Why Write Sin Killers?

It made me wonder what a secret agent does when he or she retires? How do they deprogramme themselves?

Several incidents in my life inspired Sin Killers. Back in 1988, I lived in the town of Andover in Hampshire. I worked as a milkman, starting work at 5.00 a.m. delivering 450 pints to customers. It was ‘job and finish’ meaning I quit work as soon as I’d made the deliveries and unloaded my electric milk float of empty bottles at the depot. Like many of my colleagues, I ran the round, usually finishing in six hours. I’ve never been fitter!

IMCDb.org: 1960 Morrison-Electricar unknown Milk Float re ...

After running five miles and lifting hundreds of pounds of milk bottles, I was wound up and unable to relax enough to go to sleep for eight hours during the day. To wind down, I went window shopping, calling in at charity shops to buy books and sometimes having a beer and a snack at a pub.

People watching is a trait of writers, and occasionally I’d see a man in his fifties who kept himself to himself, but who appeared to be monitoring conversations around him. He was more observant than me, even stopping in the street to watch passersby, making notes in an exercise book, checking the time on his watch. He rarely spoke to anyone. I thought he was just an eccentric loner, maybe a care in the community patient with mental health issues until I noticed he had an attractive Asian partner—who was as sharp-eyed as him.

One day, after he’d left the pub, I asked the landlord who he was. I was amazed to learn that he was an ex-secret agent, a spook for MI5, I was told…as was his wife, who came from Vietnam. He couldn’t have been less like James Bond, as he was of forgettable appearance, balding, medium-height and wearing typical country clothing of tweed jacket, flat cap and twill trousers. The landlord described him as “creepy.”

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SIS building on the River Thames—headquarters of MI5 & MI6

It made me wonder what a secret agent does when he or she retires? How do they deprogramme themselves? What if they hadn’t retired, but been dismissed for some transgression? They might have a chip on their shoulders and could be dangerous through their training. The chap I saw spying on others wasn’t 007, but what if he had hacking skills or knew how to kill with sophisticated poisons?

Twenty years later, he and his wife provided me with inspiration for Noah and Nina Shrike.

The post office raider suffering with PTSD was an amalgam of various ex-services personnel I’ve known—men and women who were still fighting wars in their head—with inadequate mental health support. Veterans are at high risk of becoming addicted, of being made homeless and of turning to crime to survive; their suicide rates are disproportionately high.

British military veterans homeless in UK with no mental ...

People who are trained to kill aren’t retrained in how to live peacefully.

Author: Paul Whybrow

I am a self-employed writer, which means I’m working for an idiot who doesn’t pay me enough – but the holidays are great. Ex many occupations, from the respectable ‘career ladder’ to disreputable “somebody’s- got-to-do-it”. All a good way of seeing someone else’s point-of-view. Best job, apart from writing, was dispatch-riding on a motorcycle in the ’70s, though I’ve also enjoyed teaching, librarianship, counselling and helping to run a community centre. Worst job—you really don’t want to know, but it was in a processed food manufacturer’s factory—put me off bacon, sausages and quiches for a long time, and made me look at pet food in a new way. Sometimes I’ve looked respectable in a suit, other times a bit wild and woolly (though still stylish) as a biker. It’s strange how differently people treat you, depending on what you’re wearing. A suit means I’m sometimes addressed as ‘sir’, but in motorcycle leathers I’m always referred to as ‘mate.’ I’ve been writing since I was eight when I penned a story about a desert island and attempted to compile a dictionary—which made me realise quite how many words there are. I’ve written for magazines under a variety of pen names, ghostwritten a couple of biographies and had a column in a local newspaper. I used to concentrate on non-fiction of an informative, how-to instructional nature, as I’m a firm believer in the dissemination of knowledge to enable people to do things for themselves. Knowledge is power, and in these troubled times of economic downturn and increased intrusion into our lives by government agencies, it’s vital to know how to get through. My fictional stories also show people coping and finding ways to survive. In 2015, I began writing a series of crime novels featuring a Cornish CID officer, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle. I completed the fifth story in 2018 and will be self-publishing Book 1, Who Kills A Nudist? in the summer of 2019. I’m based in a Celtic nation, the county of Cornwall or Kernow. I’ve been here for twenty-five years, and have lived all over the country, as well as abroad—in France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the USA.

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