Late For Your Own Funeral by Ken Shakin 0000-00-00 00:00:00

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by Ken Shakin
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Late For Your Own Funeral by Ken Shakin
Ken Shakin
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When you're dead, the rules all change... When PC Nick Kerridge is shot dead by a local criminal it doesn't so much spoil his day as cancel it completely. Instead of St. Peter meeting him in the Afterlife and deciding whether to allow him through the Pearly Gates, Nick is recruited to a team tasked with collecting the souls of people who didn't die when they were supposed to, which seriously inconveniences the bureaucrats responsible for Fate Planning. Unfortunately the Grim Reaper and his retrieval team aren’t meeting their performance targets. Returning to the physical realm Nick realises that the investigation into his own murder is going nowhere, and that he is the only person who can identify his killer. He will just have to do the job himself, but it's not easy to run a murder investigation when you're the victim. 'Dead men tell no tales', the saying goes, which is not strictly true. This lot just won't shut up, but unfortunately no one is listening. Some creative thinking is needed if the killer is to be brought to justice. An experienced police officer, Simon Hepworth has been a regular columnist in a number of policing publications for several years. Late Shift, his first novel, has been described as 'Hot Fuzz' meets 'Life on Mars'. Whilst he feels the book benefits from his years of policing experience (though colleagues might disagree), Hepworth does admit that he made up all the stuff about the Afterlife. What they said: ‘At last I have some serious competition in the (admittedly rather narrow) field of police satire.’ – The Station Sergeant, columnist in Police magazine and formerly in Police Review. Excerpt from Late Shift: Summers rolled himself a cigarette, adding some herbal material, then lit it and lay back, sharing smoke and the sickly sweet odour of cannabis with the room. At least passive smoking no longer worried me. After a few minutes, the football match lost its grip on Summers, his eyes closed and he drifted off into an alcohol-fuelled snooze. I stood up, took the high-visibility vest from beneath my jacket and put it on. The vest was shredded by the passage of numerous shotgun pellets, and heavily stained with my blood. The overall impression was of massive trauma to my chest, which was exactly what I wanted to convey. Having put the vest on, I made myself visible, then stood and waited. The match ground its way torpidly through the first half, enlivened only when Arsenal scored, admittedly against the run of play. I didn't think Paul would complain. At least it allowed the home team's supporters to break into their obligatory rendition of ‘One nil to the Arsenal', a chant they managed to sustain till half time. Ten minutes into second half, Arsenal showed that they had clearly been invigorated during the interval, either by the inspirational leadership of their manager, or perhaps by someone slipping something into their tea. Whatever the cause, for what might have been the first time in recent history, they scored again, followed unbelievably soon after by a third. ‘Three nil to the Arsenal’ was now being sung with gusto by the increasingly incredulous crowd. Their fervour managed to percolate its way into Summers’ somnolent consciousness, and he stirred. I stood next to the television in my bloodied uniform and waited for him to open his eyes. As he returned to the muddle-headed state of semi-wakefulness that marks a groggy awakening, he was looking right at me. His face whitened with shock and his jaw dropped, a stream of drool running from the side of his mouth. I looked him straight in the eye and slowly raised my right arm till I was pointing at him, at which he shrank back against the backrest of the settee looking aghast. When I slowly but clearly mouthed the word ‘Murderer...’ I was delighted to see that he wet himself. Satisfied that, if nothing else, I would give him a few sleepless nights, I faded from his view and left the building.

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