Crime Always Pays: A noir Irish heist thriller

Crime Always Pays: A noir Irish heist thriller

by Declan Burke

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Overview

Crime Always Pays: A noir Irish heist thriller by Declan Burke

Who says crime doesn't pay? The perpetrators of a botched kidnap make their getaway in this hilarious sequel to The Big O

Karen and Ray are on their way to the Greek islands to rendezvous with Madge and split the fat bag of cash they conned from her ex-husband Rossi when they kidnapped, well, Madge. But they’ve reckoned without Stephanie Doyle, the cop who can’t decide if she wants to arrest Madge, shoot Rossi, or ride off into the sunset with Ray. And then there’s Melody, the wannabe movie director, who’s pinning all her hopes on Sleeps, the narcoleptic getaway driver who just wants to go back inside and do some soft time.

A European road-trip screwball noir, Crime Always Pays features cops and robbers, losers and hopers, villains, saints – and a homicidal Siberian wolf called Anna. The Greek islands will never be the same again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781847515094
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Publication date: 12/01/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.75(h) x (d)

About the Author

Born in Sligo, Ireland, Declan Burke now lives in Co Wicklow. A freelance writer and journalist, his novels have been described as 'Irish screwball noir.' He is a regular contributor to The Sunday Times, Irish Times and the Sunday Independent, and hosts a website devoted to crime fiction called Crime Always Pays. In 2012, he won the Goldsboro Last Laugh Award with ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL.

Read an Excerpt

Crime Always Pays


By Declan Burke

Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2014 Declan Burke
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84751-509-4



CHAPTER 1

Sleeps


Rossi said he'd torque if he needed to torque, he'd just had his ear ripped off.

Sleeps allowed Rossi made a valid point, especially as the hound that tore off the ear was three parts Siberian wolf to one part furry Panzer, but thought that Rossi, with the gash in the side of his head flapping like a glove puppet every time he opened his mouth, was maybe mishearing.

'What he said,' Sleeps said, 'was try not to talk.'

It was bad enough they were holed up in a vet's surgery and down two hundred grand, Rossi minus an ear and raving about how genius isn't supposed to be perfect, it's not that kind of gig. But then the vet had started threading catgut into what looked to Sleeps like a needle he'd once seen on the Discovery Channel stuck through a cannibal's nose and sent Rossi thrashing around on the operating table, hauling on the restraints, Rossi with a terror of needles and ducking around like Sugar Ray in a bouncy castle.

The vet leaned in to squint at the raspberry jelly mess that was the side of Rossi's head. It didn't help there was no actual ear. It had been torn clean off, along with enough skin to top a sizeable tom-tom.

'If he doesn't lie still,' he said, 'he's going to wind up with his brain on a skewer.'

Sleeps sighed and climbed aboard, making a virtue of his considerable bulk by sprawling across Rossi and pinning him to the steel-frame operating table. Rossi went cross-eyed, launched into a gasping stream of profanity that sounded like a leaky balloon with Tourette's. Sleeps wriggled around, sealed Rossi's mouth with a plump hand.

The vet knotted the catgut. 'I'd appreciate it,' he said, 'if you'd point that somewhere else.'

Sleeps' pride and joy, the .22, nickel-plated, pearl grip. Enough to stop a man and put him down but not necessarily lethal unless you were unlucky. The .22 being empty right now, at least Sleeps didn't have to worry about getting any unluckier than chauffeuring Rossi around when the guy was down one ear and a fat bag of cash. He slipped the .22 into his pocket.

'OK,' the vet said, 'hold him still. This'll hurt.'

Sleeps, fascinated, watched him work. The vet, with Roman senator hair that was turning grey, the eyes grey too, giving off this unflappable vibe that Sleeps presumed came from every day sticking your hand up a cow's wazoo. Or maybe this was a regular thing for him, a couple of guys on the run stumbling out of the forest into the back yard of his veterinarian practice with wounds it might be tough to explain away at hospitals that weren't built next door to zoos.

'I'll warn you now he's going to need an anti-tetanus shot,' the vet said. 'Looks like this, ah, car door you're saying somehow ripped off your friend's ear had some serious teeth. We could be looking at rabies.'

'That's just his natural disposition,' Sleeps said, Rossi throwing in a muffled snarl or two as the vet tucked the stitches snug. 'But sure, yeah, I think we both know it wasn't a car door.'

'What are we looking at? Doberman?'

'I'm not sure,' Sleeps said. 'Some kind of Siberian wolf mix, there's maybe some husky in there. Belongs to his ex, Karen, she took it on when he went back inside.'

'I thought we said no names.'

