Alan Glynn Bloodland

ISBN 13: 9780571275441

Bloodland

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9780571275441: Bloodland

A private security contractor loses it in the Congo, with deadly consequences, while in Ireland the ex-prime minister struggles to write his memoir. A tabloid star is killed in a helicopter crash and three years later a young journalist is warned off the story. As a news story breaks in Paris, a US senator prepares his campaign to run for office. What links these things and who controls what we know? With echoes of "John Le Carre" and 24, Alan Glynn has written another crime novel of and for our times - a ferocious thriller that moves from Dublin to New York via West Africa, and thrillingly explores the legacy of corruption in big business, the West's fear of China, the fate of ex-military, the role of back room political players, and the quick fix of online news.

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About the Author:

Alan Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he studied English Literature, and has worked in magazine publishing in New York and as an EFL teacher in Italy. His second novel, Winterland, was published to huge acclaim in 2009, while his first novel The Dark Fields was released as the film Limitless - starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro - in Spring 2011.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
 PHONE RINGS.
Jimmy puts his coffee down and reaches across the desk to answer it.
He glances at the display, vaguely recognises the number, can’t quite place it.
‘Yeah?’
‘Well, well, young Mr Gilroy. Phil Sweeney.’
Jimmy’s pulse quickens. Of course. The voice is unmistakable. He straightens up. ‘Phil? God, it’s been a while. How are you doing?’
‘Not bad. Keeping busy. You?’
‘Pretty good, yeah.’
And after this, Jimmy thinking, maybe a little better.
‘So that was a shame there, all those cutbacks. Hard going, I imagine.’
‘Yeah.’ Jimmy nods. ‘It’s not exactly front page news anymore, though.’
‘No, no, of course not. But come here. Listen.’ Formalities out of the way, it seems. Very Phil. ‘Is it true what I hear?’
‘Er ... I don’t know, Phil. What do you hear?’
‘That you’re writing an article or something ... about Susie Monaghan?’
Jimmy looks at the block of text on the screen of his iMac. ‘Yeah,’ he says, after a pause. ‘But it’s not an article. It’s a book.’ Cagey now. ‘A biography.’
‘Jesus, Jimmy.’
‘What?’
‘I’m no editor, but ... Susie Monaghan? Give me a break. Tell me it’s not the prospect of the last chapter they’re drooling over.’
Jimmy is taken aback at this – celebrity drool, as he remembers it, always having been something of a Phil Sweeney speciality. Though he’s right in one respect. The paragraphs Jimmy currently has on the screen are from the last chapter, the longest and most detailed in the book and the one he’s tackling first.
‘Yeah,’ he says. ‘But that’s not all they’re interested in. There’s plenty of other stuff. The boyfriends, the drugs, the tantrums.’
‘Which no one outside of the Daily Star demographic would give a shit about if it wasn’t for how she died.’
Jimmy shrugs. ‘Not necessarily. It’s an intriguing story, her death, the timing of it, what it exemplified.’ He pauses. ‘What it ... meant.’ He shifts in his chair, picks up a pen, fiddles with it. There was a time when a call from Phil Sweeney was a good thing. It meant a lead, a tip-off, information.
This he’s not so sure about.
Jimmy’s old man and Phil Sweeney had been in business together in the late nineties. They were good friends. Then the old man died and Sweeney started taking an interest in Jimmy’s career. He kept an eye out for him, introduced him to people.
Fed him stories.
‘Oh come on, Jimmy.’
But those days, it would appear, are over.
‘I’m sorry, Phil, I’m not with you. What is this?’
There is a long sigh from the other end of the line.
Jimmy glances over at the door. He can hear voices. The students from across the hall. Are they arguing again? Fighting? He’s not sure, but it might come in handy as an excuse to get off the phone, if he needs one, if this conversation gets any weirder.
‘Look,’ he says, no longer attempting to hide his frustration. ‘I’m doing a bio of Susie Monaghan, OK? Sneer if you want to, but I’m taking it seriously.’ He hesitates, then adds, ‘Because you know what, Phil? It’s work, something I haven’t had a lot of recently.’
He tightens his grip on the phone.
‘Yeah, Jimmy, I know, I know, but –’
‘Well, I don’t think you do actually –’
‘I do, I get it, you need the assignment, and that’s fine, it’s just –’
‘Oh, what? I’m supposed to run all my proposals by you now, is that it?’
‘No, Jimmy, please, it’s just ... all this focus on the crash –’
‘It’s where the story is, Phil, where the different elements converge. And yeah, to justify the advance, I’ve promised to pull out all the stops, sure, but...’ He pauses. ‘I mean, what the hell do you care?’
Sweeney doesn’t answer.
‘No, tell me,’ Jimmy goes on. ‘What’s it to you? Really, I don’t understand.’
Sweeney draws a breath. ‘OK, look,’ he says, ‘just slow down for a second, yeah? This advance you mentioned. How much is it? I’m sure we could come to some –’
