Taken Below

Taken Below

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"Gripping...a must read..."

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Hard Fall

Hard Fall   An ex-NY Cop. An Unsolved Case. One Chance...

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Snow Burn

Snow Burn   A hacker, a body and a mystery that goes right to the top...

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Red Hunt

Red Hunt   She is beautiful... But is she a killer?

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Cross Fire

Cross Fire   Betrayal. Mystery. Revenge...

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GRAVE WALKER

FLASH POINT

FLASH POINT

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BOOK HITS: Gripping short thrillers collection

About The Author

Phil Reade is the acclaimed author of the Thomas Blume mystery series.

Phil was born in the UK and has lived, worked and travelled in many countries around the globe. A fiction author specialising in all things mystery and thriller, his approach is to weave gripping action, captivating characters and thrilling suspense into each story. The Thomas Blume series contains the best elements of the hard-boiled, noir and private investigators genre. Get started with the No.1 download HARD FALL, available now. Get your copies in either eBook or paperback today.

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PHIL READE BLOG

Read Phil Reade's regularly updated blog for news on new releases, competitions, offers and appearances.

No Good Deed... (A deleted chapter from Hard Fall)

No Good Deed... (A deleted chapter from Hard Fall)
The following is a short example of a ‘lost’ chapter from my first book, Hard Fall. Although I liked the content, it ultimately didn’t fit with my vision for the story and ended up scrapped. Still, it seemed a waste to leave it on my hard drive. So here it is, raw and unedited. A little glimpse into more of Thomas Blume’s adventures.
By the time I left the Black Swan just after closing time, the skies had almost cleared, and night had fallen across the city, wrapping the streets in a quilt of darkness. I zipped my jacket tighter and stuffed my hands into the pockets. A chill wind whipped through the streets, moisture in the air whispering of more rain to come.
Not that I cared.
As I stumbled down Saint John’s Street and back toward my apartment, the hum of daytime traffic had given way to the occasional black cab or night bus, cruising past. Perhaps if I had more money and less booze in my system I would have considered either, but my place was less than a mile away. Staggering distance.
My thoughts tumbled through the fog of my brain, gently riding on the currents of alcoholic oblivion. The grief, previously a jagged barb in my mind softened by the haze of chemicals running through my body. Somewhere, deep beneath the fog, I knew getting drunk wasn’t the long-term answer. That the booze only numbed the pain. But I pushed that thought down and continued ahead, hustling along the cross-walk.
It was a walk I had made dozens of times before but running on autopilot, I cursed as my right foot tripped over the curb and I stumbled forward, catching my balance against a nearby bus shelter. A deep breath helped pushed the swimming balance back into place.
As I pressed ahead, down the rain-slicked sidewalk, a gentle patter of drizzle started overhead. The day had started badly and ending it soaking wet wasn’t top of my priorities. To my right, a cobbled alleyway led into the darkness away from the Hackney high street. Someone recently told me this led straight to the back of the shops where I lived, a quicker way back home. I glanced at the way forward, and the half-mile of road stretching into the distance down the high street and stepped into the gap between two stores, into the passage.
They alleyway was poorly illuminated by scattered yellow streetlights giving off a wan glow. Enough to see the way, but it was past midnight and no one else was around to see me stumble over the trash bag that caught my foot, or curse at the cat that jumped out, surprising me before dashing off beneath a fence.
I was starting to curse whoever had told me about the so-called shortcut when a voice cut through the drizzle, drawing my attention up. Ahead, just under the dim light of a broken street lamp, three shadows were moving near the wall, or maybe it was four. Hard to tell.
Another shout came from the group, this one female. Anger, bravado and something else. Fear.
I paused on the spot, blinked away the blurry vision and looked back over my shoulder, down the direction I had come and then back to the trouble in front.
Turn around, walk away, ignore it.
Sure. Why not? Just leave it and go home. That would have been the smart thing to do. But somewhere deep down a voice told me not to. Maybe it was Sarah’s voice. Or maybe something left over from the old days, buried under layers of grief and pain. Cop instincts died hard.
Besides, these assholes were directly in my path.
Instead, I took a deep breath and continued ahead, carefully monitoring the figures.
My vision was blurry, slipping in and out of focus but by the time I closed to within fifteen feet I was sure of the odds. Two men, kids really. Late teens, early twenties, dressed in cheap sportswear and sneakers. One, the tallest, wore a white hoodie and carried a bottle of something in his hand, while his friend, shorter and with a baseball cap. Together they harassed the third figure, the girl.
