For Sam, taking this particular case is not promising. His client is a secretary who’s watching her boss fall apart, and she can’t bear it. The case requires subtlety and finesse and so isn’t his usual kind of job. But he likes her and takes it anyway.
And he soon discovers that it’s not the pressures of work that are getting to her boss. It’s his colleagues, a group of cultish scientists. Their leader is a hyper-intelligent seer/visionary who has a personal philosophy that is taking him towards one final act—to produce a calamitous event that will destroy the lives of hundreds of people. Or more.
Dyke sets himself on a course to prevent this madman from achieving his ends. A course that endangers him, his new partner and it seems anyone else who gets in the way of this doomsday plan …
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The Bleak is the fourth in a series featuring my character Sam Dyke. The premise of the story came to me when reading about a Japanese cult that attempted a series of mass murders in the 1990s.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The main character is one I’ve written about in three previous novels. His son, Dan, has also featured before. My chief villain is a cool scientific mastermind who fancies himself a bit of a Bond villain, though he surrounds himself with ‘hard’ men to do his bidding.
I’VE FOUND THAT once I start a case it tends to move quickly. I hadn’t exactly started on this—whatever it turned out to be—but things still moved along at a lick.
I was having a late lunch in my office at home when I saw a dark saloon car coming down my track. It halted and two men got out. One looked to be in his forties, average height, stocky but strong build, with a round but rather cruel face. His partner was younger but taller and more bulky. Muscle. They both wore dark suits over black tee-shirts, like Hollywood bodyguards, and glanced at the trees and the fields surrounding my house as if they didn’t know what they were. Eventually satisfied, they moved towards my front door. They made walking look like wading through treacle.
I waited until they knocked. I was enjoying my cheese and tomato sandwich and was in no hurry.
I let them knock again before going to the door. The older of the two men was front and centre. He didn’t smile or hold out a hand.
‘Mr Montgomery said he’d see you.’
‘And who are you?’
‘Head of Security, Midwinter Enterprises. This is George.’
‘Hi, George. Step back a bit, you’re blocking the light.’ I looked the older man up and down. ‘So you’ll be Jolyon Greif. The head honcho. I’m amazed you haven’t got square eyes, staring at all those security monitors.’
He didn’t seem surprised that I knew his name. He struck me as someone it was very hard to surprise.
He said, ‘You wanted to talk to Mr Montgomery. Will you come with us?’
‘I’ll fetch my tiara. Hang on a sec.’
I closed the door in his face and put on my jacket. I had a roll of coins that I kept in a drawer under the telephone. I slipped it into my trouser pocket and checked that I had my mobile phone with me too.
Fully kitted-out, I opened the door.
‘So nice of you to wait. Shall we go? Your car or mine?’
Greif and George had stepped back, one either side of the door like an honour guard. Or a prison convoy.
‘Ours is more comfortable.’
They waited until I moved outside, pulling the door shut behind me, then followed me to the back door of their long vehicle.
I said, ‘Front or back?’
‘Keep it up, smart man. George and I just love clever-dicks, don’t we, George?’
George must have considered this to be a rhetorical question because he said nothing and climbed into the driver’s seat. I went to the back and Jolyon Greif got in the door on the other side so he was next to me. I half expected a gun barrel to be sticking into my ribs.
George turned the car and we headed out of Crewe again, down past the football ground and then over the railway bridge by the station. I debated offering him directions but thought better of it. Let him find his own way. It was their petrol.
I turned sideways to look at Greif, who was staring at the back of George’s head as though it was the most fascinating sight.
I said, ‘Must have been tough for you this morning.’
Greif said nothing.
‘You being responsible for Security and all, and here you have one of your people found dead in a hotel room. A suicide no less. So it seems. What do you think was going on with him?’
Greif spoke to the back of George’s head without looking at me.
‘We all knew Nathan had troubles. It’s a terrible tragedy.’
‘Your thoughts are with his wife?’
I turned to look through my own window at the passing scenery. I’d already seen it twice today, coming and going, but the lot of the private detective is to perform an excess of pointless travelling.
A few years ago Keith Dixon had a revelation and realised that what he wanted to do was give up work and write fiction full time.
So since then he’s written three novels featuring private eye Sam Dyke and published a non-crime book, Actress. He’s also given up work.
The fourth Sam Dyke Investigation, The Bleak, was published in May, 2014.
He’s currently sharing his time between the UK and France.