, as necessary. A pick-up from the airport and then a drive into town to do the man’s bidding – the first job he’d had for months – and he had screwed up. He didn’t have his car on the road. Hadn’t taxed or insured it and he daren’t drive without, not the number of times he got stopped by the police. For most jobs he got part-payment up front. Always used notes, sealed in a registered envelope…
EXTRACT – THE MAN WHO PLAYED TRAINS
The first review (5-star!) for my new novel compares my writing to Hammond Innes and Robert Ludlum – what more could I ask? The review is on Amazon and Netgalley and also here
The Man Who Played Trains
The style of writing, and the story, took me back to my days reading Hammond Innes and early Robert Ludlum in the late 70’s early 80’s. Grown up boys own stories. Stories of ordinary men pushed into unusual circumstances in subtle ways that are totally realistic.
In the modern day Mining engineer, and consultant, John Spargo, receives a phone call to tell him his mother is in hospital. Rushing to her bedside he finds she has been beaten up in a home raid. Sadly she dies and John sets out to find out what the person that raided her house was after. The house is in the little run down mining village of Kilcreg, a cul-de-sac town on the Scottish coast. The town used to have a mine, run by Spargo’s father, but since it closed there has been no work and the elderly population wouldn’t be responsible for the attack.
Meanwhile in 1944 a German U-boat captain, Theodore Volker is trying to get home to see his young son. He is a good man whose wife had been killed during an air raid, he looks after his crew, and speaks his mind about the state of the German war effort, and the way they are beginning to lose the war.
When Volker is confronted on a train, by a stranger, and taken to a Luftwaffe base in Berlin, it becomes obvious he is being recruited for a secret mission. A mission to the UK.
As things start to gather pace Spargo’s daughter is kidnapped and he takes on his own mission, to find his daughter and discover why his mother was killed, by who, and why.
It’s no surprise that the happenings during the end of World War 2 are connected with the happenings in modern day Scotland, but how.
This book blends the two story-lines together in an intriguing novel that has been an absolute pleasure to read.
This style of book has gone missing over the last few years in favour of unrealistic adventure thrillers. It’s good to have it back
Thank you Richard Whittle
Playpits Park is available from Waterstones, Amazon, or direct from the publisher Urbane, here
My latest novel THE MAN WHO PLAYED TRAINS is out today, published by independent publisher Urbane Publications.
Amazing book blogger Sonya has published a guest post to coincide with the novel’s release (click here)
THE MAN WHO PLAYED TRAINS
The gripping new thriller from the author of ‘Playpits Park’
Press information for immediate release: 10/05/2017
The Man Who Played Trains is Richard Whittle’s compelling second novel, following the acclaimed debut Playpits Park. A gripping thriller that will appeal to fans of Martin Cruz Smith, Jack Higgins and Robert Harris, The Man Who Played Trains is an addictive and complex story of conspiracy, murder, secrets and a race against time to discover the truth. It publishes 25th May 2017.
Mining engineer John Spargo is distraught when his mother is attacked in her home and later dies from her injuries. He also discovers her home has been thoroughly searched. Determined to track down her killer and discover the truth behind her death, John finds a connection between his late father’s wartime mine and the wreck of a U-Boat. The connection deepens when he discovers the diaries of the U-Boat captain and a wartime mission to spirit Göring to safety along with a fortune in stolen art. When John’s daughter Jez is kidnapped, he is contacted by a mysterious consortium. Her life hangs in the balance unless he can find the stolen art. What is the link with his father’s abandoned mine? Who was the U-Boat captain? Did he survive and hide Göring’s treasures? John races against time to discover the truth…and in doing so may unearth secrets that were better left buried…
Richard Whittle says: ‘I’m definitely a fan of the secrets people keep, and like to explore the dynamics of those who keep them – and those who want to reveal them! The second world war in particular provides a wealth of ‘conspiracies’ and outlandish plots for a writer to sink their teeth into, and there’s something compelling about exploring the impact of history on the lives, ambitions and emotions of contemporary people. My central characters, people like you and me, find that they have been dragged into situations beyond their control and from which there seems little chance of escape. For them, crimes are most definitely involved.’
|Richard has been a policeman, a police marksman and police motorcyclist, a diesel engine tester, professional engineering geologist and Chartered Engineer. He has worked in civil engineering, geothermal energy, nuclear and mining industries in seventeen countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas and is able to draw on a wealth of personal experiences. Well known in his field as a technical writer, he spent time as a book reviewer for technical journals and regularly contributed to professional publications. As a spare-time novelist he had several short stories published. In 2002, writing as Alan Frost, he was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award. More recently, his self-published novel, Playpits Park, has been downloaded as an eBook more than 4000 times. Richard has been a trustee of a Scottish Charitable Organisation, acting first as its project manager and then its technical advisor. He now writes full time. He currently lives in the Scottish Borders, not too far away from Edinburgh.
THE MAN WHO PLAYED TRAINS by RICHARD WHITTLE:
PUBLISHING DATE: 25th May 2017 by Urbane Publications
DIMENSIONS: B format paperback. 520 pages
CATEGORY: Thriller, war thriller, conspiracy thriller, action and adventure
For further information, review copies and interviews please contact Matthew Smith firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0)7578890446
The Man Who Played Trains will be available in good bookshops and direct from Urbame Publications, Waterstones, Blackwell’s and Amozon etc., after 25th May.
My novel is set in Edinburgh, Germany, and the north of Scotland. If you like Robert Harris, this novel is for you.
Extract – The Man Who Played Trains
Interview with Richard Whittle
… of my latest novel, The Man Who Played Trains
A murder in a remote village in Scotland, the victim brutally beaten
Nobody knows why, not you, not the police
A damaged boat in harbour, a strange crewman
A derelict house, an abandoned mine
Then more, seemingly unrelated deaths
So why that title? Why The Man Who Played Trains?
I was recently interviewed about my new novel The Man Who Played Trains, due to be published by Urbane in May. Click on the blue link…
Interview with Richard Whittle
Waterstones will stock The Man Who Played Trains. The novel is now up on their website as pre-order.
To be released by Urbane Publishing, Spring 2017