'Right, yeah.' Sleeps, who was looking to go back inside, cop some soft time, figured it might do no harm to drop a few crumbs with the vet. 'She's a beast, though. The hound, not Karen. I mean, our friend here was driving a Transit van at the time and she shunted it off the track, came bombing through the windscreen and tried to chew his head off.' Sleeps had seen it all happen, having little else to look at on account of being stuck behind a deflating airbag at the wheel of their getaway Merc. The Merc at the time was wedged at an angle between a boulder and the bole of a fat pine near the bottom of a gully, maybe half a mile from the lake where Rossi had just heisted a two-hundred-grand cash ransom from Karen and Ray.

Rossi had pulled up in the Transit, which he'd also swiped from Karen and Ray, and called down to Sleeps, told him to hold on. Then Sleeps had heard a howl and the splintering crash of the hound going through the Transit's window. Rossi'd floored it, aiming the van at the nearest tree, but the wolf had shoved the van off the muddy track and down into the gully, at which point the hound, wedged chest-deep into the crumpled window frame, had set about decapitating her former owner.

To be fair, Sleeps acknowledged, the girl had her reasons. She was very probably the only Siberian wolf-husky cross on the planet wearing a pirate patch, this because Rossi, trying to break her in, just before he went back inside for his third jolt, had gouged out her eye with the blunt end of a fork. And that wasn't even her most recent provocation. Only twenty minutes previously Rossi had left her laid out on the lake shore, putting a .22 round in her face, point-blank.

If Karen and Ray hadn't come riding over the hill like the cavalry, hauling the hound off along with the two hundred gees, Rossi would have been crushed, minced and spat out.

'Listen, I don't mind stitching him up,' the vet said, 'but I'd appreciate you leaving out any detail that's not strictly relevant to his condition. You know I'll have to ring the police, right? Because of the possible rabies. And the less I know ...'

'Sure,' Sleeps said, 'yeah. But if you could just give us, like, maybe an hour's start? It's been a bad enough day already.'

'It's tough all over,' the vet agreed. Then Rossi gave a yelp as the needle slipped, tried to bite Sleeps' hand.

In the end Sleeps jammed his thumb into the ragged hole where Rossi's ear used to be, stirred it around. Rossi screeched once, high-pitched, then keeled over and passed out.

Sleeps slid down off the operating table, retrieved the .22 from his pocket. 'OK,' he said, 'I'll be needing a bag of horse tranks. And whatever gun you use for putting down the animals.'

The vet sewed on. 'We don't use those any more, they're not humane.'

'Humane? You're a vet, man.'

'We treat them like children,' the vet said, 'not animals.'

'Nice theory.' Sleeps, who'd been hoping to bag himself a cattle-prod at the very least, gestured at Rossi with the .22. 'But what if they're a little of both?'

CHAPTER 2

Karen


Karen had this little dent in her chin like a twisted dimple from the time she was fourteen years old and smashed her jaw on the porcelain sink at home, this so she could go to the hospital and tell them her father had been kicking her around ever since her mother died. Neglecting to mention for an hour or two, the nurses fussing around, that her father was right then flat-backed on their kitchen floor with a stroke, a salad fork buried deep not far off his heart.

When the cops asked about the fork, Karen told them about her mother, how she'd never realized you could beat a person to death without doing it all in one go, take years to do it. At that point Karen herself had already shipped a broken tibia, three cracked ribs and a perforated eardrum. She figured tossing the self-inflicted broken jaw in on top was, strictly speaking, perjury. But Karen could live with that.

Karen went into care. Her father got four years, eighteen months suspended. So Karen went to visit, waited until it got quiet, everyone whispering their conversations, and then she started screaming about how her father had been crawling into her bed ever since she was eight years old.

For a long time after she'd been torn between a craving to hear how the bastard had died in agony and never wanting to hear his name again.

These days Karen rarely thought about him at all, and then only to remind herself she had what it took to do whatever she needed to do. Which was, right this moment, to not collapse with exhaustion while the doctor conducted his examination.

Hunkered down beside Anna, the girl nearly eight foot from nose to tail where she lay stretched out on the shed floor, the guy looked like a child playing doctors with a bearskin rug. He listened with his eyes closed, stroking the blood-roughened fur of her chest, then unclipped his stethoscope from his ears. 'What happened to her eye?' he said, patting her flank.

'Same guy as shot her in the face,' Karen said. 'Back when he was trying to break her in, he gouged out the eye.'

The doctor winced. Karen, no point in jinxing the sympathy factor, skipped over the part where Anna had hunted Rossi through the woods after he'd shot her, gone head-first through his van window and damn near crushed his skull. 'So what's the verdict?' she said.

'Well,' he said, standing up, pressing his fists into the small of his back, 'I'm no expert in gunshot wounds in wolves. What is she, anyway?'

'Mostly wolf, yeah. Some husky too.'

'She's fabulous.'

'She is.' Karen keeping it short so the doctor wouldn't hear the wobble in her voice. 'So how's she doing?'

