Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In Character: Michael Campbell

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, and so I thought I'd do two character blogs. The first is from the point of view of an MI5 agent. Michael Campbell is a character who's appeared throughout Heaven & Hell, and will continue to appear in future works. I've gotten to like writing him. This interlude is set late in the book, after a sit down meeting in Belfast with a former IRA gunman....

And I could see Idris Elba (Thor, The Wire) playing the character.....

I had tea with a murderer today.

Oh, we can't prove it, but he's the sort with a lot of blood on his hands. Kevin Conlon runs his own security firm in Belfast these days, but back in the bad old days, he was an cell leader and gunman for the IRA. Granted, he didn't move off to one of the splinter groups when peace broke out, but every assessment we've ever made of the man suggests he's just biding his time, that he doesn't really believe peace will last. Not with the other side, and not with the British. That's his way of thinking.

The Prime Minister and my boss at Five sent me to Belfast today. They wanted to get a sense of the man. The events of the last two days overseas have had a connection that led straight back to Conlon. He had a business link with a member of the Covenant. The information our people in the field gathered has it that he provided them with support in an assassination here several weeks ago.

And so I went. I met with a police inspector we've coordinated with before. We found the bastard at the Europa. During the Troubles it was said that was the most bombed hotel in Europe. Today you wouldn't know it to look at it. And sure enough, there he was, having tea. He even invited us to join him. From an outsider's point of view, it probably seemed like a friendly chat. It was anything but that. It's what's in the eyes that's important. Inspector Grady did most of the talking. I just watched Conlon. He spoke very pleasantly, as if without a care in the world. Underneath all of that, though, I was looking at a man who's killed people before. A man who sees nothing wrong with the taking of innocent lives if it achieves his objectives. A cold blooded bastard, that's Kevin.

He wouldn't crack, not under a more serious questioning. And that's not even what this was. All this was about was getting a measure of the man. And he got a measure of me, for that matter. I'm certain he knows full well I'm a Five man. I'd imagine he'd love the chance to set a bomb in the boot of my car and send me off to an early grave.

I live in a world of shadows, where I don't talk about my work, not with friends, family, or women. That can raise hell with a social life, believe me. I do it for Queen and country. Where my colleagues at Six spend their time abroad, I spend my time defusing the threats that turn up here at home. I've met some nasty, dangerous people in my time. Conlon certainly qualifies as such. And someday, when the peace breaks... he'll be right back in the thick of the fighting.

When that happens.... we'll be ready for him.


  1. He's a very well-developed character. You've done excellent work in both plot and character development. I predict great success for this book.

    And Idris Elba is a perfect choice!

  2. "It's what's in the eyes that's important." Did you get that from Beth?

    Cool character. Sounds like he knows his stuff and he's ready for that Conlon guy to snap.

  3. Actually, Eve, I thought of it while I was writing the passage. Campbell was watching him the whole time,gauging his reaction to what was being said.

    And Conlon's a terrific character to write too. He'll be back again.

  4. @Evie-Oh Evie...! I don't think my books have anything to do with his books...

    I haven't done one of these in a long time either...Heaven and Hell is close to being finished, so it will be good to have some more faces to put with the characters to associate with them. I love this idea.

    Oh, and he looks serious...

  5. Riveting! Can't wait to see more ...

  6. You are taunting me. I am very much looking forward to this book.

  7. Ok. This guy would be perfect. You caught me with the opening line. Love it.

  8. You have a way of bringing your characters to life. Can't wait to read the book.

  9. Another incredibly three-dimensional character.

  10. Promising stuff. I'd like to read more.

  11. "I had tea with a murderer today."


  12. Campbell's been fun to write, but I needed to give him a chance to be out of the office and in the field late in the game. Otherwise his appearances would have consisted of stopping in at Ten Downing with his boss and saying hello to the Chief Mouser of the Cabinet.


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