John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)




Glenn Hale

e-mail: Glenn Hale










Like A Bloody Circus is a contemporary gothic crime thriller novel set in a West Wales coastal village amidst a Welsh hot summer and revolves around David Chase ... divorcee, philanderer, handsome, intelligent, city lecturer and would-be novelist. Chase gives his final lecture of the academic year. For him, teaching has lost its magic and he hopes to escape through his writing. But he is thrown by fate into a world of killer cats that leads him to a tale of revenge, guilt and supernatural secrets.
Chase inherits his aunt's house in a dreary West Wales village. A city dweller, he visits the house with a view to sell, aid early retirement and progress his writing career.
Arriving on a dusky, hot July evening, he witnesses a young mother throwing her baby into the sea. This leads him to the suspicious shopkeeper, Billy Gryff, who possesses some kind of a hold over the village. The local constabulary, led by Sergeant Moss, is reluctant to follow up the case, declaring 'We don't do murder around here,' fobbing Chase off with a story of Lucy Luck, an immature young mother who tosses a doll into the sea on the anniversary of the tragic drowning of her own child.
Arriving at his Auntie's house that night, Chase witnesses the eerie spectre of a large black cat at the bottom of the garden. He becomes obsessed with the big cat phenomena and, ever on the lookout for a story, maintains his suspicions over the village hiding something about Lucy Luck and the baby in the sea. Meanwhile, a creature stalks the hills and forests at night preying on livestock and men are going missing. Paul Thomas disappears after swerving to avoid something black in the road and Cornelius Power, traveller and fighting man, disappears while out on a night's hunting.
Chase invites his fellow teacher and on-off lover, Judith Fitzsimmons to the house, but with him receiving a beating from who he believes to be one of Billy Gryff's henchmen, and his growing obsession with murderous secrets and big cats, Judith decides to return back to the city, only to be horrifically raped and possibly impregnated by Billy Gryff.This is a secret, however, she is not willing to share.
When DI Tudor Watson is called in to investigate Chase's beating and Power's disappearance, the plot unfolds into conspiracy, murder and man-eating cats, with Power's wife, Sioana being discovered in an isolated wood with her throat ripped out.
Gary Gibbons, golfing partner to Paul Thomas, discovers a voice message on his mobile from Thomas that leads him to suspect a sinister reason for his friend's disappearance. Arranging to replay the message to Watson, Gibbons also goes missing and the DI is linking the three men's disappearance to a gut feeling of murder.
Throughout the investigation, Chase is drawn to the wild cat theory and believes Sioana was killed by a panther. He meets up with Henry Rooibokkraal (Bok), a South African big cat specialist living in the wilds of Cornwall, persuading him to visit the Welsh village and try tracking the animal that Chase believes to be causing mayhem, eventually resulting in Bok shooting a black cat that morphs into the corpse of Cornelius Power.
Attempting to explain such phenomena to Watson proves difficult, but when all three are at the scene of the shooting amidst a blazing forest riddled with creatures, noises, shadows and shapes, the detective is convinced anything is possible.
The story climaxes in a fire-enraged conflict between human-cum-panthers and desperate men left with no choice but to kill or be killed.
The end sees Chase as the only survivor, face to face with the King of the Beasts, Billy Gryff. Chase squeezes the trigger of his rifle as the fire and burning trees fall into his path, forcing him to seek an escape route.
Like A Bloody Circus finishes with an epilogue. Now living in Cornwall, Chase has matured emotionally, settling with Judith, who has produced a son, Liam. Chase has published a successful novel based on his experiences and Judith has produced a son, Liam ... As the child plays football in the garden he peers through the hedgerow, mesmerised by the swaying wheat in the neighbouring field: Then there were the eyes; the yellow and black eyes. The eyes inside the shadow that didn't move with the dancing grass. Liam forgot about the ball. He forgot everything. But the eyes drew him in to some kind of memory. He would not fathom that recollection yet. He was only three years old. The eyes in the grass widened and Liam's followed suit. Then the yellow and black eyes blinked slowly, softly, and the boy acknowledged them with a smile.

