So the time has finally come for the release of Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals – Mark Barry’s ninth novel – here’s the cover, but that’s not all…there’s also the blurb and an enticing excerpt for your enjoyment as well!
By day, Terry Valentine clears the houses of the dead while by night, he drives alluring lesbian prostitute, Chloe, to her “tricks” – members of the “Feminocracy”; Nottingham’s increasingly powerful strata of senior civil servants, businesswoman and female professionals.
Despite himself, he falls in love with Chloe. And so does Hope Calder, impossibly rich COE of Calder, a multi-national conglomerate. A woman who stops at nothing to get whatever she wants.
When Chloe declines her advances, the spurned tycoon swears drastic action. With the cunning Neville, Chloe’s boss, manipulating the situation to his own ends, and Hope’s small army of corporate schills in the shadows, Chloe finds her life in danger…
…and only one man can protect her.
Terry Valentine, Loser, Jailbird, Hooligan.
Fifty year old crackhead.
Can you keep a secret?
Of course, I replied.
Serious, mate, she said, leaning forward, looking earnest, her eyes mournful, like a cat wanting all the milk in the house. This is, like, a proper secret. I could get into trouble. I’m nervous about telling you and stuff.
Chloe, you can tell me. I’m trustworthy.
And when I tell you, I’ll need a favour.
Yes. And you are so dead if you say no.
Then she told me.
She spent ten minutes doing it and I didn’t interrupt once.
I was simultaneously enraptured and appalled.
Simultaneously blessed and cursed.
Hailed and damned.
I must have still been stunned when I agreed to help.
I should have walked, especially in the light of how it all turned out for us.
But I accepted her proposition (hailed and damned) without thinking twice and she came over and put her hand on my shoulder saying thank you so much, Mr Valentine and I said no issues, no problem. Not a bother. Any chance of a coffee…
(Any chance of a coffee)
She told me the first job would be on Tuesday night, a regular customer of hers up in Arnold. No drinks, no meals. Just…just…whatever. Her boss would supply a car for the duration and would send someone round with it. Dress smartly and expect to be out for six hours or so. Maybe more. The money she offered me per week was enough for me to finish clearing the houses of the dead.
Once I agreed to help her, she picked up her phone again and carried on texting and talking to me about the music on the radio, the pounding beats, the silky refrains, as if we had just discussed a visit to her mother’s for tea and tiffin.
She never batted an eyelid, Chloe.
Her behaviour was simultaneously perfectly innocent and dangerously psychopathic. And despite the alarm bells ringing in my head like Big Ben and his metallic cousins, I still went ahead and took the proposition…
Hailed and damned.
Chemically Enhanced Singalong
Later that night, I finished my remaining Thor’s Hammer cider and a strip of morphine based Co-Proxamol tablets while dancing naked around my flat singing The Beatles the top of my voice.
My neighbour upstairs was not pleased, but I remember thinking my rendition of Strawberry Fields Forever was just about perfect. The pop and sweeties were all I had in the house and with my wages going South on that horse, I had to make do. And I don’t need any excuse to have a chemically enhanced singalong to the Beatles in my own flat.
Between then and now, sandwiching all the shit that happened, all the good stuff, all the bad stuff, Chloe’s been the only thing on my mind, no matter what happened, or what gear I took to get some breathing space, some peace, some contentment.
Guess I was in love even then.
It was only later that I discovered her gaffer at the agency was a bloke named Neville Gant.
He and I were old acquaintances. Or old enemies, more to the point.
Hope that’s whetted your appetite for more – and here’s where you can get just that!
If you would like a copy to review check out Mark’s countdown post here for all the details and soon I will be hosting an interview with Mark to find out more about this extraordinarily talented writer!
There’s a further post from Mark here which give you all sorts of added information… for those that like that sort of thing…
There is also a fabulously entertaining post from Brenda Perlin including an interview and a review right here!
“Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to read a book by Mark Barry?!” (Mary Quallo, St Louis)