3 страница

‘I have a problem here, don’t I, Mr Lang?’

‘Do you?’

‘Yes, I rather think I do,’ he said. He let go of the lip, and it hung there in a bulbous pout, as if it didn’t want to go back to its original shape. ‘Either you are an assassin, or someone is trying to make you look like one. The problem is that every piece of evidence I have applies equally well to both possibilities. It really is very difficult.’

I shrugged.

‘That must be why they gave you such a big desk,’ I said. Eventually they had 3 страница to let me go. For whatever reason, they didn’t want to involve the police with an illegal firearm charge, and the Ministry of Defence is not, so far as I know, equipped with its own detention cells.

O’Neal asked me for my passport, and before I could spin a yarn about having lost it in the tumble-dryer, Solomon produced it from his hip-pocket. I was told to remain contactable, and to let them know if I received any further approaches from strange men. There wasn’t much I could do but agree.

As I left 3 страница the building and strolled through St James’s Park in some rare April sunshine, I tried to work out whether I felt any different, knowing that Rayner had only been trying to do his job. I also wondered why I hadn’t known that he was Woolf’s bodyguard. Or even that he had one.

But much, much more to the point, why hadn’t Woolf’s daughter?


God and the doctor we like adore

But only when in danger, not before;


The truth is I was feeling sorry for myself.

I’m used to being broke, and unemployment 3 страница is more than a nodding acquaintance. I’ve been left by women I loved, and had some pretty fierce toothache in my time. But somehow, none of these things quite compares with the feeling that the world is against you.

I started to think of friends I could lean on for some help, but, as always happened when I attempted this kind of social audit, I realised that far too many of them were abroad, dead, married to people who disapproved of me, or weren’t really my friends, now that I came to think of it 3 страница.

Which is why I found myself in a phone box on Piccadilly, asking for Paulie.

‘I’m afraid he’s in court at the moment,’ said a voice. ‘May I take a message?’

‘Tell him it’s Thomas Lang, and if he’s not there to buy me lunch at Simpson’s on the Strand at one o’clock sharp, his legal career is over.’

‘Legal career . . . over,’ recited the clerk. ‘I shall give him that message when he rings in, Mr Lang. Good morning.’ Paulie, full name Paul Lee, and I had an unusual relationship.

It was unusual in 3 страница that we saw each other every couple of months, in a purely social way - pubs, dinner, theatre, opera, which Paulie loved - and yet we both freely admitted that we had not the slightest liking for each other. Not a shred. If our feelings had run as strong as hatred, then you might interpret that as some twisted expression of affection. But we didn’t hate each other. We just didn’t like each other, that’s all.

I found Paulie an ambitious, greedy prig, and he found me lazy, unreliable, and a slob. The only positive thing you 3 страница could say about our ‘friendship’ was that it was mutual. We would meet, pass an hour or so in each other’s company, and then part with that all-important ‘there but for the grace of God’ sensation in precisely equal measures. And in exchange for giving me fifty quids-worth of roast beef and claret, Paulie admitted that he got exactly fifty quids-worth of superior feeling, paying for my lunch.

I had to ask to borrow a tie from the maitre d’hôtel, and he punished me for it by giving me the choice between a purple 3 страница one and a purple one, but at twelve forty-five I was sitting at a table in Simpson’s, melting some of the unpleasantness of the morning in a large vodka and tonic. A lot of the other diners were American, which explained why the joints of beef were selling faster than the joints of lamb. Americans have never really caught on to the idea of eating sheep. I think they think it’s cissy.

Paulie arrived bang on one, but I knew he’d apologise for being late.

‘Sorry I’m late,’ he said. ‘What’s that you 3 страница’ve got there? Vodka? Gimme one of those.’

The waiter coasted away, and Paulie looked round the room, stroking his tie down the front of his shirt and shooting his chin out from time to time to ease the pressure of his collar on the folds of his neck. As always, his hair was fluffy and squeaky clean. He claimed this went down well with juries, but for as long as I’d known him, love of hair had always been a weakness with Paulie. In truth he was not physically blessed, but as a consolation for 3 страница his short, round, runty body, God had given him a fine head of hair which he would probably keep, in varying shades, until he was eighty.

‘Cheers Paulie,’ I said, and threw back some vodka.

‘Hiya. How’s things?’ Paulie never looked at you when he spoke. You could be standing with your back to a brick wall, he would still look over your shoulder.