About the author I have produced a short film The Last Word which was shown internationally at film festivals, including the Commonwealth Film festival in Manchester.
I have taught English in Further Education for four years and, somewhat disenchanted by the Further Education funding system, sought a more humdrum job in order to save some imaginary energy for writing. As a result, I have been a civil servant for the last sixteen years.
Having self-published (Kindle) a comic novel that had derived from a true story requiring exorcism on the page, I have constantly been drawn to the darker side of humanity and have produced some short stories in the gothic/mystery genre.
This is my first full length work in this genre, inspired by a visit to the West Wales village of Borth. If you've ever been to Borth you will know that only a horror story can be a fitting tribute!
I do not compare myself to other writers - not out of arrogance or ignorance, but a belief in avoiding unconscious influence or mimicking.
I write fiction, though as previously mentioned I have written and directed a black comic short The Last Word which has been shown in film festivals worldwide.
However, my first love is fiction that explores the darker side of life and human behaviour Like A Bloody Circus does just that. Influenced by that visit to the peculiar village of Borth in West Wales and Chris Hughes, 1983 Mastermind winner, who discussed on BBC morning television the next day after his victory a news item regarding the possible sighting of black panthers in the Welsh countryside, commenting that no real evidence had ever been found and that it was as if such creatures had become something of the occult.
I hope you enjoy the chapter and that the synopsis whets your appetite to read more.





Sample Chapter


        The girl kept running. She looked behind at intervals to see if it had gone. But it would never leave her. She was stinging, aching. She stopped running to breathe, the sobs making it hard for her lungs to function. Why had it happened? she asked herself. Why something so cruel? 
The road was wet. West Wales autumn had emerged from an Indian summer. The girl found it difficult to run in her cheap sandals, her wet feet rubbed against the rubber thong between her toes and her soles moved in opposite directions to her shoes. Gripping her thin dress she pulled it down towards her knees, as if it would cover her shame, her fear, her experience. 
She clawed her once-wispy hair from her forehead and looked up the road from where she had run. There was nothing behind her – nothing in the dark – a dark that not everyone sees, the dark of the countryside; no distant glow from a nearby town, no farmhouse light or illumination from a far off road. The darkness fed the silence, the silence fed the coldness, and all these elements fed the girl's fear. 
She knew she had to get off the road to be safe, but the forest erupting from the side of the road was as frightening as the elements. She stared up at the serrated shadows hacking into the skyline, a mass of shapes forming a grotesque monster overseeing the night and its lesser creatures.
Was the creature behind her a lesser monster? Its eyes were transfixed on the running human, sandals slapping on the road; it watched her stop, take off her sandals and attempt to walk barefooted, until the old tarmac and grit added to her list of pains. The girl's sobs were audible to the creature as she slipped the sandals back on her feet. Her plastic shoes would alleviate the small pains, but the big pains would last longer, and lead to stronger pains, though she wasn't to know that yet. 
The creature moved closer, crossing the road and dropping onto the moorland below. It could smell the girl's sweat, her blood, and something else: a mixture of scents that did not belong to her. Although heavy and muscular, the creature's large feet trod lightly, its head hung low, taking in the scents and the sounds of the night. Suddenly, lights cut through the blackness like two sabres, flooding the road and stopping the creature in its tracks. It flattened its body against the rough grass and watched the beams expand as they approached. 
The girl also saw the lights winding their way towards her along the mountain road, as if they were scanning the land, seeking her out. Then she heard that familiar sound, like the faint hum of a bluebottle becoming louder as the lights came closer. Stumbling off the road into the thick, matted grass, she crouched like a cat, her small hands gripping the tussocks as if to prevent her being ripped away at any moment. The hum became a buzz, and the buzz became a rasp as the lights flooded the road. The girl gripped the grass tightly as the vehicle rattled past her and she lay there for a few minutes after it had passed, allowing herself a wail before clambering to the road and walking the rest of her journey.
The creature remained still, watching the lights shrink away and listening to the motor returning to a hum, until the only sound was the slapping of the girl's sandals against the wet road, that eventually faded into the darkness, leaving the night black and silent once more. 

