Junior Inquisitor

Junior Inquisitor

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hard Boiled Detectives in London and advertising that works

The Vampire of Rome moves along a bit slowly this week as Brunette Sonya refuses to sleep which makes me groggy and thusly writing is not rapid and sometimes even cogent. However I have mapped out the rest of the story, and with some hard work, a probably a few naps, this weekend I should be able to finish it up and get it off to my editor.

I like to branch out every now and then when it comes to reading, looking for something new. I was intrigued by Dominic Piper's tweets, so I decided to give his book a shot, kinda hoping I might enjoy the story, but not really expecting much. I was wrong. He wrote a hard-boiled detective story that kept me glued to the pages. I plowed through Kiss Me When I Dead and then went straight to Death Is The New Black. I enjoyed both books so much I reached out to him and badgered him into this post.

Take it away Dominic.


Kiss Me When I’m Dead

When private investigator Daniel Beckett is offered double his usual fee plus a large bonus to track down Viola Raleigh, the missing daughter of a billionaire arms dealer, he has no reason to believe that the assignment is not as it seems.

But soon after he starts work, he discovers he’s being stalked by a professional surveillance team.

And as he learns more about Viola’s life as a drug addict and high-class call girl, he realises that his wealthy client has not been telling him the whole story.

Before long, Beckett himself is in danger...

But his adversaries quickly discover that they are dealing with a resourceful and menacing individual with a far more sinister background than they might ever have imagined…


Kiss Me When I’m Dead excerpt

I have a message for your Mr Raleigh.’ she says softly, closing the door behind us.

Before I can turn around to speak to her, my whole world explodes.

There’s a searing, astonishing pain which starts in my lower back and spreads up the whole right side of my body. It takes me one second to realise that I’ve been expertly and savagely punched in the kidney. My eyes are squeezed tightly shut and I concentrate on not falling to my knees in agony. Instantly, in a reflex action I can’t control, I twist my right hand behind my back to do what? Stop it happening again? Rub it better? This is a terrible mistake.

Mrs Bianchi grabs my wrist and pushes my arm up behind my back in a powerful hammerlock. I’m still reeling from the kidney punch as she grabs a handful of my hair, jerks my head back and then uses it to test the structural integrity of a very solid wall. I turn my head at the last second to avoid having my nose broken, but it doesn’t make much difference to the overall percussive effect. I’m now in considerable pain and probably slightly concussed.

The idea pops into my head that she’s trying to kill me. The how or why of it I can sort out later. For now, I’ve got to do something to neutralise this attach before it gets any worse. She’s still got my arm hoicked up hard behind my back. I have to get out of this lock before she dislocates my shoulder or slams me into the wall again. I spread the fingers of my right hand and push my arm right across my back, narrowing the gap between my bicep and ribs. This enables me to twist my arm out of the lock, and as she’s still holding on, do a fast three-sixty turn and throw her half way across the room.

I attempt to go down with her at the same speed and immobilise her in some way, but I’m slightly too slow and she’s up on her feet again. We’re standing about three feet away from each other and she’s taken a defensive stance, her centre of balance low. OK. I know where I stand now. This is karate. Judging from the power of that kidney blow, I really mustn’t let her land another one on me.

Her eyes are blank and unemotional and I can see she’s taking my whole body in while staring straight ahead. This is something that’s being done without any passion. It’s clinical and professional, which makes it very dangerous.

She moves in towards me and tries a straight punch aimed beneath my nose and designed to knock my front teeth out. I block this and try to grab her wrist, but she’s too fast and uses a middle finger knuckle strike against my temple. She didn’t get it quite right, so I’m still here, if a little dazed, and take two steps back to get out of her range for a second.

Why are you doing this? What the fuck’s wrong with you?’

She told me. She told me that one day he’d send his people here.’

What are you talking about?’

My back is killing me. She sidles slowly towards me. I can tell she’s going to attempt a kick next. I keep my eye on her whole body. Her gaze quickly flicks across my chest and then my groin area.

She’s so fast I barely saw the kick coming, even though I was expecting it. Just before it makes contact with my lower chest, I bat it away and try to grab her ankle, but fail. She fires off three more speedy punches aimed at my face and neck and as I block them I can see a faint look of concern flash across her face.