'About as well as can be expected after taking a .22 round at close range,' he said. 'Actually, her forehead's more or less a plate of solid bone, so the slug probably came off worse.'

'But she'll be fine.'

'If I was you I'd keep her doped for another few days, the last thing you want is a wolf with migraine. But if she gets plenty of rest she should be fine.'

'Should be?'

'It's impossible to say for sure, Karen. Head traumas can be tricky. She could well have a skull fracture, I'm really not qualified to say. Or there might be internal bleeding, clotting on the brain. All I can tell you is that her vitals are good, and she doesn't seem to be in any distress.' He looked down again at Anna, shaking his head now. 'And keep her away from the guy who gouges out eyes.'

Karen scraped up a smile. About the only thing Karen didn't need to worry about right now was Rossi. It had taken everything she had to drag Anna out of the Transit's cab, Anna still stuck in the smashed window frame when she and Ray arrived, the girl howling as she tried to get at Rossi where he'd somehow managed to squirm his way down under the steering wheel. Karen could see how the shards of glass were lacerating Anna's chest every time she heaved forward, only the thick ruff of fur at her neck saving her throat from being sliced open, Karen screaming into Anna's ear to pierce the blood-lust rage that kept Anna pounding away.

It'd been Ray, as woozy as he was after getting his arm broken in the face-off at the lake, who'd nipped around the other side of the Transit, reached in and jammed down on the horn. The shock caused Anna to rear back, the momentum allowing Karen to haul her out of the crushed window, at which point Anna had simply collapsed.

It'd been hell, with Ray pretty much out of commission, for Karen and Madge to drag Anna up out of the gully and load her into the rear seat of the car. So when Madge suggested they should probably go back down to the Transit, check to see if Rossi was still alive or was just lying doggo, Karen told Madge she was on her own if she did, Karen's priority was Anna. She further made the point that if they got down there and discovered Rossi wasn't already dead, she'd feel obliged to do something to remedy that sad fact, whether or not Madge believed Rossi was her long-lost son, and did Madge really want that on her conscience?

Madge said no, she did not. Then Ray came panting up out of the gully toting the sports bag with the two hundred grand cash inside and said, 'He's still breathing. Let's go.'

Now the doctor packed up his leather bag, gave Karen a box of tranquillizers, enough to cover Anna for three days. 'How about you?' he said. 'How are you doing?'

Karen wanted to ask him how he'd be doing if it was his girl who'd shipped a stray bullet to the face, was sprawled on a shed floor with possible brain trauma. But the guy meant well. So she told him she was fine, just needed a three-day sleep, and saw him out. She went back around the house to the shed, checked on Anna again, made sure she was breathing regular and deep, then went looking for Madge.

She was surprised, going up the steps, to find herself wondering how Rossi might be making out, and then she realized she'd taken Ray's word for it when he said Rossi was still breathing.

Ray, who'd had his arm busted at the lake when he shipped another of Rossi's .22s.

Ray, who'd strolled away from Rossi with two hundred grand in cash.

Ray, who she'd known less than a week and only really got to know when they started planning to snatch Madge, Ray's last gig, or so he said, before he got out of the kidnap game for good.

She'd taken his word for that, too. And look where that got her.

CHAPTER 3

Melody


'So if the movie gets made,' Melody said, 'or the script at least gets picked up, optioned, then I pay it back, this loan-grant that's not really a loan or a grant but somewhere in between. At, you're saying, no interest.'

'That's right.'

'But if it doesn't fly, I owe you nothing?'

'The Institute is here to encourage innovation,' the guy said, swivelling now in his chair behind the desk, fingers steepled on his pot belly. A nice view of Temple Bar behind him through the tall windows, the cobbled streets they'd laid for the Dublin set of the Michael Collins shoot and left down after, a gift to the city. Mel, running late, had nearly snapped an ankle on the way in, a kitten heel getting jammed between cobbles.

He smiled now, Tony, the guy with kindly pale blue eyes behind rimless specs. 'If you're worrying about how you'll pay the money back,' he said, 'you're not likely to be at your creative best, are you?'

Melody Shine liked those odds.

'I've got it all budgeted out,' she said, extracting the relevant sheaf of paper from her folder, the front of which bore the legend The Gang That Couldn't Count Straight in gold magic marker. 'We're talking twenty-five and change for the year. That includes research and writing, locations, some meet-and-greet funds for the—'

'Locations?'

'Sure, the eye candy. The Cayman Islands, where they shot Into the Blue. You've seen it, right? Shit movie, OK, but the scenery's amazing.'

'The actual Caymans?'

'The Caymans, right, where the boys have all their offshore accounts. Yes?' 'I'm just wondering,' Tony said, no longer swivelling and holding a forefinger aloft, 'if it's the Caymans you need specifically. Because if it's just an island, you might want to think about the Isle of Man, there's nice tax breaks going. Or if it's islands plural there's always the Saltees, just off the coast of Wexford. Spielberg, when he was making Private Ryan, he used the Saltees.'

