|Brotherhood of Blades|
|Johnston and Green |
|Creme de la Crime (2011)|
Introducing DI Georgia Johnston and DS Stephanie Green, a tough new crime-fighting team on the mean streets of south London. -
Former gang leader Jason Young is determined to put his criminal past behind him. But, returning to the rundown south London estate he used to terrorize, in an attempt to persuade his ex-girlfriend Chantelle to join him, he witnesses the murder of Chantelle's aunt - the woman who grassed him up to the police. While Jamaican DI Georgia Johnston, and her partner, DS Stephanie Green, investigate, Jason makes a decision: to draw on all his cunning and criminal experience to track down the culprit - and stay alive in the process.
Recent Titles from Linda Regan
DEAD LIKE HER
BROTHERHOOD OF BLADESBROTHERHOOD OF BLADES
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First world edition published 2011
in Great Britain and the USA by
Crème de la Crime, an imprint of
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright © 2011 by Linda Regan.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Regan, Linda, 1959-
Brotherhood of Blades.
1. Gangs–England–London–Fiction. 2. Police–
England–London–Fiction. 3. Murder–Investigation–
Fiction. 4. Suspense fiction.
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-141-5 (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78029-009-6 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78029-509-1 (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
For my husband Brian – the hero of my true-life book
I was inspired to write this book after a cold, dark early winter evening when a youth opened the passenger door of my car and climbed in beside me wielding a large and very sharp knife. I was taken hostage with my car and had to jump from a moving car to escape. I later found out more about the wanted youth.
I believe there is a positive to every negative in life; in this case it inspired this novel.
As ever I am eternally thankful to all the wonderful police who have given me advice and kept the police work in this novel accurate. Some of you don’t want to be named, and so I have decided just to say a massive thank you to the police force in general, who against all odds do a wonderful job, and still make time to answer my endless questions on Met police procedure.
To Severn House for publishing me, and Lynne Patrick for the editing of this book, thank you, I am sincerely grateful.
I am indebted to the wonderfully generous and incredibly talented Zoë Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox series, for sharing her knowledge of guns and giving her advice freely, not to mention all the biscuits, tissues, and accessories she always has to hand when one is at a signing with her.
My super and fabulous friend Dave Headley of Goldsboro Books I thank endlessly, not only for the continued hospitality for my books and launches but for making me laugh so much and being such a special human being.
Finally this book wouldn’t have been written without my husband, my true love and soul-mate, because he puts up with so much, and still believes in me.
ason Young was nervous. He had grown up on the roughest estate in South London, and was used to carrying weapons like shanks, meat-cleavers, screwdrivers and broken bottles, even firearms. But he was unaccustomed to the taste of bile in the back of his throat.
But then he’d never had so much at stake before.
His brown fingers tapped the reassuring shape of the small knife in the pocket of his khaki combats. The big question was, would he end up using it?
He was now officially on their territory, and he knew better than anyone that rules were rules. He had grown up in the thick of this estate’s escalating violence.
He flicked an angry glance towards the other side of the road, where the Brotherhood girls stood on the corner in their stiletto heels and pushed-up cleavages trying to tempt passing motorists. Most of them were addicted to smack, and offered hand-jobs to earn the tenner for their next fix. Was that what Chantelle was doing? Well, he wasn’t about to let her end up like those pavement slags. Whatever it took, he was going to get her out of here.
The wind was whipping up and the rain felt like sharp pins against his face. He turned quickly off the road into the alley, the dark alley as they used to call it, in the days when he was a seven-year-old stotter working as a lookout for the Elders. His job then was to give a warning to the dealers in the alley when Feds approached, then move in quickly to hide their gear, all in return for a bag of chips to fill his empty belly.
Things changed a lot in twelve years around here. Now it was Brotherhood of Blades’ territory, and he was trespassing. The Brotherhood crew were easily recognized by the BB and blade tattoo on their forearm, a sign that they had served their gang by cutting, shooting or maiming a trespasser. They knew he was out, and had sent word that they were watching out for him. So were their pit bulls, who were always ready for their next meal.
Normally he wouldn’t give a monkey’s fuck for their threats; he could well look after himself. But things were different now. He had a scholarship to dance school, but it was on condition that he didn’t get into any more trouble. Still, he wasn’t leaving until he had spoken to Chantelle, and told her about this scholarship that the probation officer had helped him to apply for. It was a chance for a new start, and he wanted her with him, to begin their life again as they had always planned – until her Aunt Haley ruined everything.
