First chapter of a full-length novel (This is a new first chapter)
A retired police officer attempts to prove his grandson innocent of murder and in the process uncovers a dystopian fairy realm.
Anything but at this stage general impressions.
Police, press and gawping public invaded the avenue lined with expensive and elegant Georgian terraces. Ian Erasmus Black stood in their midst, watching the coming and goings. Cameras flashed. Tomorrow’s headlines: “Grandson of Retired Deputy Chief Constable Murders Wife and Child.” (The first three sentences to this, although good with detail, come over very sharp and blunt. Could you try softening and blending two of them? (Ugh, this is my voice and I shouldn't do it, so discount it and use your own: Cameras flashed, already crying their crocodile tears over tomorrow's headline: "Grandson...". You're also after injecting a little feeling from Ian, hence his 'opinion' on the camera crying and something like 'crocodile tears', or however he views jounalists.)
The press would hound Ian and his family as the community demanded answers. Because things like this couldn’t happen behind the respectable façade of number nine Ebden Avenue. Ian had seen it happen to other families. It still felt like he was watching the events as an outsider. (It may need a little more in feeling here. I know Ian is supposed to be numb here, but without a little guider, it really does feel like he's part of the crowd.)
"Sir." A very young (What's 'very young' to the narrator? You're after voice in this, eg a constable barely reaching shaving age, who looked like he should be carrying an I.D. tag to buy booze etc...?)
constable went to stop Ian as he ducked beneath the crime scene tape. "You cannot--"
"Let him through.” Sergeant Hector Pinkerton gave Ian a smile of condolence.
(If this is Pinkerton speaking, join this diaogue up the last sentence)
." “Sorry about that, Sir. (Has Ian gone over to Pinkerton? He's giving out personal information here and if Ian hasn't stepped through the line of onlookers, it would be awrkward)
He’s wet behind the ears. Bad business this. Your grandson (to ground the reader on who 'Harley' is))
Harley always seemed like such a top bloke.”
“Thanks, Hector.” Ian swallowed (Yep, I think you need some of this 'breaking emotion" in the first para (just a small hint))
. Last thing his emotions needed was small talk with the husband of the town’s biggest gossip. “I need to see him. Think they’ll let me in?”
Hector shrugged. “Forensics are still working.” (Harley is still in the house? They haven't arrested him and taken to jail?)
“I need to try. You know how he was after his parents died.”
“If it was up to me…”
(Recommend you have Ian 'move away from Pinkerton at this point, it was a little jolting as I thought he was saying this to Pinkerton.)
“One, two, three, four, five once I caught a fish alive.” To calm his nerves
Ian counted the stone steps to the door. At the top, a policewoman in a reflective jacket prevented his entrance. She
stood with her arms folded in front of her bosom and
. (Recommend just to let the action convey that Ian is being stopped.)
The expression made her resemble a good old British bulldog. He didn’t recognise her and she was too young to have been a police officer eight years ago. (Recommend a re-write of this as I stumbled over it a touch. Perhaps bring in she looked too young to have seen Ian's retirement eight years ago?)
“You can’t go in there.” Her voice held an indulgent tone – the one Ian imagined her using as she helped an old lady across the street. It made him feel decrepit.
He closed his eyes
took a deep breath and tried to make contact with his missing balls. “This is my grandson’s home. I raised him after his parents died. I need to see him.”
“He’s in police custody and nobody is allowed in without permission from the Chief Inspector.” (Still in the house, though? With the crowds outside, wouldn't they have moved him for his and their safety?)
She momentarily released her bosom and pointed out into the crowd. “Please go back behind the tape.”
"Does the DCI have a name? I might know him.”
“He’s new. Let me in or…”
PC Bulldog scoffed, “Or what? You’ll call the MP? Best mates are you?” Her gaze flicked down, appraising his stained, but comfortable old t-shirt, ripped jeans and hair that was probably sticking up every which way.
Ian sniffed, straightened his shoulders and pushed his spectacles up his nose.
(needs to be tied to the last sentence if this is Ian speaking.)
“I was thinking the Chief Constable.”
“Got him on speed dial have you?” Her slight sarcastic smile tried to get up Ian’s nose but he refused to let it.
“Something like that.”
There was no let up in her scornful expression and
her arms remained firmly across her chest. (There's a repetition of descriptive facial expression (sarcastic smiles, scornful expression) that I'm starting to notice at this point. Recommend easing some and using the action to carry the mannerism)
“Are you going to let me in?”
“Not without consulting DCI Fredricks.”
I know it’s the crime scene
but Harley – he doesn’t handle stress well. He needs me. He’s more likely to talk with me there.”