‘Fine, fine,’ I said. ‘You?’

‘Got the bugger off, after all that.’ He shook his head, wonderingly. A man constantly amazed by his own abilities. ‘I didn’t know you did buggery cases, Paulie 3 страница.’

He didn’t smile. Paulie only really smiled at weekends. ‘Nah,’ he said. ‘The bloke I told you about. Beat his nephew to death with a garden spade. Got him off.’

‘But you said he’d done it.’

‘He had.’

‘So how did you manage that?’

‘I lied like fuck,’ he said. ‘What are you having?’

We swapped career progress as we waited for the soup, with every one of Paulie’s triumphs boring me, and every one of my failures delighting him. He asked me if I was all right for money, although we both knew he hadn’t 3 страница the slightest intention of doing anything about it if I wasn’t. And I asked him about his holidays, past and future. Paulie set a lot of store by holidays.

‘Group of us are hiring this boat in the Med. Scuba diving, windsurfing, you name it. Cordon bleu cook, everything.’

‘Sail or motor?’

‘Sail.’ He frowned for a moment, and suddenly looked twenty years older. ‘Although, come to think of it, it’s probably got a motor. But there’s a crew who do all that stuff. You getting a holiday?’

‘Hadn’t thought about it,’ I said 3 страница.

‘Well, you’re always on holiday, aren’t you? Got nothing to take a holiday from.’

‘Nicely put, Paulie.’

‘Well, have you? Since the army, what have you done?’

‘Consultancy work.’

‘Consult my arse.’

‘Don’t think I could afford it, Paulie.’

‘Yeah, well. Let’s ask our catering consultant what the fuck’s happened to the soup.’

As we looked round for the waiter, I saw my followers. Two men, sitting at a table by the door, drinking mineral water and turning away as soon as I looked towards them. The older one looked as if he’d been designed by 3 страница the same architect that had done Solomon, and the younger one was trying to head in that direction. They both seemed solid, and for the time being I was happy enough to have them around. After the soup arrived, and Paulie had tasted it, and judged it to be just about acceptable, I shifted my chair round the table and leaned towards him. I hadn’t actually planned on picking his brains, because, to be honest, they weren’t properly ripe yet. But I couldn’t see that I had anything to lose by it.

‘Does 3 страница the name Woolf mean anything to you, Paulie?’

‘Person or company?’

‘Person,’ I said. ‘American, I think. Businessman.’

‘What’s he done? Drink-driving? I don’t do that kind of thing now. And if I do, it’s for a sack of money.’

‘As far as I know, he hasn’t done anything,’ I said. ‘Just wondered if you’d heard of him. Game Parker is the company.’

Paulie shrugged and ripped a bread roll to pieces. ‘I could find out for you. What’s it for?’

‘About a job,’ I said. ‘I turned it down, but I’m 3 страница just curious.’

He nodded, and pushed some bread into his face. ‘I put you up for a job a couple of months ago.’

I stopped my soup spoon half-way from bowl to mouth. It was unlike Paulie to take any sort of hand in my life, never mind a helping one.

‘What sort of job?’

‘Canadian bloke. Looking for someone to do some strong arm stuff. Bodyguard, that kind of thing.’

‘What was his name?’

‘Can’t remember. Began with J, I think.’


‘McCluskey doesn’t begin with a J now, does it? No, it was Joseph, Jacob, something 3 страница like that.’ He quickly gave up trying to remember. ‘Did he get in touch?’


‘Pity. Thought I’d sold him on the idea.’

‘And you gave him my name?’

‘No, I gave him your fucking shoe size. Course I gave him your name. Well, not straight away. I put him on to some private dicks we use a bit. They’ve got some big blokes who do bodyguard stuff, but he didn’t take to them. Wanted someone upmarket. Ex-army, he said. You were the only person I could think of. Apart from Andy Hick, but 3 страница he’s earning two hundred grand a year in a merchant bank.’

‘I’m touched, Paulie.’

‘You’re welcome.’

‘How did you meet him?’

‘He’d come to see Toffee, and I got roped in.’

‘Toffee being a person?’

‘Spencer. The guv’nor. Calls himself Toffee. Don’t know why. Something to do with golf. Teeing-off, maybe.’

I thought for a while.

‘You don’t know what he was seeing Spencer about?’

‘Who says I don’t?’

‘Do you?’


