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Extremism

TILL MORNING IS NIGH . . . Between the covers

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There is an debate in the Twittersphere at this time of year about whether Die Hard is, or isn’t a Christmas movie. Maybe there is also a discussion to be had as to whether this latest adventure for Rob Parker’s invincible iron man, Ben Bracken, is a Christmas thriller. Those with young children, or fond memories of their own childhood, will surely recognise the source of the book’s title. Preface it with the words “And stay by my cradle ..” and you should have the answer.

till-morning-is-nighWe are in a wintry Manchester
. The time is the present. As usual, the giant plastic Santa is hoist by his breeches on the Victorian gothic façade of the town hall, dispensing silent jollity to the shoppers and merry-makers scurrying beneath his furry boots. In Albert Square, homeless men try to find solace in their threadbare coats, wondering where the next coffee, the next Greggs pasty – or the next fix of chemical oblivion – is going to come from.

 

Among these sad footnotes to the tidings of comfort and joy, Ben Bracken moves, asking questions. The former soldier, imprisoned in nearby Strangeways for something he didn’t do, has escaped and now leads a perilous existence employed by a shadowy government agency who have uses for his particular skillset, which involves an immense capacity for violence and superb fieldcraft honed both in the killing fields of Afghanistan and the mean streets of Britain’s cities.

Bracken has been tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a young undercover police officer working for the National Crime Agency. Executed in front of an audience of drug dealers and sleazeballs, probably pour encourager les autres, DC Mark Kyle may have become too close for comfort to a dangerous new player in the Manchester drug scene. Bracken asks the right questions of the right people, and finds he is being led not towards an organised criminal gang of swarthy Albanian malcontents, but to a group which has it roots much closer to home.

Back in the real world for a moment, we are told by experts that the biggest terrorist threat to our society in Britain comes from right wing extremist organisations. Only a few days ago a number of men – all fans of Hitler, Breivik and other assorted homicidal lunatics – were convicted of planning terrorism via social media. The fictional group which Ben Bracken infiltrates are, however, not pimply twenty-somethings operating out of a bedroom in their mum’s house, but serious players, ex-military and financing their ambitions via the trade in hard drugs. They are well trained, armed with more than just a Facebook account, and they mean business.

The St George Patriots are led by Helen Broadshott. Perhaps modeled on someone across the Channel, she is vivacious, attractive, a brilliant communicator, and someone who knows how to tap into the seam of opinion which has been crystalised by feelings of resentment about immigration, perceived inequality, lack of political representation and frustration about rapid social change. The Patriots are planning a major event which will catapult them from obscurity onto the front pages of the print media, boost their social media following and make them headline news on every TV bulletin.

The irony is, of course, that in order to prevent the planned atrocity, Bracken has to ingratiate himself with the group and make them give him a central role in proceedings hoping, all the while, that his employers will be ready to intervene at the crucial moment.

Rob ParkerParker is a fine young writer. He can muse ruefully on the inadequate protection the human body has against steel wielded with extreme malice:

“Blood and organs artfully arranged on bone. No myth, no mysticism. We are made of soft material that splits and spills, nothing more.”

There is also a more reflective side to his writing. In between energetically demolishing bad people, Bracken has moments of quieter reflection:

“And they weren’t lying when they said the Guinness was the best either – it’s an epiphany as pure and revelatory as finding Jesus and Elvis, all at once, in the same tall glass.”

The spectacular and bloody climax to this excellent thriller will settle the question I posed earlier about Till Morning Is Nigh being a Christmas novel. It is a bravura finale to a thoroughly engrossing thriller.

Till Morning Is Nigh is published by Endeavour Media and will be available from 13th December. Click on the text below to read reviews of other novels by Rob Parker.

ROB PARKER NOVELS

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE KILLING OF LEE RIGBY

Some crimes cause people to ‘tut-tut’ and shake their heads, muttering about how it would never have happened in ‘their day’. Some crimes, where there seems to have been no harm done to anyone involves, just make people chuckle.But then there are crimes, fortunately rare, which make ordinary people thank God that they weren’t there, clap a hand over their mouth in horror, and smack the wall in anger.

rigbySuch a crime took place on a calm May afternoon in 2013. The place? A nondescript suburban street in south-east London. The victim? A 25 year-old soldier, in civilian clothes, returning to his Woolwich barracks after a spell of ceremonial duty at The Tower of London.

There have been millions of words written and spoken over the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby. He was first hit with a car driven by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. The two killers then leaped from the abandoned car, and proceeded to hack Rigby to death with meat cleavers. Passers-by intervened, but their efforts were too late to save Rigby. At least, they prevented the soldier from being decapitated, and foiled the murderers’ intention of posing for a photograph holding a severed head.

Posing for a photograph while holding a severed head is, seemingly, de rigeur in the degenerate world of Muslim extremists. That Adebolajo and Adebowale were thwarted in this is some small – perhaps even miniscule – comfort to members of Lee Rigby’s family. Rigby was given a military funeral at Bury Parish Church on 12 July 2013, and his killers were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Unbelievably – or perhaps not – there were political commentators who refused to condemn the murder. Some, like the Islamic activist Anjem Choudary, sought to equate the killing with British military involvement in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan and Libya. Asghar Bukhari of the UK Muslim Public Affairs Committee said that both the British Government and the Muslim community were at fault.

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It is scarcely credible that the local authorities in Woolwich seemed more concerned about maintaining community cohesion within their ward boundaries than honouring a murdered soldier, but eventually a memorial – of sorts –  to Lee Rigby was put in place. Lee Rigby’s name appears on a plaque on the south wall of the memorial garden inside the ruined St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich, opposite the Royal Artillery Barracks. The memorial consists of a white marble plaque marking Woolwich’s history as a barracks town, and two bronze plaques with the names of 11 men who served or lived in Woolwich and gave their lives in the service of their country, including Rigby and the victims of the 1974 King’s Arms bombing nearby. It took the residents of his home area, Middleton near Rochdale, to do the decent thing and provide a more personal tribute.

rigby-memorial

If ever there were a chilling image to remind us of man’s inhumanity man it is that of the bloodstained Adebolajo ranting his hatred into someone’s mobile phone. Gil Scott-Heron told us The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. This appalling murder came as close to it as makes no difference.

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