Colin Forbes: The Savage Gorge

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Colin Forbes The Savage Gorge
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    The Savage Gorge
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    Шпионский детектив / на английском языке
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The Savage Gorge

Colin Forbes


It started with the terrified scream of a frightened girl.

Tweed, ace detective at the Yard before he- accepted the post of Deputy Chief of the SIS, frowned as he sat behind his desk in his spacious first-floor office. He had just finished reading his instructions to an agent in Europe. The scream had broken his concentration.

'London gets rowdier day by day,' he grumbled.

The only two other occupants of the room were Monica, absorbed by her typing at her desk behind the closed door, and Tweed's second-in-command, Paula Grey, who had stood up from her desk to peer down through an open window into Park Crescent. It was a glorious May day. The sun shone out of a duck-egg-blue sky.

Paula, in her thirties, had thick glossy hair falling almost to her shoulders. Her features were well- shaped: a high forehead, neat eyebrows above alert blue-grey eyes, a strong nose with a firm mouth and determined chin.

The girl who had screamed was hurrying towards Their entrance. Frequently she glanced back over her shoulder. No one else about. It was that brief period when commuters had arrived at work and the shop pers were not yet out and about.

'I think she's coming here,' Paula reported.

'Who is? ' growled Tweed.

'The girl who screamed. ^5

'Well, we can do without her.'

The phone rang. Monica, in late middle-age, hair tied in a bun, Tweed's loyal secretary for many years, also acted as switchboard operator. She picked up the phone, listened, stared at Tweed.

'George' she said} referring to the ex-army guard in the hall, 'says a Miss Usa Clancy needs to see you urgently…'

'Well, ' Tweed said decisively, 'I don't want to see her. So get George to send her on her way. '

Monica, looking puzzled, resumed her conversa tion, which seemed to stretch out. Paula walked across to her. With a thankful expression Monica handed her the phone. Paula's conversation was brief. Cupping her hand over the phone, she stared at Tweed.

'You will see her. She was recommended to contact you by her friend Crystal Main, chief accountant of the Main Chance Bank.'

'Then I haven't much choice, have I? Wheel her up. '

Swiftly he packed the ten red folders answering queries from ten agents in Europe into a large metal box, locked it, put his key in a bottom drawer, which he also locked. He called across to Monica.

'Since the rest of our team is out checking different areas in London, call Communications to send two guards to collect this, ^5 Communications was in a separate house further along the Crescent; its sophis ticated aerials were disguised as TV masts. 'When they arrive, ' Tweed added, 'tell them everything is for immediate transmission after coding.'

Paula returned to her distant corner desk, where she could get a good view of the unwanted visitor. She checked on Tweed. She saw a well-built man of medium height, middle-aged but these days he was looking younger. He had neatly brushed thick dark hair 3 an unlined forehead, large blue eyes which missed nothing, a long nose above a wide strong mouth and a firm jaw. He could change his expression from aggression to amiability in a split second. Despite his earlier mood he now looked relaxed.

The door opened after a discreet tap. George ush ered in an attractive blonde in her late thirties. Expensively dressed, she wore a short white pleated skirt, a stylish leather jacket, a tasteful cravat round her long neck.

' Miss Lisa Clancy.' George introduced her and withdrew.

'Welcome, ' Tweed stood up. The visitor hastily removed a silk glove to grasp his outstretched hand gently, 'Do sit down. ' Tweed urged, indicating the carver chair in front of his desk. 'May I ask your name?' he enquired, settling back in his chair. George had only mumbled it.

'I am… Lisa… Clancy. Miss. '

She kept swallowing. Although she had a soft pleas ant voice, she appeared to have difficulty in speaking. She crossed her legs, then recrossed them. Her small shapely hands kept twisting her glove. Her large blue eyes flickered round the office.

A bundle of nerves, thought Paula, who was study ing her discreetly.

Monica stood up, went to her side, smiling. 'Would you like a cup of coffee?'

Thank you. If… it's not… too much bother.'

'No bother at all. ' Monica assured her cheerfully, 'Milk? Do you take sugar?'

'Just black… It is… so kind of you.'

'Back in a minute. ' Monica said with another smile and left the room.

Miss Clancy began to tremble. She clasped both hands tightly over the glove. Her shoulders began shaking. Pursing her lips tightly, she sat up very straight, pressed her back against the chair s uncrossed her legs and sat with her knees close together. An atmosphere of fear began to emanate from their visitor.

Paula was waiting for Tweed to cut the interview short, to get her out of the building. Women all over London were complaining of being stalked. A minority were disappointed when no man took any notice of them. Now the sensation of fear percolating through their office changed Tweed's approach.

I need a few facts. ' he suggested pleasantly. 'Were you stalked when you came here?'

'Yes, I was. '

No, you weren't, Paula said to herself, I'd have seen anyone when I watched you coming round the Crescent, but she changed her mind as Lisa Clancy explained.

'He – or she – disappeared into the shrubbery on the other side of the main road. They were watching me through binoculars -1 saw the sunlight flashing off the lenses. I think they checked your name plate on the wall to see where I was going. The General and Cumbria Assurance Company.'

She had quoted the cover name for the SIS. Typically, her friend Crystal Main had omitted to mention the SIS.

'He or she? They?' Tweed said immediately. 'Do you mean there are two of them stalking you? One man, one woman? '

Lisa was thanking Monica 3 who had arrived with a steaming cup of black coffee. She took a sip, then replied, 'Sometimes it's a hunchback with long greasy hair carrying a big executive case. Then he disappears into an alley. A few minutes later it's a woman wearing a long black dress with a veil covering her face. '

' I see, ' said Tweed, who didn't. 'How long has this been going on?'

'Five days. This is the fifth day.'

'Have you any enemies? Say a boyfriend you've dropped and who's furious with you?'

In the last few moments, Paula noticed Lisa appeared to have gained control over herself, was speaking normally without choking out the words. That changed.

' Do you live and work in London? ' Tweed asked her suddenly.

'Yes. I'm training to be… an accountant… with Rumble, Crowther and Nicholas. Their offices… are only a short walk from where I'm renting a nice house. I'm quite well off. In a street leading off Bexford Street… a side street with another… side street. I feel so guilty.'

'Guilty? About what?'

'Taking up… so much of your time. Could you escort me home? I couldn't stand,., being,.. stalked again. I know I shouldn't ask you to do this for me.'

'Yes, of course we'll see you safely back. Ready now? '

It was her emphasis on the word 'guilty' which alerted Tweed as it had Paula. Guilty of what? The reason Lisa had given was not convincing. Paula checked her Browning. 32 automatic which was tucked inside a holster strapped to her lower left leg and was escorting Lisa down the stairs with Tweed behind her when Harry Butler, the toughest and cleverest member of Tweed's team, came into the office. Tweed called down to the two women.

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