scottish soldier

Detective John Rankin is called in to investigate a string of    murders not knowing that the latest victim is a good friend of his. All victims have had their throat slashed and no evidence is found at the crime scenes. 

They are dubbed the Chinatown murders, as the only link they can find are all the victims were known to the powerful Wong  Family. 

When a jockey goes missing soon after, no body is found. Could he be the latest victim? 

Rankin is given a new partner to help him. Detective Stephanie Seymour,  who he describes as 'a bloody copper with lipstick'. He and Stephanie pair together in the hunt to solve the murders and stop the killings. 

In the meantime, Rankin's race horse 'Scottish Soldier' is being groomed for the big two year old cup when it too is targeted along with his best friend,  jockey J.J. Manion. 

When their main suspect is murdered in the same gruesome manner, they must pool all their resources to find the true killer. 

In Store Price: $AU28.95 
Online Price:   $AU27.95

ISBN:  978-1-921731-53-2 Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 306
Genre: Fiction/Crime

Cover: Zeus Publications

Author: John Higgins
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2011
Language: English


About the author 


uthor John Higgins was born in Neilston, Scotland and attended St Thomas’s school where he got his first taste for writing after winning an award for one of his short stories. His first passion at that age was football and he played for his school, but it was the time after school that he enjoyed most, when he was learning to ride horses. In his early teens, along with his family John moved to Australia where, at Randwick in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, he started an apprenticeship as a jockey – a career where he has enjoyed considerable success for over three decades.

Forced to take time off after a bad race fall where his leg was broken, John decided to turn his hand to something different. Recalling his enjoyment of writing, he enrolled in a journalism course, which resulted in his first published novel, A Ride with Crime (Eloquent N.Y. 2009).




e poured himself a large whisky and looked at the table where his last line of coke sat. He knew once he returned to his wife there would be no more. He wanted to savour it, make it last. He knew deep down he had made the right choice in saving his marriage. He had just contemplated his next move when he heard the knock. He glanced at his watch and wondered who that could be at the door. He casually walked over and opened it, a bit surprised to see who stood before him.

“Come in,” he said.

The figure moved into the room, closed the door then pulled out a knife from inside the folds of the long, sleek jacket. The figure grabbed him from behind; the blade was sharp and long and in one swift movement slit his throat. He stumbled and dropped his whisky on the shag carpet, its contents slowly pooled into a yellowing puddle. On impulse he grabbed his neck with both hands and tried desperately to hold the gaping wound together. Blood dripped down his fingers on to his shirt, his face took on a look of both shock and utter amazement. As his neck pulsated, the blood gushed and he started to choke. He tried to ask why? But only gurgling sounds spewed from his mouth, he fell to his knees and the blood continued to flow from the near-decapitation, the wound was so deep. He began to lose consciousness. He fell to the floor where he died moments later.

The killer stood over the body and smiled, then used the knife to slice off the victim’s right index finger. White teeth gleamed in the dimly-lit room. Moments later, with the job accomplished, the killer left and used the fire stairs to emerge into the cool evening air.

One - Part Sample



etective Rankin pulled up outside the Waverly Hilton hotel and admired the pure five-class luxury that only the wealthy can enjoy. A porter tapped on his window and waved him on. He held up his badge, stepped out of the car and said, “I will park wherever I bloody well want to.” 

He proceeded up the marble stairs into the main lobby and walked past the red velvet-covered lounge and chairs where a few people sat, their luggage beside them. He made his way to the reception desk where a police officer stood, Rankin flashed his badge.

The officer spoke, “Room one hundred and forty-four on the first floor.”

Rankin stepped out of the elevator on to the plush carpet. It was not hard to find the room, he noticed Sergeant Mike Tomkins as he leant against the wall outside the room, his arms folded as he stood on guard. His police uniform was stretched tight against his bulging waistline. He saw Rankin approach and walked over to shake hands. Tomkins was a good six inches taller than Rankin and outweighed him by at least twenty kilos.

“Rankin, better come in and see this,” he said.

“What have we got?” Rankin asked.

Tomkins opened the door, and stood aside to let Rankin in. He noticed the forensic team already in action as he stepped inside the room. The photographer had begun to take shots of the body, an empty whisky glass was picked up and dusted for prints. A slender young woman drew an outline where the body lay.

“Male, mid-twenties, his throat has been slit, one finger chopped off. He has not been touched, we waited for you. His wallet was on the bed, had four hundred cash and credit cards, so you can probably rule out robbery. Also, there on the table is a line of cocaine, untouched. Name is …”

“Des Hutchins,” Rankin answered. He knew who it was as soon as he saw the body. A little bit too close to home. For Christ’s sake, he had attended his wedding only a few years ago.

“Jockey,” Tomkins said lamely.

“Yes, I know him and his wife personally. I wonder why he was here?”

“Don’t know but he had been registered at the hotel for a week.”

“Look at his throat, it has been slit in the same fashion as the two Chinatown murders – just one deep, slick motion. What do these three victims have in common? The first victim was a labourer, the second a restaurant owner, now a wealthy, top-class jockey – I wonder?” Rankin said.

“There doesn’t seem to be any sign of a struggle, it looks like he was taken by surprise,” Tomkins suggested.

“I think he knew his killer,” Rankin said. “Des died four steps from the door. There’s a big chance he opened the door, let the killer in, turned around and that is when his throat was slit. Look here Tomkins, his right index finger is missing.”

“We have lifted a few prints, but at this stage we don’t know if any belong to the killer,” informed Thomas, head of forensics. “Also as you can see, there is a lot of blood but I am pretty sure it will be all the victim’s.”

“Thanks. Make sure you go over this place with extreme care.”