Chapter One

        Fiery sunlight burned through the classroom window. David Chase enthused over The Tyger by William Blake, its implicit metaphor lost on the bored students, apart from Tess Burns, who held a keenness for literature and for David Chase. Her attraction to the teacher was understandable: Chase is handsome, energetic, aware. She leaned forward, wide-eyed, as her teacher recited the poem off by heart. 
'Tyger, Tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?' 
He looked out of the classroom window at this point, knowing this impressed some students before continuing. 'And what shoulder, and what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart?' 
Being the last Friday afternoon before end of spring term, Chase was aware he was losing his audience. Tess made a note: art v heart – aesthetic v physical. D.C. makes me wet. 
Chase stepped deliberately to his desk, spreading his fingers on the mock oak and leaning forward before speaking. 'And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand? & what dread feet?'
Tess scribbled something about fairytale quality – Little Red Riding Hood. Big bad wolf and leant back in her seat, voluptuous, pert and flushed. Chase noticed. 
'Tyger, tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye, could frame thy fearful symmetry?'
Two male students sitting behind Tess Burns sniggered, absorbed in something less cerebral, more physical. One of the males, Ricky, was stroking Tess's hair with his pen. The other male student, nicknamed Podge, was writing words on a blank page in his literature folder: suck, cock, up the arse. Tess ignored the two adolescents. If Chase wasn't present Tess would have turned around and called them a bunch of immature wankers. As it was, if she was to stand a chance with her teacher, she had to appear above all that. 
Chase sighed, a mixture of resultant satisfaction and murmuring frustration. If he were a school teacher he would have reprimanded the two immature buffoons irritating Tess. He came to further education to avoid all the disciplinary baggage that smothered a teacher's freedom to teach, but students choosing further education because they wanted to be there was a myth that seduced most FE teachers. Ricky was sat there because his mate Podge was sat there. 
Chase mentally transported Ricky and Podge to a shopping precinct with their silly trousers hanging around their spotty backsides. He saw them running from a shop, pursued by a an overweight security guard, past a series of benches where shoppers are taking a pew. Among those shoppers is Chase, wearing raincoat and sunglasses. He stands up as people watch the ruffians make their escape, laughing at the wobbling security guard. Chase pulls a hand-gun from his pocket and the shoppers scream before falling to the floor as the shots go off. Podge goes down and calls after Ricky, who's turned around to see his fatally-wounded friend. He looks past Podge and his face freezes as Chase takes aim. A single shot takes Ricky out. 
Realising his reverie had created a longer pause than he had anticipated, Chase sniffed; if it wasn't for Podge, Ricky et al squatting their acne-riddled bums on seats there would not be a college and Chase wouldn't be in a job he regretted. 
It was time. In truth, the lesson should last another ten minutes. But for Chase it was time. 
'So,' Chase said, 'consider what Blake is questioning here,'
Tess sat up and raised her eyebrows questioningly. Podge and Ricky giggled.
'If God could create a meek creature such as the lamb,' Chase continued, 'how could he also create such a savage creature like the tiger?'
Tess hung on Chase's question before asking, 'Do you think the poet is using the tiger as a metaphor for the industrial revolution?'
Chase had always recognised Tess as talented, mature and wasted in a college that relied on the reprobates behind her to ensure she had a course to attend. He ran his fingers through his black-grey spangled hair and smiled before answering. 
'That's a very interesting point, Tess. The references to anvil and chains is no accidental parallel. If we look at the date when the poem was written, we can see it was at a time when the industrial revolution was in its assurgency. And, of course, many academics and philosophers, such as Blake, were opposed to the philistine invasion of machine over man.'
Shifting chairs grunted against the floor of the classroom, the slapping of closing folders resembling a slow handclap. Chase threw in his final attempt to hold his students' attention. 
'So, have a good break, but remember, you will need your first draft of the essay by the time you return. You'll be surprised how quickly we'll be into the new academic year and exams around the corner.'
