The Watch List by Joseph Mitcham / #Extract #BlogTour @damppebbles @MitchamJoseph



Sixty-eight dead and nearly 300 injured in a hostile vehicle and bomb attack on a community festival in Birmingham, the country is in shock.

Battling the mental turmoil of the aftermath, Alex, a former Army communications specialist, stumbles across the UK Terror Watch List – he cannot resist the challenge of stealing the list from under the nose of his contract supervisor, Lucy Butler, a razor sharp and headstrong Intelligence Corps corporal with big ambitions.

Wrestling with his conscience and the ethics of tackling unconvicted suspects, Alex enlists the help of famed former UK Special Forces Warrant Officer, Craig Medhurst. Alex struggles to win the respect of Craig’s core team, but together they hatch a daring plan to act on their selected targets.

Can Alex use his charm to persuade Corporal Butler to join them?





“Are you sure you’re up to this mentally, Alex? There’s no shame in walking away and leaving us to it you know mate; we’ve got plenty of communications experts in our network.”

“No way.” Alex says, not quite convincingly. “I know that this project is what I want. Every time I see footage of the Birmingham victims, those poor kids – no, this needs to happen and I’ll be proud to be a part of it.”

“It does Alex, and it will, but that’s not what I asked, I asked if you were up to it. There’s no shame if you’re not. I’ve seen the toughest of guys crumble mentally when their hearts are not completely in something as challenging as this.”

“You don’t think I’m up to it?”

“Listen Alex, it doesn’t matter what I think, there’s no way I can judge, it’s for you to decide.”

“Can’t a man of your experience tell who’s got the minerals and who hasn’t?”

“All I know is that you’re untested in that way Alex. Even if you’d been through the mill like me and my boys, that’s still no guarantee.” Craig looks into his pint glass thoughtfully.

“You’ve been caught by surprise before then?”

Craig lowers his voice further, “Listen, I’ve seen some of the worst action encountered by my former regiment, which by definition, is about the worst that anyone anywhere could have been exposed to, so I have difficulty in understanding why others, including some of my closest comrades, have succumbed to mental health dramas, PTSD and all that. I don’t pretend to understand it and I don’t judge, not anymore.”

“That sounds like a hard lesson learned?” Alex says whilst trying to make eye contact, but Craig is solemn, with his head down firmly over his pint.

“I saw it first hand when my best mate committed suicide shortly after leaving the service.”

“Oh Craig, I’m sorry.”

My best mate, Gaz, flung himself down the stairwell in his swanky flat, leaving himself

hanging a couple of feet off the floor in his living-room. The cleaner found him the next day.”

“And you never saw it coming?”

“I’d known him forever. We met on soldier selection at Pirbright and we went through every stage of our careers together – purely by chance at first, but we became tight in the Anglians and decided to give selection a go together; we made sure that we’d follow the same path – we were like brothers… more than brothers. He was an emotional kind of guy on a different level to me; he’d cry like a baby after every kill – a lot of tears. The years took their toll, forcing him from service before his time, and compounded with the shock of civvy street, it all became too much.”

“Jesus.” Alex doesn’t know what else to say.

“I’ve done some serious soul-searching whilst mourning Gaz, but without tears. I just find myself zoning out thinking about him, and his situation, from time to time. As much as mourning my friend, I’ve had my own internal struggle to come to terms with.” Alex becomes conscious that Craig’s reassuring pep talk is turning into his own counselling session – he is unsure of what to do or say, but carries on listening intently.

“Is there something wrong with me? Why do I feel nothing about the things I’ve seen, done or been exposed to? I have this creeping feeling that there is something deeply wrong with me and that it could spill out at any moment, like it’s in the post and there’s nothing I can do about it. I know myself as an openly emotional person in other ways, I’d get a wobbly chin from a heated exchange in the NAAFI, or a lump in the throat watching DIY SOS, but the dead or dying on the battlefield, even my own men – not a flicker. Something is definitely amiss and there surely must be some sort of mental deficit to be repaid.”

Alex tries to respond with feeling; “I’ve not seen anything like what you’ve seen. One of my mates was killed on tour, but I wasn’t there. Another guy I knew from basic training was killed in a vehicle accident on the area, but things like that happen, they don’t really affect you that badly. I can’t begin to imagine losing close mates the way that you have. To be honest I don’t know what affect our project will have on me. All I know is that I want to be a part of it and that I’m willing to take the consequences of our actions.”

“That’s honourable Alex, but you keep thinking about it.”

The two men turn to their pints for a moment of silence. Alex tries to put his experience in

perspective with Craig’s, and struggles to fathom how he must be feeling – the torment that he must wrestle with every night before he goes to sleep. He thinks of how he might cope with the guilt that he may feel for the executed targets, and whether the saving of lives that he expects to achieve from this mission can provide sufficient recompense.

Thank you, Joseph Mitcham and Damp Pebbles Blog Tours


About the author

Joseph Mitcham served with the British military in elite and technical units for over 16 years. His service not only gave him a thorough tactical and technical understanding of some of techniques and processes employed in his first novel, it also provided him with the opportunity to develop himself, earning a first class honours degree in business leadership by the end of his service.

The inspiration for writing ‘The Watch List’ was taken from personal experiences from the roles that he has served in and characteristics from some of the people that he has served with. Joseph has written an incredible, yet compellingly credible story that plays out in our world as he sees it today.


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