One book grabbed my attention a few weeks ago. It was ‘Closure’ written by Randall Wood. ‘Closure’ was #1 in his Jack Randall novels and published in December 2009. Even though my review would be lost among the hundreds that the story has received in the intervening period, I needed to record my thoughts and the impression that the book made on me.
There was a lot to like in the way the story was written; the descriptive passages were superbly handled for sure, but it was a little ‘quirk’ at the start of each chapter that encouraged me to write this piece for my blog.
Before moving on to chapter two, I knew there were a minimum of fifty chapters. Of course, I could have looked at the index, but Randall Wood had posted a big clue to save me the bother.
He had researched the figures for the prison population by State. In addition, he knew the proportion of recidivists by State too. In time, I discovered the overall number of prisoners. I also knew that between sixty and seventy percent of them were repeat offenders.
This was in 2009.
‘Closure’ concerned an ex-sniper who had lost his family in a car crash. I won’t give any other details of the story in case you haven’t read the book. Safe to say, Randall Wood exploited the facts of the vast numbers of prisoners, many of whom were in and out of jail all their lives. The prisons were no more than training grounds for the inmates, turning them into more efficient criminals rather than reformed citizens.
Killers languished on Death Row, lodging appeal after appeal; lawyers found all sorts of loopholes to ensure their clients didn’t serve time. Politicians defended the ‘right to bear arms’ despite all the evidence that the easy availability of firearms has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Are we any further forward today? My new series ‘The Phoenix’ which was launched with the publication of ‘The Olympus Project’ in December 2014 deals with a stone cold killer, Colin Bailey. In the series he works for a secret organisation ‘The Olympus Project’. The ideals and methods they follow echo those of the terrorist in ‘Closure’.
He targeted people who had used every trick in the book to avoid paying the price for their crimes. He gave their victims ‘closure’ and sought it for himself, to make some sense of his family’s deaths.
How many people like ‘The Phoenix’ are there out there? Will they increasingly take responsibility for righting wrongs, giving closure, while the ‘system’ continues to fail us? Is a man like Colin Bailey ‘The Phoenix’ a necessary evil?
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE PHOENIX
What’s your name? Phoenix.
When were you born? I was born Colin Bailey in 1968.
Where are you from? A small town in the English West Country, it pretends to be 10 miles from the Roman city of Bath, maybe fifteen miles from Larcombe Manor, the Olympus Project HQ as the crow flies.
How do your parents feel about your career choice? They are both deceased. My father Adam died in a fire in 1987; my mother Janet committed suicide in 1990.
What is your marital status? I’m in a relationship, but cannot divulge her name. I married Karen Smith in 1985, we separated in 2001. After our divorce I married Sue Owens.
Can you tell us a little about your education, work etc? I left school at sixteen because my mother needed me to earn my keep. My father had left three years before. My only regular job was with Shaw Park Mines. I worked at night, alone most of the time, which gave me plenty of opportunity to make my plans. After the death of her husband, Sue Owens took control of the business and made me Site Manager.
Have you travelled abroad much? Sue and I lived in The Gambia for almost ten years until she died of cancer in 2011. I returned to the UK on business – unfinished business.
Is there a message in your work that you want our readers to grasp? If you do the crime, you pay the price every time.
What book are you reading now? Observer Book of Hand Guns.
What are your current projects? I could tell you but I would have to kill you.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your work? Meticulous preparation and attention to detail reduces the challenges to an acceptable level. I guess the short answer is ‘No’.
How do you work through self-doubts/fears? My previous answer suggests that this has been unnecessary.
What is your least favourite quality about yourself? My inability to truly love someone; I loved my daughter Sharon of course. A father’s love for a daughter is special, but the total lack of love my parents showed me meant that I have never felt able to give myself fully to any woman I’ve met. I always hold something back; ready to leave at a minute’s notice, rather than be hurt if that love is suddenly withdrawn, or taken from me forcibly.
Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why? My daughter, Sharon; because I miss her, every day.
What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching? Anything but sport that has plenty of action. I usually watch with the sound muted; if I’m at Larcombe it’s so I can work. On an assignment it’s because I’m listening for trouble.
Best friend? Until I arrived at Larcombe I had never had a male friend. Karen and Sue were the closest I got to true friendship. Therese was an itch to be scratched at first, but she could have been a friend in time. When I met Rusty at Larcombe he helped train me, he taught me more in three months than I’d learned in fifteen years about how to kill someone swiftly without leaving a trace. Yeah, Rusty’s a good mate.
Would you class Rusty as a mentor? No, not really, the old gentleman at Larcombe is my mentor. We carry out his orders without question because it was him who pulled all these people together in The Olympus Project. The whole project is about preventing the UK from following the downward spiral we were on several years ago. Olympus is focused on stopping us from going to hell in a hand cart.
Who is the old gentleman? Refer back to my earlier comment on ‘current projects’.
Favourite Foods? I have learned to enjoy every meal that is set in front of me. I don’t cook and although I take every precaution, that meal might be my last.
Favourite Music? I rarely listen to anything except Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Iron Maiden and Judas Priest would be my first choice, but it has to be loud. Preferably beyond the threshold of pain.
Are there any skeletons in your closet? Unlikely, but the Pet Cemetery at Larcombe is pretty crowded these days, so we may need to rethink where they would go if I found any.