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Synopsis

When police and journalists are called to a shooting at a live music venue in London, it is assumed that black gangland violence has reared its ugly head again.  The reality is far more peculiar; twenty-two year old Civil Servant Ryan Pendlebury has shot his best friend Shaun Craig dead at a Bright Eyes gig.  The killer is found standing over his victim, making no attempts to protest his innocence.  Speaking in the first person, Ryan struggles to come to terms with what he has done, for there is no doubt that he has done it – he had come to London to shoot his stalker, whoever that might have been.    

 

The shooting leads to a mercy dash to London from Manchester by Ryan’s mother Denise (a rolling-news channel obsessive), her best friend and Ryan’s secret lover Rachel, and his close friends Ripley (a pretentious aspiring poet, desperate to shed a dull girlfriend and start a new life) and Barry (a wannabe musician, too placid to make it big).  Each carries personal baggage as they hurry down the motorway.  Denise contemplates how a mother could create a murderer, and her reasons for not telling her husband about the shooting.  Rachel struggles to conceal her involvement with Ryan whilst Ripley considers how events might prove fortuitous for his career.  Barry is the only one just desperate to know what happened. 

 

Also embroiled are those who previously knew neither Ryan nor Shaun, but find themselves involved in the case because of their work.  Warring journalists Karl and Cameron battle it out for the best exclusives, and arresting officer PC Earnshaw is confused by his sympathetic feelings for Ryan.  Club owner Bernard Harvey worries about his own career as the media shine the light once again on gun crime.  Everyone wants to know more, culminating in a police station stand-off where several pressing truths emerge.

 



Although Ryan is desperate to explain why he did it, the system of arrest and the wait for interrogation appear to silence him.  Through alternating flash-back chapters, a picture emerges of a terrifying series of events where Ryan acquires an unknown stalker, threatening and causing harm to both him and his loved ones.  Ryan is remanded to the Crown Court in custody, resigned to a future of incarceration.

 

The motives of those involved in the case become more apparent in the build up the trial, as Denise becomes accustomed to the media attention, whilst others seek justice for Shaun and also for Ryan.  Ryan’s father Trevor finds himself disgusted with every facet of the case, not least his wife’s response. Ripley becomes the darling of journalist Karl, drawing him towards a fame he’s not entirely comfortable with.  PC Earnshaw is the sole benefactor of Ryan’s full story, and joins Barry in seeking a justice they are sure Ryan deserves.  Their actions play out up to the weeks of the trial, where the truth emerges in a final set-piece, itself an attack on media-saturated times.

 

The novel picks up the story from the events after the shooting from the perspectives of several lead characters and flashback chapters, which reveal what happened to cause Ryan to shoot his best friend, exploring the close bond they had for years before the stalking.
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