Students filed past Chase as he spoke. One or two muttered a form of goodbye in his direction. The sun was now high over the roofs of the houses opposite the classroom window. He didn't blame the students for wanting to escape as he observed the gardens from the houses opposite backing on to the college grounds. In between classes he would often stand at the window wondering what went on behind those doors. He hoped the private lives were not as bland as they probably were. A bored housewife getting rogered by her husband's brother while he was in work; the son who was hacking into CIA files while his parents thought he was revising for his BTEC in IT; the doting daughter who planned her nagging mother's demise – right down to the last grisly detail. Chase would often scribble down these thoughts to file away later for his next novel or short story. 
Slowly and carefully, Tess packed her things away. 'Have a good week off, David,' she said moving from her desk and snapping Chase out of some scenario about an obnoxious pensioner being poisoned by a disgruntled neighbour.
He had to admit Tess was gorgeous. She was also only twenty years old – more senior than the majority of his students – but twenty, nevertheless and his student. 'You have any plans?' he asked. 
Tess's eyes glowed making Chase feel she had taken the question as a prelude to an invitation. 'Out with your boyfriend?' Now he feared this could be construed as fishing. He wished he had just said goodbye. 
Tess shook her head. 'Need to get stuck into this essay,'
Running his fingers along his four o'clock shadow, Chase smiled. 'Well, if you want any advice, you've got my mobile.'
It wasn't unusual for Chase to give his number to his brightest students. Those who wanted to learn deserved an extra string to their bow.
'But remember Tess,' he concluded, his brightest student hanging on to his every word. 'You're still allowed to let your hair down!'
Tess's hair was long, black and glossy, falling over her shoulders and cradling her firm breasts. It reminded Chase of Carolyn Jones's hair in the television series The Addams Family. He used to have a thing for her when he was a hormone-charged teenager. He found Jessica Houston in the movie version such a disappointment, as if bumping into an old girlfriend from his schooldays and being confronted by a frump. No, Carolyn Jones was a far sexier proposition.
Tess Laughed. 'I'll try. You up to anything?'
Chase shrugged. 'Bit of lesson-planning, bit of writing . . .'
'Need to let your hair down, David,'
'Touchι,' Chase conceded. 'Well, I am going out for a meal tonight . . .'
Tess frowned questioningly. 'Oh … good.'
There was a timid knock on the open door. It was grey, suited, Peter Booker the Principal. Tess uttered a 'see ya' to Chase and passed Booker on her way out. 
Booker watched her leaving. 'Pretty girl,' he said.
Chase nodded. 'Yes, very. And bright, too.'
'Ideal,' Booker said, closing the classroom door quietly. He cleared his throat and looked behind him before speaking. 'Have you had any thoughts on what I said last week, David?'
Usually fastidious in his filing, Chase thrust his papers and books into his worn, Gladstone bag, as if evacuating a burning building. 
'Am I keeping you?' Booker asked.
'I've got a dinner date tonight, Peter, that's all.'
Booker looked down his nose like a toucan. 'I'll need an answer before the new term, David. These opportunities do not come along very often.'
Chase checked his desk for nothing in particular. 'I know, Peter, but I'm looking to get out of teaching, not become bricked up in the education system forever.'
Booker lowered his face and peered over his unfashionable spectacles. 'David, you make the position of Faculty Leader sound like a scenario from Edgar Allen Poe!'
Chase said nothing. The sun's rays piercing through the window and momentary silence nourished the awkwardness in the room.
Booker sighed. 'Look, David, you'll teach less, choose your own classes and gain an extra fifteen thousand a year.' Booker sensed he was losing his audience. 'In ten years time you could be Principal!'
Chase stood still, bag in hand. 'Would I have to wear a suit?'
'Just think about it, David.'
'Give me the summer holidays to think about it,' Chase said as he passed Booker to open the classroom door.
Booker was toucanesque again. 'You're not getting any younger, David. And if it's not you it'll be that prick, Jenkins!'
'Like I said, Peter, I'll give you an answer next term.'
Striding down the corridor, Chase could feel the tension releasing with every step. Six weeks of freedom, he almost said aloud, as if he needed reminding. Forty two days to think of an answer for old Peter Booker. He considered the Principal's age and realised he was only in his mid-fifties.
'Jesus, that could be me in fifteen years time,' he said to himself. 
Stepping out of the foyer door into the mid-July sunshine, he already had his answer.