An Agent of Deceit by Chris Morgan Jones

An Agent of Deceit - book cover

When two cheats and frauds fall out, one Russian the other Greek, then those around them should take care. Stay with it, someone will lose and lose badly.

Read a Short Extract





    Lock felt a weight bearing on his chest, a long-held fear. ‘Do we know what he knows?’
    ‘No. The complaint isn’t detailed.’
    ‘He’s fishing.’
    ‘I don’t think so.’ Kessler looked from Lock to Malin.
    ‘Then what is he doing?’ said Lock. ‘It seems crazy. Why allege something you can’t prove? And then make sure we can’t settle?’
    Again Kessler looked between the two. Malin made the smallest movement of his head and Kessler resumed.
    ‘Because he has no intention of settling? I suspect that Mr Tourna is truly vexed, and when Mr Tourna is vexed he doesn’t bottle it up. For this Greek, revenge is best served relatively warm.’ Kessler paused, clearly pleased with his words. ‘I think he is doing this – and we must assume he is doing this – because he wants to hurt Mr Malin. By now we can assume that he’s hired investigators and PR and God knows who else to put on an almighty show. When he thinks the time is right.’
    Kessler’s sidekick was all the while taking notes. Lock glanced at them and wondered how they could possibly be so voluminous already. The sun was lower now and behind Malin, leaving his face in shadow.
    ‘Look,’ said Lock, ‘if he had proof of something he’d blackmail us with it privately. That’s his style. Which means there’s no evidence.’
    ‘Maybe not,’ said Kessler, ‘but its going to be very uncomfortable demonstrating that. I’m here now because we need to start work immediately. Paris is the priority. I’ll be working out of Bryson’s London office to save you travelling to DC and me travelling to Moscow…’
    ‘Wait, hang on.’ Lock looked puzzled. ‘Why have an arbitration at all? If he wants to make a noise he can just sue us in New York.’
    ‘That is the most interesting question,’ said Kessler. ‘I don’t know. I simply can’t read that part. But I think that New York may be a sideshow. A lawsuit there will make a lot of noise, but… My guess is he wants to cause you a lot of pain but still give you a mechanism for settling – perhaps you agree to settle if he completely retracts the complaint. Or perhaps he wants to see you on the stand. We can sidestep that in New York, I think, but not in Paris. You have to attend your own arbitration.’
    Lock could feel pain in his lower back. This was the moment at which he should be showing Malin that he was confident and full of fight but his body was registering dismay.
    ‘Can we do him some damage first?’
    ‘Fight fire with fire, you mean? Perhaps. I’m seeing investigators in London next week. It may be that Mr Tourna has something he would rather remain hidden. But it’s not as if his reputation has far to fall. Such an asset.’ Kessler gave a wry, irritating little chuckle.
    Malin stood up, thanked Kessler, and asked Lock to join him outside. As they walked on the lawn in front of the house Lock could feel the spring of the grass under his feet. Through the cypresses he saw headlands and bays linking into the distance, the cliffs deep red in shadow. His fresh shirt was already damp and cool against his back. He and Malin took steps down to the swimming pool whose sky-blue water spilled endlessly over its far lip, the sea beyond a steady, serious cobalt. They sat at a table, out of the setting sun, where Lock, side on to Malin with his elbows on his knees, continued to gaze at the pool and wondered whether anything could make the scene more placid. He was curious to know whether Malin drew pleasure from it.
    Malin extracted a packet of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, took one, and lit it. He talked Russian now. ‘Richard, I am concerned about this. Tourna is a little crazy. I think Kessler is right – he is not doing this so we have to pay him money.’
    ‘Tourna is nuts. We should never have…’
    ‘Le me finish.’ Malin paused. Lock looked from the water to him, indicating his willingness to listen. ‘Kessler called me about this two days ago. This has given me some time to think. I asked him to come out here to discuss it with us in person. I have asked him as I am asking you to take special care of this so that it does not escalate. I want us to find out what Tourna knows. And I want to know everything about Tourna. That is your responsibility. I will not settle this because I do not trust Tourna to keep it settled.’ Again he paused, drawing deeply on his cigarette. ‘How confident are you that we are protected?’

Copyright © Chris Morgan Jones 2011