A thrilling new fictional form: the bite-size novel

Teddy Carew was an upper-class twit with a streak of evil who liked inflicting pain on girls

WE ARE now in the age of the short attention span, so I make no apology for bring you an entire novel today. Yes, in the next 800 words you will get a complete crime thriller, so let's get cracking with...

Persons Unknown

a complete new thriller

by Raffle Stubbs

Naomi Castle had discovered the great secret which all crime novelists discover sooner or later, namely, that you can get away with murder, or at least, you can get away with any amount of violence as long as you have a police inspector come along and turn it into a respectable crime.

Most novelists find it much harder to get away with violence. When ordinary fiction writers put violence into their books, they tend to get known as violent novelists, writers who seem to be obsessed with pain and torture, almost as if they were as psychopathic as the characters they describe.

This doesn't apply to thriller writers. Violence is automatically justified in a thriller. You can't really have a thriller without violence, can you?

"There's a great deal of sex and violence in your books, Naomi," said the interviewer on Woman's Hour. "Do you really enjoy writing about it?"

Not in the least, was what Naomi Castle wanted to say. My publisher makes me do it. P D James and Ruth Rendell do it, so I have to too. We all do it, because it's expected of us.

But that is not what she said. What she said was the other thing that novelists always say.

"Well, in a funny sort of way, I don't have a choice. My characters become very real and tend to take over the action, and some of them seem to be very violent."

"Yes, but they are still your characters," said the Woman's Hour interviewer, in the slightly schoolteacherly manner you sometimes get on that programme. "They must reflect you, and different sides of your personality, so you must be able to control them."

"I don't really think I have a violent side," said Naomi Castle. "So I don't know where my characters get it from."

Teddy Carew, for instance. In her new book, Teddy Carew was an upper- class twit with a streak of evil who liked inflicting pain on girls.

He hadn't been meant to be like that at all when Naomi Castle first invented him. She wanted him to be an upper class twit with too much money who was going to vanish after he had served his purpose (giving the heroine, Dawn Botsford, a lift to London). But he had stuck around in the novel and started to fascinate Naomi Castle with his combination of heartlessness and - well, and chinlessness.

The extraordinary thing was that Dawn Botsford seemed to like him too.

Naomi didn't really approve of Dawn Botsford liking Teddy Carew. Dawn Botsford was not just the heroine, she was the victim, too. She was due to be murdered in Chapter Five, so it didn't really help if she started getting entangled in an affair with Teddy Carew. Perhaps she ought to have Teddy Carew murdered as well...

"You know she's thinking of having you bumped off this week?" said Teddy Carew, as they sat in the wine bar in the King's Road.

"What?" said Dawn Botsford, shocked. "Bumped off? Me? But why?"

"Part of her job," said Teddy laconically. "She bumps people off because she's paid to. I could understand if she did it because she enjoyed it, but... Anyway, she's thinking of having me done in as well."

"You too?" said Dawn. "Oh, my God... How can we stop her?"

"Well..." said Teddy Carew.

Naomi woke up at this moment, before Teddy could answer. My God, talk about characters taking over your thoughts. They were even invading her dreams now. And threatening revenge on her!

This was something that even Sigmund Freud had never imagined. But by the time she came to breakfast she had cheered up and seen it for the occupational hazard it was.

By the time she had left the house and walked down the road for the paper, she was cheerfully thinking through the plot again, and so she didn't see the lorry which left the road and ran into the shop just behind her.

Before it hit the shop, it also, unfortunately, ran into her and killed her outright. So she could never tell the police the most extraordinary thing of all, which was that her last sight on earth was the lorry driver's face.

He was grinning. And he was the splitting image of what she imagined Teddy Carew looked like.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions