Monday, 7 September 2020

Digging Deeper with Eoghan Egan

Digging Deeper into Hiding in Plain Sight by Eoghan Egan

Back in 2012. I read a newspaper article about a spate of disappearances and wondered how people could vanish, literally, in broad daylight, and that gave me an idea for a crime fiction novel. I set the story in a rural community, because cities, I feel, can be soulless. People go about their lives, hardly knowing or acknowledging their neighbour. A person can remain anonymous, or vanish for long periods without being missed. In small communities, however, people look out for each other, talk on a daily basis and rely on one another. It was going to be more difficult to have someone disappear from a small town because they’d be missed much quicker, and when they did vanish, the consequences would be all the greater, affecting the whole community. After setting early drafts of Hiding in Plain Sight in the U.S. initially, and then in the U.K, I moved the characters to an area I know best: the Irish Midlands. Adding in an actual January date, heavy snowfalls and treating the location and weather like other characters, gave me a perfect panorama for a crime novel. 

Blurb

A vicious serial killer roams the Irish Midlands, with his sights set on the next victim. 

A successful businessman has found the perfect recipe for getting away with murder.

No bodies, no evidence.

No evidence, no suspect.

High art and low morals collide when graduate Sharona Waters discovers a multi-million euro art scam in play. She delves in, unwittingly putting herself on a direct trajectory with danger as the killer accelerates his murder spree.

When Sharona gets drawn into the killer’s orbit, she peels away his public persona and exposes the psychopath underneath. Suddenly, the small town has no hiding place… 

This extract is a scene at a charity ball, and it’s the first time we meet the art dealer (serial killer) in a group setting, when he’s introduced to other individuals...   
A tall, lean, broad-shouldered man stood, straightened and fastened the bottom button on a tailored charcoal-coloured dress suit jacket. He had a high forehead, piercing Dresden-blue eyes and blond hair slicked into a businessman’s cut.

‘Good evening. I understand you solved the mystery. Much ado about naught. So easy to misplace items.’

‘Do you find that happens often?’ Hugh asked.

The art dealer stared. ‘Every other week. Collectors forget they’ve locked pieces away for protection, and the initial reaction is: “stolen.” In reality, that’s rare. Nowadays, even ordinary houses have too much security for criminals.’

‘Unless it’s an inside job,’ Sharona said. ‘No quantity of high-tech security can hold out against that.’

‘Indeed.’

Hattinger’s are a well-established company.’ Hugh broke the silence.

‘Yes.’

‘Are you involved in the business long?’

‘Sixteen years.’

‘Any advice for a novice?’ Ferdia reeled forward, slapped the art dealer’s shoulder, then grasped his arm and shook hands with his wrought-iron grip.

Hugh watched the man wipe his palm on a trouser leg. ‘It depends,’ he said. ‘If you’re in the market to buy and you find a piece that fills a void in your life, grab it. Drop in to one of our galleries and talk to a consultant.’

‘Argh, to you, it’s another day, another Dali,’ Ferdia staggered back a step. ‘Me? I’m not great around the whole arty lark.’

‘Our consultants will be happy to guide you.’

‘A fool and his Monet, eh? Still, might take you up on that offer. Chances are I’ll need a birthday present sooner or later. But none of this modern shi … stuff, though. It’s gotta be … recognisable. Can I tell you a secret?’ Ferdia leaned closer and belched. ‘The few galleries I’ve been in, half the time I don’t know what the feck I’m lookin’ at.’

‘I see. Well, galleries aren’t for everyone. As I said, our consultants—’

‘Gotta business card handy?’

The gallerist paused. ‘Of course.’ He drew out an engraved Burberry leather card holder and handed Ferdia a gold-embossed card.

Ferdia searched pockets, hadn’t one of his own to exchange, but found a dog-eared envelope and he tore off a piece. ‘Anyone got a pen?’ He asked Hugh to write the mobile number.

Hugh handed over Ferdia’s number and the man doubled the square of paper and folded it again. ‘Nice to meet you.’ His smile was as brief as the nod. He moved away and Hugh watched him flick the wadded-up phone number into a corner. 

                                                            …..

