Today it’s my pleasure to share a sneak peek of Matt Johnson’s superb thriller Wicked Game as part of the Wicked Game Blog Tour and to give one lucky person the chance to win their very own copy of this fab book.
Wicked Games extract:
‘Fucking hell, Jed, what is that smell?’ asked Blackwood, as they joined the other passengers on the short, stifling walk across the tarmac to the waiting airport bus.
Garrett had smelled Kalikata before. Sweat, exhaust fumes and local spices combined to produce a pungent, musty aroma that some loved but many found hard to bear.
‘That’s the smell of India, Mac. Get used to it, we’re gonna be here a while.’
As they boarded the bus, Garrett could see his friend becoming impatient. He was anxious to get to their hotel and get their business underway. Garrett smiled. Mac was going to have to adjust to the slower pace of life here. The perpetual heat and humidity would soon put paid to any ideas of doing things quickly. Mac Blackwood was used to the chilly, windswept streets of Glasgow, whereas Garrett was from Florida and had been to India many times before.
In the welcome air-conditioned atmosphere of the arrivals hall, Mac relaxed again.
‘No wonder they call this the black hole of Calcutta,’ he said pointing through the window of the crowds who stood outside waiting to beg from, or sell to, the arriving travellers. There were hundreds of them. Men, women and children of all ages. Kids with filthy hands, blackened nails and puppy-dog eyes chased around, pleading for small change from the tourists.
‘I fuckin’ hate this place already.’ Blackwood turned away from the window. ‘Ach, for Christ sake. Look at the state of that kit.’ He pointed to the uniforms of the soldiers who milled around the airport concourse, trying to looks efficient.
Garrett was starting to get tired of his companion’s constant moaning. He stayed silent until their bags appeared on the carousel.
Outside, he hailed a taxi. But as the driver took their bags, children surrounded them, their tiny hands open and extended. ‘Gimme dollar, gimme dollar.’
One youngster held up a soiled copy of Penthouse. ‘You buy, you buy,’ he called.
As Mac Blackwood reached for his pocket, Garrett grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the car. He knew giving just one child some cash would mean another fifty blocking their way.
‘Oberoi Hotel,’ he told the driver. Blackwood had to prise tiny fingers from the door handle before he could join Garrett in the back. They accelerated slowly away, stained and grimy hands smacking incessantly on the windows as the taxi driver sought out a route through the throng.
With the noise and bustle of the airport fading away behind them, Garrett sighed and shook his head at Blackwood. ‘Over three million kids die every year in this country from diseases caused by poverty,’ he said. ‘They’ll do whatever they can to survive. Help one, and they’ll all want a piece of you.’
Blackwood simply nodded. Not helping a needy kid didn’t sit comfortably with him.
They had been travelling for only a minute or two when the taxi started to slow.
‘What now?’ Blackwood leaned forward. The taxi driver was stopping to let a cow cross the road.
‘Cows are sacred here, Mac,’ said Garrett, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘ Just be patient.’
At that moment, the front passenger door swung open and a filthy teenager in a simple shirt and trousers jumped in. The first thing Blackwood noticed was the smell. Garrett saw the holdall the kid carried.
‘American?’ The boy smiled as he turned to ask them the question.
‘Canadian,’ Garrett lied. Canadians were popular everywhere.
‘Have a nice day.’
The last thing Jed Garrett saw were the two wires that stuck out from the side of the bag the boy was carrying and the swift movement as he reached down to press them together.
FOR A CHANCE TO WIN your very own copy of WICKED GAME BY MATT JOHNSON:
- Tweet the link to this post with @ in the post OR like or retweet one of my tweets about the giveaway. (You’ll need to follow me on Twitter, so that I can send you a direct message if you win.)
- Rules: Only one entry per reader.
- Open to UK residents only.
- I will draw the winner at random. There will be no cash alternative
- The competition closes for entries at 9.30pm GMT on Tuesday 5th April 2016
- My decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
* ****This competition has now ended and the prize winner notified *******