“Tomkins, you can make a start. Have your men find out if anyone saw or heard anything. Then see if you can find out what calls Des made, or received, this week. Who found the body?”

“The cleaner, Martha Cantle. She was on the morning shift,” Tomkins replied.

“Where is she now?”

“Downstairs with the duty manager, Chris Lumpton, he was the one that phoned.”

“Has either one of them touched anything?”

“No, the duty manager said he was there within minutes when he first heard her scream. She was standing just inside the door. He told me that he led her out of the room and closed the door before he phoned us.”

“Make sure you get a statement from both of them and every other person that worked here last night. Also I want the CCTV footage from last night and this morning and keep the press away. Once they find out Des Hutchins has been murdered they will have a field day.”

“Yes, Rankin,” Tomkins said.

“I will go and break the news to his wife.”

Rankin thought of Des, this sort of thing shouldn’t happen to people like him. He should have had the chance to see his daughter grow up. Life sure as hell is not fair.

He walked along the hallway, he tried to imagine where the killer had come in, noticed the fire escape and walked down the stairs. He opened the door and looked outside, he realised it led to the alley behind the hotel. He retraced his steps and called out to Tomkins.

“Have the forensic team take a look down the fire stairs.”

Rankin walked down the hall toward the elevator; he saw a sexy blonde woman press the elevator button. For some reason she seemed a bit familiar to him. He quickened his pace as the elevator doors opened and he stepped in just before the doors closed. He looked again at the woman, she turned her head away but in that second, he recognised her.

“Candy?” he asked.

She turned and faced him, “That’s me.”

“Do you remember me?”

“How could I not, after all it is not everyday you meet the man that arrested you.”

“Yes, but I did let you go,” he mentioned.

“Yes, but not for free,” she pointed out.

“Still in the escort business?” he asked.

“Yes, but with a better clientele than when we first met. What about you Rankin, still a cop?”

“I am a detective now.”

“You’re a bit better dressed than the last time I saw you.”

As the elevator doors opened, they stepped out together, “Well it was a pleasure to see you again Candy. Maybe we could have a drink sometime. Here, take my card, give me a call.”

Candy took the card, placed it in her purse and walked away.

Rankin stood and watched. He admired her long, shapely legs and tight bottom. He shook his head then went into the lobby. He glimpsed at himself in the mirror, his Armani suit still looked fresh. Pity about the rest of him, his own blonde hair had recently started to thin and his face was etched with premature lines. He walked to his car; at the front of the hotel the porter eyed him as he lit a cigarette before he climbed in. He reached for the glove box and pulled out a flask of whisky, he took a large swig before he started the car.

He did not look forward to his next job, informing Des’s wife, Sandy. However, someone had to do it and it would be better to come from him than a stranger. He turned on the radio to the racing station, just as the commentator said, … another win for jockey, JJ Manion, the second for the day. At least JJ’s had a good day, he thought. He flicked the channel over and got a station that played Cold Chisel, so he decided to leave it there. The grog got Jimmy Barnes at one point, must be the Scottish blood in him. He thought of Des as he drove, he wondered what Des had been doing, what he was involved in to be murdered in such a fashion or was it just a random act? Jockeys were supposed to grow old so they could brag about how many winners they had ridden over their career, how many falls they had suffered, anything but to have your throat cut open like a bit of garbage. For that to happen, especially to a person in your own circle of friends, was hard.

Rankin stopped the car outside Des’s house; he lit another cigarette, pulled out his hip flask and took a mouthful of whisky. He was not looking forward to the task ahead. He alighted from the vehicle and stared at the house for a long time; it was in a nice new estate. All the houses looked the same to him, big houses and little yards. He stamped out the last of his smoke, walked to the front door, and pressed the doorbell.

Sandy opened the door, her petite build dwarfed by the large, tiled entrance.” Are you after Des?” she asked.

“No, Sandy. There is something I have to tell you. May I come in?” Rankin asked.

“Of course,” she said as she opened the door wider and showed Rankin into the lounge room.

“I think you need to sit down Sandy,” Rankin said.

Sandy knew by the tone of Rankin’s voice something bad was about to be said. She sat down and waited for the news that was going to change her life.

Sandy, I hate to be the one to tell you the bad news. But I guess it should be me,” Rankin said as he clasped his hands together. After a few seconds he continued, “Sandy, I do not know any easy way to tell you this, Des was found dead this morning at the Waverly Hilton. He had been murdered, his throat had been slit.”

 Sandy looked bewildered, and then the look Rankin had seen on so may faces before. The moment in time when reality clicked in and their mind grasped what you have just told them. She shook uncontrollably, the tears came, and then the gut wrenching sobs. Rankin held her, he tried his best to console her. He felt awkward, even though he had done this many times before it was still hard to face. He got up and walked into the kitchen, he looked around for the teapot so he could make tea and wished he had brought his whisky flask with him. He placed the tea on the coffee table. Sandy looked up, she had stopped crying she was about to say something when Rankin spoke first.

 Sandy, I know this is hard but I really need to ask you a few questions,” he began. “Do you know why he was staying there?”

“Yes,” she said. “His career was going well, that’s why I was so upset when I came home late from my mother’s a week ago and caught him snorting cocaine. He said, it’s only a few lines – I went off my nut! I lost it, virtually kicked him out there and then. We have a one-year-old baby.” Sandy sobbed.         

 “Do you know of any enemies Des may have had?”

“No Rankin, he was well liked, though he had a few threatening phone calls recently, but he told me not to worry about them.”

 Rankin decided to leave it at that. He felt like a heartless bastard, when he next spoke. “I will phone for a female police officer to stay with you for a while. If there is anything I can do, just let me know.”

“Find the person that did this to him!” she cried.

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