Read Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger Online

Authors: Stella Rimington

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

Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger (27 page)

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
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Liz felt sick and as she stepped forward she gritted her teeth to prevent her gorge rising. Why had Dave been so stupid? And why hadn’t she rung from Paris, or London? Anything to avoid this. She waited as the police officer reached down to pull back the sheet, bracing herself for how the familiar features would look. She only hoped it had been quick for Dave at the end.

‘No!’ she shouted as the sheet went back. For the face that stared up at her with dead blank eyes was not Dave’s. Someone else lay on the ground. A much older man than Dave. But the face was familiar.

‘What is it, Liz?’ Binding demanded, seeing her astonishment.

‘This is Dermot O’Reilly.’ Her voice trembled with a mixture of relief and horror. ‘It’s Dave’s informant, Brown Fox.’

44

 

Nausea. Whenever it seemed to subside, it would quickly come back. Dave couldn’t think about anything else, as fresh spasms gripped him.

 

He felt the floor beneath him rocking gently, and heard a faint smacking sound – water slapping against wood. He must be on a boat, below deck, in some kind of hold. The throbbing background noise was the engine; the rocking, which was making him feel so sick, was the boat’s movement through choppy waters.

Dave had no idea where he was, but he knew that he had been out of it for a long time. He wanted to flex his arms, but as he tried to lift one he found it held fast to his side. He was lying on a low camp bed and he saw that he had been tied up – very neatly, like a chicken painstakingly trussed before cooking.

So he was a prisoner. But whose? He tried to remember how he had got here. Gradually coming to, he found images were flickering in a bewildering sequence through his head. A small room, with a desk and chairs. Across the desk a man, speaking with a strong accent – a foreigner, who had been trying to sell Dave something, hadn’t he? He remembered the voice behind him, guttural, foreign, and a bulky man with a gun in his hand.

Then another room, some sort of library this time, and the cold unfeeling eyes of the man who’d injected him in the arm. What was his name?

Suddenly the hold door swung open and Dave was half-blinded by an incoming rush of light. He blinked and made out a figure looming in the doorway. A familiar man with a dark face – did he know his name either? – who was holding a tray, which he put carefully on the floor. Reaching down, he suddenly grabbed Dave with both hands and flipped him over like a fish, so that he flopped off the bed and lay face down on the floor.

He could feel the man fiddling with the rope that bound his hands. ‘Where are we?’ Dave managed to ask. The man ignored him. When he’d untied the knots he hauled Dave roughly up onto his knees and put the tray down with his free hand in front of Dave.

‘Eat,’ he said tersely.

Dave looked down at the plate, where a watery stew lay on a small pile of mash. It looked revolting, and his nausea surged again. He clenched his jaw, but there was nothing he could do to stop himself as he vomited straight onto the plate.

The foreign man stepped back in disgust, then quickly left the room. Dave moaned and retched again, propping himself on his hands and trying to still the spasms in his stomach. I need to get out of here, he told himself dimly, realising that his legs were still tied. He reached down and touched the knots of the ropes at each knee, then tried to pick at them with his fingernails.

The foreigner returned. He held a syringe in one hand and a pistol in the other. He pointed the gun at Dave and motioned him to leave the knots alone. Then the man leaned down, ignoring the spattered plate on the floor, and plunged the syringe straight into Dave’s arm before he had time to object.

‘Where are we?’ Dave asked again, this time more feebly. He felt fatigue settling on him like snow, and struggled to keep awake. It was no good; he barely noticed as his head fell back against the wall, and realised he could no longer keep his eyes open.


Suenos dulces
,’ the man said.

45

 

Peggy put the phone down at the end of yet another call. She lifted her head for a moment to look out of the window and realised that it was morning. A brilliant red sun like a perfectly round tomato was just appearing over one of the barracks buildings, making the frost-covered tiles sparkle. She had been working all night.

 

The discovery of the bodies buried at Piggott’s County Down house had energised everyone. Until then, no one had admitted that they thought Dave was dead, but Peggy knew that she wasn’t the only one who had been secretly thinking it. Now, perhaps illogically, when dead bodies had been discovered and Dave’s was not one of them, they had all begun to think that he was alive.