Her eyes steeled. And sS
he looked straight ahead into the crowd, pretending Ian wasn’t present. “Please return to behind the tape.”
Ian paused… not wanting to ask the next question. He looked down at his feet and noted his trainers had a hole in them. “Oliver, my great-grandson… have they found him yet?”
PC Bulldog’s eyelids flickered… her eyes tried not to portray a moment of sympathy and briefly she looked at Ian before returned her gaze to the crowd. (Omnipresent? Ian is tsill looking down at his feet; he wouldn't know what crossed the woman's eyes)
? “How did you know…”
“I have my sources…” A sense of impotence filled Ian, frustration that he couldn’t just order her to step aside. If she’d been a man ... Calm down, Ian, you’ll be no use to Harley in a police cell.(Direct thought: italics)
“Get me Fredricks.” He leaned against the iron railing that ran prevented visitors falling into the basement pit. “I’ll wait.”
“You can wait beyond the cordon.” She pointed out into crowd. “I’m not allowed to leave my post.”
“But you can contact him.” He pointed to her radio.
“I could.” Her attitude made it clear she wasn’t going to. “But he’s asked not to be disturbed.”
“Well can I at least help with the search for Oliver?”
Again her eyelids flickered furiously. “There is no search for the children (one? the headline fron Ian earlier only said 'child')
… the assumption is…”
“Well the assumption is at least partly incorrect. George Black (Who's George Black? How is he relevant at this point and to the crime? This is new information that has come out of nowhere and needs some explanation)
is alive and well… he’s tucked up in bed at my house. My partner is currently looking after him. Are you telling me an infant is missing and your DCI has not instituted a full search for him?”
“He’s in charge of the investigation.” The bulldog scowl had softened to be replaced by an expression Ian couldn’t read. She almost whispered the next line. “Because of who Harley is … you know his job (Who's job? Harley's?)
he’s asked we do not release any details to the press.”
when he was eight his parents died. He retreated into himself and he didn’t speak to anyone for over a year. Right now I’m worried sick about my him grandson
and great-grandson.” He bit his lip, hard. In the morning he’d have an ulcer. “At least get me Fredricks. If Harley isn’t speaking
he’ll stand a better chance with me or my son
present. And a better chance of finding out if we need to be searching for Oliver.”
“Alright, sir. If you go back behind the tape
I will do my best.” She held her radio up to her mouth. “But I’m not promising.”
“Thank you. And for the record
I really do know the Chief Constable
I just don’t have a mobile phone to contact him.” I’ve got the keys to the closet the old git keeps his skeletons in.
Two voices shouted above the noise of the crowd:
On the other side of the tape
Ian located his sons (there's a chance for confusion here: this could read one of two way: Ian 'saw' his sons on the other side of the tape: or went over to them. If it's the latter, it will need to be clairified a little more)
: Matthew Black, a respected barrister and Dr John Black, a psychiatrist at a clinic on the moors. When he’d phoned and asked them to meet him
they’d been in a club. Matt in his Matilda persona looked like she’d (? Transgender? What is he wearing? Just curious here as it might need a little more detail to let the reader know this isn't just a slip of pronouns)
had a drink or two
but John, clutching tight to his medical bag, looked more sober than he wanted to be.
“Have you been able to see Harley?” John asked (yep, the 'located' above needs to be clairified to show that Ian went over to his sons)
. At fifty
he still resembled a teenager. His face had only two expressions, amused or sulk. Right now he had it set firmly to sulk.
Ian shook his head. “I’ve asked PC Bulldog at the door to get the DCI out here. Sorry to disturb your night boy (Character: just a little curious why he would be apologising here. It's as if what's happened isn't as imporatnt as the deaths of family members (and no mention of the wife at this point either. Even if the wife is abusive, something would have been said here, even if it's foreshadow that not everything is as it seems)
For a brief moment
John allowed his more usual amused expression to make an appearance and he touched Ian’s shoulder. “It’s OK, Dad. You disturbed the moment when I was chatted up by a woman with the biggest Adam’s apple…” He indicated his own and whispered.
“Definitely more Bramley than Cox’s Pippin.” Sulk reappeared. “Seriously
have they found Oliver?”
“No. Apparently they’re not even searching for Tyke (Who's Tyke? New information? Needs clarifying)
. The guy in charge has decided Harley murdered him as well.”
maybe – the bitch had it coming. But he’d not harm the kids.”
Worried about who might have overheard
Ian checked those nearest for members of the press. (I'm surprised he's talking about this in the middle of the crowd: he'd be aware of mob mentality and wouldn't want to let anything slip that compromise his son's safety etc)
“Some corpses should be spoken ill of. You saw the bruises on Harley…” John clenched his hand into a fist and his face contorted a little in anger
. “I’d have cheerfully offed her myself.”
