Synopsis and Opening of my novel Mightier than the Sword
Brief Synopsis for ‘Mightier than the Sword’
By Rob Watson
Lieutenant Sabine Larksson is an LAPD cop who is known for going about her business in a calm and emotionless way, but this is a case that truly melts the ice maiden. A serial killer calling himself ‘the hitman’ kills six victims in Los Angeles at weekly intervals. The first victim is Sabine’s detective partner, causing Sabine to become personally attached to the case, an attachment that grows as the killer leaves taped messages at every murder scene that make reference to Sabine. After the sixth murder the killer heads over to Manchester, England where the murders continue but now on a daily basis, Sabine doesn’t hesitate to follow the killer across the Atlantic.
As well as following Sabine and the English police’s efforts to catch the killer, the novel also follows the killer’s story. Rather than merely one serial killer it is actually a gang of six of them, working together and taking turns committing a murder. Through a series of flashbacks each killer’s journey to becoming a killer is told, each path is different, encouraging debate on whether killers can be made or born, and if they are a scourge of society or caused by it.
As the dysfunctional group of clashing egos begins to unravel, Sabine and her English colleagues Julia and Tony, are working all they can to catch them as soon as they can. It all ends in an explosive finale, but just when the police feel like they have resolved the case they discover there is another shocking aspect to it.
The case takes its toll on Sabine and turns out to be her last ever case for the LAPD, before setting up as a private investigator.
In an English prison, a small dark room was being used as an interrogation room. Two English policemen were interviewing a young American woman, all three of them were sat on chairs, the policemen on one side of a table, facing the woman on the other side. The American had her head on the table, she lifted her head and sat up in her chair, taking a big inhalation as she did so. During the long exhalation that followed, she ran her fingers through her long black hair.
‘Okay,’ she said. ‘For what might actually be the one thousandth time, I do not know where this Hitman character is now. I don’t even know who he is, I never met the guy. I have no loyalty to him whatsoever, if I did know where he was I would be happy to tell anyone who wanted to know. If we must persist with our latest question and answer session can I have a few on films and music? I’m better on them.’
‘Given the magnitude of this case you should understand if we asked you one thousand times a day where the this guy is, we’re not supposed to torture people but in this case if it was up to me I’d make an exception for you,’ one of the policemen replied, whilst standing up and staring into her eyes, then he started to pace around the room.
‘It’s lucky for me that you are just one of many insignificant cops, and whether you’re allowed to torture a suspect or not, is definitely not up to you. Besides I’m sure the real reason you guys want to torture me is that the idea of seeing me tied up appeals to you.’
‘Hate to damage your ego, but neither of us are that type of guy,’ the other policemen said.
‘Let me guess, you both believe in no sex before marriage, even after marriage it’s only an act of procreation and it’s strictly a case of lights out.’
‘Not at all, it’s just that we both prefer our girls to be sane.’
‘Oh I see, you think I’m insane? That makes all these interrogations far more understandable then, I can see why you want information from a crazy person.’
‘We would prefer a more reliable source,’ the seated policeman said. ‘But believe it or not, you’re our best option right now. And you can produce as many of those seductive smiles and bat your eyes as much as you like, we’re not going to give you any preferential treatment.’
‘I’m sorry you guys are immune to my feminine charms but can we bring this thing to an end? Because believe it or not somebody has been charmed enough by me to want to come and visit me, he should be here soon. I think he sees me as a fascinating human being, a terribly flawed one, but a fascinating one all the same.’
‘You don’t get to decide when this interview ends,’ the pacing policeman snapped back.
At this point the only door to the room was swung open, in the doorway was a young, plain clothed, police woman. She was on crutches with some strapping around her right knee.
‘Interview’s over guys,’ the police woman said.
‘Looks like you don’t get to decide when it ends either,’ the American said with a mischievous smile.
‘You sure Ma’am?’ The seated officer checked.
‘Forget about her,’ the police woman said. ‘She knows even less about this whole thing than we do. She was just one of the puppets in the show.’
‘Guess that makes two of us sweetie,’ the American said then flashed another smile, this time at the police woman.
‘There was a lot more than two of us.’
‘At least I had some control in the part I played.’
‘Shut up and wait for someone to take you back to your cell,’ the pacing officer told her.
‘To the visiting room please, don’t forget I have a date.’
Sabine Larksson walked out onto the balcony of her Los Angeles home, that gave her a great view of the Pacific Ocean. She positioned her sun lounger in the spot that was getting the most sun, then lay out on it, face up.
