Sampler: The Consequences by Sharon Brownlie

Review: A very powerful focused tale of one woman’s determination to find and create a statement with her own life that she would not be a victim.

A year has passed since the arrest of serial killer, Helen King.

She has languished in jail awaiting her fate.

Her wait is over and her day of reckoning has arrived.

It is time for her to face the consequences of her crimes.

Will Helen go quietly?

Has she laid her ghosts to rest?

Sharon Brownlie

Sampler: The Consequences

Detective Inspector Belinda Brennan had eagerly been anticipating this day for months. It was 10th November, 1986, sentencing day for Helen King at the High Court in Edinburgh. The case had been harrowing for all those involved, especially Detective Sergeant Ashley Renton. He had known Helen as a childhood friend, and was still coming to terms with the monster she had become. A heroin addict, a prostitute, a killer.

The previous year, 21-year-old Helen King had murdered four people. She had tortured and tormented her victims before she killed them. Three of them were professional people. Gloria Bryson, her old English teacher, was the first victim. Next was Ruth Walker, Helen’s social worker. The third, an ex-Army man, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Jackson. Her final victim, Donny MacKenzie, had been her one and only friend.

According to Helen’s confession he was collateral damage; it hadn’t been anything personal. His only mistake had been falling in love with Helen. When she had admitted murdering Donny, any sympathy Brennan had felt for her soon disappeared.

King’s defence was that she had been subjected to years of sexual and physical abuse from an early age. She had pleaded and begged Bryson, Walker and Jackson to intervene. Unfortunately, none of them believed or helped her. Her cries went unheeded, and she felt they had ignored and betrayed her. Her killings were an act of pure revenge, and reinforced by the word she scrawled at each of the victim’s houses, Proditio; the Latin word for betrayal.


DI Brennan gathered her coat and bag, calling out to Renton to hurry. As always she was running late.

“Move it. Otherwise, we won’t get past the vultures outside the court. No doubt they already have a ringside seat.”

“You mean the press?” DS Renton asked.

“Yes, the press, the media, parasites, vultures. Call them what you want. Just hurry.” Brennan rushed down the stairs, with her DS hot on her heels. Helen King wasn’t originally high profile. The media had taken an interest in her due to the nature of her crimes and the motivation.

Brennan was the first one out of Gayfield Square police station and into the car park. In the car she buckled up. “Go, go, go,” she ordered.

Renton’s Toyota Corolla sped up the High Street towards the court, situated at the top end of the Royal Mile, not far from Edinburgh Castle. The car vibrated violently as the tyres bounced over the old cobbled road. Brennan and Renton found it difficult to remain seated.

“This is not helping my undercarriage,” Renton grumbled. He gave his boss a fleeting glance before his head hit the car roof again.

Brennan looked down at her nether regions. “If it’s any consolation, it’s not doing mine much good either.”

Renton let what she said fly over his head. They had been working together for over a year now, and he had learned to ignore her tongue-in-cheek comments. Brennan checked her watch for the third time, 9.40am. She leaned over and pulled up her DS’s sleeve to make sure her watch was right. Her action made Renton swerve to the left.

“Ma’am, we’ll be there in time. After all, she’s not going anywhere.”

A few minutes later, they pulled up in front of the High Court. Brennan unbuckled her seat belt, and barged through the waiting press. She ran up the steps and into the building. By the time Renton had parked the car, he followed Brennan but he had lost sight of her. He didn’t have a clue which way she’d gone. The DS found a bench in one of the corridors and sat down, sprawling his 6’ 7” frame across it. Renton didn’t particularly want to go searching for his boss. The courtroom was the last place on earth he wanted to be.

A voice called. “Imagine seeing you here. You got nothing better to do than lounge around?” Renton straightened up and saw Sergeant Finch standing over him.

“Just waiting for Brennan,” Renton said, as he stood up and smiled down at the uniformed officer.

“Where is the she-devil … giving evidence?” Finch asked. He strained his neck to look up at the DS.

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