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Deadly Sin

BOOK: Deadly Sin
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DEADLY SIN

Also by James Hawkins

INSPECTOR BLISS MYSTERIES

Missing: Presumed Dead
The Fish Kisser
No Cherubs for Melanie
A Year Less a Day
The Dave Bliss Quintet
Lovelace and Button

(International Investigators) Inc.
Crazy Lady

NON-FICTION

The Canadian Private Investigator's Manual

1001 Fundraising Ideas and Strategies for
Charities and Not-for-Profit Groups

Listen to the author reading excerpts from his
novels and find out more about James and his
books, plays, and screenplays by visiting:
www.thefishkisser.com

DEADLY SIN

A Chief Inspector Bliss Novel

James Hawkins

A Castle Street Mystery

Copyright © James Hawkins, 2006

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise (except for brief passages for purposes of review) without the prior permission of Dundurn Press. Permission to photocopy should be requested from Access Copyright.

Editor: Barry Jowett
Copy-editor: Andrea Waters
Design: Alison Carr
Printer: Transcontinental

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Hawkins, D. James (Derek James), 1947-

         Deadly sin : a Chief Inspector Bliss mystery / James Hawkins.

ISBN-13: 978-1-55002-644-3
ISBN-10: 1-55002-644-5

         I. Title.

PS8565.A848D42 2007        C813'.6         C2006-904608-5

1   2   3   4   5      10   09   08   07   06

We acknowledge the support of the
Canada Council for the Arts
and the
Ontario Arts Council
for our publishing program. We also acknowledge the financial support of the
Government of Canada
through the
Book Publishing Industry Development Program
and
The Association for the Export of Canadian Books
, and the
Government of Ontario
through the
Ontario Book Publishers Tax Credit
program and the
Ontario Media Development Corporation
.

Care has been taken to trace the ownership of copyright material used in this book. The author and the publisher welcome any information enabling them to rectify any references or credits in subsequent editions.

J. Kirk Howard, President

Printed and bound in Canada
www.dundurn.com

         Dundurn Press
3 Church Street, Suite 500
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
           M5E 1M2

Gazelle Book Services Limited
         White Cross Mills
High Town, Lancaster, England
                 LA1 4XS

     Dundurn Press
2250 Military Road
   Tonawanda, NY
     U.S.A. 14150

This book is dedicated to my first granddaughter
Charlie Eloise Hawkins
who began her journey on the labyrinth of life on
August 21, 2006

With very special thanks to my dear wife, Sheila, and
to Eileen Wilson for their unstinting support and
encouragement

A classical left-handed seven-circuit Cretan labyrinth — mythical home of the Minotaur.

Note that the labyrinth is not a maze. Trace a finger around the pathway and you will discover that, like life itself, every journey begins and ends at the same point. You can decide to take that journey quickly or slowly, thoughtfully or carelessly, morally or immorally. However, once your jouney has begun you have no choice but to follow it through to the end.

chapter one

“L
ights … cameras … action …” mutters a joker in the darkness.

“All right. That's enough. Let's be serious,” commands a “voice from on high” in the dimly lit surveillance room, forcing Chief Inspector David Bliss and his team to focus on the dozen video monitors in front of them.

The snooty tone of Hugh Grant's voice double stutters to life from a couple of loudspeakers. “There's a … um … a light drizzle falling in London this lunchtime as the royal cavalcade …”

The humidified air in the soundproof room on the tenth floor of New Scotland Yard stills at the sound of the voice, but a stifled fart followed by a mumbled “Sorry” threatens the solemnity. David Bliss cranes around, searching for a red face in the darkened room, but he's jerked back to the screens by the stentorian-voiced commander.

“Situation report, Chief Inspector.”

“Guinevere and Lancelot have left Point Alpha and are now approaching Point Beta,” sings out Bliss as he watches the Queen's Rolls-Royce passing under the Admiralty Arch at the end of the Mall, and then he mutters to the officer sitting to his right, “Gawd knows who picks these stupid code names.”

The “voice” hears. “I did, Chief Inspector,” it booms from the back of the room. “Any objections?”

“No, sir. Sorry, sir,” apologizes Bliss without turning, and then he switches to a new set of surveillance cameras to follow the royal procession along the Strand through central London.

