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Authors: Colin Forbes

Tags: #Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #det_espionage

Double Jeopardy (7 page)

BOOK: Double Jeopardy
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He began chatting to the driver. All over the world cabbies are plugged in to a city's grapevine.
`Did you hear that terrific explosion not so long ago? Sounded like a bomb going off.'
'I heard it.' The driver paused as though picking his words with care. `Rumour is some fool of a tourist blew himself and his boat up on the lake…'
`It sounded closer…'
Martel left the query mark hanging in the air, wondering why the driver sounded so cautious. They were near Paradeplatz: soon all conversation would cease.
`Sounded closer to me,' the driver agreed. 'I was with a fare in Talstrasse and that was one hell of a bang. Now it could have come up the street from the lake…' He paused again. `Anyway, that's what the police told us.'
The police?'
'A patrol car stopped at the Hauptbahnhof rank. The driver got out to chat. He told us about this fool tourist blowing himself up on the lake.'
`Someone you knew? The policeman?' Martel asked casually.
'Funny you should say that.' Their eyes met in the rear-view mirror. 'I thought I knew every patrol car policeman in the city. I've been driving this cab for twenty years – but I never met him before …'
'Probably a new recruit fresh out of training school.'
'He was fifty if he was a day. All right if I wait here?'
It suited Martel admirably. The cabbie had parked well inside Paradeplatz – which meant he wouldn't be able to see where Martel went after he turned down Bahnhofstrasse. He lit a fresh cigarette and walked quickly. He was going to catch – or lose – the train by a matter of seconds.
The street was deserted and the only sound was that of his own footfalls on the flagstones. He crossed over to the other side and then stopped in sheer bewilderment. The whirlpool was spinning again.
There was no sign of the bloody incident Martel had witnessed and participated in two hours earlier. And there was no mistaking the location. He could see the archway where he and the girl had come through into Bahnhofstrasse. And there was a large and important bank in just the right position – opposite where the tram had been stopped, a bank with double plate- glass doors. But the glass was intact.
There was not a sliver of shattered glass in the roadway that Martel could see. The Swiss were good at clearing up messes, at keeping their country neat and tidy – but this was completely insane.
Now he was checking the sidewalk for blood, the blood he had slipped in, the dried blood still staining the soles of his shoes. The sidewalk was spotless. He had almost given up when he saw it. The fresh scar marks where bark had been torn and burnt by explosive from a tree. Even the Swiss couldn't grow a new tree in two hours.
CHAPTER 7
Thursday May 28
It was just after midnight at the remote schloss in the Allgau district of Bavaria. Reinhard Dietrich stood by a window in his library, looking out at the lights reflected in the moat. In one hand he held a glass of Napoleon brandy, in the other a Havana cigar. A buzzer began ringing persistently.
Sitting down behind a huge desk he unlocked a drawer, took out the telephone concealed inside and lifted the receiver. His tone was curt when Erwin Vinz identified himself.
`Blau here,' Dietrich barked. 'Any news?'
'The Englishman has left Zurich. He caught a train departing at 2339 hours from the Hauptbahnhof.' The wording was precise, the voice hoarse. 'Our people just missed getting on board after he jumped inside a compartment…'
'Left Ziirich! What the hell do you mean? What happened at the Centralhof apartment?'
'The operation was not a complete success…' Vinz was nervous. Dietrich's mouth tightened. Something had gone wildly wrong.
'Tell me exactly what happened,' he said coldly.
'The girl has taken a permanent holiday and she was unable to tell us anything about her job. We gained the impression she had no information to pass on. You don't have to worry about her…'
'But I do have to worry about Martel! Goddamnit, where is he now? Which train?'
'Its final destination was St. Gallen…'
Dietrich gripped the receiver more firmly, his expression choleric. In clipped, terse sentences he issued instructions, slammed down the receiver and replaced the instrument inside the drawer. He emptied his glass and pressed a bell.
A hunchback padded into the room. His pointed ears were flat against the side of his head so they almost merged with his skull. He wore a green beize overall and smelt of cleaning fluid. His master handed him the glass.
