Welcome to my second post on this Thursday morning where I’m hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for Matt Brolly’s The Controller. I’ve got a tense and intriguing extract to whet your literary appetite and hopefully tempt you into entering into the world of Lynch and Rose!
Big thanks to the lovely Emma Welton of damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on the blog tour.
From the bestselling author of the acclaimed DCI Lambert series comes The Controller, a gripping serial killer thriller introducing Sam Lynch and Special Agent Sandra Rose.
It is six years since special agent Samuel Lynch left the FBI following the disappearance of his son, Daniel. Lynch believes an underground organisation known as The Railroad is responsible and has never stopped searching.
When Special Agent Sandra Rose investigates a house invasion gone wrong, she discovers the assailant has the legendary, and infamous, Railroad tattoo carved onto his back and he claims to know Daniel’s whereabouts.
Rose draws Lynch in to her case, and together they become embroiled in an unparalleled world of violence and evil.
It seems that to see his son again, Lynch will have to confront his greatest fear and face the ultimate test: an encounter with the Railroad’s enigmatic and deadly leader, The Controller.
The Extract – Chapter Three
Lynch was used to false starts, and empty leads. It had plagued his time as an agent, and had only become worse since. He’d never completely given up hope that his son was alive, would never do so until the day he died or the day he saw his son again. But he could treat it only as that. Hope. Nothing Lennox told him changed the fact that it was the loosest of leads. The hostage taker, Razinski, had mentioned both his name and his son’s. He’d told the agent in charge that Daniel Lynch was alive.
Lennox left him alone to call the agents at the scene. The two SWAT agents looked away. Once his breathing returned to something close to normal, Lynch retrieved his laptop. Uploading a piece of software, he entered Razinski’s details. The search results were empty.
Razinski surrendered. They have him in custody,’ said Lennox, hanging up his phone.
Lynch shut the laptop. ‘The family?’
Lennox shook his head.
‘I’ll get changed.’
After showering, Lynch retrieved a packed suitcase from the bottom of his wardrobe. He removed the three forged passports, five stacks of dollars, and two handguns, and placed them in his safe. He stared at his phone, trying his best not to think about his son.
Daniel had gone missing six years ago, aged seven.
Lynch left the FBI a few months later. He picked up the phone and called his ex-wife, Sally. ‘Hello, stranger,’ she said.
‘Hi.’ He couldn’t face small talk at the moment. ‘Listen, I’m going away for a few days.’
‘Okay, thanks for the update.’ She sounded bemused, but her tone remained soft.
‘What?’ said Lynch.
‘Well, I haven’t seen you for four months, Sam. I’m a bit surprised you’re updating me about your movements.’
Lynch gripped the receiver. Everything he wanted to tell her became lost in the rage rising within him. ‘What is it, Sam?’
He couldn’t tell her about Daniel. It was almost definitely a hoax, the Razinski character having read up on the case and using him as a bargaining chip. Not that Sally would have listened anyway. She hadn’t exactly given up on Daniel but had come, in her own words, to an acceptance.
‘It’s nothing,’ said Lynch, realizing he’d been holding his breath. ‘I might be out of contact for a time that’s all.
‘Sam, you can come see me at any time. You know that, don’t you?’
‘I know,’ said Lynch, hanging up.
Lynch opened up a second laptop from the sideboard in his bedroom and downloaded some documents onto a flash drive. He hesitated, staring at a chest of drawers in the far corner of the room. He didn’t know how long he’d be away, when he’d next return to his apartment. His hands shook as opened the top drawer and pulled out a woolen garment.
It was little more than a rag now, a piece of lifeless material. Daniel had been wearing it the day before he’d disappeared, an innocent seven year old unaware of how his life was about to be changed forever. In the last six years not a day went by where Lynch hadn’t gazed at the pullover. He placed the material to his face, inhaling the fabric, before placing it in a holdall.
Lennox and his team were waiting downstairs. They’d made themselves comfortable, sitting around the kitchen table as if waiting for a meal. Lennox held a touch screen tablet in front of him and was studying the screen with intense purpose.
‘Angry birds?’ said Lynch.
‘Completed that years ago. Come have a look. Some images of this Razinski guy you might find interesting.’
Lennox handed him the tablet, his eyes wide in anticipation. ‘Any luck tracing who he actually is?’ asked Lynch, trying not to respond to what he saw on the screen.
Lynch squeezed the image on the tablet and scrutinized the image. It was a Railroad tattoo. Carved by machete onto the man’s back, colored by blue tattoo ink. Two long parallel lines stretched the length of Razinski’s back interspersed with a number of horizontal lines joining the two lines together.