She was pressed with her back against the wall. She was dressed similarly, with a silver jacket that looked more like an inflatable boat and hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. Perhaps the girl knew the guys, perhaps not. But either way, I could tell from the fear in her voice that the situation was getting out of control.
“Leave me alone you prick!” The girl shouted at the hoodie pressing close against her. She shoved him back a few inches, but he had both hands against the wall, either side of her. There was nowhere for the girl to go.
“Shut your fucking mouth,” ‘Baseball cap’ one shouted, jabbing a finger in the girl’s direction. “You’ve been giving us shit all night, now you’re going to learn.” The kid stepped closer to the girl and formed the second half of the circle with his friend.
I’d seen the aftermath of situations just like this back in New York. The accents were different and the location new, but fear was universal, it crossed boundaries, ignored countries. Given a few more minutes this girl would be in a world of trouble. She needed the cops, the authorities, trained officers with a smart uniform and backup. But it was late, dark and we were alone. All she got was me.
“Hey!” I shouted with more authority than I felt. “Leave her alone.”
The tallest punk, ‘Hoodie’ reacted instantly, turning with a start. He eyed me up and down, before straightening his posture and stepping forward.
“What the fuck do you want, old man?”
As he closed the distance I started to regret my decision. The kid was taller than me, and younger too. I had the booze and years weighing me down.
“Look, just let her go and we can all go home, huh?”
“Spark him out Kev’” The one with the cap, jeered from where he kept the girl in place.
Whoever Kev was, he needed no encouragement. “Who the fuck do you think you are coming down here, with that accent. Some kind of tough guy? This bitch is our business, not yours. ” He thrust a finger at my chest and stepped closer. I could smell the booze on his breath.
“How about you and numbnuts over here, deal with me, instead of that girl,” I replied.
His eyes widened and jaw clenched. I knew he was going to hit me. There’s something in a man’s eyes that gives it away. It’s that moment when all logic and reason go out the window and something primal takes over.
It’s why I acted first.
Reaching out I grabbed the kid’s outstretched finger and bent it back hard, following up with a right fist to his face. My senses betrayed me. The fist only made a glancing blow but the finger popped nicely.
The kid cried out in a feral mix of anger and fear, while his friend, suddenly drawn by the noise turned his head to me.
“Go!” I called out to the girl. “Get out of here!”
She needed no further encouragement. She lifted a knee and delivered a cracking blow to the second punk’s groin. He huffed in pain and swung a wild arm out, cursing. The young woman turned and bolted away, her sneakers splashing through the puddles into the darkness.
Good girl.
She had escaped the danger but it was still very much real for me.
I turned to address my two attackers. The shorter one was still doubled over in pain, trying to straighten up and act the tough guy. His companion, with the dislocated finger, had recovered enough, to sneer at me.
“You bastard!” he spat and charged at me. With no way of dodging, I twisted my weight and the two of us were sent staggering into the wall. I tried to regain my balance but the world was spinning and my head danced. The tall kid drove a fist into my ribs and swung another at my head. Instinct, old cop training or sheer survival kicked in and I blocked the headshot and swung my own punch into his gut.
His friend shouted something incomprehensible and charged at me with his fists balled. I turned. Pushed tall guy into short and threw a low kick into where I thought his knee might be for good measure. A cry of pain, a tangle of limbs.
I stepped back, head pounding and balance spinning but I was upright, unlike these two. I raised my fists and scoped the punks on the floor.
Not bad for a washed up—
My thoughts were interrupted by an explosion of pain across my back and a shout of anger. My feet gave way and I fell to my knees. Head spinning, I couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing. I took a deep breath and finally focused on the figure behind me. The one I had missed.
Had the third kid been there all along? Or had he just arrived? Hard to say, but the bottle in his hand was clearly the source of the agony blooming through my ribs. I groaned and put a hand on the slick cobbles in an effort to get to my feet, but a leg came driving into my stomach and a fist hit the side of my face. My vision dimmed at the edges and I became vaguely aware of the three kids jeering and shouting as they laid into me.
Somewhere at the edge of my senses, I heard a siren. It felt like miles away, but it was enough for my attackers to be spooked. They glanced around, then dashed off into the darkness cackling like a bunch of drunken hyenas.
I wiped a trickle of blood from my eyes and managed to crawl into a seated position against the alleyway wall, before forcing myself to my feet. My body ached, my head pounded but I was alive and not all that happy about it.
At least the girl got away. My crappy night had prevented hers ending even worse. It didn’t help me feel any better though, as I staggered back toward my apartment. As I emerged from the alleyway onto Hatton Road and staggered back toward my apartment and the comforting promise of sleep, a taxi cab drove past. The poster painted to the side of the door seemed so ironic I would have laughed if I could remember how. It simply said three words.
“Welcome to London.”
 

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