Many thanks to Emily and Dome Press for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Adrian Magson and ‘Rocco and the Price of Lies’. For my stop on the tour today, I am delighted to share an extract from the book. Hope you enjoy!
Murder by suicide? Three senior government officials – a judge, a politician, and an ex-police chief – are all dead by their own hands. Inspector Lucas Rocco finds himself once more working for the Interior Ministry: undertaking an investigation meant to avoid a government scandal and ignoring unpalatable truths. He’s soon convinced that a common denominator must be at play… Rocco uncovers top-level fraud, theft and deception. And when he narrowly survives an attempt on his life, he realises that he has nothing to lose by bringing the truth out into the open – whatever the risks.
Peretz was several kilometres away and merging into the traffic heading towards the city before he finally felt fate wasn’t about to clamp a heavy hand on his shoulder. Anything to do with government officials made him nervous. Like his peers, he believed that such people were always watchful and skilled at spotting those with ill intent. Blending in was a skill he’d cultivated many years ago which came as naturally to him as it did game birds in deep cover, but even game birds got caught. He had two further deliveries to make, neither of them in the immediate area, and the sooner he was away from each one, and had reported the jobs completed successfully, the sooner he could relax.
He spotted a café up ahead, on the edge of a small industrial area. It looked quiet enough and he slid into a car park at the rear, tucking the van between a beer truck and a weather-beaten garage with rusted sheet-metal sides. He’d seen no signs of police vehicles in the area, but there was no point in tempting providence by leaving the van out in the open.
The café was quiet save for four men in work clothes hunched over rolls and large cups of coffee, and a delivery driver in a grey uniform exchanging paperwork with the owner. The air smelled of stale beer, tobacco, fresh coffee and sweat-stained clothes, an aroma familiar to Peretz from his regular haunts. He caught the eye of the owner, ordered a coffee and made a signal with one hand for the use of the telephone. The owner pointed to a short hallway at the rear of the room and moved towards the coffee machine, scooping up a cup on the way.
Peretz found the phone on the wall above a shelf holding a clutch of directories. He dialled a number and waited. It rang three times before being picked up.
‘It’s done.’ His instinct was to say more, that he’d completed the delivery before the man left for the office as instructed and had done so without incident. But it wouldn’t be well received. The man he was calling had little time for unnecessary words. All he needed to know was that his orders had been followed to the letter. No more, no less.
‘Good. Call me only when you’ve completed the next two, not before. Space them out, as I instructed.’ A click ended the call.
Peretz replaced the phone, feeling a shiver of relief down his back. It was ridiculous at his age, feeling like a kid in front of an angry headmaster. But he knew others in the man’s employ felt the same.
The soft voice had carried no hint of threat, but it was there all the same, lurking beneath the surface like a hungry pike. They were paid well, but the employees who did not measure up were never forgiven and quickly removed.
He dropped the phone back on its rest and returned to the bar, where he drank his coffee, paid up and left. By the time he got back in the van the owner would have trouble remembering anything about him.
In the van, he opened the flap of the mailbag, revealing two more white envelopes just like the first. He had twenty-four hours in which to deliver them. He knew nothing of the contents, but he was familiar enough with the man he’d just spoken with to know that the recipient of this first letter was probably finding his morning omelette curdling in his stomach like a round of cheap Camembert.