A Killing in Paradise

Elliot Sweeney’s new book:

A young man has been murdered on the notorious Paradise estate in London. The police have their assumptions; out-of-work private investigator Dylan Kasper, more than familiar with the neighbourhood, has his own. He soon discovers the reason the boy was killed that the police will never find – or want to find. A highly incriminating piece of evidence tying an illegal production company to the government and police alike.

 

Elliot Sweeney’s new book: The Next to Die.

ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0CLKNRKFC
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wildfire (6 Jun. 2024)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
File size ‏ : ‎ 3306 KB
Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
Print length ‏ : ‎ 356 pages
Buy it Here

At present, the book is on pre-order here (release date on June 6)

Amazon

Author’s notes:

‘These are cruel men you’re after, Kasper. You’ll need to be cruel back to survive.’

 Walk into the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, and it won’t take long to encounter brilliant reproductions of violence, murderous, grotesque, raptly enjoyed by visitors. Dickens’ 1849 account of the public hanging in Southwark, and the odious glee on faces in the circus crowd as the ropes fall captured a similar glee. More recently, a 2019 Netflix documentary entitled Don’t F*** With Cats about Luka Magnotta, a cat and human killer who filmed and uploaded his work onto the internet, caused a viral shebang amongst viewers, and was an unprecedented hit.

The lure to watch suffering is ubiquitous, and nothing new. But what does seem new, and what disturbs me, is this intersection between these sadistic interests, and the age of digital commoditization in which we live. When fights erupt in public places, rather than intervene or flee, members of the public reach for their phones, and hit record. A few hours later, these shaky videos appear on the circuit, clickbait for YouTube, Insta-likes, ‘content’; they generate thumbs-up emojis on WhatsApp groups and Facebook, the gore seeming comic-book, desensitized, allowing consumers to snigger at the pain of others with impunity. As disturbing as the double murders of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry in 2021 was the discovery that two attending police officers charged with protecting the sisters’ bodies had in fact photographed them, and then shared the images amongst friends for their amusement and self-promotion. Why?

The second in the Dylan Kasper series, A Killing in Paradise, aims to explore this phenomenon: what is behind the draw to capturing and circulating brutality against the defenceless and vulnerable? Is evil of this sort inherent? Or a biproduct of the times we live in? The book, of course, is dark as hell.

The story picks up six months after the close of Book One, The Next to Die. Out-of-work PI and full-time misanthrope Dylan Kasper is commissioned to investigate the stabbing of a teenager from the notorious Paradise Estate where he was raised. The Met have made assumptions about the victim, based on socioeconomics and race; but Kasper uncovers the truth: he was killed because of something he stole, an art-snuff movie showing a prostitute being butchered.

Kasper is sickened by of the barbarity on this film and compelled to thwart the makers. He discovers that the victim on this snuff was only the latest, murdered by a nefarious organisation stretching into the higher echelons of society. Red Rose Productions cater to a buoyant market united by a love for exploitation and torture-porn. And when the ringleaders target Kasper, he must ask how far he is he willing to go to combat evil.

At times, writing this book felt like self-harm. In my day job I’m a mental health nurse, and regularly support the victims of abuse, violence, and extreme coercion; at times, it can have a gruelling, vicarious impact on my own state of mind. To then come home to these characters and themes felt harsh.

But I persevered. In the same way a loose scab needs picking, once the story had set root, I couldn’t leave it until it was grown. For not only was this a vehicle in which I could write about the violence I see through my work; it was also a way to develop my protagonist’s own uncomfortable capacity for, and pull towards, the violence that has shaped him, and which he perpetrates and revels in.

Kasper – the name a fusion of the kids’ friendly ghost character, but spelled with a ‘kicking-K’ for impact – is a protagonist of contradictions. A solipsistic, self-destructive pugilist, a heavy drinker, bereaved father, and self-imposed bachelor, he is nonetheless a man with a firm moral backbone, albeit hidden beneath a coating of boxing brawn and beer fat.

I am drawn to central characters like this – flawed, melancholic, reckless; yet ultimately good. No matter how dangerous Kasper’s adversary is – and in A Killing in Paradise, I’ve really gone to town with the bad guys – we know that the biggest villain will always be him, and his attempts to make the cruel world he inhabits a little less cruel is a way to placate, but never extinguish, the shadows that lurk in the recesses of his soul, and which will ultimately be his undoing.

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