Pay Off - Stephen Leather

Why would a successful Scottish businessman jeapordize the comfort and respectability of his financial career? Endanger his family and friends to plunge deep into a world of drug-dealers, hit-men and call-girls? The answer is simple: revenge. For a cold-blooded murder.

 

His adversary is a dangerous gangland boss whose connections stretch from the Highlands to London and beyond. More than a match for the newcomer, especially when his plans contain a fatal flaw which will only be discovered when it is much too late....

 

 

Stephen Leather writes: Pay Off was the first book I wrote, so I guess I was lucky to get it published. I was working on the City pages of the Daily Mirror and had a lot of time on my hands, so most of it was written on my office typewriter.

It was discovered on the slush pile at Collins, before they became Harper Collins. The slush pile is the stack of unsolicited manuscripts which every publisher has - it's hit and miss as to who eventually reads it. Could be a secretary, could be the managing director.

An editor at Collins read it, liked it, and put it in a filing cabinet. She then quit the company, but luckily, on her way out she told her successor about it. She rescued it from the filing cabinet, one rewrite and a few months later I was a published author.

It's a simple story, a sort of Thomas Crowne Affair, written in the first person. I'd do it differently if I was writing it again. The distillery scenes all come from a tour of Highland distilleries organised by a Scotch whisky firm. I remember little about the tour because we kept sampling the wares, but I took lots of notes, some of which were readable. The hero is never referred to by name, which is how Len Deighton wrote a few of his books. It's a neat device, but can be difficult to pull off at times.

 

Reviews

"A pretty impressive debut...sharp and economical...a pacey read" - Glasgow Heral