‘So you’ve finally got a Saturday off work Lieutenant?’ The question came from Sabine’s neighbour who was out on his balcony, on the other side of a dividing wall.
‘Yes I finally managed it, and Bert how many times do I have to tell you not to call me Lieutenant?’ Sabine replied in a friendly tone.
‘Oh I know, it’s just that I love living next door to a real life police detective.’
‘Life in the LAPD really isn’t that exciting, we’re not all Colombos.’
‘You’re probably right but it doesn’t take much to excite me at my age. So what are you going to do with your day off?’
‘Had a game of golf this morning.’
‘Yeah was on the tee at six, back home by nine, quick shower then out onto here to sunbathe. I intend to spend the rest of the day doing as little as possible.’
‘Are you wearing a bikini?’ Bert asked light heartily.
‘I’ll tell you what I’m wearing, if you tell me what you’re wearing Bert,’ Sabine laughed.
‘Is my husband being a pest again?’ Another voice came from Bert’s side of the wall.
‘Hey Edna, no it’s fine, nothing I can’t handle,’ the retired couple were always good at bringing a smile to Sabine’s face.
‘I’m off out now to meet the girls for a coffee and a chat,’ Edna said. ‘So I’ll leave you to treat him how you see fit,’ she told Sabine. ‘Oh Bert, don’t forget that films on at ten, the old one you wanted to watch.’
‘Thank you dear, have fun with the girls, don’t talk about me too much.’
‘Don’t worry about that, we won’t be talking about you at all. Bye Sabine.’
‘Bye Edna, have a good day,’ Sabine replied.
‘Still no boyfriend to spend your day off with?’ Bert asked Sabine as Edna was leaving.
‘I’m really going to have to stop wearing my “sad and lonely” sandwich board, you are just like my mother. I’m barely into my thirties, personally I really don’t think it’s time for ads in the paper and internet dating just yet.’
‘I just can’t understand why someone as pretty as you can be single, especially when you throw in your intelligence.’
‘I could argue that being single is one sign of that intelligence.’
‘Ha, I bet you get pestered by a lot of lousy guys.’
‘One or two. Anyway, how’s your sports crossword coming along today?’
‘Down to the last two clues.’
‘Go on then, you know you want to ask me.’
‘All righty then. The golf course where Nicklaus won his first Open Championship, nine letters.’
‘Muirfield,’ Sabine replied confidently.
‘How are you spelling that?’
‘M – u – i – r – f –i –e –l –d.’
‘That fits. Last one, Canadian winner of the 1996 Olympic men’s 100metre gold medal.’
‘Oh, I can picture him,’ Sabine said, then paused for a moment. ‘Bailey, Donovan Bailey.’
‘You’ve finished off my hard work once again.’
‘Happy to help as always.’
‘I heard a riddle the other day,’ Bert told Sabine.
‘Hang on Bert do you know the answer to this riddle?’
‘No I was kinda hoping that you might help me out.’
‘Can you get hold of the answer whenever you want?’
‘No you see I heard some guy ask it on the radio and I forgot to tune in for the answer.’
‘In that case I’m not sure I want to hear it. It sounds like it could cause me some mental anguish, the kind of which I get plenty of at work.’
‘But I’m sure it’ll be easy for you.’
‘Go on then flattery will get you everywhere with me.’
‘Okay then here’s the riddle, what do the following words have in common; calmness, canopy, deft, first, sighing, stun.’
‘Oh I’m already regretting hearing this, you’ll have to give me a bit of time to think on that one.’
‘Something to occupy your mind whilst sunbathing.’
‘I was hoping for a day with nothing to occupy my mind, but then again that always proves to be impossible for me.’
‘I’ll leave you to it, that movie will be coming on soon.’
‘Fair enough Bert, enjoy the movie, chat soon.’
‘Looking forward to our next chat already.’
A couple of days later Sabine found herself in one of those situations that Bert would think of as exciting. Along with her partner John and a couple of male, uniformed officers, she had got to the house of a man that was strongly suspected of a recent rape. When they found him in his kitchen, he had hold of a woman in front of him and he was holding a bread knife to her throat. Both of them were facing the four members of the LAPD, she was trembling and had some tears rolling down her cheek. Sabine entered the room, ahead of the three policemen, holding her gun out.
