Free chapter: Killer Intent by Tony Kent

Tony Kent author portraitKiller Intent is set in a shady world of hired assassins, slippery politicians and dark forces. It’s an action-packed conspiracy thriller and was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club in August.

If that sounds like your perfect holiday read, here’s your chance to find out for sure — we have a free download of the story’s opening, as well as a Q&A with author Tony Kent. Read on for details.

Q&A: Tony Kent

Who is Tony Kent?

I am a 40-year old criminal barrister and former champion heavyweight boxer who, in 2018, finally realised a life-long dream with the publication of my first thriller: Killer Intent.

After 17 years specialising in the defence of serious and organised crime in Crown Courts across England and Wales, I hope that I bring a host of real-life experience to my legal and political thrillers, allowing even the highest concept plots to remain grounded in reality.

Elevator pitch?

Killer Intent is the first in the ongoing Michael Devlin / Joe Dempsey series, which opens with a seemingly botched assassination attempt in London’s Trafalgar Square. When the wrong man is killed, it falls to intelligence agent Joe Dempsey to seek the truth behind the shooting.

With Dempsey cutting a swath through every conspirator, CNN journalist Sarah Truman and criminal barrister Michael Devlin find themselves dragged into the shooting’s aftermath, with only their tenacity, intelligence and the hidden talents from Devlin’s past keeping them alive as the British Government itself threatens to fall.

Boxer, barrister and now author: which is best? Why?

I think that the answer to this question depends upon when in my life it is asked and — as luck would have it — I’ve always been doing what was best at just the right time.

Between the ages of 12 and 23 I was a boxer, winning various national and international championships. I was very determined, very dedicated and — by pure genetic fluke — I was born with a huge punch and a head like an anvil. At this age I was a much better boxer than I could have been a barrister. And a much better boxer than I could have been a writer. And so at that age, boxing was best!!

Then we get from 23 to 40, and at THAT age being a barrister was certainly best! I was less fit and I was getting older, and so boxing was less of an attractive option! At the same time, I had still seen little of the world and not a whole lot of life, and as I draw from so much of that experience in my writing I was certainly not ready back then.

But now? Now writing wins, hands down. I am lucky to have hit the right job at just the right time. And I am loving every minute of it.

Who inspired the main characters?

Of the main characters, Michael Devlin has the most direct real-life inspiration. As readers will discover, Michael is a criminal barrister with a dark past; a flawed man with a dangerous temper, Michael was raised by his Belfast gangster father and will go to any lengths to keep himself and Sarah safe.

Whilst Michael is not inspired by a particular person, he came about as the result of a conversation I once had in a bar. Like Michael, I come from a less than typical background for a barrister; I come from an Irish family full of builders and blacksmiths, and with a few ‘black sheep’, one of whom was my eldest brother.

It was therefore unexpected that I should take the career path I did, and when — aged 22 — I caught up with an old friend he expressed some surprise that I was becoming a barrister as – his words – ‘you come from a family of villains’. Of course I come from no such thing, but rather than being annoyed by this suggestion I actually thought ‘what a good idea for a story; a barrister from a family of villains.’ And that is where Michael Devlin came from.

War veterans, politicians, spooks and hitmen — how much of the story is based on your own knowledge and experience?

When I was first writing Killer Intent, absolutely none of the detail came from my own knowledge or experience. It was purely a story — a plot — that gradually built around the idea of this barrister with a dark past; what circumstances could I place him in which would force him to revert to the man he used to be, and return to the life he had left behind.

In the years since then, as luck would have it I have actually been exposed to much of the ‘types’ we find in Killer Intent. My law firm is based in Westminster with Conservative HQ on one side and Labour just down the road (and until recently with UKIP in the office upstairs). And so I have been regularly exposed to a mass of the politicians who currently run things in the UK.

In turn, my day job has put me close contact with convicted hitmen, and with various ex-services personnel (especially special forces) and even a few veterans of MI5/MI6/GCHQ. And all of this has, to my amazement, increasingly convinced me that what might have begun as an outlandish, high-concept plot is actually far closer to reality than even I realised. Which is pretty scary, when you think about it!!

What kind of books do you like reading in your downtime?

In terms of fiction, I am a massive fan of the crime and thriller genre generally. My writing ambitions began when I read The Winner by David Baldacci aged about 18. It was absolutely incredible as I had until then only read literary fiction, which is obviously amazing stuff but which — I’ll be honest — just isn’t for me.

Then I read The Winner and it was like someone was painting a movie in my head. It was amazing, and my ambition ever since has been to do that same thing: to write something that plays out as a film in the reader’s head as they read it. And so it is books of this type that I read in my downtime: Baldacci, who is still going strong. Lee Child, of course. Grisham. Connolly. And then the likes of Neil White, Steve Cavanagh and Mason Cross for the ‘newer blood’. All of them are just excellent.

Your second book is out next year. How is it going? What is it about?

Marked For Death comes out on February 7th next year. It’s already done — the proofs are out and the first couple of preliminary reviews are in — and I’m actually already well into writing book three. But that’s another matter!!

Unlike Killer Intent, Marked For Death is much more of a legal thriller, although there is still plenty of the action that readers seem to really connect with in my first book. It features Michael Devlin and Sarah Truman again, but this time the plot is very much driven by Michael’s job as a barrister. We see him fearlessly defending a young man charged with a particularly brutal murder, whilst at the same time following a Scotland Yard investigation into a series of killings which may or may not relate to a case from the very beginning of Michael’s career.

The reviews so far have been very, very good, and I am very excited for fans of Killer Intent to follow the next step in the lives of Michael and Sarah.

Ready for more? Where to get your copy

Naturally we’ve got you covered for great holiday reads of every genre, with branches of WHSmith in every terminal. If you’d like to reserve your copy of Killer Intent, let us know here and we’ll try to make sure you don’t miss out. The book is out now, published by Elliott & Thompson.