Authors: Colin Forbes
Tags: #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction
The Stockholm Syndicate
First published 1981 by William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd
First published by Pan Books 1982
This edition published 1998 by Macmillan
an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 25 Eccleston Place, London SW1W 9NF and Basingstoke Associated companies throughout the world ISBN 0 333 65758 6 Copyright (c) Colin Forbes 1981
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Typeset by Set Systems Ltd, Saffron Walden, Essex Printed by Mackays of
Chatham plc, Chatham, Kent
I would like to record my appreciation for the help and time the following provided in my research, and to emphasize that they are in no way responsible for any errors of fact:
Henry Augustsson (goldsmith), Iwan Hedman (the Swedish Army), Otto Holm (the Swedish police), Marie-Louise Telegin, and two others who must remain nameless.
The deadly game had begun. It was close to midnight, and Jules Beaurain started across the
. His manner apparently relaxed, his eyes were everywhere as he scanned windows, rooftops, doorways for any sign of the slightest movement.
"I don't like the idea. You'll be a sitting duck for their best marksman," Sergeant Henderson had warned him.
duck," Beaurain had replied.
"And your men will be all along the route."
"I can't guarantee they see him before he sees you," the Scot had persisted.
"It only takes one bullet..."
"That's enough talk, Jock," Beaurain had said.
"We're going to do it. Warn all the gunners I want him taken alive."
So now they were doing it, and Brussels was almost deserted on this warm June night. A few tourists stood on the edges of the square, reluctant to go to bed but unsure of what to do next. Beaurain continued towards the far, dark side. Forty years old, five feet ten, thick hair and eyebrows dark, the hair brushed back over a high forehead, he had a military touch in the way he held himself, an impression reinforced by a trim moustache and strong jaw.
Born in Liège of an English mother and a Belgian father he had by the age of thirty-seven risen to the rank of Chief Superintendent in the Belgian police in command of the anti-terrorist division. A year later he had resigned from the police when Julie, his English wife, was caught in terrorist crossfire during a hijack at Athens airport, and died. Since then he had built up Telescope.
A curtain moved in a high window. It was at third-floor level, an excellent firing-point. The curtain parted. A man in a vest leaned on the window ledge, peering down into the place. Beaurain ignored him.
The window was well lit, silhouetting the watcher. A professional wouldn't make that mistake.
This was the third time he had followed this route at the same hour.
Always before he had varied both route and timing. It was the only way to stay alive once you were the Syndicate's target. He paused at the entrance to the rue des Bouchers, a cobbled road which led uphill away from the great open space of the place. He wished to God he could smoke a cigarette.
"No cigarettes," Henderson said.
"It would help pick you out from a distance. Make it difficult make him come to you ..."
Beaurain took one last glance over his shoulder into the place. He shrugged, confident that the tourists were innocent enough, and started up the cobbles. Instinct told him the attack would come in this narrow street. Leading off it were half-a-dozen possible escape routes, alleys, side streets.
"Keep to the shadows!" Henderson said.
"It will upset his aim ..."
Maintaining an even pace, Beaurain climbed the street. Henderson had twenty armed men at strategic positions along his route. Some would be at street level; others at upper floor windows overlooking the route.
Some would be on the rooftops, he felt sure. And somewhere Henderson would have his command post, linked with every man by walkie-talkie.
That was the moment the drunk appeared, staggering down the street towards him. He was singing softly to himself. Then he stopped, leaned against a wall and upended a bottle with his left hand. It was Stig Palme, one of Henderson's gunners. He was keeping his right hand free for his pistol. He stood against the wall as the Belgian passed.
A pattern was beginning to emerge. Palme was the back-up man, the gunner who would change direction and reel up behind Beaurain covering his rear. Now there was a fresh problem more light.
Through windows open to the warm night he heard the babble of diners' voices, the laughter of women and the clink of glasses. He had no option but to walk through the shafts of light, a slow-moving silhouette.
Beaurain was dressed casually, in a dark polo necked sweater, dark blue slacks and rubber-soled shoes. He carried a jacket over his right arm.
And then he saw something which really worried him.
Ahead on his route he saw a van parked at an intersection with a side street. Boucher was inscribed in large white letters across the rear doors. Each door had a window high up, like portholes. Why had he assumed that the Syndicate would send only one man? Supposing they had surrounded his route with a team to guide the killer to his objective.
Above all, who would be taking delivery of meat at this hour of the night? Something brushed against his leg.
He didn't jump. He didn't pause. He glanced swiftly down. A fat tabby brushed against him again and then padded ahead, tail waving like a pennant, stopping at intervals to make sure Beaurain was still with him. As he passed a side street on his right he saw two lovers entwined in an embrace. Good cover for a gunman, Beaurain realised. If only Palme, whose voice he could just hear, were nearer. But the couple hadn't moved before he lost sight of them. And it was too late now to do anything about it. Palme would have to cope with them if they were trouble. Beaurain's eyes were now glued on the two windows at the rear of the parked van.