The forensic teams were still hard at work in the County Down house and its grounds, and it would be some time before their efforts produced anything for the investigators to work on. But one thing had been discovered straight away that had kept her at work all night. When Dermot O’Reilly’s body had been disinterred, in his trouser pocket they’d found his mobile phone. In their haste to get rid of the body and go, his murderers must have overlooked it. The pathologist had said that O’Reilly had been dead no more than twenty-four hours and that he had been buried very soon after death. So as Peggy had trawled through the phone’s memory of calls made and received, she had concentrated on the period shortly before his death.

It was the final call that the phone had received that interested her most. And, after a night spent in conversation with a variety of contacts in different agencies, she now knew that the call the phone had received at five p.m. the afternoon of Reilly’s death had been made from a mobile phone that was at that time somewhere in County Down. Dermot’s phone had been in Belfast when the call was answered.

It seemed to Peggy fair to assume that the call had been connected to Dermot’s visit to Piggott’s farmhouse. It could well have been the call summoning him to his death. As she contemplated her night’s work, she had the satisfaction that though she didn’t know who had made that call or even whose phone it was – it was a throw-away phone, bought recently at a shop in Belfast with no service contract – if that phone came on the air again, she would be immediately notified. She’d circulated the details to all foreign liaison intelligence agencies and at last, it seemed to Peggy’s tired mind, there was a chance of getting somewhere in the search for the people who had taken Dave.

She stared again at the list of numbers on the sheet in front of her, wondering if there was anything more she could do. Most were landline numbers in Belfast, some mobile calls traced through the local transmitters. One number had immediately stuck out – a twenty-minute call three days ago to a landline with an area code in one of the southern suburbs of Dublin. Peggy had been onto the Garda in the Republic, and they’d moved quickly, but it turned out that the number belonged to the sister of Dermot O’Reilly’s wife. Two hours wasted on a false alarm.

As she sat at her table, her eyes drooping now, Judith Spratt came into the office.

‘Morning, Judith. I wasn’t expecting you. Who’s looking after Daisy?’ asked Peggy.

‘Bridget Kearne’s taking her to school. Daisy’s taken a real shine to her. She’s now saying she never liked Mrs Ryan; she said she was scary. Children
are
strange. She always seemed very fond of her to me.’

‘What have you told her about why Mrs Ryan’s leaving?’

‘I just said she had to stay at home because her son was ill. It’s funny how you tell lies to kids without a second thought.’

‘Well, that seems reasonable enough. You could hardly tell her that Mrs Ryan hated us all. Or that her son had tried to kill Liz.’

‘No. That’s true,’ said Judith. ‘By the way, you probably haven’t heard, but A4 now accept that Liz’s car was tampered with. Apparently the nuts holding the wheel bearing had been overtightened; if you do that the bearing can collapse and the tyre shreds. Suddenly you’re veering all over the road. It’s the kind of mistake an amateur can easily make, but not an experienced mechanic. So they’re certain it was done on purpose.’ Judith shook her head. ‘It’s difficult to imagine how someone as young as Danny Ryan could feel that level of hatred for someone he’d never met. Anyway the police have got him now – he was caught speeding just outside Newry yesterday. He was going eighty-five in a forty-mile-an-hour zone.’

‘Good. Maybe they’ll get something out of him,’ said Peggy. ‘Though if his mother’s anything to go by, he’ll keep his mouth firmly shut. A nasty piece of work – that goes for both of them.’

‘I know. It doesn’t do to forget how much hatred there is still around in this place. But tell me about last night. I’ve only heard snippets from Liz – I saw her when she got back to her flat and gave her a whisky. She seemed shattered.’

‘We all were. Especially when the bodies were found. I think everybody was certain one of them would be Dave. It was worse for Liz than any of us. She was really brave, Judith. She had to look at the bodies to see if she could identify them; I know she was expecting to be staring down at Dave’s face.’ Peggy shuddered and the shudder turned into a yawn.

‘Peggy, you’ve been here all night, haven’t you? Go and get some breakfast. The canteen’s open. I’m going to start working on this boat theory.’

‘Boat?’ said Phil Robinson. He was up in Antrim, cleaning up the National Trust hides on the coast ready for the bird count that would begin in April. He sounded confused at first by Judith’s question. She had explained again that she was talking about the National Trust property in County Down and the neighbouring house. Had he seen a boat moored at the jetty there?