The towel she has wrapped around her body has become loose and I realise what she’s going to do before she does it. She grabs the towel and rips it off her body, twirling it like a lasso. There’s a half second delay while my dumb, male brain takes in the lithe, sweating body, the wide hips, the thin strip of pubic hair and the exquisite, ripe breasts. That half second delay is all it takes and she knows it.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a heavy, damp towel thrown with considerable force wrap itself around your head, but it’s an extremely unpleasant sensation. The painful impact, the slap of the material in your face and eyes, the brief fear of suffocation; it’s shocking, painful and disorientating. To have this followed up by two skilled karate kicks to the stomach doesn’t improve things at all.

I’m down now, and for the first time I think I’m going to come second in this bout. As I scrabble to get the towel off my face and stand up again I feel a strong grip on my throat and start to feel my consciousness going. My assailant tears the towel off my head and for a second I think she’s going to use it to break my neck.

My eyes are stinging and watering and I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus. I look up through my tears to see Mrs Bianchi sitting astride me, her eyes full of hate and her grip on my throat unrelenting. This is the first time I’ve had the crap kicked out of me by a naked woman, so at least that’s something.

Kiss Me When I’m Dead

This is the first novel to feature private investigator Daniel Beckett. Beckett is a unique character in the genre. He’s highly intelligent, cultured, relatively amoral and has a pretty advanced skill-set that points to a background in intelligence work or deniable ops. Something happened in his previous life that caused him to flee the country and return a few years later as a different person. He’s very cagey about himself and it’s second nature to him to lie continuously.

I saw a review of one of the Beckett novels which described him as ‘a modest babe-magnet’, which I thought was a pretty fair description. Attractive women, and his relationships with them, fill the novels. In fact, to call him a major womaniser would be a major understatement. It’s plain that he’s unable to live a conventional life for some reason, and this extends to his relationships with women.

Beckett also comes across as very worldly and non-judgemental, particularly when it comes to those who exist outside normal society like he does. This outlook is particularly applied to the variety of sex workers he encounters in Kiss Me When I’m Dead, as well as one character who is a drug dealer.

Kiss Me When I’m Dead explores the motivations and weaknesses of men who are so powerful and rich that they think they can get away with anything. People who are so corrupt that they make no apologies for it and even brag about it. People who think that money can buy anything and anyone. Beckett is their nemesis and sees through them instantly. He’s the sort of person they never want to come across and is actually a scary individual in many ways.

It’s clear in Kiss Me When I’m Dead that Beckett is doing detective work for the money and does not consider himself to be restrained by the law. His casual acts of theft and violence (and even murder) right at the very end of the novel demonstrate that he exists outside normal moral codes and has no interest in them or respect for them.

There’s a definite feeling that Beckett expects to be pursued, but we don’t know by whom. He lives in Covent Garden, a central, built-up area of London. His routine changes whenever he returns to his flat on foot. He’s constantly taking evasive action, utilising counter surveillance techniques and is plainly skilled in these things.

Lincoln has asked me why the stuffed dog belonging to Beckett’s client is called Lincoln. No clever backstory, I’m afraid. I just Googled ‘popular dog names’, Lincoln came up and I thought ‘Yes.’
I may never set foot in England again after hearing this.

Death is the New Black

Beautiful, ambitious and talented, top fashion designer Sara Holt seems to have the world at her feet.

But recently, her life has been turned upside down. She’s been on the receiving end of a vicious and frightening campaign of harassment.

More sinister still, someone has been breaking into her flat, sometimes when she’s in bed asleep. Perversely, they don’t steal anything.

The police can find no evidence of any sort of break-in. No one witnesses the harassment. No one believes her. Is it all in her mind?

Then she hires enigmatic private investigator Daniel Beckett, and gradually the chilling truth begins to unfold.


Death is the New Black excerpt

The words ‘holy’ and ‘shit’ are the first to invade my brain the moment Isolda Jennison oozes into Sara Holt’s office.