'More brandy! Oscar, Vinz and his special cell bungled the job. It looks as though Martel has arrived in St. Gallen, for God's sake…'
'We dealt with the previous English,' Oscar reminded him.
Reinhard Dietrich, a man of sixty, had a thatch of thick silver hair and a matching moustache. Six feet tall, he was well-built without an ounce of excess fat. He was dressed in the outfit he preferred when at his country schloss – a London-tailored leather jacket and cavalry twill jodphurs tucked inside hand-tooled riding boots. Dietrich looked every inch the man he was as he stood savouring the Havana – one of post-war Germany's richest and most powerful industrialists.
He had entered the electronics field in its infancy, shrewdly judging this to be the product with the greatest development potential. His headquarters was in Stuttgart and he had a second large factory complex at Phoenix, Arizona. He sipped at his refilled glass, watching Oscar's unblinking eyes.
'We shall certainly deal with this fresh meddler from London. Vinz is flooding St. Gallen with our people. Martel will be tracked down by nightfall. They have eliminated that Swiss bitch, Claire Hofer.' His voice rose, his florid face reddened. 'Nothing must interfere with Operation Crocodile! On June 3 the Summit Express will be crossing Germany. On June 4 the Bavarian state elections will be held – Delta will sweep into power!'
'And Martel…'
'The order is – kill him!'
Martel left the night train at St. Gallen confident that no one had followed him. At Zurich he had caught the train seconds before it departed. Once abroad he had waited by the window to see if there were any other last-minute passengers. No one appeared and he made his way through an almost-empty train to a first-class compartment. With an overwhelming sense of relief he sank into a corner seat.
At St. Gallen he took his time getting off the train. As he carried his suitcase slowly towards the exit the platform was deserted. There is no more depressing place than a station in the early hours. As Claire Hofer had told him, the Hotel Metropol faced the station.
The night porter confirmed his reservation and Martel asked him the room rate. He counted out banknotes, talking as he did so to distract the man, adding a generous tip to keep him distracted.
'That's payment for two nights this is for you. I'm so tired I can hardly stand up. I'll register in the morning. Are there any messages for me?' he asked quickly.
Just this envelope…'
It had worked – the delay in filling in the registration form which is obligatory for a guest to complete on arrival at any Swiss hostelry. The form is in triplicate. During the night the police tour the hotels to collect their copy. By not filling in the form immediately Martel had delayed knowledge of his presence in St. Gallen by twenty-four hours.
Inside his twin-bedded room he opened the sealed envelope. In a neat feminine script were written the words 'Room 12'. It was the room next to his own. He knocked very lightly on the door and she opened it immediately. She didn't say a word until she had closed and locked it. Over her right hand was draped a towel.
`The mutual friend?'
`David Nagel, for God's sake…'
'I saw you from my window which looks across to the station – but you can't blame me for checking…'
'I'm sorry. I want you to be careful. It's just that I last ate before noon on the plane. I'm tired..
'You look exhausted.' She removed the towel, exposing a 9-mm pistol she had been concealing and which she slipped under her pillow. 'You must be thirsty. It's a hot night. I'm afraid I only have Perrier water…'
'I'll take it from the bottle.'
He sank on to the bed furthest from the window and forced himself to study her as he drank. She was the right height, correct weight, and her dark hair was cut with a heavy fringe over her forehead and shoulder length at the back. In the glow from a bedside light her eyes were a deep blue. 'You'll want proof of my identity…' He hauled out his passport, gave it to her and finished off the Perrier.
She tried to show him her own identity card but he was so weary he waved it aside. What bloody difference did it make? Delta had put in a substitute – Gisela Zobel – in Zurich. He had rescued another girl – whose description also matched – trussed up in a cupboard at the Centralhof apartment. The whirlpool began spinning in his head again …
But this girl felt right. It was his last thought before he lay back on the pillow and fell fast asleep.
He woke with a sensation of alarm. It was dark, the air heavy like a blanket pressing down. He wasn't sure where he was – so much had happened in so short a period of time. He was lying on his back on a bed. Then he remembered.
