Read Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger Online

Authors: Stella Rimington

Tags: #Mystery, #Espionage, #England, #Memoir

Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger (22 page)

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
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‘He certainly didn’t have my permission to do that.’

‘So you say,’ Binding replied infuriatingly. ‘That Judith Spratt didn’t tell me what was going on is something that I’ll want to pursue.’

When Liz started to protest at the unfairness of this, Binding waved a dismissive hand. ‘Later. There’ll be plenty of time for post-mortems. Right now we need to do something. I want to talk to the police and put out an all-persons alert.’

‘For Dave? Or for Milraud?’

He looked momentarily flustered. ‘For Dave, of course.’

Liz turned away. What was he proposing to say?
Have You Seen This Man? He’s an MI5 Officer and We Can’t Find Him.
This was ludicrous. She decided to ignore it and said, ‘I’ve been thinking over the leads we have.’

‘None that I can see.’

‘That’s not entirely true. Remember, our informant Brown Fox said Seamus Piggott wants to kill policemen and an MI5 officer. Jimmy Fergus got shot three days ago and now Dave’s disappeared. We know he went to Milraud’s shop and we’re pretty sure from what Brown Fox told Dave that Milraud is working in some way with Piggott, probably supplying him with arms. It might all be coincidence, but that’s what we’ve got to go on right now. If we can link the attack on Fergus to Piggott, that will let us grab Piggott, assuming we can find him, and that should lead us to Milraud. And with luck to Dave.’

He looked at her as he considered what she said. ‘It’s a tenuous chain you’re building there.’ But he said this quietly, always a good sign with him.

‘I know it is. But we’ve got to start somewhere. I want to step up the investigation now. I want to put telephone intercepts on Milraud’s shop and we need to identify that woman who works there and get her communications intercepted too. Also all the communications to and from the Fraternity offices need to be on check, and I’m wondering if we shouldn’t ask the police to go back to Piggott’s place and go in. As you said before, Michael, time is of the essence.’

Binding sat down heavily. There was a pause. Eventually, ‘You’re right,’ he conceded. ‘We need to work on the assumption that Dave has been taken by someone. We should waste no more time. We’d better get that investigative team over.’

‘No. We do need reinforcement but not an investigative team. I still think that would cause delay and confusion. What I want is to get Peggy Kinsolving from counter espionage over here. If there is anything to find out to connect all this, she’ll do it.’

‘Well, if that’s what you want and if you can persuade Charles Wetherby to release her, then go ahead.’

So Liz now had two phone calls to make and she realised that she was looking forward to one much more than the other. And she realised with some surprise that her preference was not in the order she would have expected.

First she rang Charles Wetherby in London.

‘Hello, Liz. I’m glad you rang. How are you all over there? We’re very concerned about Dave. Is there any news? Is there anything I can do to help?’

On any other occasion Liz would have taken the opportunity to tell Charles everything that had happened and ask for his advice. But now something was stopping her. She seemed no longer to feel the old closeness to him, the unspoken understanding that they had had in the past. She didn’t want to prolong the conversation, so she just asked if she could borrow Peggy Kinsolving to help with the case. When Charles readily agreed, she rang off.

Why had she done that? It seemed that rather than getting closer, as she had expected they would after Joanne’s death, they had got further apart. She knew what it was, though she didn’t want to dwell on it. It wasn’t just that they were separated by the Irish Sea. It was the thought of Alison, his neighbour, and in particular their ‘friendship’ as her mother had tactfully called it.

But that wasn’t all. She had cut short the conversation with Charles because she wanted to get on with her next call. This was the one she was looking forward to.

‘Ah, Liz, how nice to hear from you.’ The warm Parisian tones were what she wanted to hear.

‘Martin, I need your help. Or at least your advice. I’m trying to find our friend Milraud, but he seems to have disappeared.’ She explained how they could find no trace of the arms dealer having left Northern Ireland.

‘That is a little puzzling, but perhaps he took another way back – a private plane even. Or he’s taken a holiday somewhere in Ireland. Is this urgent?’

‘It is, I’m afraid. One of my colleagues has disappeared. He had an appointment with Milraud at his shop here but he hasn’t been seen since.’

‘When was this?’

