Title: Gallows Field
Author: Brendan Gerad O’Brien
Genre: Historical Murder Mystery
A brutal murder. A missing ledger. Mistaken identity. And barman Eamon Foley is running for his life.
Tralee, six months later, Foley is in a crowded pub. The music is loud. The singing is louder. His brother-in-law Joe McCarthy is shot dead.
In the chaos Foley thinks he sees the Dublin killer rushing through the door. Is this a message? Have they caught up with him at last, looking for the ledger?
Or is it as the local Gardaí suspect – Joe was killed by a jealous husband, given his reputation as a notorious womaniser?
They dismiss Foley’s concerns. With horrendous results.
Dublin January 1941
And Raymond was so dazzled by the money they were pouring into the business he couldn’t see he was being sucked into something that wasn’t going to end well for him.
Foley was just a barman but even he could tell those guests were not the kind of people you’d take home to meet your mother. There was something deeply disturbing about what they were doing.
But when Foley commented on it one evening Raymond went pale with fury. He would have nothing said against his new best friends. Especially by the hired help. And in the blink of an eye their friendship splintered. A huge gap opened up between them and they could hardly acknowledged each other anymore. Foley regretted that, but he didn’t know how to fix it.
Then Foley married Katie and the gap widened even more. Raymond thought Foley was a fool. Katie being pregnant was not a reason to marry her. In her profession any one of her clients could be the father. Still, Foley stood by her and did what he thought was right.
Then one night a guest did some terrible things to an escort girl and Raymond’s bubble burst. He was horrified. It was quickly covered up but the shock of waking up to the reality of what his quaint old hotel had become almost drove him over the edge. He physically shrivelled up and all colour left his face.
Foley desperately wanted to help his friend but the barrier Raymond had built between himself and Foley was too high now. There was no getting over it.
Even Katie dying so suddenly didn’t bring them any closer.
If anything it gave Raymond the excuse to terminate their relationship and he put pressure on Foley to move on. Still, Foley was leaving with a heavy heart. He loved his job. He would miss this place.
Annie gave him a beaming smile and pointed to the stairs with her pen. ‘I think he might be in his office, though. A man was looking for him a few minutes ago. He went straight up there and I’m sure I heard voices.’
‘Maybe I will just pop my head around the door and let him know we’re leaving.’ Foley guided Micky to a chair and sat him down. ‘You sit here, son. Look after the suitcase. I won’t be long.’
Foley bounced up the stairs. The office was at the back of the building and as Foley turned the corner into the corridor the noise he could hear sounded like angry voices muffled behind a closed door.
He slowed down and approached as quietly as the creaking old floorboards would let him. Through the glass partition he could see Raymond sitting bolt upright with his hands flat on the desk in front of him. He looked distressed.
Foley could only see the back of the other man. He was stocky and wearing a long overcoat. He had a trilby pulled down over his eyes. And he was pointing a .45 Webley handgun at Raymond’s face.
Raymond was trembling.
‘I don’t know what you mean.’ Foley could just make out what he was saying. ‘Honest to God. I didn’t do anything. You have to believe …’
‘Stop it,’ the man told him. ‘Stop embarrassing yourself. We know what you did. Lying about it is just wasting your time and my time. And the result will be the same. You are only delaying the inevitable.’
As Foley moved closer to get a better look at the man his foot clipped a small table and knocked it against the partition. The man spun around waving the gun.
Raymond jumped up too. Then he gave a mad scream and threw himself over the desk. His long arms wrapped around the man and they danced across the room like two angry spiders, pulling and grabbing at each other.
Foley crashed through the door and tried to grab the man’s arm. But the arm was like a piston and it threw Foley back against the desk.
Foley rolled onto his knees and grabbed the desk to help him get back up. And as he struggled to his feet there was an almighty bang and a fierce blow caught him in the side like a slap from a wrecking ball. He slammed back against the desk again. Then everything went black.
But it wasn’t for long. Through the buzzing in his head he could hear footsteps approaching. They stopped close by and a second later a woman screamed. Then the footsteps went back down the corridor, only this time a lot quicker.
Foley almost screamed too when he tried to stand up. The pain was excruciating. It felt as if his ribs were crushed and he was struggling to catch his breath. He grabbed his side and when he saw the blood spurting through his fingers the shock made his head swim. He squeezed a fistful of his coat against the wound as he looked around the room.
Raymond was slumped by the wall with his legs spread out and his hands in his lap. And his face was gone. The .45 bullet had entered under his chin and sliced it right off.
The man with the gun was gone too.
Foley grabbed the desk again and pulled himself back up but the strength was pouring out of him along with the blood. He staggered around to Raymond’s big chair and dropped into it. Then the blackness came down on him again.
Why is your featured book a must-read?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 October 2016
This book was so well written, I felt that I was one of the characters! From the first page, you are submerged into the story which makes it almost impossible to put down! The gripping/mysterious storyline kept you engrossed until the last page!! Cannot wait for a sequel!!
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I was born in Tralee, Ireland and now live in Newport, South Wales.
As a child I spent my summer holidays in Listowel, Co Kerry where my uncle Moss Scanlon had a Harness Maker’s shop. It was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters, and it was there that my love of storytelling was kindled by the likes of John B. Keane and Bryan MacMahon, who often wandered in for a chat and bit of jovial banter.
The numerous short stories I’ve written based on those characters have been published in various anthologies and eMags over the years.
I have self-published twenty of them in a collection called Dreamin’ Dreams with Amazon.com.
My first novel, a thriller set in Wales during WW2, is called3
Gallows Field is my second thriller and is also set in WW2, only this time in Ireland.
A Pale Moon Was Rising is a follow-up thriller involving Eamon Foley again.
Footsteps is my latest thriller.
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