I met a woman on the plane. She was attractive and pleasant and we hit it off so well on the trip from Sydney to Brisbane that I was only mildly surprised when she agreed to have a drink with me.

A casual acquaintance, a casual invitation. Bad luck if you like, but it was an invitation that was to cost my brother his life. . . .

                           *    *    *

It was with a sense of dread I woke in the unfamiliar surroundings of the Regent Hotel. The bed was comfortable enough and the air conditioner had kept the soggy heat at bay but I had slept badly all the same, nightmares from long-ago and one too many glasses of red the night before leaving me feeling jet-lagged and uncomfortable.

I knew that I should not have come to Australia now, when I was bone-weary with the weight of my own problems. But refusal had not been an option. “Please, I need you … “ Elaine had said. Self-confident, ice-maiden Elaine, who never asked anyone for anything, reduced to begging help from the brother-in-law she despised.

My twin brother’s wife had every reason to hate me, I reflected as I let the warm shower wash the tension out of my neck and shoulders. I, the look-alike brother who, drunk one night, had led her to the brink before admitting who I was. I still didn’t know what black thing had driven me; what deep-hidden hatred of my ever-successful brother had allowed me to torment his fiancé, as she had been then. It wasn’t jealousy. God knows, before that evening I hadn’t fancied the ice maiden at all and it was only when I felt her hot lips on mine, her warm breasts taught and wanting under my hands, that I had felt arousal. Already the joke had been played, the damage done, but for a shameful ten minutes more I pretended to be my brother, stopping only on the brink of consummation when what little self respect left in me called a halt.

I could hear my laugh now as I told her that it was I, not Christopher, she was making love to. The bitter laugh of the loser, victory acid in my soul. Where was the satisfaction in her half-naked shame? Why take revenge against a brother who had done me no wrong?

To Elaine’s credit there were no bitter recriminations as she coldly accepted my apology the next day. There was no forgiveness either.

How much she told Christopher I don’t know, but it was enough. Already drifting apart, the rift between us became ever greater and I lost him to her, the brother I loved and hated so much; the brother whose generosity of nature had extended from his lofty position so graciously to those of us in his shadow. There was no sudden weaning away. I was best man at the wedding, as a good twin should be, a faithful shadow dressed in the lesser finery I had worn since birth.

Thinking about it as I pulled on a polo shirt and shorts, I knew Elaine had done me a favour, pulling Christopher away to where his shadow no longer fell in my direction. The death of our parents had helped too, their adoration of my brother finally stilled beneath six feet of cold Highveld earth. It was not until after they had gone that I realised how effectively they had built the pedestal on which Christopher reigned – and how such phrases as “of course Andrew also does well at school,” or “Andrew plays cricket too, you know,” had chipped away at youth’s fragile self-image until, thinking back, it was a miracle that I achieved even the mediocre results I did.

Now Elaine had called to me when Chris was in trouble, called to the black sheep with an appeal I could not ignore. “Christopher won’t talk to me about it Andrew, but he’s undergoing some sort of crisis and its tearing him apart. He’ll talk to you, I know. You were always so close to him. Please come quickly. There’s something horrible going on and I don’t know what it is.” . . .

                            *    *    *

Rastus and Fatso came for me the next morning. Perhaps the hostel manager had recognised me and tipped them off – or perhaps it was a result of legwork; the elimination of possibilities. Either way, the outcome was the same.

The manager must have given them a master key because the first thing I knew of their presence was the oily smell of a gun being pushed into my nostrils.

In fright I tried to rise, to lash out, but it was hopeless. A knee went into my back, my face was forced into the pillow and my hands were roughly pulled behind my back. It was with a sick hopelessness I felt bands of steel close around my wrists and heard the metallic snick of the handcuffs.

They didn’t stop there of course. The knee remained in my back and the hand forcing my head into the pillow kept its steady pressure until, body heaving and bucking in a desperate attempt to get air, the world began to slip away.



Wildlife photographer Andrew Pringle stumbles into a world of corruption and violence as he tries to make sense of his brother's murder.

Gavel is a story about forbidden passions, entrapment and a lust for power at the highest levels of Australian society.


Review by: playt on Jun. 21, 2011 at Smashwords:     
"I met a woman on the plane."

With one simple sentence, Ian Wynne launches the reader on a top-speed ride through the highest levels of power with more twists, turns and nerve-pricking surprises than a World Rally Championship contender on the death roads of Bolivia.

Mr Wynne has taken the foundation of Australian democracy, the Westminster System, and given it a solid shake.

He has taken the three elements of democracy -- the politicians, the judiciary and the police -- and melded them into a maze of corruption, of lies and deceit, of power-broking, paedophilia, torture and murder at their foulest.

Then, in a master stroke, he brings in the fourth element, the only guardian any democracy has in ensuring the separation of powers and the true freedom of the people, the Fourth Estate, the media.

It is a fast-paced story that will hold the readers and keep them turning the pages when they should have turned the lights out hours earlier.

It will also have them rethinking political and corporate announcements of recent years, the ones that were strangely at odds with what would have seemed the logical decisions and outcomes at the time.

Because Mr Wynne's tale is all the more frightening for its plausibility. It could happen. It could be happening now.

Ian Wynne is emerging as a story-teller of world ranking. This is his best work yet.

More please, Mr Wynne.

Review by: Sue Hamm on Jun. 17, 2011 :

I could not put this book down - excellent, exciting plot. The pace is fast and realistic.

This is the first e-book I have read on my iPhone and I loved the whole experience.

Reviewed by Cally Jackson, blogger and author - August 2011.

The plot takes many unexpected turns and could — in less adept hands — seem implausible. But the story is told in a way that had me completely believing each twist and turn, and had me outraged at the atrocities committed by people within Australia’s government and police force. At one point in the story, I literally gasped with shock (if you’ve read it, I’ll bet you know which scene I’m referring to). For fear of spoilers, I’ll say only this — if you have a weak stomach, this book is not for you.

The main character Andrew is well drawn and relatable. He endures a lot during this book and I found his reactions to be believable and realistic. He’s likeable and brave but also flawed — a real person, not a fictional hero.

Karen, Andrew’s love interest, is also believable. She’s a strong, independent woman and it’s refreshing to read a book where both characters in a relationship are equal.