Getting away with it – but no longer

I am just coming to the end of my month-long writing retreat, working on the sequel to last year’s historical financial crime novel “Fatal Forgery” – first draft completed, so big hurrah!  (BTW, I’m still dithering about the title for the new novel – I’m running a little poll on my writing blog, so if you’ve a mind to, please take a look and cast your vote.)  I don’t want to give anything away about the plot, but one element of it is the forfeiture of criminal assets – or rather, the lack of it – in 1825.  And, like hot water and triple packs of Jaffa Cakes, I think we today are so used to forfeiture (both criminal and its younger cousin civil) that we overlook quite how fantastic it is.

Imagine, if you will, life without forfeiture *swirly dissolving of background*.  After years of painstaking investigation, the police finally arrest a big-time criminal, Mr Smug.  He has spent years involved in all sorts of criminality, from drug trafficking to pimping, from extortion to murder.  During this time he has amassed quite a fortune – and quite a reputation for ruthlessness.  Despite the best efforts of the police, they cannot find a single person who will testify against Mr Smug, who has put out the word that any such testimony would be seriously detrimental to one’s health.  However, the evidence is strong, and Mr Smug is eventually convicted on a couple of charges and sentenced to five years.  While inside, his connections and his ability to bribe people ensure that life is bearable (think Grouty in “Porridge”).  Two years later Mr Smug is out – and there’s his money, sitting waiting for him.  Like, bummer.  So *unswirl* thank heavens for forfeiture.  As I say, they didn’t have it in 1825, so I have had to think of something else (fiendish cackle), but it is wonderfully gratifying to know that in 2014, Curtis Warren is spending a decade in prison because he refused to hand over his ill-gotten gains and (even more fiendish cackle – I’m getting good at this) he still owes the court £198 million.

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7 Responses to Getting away with it – but no longer

  1. Graham Thomas says:

    Dear Susan

    I can’t believe that the month has gone by so quickly but I hope that it has been a fruitful time for you and Samuel Plank. I’ve taken the opportunity to vote on the title. Now I just need to make time to catch up on your separate blog. As a keen Plank fan (does that make me a “Planker”?), I’ll be particularly interested in the “current project blog”!

    In passing, “A Fool and His Money” got my vote but “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” was a very, very strong second.

    Best Wishes


    • Dear Graham

      How nice to hear from you, and many thanks for your title vote (and second choice). It’s tricky: “Fatal Forgery” came to me in a flash, but this time round there are more options that I like.

      The month has indeed been productive; I am heading home today with a complete first draft in my sticky paws – I’m planning to leave it “fallow” for a fortnight, and then start the editing.

      Best wishes from Susan

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    Forfeiture has been around a while. Judge Roy Bean famously searched a corpse and found only a gun and €40. He fined the corpse €40 for possession of a firearm and confiscated the gun.

  3. Roy McCarthy says:

    That is US$ not € 🙂

  4. That’s a great story, Roy – I may well pinch it to use in training!
    Best wishes from Susan

  5. Wendy says:

    Fantastic achievement getting your first draft done on time. I’m still working on mine! It just goes to show that one really needs a month in Switzerland to get it done….. (note to self: ask husband if he would mind me swanning off to Europe in the very near future?)….. I love the title “In the Footsteps of Fools”, however for this one, the Canary waistcoat seems to fit the person (no pun intended) and timeframe really well. Good luck with the revision and publishing. Best wishes.

  6. Hello Wendy
    Thank you for all of your encouragement – and yes, a month in Switzerland and an understanding husband are very useful indeed!
    Title still undecided – “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” seems to be most popular at the moment.
    Best wishes from Susan

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