Read The Art of Murder Online

Authors: Michael White

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Crime

The Art of Murder

Contents

Cover

Title

Copyright

About the Author

Also available by Michael White

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0

Epub ISBN 9781409007319

www.randomhouse.co.uk

Published by Arrow Books 2010

2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1

Copyright © Michael White 2010

Michael White has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work

This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

First published in Great Britain in 2010 by Arrow Books Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA

www.rbooks.co.uk

Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:
www.randomhouse.co.uk/offices.htm

The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 9780099551447

The Random House Group Limited supports The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading international forest certification organisation. All our titles that are printed on Greenpeace approved FSC certified paper carry the FSC logo. Our paper procurement policy can be found at
www.rbooks.co.uk/environment

Typeset by SX Composing DTP, Rayleigh, Essex Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Cox & Wyman, Reading, RG1 8EX

Michael White has been a professional musician, a science lecturer, newspaper columnist, science editor for
GQ
magazine and a series consultant for the Discovery Channel’s
The Science of the Impossible
.

First published in 1991, he is now the author of 33 books, including the bestselling
Equinox, The Medici Secret
and
The Borgia Ring
. He has been shortlisted for the Aventis Prize and was awarded the Bookman Prize in the US for best popular science book of 1998 for his biography of Isaac Newton,
The Last Sorcerer
. He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and four children.

For more information visit Michael White’s website at
www.michaelwhite.com.au

Also available by Michael White

Equinox
The Medici Secret
The Borgia Ring

 
 

‘The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure …’

Francis Bacon

(1909–92)

Chapter 1

Stepney, Wednesday 21 January, 8 a.m.

She came running down the street screaming at the top of her voice. As she ran, commuters heading for Whitechapel tube station moved out of her way thinking she was a madwoman. But she was not mad, she was simply terrified. She had just seen something that would make the strongest stomach somersault.

Her name was Helena Lutsenko, a Ukrainian immigrant. She had been in England for a little over six weeks and her English was limited to a couple of hundred words. In her petrified state, she could think only in Ukrainian. But even in her native language, there were few words to describe the horror of what she had just witnessed.

It was 8 a.m., halfway through the morning rush hour, and the Mile End Road in East London was awash with grey slush. It had snowed the previous night, and, as always in London, it had settled for about ten minutes before turning to a slurry unknown to pre-Industrial man: part water, part diesel, part city grime. The pavements were no better. The grey snow had been piled up to either side of a narrow footpath cleared for pedestrians, and although council road sweepers had been out since six,
throwing around sand and salt, the icy strip of pavement was treacherous.

Helena slipped and just broke her fall by grabbing a lamp-post. The shock forced her to calm down a little. She could do nothing in this state, she told herself. She needed to explain something, something desperate, something barely imaginable. And she needed to explain it to anyone who would listen. Anyone at all. Pushing away from the lamp-post, she took measured paces and deep breaths. Approaching a young man dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase, she began to articulate her horror, but the commuter speeded up instinctively. Helena walked up to a middle-aged woman talking into her mobile phone. The woman looked at her as though she were insane and shouldered her away. Just another East European beggar, the commuter thought, and sighed. Then a young couple turned a corner. They were well dressed but relaxed-looking, graphic designers or ad execs perhaps, definitely not bankers or insurance grunts. The woman was wearing a Comme des Garçons ankle-length coat; the man had a Louis Vuitton satchel slung over his left shoulder.

‘Help me,’ Helena said as clearly as she could. She stood in front of the couple, one palm held flat against the man’s coat sleeve. He looked down at her hand, then glanced at the young woman beside him. She was ready to move on, but he was a little more patient.

‘Please help,’ Helena said.

The young man pushed a hand into his pocket and came up with a handful of small change.

‘No,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘Not money. Come. I show.’

‘What?’ the young woman said suddenly and stared at the man. ‘What does she want, Tom?’

Tom Seymour shrugged. ‘Search me.’

‘Please, come. I show.’

‘Don’t like the sound of this,’ the young woman said, and took her companion’s arm.

There was something about the desperate stranger that moved Tom. He seemed to know instinctively that she was genuine, that she needed someone. She was clearly terrified. He turned to the woman beside him. ‘Trish, I think she needs help.’

‘Yes … help,’ the Ukrainian woman responded.

‘Tom, you don’t know her from Adam. She could be the front for a gang. Don’t be a twat.’

He sighed. ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ Then he tried gently to move Helena aside. ‘Have to go,’ he said to her.

Helena deflated like a balloon with the air sucked out of it and she burst into tears. Trish was already a pace away, but Tom hadn’t moved.

‘What’s happened?’ he asked.

Helena did not understand.

Tom put his hands out, palms up. ‘What is it?’

‘Man … dead,’ she said, tears flowing down her cheeks.

Chapter 2

Helena took Tom’s arm. Trish remained where she was, shaking her head, unsure what to do. In the end she simply said, ‘I’ll see you at the office,’ and walked away.

Tom turned back just in time to avoid colliding into another commuter. He and Helena dodged to the right. He pulled his arm free. ‘Where’re we going?’

She looked round at him, but said nothing.

They turned a corner, right, off Mile End Road, down Vallance Road. Fifty yards further on, they swung another right into a narrow lane, Durrell Place. For the first time, Tom began to worry, began to wonder whether he had done the right thing after all. Then he saw a sign up ahead:
Berrick & Price Fine Art Gallery
. He recognised the name from an article in
GQ
.

Helena ran ahead. Tom caught up with her at the door to the gallery. The front windows stretched for about twenty-five feet. They were blacked out, with the name of the gallery printed in silver lettering across the glass in an eccentric font, a cross between Bank Gothic and Marlett, all block letters and narrow serifs. The door stood ajar. From inside came the faint smell of stale alcohol and incense.

‘So, what’s this all about?’ Tom asked, dropping his shoulder bag to the ground at the gallery’s entrance.

Helena simply pointed through the open door.

‘Who are you?’ he said.

Helena looked puzzled for a second, then tapped her chest. ‘Me? Cleaner.’ Then she pointed again. ‘Man dead.’

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