‘Yesterday.’ She heard his small exclamation of surprise, and she went on, ‘I know, it hasn’t been very long. But our man isn’t one to take off like this. Our observations had confirmed our suspicions about your old colleague. He was here to do business with Seamus Piggott, the American I told you about.’

‘I remember. And Milraud’s disappearance is connected in some way, no?’

‘Yes,’ she said, relieved that Seurat understood. ‘We have a source who claims that Piggott wants to kill a policeman and an MI5 officer.’

‘Could that not be dramatic on your informant’s part? You know they always want to have something to sell.’

‘Not in this case, I think. From what I’ve learned about Piggott’s background, he’s looking for revenge for something that happened in the past. And just before I came to Paris, a senior policeman was shot outside his own house – he survived, but they were definitely trying to kill him.’

‘Liz, if it’s any consolation, Milraud is not a murderer. Remember, I know the man well. It’s not that I view him through – how do you say it? Rosy spectacles?’

‘That’ll do,’ said Liz with a laugh.

‘It’s rather that I know he’s too ambitious to risk spending the rest of his life rotting in prison. For Milraud, his business, legitimate or not, would always come before revenge. In that sense, he’s too professional to kill your man.’

‘I’m glad to hear that. The problem is, we can’t find Piggott either. And he may not have Milraud’s scruples.’

‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

‘I was hoping you might be able to locate Milraud.’

Seurat paused. ‘Hmm. As you know, we have our own interest in Milraud, though we’ve never had enough evidence to devote much time to him. We haven’t asked our colleagues in the DCRI to place him under any kind of surveillance. What I can do is speak with Isabelle in DCRI – you met her, yes?’

‘Of course.’ Mme Florian, the woman in jeans whom she and Bruno had visited in the office near the Eiffel Tower.

‘I would ask her as a matter of urgency to discover if Milraud has returned to Toulon. If not, I will also ask her to try and find out if someone there knows where he is.’

‘That would be very helpful, Martin.’

‘It may not help very much at all. But it’s at least a start.’

36

 

‘That’s Dave!’ Judith exclaimed. They were huddled around a monitor in Michael Binding’s office. It was ten in the evening and a pile of pizzas lay in their boxes untouched on a table in the corner.

 

Dave was easily recognised from his familiar loping stride as he strolled along the shopping centre’s main walkway. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry. The time on the screen was one-forty-eight, so there were twelve minutes to go before, according to the shop woman, he had arrived at Milraud’s establishment. The features were fuzzy and the clothes unfamiliar – Liz didn’t think she’d ever seen Dave in a blazer – but there was no mistaking his walk. It was unexpectedly upsetting to see him there, striding confidently along to … to what?

The tape was a composite of all the relevant segments located by A4, after a careful search through God only knew how many hundreds of hours of CCTV film. As Dave disappeared from view along the long row of shop fronts, he suddenly reappeared crossing a concrete courtyard full of shoppers. The time on the screen was one-fifty-five. The figure walked quickly across the small square, then reappeared on a broad street lined by what looked like light-coloured brick office buildings. It was less busy here, and Dave was easy to pick out, until he turned left at a corner and disappeared from the screen.

‘That’s Milraud’s street,’ said Judith. ‘Look, it wasn’t quite two o’clock when Dave went down it. That confirms what the woman in the shop said. But none of these cameras show him returning. We’ve checked others that cover the opposite end of Milraud’s street, and there’s no sign of him on those either. So where did he go?’

Binding was unusually quiet. He had changed his clothes at some point during the day, and was now back in his quasi-military garb – elbow-patched khaki sweater, corduroys in the curious shade of pink, and desert boots.

Liz asked, ‘Do we know how he travelled there?’

Binding gave her a caustic look. ‘On foot, obviously. What do you think we’ve just been watching?’

She looked at Judith, who raised an eyebrow. Binding’s mood had darkened; his earlier anxiety was giving way to anger. Liz said calmly, ‘I meant, how did he get to the shopping centre? Public transport?’

Judith shook her head. ‘We’re pretty sure he drove. His car’s not at his flat.’

‘What’s your point, Liz?’ asked Binding.

‘If he drove, he must have parked somewhere. If we find the car, we’ll know he didn’t come back.’

Binding’s silence seemed assent. Liz said, ‘So, since we first see him at the shopping centre, I suggest we check the car park there.’