In this next piece we follow Hugh Fallon as he goes to confront the killer…


Wispy clouds clothed the moon.

Hugh shuffled along the lane, struggling to walk in the tyre track groove. Above him, a canopy of sagging tree branches arched and joined. The timber creaked and groaned under the weight of snow and ice. Slivers of moonbeams filtered between the gaps, giving faint shape to objects. Underfoot, frozen snow and rough ice crunched like crisp cornflakes. Hugh craned his neck, forcing his eyes to adjust. Except for the distant growl of a Harley with its modified pipes and kamikaze rider puttering along the main road, the night was still. The cold penetrated his bones. He shuddered. What had seemed bright from the comfort and warmth of the car, now became dingy and menacing.

Something rustled in a hedge.

A fox howled. An owl hooted a rejoinder. Icicles dripped from naked branches, their plops, eerie whispers. The hair on Hugh’s head bristled with tension, as mangled nerves and stress ramped up his heartbeats. Eyes wide open, searching the tree-line, a snow pellet dripped on his face, making him jump. He didn’t see the pothole. Ice splintered, a gunshot in the stillness. His left ankle twisted and bolts of pain rippled up his leg. The runner acted as a sponge, soaking in weeks of slush.

Hugh shuffled on, each step producing a paroxysm of agony. He’d lost all feeling in his toes. To his right, through the trees, he made out the shape of a large structure. On the left, a machine sat hunched in a gateway. The invasive, cloying stench of silage hung in the air. It clung to clothes and stuck in his throat. The tree-line ended. A two-story house materialised out of the gloom, a grim and cheerless dark silhouette. The muted glow of an artificial light shone from the rear of the building and bounced off the glistening snow.

Every fibre in Hugh’s body hummed with fear. His heart rattled against ribs, thumping trip-hammer fast, and nerves jangled, screaming at him to turn and run. The thin light beam hindered rather than helped lessen the intimidating atmosphere. He crouched and crab-walked to the house, inched around the gable end, and sensed movement behind him. He straightened, spun, and raised his arms for protection. A faint buzz. The side of Hugh’s neck burned and he got hurled backwards by an invisible force. His skull drummed against the concrete wall. A ball of white pain flashed. Then, like a blown fuse, everything faded to black.

Who would you choose to play each of them in a film or TV series?

Quick story… A few years back I was at a Bruce Springsteen concert, and 6 or 7 rows ahead of me, a girl turned abound, and I said to myself, “that’s exactly how Sharona Waters looks.” I wanted to take a photo of her, but that would be creepy. She looked a little like singer Carrie Rodriguez ... but different. Isn’t it amazing where we get inspiration from? Anyway, to answer your question. As it’s set in Ireland, I’ll have to go with Irish actors: Hazel Doupe or Lara McDonnell would play Sharona. Lee Cronin would be a fantastic Hugh, and I’d cast Aisling Franciosi as Ruth. I believe Michael Fassbender (grew up in Ireland) would make a great antagonist. There is another character in the book called Ferdia Hardiman (who you met briefly in one of the extracts, and he plays a major role in one of the storylines that’ll get teased out more in the next novel) and Brendan Gleeson is a dead ringer for Ferdia. The role, the man, the dialogue is made for him. Whenever I’m writing Ferdia into a plot, Brendan Gleeson is the person I have in mind. In fact, Brendan’s son, Domhnall Gleeson would also be perfect for Hugh…    

What is the creepiest action taken by your antagonist?

He’s a psychopath, so we’re dealing here with a two-faced individual. One day he humiliates and destroys an employee’s reputation in front of a roomful of people, just because he can. Next day he can be nice as pie, before staking out a house and invading the owner’s personal space. He uses a cattle prod (Taser/stun gun) to kill people.  

Many thanks for the great questions, Lorraine, and for allowing me an opportunity to introduce your readers to Hiding in Plain Sight.  Available now at:

UK https://amzn.to/2F6nCS3

US https://amzn.to/2FdSIH4

Next time y’all are on social media, pop by and say hello.

https://www.facebook.com/eoghaneganwriter/

https://twitter.com/eoghanegan          

https://www.instagram.com/eoghanegan/

Take care and stay safe,

Eoghan



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