"The enemy could be watching his approach, and he had to watch several ways at once the van, the various branches of the intersection and the windows above the restaurants.
And then it happened in the one way they had felt sure it would not happen. The assassin chose the direct approach. He appeared out of nowhere at the corner close to the parked van, a short, heavily-built man wearing a light raincoat, lifting with both hands a large Luger pistol, the muzzle obscenely enlarged with the attached silencer.
Beaurain had a brief impression a plump face, cold eyes then he flung away his jacket as he dropped to the cobbles, rolling sideways with great agility. The gunman had two choices swing the gun in an arc and lower it to the target, or lower the gun and then swing it in an arc.
He chose the latter. The wrong one. It gave Beaurain two extra seconds.
Raising the gas-pistol he had been holding beneath his jacket Beaurain aimed and fired in one movement. The tear-gas missile hit the gunman in the chest, exploded, smothered his face. The van doors were thrown open and Henderson had leapt from his command post. Using both hands, he grabbed the assassin's gun arm, wrenched it upwards and backwards in one violent movement. Something cracked. The man opened his mouth to scream.
Palme had covered an astonishing distance uphill. His clenched fist hit the open mouth, stifling the scream, then his knee drove into the gunman's stomach. The man would have jack-knifed forward under the impetus of the blow, but he was held in Henderson's fierce grip.
Henderson was wearing a gas-mask, but the tear-gas was affecting Palme and he was forced to retreat.
Others, also in gas-masks, had appeared from inside the van and they crowded round Henderson and his prisoner, helping to haul and lift their captive into the vehicle. The rear doors closed. Henderson tore off his gas-mask, handed it to the driver and told him to get moving.
Palme picked up the gunman's Luger, gave it to Henderson and climbed in beside the driver.
Beaurain had retrieved his jacket and hidden his pistol.
"I have a car down this side street," Henderson said; but Beaurain was momentarily distracted. Framed in the nearest restaurant window he saw a woman's head appear as she allowed a waiter to light her cigarette.
The woman had dark hair; she was dining alone.
"We'd better move, sir," Henderson urged.
Only when he was settled in the passenger seat, and Beaurain behind the wheel, was the Scot able to relax a little, to relay his information.
Beaurain started up the Mercedes 280E and began to follow a circuitous route which would take them out of the city to the south.
"Chap we grabbed was Serge Litov. I tailed him once in Paris."
"They sent a Russian? It doesn't make sense," Beau-rain said.
"Although we did hear he'd defected. Do we know who to?"
"I'd expected they might send Baum. He's even more dangerous."
"Odd, isn't it?" Beaurain agreed.
"And how did your command post happen to be just at the right place?"
"Partly luck, partly reconnaissance. The gunners scoured the area and came up with a concealed Suzuki near that intersection. A powerful job and I guessed it might be the getaway machine. So I told Peters to shift the machine. Then we parked the van at the intersection. Seemed the obvious place. Are you all right, sir?"
"You know something, Henderson? For some reason I seem to be sweating."
"That'll be the warm night, sir."
"We may have left a little early."
"I thought the plan was to get clear of the area and back to base as soon as we had the fish in the net."
"No, I don't mean the van I mean you and I. Supposing Litov had succeeded, had killed me. And then you in turn killed him, which could easily have happened. The Syndicate must have foreseen that possibility. So, what would they do?"
"Leave someone in a position to observe what happened and report back.
But was there anywhere they could safely have placed a watcher?"
"In that restaurant opposite the side street."
To let in more cool air Beaurain pressed the switch which slid back the sun-roof of his beloved 280E.
"Probably I'm wrong," Beaurain concluded, and speeded up to overtake the van transporting Litov somewhere ahead of them. But he still couldn't forget the slim white arm of the girl extending her cigarette-holder towards a waiter. It bothered him that he hadn't seen her full face.
Sitting by herself at the window table in the Auberge des Roses, Sonia Karnell had witnessed the violent events in the rue des Bouchers with the aid of her compact mirror. Constructed of the finest glass and always kept highly polished, the mirror was one of the tools of her trade. While all the other diners were enjoying their meal and noticing nothing, Sonia was giving an imitation of a vain thirty-year-old who could not stop looking at herself.
She watched the swift and decisive assault on Serge Litov. The murderous efficiency of Telescope's operation impressed Sonia and she decided she must include this in her report. She waited ten minutes and called for her bill.