‘There are eighteen sleepers if you’re interested,’ said Lennox, pointing to the thin horizontal lines.
Lynch glanced at the FBI agent. In the past six years, he’d tracked down three other people with similar tattoos. The sleepers, the ties connecting the tracks, were meant, as far as Lynch had been able to ascertain, to symbolize a kill. Of the three men with the matching tattoos Lynch uncovered, one had seven sleepers, one seventeen, and the other twenty-one. All proved to be false starts – copycats of a rumor, an urban legend. Under severe duress, the three men confessed the tattoos were elaborate fakes, created by the same tattoo artist.
In turn, Lynch tracked down the tattoo artist, an elderly man by the name of Cooper. Cooper explained to Lynch how he’d created the effect on the three men; the techniques he’d used to desecrate their bodies with his barbaric practice. Also under duress, Cooper denied any link to the Railroad. That it was a joke, a request by the three men he’d obliged for money. Lynch informed the tattoo artist that he would no longer be involved in such obligations, and helped him to agree by shattering both his hands.
Lynch was used to false starts, but the image on the screen was different to those three tattoos. The ragged lines of the Railroad tracks and sleepers were visceral. Each sleeper uneven, the resulting welts different sizes. It looked disjointed, as if the work was completed over a number of years. As if someone had taken the occasional knife to the man’s back.
‘You think it’s the real thing?’ asked Lennox.
‘Depends what the real thing is, I guess,’ said Lynch.
Lynch scrolled through the images on the tablet until he came to Razinski’s face.
‘Recognize him?’ asked Lennox.
Lynch shook his head, not taking his eyes off the image of Razinski. The man had a slim, gaunt face. His cheeks were well defined, his blue eyes bulging from their sockets. The man’s hands were cuffed but he smiled for the camera as if on a photo-shoot. ‘I’ve never seen him before,’ said Lynch, unable to hide the disappointment in his voice.
‘Well, he’s receiving some serious attention. They’re moving him to a secure unit. He still insists on speaking to you.’
‘What are we waiting for, then?’ said Lynch.
‘It’s very secure, if you get my drift,’ said Lennox, producing a blindfold from his back pocket.
They waited until he was in the back of the van to blindfold him. The windows were blanked out. ‘Is this necessary? I can’t see a thing, anyway.’
‘Procedure,’ said Lennox.
‘Ah, yes, I’d forgotten about procedure. Any beer for the journey?’
Lynch spent the first ten minutes tracing the route the van took in his head. Unfortunately the driver was wise to the technique. He drove in concurrent circles and soon managed to disorientate him enough that Lynch gave in. The secure unit could have been anywhere. They could drive for hours, only for the unit to be a mile from his house.
He tried to sleep but had only been awake a few hours. He pictured Razinski, his gaunt smiling face, and thought about why he had asked for him.
Even if what he said was true, that his son was alive, there was nothing for Razinski to gain by speaking to him. Three hours later, the van stopped. ‘Wait here,’ said Lennox, pulling open the side door.
Lynch held his breath and listened. The lack of traffic noise suggested they were somewhere remote. The fresh air was a welcome relief from the cloying air-conditioned interior of the van. He heard muffled words between Lennox and another man, someone different from his two SWAT companions. Lennox raised his voice and returned to the van.
‘I’m afraid I must bid you adieu,’ said Lennox. ‘Somehow we don’t have clearance to go any further.’
‘Must be serious. Shall I keep the headgear on?’
‘Just awhile longer.’ Lennox took his hand and shook it. ‘Best of luck going forward,’ he said.
Lennox slid the door shut and the van sped off. Ten minutes later, Lynch experienced a change of pressure and a dimming of light. They were underground. Lynch pulled off the blindfold as the van continued downwards. The blacked out windows prevented any view of the outside.
‘Much further?’ he asked the replacement driver.
The van entered a spiral continuing for another five minutes before pulling to a stop.
So what do you think? Intriguing isn’t it?
Who Is Matt Brolly?
Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.
He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky and Dead Embers. The fourth in the series, Dead Time, was released by Canelo in May 2018 and a prequel, Dead Water, will be published in September 2019. In 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas and Mercer (Amazon Publishing).
The Controller, released in May 2019, is the first of a new thriller series set in Texas.
Matt also writes children’s books as M.J. Brolly. His first children’s book, The Sleeping Bug, was released by Oblong Books in December 2018.
Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find out more about Matt at his website MattBrolly.co.uk or by following him on twitter: @MattBrollyUK
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MattBrollyUK @MattBrollyUK
Published by Oblong Books in ebook format on 24th May 2019