Digby and Yates: The Lost Signal

Below is a little sneak peek from my Digby and Yates, short story series coming soon. Digby and Yates, are two humorous unorthodox detectives solving serious crimes. The first story in the series is called The lost Signal, and this is the crime that they need to solve.

All names, characters, incidents are nothing other than the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any thing or one in this universe and beyond, dead, alive, buried or frozen in time is entirely coincidental.

I hope you enjoy, and as always, thanks for reading.


Tobias Lebwaski held a coal-black briefcase in his right hand tighter than a constrictor as if his life depended on it, which it did. It was Friday 11:00 pm, and everything was running to schedule. It would always run to schedule when Tobias was on the job. It’s why the agency called him for service in the first place.

The assignment Tobias returned from before receiving the call was very different from the Swap Over he was on now. Wednesday at 11:45 pm he was lying unseen on a rooftop in the North of England staring down the scope of a suppressed sniper rifle. At 12:17 am, he fired a single bullet at a target just over six-hundred meters away in a car which had been blocked deliberately by unexpected roadworks, just how it was supposed to happen. The shot blew a hole in the drivers head large enough for Tobias to know he was D.O.I. Dead on Impact. That night Tobias slept well as he always does after every assignment.

For the past eight years, he has been married to Silvia Lebwaski. She has never asked him once what he does for a living. They have a son and daughter, Nick and Grace, and lived seven miles outside of town. Still, if you knew this about Tobias, you wouldn’t be alive long enough to repeat it, nor would you discover his address led to a cleaning cupboard in a derelict factory. Such was the backstories of the special forces.
His real name was Simon Leto, a single man who had a small flat in the city and had no time for relationships that lasted more than one night.

At 10:58 pm he left The Rabbit Foots, a pub, knowing each step that would follow. He spent the last half-an-hour planning them with precision while drinking a double whisky with ice. His only distraction was from two young drunks babbling about their luck with women since The Foot became their new local. Tobias hated that kind of talk, as did Simon Leto. Hell the pair of them hated talk in general. Loose lips sink ships and knowing his newest assignment was at the wharf the words held their weight.

Friday 11:00 pm, and he was where he wanted to be, looking down Forfent Avenue holding his briefcase in his right hand. The night was cold, the mist hung, and several street lights were out of function. It was earlier that day, Brian Brown, the electrician from the electrical company who was hired to cut the wrong cable completed his part of the job. He wore persuading overalls and an  I.D card so convincing he could have fooled himself. However, special forces working for the same agency never met one another nor did they know any other job roles which may assist their own. Tobias never knew if he met a convert during his time, but he was smart enough to know when he saw the work of one.
The moonlight cast perfect shadows to navigate the street mostly unseen. 

He needed to walk shy of two-hundred-and-twenty meters to reach his drop off point by 11:02 pm. If the handover went to plan, which Tobias knew it would, Don Tugger and his crew will soon be caged like budgies. A well overdue siege, but the only man trusted to pull off the job had just become available. Tobias Lebwaski was that trust.

At 11:02 pm, he stood outside a boarded-up abandoned house. From the inside pocket of his navy suit jacket he took out a mobile phone which he would dispose of in a bin three streets away where Josh Martin, a bin man would collect the bag and throw it in his dustcart at 11:15 pm.
Tobias typed the number he memorised from his assignment details last night at the safe house and hit dial.

The explosion which followed, ending Tobias Lebwaski’s life at 11:03 pm, was heard several miles away. He was identified by the local police three days later when his right hand was discovered fused with the handle from his briefcase in a garden from the opposite street.

©Xander Panteli 2020

We sow our seeds in fields we know,
And hope our children grow.
We use the tools we have been shown,
And help our children grow.
We cast an eye towards the locust and hope they do not show,
Let our children grow.

Cracks upon our land do show,
We hope our children grow.
Nurture seeds the way we know,
We help our children grow.
We cast an eye towards the defending scarecrow,
Protect our children grow.

The locust swarm we did not know,
Protect our seedlings withered row.
Nets and fleece shield the bitter snow,
We use the tools in which we know,
We hope our children grow.

Our fields have changed our seeds remain,
But more they need to grow.
Our tools duly rust, in scarecrow we must trust,
The old no longer grow.
Wells dry hopeless, signs of locust,
I hope our children grow.
The rake, the plough, the fork, the hoe,
The fields, the tools we used to know,
No longer help our children grow.
Will the locust go? Can we scare the crow?
Our children they must grow.
For the field we used to know,
Let swarm the locust, murder of crow,

Let our children grow.

-Xander Panteli

How it all began.

With my first novel, currently with beta readers to find if there are any major plot holes, pacing issues and no no’s, I thought now is a good time to give a quick backstory on how this novel came to be before I share all the juicy bits.

I started writing this adventure sixteen-years ago. It was a strange time in my life. I was angry, upset and had suppressed many more emotions from the passing over of a much loved one.

How I usually expressed myself was through poetry, but this time something was different.