‘All right then, let’s look at this situation rationally,’ Sabine said calmly as she pointed her gun at the man with the knife. ‘There are three different ways this situation can come to an end, I’m not going to lie to you, none of them will put you in a good situation. You could slit this ladies throat, then I’d shoot in the head because you’d have nothing left to bargain with and it would be classed as a good shooting because clearly you are a crazy guy with a knife and therefore a threat to myself and my colleagues. Another possibility is that I shoot you in the shoulder, causing you to drop the knife and feel immense amounts of pain. The third option I can see is that you can drop the knife and we can arrest you, charging you with the rape, but not the resisting arrest we’d add to it in option two. I strongly recommend the last option, although to be honest I hope you don’t take it, because I really feel like shooting someone today and you would be perfect,’ Sabine’s tone of voice hardly changed throughout her speech, as if she was reading someone else’s words with no emotion attached to them.
He looked Sabine in the eye, his knife holding hand had begun to shake throughout her speech. After a moment or two of Sabine’s blank stare he dropped his knife and pushed the weeping woman towards Sabine.
‘I’m a little disappointed,’ Sabine said. ‘But that was a sound call, besides it’s only ten thirty, plenty of time left for me to shoot someone today.’
One of the uniformed officers handcuffed the suspect, whilst the other comforted the woman. The one comforting the woman looked at John, gestured towards Sabine and said; ‘She always this cold?’
‘She’s not known as an icy bitch for nothing. I think I sensed a hint of an emotion once, she was close to anger when a barman served her a diet coke instead of regular. Other than that I’ve seen nothing for two years.’
‘As soon as you get emotional in this job, you’re sinking to their level, much easier to beat them from the higher ground,’ Sabine said.
‘Almost certainly true,’ John conceded. ‘Just that most people find it far easier said than done.’
Sabine was getting up from her desk chair as her commanding officer walked past.
‘Hey Sabine, John not turned in yet?’
‘No, I’m just going to swing by his house now, fortunately it’s on the way to where we’re headed this morning anyway.’
‘Never known him be late before.’
‘Me neither, sure it’s nothing to worry about though, he probably just had an exciting night and in the midst of whatever, or more likely whoever, he was doing he forgot to set an alarm.’
‘Ah yeah, I just about remember the bachelor lifestyle,’ he sighed and looked up to his left to reminisce.
‘Miss those days chief?’
‘To be honest no, I was a lousy bachelor, not at all successful, I’m definitely more suited to being a one woman man.’
‘Good for you chief. I’ll catch you later, I’ll let you know when I catch up with John,’ Sabine said and set off out of the office.
‘Be careful out their Sabine, it’s going to get to ninety degrees today, even you might melt,’ the chief said and allowed himself a little chuckle.
‘You keep trying chief,’ Sabine talked as she walked, without turning back to face the Chief. ‘One day one of those lines will actually be funny,’ she added.
Sabine rang the doorbell on John’s front door, she waited for a response for a few moments, then started looking through the windows but found no sign of life. When she came back to the door she tried the handle and found that it was unlocked. She only took one step into the house before being rooted to the spot because of a horrific sight. Whilst stood on that spot she got out her phone and called the Chief.
‘Hey Sabine, you dragged him out of bed yet?’
‘Get a CSI team down here, John’s been murdered,’ Sabine said quietly.
‘What? Are you sure?’
‘John never struck me as the type to slash his own throat, plus there’s no knife around, so yeah I’m pretty sure,’ Sabine said, keeping the same volume, then hung up the phone.
She managed to avert her gaze from her deceased partner and slowly walk around the house, holding her gun, making sure there was no one else in the house. By the time she’d looked around the house and the immediate surrounding area, the CSI team had arrived.
‘Hey Sabine, how are you doing?’ A female CSI officer asked she walked over to Sabine and put a hand on her shoulder.
‘House and garden is clear, I’ve walked in every room in the house, but not touched anything. Throat has been slashed severely, he’d have bled out in no time.’
‘I didn’t ask how the crime scene was.’
‘I’ve had better mornings Judy, I guess I’ve got my next case sorted. Hope it goes without saying that you guys will be at your absolute best for this one.’
‘We’ll be as good as always and leave absolutely no stone unturned.’
‘Keep me up to date with what you find, you have my cell number right?’
‘Yeah I do,’ Judy said then headed into the house.
Sabine went back to her car, sat in the driver’s seat and stared blankly ahead. After a minute or so a tear rolled down her right cheek.
Sabine and the Chief were in his office, with the door shut and the blinds closed, five weeks after John’s murder.
