• Alan Reynolds

The story behind the story (6) The Coat

The inspiration for this book came as a result of a meeting I had with a business colleague.

Following the usual greeting, ‘did you have a good weekend?’ my colleague replied that she had had the misfortune to come away from a dinner-dance with the wrong coat, much to her embarrassment. On the way back from the meeting, my mind was in overdrive recounting the experience and I recognised that this could be the basis of a story.

So, the tale unfolds about a business owner who is about to lose everything; his coach-business is in dire straits financially, and it’s his wife’s 40th birthday. To celebrate, Keith Woodley, owner of the stricken company, damns the expense… and consequences, and arranges to take her to a ‘posh’ dinner-dance at a local hotel and buys her a very expensive leather coat to wear for the occasion.

Of course, there’s confusion at the end of the night and his wife picks up the wrong coat which is not discovered until the following morning. Whilst checking through the pockets to see if there’s anything to identify the owner, Keith discovers a key to a left-luggage locker and sets about trying to trace the location, believing it might contain something of value, and save his business – nobody would find out, he naively convinces himself.

Suffice it to say, it doesn’t go as he had hoped.

What follows is a look at the grim world of people-trafficking and gang-warfare. The research was at times harrowing; and I tried to relate the absolute misery and suffering that the unfortunate victims have to endure. I also wanted to show the bravery of the girls forced into this modern form of slavery, trying to imagine the fear as they battled for survival and then portray that feeling to the reader.

There are some interesting characters which I found fascinating to explore, from the the evil gang-leader, the luckless Keith, and the girls who are undoubtedly the heroines.

There was an opportunity for this to be a very morbid account of an extremely sleazy and depressing world. However, there’s humour, and optimism to address the balance, then plenty of tension when it becomes a question of life or death.

The question is how would Keith cope under this pressure when he is forced to become involved? Keith needs to keep things together and prevent his problems from affecting his family, unfortunately his efforts are not entirely successful.

Readers Reviews: 'I absolutely loved this book, it takes you on a journey through the seedy underworld of female trafficking. It’s a fast-paced thriller that you will not be able to put down. This has to be "the" best thriller I have ever read, I read this book in a day, one of those books you just had to read quickly to discover what happens next. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Alan Reynolds.'

'A gripping thriller with very interesting characters and very contemporary, set up in a modern northern city, where people smuggling for the sex trade is rife. Plenty of nuance, and humour too. I learnt a lot and didn't want it to end.'

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