Jimmy hangs up, stands up – backs away, stares at the phone appalled, as if it had unexpectedly come to slithering, slimy life in his hand.
When it starts ringing again, he doesn’t move. He lets it ring out, waits a bit and then checks to see if there’s a message.
There is.
‘Jimmy, Jesus, for fuck’s sake, I was only saying. Look, we can go over this again, but just be careful who you talk to. This isn’t about Susie Monaghan. And call me, yeah?’ He pauses. ‘Take care of yourself.’
Jimmy exhales, deflates.
He flips the phone closed and puts it on the desk. He sits down again.
Be careful who you talk to.
This from Phil fucking Sweeney? PR guru, media advisor, strategist, fixer, bagman, God knows what else? Someone for whom talking to people was – and presumably still is – nothing less than the primary operating system of the universe? Be careful who he talks to? Jesus Christ. What about Maria Monaghan, Susie’s older sister? A woman he’s been pestering for the last two weeks. He’s meeting her this evening.
Does that count?
Jimmy gets up and wanders across the room. He stops at the window and gazes out.
This is all too weird. Not to mention awkward. Because he really does need the assignment. It’s his first decent opportunity in nearly two years.
The bay is cloudy, overcast. The tide is coming in.
Jimmy releases a weary sigh.
Two years ago he was still at the paper and doing really well, especially with that ministerial expenses story. He’d made connections and built up sources – assisted in no small way, it has to be said, by Phil Sweeney. Then these lay-offs were announced. Eighty-five jobs across the board, last in, first out. Among the thirty or so editorial staff affected Jimmy was in the middle somewhere and didn’t stand a chance. He eventually found a part-time job covering the Mulcahy Tribunal for City magazine, but after six months of that not only did the tribunal come to an end City magazine itself did as well, and the work more or less dried up. He did a few bits and pieces over the next year and a half for local papers and trade publications, as well as some online stuff, but nothing that paid much or was regular enough to count as a real job.
Then, about a month ago, this came up.
It was through an old contact at City who was running the Irish office of a London publisher and looking for someone, preferably a journalist, to slap together a book on Susie Monaghan in time for the Christmas market. Jimmy didn’t have to think about it for very long. The advance was modest, but it was still a lot more than anything he’d earned recently.
He turns away from the window.
But what is this bullshit now with Phil Sweeney? Did he even understand it correctly? Was Sweeney asking him not to do the book? To drop it? It seems incredible, but that’s what it sounded like.
Jimmy glances over at his desk.
The advance. How much is it? I’m sure we could come to some –
Oh God.
– to some what? Some arrangement?
On one level, Jimmy shouldn’t even be questioning this. Because it’s not as if he doesn’t owe Phil Sweeney, and owe him big. He does. Of course he does. But dropping a story? That’s different. Being paid to drop a story? That’s fucking outrageous.
And why?
He doesn’t understand. Is Phil representing someone? An interested party? A client? What’s going on?
Jimmy walks over to the desk.
All of the materials laid out here – transcripts of interviews, old Hellos and VIPs, Google-generated printouts, endless photos – relate directly to Susie.
He selects one of the photos and looks at it.
Susie in a nightclub, champagne flute held up, shoulder strap askew.
She looks tired – wrecked, in fact – like she’s been trying too hard and it’s not working anymore.
But Jesus, that face ... those eyes.
It didn’t matter how tawdry the setting, how tacky or low-rent the gig, Susie’s eyes always had this extraordinary effect of making everything around her seem urgent and weighted and mysterious.
As he replaces the photo, Jimmy wonders what the sister will be like. He’s spoken to her on the phone a few times and they’ve exchanged maybe a dozen e-mails – his focus always on getting her to say yes.
To talk to him.
The primary operating system of the universe.
Jimmy sits down and faces the computer. He looks at the words on the screen. Drums his fingers on the desk. Wonders how he got from investigating a ministerial expenses scandal, and doing it in a busy newsroom, to writing about a dead actress, and in a one-bedroom apartment he can barely afford the monthly repayments on.
But then something more pressing occurs to him.
How did Phil know what he was working on in the first place? Who did he hear it from? In what circumstances would Phil Sweeney be talking to someone – or would someone be talking to Phil Sweeney – where the subject might possibly come up?
Jimmy doesn’t like this one bit.
Nor is it the kind of thing he responds well to, being put under pressure, nudged in a certain direction, told what to do or what not to do. And OK, an unauthorised showbiz biography isn’t exactly Watergate, or uncovering My Lai, but still, he should be free to write whatever he wants to.
That’s h...

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