BOOKCASE – Shadow Soul by Dylan H Jones

In this series, we invite our Crime Cymru authors to showcase an excerpt from one of their books. This week, Dylan H Jones gives us an exciting taste of the tension in his latest Anglesey-set crime novel.

“My name is Logan Collins. I’ve been asked to speak these words by the Welsh Nationalist Movement, Meibion Glyndŵr. To ensure my return, they have two demands, which if not met, will result in a swift and violent response.           

“Eighteen months ago, the Royal Airforce launched a drone strike, Operation Vanguard, on a convoy of insurgents travelling south of Mosul, Syria. In the aftermath of this attack, six RAF officers were also killed. The official report on this incident cites the second explosion as an attack by enemy combatants. This is not true. The report was falsified. Our demands are simple. A redaction of the validity of the report by the RAF, with full disclosure of the events. Truth and transparency.

            “Our second demand is for the Anglesey County Council and the National Assembly for Wales to write into law safe-guards limiting the sale of homes as rental properties for all of Wales.

            “You have seven days to comply. If after seven days, these demands are not met, I will be executed. I know the police will attempt to locate me, but the longer you waste your time, the more lives will be put in danger. Act now, swiftly, and no one else need die.”

Manx froze the video just before Logan Collins’ terrified expression faded to grainy black. The incident room fell into silence as the officers absorbed the information. At 10.30pm, the core investigation team may have been bleary-eyed and beat from their day shift, but Collins’ words were like a jolt of caffeine to their system; they were now attentive, primed; anxious.

            “Looks like he’s half-dead already,” Nader said.

            “A dead man talking,” Manx agreed, wiping a hand over his face. “Right, what do we know about this Meibion Glyndŵr outfit?”

            “Active in the late eighties and early nineties,” Nader said. “They were named after Owain Glyndŵr who led the Welsh rebellion against the English. Died in 1530, or something.”

            “Yeah, and that’s their flag,” Priddle said, pointing at the four lions outlined on red and yellow squares serving as Collins’ backdrop.

            “I’m not the most patriotic Welshman in the room,” Manx said, “but doesn’t the Welsh flag have a red dragon?”

            “The red dragon on green and white, wasn’t officially recognised as the Welsh flag until 1959,” PC Priddle explained. “And Owain Glyndŵr died in 1415, sarge, but nobody’s really sure because there were no records of him after 1412. Vanished, apparently, or went into hiding.”

“Oh, right you are, Professor Priddle,” Nader said, chuckling. “Got a cold case you want to chase up, then? The vanishing of Owain Glyndŵr. Last known sighting on a battlefield back in 1412. We’re appealing for witnesses anywhere in the vicinity.”

            “No, just interested in history, that’s all,” Priddle said.

            “How the hell does this help us find Collins?” Manx asked.

             “It makes sense, though, doesn’t it?” Morris said. “They set holiday homes on fire back in the day too.”

            “They did a bloody lot more than that.” Priddle’s voice rose an octave as he talked. “They sent letter bombs to English MPs, planted bombs on powerlines and water plants. Fire-bombed over 200 homes owned by the English, and estate agents in England too. I don’t think they killed anyone, though.”

            “More through luck than judgement, maybe,” Manx said. “If we’ve got a resurgence of Welsh nationalist militants burning down holiday homes, how the bloody hell is this connected to the RAF and this Operation Vanguard?”

This scene takes place around midway through Shadow Soul. After waiting several days for a message from the kidnappers who captured a local conservative politician, Logan Collins, Manx’s team finally receives the ransom demand they’ve been waiting for. It’s a tense three weeks for Manx’s team as they investigate the mysterious death of RAF Valley Base Commander, James Flynt, and attempt to locate the terrorist group behind a recent spate of holiday home fires on Anglesey. I choose this section because it kicks off the action that propels the rest of the book. The Meibion Glyndwr references will be familiar to most of my Welsh readers, but I also needed to put some context around the organization for readers who have no idea a Welsh Nationalist movement even existed.

            As a teenager living on Anglesey, I recall clearly the burning of holiday homes in North Wales. The idea for Shadow Soul has its genesis in this time, but I wanted to bring it up to date and imagine what would happen if some of the original members of Meibion Glyndwr took up the fight one last time. Running parallel to this storyline is the journey of Bobbie Mathews, a military drone pilot suffering from PSTD, and has been sent to RAF Valley to complete her trauma counselling. Stripped of her ‘combat ready’ status, and a young, grieving widow, Bobbie’s life spirals out of control.

            As the multiple threads in the novel come together, Manx races against the clock to stop a potential attack on Anglesey that threatens the lives of hundreds of people. For Bobbie Matthews, Shadow Soul is a terrifying journey into her personal heart of darkness that ends with devastating consequences. 

Read more about Dylan H Jones

To discover more of Dylan’s books, follow the link here to his Amazon page

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