Sitting in a Lloyd Loom chair on a Narrow Boat, moored on the Kennet and Avon Canal, a dead man stares into oblivion. Who is he and what is his name? Chief Inspector Michael Lambert from Thames Valley Police Authority unravels a murder case which stretches from Reading to Bulgaria, South Africa to Belorussia, and finally Taiwan to Peru. What at first appears to be a straightforward murder is revealed to be part of an international manhunt, the result of a major arms deal which has gone horribly wrong. The story begins with the discovery of a small mobile phone on the narrow boat and ends with the murder of a Chinese shipping magnate in the streets of London. Will anyone’s life be the same again and how will our provincial policeman cope with these different layers of intrigue?
A rich man’s war in poor man’s blood
Silent their cries, the lost and loved
Led to the slaughter, led by false hope
Follow behind the Judas Goat”
Hosannas from The Basements of Hell Album Lyrics
As a journalist for many years and having come in contact with all sorts of people from politicians to criminals, Patrick Brigham has published his most recent and complex murder mystery, involving a murder on the Kennet and Avon Canal in England, a stolen identity, a major arms deal which has gone horribly wrong, and a clever and thoughtful Detective Chief Inspector from Thames Valley Police Authority, who is assigned to untangle and solve this murder mystery.
Patrick Brigham takes his readers on a trip from Reading in the UK to Bulgaria, South Africa to Belorussia and from Taiwan to Peru. A trip which begins with the discovery of a small mobile phone and a dead man on an English Canal and it ends with the murder of a Chinese shipping magnate, in the streets of London. Will anyone’s life be the same again and how will our provincial policeman cope with these different layers of intrigue?
The meeting with Aubrey Coetzee from the South African Embassy.
‘Why did Liam Side go to Sofia then?’
‘What can I say? He was going bust in London like many at the time because the property market was collapsing around his ears. He was getting sick of Patsy his girlfriend who was fast turning into a money freak. She in turn was getting tired of Liam, because by then she was supporting him financially through her travel firm in Fulham. The arguments began and then this George Panov character persuaded him to move to Sofia to get away from his creditors and from this bloody girl Patsy into the bargain. It seemed the perfect solution.’
‘Where did the Balkan Western News come from?’
‘Well, he’d spent a number of years before writing articles and publishing a travel magazine in South Africa, so he was quite experienced. There was nothing for the foreign community to read in Sofia, so he went to the big western companies, who offered him their advertising support and overnight the Balkan Western News appeared on the Streets.’
‘Aubrey, please, the suspense is killing me! Just tell me why you are really here; let’s get it all out into the open.’
‘Liam Side contacted me a few days ago Mike, and before you get angry, you must remember that Side is an old friend of mine. He knows that you were in Bruges last weekend and that you stayed at the Hotel Montovani and he knows why you were there. But you don’t know why he is there, and you have no idea the danger his daughter Patricia is in either. Now, I don’t know all the ins and outs of this murder case of yours Mike, because neither Liam nor you have told me the whole story; and to be quite honest, I really don’t want to know anyway. He just wants me to give you a message.’
‘Aubrey, just tell me what it is, please.’
‘He wants me to tell you that he was not involved first hand with the man’s actual murder. He says that all he did was to rent the narrow boat and purchase the Morris Traveller. He admits that he stayed on the boat for two weeks but left three days before the murder apparently took place, which was when he went back to Belgium. He told me to tell you that his mobile phone was not found on the boat by accident any more than the Cavalry and Guards Club tie.
‘When the two killers left Belgium they asked him for a tie for the victim to wear, which he gave them together with his passport. Leaving the old copy of The Balkan Western News behind was a genuine mistake by the killers who must have thought it was an English magazine and therefore it didn’t matter.’
With a further pint of Brakspear’s bitter apiece, Lambert sat and took stock of what had been said.
Aubrey Coetzee continued, ‘Side freely admits to giving his passport to the two men knowing that they would use it to transport the victim to England, but he claims that they threatened to kill his daughter Patricia in Sofia, if he did not. As for the mobile phone, when they asked him for it, believing it might contain phone numbers which could represent a risk to them, he lied and said that he had lost it. That’s all I know Mike, make of it what you will.’
Mike Lambert did not need to be reminded that Aubrey Coetzee was in London on a diplomatic passport and immune to any intervention by the authorities. That meant that he could not be held to account, let alone be cross examined as a witness. So at ten o’clock that night they shook hands and parted on good terms. Coetzee climbed into a large white Mercedes with a black driver, and Lambert into his Dark Red Alvis convertible.
About the Author
Patrick Brigham was born in Berkshire England to an old Reading family. After attending an English Public School and College, the author Patrick Brigham went into real estate. After the economic crash of 1989 and a few other bitter experiences, in 1993 he decided to abandon London, and he moved to Sofia in Bulgaria.
In a new country with a different culture, and whilst trying hard to set up a home, a new life was definitely in store for him. A master of the comic vignette especially when consumed with disbelief, he set up the first English Language News Magazine in the Balkans called the Sofia Western News (1995-2000). As a journalist he witnessed the political and economical changes in this once hard core communist country.
Now Patrick Brigham resides in North of Greece, enjoy’s writing and his collection of classic cars.