Nick Quantrill

The Crooked Beat

When Joe Geraghty’s brother finds himself in financial trouble, it’s only natural that he turns to the Private Investigator for help. But when it relates to a missing consignment of smuggled cigarettes, it’s not so easily sorted. Drawn into the murky world of local and international criminals around the busy port of Hull, Geraghty knows the only way to save his brother is to take on the debt himself. As he attempts to find a way out of the situation, the secrets and conspiracies he uncovers are so deeply buried in the past, he knows he’s facing people willing to do whatever it takes to keep them that way.

Available to buy from: Caffeine Nights | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | iBooks

 


 

An excerpt from THE CROOKED BEAT (published by Caffeine Nights)

Niall only called me Joseph when he was in trouble. My brother didn’t need to ask me twice. I put my mobile in my pocket and picked up my car keys. I was still working out of the office space rented by Ridley & Son, Private Investigators in the Old Town of Hull. I wasn’t Don Ridley’s son, but it didn’t make the decision to close any easier. The lease still had a month to run, so it was a base for the time being. After that, I had no idea. I was now a former Private Investigator.

Niall rented a lock-up on a housing estate. It was out to the east of the city, but I made good time by weaving through the rat-runs I knew. I parked up outside and made my way in. The lock-up was basic with four concrete walls, a bare floor and a light bulb with no shade dangling from the ceiling. My brother was making furniture for friends and family. The lock-up was effectively a small workshop. After working in the caravan industry for so many years, he had the joinery skills. It had gone unspoken, but I knew it had kept him occupied during the long days before he’d decided to go into business with some of his mates. Starting again in his mid-forties was brave, but I wasn’t far behind that and had nothing. I took a step back and knocked on the door so he knew I was there.

He stopped work on the wardrobe he was putting together. ‘Thanks for coming so quickly.’

‘Not a problem.’ I looked at what he was working on. He was a craftsman, that much was clear. It was obvious to me that he took a lot of pleasure from his work.

‘Already got a buyer lined up for it,’ he said, following my gaze.

My brother only spoke in his own time. He had something to say, but I would have to wait for him to get to the point. He nodded at the framed rugby league shirts and photographs in the corner. I walked over and carefully flicked through them.

‘I thought we’d make a feature of Dad’s stuff in the bar.’

‘Good idea.’ Our dad, Jimmy Geraghty, had played for Hull Kingston Rovers before retiring to become a publican. He’d been one of the club’s finest ever fullbacks. It was a neat way of squaring the circle.

‘We can put some of your stuff in, too, if you like?’

‘I haven’t got much to give you.’ Injury had finished my rugby career early. Niall had always been content to watch. He never missed a game. He’d travelled all over with our dad to see them before continuing the tradition with his son, Connor, though Connor had stopped going once he’d hit his teenage years, preferring the football with his mates.

Niall threw the rag into the corner and cleared his throat. ‘I’ve done something stupid.’

‘It can’t be that bad.’

‘Want to bet?’

I stood alongside him. ‘Nothing we can’t sort out.’

‘Not this time.’

‘Why not?’ I passed him over one of the deckchairs he stored at the back of the lock-up. We both sat down.

‘Remember when I was doing the security work on the docks a couple of months ago?’

I nodded. He’d got the work through an agency.

‘One of the lads there needed some storage space and I helped him out.’

‘Storage space?’

‘Ted’s still got the lock-up next door, but he hasn’t been using it, so I borrowed it off him and gave him a few quid.’

I didn’t like where this was heading. ‘What did you need to store?’

‘Cigarettes.’

‘Cigarettes?’

‘I was looking after them for someone.’

‘Fuck’s sake.’ I understood what he was saying. Smuggled cigarettes. ‘How many?’

‘A thousand cartons.’

‘How much money are we talking about?’

Niall shrugged. ‘Thousands, I suppose.’

I didn’t know what to say. However much we were talking about, it was serious.

‘I need to put food on the table,’ he said.

‘I know.’ I wasn’t judging my brother. I took a breath, the decision made. ‘We’ll tell your mate that the space is no longer available. No harm done. We’ll go and see him together if that makes it easier.’

Niall shook his head. ‘I can’t back out of it now.’

‘Why not?’

‘Someone’s stolen them.’

Nick Quantrill

All information ©2013 Nick Quantrill

Photography by Neil Holmes Photography | Website by media-holic.co.uk