Paulie had fixed his gaze somewhere behind my head and I turned to see what he was doing with 3 страница it. The two men at the door were standing now. The older one said something to the maitre d’, who aimed a waiter in the direction of our table. A few of the other lunchers watched. ‘Mr Lang?’

‘I’m Lang.’

‘Phone call for you, sir.’

I shrugged at Paulie, who was now licking his finger and picking crumbs off the tablecloth.

By the time I reached the door, the younger of the two followers had disappeared. I tried to catch the eye of the older one, but he was studying a nameless print on the wall. I 3 страница picked up the phone.

‘Master,’ said Solomon, ‘all is not well in the state of Denmark.’

‘Oh, what a shame,’ I said. ‘And things were going so nicely before.’

Solomon started to answer but there was a click and a bang, and O’Neal’s reedy tones came on the line.

‘Lang, is that you?’

‘Yup,’ I said.

‘The girl, Lang. Young woman, I should say. Have you any idea where she might be at this moment?’

I laughed.

‘You’re asking me where she is?’

‘Indeed I am. We are having problems locating her.’ I glanced at the 3 страница follower, still staring at the print.

‘Sadly, Mr O’Neal, I can’t help you,’ I said. ‘You see, I don’t have a staff of nine thousand and a budget of twenty million pounds with which to find people and keep track of them. Tell you what though, you might try the security people at the Ministry of Defence. They’re supposed to be very good at this kind of thing.’

But he’d hung up half-way through the word ‘Defence’.

I left Paulie to pay the bill, and hopped on a bus to Holland Park. I wanted 3 страница to see what kind of a mess O’Neal’s lot had made of my flat, and also to see if I’d had any more approaches from Canadian arms dealers with Old Testament names.

Solomon’s followers got on to the bus with me, and peered out of the windows as if it was their first visit to London. When we got to Notting Hill, I leaned over to them.

‘You may as well get off with me,’ I said. ‘Save yourselves having to run back from the next stop.’ The older one looked away 3 страница, but the younger one grinned. In the event, we all got off together, and they hung around on the other side of the street while I let myself back into the flat.

I’d have known that the place had been searched without being told. I hadn’t exactly expected them to change the sheets and run a hoover over the place, but I thought they might have left it in better shape than this. None of the furniture was in the right place, the few paintings I had were skewed, and the books on the shelves were in a pathetically different 3 страница order. They’d even put a different CD in the stereo. Or maybe they just felt that Professor Longhair was better flat-searching music.

I didn’t bother moving things back to how they were. Instead, I walked through into the kitchen, flicked on the kettle and said in a loud voice, ‘Tea or coffee?’

There was a faint rustle from the bedroom. ‘Or do you fancy a Coke?’

I kept my back to the door while the kettle wheezed its way towards boiling, but I still heard her as she moved into the kitchen doorway 3 страница. I dumped some coffee granules into a mug and turned round.

Instead of the silk dressing-gown, Sarah Woolf was currently filling a faded pair of jeans and a dark-grey cotton polo-neck shirt. Her hair was up, tied loosely back in a way that takes some women five seconds, and others five days. And as a colour-matching accessory to the shirt, she wore a Walther TPH .22 automatic in her right hand.

The TPH is a pretty little thing. It has a straight blowback action, a six-round box magazine and two-and-a-quarter­-inch barrel 3 страница. It’s also utterly useless as a firearm, because unless you can guarantee hitting either the heart or the brain first time, you’re only going to annoy the person you’re shooting at. For most people, a wet mackerel is the better choice of weapon.

‘Well, Mr Fincham,’ she said, ‘how did you know I was here?’ She sounded the way she looked.

‘Fleur de Fleurs,’ I said. ‘I gave some to my cleaning lady last Christmas but I know she doesn’t use it. Had to be you.’ She threw a sceptically-raised eyebrow over the flat.

‘You have a 3 страница cleaning lady?’

‘Yeah, I know,’ I said. ‘Bless her. She’s knocking on a bit. Arthritis. She doesn’t clean anything below the knee or above the shoulder. I try to get all my dirty stuff at waist height, but sometimes. . .’ I smiled. She didn’t smile back. ‘If it comes to that, how did you get in here?’

‘Wasn’t locked,’ she said.

I shook my head in disgust.

‘Well that is frankly shoddy. I’m going to have to write to my MP.’


‘This place,’ I said, ‘was searched this morning by members of the British 3 страница Security Services. Professionals, trained at the taxpayers’ expense, and they can’t even be bothered to lock the door when they’re done. What sort of service do you call that? I’ve only got Diet Coke. That okay?’

