The court case has been put on hold apparently, which happens to be really good timing as I have a wedding to go to shortly. While I must now leave my loyal readership to go over the transcripts looking for legal loopholes, I would also like to draw the general attention to a rather stunning discovery.

Have a look at this.

Now, I want to make it very clear that – NO, PLEASE – PLEASE – my creation, Don Brawn, is not based upon this person or any other person, living or dead, and any similarity between this Don Brawn and my Don Brawn – or indeed myself – is entirely coincidental.

ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.

Fuck. Cheese it!

I know: it’s been quite a while since I continued the epic undertaking that is at hand. My recent infirmity has resulted in a hasty departure for regions unknown, which is to say, the torturous bureaucracy of public health care; and, due to a criminal lack of foresight on my part, I left the odious tome in question at home.

This meant I’ve had to read something worthwhile instead, Hugo Wilcken’s Colony, which, not to put too fine a point on it, was bloody good. “Joseph Conrad meets David Lynch”, if you like that kind of ham-fisted summarising. Anyway, between the agonising stones in my kidneys and the nuggets of characterful stimulation hiding behind Colony‘s sadly rather pitiful cover, I’ve just about had my fill of man pearls for the time being. Nevertheless, I feel like I’m somehow letting everyone down not delving into genuine thriller territory for so long, so I thought I’d grace you with a little Don Brawn to tide you over. You can thank me at the book signing.

Don Brawn slowly lifted the hem of his shirt, revealing and unclasping the little strap at the top of his holster that kept the gun safely in even during the rough and tumble that had come before. He carefully teased her into his dry but anxious palm, comforted by the familiar grip, polished to familiarity by the long years of faithful use. He judged her heft: just three bullets left. But I only need one.

Squinting between the pipes, Brawn could see the black military boots of his adversary as he turned on the spot, searching. For him. Now the heel. Now the instep. Now the toe, or rather the matt-painted steel toe-cap. Don Brawn craned lower, so by dropping his eye-line he could actually look upwards more effectively and see different parts of the enemy’s body. Blood on the right thigh – Brawn smiled, grimly. He thought they’d winged him. Now he knew.

“Why don’t you come out, Mister Brawn?” Baron Lucius Arrowhead was nothing if not self-confident. As his silvery, snaky voice whispered across the silence Brawn felt himself bristling in spite of himself. “There’s nowhere for you to go, now. I know every inch of this castle. Even the grounds outside couldn’t hide you forever.”

“Your wife found a place, Arrowhead,” Brawn countered, preparing to move. “That’s not all she did – or said,” he added, wondering if he could provoke him into a mistake. “Baron by name, but barren by nature.” Brawn scurried sideways, slipping fluidly between the larger ducts to safety as a hail of bullets rained through the space he had only moments before been occupying.

“Agent… Don… Brawn.” Arrowhead was, for the first time, flushed with rage – but there was an edge to his fury. A dangerous edge. “Yes, it is true. You have penetrated more than my lair… plundered more than my plans… but, my dear foe, I knew of Marion’s betrayal before you spoke.”

Don Brawn felt his skin grow cold as Arrowhead’s pale composure quickly returned. “So, you’ve taken her once… Do you mean to take her again? To take her with you, when you no doubt escape? Be my guest – I think she’s ready.” He sneered, contemptuously. “I’m certain, in fact, that she’s waiting for you. In the grounds…

“Beneath her high balcony.”

Don Brawn realised his hands were shaking with anger. “You swine!” he growled. Arrowhead bared his remaining teeth in a foul grin of ghastly menace.

“There’s no place in this world for herpes, Brawn,” he crowed, his eagle eye flicking with hawkish intensity as he focused on a tiny movement in the shadows. “Not… any… more.” And he leveled his weapon.

from The Candid Voice, a Don Brawn thriller, by Cliff Knoetz

There. Hopefully that will keep the wolves from the door for a little while yet. You damned wolves.

Resound agent Don Brawn woke to find it, waiting for him, relentlessly. Where did it come from? Who was responsible? And, most importantly, why?

~ from Vindicated Echo, a Don Brawn thriller, by Cliff Knoetz

These are the kinds of questions with which I might begin the first sequel to my first Don Brawn epic, which I’ll be calling Vindicated Echo. The title in itself is highly appropriate, since the success of the first book will already be the vindication of the second, which in the metaphor is the echo in question.

Doubly appropriate opening lines, in fact, as only today I discovered, relentlessly waiting for me, a new Manila envelope containing Dan Brown’s creationist propaganda novel Angels & Demons, which I understand from a blog I read recently has been made into a film. I think I’ll hold off on starting it until I’ve gotten Cussler out of the way, though. There’s only so much one man can do at one time, and besides my ring is still tender. I’ll just add a little more from the ongoing efforts.

Brawn eyed it as he shook flakes from the box of cereal into his bowl, beside the smaller bowl of the spoon and his mug of instant black coffee. He didn’t drink percolated any more, not after the tragic events that ended his adventures with Marie-Anne almost a year ago; a candid voice that would never again be raised in laughter or desire once more. Don wiped away a tear and poured milk from the bottle.

~ from Vindicated Echo, a Don Brawn thriller, by Cliff Knoetz

I realise I really need to get the first one finished, I can’t sit on this stuff for ever.

Decided to include an excerpt from my work on the Don Brawn opuses to lead into this, as it seemed oddly prescient in light of today’s events.

Don Brawn woke early, with a bad taste in his mouth. Not the taste of fear, which, he’d be only too willing to admit, he’d tasted many times before – but there was nothing to be ashamed of of tasting fear, as long as you swallowed it down and spat it out in contempt. No, this was some other taste… the taste of… what?

[put it here]

When Brawn got it back to the kitchen he sat it on the table, and just stared at it. Scrutinised. Assessed. Contemplated. It. What it meant, at that moment, he couldn’t say. But Don knew that that would change, in time. For good, or, for evil. One way or the other.

~ from The Candid Voice, a Don Brawn thriller, by Cliff Knoetz

I wrote that last year, and I myself don’t mind admitting that when I woke up today and went downstairs to check the post, I felt a real shiver. I found it waiting for me, sticking half out of the slot like a beige tongue lapping at the dawn: an envelope.

An manila envelope.

And that could only mean one thing: that Clive Cussler’s 2001 novel Valhalla Rising had finally arrived and was waiting for my perusing eye. Maybe he can have something to teach me, and maybe not.

So, to battle!

[also, remember to use that "beige tongue" thing in the story too!]