‘I cannot believe you are considering following this guy all the way to England,’ the Chief said from his desk chair.
‘I’ll follow him wherever he goes until I’ve caught him,’ Sabine replied quickly, stood on the opposite side of the desk to the chief.
‘I never should have let you take this case in the first place Sabine, I’m taking you off it now. You’ve made the big mistake of making this case personal.’
‘This guy has killed my partner, he leaves taped messages at every murder scene in which I get a mention in every one, how the fuck am I supposed to not take it personally?!’ Sabine shouted slammed both hands down on the Chief’s desk and leaned over as she stared at him.
‘Look at yourself Sabine, I hate what this case has done to you.’
‘Don’t give me that bull shit about this being for my own good,’ Sabine said as she quickly stood up right again and turned her back on the chief as she walked around the room.
‘It is for your own good.’
‘You’ve no idea what’s best for me and you certainly have no idea what this case has done to me,’ Sabine’s voice remained raised.
‘I know that you’ve been here for nearly eight years now under my command and this is the first time you’ve ever been in this office having a heated exchange with me. Hell, until this case I’d never heard you raise your voice before,’ the chief spoke calmly from his seat.
‘Oh so you’re worried about my voice? You think this case is going to give me a case of laryngitis?’ Sabine lowered her voice and switched to a more familiar tone to the chief.
‘I know about the vomiting in the toilets, you’re not quite as discreet as you think. I know about the sleep deprivation, the mood swings, the snapping at your colleagues and those little crying sessions you have when you think no one can see you.’
‘I’m trying to catch a fucking serial killer who has killed six people, you really think it wouldn’t affect me in anyway? You think I should be walking down the corridors singing happy songs from my favourite musicals, then sitting down and chatting about last night’s games?!’ Sabine threw her hands up as she talked, then ran them through her long, straight hair, pulling tightly at the end before letting go.
‘Of course not.’
‘Maybe it’s because you’re not a real cop anymore. You’re just a bull shit, lazy arse administrator, who couldn’t hack doing actual police work anymore so you were ecstatic to take a promotion that meant you could sit behind your comfy desks for the rest of your working life and not have to worry about dealing with crimes up close anymore. Maybe if you were still a real cop you’d know how a serious case like this can affect you,’ Sabine walked up to the desk and stared at the chief once again as she ranted at him.
The Chief quickly stood up out of his chair and stared back at Sabine. ‘If that was anybody else in this department screaming at me like that, I’d fire them straight away.’
‘Then why don’t you fire me?’ Sabine replied, not backing down from the staring. ‘Because I’m little Sabine, the Chief’s favourite, all because he has a big crush on me.’
The staring contest continued as the chief paused for a few moments before replying. ‘I’m not firing you because you’re the best investigator in this department and I know you are far from being yourself right now, and that you’d never speak to anyone like that normally, let alone me.’
Sabine took a step back away from the chief, then sat down in the chair opposite him. She put both hands to her face for a few moments, then ran her fingers through her hair again, this time stopping with both hands on the back of the neck, then started to speak more calmly. ‘Look Chief, I know this case is killing me. The vomiting freaks me out, I’ve cried more in this last five weeks than I have done the rest of my life put together, by a mile. If this sleep deprivation goes on much longer I’ll be looking like my mother in no time. Combined with my ridiculously excessive gym workouts, that are supposed to be relieving my stress, the lack of sleep will probably make me seriously ill soon enough. The nightmares I’m having don’t need any psychiatrist to interpret. I hate how moody I am and how much I’ve shouted at you and the rest of the guys.’
‘Surely you must see that it makes sense for you to come off the case,’ the chief said as he slowly lowered himself back into his chair.
‘Completely the opposite,’ Sabine said as she dropped her hands down from the back of her neck into her lap. ‘The only way I’m ever going to get over this case is to solve it and to be there when we catch this lunatic.’
‘You really believe that?’
‘I know it, I’m fully aware I’ve got an unhealthy obsession with this case, there’s no way I can just forget about it now.’
‘I guess I can understand that,’ the chief conceded.
‘I am going to Manchester, the only question is whether I still get paid while I’m over there, or I have to quit my job to go there.’
The chief sighed. ‘You’re tracking down someone who has killed six Los Angeles citizens, I’m sure that comes under your job description somewhere. You don’t have to quit.’
Mightier than the Sword by Rob Watson is available to buy in paperback and on kindle.
Link to by as a paperback: http://www.feedaread.com/books/Mightier-than-the-Sword-9781781764879.aspx
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