The gun was still pointing in my general direction, but it hadn’t followed me to the fridge.

‘What were they looking for?’ She was staring out of the window now. She really did look like she’d had a hell of a morning.

‘Beats me,’ I said. ‘I’ve got a cheesecloth shirt in the bottom 3 страница of my cupboard. Maybe that’s an offence against the realm now’

‘Did they find a gun?’ She still wasn’t looking at me. The kettle clicked and I poured some hot water into the mug. ‘Yes, they did.’

‘The gun you were going to use to kill my father.’

I didn’t turn round. Just kept on with my coffee-making. ‘There is no such gun,’ I said. ‘The gun they found was put here by someone else so it would look as if I was going to use it to kill your father.’

‘Well, it worked.’ Now she was looking 3 страница straight at me. And so was the .22. But I’ve always prided myself on the froidness of my sang, so I just poured milk into the coffee and lit a cigarette. That made her angry.

‘Cocky son-of-a-bitch, aren’t you?’

‘Not for me to say. My mother loves me.’

‘Yeah? Is that a reason for me not to shoot you?’

I’d hoped she wouldn’t mention guns, or shooting, as even the British Ministry of Defence could afford to bug a room properly, but since she’d raised the subject I could hardly ignore 3 страница it.

‘Can I just say something before you fire that thing?’

‘Go ahead.’

‘If I meant to use a gun to kill your father, why didn’t I have it with me last night, when I came to your house?’

‘Maybe you did.’

I paused and took a sip of coffee.

‘Good answer,’ I said. ‘All right, if I had it with me last night, why didn’t I use it on Rayner when he was breaking my arm?’

‘Maybe you tried to. Maybe that’s why he was breaking your arm.’

For heaven’s sake, this 3 страница woman was tiring me out. ‘Another good answer. All right, tell me this. Who told you that they’d found a gun here?’

‘The police.’

‘Nope,’ I said. ‘They may have said they were the police, but they weren’t.’

I’d been thinking of jumping her, maybe throwing the coffee first, but there wasn’t much point now. Over her shoulder, I could see Solomon’s two followers moving slowly through the sitting-room, the older one holding a large revolver out in front of him in a two-handed grip, the younger one just smiling. I decided to 3 страница let the wheels of justice do some grinding.

‘It doesn’t matter who told me,’ said Sarah.

‘On the contrary, I think it matters a lot. If a salesman tells you that a washing machine’s great, that’s one thing. But if the Archbishop of Canterbury tells you it’s great, and that it removes dirt even at low temperatures, that’s quite different.’

‘What are you . . .’

She heard them when they were only a couple of feet away, and as she turned, the younger one grabbed her wrist and turned it down and outwards in a highly competent manner 3 страница. She gave out a short yelp, and the gun slid from her hand.

I picked it up and passed it, butt first, to the older follower. Keen to show what a good boy I was really, if only the world would understand.

By the time O’Neal and Solomon arrived, Sarah and I were comfortably plugged into the sofa, with the two followers arranged round the door, and none of us making much in the way of conversation. With O’Neal bustling about the place, there suddenly seemed to be an awful lot of people in the 3 страница flat. I offered to nip out and get a cake, but O’Neal showed me his fiercest ‘the defence of the Western world is on my shoulders’ expression, so we all went quiet and stared at our hands.

After some whispering with the followers, who then quietly withdrew, O’Neal paced this way and that, picking things up and curling his lip at them. He was obviously waiting for something, and it wasn’t in the room or about to come through the door, so I got up and walked across to the phone. It rang as I reached it. Very 3 страница occasionally, life’s like that.

I picked up the receiver.

‘Graduate Studies,’ said a harsh, American voice. ‘Who is this?’

‘That O’Neal?’ There was a spot of anger in the voice now. Not a man you’d ask for a cup of sugar.

‘No, but Mr O’Neal is here,’ I said. ‘Who’s speaking?’

‘Put O’Neal on the goddamn phone, will you?’ said the voice. I turned and saw O’Neal striding towards me, hand outstretched.

‘Go and get some manners somewhere,’ I said, and hung up.

There was a brief silence, and then 3 страница lots of things seemed to happen at once. Solomon was leading me back to the sofa, not very roughly but not very gently either, O’Neal was shouting to the followers, the followers were shouting at each other, and the phone was ringing again.