Sara’s MTA1 is a ravishingly beautiful woman of about twenty-five. She’s tall, extremely desirable, excessively voluptuous and for a moment I think she must be one of those plus size models that the fashion houses have been favouring for the last decade, except she’s not quite plus-sized enough. Pretty close, though. Then I decide she’s a little too carnal for modelling; maybe much too carnal.

She’s been poured into a black silk sleeveless dress that cuts off a little above the knee and flaunts delectably wide hips and a lethal cleavage. Both these attributes are accentuated by a wide, studded silver belt around her waist that just stops short of being fetish wear.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough, she has full, moist lips, exquisitely pretty dark brown eyes and a gorgeous mane of expensively coiffured black hair that seems to reach all the way down her back. I just hope Sara is going to say something, because I’ve temporarily lost the power of speech.

Oh. Hi, Isolda. This is Daniel Beckett. He’s the private detective. He’d like to have a talk with you about my itinerary. Daniel, this is Isolda Jennison, my MTA1. She’ll give you everything you need.’

A less sophisticated guy than me would be thinking ‘I should be so lucky’ at this point. It’s a good job I’m so smooth and urbane.

Isolda steps forward and shakes my hand. Now I can smell her perfume, which is heady, musky and catches at the back of my throat. I think I may need to sit down. I just hope my mouth isn’t hanging open; I wouldn’t want any flies to think they’d found a home.

Pleased to meet you.’ says Isolda. It’s a classless, Londony accent with a hint of Hertfordshire or maybe Essex. Her grip is firm and dry and lingers for a second too long. She’s very close; another foot and one of her breasts would be touching my forearm. My mouth dries up as I visualise this. ‘Shall we go into my office? Sara doesn’t have a computer in here.’

That’s fine by me.’ I say, as nonchalantly as possible. I turn to Sara. ‘I’ll come back and have a quick chat when we’ve finished.’

Sara nods and smiles, already engaged in something else that involves a pink fluorescent Magic Marker. Despite my efforts to suppress them, the contrasting physical beauty of both women is putting scenarios in my head that are best eradicated, and fast. I have to concentrate, not fantasise. As soon as I think that, the scenarios return with a brutish, salacious vengeance. I need therapy.

I follow Isolda down a corridor to her office and I can hear her nylons swish together as she walks. That sound: it’s a bastard. She knows my eyes are on her curves and I guess she’s probably used to it. I look at the zip on the back of her dress and imagine slowly pulling it down.

I try to imagine the sort of lingerie she favours and my imagination kindly supplies me with a few distracting adjectives – black, provocative, indecent, revealing, tight, evil. As if reading my thoughts, she turns and flashes me a knowing smile. ‘Come inside.’

We turn into her office. It’s smaller than Sara’s and less cluttered. There are three shelves of books and a couple of small tables groaning with magazines, but her desk is tidy, with only a computer, a notepad and some pens.

There are prints on the wall; something by Weguelin and Andromeda by Poynter. She picks up a spare swivel chair and places it next to hers. We both sit down. She crosses her legs, looks at me and smiles. Her eyes are a little red, like she’s been crying recently.

She runs a hand through her hair and shakes her head quickly from left to right. This releases more of her perfume into the atmosphere and, far worse, causes her breasts to wobble slightly. It’s the ‘slightly’ bit that causes me to swallow and lick my lips, like a schoolboy nervously flicking through his first girly magazine.


Death is the New Black

Beckett’s second outing brings him into contact with the fashion industry. He’s hired by a top female fashion designer whose life is being made a misery by threatening, sinister street encounters. Apart from this, someone is breaking into her flat and moving things around, even while she’s actually there and is asleep. She contacts the police who tell her that there is no evidence whatsoever of any unwanted presence or break-in in her flat. The street hassle is just as unprovable. She starts to think that she maybe be going a little mad.

Then, on the recommendation of a friend, she hires Beckett. He realises immediately that there’s something not right about this situation and is able to demonstrate that her flat can be broken into without leaving a trace by doing it himself.

It becomes obvious in Death is the New Black, as it was in Kiss Me When I’m Dead, that Beckett abhors violence and disrespect when it’s aimed at women. His retaliation to acts of violence aimed at his client is swift, brutal and sadistic throughout the book. But he’s also capable of being distracted by women, as well, in this case by his client’s glamorous assistant. It’s a weakness that he is aware of, but seems to be difficult for him to do anything about it.

