Monday 15 May 2023

Bastard Verdict by James McCrone BLOG TOUR #BookExtract #BastardVerdict @jamesmccrone4 @RandomTTours



When a Scottish government official enlists FBI Elections Specialist, Imogen Trager (on research leave at the University of Glasgow) in the fall of 2023 to look into the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum—ostensibly as a means of ensuring that a possible second referendum will be conducted fairly—he claims that he wants an outsider’s unencumbered view.

But the government official may not be what he seems, and the trail Imogen follows becomes twisted and deadly, leading to a corrupt cabal intent on holding on to power.

But they didn’t count on Imogen, a feisty, conflicted and driven investigator who goes strictly by the numbers, if rarely by the book. To find the truth, Imogen will risk everything—her reputation, career, and possibly her life. None but a very few know that truth. And those few need it to stay hidden. At any cost.

*A NOTE ON THE TITLE. For those not familiar, bastard verdict refers to Scottish law’s third verdict in a criminal trial, Not Proven. In addition to Guilty and Not Guilty, Scottish law has Not Proven, which has come to mean that the jury (or a judge in special cases) believes that the defendant is guilty but The Crown has not provided sufficient evidence. In 1827, Sir Walter Scott branded the Not Proven verdict as “the bastard verdict

Bastard Verdict by James McCrone is published in paperback on 18 May 2023. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from Bastard Verdict by James McCrone 

Dundee, Scotland – 28 September 

Chapter 2

He’d felt it for a day or two already, a presence watching him from across a street, or the someone who turned a corner just as he looked round. The previous day he’d noticed a figure sitting alone in a car. The engine started, and it pulled away when the driver saw that he’d been noticed. So he was being watched, followed. But by whom? And why? He’d had a good look at his shadow the previous day when he started the car and pulled away. The clues only raised more questions. It wasn’t an Organized Crime Command operation. He’d more than likely have been tipped off about something like that. This seemed to be solitary, possibly the same man each time. 

Which was a worry. 

Buff Lindsey was head of the Madmen crime syndicate in Dundee, itself part of a larger criminal enterprise throughout the UK and abroad. He referred to himself as the Dundee “shop steward.” Whoever was watching him didn’t seem to come from management. The Madmen used foreign outsiders for this kind of work, and the shadow, based on what Lindsey had seen of the man’s clothes, his face and build was local, loutish. British. And not the police. 

A rival gang? he wondered as he sauntered alone that night out the alley leading from the chop shop where one of his offices was located. Reaching the main street, he looked up and down it, noted someone waiting in the passenger seat of a car across the road to his right. 

Lindsey turned left. He had no rival in Dundee, he mused, and any potential usurper would know that his death would only goad the larger syndicate into scorched earth retaliation. 

A dismal night. The air smothered in gray baize. Light seeped from the few working streetlamps, registered in large, greasy pools along the pavement and the road. As Lindsey walked down the empty street between derelict warehouses and shuttered shops, he heard whoever it was get out of the car and fall into step some thirty or forty yards behind him. 

Buff was taking a chance being out alone on the streets like this, but he needed to turn the tables, and put an end to whatever this was. He had chosen to face this problem alone because if he was wrong and it was his bosses looking to clean house, his favored right hand man Alec would likely be part of the scheme. “Ye don’t get tae be heid, alive and fifty-seven all at the same time,” he thought, “wi’out a healthy dose a paranoia.”

There was a pub ahead, at the near corner marking a tentative hipster foray across the boundary road between the Madmen’s playground and an up-and-coming district. In the pub, it was all beards, tattoos and grim Spotify playlists, but the owners knew the score, and Lindsey enjoyed dropping in from time to time, was pleased to find that part of the hipster ethos was keeping on tap some of the brews he liked and remembered from earlier days.

“Liam,” he roared at the barman as he entered. “A pint of heavy, if ye’ve no objection.” He put a five pound note at an empty spot on the bar and indicated that he was heading for the Gents. The barman nodded as he drew the pint. 

Lindsey slipped out the back door.

A narrow service alley for deliveries and rubbish collection ran along the back of the building. Lindsey crept toward the street, stepping carefully in the darkness between puddles and grease. He was approaching the corner where the alley met the road when his shadow arrived. 

The stalker moved cautiously but his eyes were fixed on the pub’s doorway at the corner. “Definitely an amateur,” Lindsey thought. “No even a glance doon this way.” His follower was a big lad, a head taller than Lindsey and outweighing him by two stone. Now barely six steps from him but still focused on the pub door at the corner, Lindsey saw him slow and touch a bulge in his jacket. 


James McCrone is the author of the Faithless Elector series—Faithless Elector, Dark Network, and Emergency Powers—“taut” and “gripping” political thrillers about a stolen presidency. Bastard Verdict is his fourth novel. To get the details right for this thriller, he drew on his boyhood in Scotland, and scouted the locations for scenes in the book while attending Bloody Scotland in 2019 and again in ’22.

 His short stories have appeared in Rock and a Hard Place; Retreats from Oblivion: The Journal of NoirCon, and in the short-story anthology Low Down Dirty Vote, vols.2 and 3. 

He’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, Int’l Assoc. of Crime Writers, Philadelphia Dramatists’ Center and he’s the vice-president of the Delaware Valley Sisters in Crime chapter.  A Pacific Northwest native (mostly), he lives in South Philadelphia with his wife and three children. James has an MFA from the University of Washington, in Seattle.

Bastard Verdict has been calling out to be written for a number of years, and it’s finally ready. He’s also continuing work on the next book, a gritty thriller set in rural Oregon, called Witness Tree. 

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