O’Neal grabbed it and immediately started fiddling with the flex, which didn’t sit well with his previous attempts to convey masterly composure. It was obvious that, in O’Neal’s world, there were many smaller cheeses than the harsh American on the other end of the line.

Solomon shoved me back down next 3 страница to Sarah, who shrank away in disgust. It really is quite something to be hated by so many people in your own home.

O’Neal nodded and yessed for a minute or so, then delicately replaced the receiver. He looked at Sarah.

‘Miss Woolf,’ he said, as politely as he could manage, ‘you are to present yourself to a Mr Russell Barnes at the American Embassy as soon as you can. One of these gentlemen will drive you.’ O’Neal looked away, as if expecting her immediately to jump to her feet and be gone. Sarah stayed where she 3 страница was.

‘Screw you in the ass with an anglepoise lamp,’ she said. I laughed.

As it happens, I was the only one who did, and O’Neal fired off one of his increasingly famous looks in my direction. But Sarah was still glaring at him.

‘I want to know what’s being done about this guy,’ she said. She jerked her head at me, so I thought it best to stop laughing.

‘Mr Lang is our concern, Miss Woolf,’ said O’Neal. ‘You yourself have a responsibility to your State Department, by . . .’

‘You’re not the police, are you?’ she 3 страница said. O’Neal looked uneasy.

‘No, we are not the police,’ he said, carefully.

‘Well I want the police here, and I want this guy arrested for attempted homicide. He tried to kill my father, and for all I know he’s going to try again.’

O’Neal looked at her, then at me, then at Solomon. He seemed to want help from one of us, but I don’t believe he got any.

‘Miss Woolf, I have been authorised to inform you. . .’ He stopped, as if unable to remember whether he really had been authorised, and if 3 страница he had, whether the author had really meant it. He wrinkled his nose for a moment, and decided to press on after all.

‘I have been authorised to inform you that your father is, at this moment, the subject of an investigation by agencies of the United States government, assisted by my own department of the Ministry of Defence.’ This clanged to the floor, and we all just sat there. O’Neal flicked a glance at me. ‘It is in our joint discretion as to whether we charge Mr Lang, or indeed take any other action affecting your 3 страница father or his activities.’

I’m no great reader of the human face, but even I could see that all of this was coming as something of a shock to Sarah. Her face had gone from grey to white.

‘What activities?’ she said. ‘Investigated for what?’ Her voice was strained. O’Neal looked uncomfortable, and I knew he was terrified that she was going to cry.

‘We suspect your father,’ he said eventually, ‘of importing Class A prohibited substances into Europe and North America.’

The room went very quiet, and everybody was watching Sarah. O’Neal cleared his throat 3 страница.

‘Your father is trafficking in drugs, Miss Woolf.’ It was her turn to laugh.


There’s a snake hidden in the grass.


Like all good things, and like all bad things too, it came to an end. The replica Solomons swept Sarah off towards Grosvenor Square in one of their Rovers, and O’Neal ordered a taxi, which took far too long to arrive and gave him more time to sneer at my belongings. The real Solomon stayed behind to wash up the mugs, and then suggested that the two of us put ourselves outside a quantity of warm 3 страница, nourishing beer.

It was only five-thirty, but the pubs were already groaning with young men in suits and misjudged moustaches, sounding off on the state of the world. We managed to find a table in the lounge bar of The Swan With Two Necks, where Solomon made a lavish production out of rootling for change in his pockets. I told him to put it on expenses, and he told me to take it out of my thirty thousand pounds. We tossed a coin, and I lost.

‘Obliged to you for your kindness, master.’

‘Cheers, David.’ We both took 3 страница a long suck, and I lit a cigarette.

I was expecting Solomon to kick off with some observation about the events of the last twenty-four hours, but he seemed happy to just sit and listen while a nearby gang of estate agents discussed car alarm systems. He’d managed to make me feel as if our sitting there was my idea, and I wasn’t having that.



‘Is this social?’


‘You were asked to take me out, weren’t you? Slap me on the back, get me drunk, find out whether I’m sleeping with Princess Margaret?’

It 3 страница annoyed Solomon to hear the Royal family being taken in vain, which was why I’d done it.

‘I’m supposed to stay close, sir,’ he said eventually. ‘I thought it might be more fun if we sat at the same table, that’s all.’ He seemed to think that answered my question.

‘So what’s going on?’ I said. ‘Going on?’