He’d reached the end of the alley and was facing the familiar Sparrow block on the Aviary, where he used to live before his gran moved to a nearby estate. Chantelle still lived here on the second floor, with that bitch of an aunt. He could see her flat from where he stood, but no lights were on.
He turned and pressed his back into the wet wooden fence in the corner of the dark alley. He would be safe enough in this corner. It was very dark, and a large bush in front of him provided camouflage. His dark fleece hood covered his head and a lot of his tea-coloured face; with luck he wouldn’t be noticed. He’d watch from here, and when he saw lights on in the flat he’d risk walking up there. He’d have to take a chance that Aunt Haley wasn’t there. She hated him, and the feeling was mutual. If she hadn’t grassed him up to the police for the armed robbery, he and Chantelle would be far away by now, working as dancers. Happy.
The Brotherhood had homed in on Chantelle when he went down, got her into drugs and made her whore for them. She was vulnerable with no one to look out for her, and Stuart Reilly knew it. Just the thought of it made Jason want to stab the fat bastard. Stuart Reilly, Brotherhood leader. Jason took a deep breath to calm his temper. He concentrated on the music in the distance: Marley’s soulful voice singing
No Woman No Cry.
He turned his head towards the sound, and noticed the bright orange low-rise flats that had been half built where the children’s play area used to be. The council workers had probably started, then refused to go back after a while. Most people did; this estate had the highest crime figures in the whole of South London.
In his day the kids had dug the ground up there and built an underground refuge to hide their own nicked goods and the Elders’ drugs. That was how it all started, for him.
The Elders were the older gang members, who gave the kids work as their lookouts. You didn’t argue with Elders, not because they carried knives and often guns, but because they had money. If the kids were good lookouts, or stotters, they were promoted to drug couriers; that meant new trainers and flash phones as well as full bellies. If they were good at that, they were allowed to buy and sell their own drugs, and became Youngers, soon to be the next generation of Elders. That was when they started to gain respect in their own right, and respect was what mattered. With it came food, designer gear, and top-of-the-range gadgets.
They were ten or eleven by the time they became Youngers. They had carried weapons, and formed their gang: The Buzzards.
The sound of
No Woman No Cry
sounded real sweet. Then something stirred inside him, and it slowly dawned that the music was coming from the boarded-up flats. Only the estate ruling gang were allowed in those derelicts – which meant he was within a few yards of the Brotherhood crew.
If any Brotherhood recognized him, his life would be over. He’d be stabbed and left to die, or if he defended himself and got away he could get done for carrying, and then he’d lose his scholarship. This scholarship was the only chance he’d ever had and it meant everything to him. But so did Chantelle. The only friend she had on this estate was Luanne, a hooker. Around here the weak went under, and Luanne was a prime example. Well, Stuart Reilly was going to find out that Jason wasn’t about to let that happen to Chantelle. He was here to take her away with him.
But he really couldn’t afford trouble. His dance scholarship was everything he had ever dreamed of. Chantelle loved to dance too, and he hoped she would be over the moon when he told her.
His love of dancing had started when one of the Elders had rewarded him with a skateboard for hiding a gun during a police raid. He was thrilled with the board; no one had ever given him anything like that. He started hanging around the fried chicken joint with other kids who had skateboards, and they taught him to do tumbles and falls. He had found something he was good at.
Then they took him to their street-dancing class. Chantelle was there; that was where they met. He walked back to the estate with her every week. She was a year older than him, and her brown eyes were like Maltesers. He thought she was beautiful. They talked of their dream of dancing, maybe working on ships, sailing far away from the estate and having a proper life.
They were both virgins when they started out, and it took a couple of years before they began having sex. He had never been happier, although he still did the thieving and the drug-selling to get the money to go to dance classes, and to help his mum pay her dealer and give his gran something.
Then he was caught, red-handed.
He’d stuffed a large amount of drugs up his arse as a raid started, but one of the police sniffer-dogs sussed him, whining and growling and cornering him. He was searched by the Feds, and then taken off to the police FME where he was strip-searched. His reward was a spell in Feltham, closely followed by another when he was caught – by the same sodding dog! – hiding a stash of weapons on another block.
Feltham hardened him. After a third spell in there he upped the stakes to house burglaries, then armed robberies, and worked his way up to become the leader of the most feared gang around South London. The Buzzards.