He was just relaxing when he experienced a second tremor. He kept his breathing regular. Someone had taken off his tie, undone the top buttons of his shirt, taken off his shoes. What alerted him was the lack of weight under his left armpit. The shoulder holster was still strapped to him but his Colt had been removed. He turned his head carefully, not making a sound, and reached out with his right hand. The fingers of another hand touched his own, grasped his hand. A girl's voice whispered before the bedside light came on.
`You're all right. You're in St. Gallen at the Hotel Metropol. I'm Claire Hofer. It's four o'clock in the morning so you've only had two hours' sleep…'
`I can get by on that.'
Martel was wide awake now, his throat feeling like sandpaper. He sat up and propped the pillow behind him. Claire Hofer was still wearing her pale grey two-piece suit and like himself, sat propped against a pillow. In the light glow he noticed she had made herself up afresh. No blood-red nail varnish, thank God!
'Your Colt is in your bedside table,' she told him. 'Not very comfortable sleeping with that. The door is double-locked – and as you see I've tipped a chair under the handle…'
'You seem to have thought of everything…'
Martel, who never accepted anyone at face value, set about discovering every facet of Claire Hofer. She was remarkably like the second girl he had encountered in the Zurich apartment, the girl he had rescued – only to let her be kidnapped and… Martel found it hard to push the atrocity to the back of his mind.
'What are you thinking about?' she asked.
'This…'
He extracted from his jacket pocket the silver Delta badge he had ripped from the lapel of a dead would-be assassin in Bahnhofstrasse. Casually, he tossed it on her bed. She moved away from it as though it were alive, staring at him, her eyes wide with fear.
'Where did you get that?'
She was quick and clever. During the few seconds while she was talking her right hand, which was furthest away from him and in shadow, slipped under her pillow and reappeared holding the 9-mm pistol which she aimed point-blank at his stomach.
'The badge frightens you?' he asked.
'You frighten me now. I shan't hesitate to shoot…'
`I believe you.'
He was careful to keep his hands folded in his lap, well away from the bedside table drawer. There was no softness in her voice now, in her expression, in the posture of her well- developed body. If he miscalculated the Swiss girl would pull the trigger.
`I took that badge off the body of a man I shot in Bahnhofstrasse last night. They were waiting for us when we came out of the apartment – Delta. None of your men with stocking masks or Balaclava hoods. Men in business suits! And each wearing a badge in his lapel. There was a lot of blood split – but an hour later the place was nice and tidy for tomorrow's tourists…'
'You said blood was spilt. You said "us"…
'Why didn't you keep our appointment at Centralhof?' he snapped.
'Arnold was going to take me off the Delta investigation after Warner's murder – so I went underground. Lisbeth was supposed to bring you here, to make sure you weren't followed. Unlike you, she knows some of Arnold's trackers…'
'And she knows Ferdy Arnold himself?'
'No, she has never met him. Why?'
'Let me describe Arnold,' he suggested. 'A thin, wiry man in his late thirties. Brown hair brushed back without a parting. Slate-grey eyes…'
'That's not a bit like him…'
'I thought so. Someone impersonating him turned up while we were at the apartment. I was even suspicious of Lisbeth because she had to look up his number in her notebook – she should have known that backwards if she had been you. The fake Arnold must have phoned her before I arrived and made some excuse as to why she should use that number if the need arose. Who is…' He was very careful still with his use of tenses the girl who impersonated you?'
Before she got married we both worked for David Nagel in police Intelligence. We once played a joke on him – we dressed in exactly the same clothes and went into his office separately, one after the other within the space of ten minutes. He didn't grasp there was any difference and was furious when we told him. It's no wonder you were fooled.'
She showed her renewed confidence in him by slipping her pistol back under the pillow. Smiling by way of apology, she leaned forward and asked the question he had been dreading.
'Where is Lisbeth? Did she wait in the station here to catch a train back to Zurich? As you'll have gathered, she does look terribly like me-although we aren't twins. You realise she is my sister?'
BOOK: Double Jeopardy
3.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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