‘Ah,’ he said with sudden comprehension. ‘Yes indeed, I have seen a boat there sometimes. One of those rigid inflatables. It’s the dinghy from a big motor cruiser. I’ve seen the big boat anchored just offshore where the sea’s deeper. It’s hard to forget it. It’s one of those glitzy sort of things you see in the Caribbean or the Greek islands; there aren’t many of those on this side of the Irish Sea.’

‘It’s the motor cruiser I’m interested in. Can you describe it?’

Robinson thought for a minute. ‘Well, I’m not an expert, but I’d say it was a good thirty metres long, maybe longer. White with chrome railings all around, and a big open space on the rear deck. You could see it had several cabins below. Then there was a small upper deck, with a glass window all round it. I suppose that’s where it’s steered from. There was a sort of winch mechanism at the back that they used to haul up the dinghy. I watched them doing it one day. Very smooth operation it was.’

‘Was there anything else about it you remember?’

‘Yes, now that you mention it. It had a kind of squashed bow – it was wide, like a hammerhead shark. It gave the boat a powerful look.’

Judith had saved the obvious question for last. ‘I don’t suppose you noticed its name by any chance.’

Robinson laughed. ‘I thought you’d never ask. I do, because it sounded so peculiar.
Mattapan
, with a Roman numeral III next to it – so I guess you’d say ‘Mattapan the Third’. Not an emperor I’ve ever heard of.’

No, thought Judith, thinking of Liz’s account of her meeting with Daryl Sulkey of the FBI. It was the Mattapan
Three
, the trio of Boston-Irish gun runners sent to prison, of whom only Piggott’s brother had failed to come out again.

Peggy was back now from breakfast, looking much brighter.

‘Let’s suppose they’ve gone off in
Mattapan III
and taken Dave with them. Where might they be going?’ asked Judith.

‘America?’ suggested Peggy hesitantly. ‘That’s the logical place for Piggott to go.’

‘Surely even a boat like Phil Robinson described couldn’t sail all the way to America at this time of the year, could it?’

‘Probably not,’ Peggy admitted. ‘What about France? Milraud’s base is at Toulon, near Marseilles. They might be going there. Let’s do a bit of phoning round and see if anyone has had sight of
Mattapan III
in the last twenty-four hours. How far do you reckon they could have got by now?’

Several hours later they had come up with nothing. It seemed incredible that a boat of that size could disappear on the high seas in these days of heightened terrorism alerts. But none of the obvious port authorities had any record of
Mattapan III
putting in for the night or for fuelling. When Liz put her head round the door enquiringly in the middle of the afternoon she was greeted with shakes of the head.

‘It can’t have disappeared, unless it’s sunk,’ said Peggy gloomily. The lack of sleep was beginning to catch up with her. ‘Do you think we should ask the RAF to put up a Nimrod?’

‘No. We can’t do that,’ Liz responded. ‘Binding is still insisting we keep the enquiry low key and DG agrees with him. So in a way we’re working with one arm tied behind our backs. The fear is that if Dave’s disappearance leaks out or Piggott and Milraud detect us close behind them, they may just kill Dave.’

‘If they haven’t already,’ said Peggy, now close to tears.

‘Peggy, go home and go to bed,’ ordered Liz. ‘You can’t do any more here for the moment. Remember that O’Reilly told Dave that Piggott was into all sorts of drugs – and the vice trade. If he’s been using this cruiser in that business, he may have dodgy contacts in ports all over the place who are prepared to cover for the boat’s movements. And since Milraud is an arms dealer I bet he knows how to move stuff by sea without being detected. We’ll have to hope the police get something useful out of Danny Ryan or the French come up with some development on their side. They’ve got Milraud’s wife under close surveillance, so perhaps we’ll get a breakthrough from that.’

46

 

On the sixth day they cast anchor in mid-afternoon just off the coast near Marseilles. It had been a steady enough voyage, though they had lost half a day by putting in at a small harbour on the Portuguese coast to avoid a late winter storm that had moved in from the Azores.
Mattapan III
was well known there and Piggott had certain arrangements with the harbourmaster which ensured discreet service. Both Piggott and Milraud had contacts in a number of Mediterranean ports who regularly helped them hide their movements from the attention of the authorities. They did not grudge the expense; it was the only way to be successful in their business.

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
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