When I eventually sat down, and those who know me are aware how difficult this is, for me to actually sit, a “What if?” question popped into my head. I assume it came from the whirlwind of emotions and experiences I was having at the time. But the question was along the lines of ‘What if A had to do B otherwise it would result in E?’ (not giving away spoilers!) And then whoosh.

I clacked away at the keyboard like Jessica Fletcher at her typewriter smashing out the next murder she wrote mystery, desperate to discover the answer to my what-if question. 

When I eventually stopped, I was blown away.

I discovered two things that day. One, I was a Pantzer, a writer who writes by the seat of their pants, but that held no interest to me at that time as I have only recently discovered that is my style. But more mind-blowing was the second thing. I had my first chapter staring back at me.

Winston was born.

So now, not only did I know how the story would end, I then knew how it all began. What I didn’t know was how my characters got to the end. Seriously, how do they? The only way to find out is to write, and I couldn’t wait.

But something got in the way. Life.

I never finished the journey, but not a day passed (maybe one or two) where I hadn’t had some thought about these characters and their journey. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to discover their journey? Or perhaps other things needed my attention than my story?

However, my mind never stopped ticking. I wrote beginnings to several other novels, a few short stories, children’s rhyming books, poems and more in-between. 

Then came the start of 2019, and four young bouncing boys later, I decided enough is enough. I’m getting older, I’m wasting time, and I have to finish a novel; at least one of them. The desire inside was burning, and so I heeded the call, again.

I put my hand into my bucket-load of stories, and before I had a chance to pull one out, Winston slapped me across the face.

I had to find out how Winston and his friends got to the end.

Every day since early January 2019 I have found time to write, even if it is only for five minutes at night after the kids are asleep, or five minutes at the crack of dawn when the kids are still sleeping. Crazy, I know however I won’t make an excuse not to write anymore, and what happened during the year which passed, I did not expect at all.

The Wand of Neverfail grew from a single novel, into an epic saga. And soon you will be able to enjoy the first novel of this story I have to tell.

Until my next update on the series, and as always, thanks for reading.

So, how should I begin?
How I always do, write whatever words come to my head while staring at my keyboard because I still can’t touch type after all these years.

But what I want to talk about is my journey so far, learning what the industry calls “The Craft”.

For me, Craft is the perfect choice of word. You could easily slip witch in front of it. Why? Because at times, you feel possessed once involved crafting out of a story. I could say calling it witchcraft is okay because you don’t do anything evil, wicked or sinister – but I would be lying. I’ve sent many characters up a thorn riddled tree, pummelled them with stones, slid them back down into a crocodile pit but made them a better person for it. Such is the way of a heroes journey.

But more of my journey. The grind, is real.

Something I would like to debunk very early on is that being an author, whether it be published, self-published or in the making is easy and glamorous. Though being a writer is exciting, It’s frustrating, exhausting, soul-draining and demands your attention, all the time.

So why the heck am I doing it?

Well, here is one piece of advice that has stuck with me since taking my writing to the next step.

“Write a million words–the absolute best you can write, then throw it all away and bravely turn your back on what you have written. At that point, you’re ready to begin.”

David Eddings

The only part I do not agree with is throwing it away. I’m not that brave. But it is from my own experience this disagreement derives. If I was only allowed to give one piece of advice to a writer, other than to just write, as it goes hand-in-hand with writing a million words, It would be never to delete your work, no matter how cringe it is. I have found traces of gold and glitter in my most hideous of word combinations because once you start understanding the craft, you see life, even in dead things.

But to write one million words, I.Get.This!

I myself have written well over a million words in my time (long time). However, that doesn’t give me a golden ticket to success, or the privilege to say I can write better than you can. I have to write harder than ever and continue to do so because I am still learning… daily. However, It does remind me I have been doing something I genuinely love since a very young age;

To write.

Writing has helped me express myself in ways I couldn’t if conversing face to face. Though I do enjoy face-to-face combat, I still find it better to get my head cleared of the weird when I’m writing a story or spamming my thoughts endlessly. I am my only audience, judge and executioner – whatever the term is – and it also allows me to rethink and edit, whereas face-to-face, you don’t get that luxury. What you say is what you get, the first draft only I’m afraid, and as any writer would tell you, you don’t even share your first draft with your worst enemy; it’s torturous!

However, I am now at the stage where I want to share my stories with others and not just myself. I want others to know of my gruelling journey, self-doubting and struggling, and that’s on good days. But the voice inside my head wants to be heard, in the form of storytelling. I’m learning the craft! I’m crafting! I’m at one with craft.

So for now, I hope you have enjoyed reading this first sneak peek about myself. There will be plenty of others, but for now, this should suffice. I think in my next thought-to-keyboard-to-blog spam I will talk about why I love the quote:

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

However, having a young family of four boys who are livelier than a box of crickets, my writing time, for now, is minimal. I have to weigh up time investment wisely, whether it is here on the website or thrashing at my novels and short stories. However, I always find time by sacrificing something I feel wastes time. I’d rather write one word a day than none. That way, in a week I will have a sentence, a paragraph in a month and perhaps a chapter in a year.

So until my next post and, as always…
Thanks for reading.