‘David, if you’re going to just sit there, wide-eyed, repeating everything I say as if you’ve lived your whole life in a Wendy house, it’s going to be a pretty 3 страница dull evening.’

There was a pause. ‘Pretty dull evening?’

‘Oh shut up. You know me, David.’

‘Indeed I have that privilege.’

‘I may be many things, but one of the things I am definitely not is an assassin.’

‘Long experience in these matters,’ he took another deep swallow of beer and smacked his lips, ‘has led me to the view, master, that everybody is definitely not an assassin, until they become one.’

I looked at him for a moment. ‘I’m going to swear now, David.’

‘As you wish, sir.’

‘What the fuck is that supposed to mean?’

The 3 страница estate agents had moved on to the subject of women’s breasts, from which they were extracting much humour. Listening to them made me feel about a hundred and forty years old.

‘It’s like dog-owners,’ said Solomon. "‘My dog wouldn’t hurt anyone", they say. Until one day, they find themselves saying "well he’s never done that before".’ He looked at me and saw that I was frowning. ‘What I mean is, nobody can ever really know anybody. Anybody or any dog. Not really know them.’

I banged my glass down hard on the table.

‘Nobody can 3 страница ever know anybody? That’s inspired. You mean in spite of us spending two years practically in each other’s pockets, you don’t know whether I’m capable of killing a man for money?’ I admit I was getting a little upset by this. And I don’t normally get upset.

‘Do you think I am?’ said Solomon. The jolly smile still hung round his mouth.

‘Do I think you could kill a man for money? No, I don’t.’

‘Sure of that?’


‘Then you’re a clot, sir. I’ve killed one man and two women 3 страница.’

I already knew that. I also knew how much it weighed on him.

‘But not for money,’ I said. ‘Not assassination.’

‘I am a servant of the Crown, master. The government pays my mortgage. Whichever way you look at it, and believe me I’ve looked at it lots of ways, the deaths of those three people put bread on my table. Another pint?’

Before I could say anything, he’d taken my glass and headed for the bar.

As I watched him carve a path through the estate agents, I found myself thinking back to the games 3 страница of cowboys and Indians Solomon and I had played together in Belfast.

Happy days, dotted around some miserable months.

It was 1986, and Solomon had been drafted in, along with a dozen others from the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, to supplement a temporarily buggered RUC. He’d quickly proved to be the only one of his group worth the air-ticket, so, at the end of his stint, some extremely hard-to-please Ulstermen had asked him to stay on and try his hand at the loyalist paramilitary target, which he did.

Half-a-mile away, in a couple of rooms 3 страница above the Freedom Travel Agency, I was serving out the last of my eight years in the army on attachment to the snappily-titled GR24, one of the many military intelligence units that used to compete for business in Northern Ireland, and probably still do. My brother officers being almost exclusively Old Etonians, who wore ties in the office and flew to Scottish grouse moors at the weekend, I’d found myself spending more and more time with Solomon, most of it waiting in cars with heaters that didn’t work.

But every now and then we got out 3 страница and did something useful, and in the nine months we were together, I saw Solomon do a lot of brave and extraordinary things. He’d taken three lives, but he’d saved dozens more, mine included. The estate agents were sniggering at his brown raincoat.

‘Woolf’s a bad lot, you know,’ he said.

We were into our third pint, and Solomon had undone his top button. I’d have done the same if I’d had one. The pub was emptier now, as people headed home to wives, or out to cinemas. I lit my too-manyeth cigarette 3 страница of the day.

‘Because of drugs?’

‘Because of drugs.’

‘Anything else?’

‘Does there need to be anything else?’

‘Well Yes.’ I looked across at Solomon. ‘There needs to be something else if all this isn’t going to be taken care of by the Drug Squad. What’s he got to do with your lot? Or is it just that business is slow at the moment, and you’re having to slum it?’

‘I never said a word of this.’

‘Course you didn’t.’

Solomon paused, weighing his words and apparently finding some of them a bit heavy.

‘A very 3 страница rich man, an industrialist, comes to this country and says he wants to invest here. The Department of Trade and Industry give him a glass of sherry and some glossy brochures, and he sets to work. Tells them he’s going to manufacture a range of metal and plastic components and would it be all right if he built half a dozen factories in Scotland and the north-east of England? One or two people at the Board of Trade fall over with the excitement, and offer him two hundred million quid in grants and a residents’ parking permit in 3 страница Chelsea. I’m not sure which is worth more.’

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