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A former Intelligence agent disappears and private detective, Theo Stern, is asked to investigate. A woman is found brutally killed, her neck viciously broken, and MI5 agents threaten Stern, warning him off the case. As an ex-London copper, Stern doesn’t threaten easily, but when he is callously driven off the road and almost killed his resolve is tested to the extreme.
As Stern left the Rogers’ house it started to rain. Not heavy, just a light drizzle, but enough for him to be uncomfortably damp by the time he arrived back at the office. It hadn’t improved his mood.
Cherry looked up expectantly as he entered.
Stern removed the damp coat. “Make some coffee and bring it in, will you?” he instructed curtly as heading for his office. “We’ve got work to do.” He was stopped short by Cherry’s raised hand.
She inclined her head toward his office and held up two fingers.
He got the picture. “Hold the coffee,” he said.
One of the men was standing with his back to the window, his hands held, military style, behind him. He was, Stern guessed, in his mid to late forties. He was tall and upright, probably six-one, six-two, and slender with fair, neatly cut hair. He wore a full-length camel hair topcoat, unbuttoned to reveal a smart grey suit and tie neatly knotted about an immaculate white shirt.
The other man was a thick-necked bull of a man with dark eyes and a shadowed jowl that, Stern guessed, was present however often he shaved. He was younger, probably no more than 35, with dark hair close-cropped to little more than a shadow across his head. He was wearing jeans and a leather jacket over an open-necked shirt. It was difficult to see how tall he was because he was lounging in Stern’s old chair picking at his teeth with a matchstick.
Stern closed the door behind him. He said nothing.
Window man smiled. It was a half-hearted attempt, in truth little more than an obligatory twitch of the lips. “Mr. Stern, I presume,” he said.
Stern nodded, his eyes flicking from one to the other, assessing the situation, instantly ranking window man as the senior. “That’s me.”
“We would like to talk about certain enquiries you’ve recently been making.”
“Oh, yeah? And who are you?”
“Let’s just say we are government officials.”
Stern could feel the adrenalin kicking in. He nodded, tight-lipped. “But I take it you have names?”
Window man shook his head. “At this time I don’t think our names are relevant, Mr. Stern. For you to know them would be of little benefit.”
The adrenalin pumped a further notch. “I disagree,” Stern growled. “Because, you see, I have to know how to address your friend here when I tell him to get his fat backside out of my chair.”
The man in the chair sat bolt upright, his face paling. He looked toward window man who after tense seconds nodded his instruction. The man reluctantly eased himself out of the chair, his lips twisted in obvious annoyance.
Stern made his way around the desk and sat. He nodded toward the two visitors’ chairs permanently placed in front of the desk. “Now gentlemen,” he said leaning back. “You may have a seat or you may stand, whichever you choose.”
Window man skirted the desk and sat down. His partner crossed the office and stood sullenly, arms folded, his back to the door.
Seated man, now confirmed as the senior of the two, studied Stern across the desk for some moments. “There is little need for aggression, Mr. Stern,” he said finally. “We are here only to collect some information and offer advice. We are aware of your distinguished past and your reputation. You have nothing to prove to us.”
Arrogant bastard. Stern could feel his heart racing, the anger pounding in his brain. He hoped his voice didn’t reflect it. “Oh, I know I’ve nothing to prove,” he said quietly. “I’m also well aware that, to you people, neither my distinguished past, such as it is, or my reputation count for squat. But as a common citizen of this so called democratic country, I demand the respect to which I am entitled. Coming in here, commandeering my private space and refusing to identify yourselves is little short of trespass. It is also devoid of all respect and is the type of action that engenders the aggression you appear to object to.”
A.W. Lambert was born and raised in south London, England. After completing his National Military Service he embarked on an engineering career in the British aircraft industry where he also became a qualified pilot. In 1992 he retired from industry to follow his two main passions: the playing of his favourite music, traditional New Orleans Jazz and Creative Writing. After studying with The Writer’s Bureau, he built experience with success in magazine article and short story writing before moving to the field of full length Action/ Adventure. A Treacherous Past is his first published novel. He lives with his wife in North Norfolk, England.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 388
Paper Weight (lb): 16.1
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