As she left the restaurant, she ignored the admiring glances of several males. She walked rapidly to the hired Peugeot she had parked a quarter of a mile away. With the roads almost clear of traffic once outside the city, she reached her destination in under two hours.
Entering Bruges was like travelling back through a time machine five hundred years. The old city was a labyrinth of waterways and medieval streets and squares. Her nerves started to play up as she approached the Hoogste van Brugge. It was the man she had come to see who worried her. He did not take kindly to the bearers of bad tidings.
It was two in the morning when she parked the car and walked a short distance down a side street and then turned into the confined and cobbled alley which was the Hoogste van Brugge. Dr. Otto Berlin resided at No. 285 during his rare visits to Bruges.
As she used the key to open the heavy door of No. 285 Sonia Karnell never gave a thought to the building opposite.
The cine-camera equipped with an infra-red tele-photo lens was operated by a patient Reming. He started up the camera as soon as she approached the building although he then had no idea whether the dark-haired woman had any connection with No. 285. He kept it running until she had closed the door behind her. The windows opposite were masked by heavy curtains.
"It didn't work Litov failed. Worse still, Telescope captured him alive and took him away in a van they had ready waiting."
Sonia was anxious to get over the worst at once, not knowing how her chief would react. Dr. Berlin sat behind a baize-covered table in a tiny room on the first floor. The only light came from a milky globe on the table, shaded with dark red cloth. She faced him across the table, her chair drawn up close to support her back. As he said nothing she went on talking, to appease him. Although a native of Stockholm, she was speaking in fluent French.
Telescope had men everywhere. I saw it all from the restaurant Litov told me to go to. Beaurain came up the street on foot again... it all seemed so innocent and natural ... the van I hadn't taken any notice of, but that was where some of them were hidden ... they poured out of it when Litov was about to shoot at point-blank range. Litov of all people! How could he walk into such a trap?"
Berlin was a fat man, no longer forty certainly but probably not sixty.
His greasy black hair hung across his forehead. He wore a dark moustache curved down to the sides of his mouth and his glasses had heavy rims and thick pebble lenses. He wore a pair of pigskin gloves.
He had replied to Karnell in the language she had been speaking. She stared in amazement at the reply.
"He didn't?" she repeated.
"But I'm sure it was Litov!"
"It was Litov," Berlin agreed.
"Then if it was Litov I don't understand," she burst out.
"His job was to kill Beaurain and escape."
"No. His job was to infiltrate Telescope and locate its main base.
Only then can we mount a plan to destroy Telescope and all its works."
"And Litov," Karnell protested, 'having been taken to this base, simply has to observe its location, escape and come running back to us with the information? Litov, of course, will have no trouble escaping..."
Berlin leaned across the table. By the glow of the lamp his huge shadow loomed across the ceiling. He hit the side of her face with the back of his hand.
"Never speak to me in that tone again," he said.
"It was just the shock of what you said," she stammered.
"The fact that you had not trusted me."
"You know how we work, my dear Sonia." His voice was a soothing purr now, but still with the guttural accent which could not disguise completely the harsh menace he conveyed.
"Each knows only what is necessary to know to do his or her job at the time. I think we will leave now. You have parked the car in the T'Zand? Good. On the way we will warn the entire network to keep alert for Beaurain's next move."
The blow to the side of her face had not really hurt her; it had been little more than a rather bear-like caress. Had Berlin really struck out, she would have ended up sprawled on the floor against the wall, possibly with her neck broken. He stood up and she wrinkled her nose at his soiled and crumpled suit. Berlin took two hand grenades from a cupboard, each of which he examined with care before depositing one in either jacket pocket. They were primed ready for use.
He led the way down the staircase, squeezing between banister rail and the peeling wall-plaster.
Sonia Karnell checked the time. 2.30 a.m. Berlin was a man who preferred to conduct his business and to travel by night.
"Who lives during the dark hours?" was one of his favourite sayings.
She turned on the pocket torch always kept in her handbag and followed Berlin into the street. The houses in the Hoogste van Brugge, all joined together and all built centuries ago, were like up-ended matchboxes the thin side facing the street. Berlin had taken a beret from somewhere and crammed it on his head.
"You're sure you mean the word is to go out at all levels?" she said.
"Right up to the top?"
"Right up to the top," he assured her.
There was no change of expression behind the thick pebble glasses as her torch caught the lenses for a second, but Berlin knew the reason for her checking, for her surprise. The word would now go out which was rarely invoked, the word which would alert a whole army of watchers to observe and report on the activities, movements and conversations of Jules Beaurain, head of Telescope. The code-word was
It would go out to hotel receptionists, airport personnel, railway staff, petrol station attendants, Customs and Immigration officials at ports. Theoretically it would be impossible for Jules Beaurain to move in western Europe without his movement immediately being reported to Berlin.