JJ Stoner – the musician, motorcyclist and murderer – returns in a new quick thriller this week. Like any competent contract killer, Stoner needs to relocate rapidly but blend in unobtrusively. In ‘Six Strings’, he uses two wheels and more to confound his enemies. Author Frank Westworth (who freely admits to being a fellow motorcyclist and a musician, but keeps quiet about any other similarities with his fictional creation) explains about Stoner’s transports of delight…
James Bond. Bentley or Aston Martin? Tough choice, huh? We can only sympathise. When I first sat down to write an actual full-length thriller, all I knew about Stoner, the central character, was that he rides a motorcycle. Of course he does. It’s best to write about what you know, otherwise your own ignorance becomes bliss for someone else, as The Reader always enjoys pointing out the idiocies, the inaccuracies, the foolishnesses. Best not to make them.
So I knew he rode a motorcycle. A big one, a black one, a very loud one, one with the proud British name ‘Norton’ in gold on its gleaming black tank. I have one of those, you know. Surprised?
While waiting for the nice man in the nice yellow van to come and cart the Norton and its hapless rider back home, again, I pondered upon exactly why ace-guitarist, top gunner JJ Stoner would ride a motorcycle which was less than 100 percent reliable and not entirely faster than a speeding bullet (well…). He wouldn’t.
The rider wears a helmet – great head protection, that’s why the law compels them. He wears a face mask, great precaution against suicidal 100mph wasps, and a perfect disguise. He wears leather, and body armour tough enough to slow a small calibre handgun round to the point where it hurts, but is unlikely to be fatal. All of that in full view of anyone who might be looking.
Except that they aren’t. Looking. Looking at him. They’re looking at the motorcycle, the Harley-Davidson, and they hate it. And they despise the rider. Maybe they did see Wild Angels on Netflix. Biker theory has it that they’re just jealous. Envy is a proud thing.
Bikes carve through traffic. They can do great getaways. And you can just lose them in a crowd – a crowd of other bikes, of course. All those shades-wearing, beardy guys in their dirty leathers – they look the same, right? Right.
So our hero gets in quick, gets dirty, then gets out quick on a motorcycle. This happens a lot; read the news, endless crime gets committed on motorcycles, usually small ones, small ones stolen for the purpose and abandoned after the bag has been snatched, the Uzi emptied into the crowd, then they’re gone. Unfindable.
But… motorcycles are vulnerable. Never be fooled by the movies where our hero ditches the motorcycle into the side of a truck, car, wall, whatever, then gets up, shrugs and carries on doing whatever he was doing before. That doesn’t happen. Think great pain, bones poking through leathers, teeth dislodged and very many abrasions. A road is not a race track. There are no run-off areas.
So Stoner also needed a car. More comedy sets in here. Why would any spook or similarly sly soul choose to drive a car like an Aston Martin? Parading your personal vanities is really not what spooking is about – unless the whole point is to make yourself wildly visible, of course. And in any case, although a super-powerful motor is great for chasing and/or running away, unless the great getaway takes place on a deserted highway late at night there are always other happy families ambling merrily along, innocently getting in the way. So … ditch that idea
TO BE CONCLUDED
You can read more from Frank Westworth on Fully Booked by following the links below.