Book extract: Shady doings off the coast of Mozambique
A Royal Navy stalwart and MI6 agent must protect a yacht’s high-profile passengers from a terrorist threat
Edmund-George King’s debut, The Senior Adviser (Porcupine Press, R299), is described as “a masterful crime thriller of espionage with twists and turns like a koeksister – and just as satisfying”.
His hero is Captain John Fletcher, a Royal Navy stalwart and MI6 agent. His brief is to protect a yacht’s high-profile passengers from a potential terrorist threat. As the yacht sails from the Caribbean to the islands off Mozambique, Fletcher struggles to tell friend from foe. He can’t shake his uneasy feeling that some sort of international agency is taking a peculiar yet strong interest in the expedition.
About the author
Edmund-George King grew up in the south-west of France. He has worked for three decades as an international economist, following political and economic developments around the world. As a result, he is widely travelled and has long had a keen interest in history and political intrigue.
After many years living in London, a trip to SA in 1991 ignited his love of the country and he now lives in Pretoria. King’s main hobby is writing, a passion he has nurtured for many years. When not writing fiction and espionage thrillers, he enjoys travelling to the bush or tropical islands, reading about history and current events, taking walks in nature, music, good wine and fine dining. This is his first book.
Here is an extract:
‘Mr Hoss’, said the secretary as she popped her head through the door, ‘do you need anything else, or may I go home?’ J Fulbright Hoss, ‘Jack’ to his ex-colleagues at the Miami Police Department, owner and manager of JF Hoss & Co, private detective agency, briefly raised his eyes from his desk. ‘You can go, Lizzie, thank you.’ She bade the manager farewell, leaving him alone in the offices. The other three secretaries and the five detectives working for the agency had gone home already. Mr Hoss would probably stay another hour or so, then meet up with Cindy – a former secretary who had resigned after becoming his regular girlfriend. Or he would drive down to Coral Gables for a drink with his fellow pool players. These were people he knew from his days in the Police Department, or even before, when he lived in pre-Castrist Cuba and roamed the Caribbean on undercover assignments for the CIA.
Jack Hoss finished some paperwork and placed a few calls. Cindy was away that night, visiting her mother in the Everglades, so he would stop at Paco’s for a take-away chilli con carne before driving home. The fridge in his kitchen was always well stocked with beer, and so he would soon be able to relax.
Half an hour later, he was leaving the building and waving goodnight at the security guard. It was through Hoss that this man had gotten his job. ‘Good night, Mr Hoss’. The guard had served briefly under Hoss in the Miami Police Department, and thought of him as a tough but respected professional. Now that the boss had gone private, the grateful man reflected, he dealt in pretty much all kinds of business where people did not want the police involved – dirty business tricks, runaway teenagers, drug problems among Miami’s wealthy and strange disappearances of valuable goods.
With the agency now in its fifth year, Mr Hoss delegated most of the work to his detectives. However, there were important cases he still took care of personally. These often involved him in travel, sometimes for weeks on end. Although there was a degree of conjecture about these cases among the staff, it seemed as if nobody but the boss knew the slightest thing about them.
Jack Hoss eased his long, sinewy body into the driving seat of his Pontiac and straightened his metal-rimmed spectacles on his nose. Three quarters of an hour later, having dodged the worst of the traffic, he parked in the driveway of a white wooden bungalow, checking the mailbox as he walked to the door. It was empty but for a thick brown paper envelope addressed to J. Fulbright Hoss, 170 Miami Lakes Drive, Miami Lakes, FL. Obviously containing some kind of catalogue, the envelope bore a United Kingdom stamp. Sitting down in his study with a freshly opened can of Budweiser on his desk, Jack Hoss quickly opened this correspondence. It contained a thick holiday brochure from Kuoni Travel Agency, advertising a whole range of international destinations ‘for the discerning traveller’. What immediately captured Hoss’s attention was that a small mark had been made, in red ballpoint pen, in the left-hand corner of the front page. The detective-agency owner picked up a pen and a blank piece of paper, and, carefully browsing through the pages of the travel brochure one by one, picked all the entries that had been similarly marked with a small red tick. Each time he spotted one, he carefully noted down the first letter of the second word in the paragraph, till he had a full sequence of letters in front of him. They seemed to carry absolutely no meaning. But Jack Hoss obviously knew the cipher by heart, because after a few minutes of mental reckoning he was able to write a new set of letters, which added up to a definite message.
To the adviser, Southern US and Central America region. Order to relocate no later than July 31 to Nassau, Bahamas. Keep watch for arrival of Nereid. Await subsequent instructions. International Consultancy – the Senior Adviser.
Hoss read the words twice, checked again that he had deciphered the message correctly, and finally tossed the piece of paper into his trouser pocket. Half an hour later, both the catalogue and the paper had been reduced to ashes among the twigs always lying ready in his barbecue fire. Satisfied, he walked back into the house to pour himself another beer and tuck into his bowl of chilli. But the food was already completely cold.