Book Three of ‘The King of Gravesend’ Series
We start with a funeral. Charles – Chuds – Douglas is dead. He had a long and fulfilling life, he experienced a lot, met some amazing people along the way and made a fair share of enemies too. He fought a lot of battles, including a fatwa against his person for allegedly killing the brother of one of his enemies, but he lost the one agains cancer [the term fatwarefers to an edict or ruling by a recognised religious authority on a point of Islamic law. The process of issuing a fatwa usually begins when a Muslim, confronted with a problem of life, belief or law, is unsure what to do, ed.]. He had recently been diagnosed, and contrary to his doctor’s opinion, he decided to refuse any form of treatment. This left him with 3 to 6 months to live and he decided to live them the way he wanted, enjoying every single minute surrounded by the people he loved and whom loved him back.
So, here we are. Time has ran out for Chuds, and his friends and family are surrounding his burial site. Everyone’s there: Ro, his partner, Brian, Anil, his lawyer, Wrong Way Ronnie, Deepa, Poncy Pete and Big Man. They do their best to gather around Ro and cheer her up, or at least make her feel less lost.
In the following pages, we step back a few months and from Gravesend we go back to the Philippines, where Chuds and Ro are operating a restaurant/night club, with plans to expand the business. It’s their baby, they are are happy there, they are creating their own support system, making friends and having the time of their life. So, when Agent Smith and Agent Darby knock on their door it’s a shock to the system. During one of his trips, Chuds managed to wipe out a terrorist cell that was raising money to fund the indoctrination and subsequent radicalisation of young people all over the world, including the UK. The brother of the cell chief is the one who issued the fatwa and Chuds was enlisted as a Home Office agent, meaning he is under their protection. When he doesn’t check in with them, as he is supposed to do, Agent Smith and Agent Darby decide to travel to the Philippines to make sure he is still alive and kicking. He is and they are somehow reassured. Chuds’s life can go on.
He is on a trip when his journey is diverted to Kuala Lumpur. It’s not part of the original plan, but he uses the unexpected diversion to say hello to an old friend, Lena. During his sojourn, though, a weird accident happens: Chuds loses his phone, someone finds it and sends it to his hotel with a courier, but the guy is found dead in a ‘tragic accident’ that doesn’t sound like an accident at all. Chuds decides to not see anything more into this: it’s been reported as an accident and for Chuds it was, weird and tragic, but nothing more than an accident. He also decides it’s high time to sever his contacts with Agent Smith and Agent Darby, and finally flies back home to the Philippines.
This is when he has his doctor’s appointment. He wasn’t already feeling too well and decided to book a check-up. Unfortunately, it’s too late. Prostate cancer, malignant tumour. Even with radical treatment, the situation doesn’t look too bright. On top of that, his project to expand the restaurant is not looking great either: the idea of having a theatre, that could eventually double up as cinema, is not making any profit. Chuds finds himself in a position where he needs to call his friend Two Dinners Terry, a former event manager, to get help.
“I stand before you ladies and gents, the fine figure of several men! And I hear you saying to each other, ‘Why do they call him Two Dinners Terry?’ Well I’ll tell you why, because my name’s Terry, pretty simple really if you think about it. BUT, I am here tonight to give you men a warning though, consider this a PSA – NEVER cheat on your wife. While you may think it’s exciting to get some strange on a regular basis, there are hidden dangers. The worst of which is that you have to eat two dinners, one with the bit of fluff and one with the missus when you get home. I used to be able to hide behind this mic stand I was so skinny, take a fucking look at me now!”
This quote gives you a very good indication of what to expect from this book: ‘smarty-pants’, quick-witted characters, an incredible voice and a spectacular narrative packed with action, but also tenderness. The plot is very well developed, there are no loose threads or questions that remain unanswered. Everything will become clear in the end. The pace is fast, but not rushed, the characters are a paper representation of your friends and family, they look like them, they live like them, they even talk like them!
And the end will leave you with your mouth hanging open.
This book is a delight from the first to the last line, one of those books that I wouldn’t mind to read again in the future! But for now we will focus on Peter’s next book which is no more than a bunch of jotted lines so far, but we are sure it will grow big and strong just like the others!
All books by Peter Draper are available at: https://amzn.to/41uuH2U