Sandstone Press

On the blog: Fixed Odds on tour

It's finally our stop on the Fixed Odds blog tour! If you like to try before you buy, you're in luck. We're delighted to be sharing an extract of William's latest Robbie Munro thriller, but first, a bit about the series, the book and the author.

The Robbie Munro thrillers:

Defence lawyer Robbie Munro has a habit of getting too involved with the criminals he represents. Forever flying by the seat of his pants, Robbie juggles a host of difficult clients, rubs shoulders with dodgy acquaintances and battles the legal system, all while trying to figure out fatherhood.

Tightly plotted, funny and fast-paced, these thrillers can be read alone or in series.

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Fixed Odds:

George ‘Genghis’ McCann has stolen – and lost – a priceless masterpiece. Snooker champion Oscar ‘The Showman’ Bowman is charged with betting fraud. With a second baby on the way, and promises of great rewards if he wins Bowman’s case and recovers the painting, defence lawyer Robbie Munro has never been so tempted to fix the odds in his favour.

William McIntyre:

William McIntyre is a partner in Scotland’s oldest law firm Russel + Aitken, specialising in criminal defence. He has been instructed in many interesting and high-profile cases over the years and now turns fact into fiction with his Robbie Munro legal thrillers. He is married with four sons.

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Chapter 14:

Carrier bags. As a subject of great legal importance, they don’t come up much during law lectures at university, but carrier bags, and especially the people who bring them to appointments, are one of the first things they warn you about in practice.

My five o’clock appointment arrived with one such bag crammed full of paperwork. He wanted to apply for the restoration of his driving licence. He’d been disqualified for life when in his twenties, after a string of motoring offences. Now, ten years later, approaching forty and a self-employed joiner, the ability to drive would be of great benefit to his business as well as his private life. From the bag he removed stacks of crumpled letters of thanks he’d received from various satisfied customers.

‘I’ll look at these later,’ I said, pushing the thank you letters back into the carrier bag. Of more relevance than his joinery skills and happy customers, was the amount of time that had elapsed since the disqualification, and his lack of further offending. Those factors would decide whether a petition to the court to have his licence restored was likely to be looked upon favourably. Unless, that is, he was unlucky enough to have his application called before Sheriff Albert Brechin – a judge not inclined to give second chances.

‘But what are the odds?’ he asked.

‘Reasonable,’ I said. ‘We can whack in a petition and fix a date for a hearing. The cops will come and speak to you and do a background report. After that, it’s a case of me persuading the court that it would be in the interests of justice to let you drive again. How will you be paying?’ A man with his own joinery business surely wouldn’t qualify for legal aid.

‘Paying for what?’

‘For me to act on your behalf,’ I said, in case he’d forgotten why he and his carrier bag were taking up office space at five o’clock on a Friday, with the weekend beckoning and my secretary already out of her blocks and away.

‘No, that’s okay,’ he said. ‘I’m not looking to hire a lawyer. I’m just after some advice.’

There were so many responses that sprang to mind. So few for which I wouldn’t be arrested.

‘That wouldn’t work,’ I said.

‘No, it would,’ he smiled, only too happy to explain the niceties to stupid old me. ‘It’s just legal stuff. If you tell me what I have to do and how to go about it, I can do it myself.’

I was going to suggest I order in a pile of wood, a hammer and some nails and have him come round to my place one evening to talk me through fitting a new kitchen. Instead, I told him to put his reasons down on a piece of paper and hand them into the Sheriff Clerk’s office. It would save all the bother of having a legally qualified person draft a complicated legal document tailored to his particular circumstances. ‘You’ll need to pay the court dues for lodging the petition and serve it on the PF, but after that, a court date will be fixed and it’ll just be a matter of persuading the Sheriff to grant your application,’ I said, steering him towards the door. ‘It’s only legal stuff.’

‘Will there be other people in the court?’ he asked, as we walked downstairs to the front door. ‘It’s just that I’m not all that good on public speaking.’

I put his mind at ease. ‘Don’t worry, it’ll just be you, the Sheriff, the clerk, a bar officer, a Procurator Fiscal – who’ll try and talk the Sheriff out of granting your petition – a few solicitors, maybe some newspaper people, social workers, cops and, of course, the general public.’ I opened the door and showed him onto the High Street where I shook him by his now sweaty hand. ‘And when you speak to the Sheriff Clerk,’ I said, with a wink, ‘ask for your case to be set down for Sheriff Brechin’s court.’