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Authors: Roger Ormerod

Full Fury

BOOK: Full Fury
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© Roger Ormerod 2014

 

Roger Ormerod has asserted his rights under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

 

First published 1975 by Northumberland Press Ltd in arrangement with Robert Hale & Company.

 

This edition published by Endeavour Press Ltd in 2014.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Perhaps there was something wrong with my smile. The thing called Troy levered his shoulders away from my wall and moved down on me. I didn’t have time to shift from the desk as the cigar came stabbing down at my fingers. I fanned them, and a square inch of plastic top was permanently scarred.

And
all I’d said to Finn was: ‘What d’you do to make it talk?’


There’s an ashtray,’ I said mildly, indicating a couple of pounds of glass, and Troy flicked it to the floor with one of the three fingers on his left hand.

That
was just about the end of the visit, the closing pleasantries, you might say. Carter Finn’s true business had been gracefully skirted. He stood up and called off his hired support with a movement of his eyes, and they moved to the door.


Oh,’ said Finn, ‘to start you on your new career…’ And he tossed the briefcase over. I caught it. ‘An enquiry agent needs a briefcase.’

I
stood at the window and watched them go. Troy glanced up for a moment and the day lost its charm. The car, I decided, was a big Rover.

It
was a bad omen that my first client should have been Finn. If you could call him that. My office door had been open for a fortnight, and nobody had shown any interest. Then that morning I’d climbed the last of the stairs, opened the door, and there he was in the outer office. I don’t think I registered shock; I simply led the way through.

I
might have guessed Finn wouldn’t be alone, but I hadn’t spotted his goon, standing in the corner. Then somehow, by the time I’d got to my desk, he was easing apart two of my walls with his shoulders.

Finn
looked round with contempt, then took the only chair I’d got in there. It creaked a little. He’s a big man, broad with it. He smelt faintly of an after-shave that could have been deadly nightshade.


I heard they finally threw you out,’ he said patiently.


You could say it was mutual.’


Not what I heard.’

He
was greying a little, I thought. How old would he be—fifty? But still aggressively active.


A man in your position,’ I told him, ‘hears what people think you want to hear.’

He
made the shishing noise that Finn used for a laugh. ‘Oh come on, Mr Mallin. Would I be pleased that they’d pitched you out of the force?’

Would
he? We’d never directly clashed, but there’d been some edgy moments.


We found we didn’t think on the same lines,’ I told him.


And now you’ve gone private?’


I’m going.’


But not busy?’


Not busy,’ I agreed.

There
was a buzzer connected to the outer door, but I’d never yet heard it. There was a phone that I knew was working but it never rang for me.


You ought to advertise,’ he said placidly.


I do.’

What
the hell did he want from me? Anything I had to offer did not fit in with his background of clubs and gaming houses. Yet there was that new pigskin briefcase on his plump lap, and a keen, searching gleam in his eyes.

He
said it was mild for March—you could almost smell the Spring in the air. I got up to look out of the dirty window. There was no sign of Spring on the asphalt below, but almost opposite was parked a big grey car that was probably Finn’s. Something ugly was behind the wheel and had a pink paper spread over it. I agreed it was very mild for March.


What you want to do,’ he said, ‘is let me have some of your visiting cards. I meet a lot of people.’

‘I
can’t see your friends bringing me anything legal.’

Finn
smiled. He had one of those soft, smooth faces that simply shine when they’re pressed to it. There was talcum in the wrinkles spreading from his eyes. He was trying to be friendly, and nearly succeeded in hiding his viciousness. But he owed me no favours, and I certainly owed him none.

The
smile was so surprising that I glanced at his nurse-maid to gauge the effect. He was smoking a small cigar, making no show-off attempt to appear bored, but calmly watching me. He knew his job. He’d remember me. A good lad. I looked away, feeling uneasy.

But
in fact it was all too easy to toss insults at a man like Finn. You didn’t have to worry about hurting him, and as he said from time to time, he couldn’t lash back. Always calm and precise, Carter Finn. Always walking a legal tightrope.


So you haven’t got work for me.’ I paused, but he didn’t say he had. ‘Then why have you come?’

He
lifted his hands a few inches and spread them in appeal. ‘Why else but to wish you luck?’


I don’t need your sort of luck.’

The
lad in the corner moved and a shoe creaked. I looked across in time to catch a frown, though whether at me or at his shoe I couldn’t tell.


I was driving past,’ said Finn blandly, ‘and I thought I’d drop in on David Mallin. They lost a good man when you resigned…’


Resigned?’ So he’d known.


You should look us up, Mallin. Usually I’m at The Beeches. You’re an honorary member. Did you know?’

I
was not sure I wanted any connection with Finn’s clubs, but I couldn’t have said exactly why. When I’d been in the police we’d kept a sharp eye on him, but there’d never been anything we could put a finger on.


I may look you up.’ I tried it again. ‘But no work?’


I’ve got all the staff I need.’

All
right, I nearly shouted, then why don’t you go? He looked around at my filing cabinet and my desk. The cabinet was new, full of empty folders to take my case records. The desk was old. The drawers held my new pipe and a tin of tobacco, and a paperback I couldn’t wait to get back to. There was a fancy calendar on the wall.


You’re in business on your own now,’ he said. ‘So brighten the place up. Look big, Mallin. Make a show. They want to give money to those who’ve already got plenty.’

