I am absolutely thrilled to bits to be featuring Prof. David Wilson as my #PartnerInCrime today on CrimeBookJunkie! And I want to give a huge shout out to Caoihme at Endeavour Press for contacting me to take part in getting the word out about The Rules of Restraint. I am trying to contain my excitement, but who am I kidding….EEEEEEEK! Can you believe it!? This is a massive #FanGirl moment for me!! In case any of you don’t know why I am so excited, see below for a little bit about Professor Wilson — #SerialKillerExpert – need I say more! Make sure to read the whole post as I also have Chapter 1 from his debut crime thriller! Woohoo!!!
About The Author
David Wilson is a Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University. A former prison governor, he is a noted criminologist and expert on serial killers through his work with various British police forces, academic publications and books. David has advised on live police investigations related to a linked series of murders and has provided training to new Senior Investigating Officers who will take charge of murder inquiries. His current research interests range from the phenomenon of British serial murder, family annihilation, hitmen and lethal violence within organised crime, to all aspects of prison history and penal reform. David currently lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife, Anne, and their two children, Hugo and Fleur.
The Rules Of Restraint -Chapter One
There are blue skies and pruned trees, tended lawns and swept pavements. There is outside and there is inside.
“Control to Victor 1, control to Victor 1, over.”
Even though his radio was buried in a heavy tweed suit that muffled the noise, Governor Donald Munro – or “Victor 1” in prison-speak – could tell the radio controller sounded desperate.
“Victor 1 to control, go ahead, over,” said Munro.
The controller came back instantly: “Control to Victor 1, nearest landline, over?”
Munro, who had arrived at the prison only three months ago, checked the extension number of the office that he had escaped into, and where he had hoped for some respite to tackle the mountain of work that needed to be climbed if Her Majesty’s Prison Greenbank was to be – in the words of the Home Secretary who had appointed him – “turned around”.
The first three months had not been easy. Greenbank did not seem keen to “turn around”, and Munro, like every governor who had survived the prison service for nearly twenty-five years, had plenty of enemies. More so than most. Munro was a traditionalist, a hardliner, and his appointment to Greenbank had taken everyone by surprise. Greenbank was renowned as the only prison in the country to run as a therapeutic community, and Munro and “therapeutic communities” were not seen to be mutually compatible. Heart attacks and Munro were more compatible. He’d already survived one, which had been serious enough to end his fondness for tobacco and red meat. In a more reflective mood he would admit that he wasn’t even certain why he had accepted the posting, but the Home Secretary had impressed on him that what Greenbank needed was a firm hand – Munro’s firm hand. And, if he was honest, he was flattered to be asked.
“Kick some arses,” said the Home Secretary, considering the problem, in private. “It’s a prison for God’s sake, for people who have broken the law, not an institution for self-improvement, with privileges. I don’t want the Daily Mail running amok with stories about murder, rape, mutilation and then half a dozen social workers descending to discuss the perpetrators’ inner demons, their anxieties. You break the law you lose. Keep it tight, turn the screw.”
Therapeutic community. It was a concept that Munro had got used to in the last twelve weeks, and nothing so far had made him think very highly of it. Just a fancy term for lax procedures, staff idleness, and being nice to prisoners who were the scum of the earth. No matter what the regime was called, at the end of the day Greenbank was a prison that locked up a good proportion of the serial killers in the country, not to mention a large number of criminals who had hit the headlines. Think of a notorious offender – any offender – and chances are you will find him at Greenbank. Not that they were sent there immediately. They would have served between ten to fifteen years, and then been re-categorized from “A” to “B”. For that first decade after sentencing they were imprisoned in the high security estate as “category As”, learning how to survive in the “dispersal system”, being treated as merely a number, and given nothing – and all the better for it was Munro’s view. There they had learned that there was an inalienable division between “them” – the cons, and “us” – the suits, as the prisoners described the governor grades and the screws.
Compared to dispersals, Greenbank was a whole other world. Just ten years after committing some of the worst crimes imaginable, the cons could spend every day talking to therapists – psychologists and psychiatrists – pouring out their broken, bleating hearts about why they had killed, or raped, or robbed. Was that punishment? Just ask the parents of the kids these people had abused, or the wives of the husbands they had murdered.
Munro remembered the text he’d received from Morag his daughter last night as he sat alone in his hotel room. She was starting her first term at university, it read: “I’m good, bloke flashed at me at the bus station, we laughed. Love you.” If anyone touched his kid without her consent he’d rip them in half. Was the world a more dangerous place now than when he nonchalantly strolled the city of Bristol as a student thirty years ago? Perhaps there was just more talk about it all. There was that sixteen-year-old boy who killed his teacher because “life is pretty fucking shit”. Sometimes he felt like hammering his fist against a wall. He didn’t know the answers.