'OK,' Mel said. 'But you're not really getting that Caribbean quality of light on the Saltees, are you?'

'That's where your post-production guys earn their money.'

'Sure.' Mel trying to decide if the guy was serious. 'Except my movie, it's set in the Caymans. What the story is about is what these asshole politicians get up to in, like, the actual Cayman Islands. I mean, you've read the script, right?'

'Of course,' Tony said, then eased out a cheeky smile that must have once worked for him way back when. 'At least, I read enough of it to know I want to hear the story in your own words.'

'OK.' Mel wondered why she couldn't have just wandered in off the street two years ago, or maybe just stood outside, used a loudhailer. 'So we start with Judy, our intrepid reporter, she's flying out to the Caymans with a fact-finding junket, watching all these politicians golfing it up, swilling piña coladas, bunkering in at the local brothels. All,' Mel raised a meaningful eyebrow, 'on the hard-pressed taxpayer's time. Then she's interviewing one of them, he's poleaxed on free daiquiris, and he starts in about how they all brought their own buckets and spades, they're shovelling cash into Cayman banks. I mean,' she said, 'not literally, it's all electronic transfers these days. But the boys are in cahoots with some banker snoots back home, they're setting up this exclusive offshore scam, fifty grand minimum, a kind of trust fund for investment in Caribbean real estate.'

'So you're saying, it's political.'

'There's politicians in there, sure,' Mel said, 'but mostly it's your basic comedy crime caper flick. Judy's like a spoof of a private eye, although here she's a reporter. Anyway, she can't stop these guys telling her stuff she couldn't care less about, except here's this bunch of alpha males trying to impress the fluff in the skirt, beating their chests and slipping her state secrets. Except all Judy wants is to skip out to the beach, maybe have herself a Caribbean fling. So then she meets—'

'Just go back to these politicians for a moment,' Tony said, opening his top button and loosening his tie. 'Are they from any political party in particular?'

'Not really, it's more a loose coalition of greedy bastards. I mean, they're all the same anyway, am I right?'

Tony murmured something non-committal, then cleared his throat. 'What I'm asking,' he said, 'is if the politicians depicted in your film as engaged in a fact-finding mission represent a recognisable party in an identified government.'

'I don't follow,' Mel said.

'Well,' Tony said, sitting forward now, planting his elbows on the desk and steepling his fingers, 'are we, for example, suggesting that any of these politicians might be serving in the current administration, perhaps even in a ministerial capacity?'


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Crime Always Pays by Declan Burke. Copyright © 2014 Declan Burke. Excerpted by permission of Severn House Publishers Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Cover,
Previous Titles by Declan Burke,
Title Page,
Copyright,
Acknowledgements,
Author's Note,
Epigraph,
Wednesday,
Sleeps,
Karen,
Melody,
Rossi,
Karen,
Frank,
Ray,
Madge,
Doyle,
Sleeps,
Doyle,
Karen,
Melody,
Madge,
Rossi,
Melody,
Frank,
Thursday,
Karen,
Doyle,
Rossi,
Ray,
Sleeps,
Madge,
Melody,
Karen,
Doyle,
Melody,
Madge,
Rossi,
Ray,
Doyle,
Friday,
Sleeps,
Ray,
Madge,
Melody,
Doyle,
Karen,
Rossi,
Madge,
Karen,
Sleeps,
Ray,
Karen,
Doyle,
Ray,
Madge,
Sleeps,
Karen,
Rossi,
Saturday,
Ray,
Sleeps,
Karen,
Doyle,
Melody,
Madge,
Ray,
Karen,
Doyle,
Sleeps,
Ray,
Karen,
Melody,
Rossi,
Karen,
Madge,
Ray,
Doyle,
Karen,
Ray,
Sleeps,
Doyle,
Rossi,
Madge,
Melody,
Sunday,
Sleeps,
Karen,
Doyle,
Ray,
Melody,
Rossi,
Madge,
Karen,
Melody,
Doyle,
Ray,
Doyle,
Ray,
Sleeps,
Madge,
Sleeps,
Doyle,
Ray,
Melody,
Karen,
Rossi,
Ray,
Rossi,
Sleeps,
Melody,
Doyle,
Ray,
Karen,
Sleeps,
Madge,
Doyle,
Karen,
Ray,
Rossi,
Ray,
Sleeps,
Monday,
Madge,
Ray,
Melody,
Sleeps,
Rossi,
Doyle,
Karen,
Ray,
Rossi,
Doyle,
Sleeps,
Rossi,
Madge,
Karen,
Ray,
Sleeps,
Doyle,
Karen,
Ray,
Madge,

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Crime Always Pays: A Noir Irish Heist Thriller 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Left me hanging