I looked at her case notes. They were only days old, and incomplete. Laughton had written them up in a shaky hand and I found myself wondering whether, in some way, his condition might have been a factor in the outcome. Not by any failing of his own, but Daisy had been thirty-six hours in labour before he was called in. Had the midwife delayed calling him for longer than she should? By the time of his intervention it was a matter of no detectable heartbeat and a forceps delivery.
Stephen Gallagher, like me, is a screenwriter as well as an author. When we meet we joke that whenever one of us goes to a TV meeting, the seat is probably still warm from the other one’s rear end. His TV dramas include Oktober and Chimera, and his novels Valley of Lights, White Bizango, and The Authentic William James – the latter a historical mystery, one of three featuring Sebastian Becker. I’ve always loved Steve’s precision and economy in crafting a page-turner; hiding exposition and research behind the unshowy style of a masterful storyteller. Gallagher’s interests are a broad church, encompassing thrillers, espionage, suspense, science fiction and horror. I have no hesitation is saying he’s excels at them all. ‘Shepherd’s Business’ pulled the rug from under me like no story has done for many a year, and I had great delight in telling him so.
First published in New Fears ed. Mark Morris, Titan 2017. It can be read here