The brilliant murder plot that escaped

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The Independent Online

Many years ago, I had a brilliant idea for a plot.

Many years ago, I had a brilliant idea for a plot.

Was it for a novel? A film? A TV drama?

I can't remember now. All I can remember was just how brilliant the plot was.

It was about this guy who is diagnosed with an incurable disease, and wants to die before it gets him. But he is too cowardly to commit suicide and doesn't know any doctor well enough to get to arrange euthanasia. But being very well off, he has got enough money to arrange a contract killing, so he gets hold of a killer and orders him to kill him by and by.

"Don't let me know when," he says. "Just do it painlessly. And don't get in touch in case I weaken and change my mind. Here's the money."

So the killer drifts off, and the man relaxes, knowing that sooner or later he will die unexpectedly and easily.

Unfortunately it then turns out that he has been wrongly diagnosed and is not doomed to die of the disease after all.

Only at the hands of the contract killer.

Whom he can now not contact.


Unfortunately, I then read about some low-grade film being made at the time (the 1970s) which used exactly the same plot.

I cannot remember who was in it, though I think it was British, but I do remember thinking, "Well, bang goes my brilliant plot," and I forgot all about it. Which was probably just as well, as I couldn't think of a brilliant ending to my brilliant plot.

Cut to a few weeks ago, when I am listening to Radio 4's Start the Week , which is chaired by Andrew Marr, who used to edit this paper but now has a proper job. And he was interviewing a Ukrainian novelist, who has just written a novel in which the main character wants to die, and has hired a contract killer to do the job, and then the main character changes his mind, but he can't contact the killer now...

"Hey!" I shouted at Andrew Marr's friend. "That may be a new plot in the Ukraine, but it's been knocking round here for 30 years at least! It's been in a film which I never saw and it's been in a book which I never wrote and ... and ..."

But apparently people on radio can't hear you even if you shout, so after a while I stopped interrupting the Ukrainian novelist and started thinking about the plot which I had never finished and which had got the Ukrainian on Radio 4.

I started to wonder what I would do if I had hired a contract killer to do away with me and had then changed my mind.

How would I avert death? Would I leave the country, change my name and adopt a new life? Possible, if hard on the family.

Would I go public and plead openly with the killer to spare me? "Writer Reneges On Death Deal. But Will Killer Honour Contract?" Just right for the Daily Mail .

Or would I - and I hadn't thought of this before - would I try to hunt down the contract killer and kill him before he killed me?

Yes, that's it! I would turn from victim into revenge-seeker! Using the few clues I had to his identity and whereabouts, I would go underground and hunt the hunter.

He was looking to kill me. He was a skilled killer. He had all the cards. Except one. He had no idea I was now trying to kill him. That would tilt the odds in my favour.

Not a bad twist. I think that would rescue it. The prey becomes the stalker. The revenge of the target. Mmmm. If any film producer reading this is looking for a brilliant plot, he need only drop me a line, and we will be in business.