Although John’s thoughts echoed his own
Ian chose not to utter them. He bit his lip, nodded and looked up at the door of the house. “It’s beginning to look like Fredricks isn’t coming out.”
“Fredricks did you say?” Matilda gave him a look of disdain.
“That’s what PC Bulldog at the door said. I don’t know him.”
“What is her real name?”
“I don’t know.”
As a small child
Matthew Black had decided anyone who was not Matthew Black was a complete idiot; that included his father. It had taken a few years for Ian not to take it personally and realise Matt considered him a fairly intelligent human being.
“Matt… it might have escaped your notice
but my grandson… your nephew is in there in trouble…”
“Which is why we need to be sharp. None of us are in mourning for (Chracters: not even for the dead child?)
God’s sake. Our priorities need to be protecting Harley and finding Oliver.” Matilda flicked her long blonde wig over her shoulder and pursed her perfectly made up red lips. “Fredricks is a nasty, lazy little weasel. He came up from London to be a big fish in a little pond. I’ve minced him in court a few times.” She moved to the front of the cordon, pushing people out of her way as she went. “You a lesbian, love?” she shouted loudly.
The look PC Bulldog gave him would have frozen a lesser mortal but instead Matilda said, “Did you see that? (did the others go with here? Recommend clarifying otherwise you have them talking over the crowd)
Amazing. I so got to perfect me that look.” For a moment she tried to assume the same expression.
“Matt, look…” Ian interrupted him (there's a switch between 'him' and 'her' in relation to Matt. It needs to be constant with which pronoun is being used, otherwise it will confuse the reader)
. “We need to get in.”
“Well it looks like batting my very expensive eye lashes at her isn’t going to gain us entrance.” She fastened up her coat, covering up her dress. “Shame this is Victoria Beckham. Shouldn’t be hidden from view.” Next she pulled a silver scarf from around her neck, revealing a prominent Adam’s apple.
The silence was giving Ian time to think and he didn’t like it. “Good night out?” he asked John.
Initially the inane question shook John who looked (at)
Ian with his eyebrow raised.
“Humour me. I’m old
, (Chracter and voice: Again, just odd to say under the circumstance. I can understand him wanting a distraction from the death, but not from being old)
” Ian said. “I need the small talk.”
“Going to a drag was Matilda’s idea of celebrating my divorce. She made me drive…”
In the process of removing her diamante eye lashes, Matilda looked up. “Could you imagine driving in these?” She kicked up her feet one at a time to display the black and white polka dot shoes with red bow. “Darling aren’t they?”
well it meant I was stone cold sober when the woman with bigger balls than myself chatted me up.” John’s grasped his medical bag with both hands until his knuckles whitened. “Great night out.”
“It was fabulous.” As Matilda removed her make-up
her five o’clock shadow became apparent.
“Can we just hurry up.” Ian closed his eyes. “Please. Whilst he’s in there
he could be saying anything.”
Finally the wig came off. Matt’s thick, black curls stood up in every direction. She found a comb in her bag. “If my nephew is behaving true to form
he’s not said a word. What do you think, John?”
John shrugged. “I’ll need to assess him. But Dad’s right
we need to get in there.”
Matthew brought out a bright-pink with diamante Hello Kitty phone. “Matilda Black has left the building. Matthew Black is back.” His voice deepened and he put his phone to his ear. (No reaction from those standing close by?)
“Right, time to real in the fish and bang him on the head with a shovel.” In one elegant movement
he ducked beneath the tape, leaving John and Ian to follow in his wake. “Linus… It’s Matthew, Ian Black’s son
sorry to disturb your holiday but
I need to get into a crime scene … yes I have HHF clearance… look
do you want me to go the press…” He moved so fast that he dropped out of earshot.
By the time Ian and John had caught up
Matt was at the top of the stairs. He handed his phone to PC Bulldog. “Chief Constable Fairways needs to speak to you, love. He’s said we can enter.” Matt grabbed her by the biceps and moved her to one side. He opened the door and smiled at John. “Come on, big bro. We’re going to need you to assess him.”
They disappeared into the house, leaving Ian alone on the doorstep watching PC Bulldog. Her face turned bright red and as she spoke to Chief Constable (unfinished sentence? As she what?)
. Her eyes gaze
but they didn’t change their opinion of the scruffy old man in front of her. She hung up and slapped the phone down into his waiting palm. “Why didn’t you tell me who you were and who they were…” Her gaze shifted to the door. “Fuck.”
“Telling you I was the concerned grandfather and great grandfather should have been enough to get compassion instead of derision.” He stowed Hello Kitty in the back pocket of his jeans and followed his sons into the house.