Synopsis of ‘Who pays the Ferryman?’ Print E-mail

In the 1980s two men were arrested in a woodland area close to a sleepy little village in Kent. There was nothing strange in this but the question the author asks is, “Why did it take so many heavily armed Police to carry out the arrest?”

Were the two men involved in some form of terrorist activity? Were they a terrorist ‘sleeping’ cell? Had they committed some heinous crime or some other act of violence?

The story ‘Who pays the Ferryman?’ takes the reader through a labyrinth of questions and answers as they follow the factional account of Richard James – the son of a local fruit farmer – and his lifelong friend Paul Jones.

Both of these men grew up together in the village, went to the local school and eventually joined the army, then, in the late 1960s they came out of the Parachute Regiment – Paul returned to Kent to work for Richard’s father on his fruit farm, whereas Richard felt £46 per week (the then average wage for farm workers) was insufficient and he headed off to join the Angolan Mercenaries. Unfortunately he was not alone in hearing about the mercenaries, and Ted Heath the then Prime Minister closed the operation down, so like Paul Richard went back to Kent to work for his father on the fruit farm.

A short while after returning to Kent, Richard and Paul devised a new technique for grafting fruit trees that had never been used before, and this was extremely successful. Within a matter of months they became the talking point of the local fruit farming fraternity and it was not long before the trade journals heard about their success and featured them in their columns. Their reputation spread and out of the blue Richard received a telephone call from a very wealthy landowner over in the twenty six counties, the Republic of Ireland. On offer was £300.00 per week, all expenses paid and hotel accommodation provided if they would agree to travel to the Republic and do some work for him, some contract work and to train some men. Obviously there was no comparison £300.00 per week or £46.00 per week, so Richard agreed.

Upon arrival, and it is at this point the reader comes into the story, before the two men realise that not only are they working for a very wealthy man – possibly one of the wealthiest in Ireland – but their new employer had a dark side to his personality. He was a top official in the Official IRA! This presents the reader with a paradox. Two ex-Paratroopers, who at one stage were in conflict with the IRA, now find that they are working for the IRA!

During his time in the Republic of Ireland Richard becomes embroiled in two sectarian murders and because of his military background the IRA attempt to headhunt him, so the question is, are they successful and is this the reason why he was arrested? Why was he taken by the Devlin brothers for a night out to an IRA stronghold deep in the woods? Whilst visiting Ulster he is shot at and taken on a nightmare car journey through the narrow twisting country lanes, all for what reason?

The book presents the reader with more questions than answers, leaving them guessing right to the end, taking them into the twilight zone of Military Intelligence, undercover agents, Special Forces and the IRA.

Click here to read an extract from 'Who pays the Ferryman?'

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