The Death of a Nobody is a novel about a murdered tramp. The police aren’t too bothered about investigating the crime: after all, the murdered man was only a tramp. In the end it is left to another tramp to turn detective, to try to find out exactly what has gone on.
Did I enjoy writing this novel? Yes, to a certain extent. But if my fractured and fragmented memory serves me well – which it only rarely does – then I wrote this novel immediately following a nervous breakdown. This was not so much a novel which I wanted to write as I had to write, to deal with some of the darkness within.
To a certain extent I identify with the protagonist of the novel, the tramp who becomes a detective. Perhaps there but for the grace of the universe go I.
I found it very hard to find information on the signs used by British tramps. I think that the information is correct, but there was very little information available at the time that I wrote this novel; something which I found a little surprising, as I had seen these secret signs of tramps many times before in my life.
For any Americans out there tramp is the word which we British people use for a hobo. Generally speaking we don’t use the word hobo over here, although a few people are beginning to use it, after the success of American films like Hobo with a Shotgun.
Extract from The Death of a Nobody
The yellow tape had gone from the trees. Tom did not even know where the body had been found. But he had been a policeman once… yes, there, under that bush. All the footprints, and breaking of the undergrowth, could only have been the police looking for clues.
Clues? Ha, he had long given up trusting in clues. They led you up blind alleyways, and you kept going, because you thought that you were right. No, don’t think about the Edwards’ girl, it’s all behind you now. Nothing here to hurt you, stir up all the old emotions.
Bugger Jim had not been killed here. Tom had heard a description of how badly Bugger Jim had been beaten before he died. If he had been killed here, then there would have been more blood. There was nothing at all… the corpse had been dumped here. The killer must have known that it would be discovered soon enough, so why dump it here? Why bother moving it at all?
Stop it, Tom told himself. You’re beginning to think like a bloody copper again, and you know where that got you: right where you are today.
The body had been moved, so the murderer had not wanted it found in its original location. Why? (Stop it, stop it, you’re not a copper anymore!).
Who would want to kill Bugger Jim? What was the motive?
Mistakes… Tom had made too many mistakes in his life. He was not going to get involved in this. Let the police handle it. That’s what they got paid for. But they never would. They had already written it off as an insoluble, motiveless crime. But nothing’s insoluble. There’s always an answer. But, this time, Tom would have to make sure that he got the right one.
Tom sat down on the ground of the copse, his head in his hands. Was he really going to do this? Look into the death of Bugger Jim. But there was no one else… no one else…
He couldn’t do this… it was too long since he done anything like this… another lifetime.
He could hear the rustle of the leaves in the wind. Light filtered down from above, an ever-changing dappling of him as the branches moved in the breeze. He could hear a few birds. They didn’t have any problems like this. They only had to worry where the next worm was coming from. The early bird catches the worm. The only thing that Tom had caught in the last twenty years was cold.
He was doing this. He had no choice. So he would do the best that he could.
The Death of a Nobody is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.