Green and yellow bunting strung between the lampposts marked out the route of the upcoming parade, as Detective Inspector Jordan headed across Dublin. It was 5 am. The streets of the city were deserted, the sky overcast and dark. Seven hours from now, tens of thousands of people of all ages would pack the streets behind crowd control barriers, clamouring for the best vantage points.
The traffic lights brought him to a halt on Leeson Street Bridge. His gun was cutting into his ribcage. He tried loosening the holster strap and repositioning the seatbelt; no improvement. He removed the gun and placed it on the passenger seat beside him.
Jordan turned west along the canal, a rose-coloured hint of dawn in his rear-view mirror. A playful breeze rippling through the reeds of the canal might have been the ghost of the saint on the lookout for fugitive snakes.
He hit the motorway heading south and increased the juice. As the powerful car surged forward, Superintendent Allen’s pasty face invaded his thoughts. The Super was a hard taskmaster, and it was sometimes difficult to understand his decisions, but getting Gannon to testify against Lafferty was Allen’s idea, and Gannon’s testimony was going to finish Lafferty, no question about it.
Memories of St Patrick’s Days long past seeped into his consciousness, and he picked through them like old gobstoppers rediscovered in the lining of a coat. Lucy in her Brownies uniform or dressed as a fairy, a butterfly, a cucumber!
Within sight of Kilkenny, he lifted his phone and dialled Sergeant Silver.
“Cavalry’s on its way, Isaac.”
“Where are you?”
“Just coming into the town. How’s our star witness?”
“Sleeping like a baby, thank God.” Silver yawned. “He’s an irritating little shit when he’s awake. Bent my ear most of the night about how he’s testifying against Lafferty out of the goodness of his heart.”
“Sounds like you should be asleep yourself.”
“Tell me about it. These twelve-hour shifts are killing me.”
“Put the kettle on,” Jordan said. “I’ll be with you in five.”
Silver said, “Hold on a minute, Ben, there’s someone at the door.”
Jordan shouted into the phone, “Isaac! Don’t open it!”
There was no answer. Three beats later, Jordan heard a muffled crack followed by a thud.
The line went dead.
“Christ!” Jordan floored the accelerator and shot through the town, running three red lights. Tearing into the car park of the Noreside Hotel, he holstered his gun and ran through the front door. He took the stairs to the fourth floor.
‘J J Toner’s Houdini’s Handcuffs hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. Gritty realism and social commentary combine in a wonderfully well written, hard-hitting thriller.’
– Paul D Brazill : Author of Drunk On The Moon, Brit Grit, 13 Shots Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton
‘Secure your seat belt before embarking on this ride! Just a warning to expect twists and turns aplenty on JJ Toner’s wild crime ride. The tension never leaves the page and Ben Jordan doesn’t spiral down into the abyss—he plunges into it head-first. And, lest you think all is grim on the Toner landscape, the black humour he employs at just the right moment lightens the read with delicious and perfect pitch. Get this book and then keep your eyes open for his next one!’
– Les Edgerton : renowned writing coach and author of Hooked, Just Like That, A Perfect Crime, The Bitch, The Rapist.