A reluctant investigator, a sordid English seaside town, a criminal underbelly.
Trouble has a habit of seeking out Konstantin, whether he wants it or not. Starting from the moment he arrives in the seedy seaside town of Margate where he’s supposed to be in hiding from his ex-employers. All Konstantin wants is to keep his head down and be left alone. But it’s not to be. People have their problems and Konstantin can’t help but get involved.
Konstantin has to overcome the drug dealer, the loan shark and a Liverpudlian gangster. Then there’s the so-called good guys, the councilors and lawyers who are worse than the criminals. Enter Fidelity Brown, aka Plastic Fantastic, a dominatrix who has her own mélange of secrets and lies, and nightclub owner Ken who’s connected to all the wrong people. Both help Konstantin solve the cases dropped on his doorstep.
Cue deception, murder, mayhem as the Russian settles into his new life. Margate will never be the same again. And neither will Konstantin…
Meet the enigmatic Konstantin, a man with a dark history and darker future in the start of a unique crime thriller series laced with a healthy dose of black humour. Pick up Russian Roulette to find out what all the fuss is about.
Keith Nixon is a British born writer of crime and historical fiction novels. Originally, he trained as a chemist, but Keith is now in a senior sales role for a high-tech business. Keith currently lives with his family in the North West of England.
Readers can connect with Keith on various social media platforms:
A Cold Welcome
The yellowing bruises on Konstantin Boryakov’s face were momentarily invisible, lost in the lurid glow of the amusement arcade called Dreamland.
The many coloured light bulbs flashed and flickered even at this hour. It was very late, or maybe it was very early. Whatever. Inside him was darkness and, behind, waves repetitively beat at the sea wall.
A road stood between Konstantin and the amusement arcade. No traffic. There had been a single car, but it made itself scarce moments ago around a corner after depositing Konstantin on the kerb. He read once more the piece of paper in his palm, an address scrawled in crabby handwriting. Red pen. No idea where the place was. Neither had the driver.
A quick glance in both directions revealed a single person in sight. A man with an unsteady gait. He weaved. Left, right, forwards, backwards. Like he was walking into a gale.
Konstantin sighed. Didn’t like dealing with the inebriated. They were unpredictable. Neither was he in the mood. Jetlagged from the flight, angry at the driver for dumping him here, worn down after months of confinement. Russian prisons were hard places. His ribs hurt, unfit after being locked up for weeks on end, body battered from repeated ‘persuasion techniques’. But they’d learnt nothing. And now Konstantin was somewhere in England, some time in 1995, 1,500 miles away from Moscow, the FSB and the Lubyanka prison. Even the borrowed clothes still itched his skin. But he’d no choice.
“Hey. Excuse me,” he said.
The drunk paused, lifted his eyes from the pavement to Konstantin’s face, struggled to focus.
“What you want, my man?”
Konstantin held out the paper, said, “Where this place?” Too tired to bother smothering his Russian accent.
The drunk’s eyes widened, head lolled from side to side, body swayed.
Konstantin stepped closer, could taste the stench of alcohol bleeding out the man’s pores into the air. Lifted the address right in front of his face. Waited while the pupils found their range, took a while.
“Oh yeah. I know.”
“Once you’ve handed over your wallet, mate.” A new voice, from behind.
The drunk shrugged, shambled past Konstantin.
He turned slowly; saw three men arranged in a semi-circle, spaced out, Konstantin at the locus. Cursed himself, lost his edge when he’d been inside. No way would these punks have sneaked up on him six months ago.
“What if say no?” Konstantin wanted to see the reaction, measure the opposition.
The one in the middle, the leader, laughed. Flashed a knife. Confident, despite being significantly shorter and slimmer than Konstantin. Arrogance in numbers. Good.
“Just give us your wallet and your bag, you’ll be fine.”
“Dave, he sounds like one a’ them Eastern Europeans, them bastards that’re nicking our jobs.”
The guy on the left. Fat, acne scarred, many times busted nose. A failed boxer in other words. The one on the right, tall and skinny with an unnatural twitch, stayed silent.
“Where you from, mate?” Dave said.
“I not your mate,” Konstantin replied.
“Yeah, that’s true, which is why you’re going to take a good leathering before we have your stuff.”
Dave laughed. “Peaches, he’s yours. Should be a piece of piss for you.”
It transpired Peaches was the ex-boxer. He stepped forward, right leg leading, fists up in loose balls. Konstantin waited for him to near, skipped forward, kicked a heel out, struck Peaches on the knee, heard it rupture.
Peaches’ mouth fell open, verbally paused as if the assault hadn’t really happened, then the reaction from his nerve endings hit. Brain first, mouth next. Let out an ear-splitting scream. Hit the deck hard, writhed like a landed fish, grasping his damaged limb. Konstantin ignored him, was out of the game.
“Now that weren’t nice you Polack bastard,” Dave said, brought the knife out into full view, weaved the blade as if attempting hypnosis.
“I Russian,” said Konstantin.
“Whatever,” said Dave.
The skinny one hefted his weapon, a broken pool cue. Four feet long, jagged end where the tip had been previously sheared off. Clearly fancied himself as some sort of Jedi Knight, the way he flourished it.
Konstantin ignored the weapons, focused on Dave’s eyes. Waited for the flicker.
Moved before Dave, closed the gap faster than the smaller man expected and was inside his reach as the knife began its swing. Konstantin grabbed his forearm with both hands, spun Dave around, twisted behind his back and up. The knife fell to the floor, spun like a roulette wheel. But no luck for Dave tonight.
Held short of snapping the arm like a branch as Skinny finally swung the pool cue in a wide arc intended to take Konstantin’s head off. But he ducked and the lump of wood smacked into Dave’s skull, cut off the scream before it even emerged. Dave slumped to the pavement, like a crumpled heap of rags.
For a moment Skinny stared open mouthed at his fallen leader, realised he’d screwed up and needed to make it right. Pivoted the cue back over his head in an executioner’s stance, wielding an axe. Brought it down.
The cue smacked harmlessly into Konstantin’s palm, held it for a moment as Skinny struggled. Smiled. Then punched him full in the face with a massive left fist. Skinny went out like a shattered light bulb.
Konstantin tossed the cue over the wall, picked up Dave’s knife and stuck it inside his jacket. Searched both unconscious forms. A few ten pound notes in Skinny’s jacket, but a thick wad on Dave, accompanied by a large bag of drugs. Pocketed the cash, poured the wraps down the nearest drain.
But he still had a problem.
Walked over to where Peaches was rolling from side to side, whimpering. Konstantin held up the piece of paper, now stained with blood, in front of the man’s eyes.
“Tell me where this is or bust other knee.”