The crowds are sparse close to the palace, mainly accidental witnesses drawn to the spectacle of the monarch's passage by the phalanx of police motorcyclists and the sudden lack of traffic. But a quick check of the Queen's destination shows Bliss a different picture. Placard-waving demonstrators bulge steel barricades; eggs and tomatoes spatter against riot shields — damaging nothing but the egos of battle-hardened officers who would rather have a barrage of rocks as an excuse to break ranks and split heads.

“The … um … recent inter-religious disturbances in Birmingham and Bradford have heightened the controversy over this visit …” continues the radio commentary in the background as Bliss focuses on the crowd, searching for familiar “rent-a-mob” figures — anarchists, anti-royalists, anti-establishments, anti-everythings — who can be surgically taken out by undercover men already on the ground.

Unit commanders report in relief as the motorcade passes on to the next sector without incident, while Bliss concentrates on the increasingly aggressive mob. A time check — seven minutes to destination Point Omega — and the occasional brick begins soaring over the heads of the crowd.

“A press statement from the palace,” carries on the ex-Etonian in his best BBC, “confirms that Her Majesty is
determined to proceed with this visit in an effort to promulgate harmony between the Christian and Muslim communities.”

“Harmony. Hah!” scoffs Sergeant Bill Williams on Bliss's left.

“Keep your comments for your mates in the bar, Williams,” spits the commander, leading Bliss to mutter, “This is worse than school” in support of his wingman.

Six minutes twenty seconds, and it's Bliss's call. “Her Highness will not be amused if we have to pull the plug,” the divisional commander — Chief Superintendent “Foxy” Fox — proclaimed at the briefing half an hour earlier, leaving Bliss to question aloud if the head of the royal household would prefer to take half a brick in the eye for her country.

A faceless figure wearing the denim uniform of a welder creeps into a shaded corner of one of Chief Inspector Bliss's surveillance monitors and gingerly puts down a large canvas tool bag. The obvious bulk of the man's body armour and the darkly tinted face mask should ring alarms in the Metropolitan Police's surveillance centre, especially as his perch is high above the royal route in a partially constructed office tower, but Bliss misses the image as he swipes perspiration from his forehead and concentrates on the agitated mob.

“It is perhaps the first time in history that the titular head of the Church of England has officially attended Friday prayers, albeit only as an observer,” the BBC voice continues, filling airtime with unnecessary chatter while the heavily protected motorcade makes its way along the Strand towards the gold-encrusted minarets of an East End London mosque. But Bliss tunes out the affected voice as he spots a potential problem some distance away from the monumental edifice.

The commentator also has a monitor. “It seems that a large group of demonstrators has broken police lines …”

“Well, Chief Inspector. What're you gonna do?” demands the commander, sending Bliss scrabbling through a thick manual of orders searching for an alternative route to the mosque's back door.

“Too late, Bliss,” shouts the commander, ramping up the pressure. “Diversions have jammed all alternates. The city is at a standstill.”

“Bugger,” mutters Bliss, but his problems are just about to multiply and he has yet to spot the interloper in the construction site.

“Unauthorized aircraft entering restricted airspace,” calls Sergeant Williams as the junior officer monitors a feed from Air Traffic Control.

Bliss takes his eyes off the surging crowd to deal with the airborne threat, and seconds later a couple of Air Force jets are screaming to his aid.

But the phoney workman continues unnoticed by the surveillance team as he sheathes his brown-skinned hands in white latex gloves before unzipping his tool bag. Then he stops and carefully checks the skyline. Six rooftop snipers wearing police baseball caps scour the busy streets below for terrorists, but who looks for a workman on a building site?

In skilled hands, the rifle that emerges from the tool bag, a modified Springfield M25, can take down a five-hundred-pound stag at half a mile. The man has skilled hands, but he isn't planning on filling his freezer with venison today.

The squadron of police motorcyclists in the vanguard of the royal convoy is being squeezed to a halt by the time Bliss returns to the situation on the ground. Lady Guinevere's Rolls-Royce is still a mile from the mosque, and he zooms in for a closer look at the surging mob: are they religious fundamentalists determined to stop the perceived heresy or just pumped-up pedestrians hoping to snap a royal close-up on their videophones?

BOOK: Deadly Sin
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