His
philosophy. With him it had certainly worked. A lot of money circulated round Carter Finn, and a good deal of it drifted into his bank accounts. That was a very expensive suit he was wearing. The pin in his silk tie would have kept me eating for a year.


I’ll do that,’ I agreed readily. I nodded towards his helper. ‘One you’re breaking in?’

Finn
looked at his protégé with affection. ‘He’s a likely lad. We call him Troy.’

We
both stared at him. The square shoulders moved with what might have been embarrassment. Not more than twenty, I thought, slim and fast. He was wearing a large-checked jacket in mustard and brown over a cream shirt with a red and gold tie, knotted large. Hair not too long, a wide brow with hard, dark and straight eyebrows, and tiny eyes, grey I thought, though he didn’t show me much of them. If he’d smiled he might have been handsome. His mouth did something, but it didn’t turn out as a smile. He moved his right hand across his lips, perhaps annoyed that they had done something, and there was a gold chain round his wrist.

I
turned back to Finn. ‘What d’you do to make it talk?’ And that was when Troy decided he’d had enough of the cigar.

I
turned away from the window and went to have a look at my wall calendar. It usually comforted me. March. A snow scene—the pessimists! A magpie on a low gate, with the fence shadows pink across the snow bank. But now it chilled me. I shivered, and decided there was nothing wrong with the calendar. It was me.

There
was nothing you could definitely level against Carter Finn. He ran a number of successful and rather smart clubs on a strictly legal basis. Where he had gaming tables, they were rigidly honest. There was nothing wrong. So why the hell did he need so many ex-cons and crooks in his establishments?

I
looked at his present. It was an expensive item, with double straps and a lock. He hadn’t left me the keys, but when I looked inside they were there, way down beneath all the paperwork. I laid it all out on the desk to see exactly why Carter Finn had come to see me.

I
was looking at a transcript of the trial of Neville Gaines, aged 48, for the murder of Andrew Paterson. There were photostats of the reports, day by day, in
The
Times
. There was also a photostat of the report of his execution. Pentonville. The 12th of March, twelve years ago. It was his anniversary today.

The
only interest, as far as I could see, that Finn could have in the case was that he now operated from the house where Neville Gaines had lived—The Beeches.

Just
because it was there, I sat down and read it through. It took me through seven pipes of tobacco and two pots of coffee from the Ramona opposite. Finn couldn’t have known—my name never appeared in the papers—but it was only a matter of refreshing my memory. I’d been on the case. Well, not exactly on it, because I was a very young constable then, but I had been there. Det. Chief Inspector Crowshaw’s driver, that was me.

But
all the same I read it carefully, because I hadn’t gone to the trial. Twice, as I say, I went across for coffee, mainly to try and get a clear sight of the man sitting behind the wheel of the car just along the street. He was there all afternoon. It was a red Mini Cooper with a black top and those matt black patches on the doors to impress you with the driver’s technique. I didn’t get my clear sight. The very pleasant March sun hit back at me from his windscreen.

As
he didn’t seem inclined to come up and see me, I phoned Elsa at about three. I’d thought I would find out how far things had gone with the arrangements, and at the same time I asked if she’d like to go out that evening.


Evening dress stuff,’ I said.


I’ll be too tired.’ Her voice was tense. She was obviously working on it too hard, but I suppose it’s always the same with weddings.


You could do with the break,’ I suggested.


David, you simply don’t realize…’

There
was perhaps a criticism there. But I’d offered. Really, I had. And she had said get off to your office, David, and let me get on with it. You’ll gather she wasn’t keen on the office.


But you could manage it?’


Oh—I suppose so.’

So
we fixed it up, which meant I’d got to dig out the dinner jacket and press out a few wrinkles.

I
locked away Neville Gaines and drove back to my place. The car was a Porsche that Elsa had given me for an engagement present. I felt good, driving it. I let the Mini tag along.

Up
to that time I had not moved from my two and a bit rooms in the crescent. Now that there was an impending break between us I was feeling a sentimental liking for the place, even its pokiness. I put the kettle on and laid out two cups and saucers, and I was just pitching tea into the pot when the knock came at the door.


Come in,’ I shouted. ‘It’s open.’

He
eased his way in cautiously, as though I might be lurking just out of sight with a cosh. His eyes swept the room. But I was alone. He closed the door behind him.

He
would have been half-way through his twenties, a dark, shy-looking young man, a little shorter than I am. He had still got his huge sun glasses on. His hair was untidy, I suppose because it would be against his principles to drive with his window shut. His face was interesting. He was quick, sharp, his mouth moving, never still for a moment, expending expressions so fast that you never caught up. And nervous. His eyes flickered, caught me, hesitated, backed off. He was fiddling constantly with a pair of black driving gloves, half stuffing them into the pocket of his padded motoring coat, then pulling them out again.


Sit down,’ I said. ‘The kettle’s coming up.’

He
sat with his knees together, perching the gloves on them. After a moment he took off the glasses, and I saw that his eyes were grey and wide.


It took you long enough,’ I said.

There
was very nearly a blush. ‘You saw me?’

I
looked at him solemnly. ‘I’m a detective.’

It
seemed to give him satisfaction, as though he’d set me a test and I’d passed with honour.


I wanted to be sure,’ he said at last.


I’ve got an office you could have made sure in.’

He
blinked. ‘Your kettle’s boiling.’

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