Beckett’s fighting skills once again point to a background in intelligence of some sort. His reaction to any attempted assault on his person is cold and calculating. He makes very speedy assessments about an opponent, which takes in their build, weight, intelligence, reaction times and how emotional they get during an altercation. Beckett does not get emotional at all during a fight. He seems to use a variety of techniques, including karate, aikido, krav maga, KFM and his own brutal version of street fighting. How he learned so many different styles of martial art and how long it took him is difficult to calculate. The fact that he’s in his early thirties makes his abilities even more staggering.

Although he is capable of ending fights efficiently and quickly, it sometimes seems as if he chooses not to, for his own gratification. This usually depends upon the opponent and how he feels about him. He’s not invulnerable, though, as demonstrated from the savage beating he took from Sakura Bianchi in Kiss Me When I’m Dead before finally neutralising her attack. He doesn’t seem keen on people who use knives or other weapons. The only weapon Beckett caries with him is a tactical pen, which is made out of aircraft grade aluminium, making it light but tough. This is a harmless-looking substitute for a Kubotan, a small martial arts weapon invented in the 1960s by karate master Takayuki Kubota. The pen version can also be used as a pen. To the untrained eye it seems innocuous, but can be used to effectively attack pressure points and soft parts of the body. It can also be used for hardening the fist for punching and for manipulating opponents using pain. It’s an unusual skill to be proficient in, and whatever Beckett’s level is, it’s unlikely he was taught it in the UK.

I like putting tricksy little references in these novels for readers to discover (or never discover in a million years) and here’s one of them. In Death is the New Black, fashion designer Sara Holt keeps a spare key for her flat taped to the inside of a book called The Makioka Sisters, which is by a Japanese author called Junichiro Tanizaki. One of his other famous books is called The Key. See? D’you see what I did there??


My name’s Dominic Piper. I’m a writer living in London, UK. This causes many people to assume I’m English, but I’m not. I was actually born in Wales and have a Welsh mother and a Scottish father, so I guess I’m a sort of Celtic hybrid.

Although I only started writing novels in 2014, I’ve been a television writer for many years and also work as a script doctor for film and television whenever anyone asks me. Being a script doctor means you sprinkle fairy dust on someone else’s work when that work has a certain spark missing. It’s done anonymously and often without the original writer’s knowledge (or consent!).

My first two novels, Kiss Me When I’m Dead and Death is the New Black both feature the enigmatic private investigator Daniel Beckett. I’m currently working on the third, which doesn’t have a title yet. These books have been described as Neo-Noir. There’s a tough, often savagely violent private investigator and a series of drop-dead gorgeous femme fatales, so I can see where they’re coming from. But I just view these books as modern crime fiction and have never intended to pigeonhole them in that way. I’ve read a few detective books in my time, but I can’t say any one them have really been an influence on the Beckett novels. My inspiration, if I can call it that, would come mainly from film and television.

Dominic Piper on social media

Twitter: @DominicPiper1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8472688.Dominic_Piper

Beckett Number Three

I’m working on the third Daniel Beckett novel right now, but have no idea when it will be published as yet. Watch this space or watch my Amazon page.
Also feel free to bug him on twitter. Good authors like encouragement to write faster. And reviews, always leave a review.
I enjoyed both books so much, I provided a 5 star rating for each on Amazon.


If you like a good taught thriller, I whole-heartedly recommend Dominic's books, despite his faux-pas when it comes to names for dead stuffed dogs.

Speaking of five-star reads, perhaps you'd like to give my books a gander. They'll give you chills and help you beat the heat of summer.

Junior Inquisitor Book One  
Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/mJtTf8
Soulless Monk Book Two  
 Smashwords - https://goo.gl/NXw3Gr
Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/5lCyaX
 The Witch’s Lair Book Three 
Smashwords - https://goo.gl/MokJnC 
 Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/mJtTf8

Skipping the hidden reference this week as Brunette Sonya is sleeping, so I shall do the same. 

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