The Red Hand of Fury

London, June 1914. A young man is mauled to death at London Zoo after deliberately climbing into the bear pit. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from the notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities. 

Following a third attempted suicide, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process …?

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 In this extract we get a glimpse at the workings of DCI Quinn and his team at the Special Crimes Department. As the book begins, the department is having a period of respite after a succession of difficult cases. Quinn appears distracted. To keep his men busy he has told them to ‘be vigilant’. As tensions rise in Ireland, he has charged one of his men, Sergeant Inchball, with the task of ‘keeping an eye on the Irish’…
 Given his somewhat vague brief, Sergeant Inchball was rather more at a loss as to how to proceed. Last night he had spent a couple of unsatisfactory hours lurking outside a notorious Fenian pub in Holloway before finally, and unadvisedly, venturing inside. His attempt to order a pint of Guinness in an Irish accent was still more ill-advised, and had drawn the attention of a number of large, threatening gentlemen whose accents were rather more convincing.
One fella had got his face right in Inchballs, his massy beard specked with the froth from his stout. Are you a copper?
A copper, I? I not be a copper. Oh, to be sure, to be sure, not. I not be that. A copper, that not I be.
You look like a copper. You sound like a copper. And you smell like a copper.
Inchballs accent entirely abandoned him at that point. ‘I, ee, arrr, I, oh . . .’
It was not in his nature to run from a fight. But he saw little point in getting himself killed for the sake of one of the guvnors whims. Because yes, that was what this whole watch the Irishthing was, he knew. And so he had made a dash for the door. Fortunately, there was no one blocking his way. It seemed the regulars of the Horse and Groom had no more desire for trouble than he had. He heard their raucous laughter as the door slammed behind him. Soon after, a fiddle started up in a lively rendition of ‘The Minstrel Boy’.
Invited to give a progress report of his investigation, Inchball related an abridged version of the previous nights adventure. He left out the bit about his bad Irish accent, only saying that the Micks had rumbled him. Well, I cant show my face there again, can I?he complained. It was typical of Inchball that he managed to make it sound as if his misfortune was someone elses fault. He cast a particularly recriminatory glance in Quinns direction.
Quinn sighed but offered no comment.
We need a real Mick to go undercover for us. Theyll see right through me if I try that again.
I have a cousin who is Irish,volunteered Macadam. Several, in fact.
‘You and your bleedincousins,muttered Inchball. ‘Lets say you have. Can he be trusted?
‘Hes an Ulsterman. Of the Protestant sect. He hates the Fenians with a passion.
But could be pass for one?
Quinn cut the discussion short. We will not involve any amateurs in our operations. Its too risky.
When war comes, everyones involved,observed Macadam darkly. Amateur or not.’
‘Were not at war yet.
If you dont mind me saying, guv, this whole thing is a waste of our time. You mean to tell me that the Secret Service aint already got its spies embedded in Fenian cells? Theres a real danger I could go blundering into one of their undercover ops and blow the whole thing wide open. They wont thank us for that. If you ask me, were better off leaving all these political shenanigans to the experts.
Quinn decided to overlook the fact that he had not asked Inchball. I don’t need to remind you, Sergeant Inchball, that the strategic direction of the Department is not decided by you. Nor, indeed, by me. But by our superiors.
Henry told you to do this, did he?Sir Edward Henry was the commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis. It was he who had set up the Special Crimes Department; Silas Quinn reported directly to him.
Inchballs tone was sceptical. Quinns response, evasive. ‘He gave me a broad directive, which I am interpreting.
What was it, this broad directive?
Quinn answered the question with a distracted frown, and a glance towards the window, as if he had heard a noise he could not identify coming from outside. He trusted Inchball knew enough not to press him any further.
There were times when Inchballs characteristic bluntness came close to insubordination. But Quinn knew he meant no disrespect by it. If called upon, Inchball would lay down his life for the man he called guv. When it came to it, there would be no more questioning, no more grumbles. He would blindly, unhesitatingly put himself in peril at Quinns command. Quinn knew this, because Inchball frequently had.
His loyalty was absolute.
It was just that he was in one of those moods. Quinn put it down to frustration, and the loss of face he had suffered the night before.
They needed a case, something tangible to work on.
Well, now, heres a queer thing. A decidedly queer thing.
Both Quinn and Inchball turned their heads eagerly towards their colleague. Quinn realized that Sergeant Macadam – unconsciously or not – quite often slipped into the role of mediator between himself and Inchball, diffusing tension and providing a way through any impasse by distracting them from their own positions.
Macadams voice was brimming with promise.
You remember that fellow I was telling you about? The one who got mauled to death by the polar bear. Well, theres been another one.


Author Bio

R. N. Morris is the author of eight historical crime novels. His first, A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger. The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin HouseThe Dark Palace and now The Red Hand of Fury, published on 31 March, 2018.

Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris. He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @rnmorris
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