And twenty minutes later Maureen Hayes and Mike Callaghan located the car, a Peugeot 305 from the car pool, which Dave had been driving for the past two weeks. It was on the upper level of the shopping centre car park, at one end, behind a pillar.

They approached it cautiously, and Callaghan lay down on the hard concrete and peered underneath with a mirror and a torch. When he stood up, dusting his hands, and gave Maureen the nod, she opened the passenger door with the reserve key.

The inside was empty, except for a street map of Belfast lying on the driver’s seat, and a half-drunk bottle of water.

By the time they phoned back with news of their discovery the meeting in Binding’s office had broken up and Liz was sitting alone in her own office. She asked for the car to be brought back to the A4 garage. As she put down the phone she reflected that it was now overwhelmingly clear that Dave hadn’t gone AWOL, not that she had ever believed he had. It was always extremely unlikely that an upset in his personal life would have sent his professional conduct off the rails. Something bad had happened to Dave, and she was trying not to assume the worst.

Ten minutes later she and Judith reconvened with Michael Binding in his office. It was almost midnight now, and Binding stifled a yawn as Liz reported on A4’s discovery. Outside the wind had picked up, and the curtains at the office windows were moving slightly in the draught.

‘I think he’s been taken,’ said Binding, and Liz just nodded in agreement. ‘It seems the only possible explanation. I’ll tell DG in the morning.’ He looked accusingly at Liz. ‘Then he will want to send a team over.’

‘Perhaps,’ said Liz, unperturbed. ‘In any case, Charles has agreed to send Peggy Kinsolving. She’s coming tomorrow.’ She added, ‘Have we got a press officer here?’

‘Of course,’ said Binding, as if she’d challenged his competence. ‘But why are you talking about press officers? The last thing I want to do is talk to the press.’

‘I know that, Michael. The problem is that the press may want to talk with you. Chances are they won’t hear anything, but it’s not something you can count on. As we broaden the investigation, knowledge of Dave’s disappearance will inevitably get to more people – in the police for example. If the media get the faintest suspicion that one of our officers is missing, you can be sure they’ll be all over the story. We’ll need to be ready for that.’

Binding looked horrified. ‘Can’t we slap a D-notice on the story?’

Liz shrugged. ‘You could try. But I imagine there are still some foreign reporters around. A D-notice won’t stop them.’

He said nothing, which she took as agreement – he never openly climbed down.

‘What I don’t understand,’ said Judith, ‘is what Milraud would want with Dave. If he saw through his cover story, why didn’t he simply refuse to see him again?’

Liz answered. ‘I’m afraid it’s unlikely to be Milraud who’s taken him. When I spoke to my contact in the DGSE in Paris – he’s the man who used to be a colleague of Milraud’s and knows him well – he said violence isn’t Milraud’s style. He may have told Piggott about Dave, and we know Piggott’s intent on revenge.’

‘But why kidnap him?’

Liz and Binding exchanged looks. Liz said softly, ‘They may not hold onto him for very long.’

‘You mean they’d—?’ Judith started to ask, then stopped as she saw the answer to her own question.

Again, Liz could only nod.

37

 

‘Here I was, expecting the grim reaper to come through the door, and in walks the most beautiful girl in the world. Or have I died, and gone to heaven?’

 

Liz was glad to find Jimmy Fergus back in buoyant form. She hadn’t known what to expect; after the shooting it had been touch and go for the first twenty-four hours. He was still hooked up to all manner of machines – an IV feed attached to his arm, wires linking him to monitors. He must have lost a couple of stone, thought Liz; he looked positively gaunt in his thin hospital gown, but at least there was some colour in his cheeks and he was sitting propped up in bed, with the radio playing on his bedside table, and a car magazine on his lap.

She kissed him on the cheek. ‘This place looks pretty five star.’

‘Appearances can be deceptive. You haven’t tried the food.’ He made a face.

‘I should have brought you a takeaway but perhaps these will help.’ She handed him a box of chocolates tied up with a ribbon and sat down in the chair by the window. The sun was glancing into the room, though dark clouds were moving in on a sharp wind.

‘So how’s business? It would be nice to hear about something other than my potassium levels.’ He gave a derisory wave at the rig of wires and monitors around him.

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
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