And the screws? They were confused about whether they were employed to lock prisoners up or to act as fake therapists, they hardly knew where they stood. Mind you, it was an easy life compared to the hassle they received in other nicks, and some of the screws, no matter what they thought of the regime, saw Greenbank as a cushy number, a good way to spend their working lives before they retired. Some, not all. As with any prison, there were screws hiding a troublesome streak; they were outside not inside, there but for the grace of God.
As its governor, Munro was supposed to represent the prison, but he was finding that hard. He’d already fallen out with Kate Crowther, the prison’s young, blonde, American, principal psychologist. She was working in the prison on a government-sponsored research programme investigating the motivation of serial killers, and she had the temerity to point out to Munro that Greenbank was probably the only prison in the country – in the world – which could claim success with this type of offender, that what they were achieving helped the police reduce the incidence of murder.
“After all,” she had told him, the faint hint of a southern drawl lingering seductively on her pronunciation of “all”, “it’s not as if they are going to get out, so why not treat them with humanity?”
She gazed at Munro expecting some sort of answer, but he simply stood there, unable to comprehend what she had been talking about. Kate had continued.
“What was it your Mr Churchill said about judging a civilization by how it treats its prisoners? Well, at least at Greenbank we can say we are civilized.”
That was two weeks ago. Munro had made a mental note to get her moved from the prison almost as soon as she had finished talking to him. He had also been a little more cunning, and had started to collect – some would say invent – evidence to support his case against her.
Gossip is the lifeblood of a prison, and there was plenty of talk about Kate’s relationship with Bobby Lomas, which some were hinting had become too close. That was always a danger in the hothouse world of long-term prisons, where the culture of “us” and “them” could break down if people forgot who they were and what they were supposed to be doing.
Bobby Lomas was better known as the “Varsity Blue”. Over two years in the 1980s he had strangled six female students – three from Cambridge and three from Oxford – one each term, until he had finally been caught. Lomas was a charmer, and a clever one at that. He was widely read and was particularly interested in Modernist and Vorticist art. That’s how he had managed to convince so many young women to come back to his flat, where he would strangle them with their college scarves, and then flush most of their cut-up bodies down the toilet. Most of their bodies. Lomas liked to keep trophies and when the police eventually searched his flat they found in his wardrobe a belt decorated with twelve rotting nipples and numerous drawings of angular, disjointed figures of his victims. At his trial he pleaded diminished responsibility, that his soul had been corrupted by too much knowledge, too many godless narratives. He had tried to compensate by applying mathematical formula to his life, geometric shapes and abstractions, arguments that the prosecution deemed “deranged”. Lomas quoted Nietzsche in a desperate, hopeless defence: Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. During the tortuous long months in solitary, he had painstakingly etched the initials “FN” onto his inner left wrist, cutting the skin with the nail on his little finger, and inking the wounds with cigarette ash. He chose a serif face for more traditional elegance which complicated the cuts, leading to infection. He nearly died of blood poisoning but the tattoo was pretty decent for a DIY job. He was often asked what the initials stood for; Munro had overheard someone suggest “Fucking Nonce”, which ended up with Lomas’ fist in the guy’s throat, but Lomas usually countered with the name of an obscure French footballer called Frederic Nee, whom no one had heard of.
Even so, it would hardly have surprised Munro if Kate and Lomas were fucking each other senseless. She too was an egghead. He didn’t really care at this stage, so long as there was no security issue. Later he’d investigate, set boundaries. It was the shifting certainties that made Munro nervous; his daughter was at Oxford University, prey to whatever maniac or wacky idea that took her fancy.
Kate would have to wait. Munro had been concentrating on his plans for the new security systems that he needed to implement, and the estimates he was preparing to upgrade the prison’s antiquated perimeter fence and CCTV cover. Now he had to attend to the f-ing radio controller. What was the matter he thought – not enough psychologists to talk to? Another happy-clappy singalong, with screws serving prawn sandwiches?
“You can reach me on 213, Victor 1 over.”
The phone rang almost immediately.
“Governor,” said Munro in a tone that implied this had better be good.
“We’ve got a hole in the fence.”
“The patrol found it five minutes ago, at the north fence of the football field – he’s standing guard there now.”
This last information was provided to suggest that the staff were acting efficiently, but merely afforded Munro an opportunity for sarcasm.
“A bit fucking late for that. Open up the command suite and close the gate. I’m on my way. Give the order to lock this fucking prison down, and do a roll check. Now!”
OMFG! I don’t know about you, but I am totally hooked! I MUST have this book! A massive thanks to Prof. Wilson for sharing a wee taster with us readers! The Rules of Restraint is out December 19th and you can pre order a copy via the link below!
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