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Send Superintendent West
This e-book was created by papachanjo, with the purpose of providing a digitized format of the books written by John Creasey without the least intention of commercial gain of any sort. This e-book should hence be utilized for reading only and if you like it and can buy it, please do to support the publishers.
I am trying to create at least an ample collection of all the John Creasey books which are in the excess of 500 novels. Having read and possess just a meager 10 of his books does not qualify me to be a fan but the 10 I read were enough for me to rake up some effort to scan and create these e-books.
If you happen to have any John Creasey book and would like to add to the free online collection which I’m hoping to bring together, you can do the following:
Scan the book in greyscale
Save as djvu - use the free DJVU SOLO software to compress the images
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I’ll do the rest and will add a note of credit in the finished document.
from back cover
Politics Can Be Dirty . . .
Drugging, Kidnapping, a slashed throat, crushed and broken bodies in a hired car, all link with the mystery of a missing ten-year-old boy.
With Vital Cold War talks at risk, Roger West must out-guess the FBI for a fighting chance to save a child’s life . . .
Table of Contents
THE car moved swiftly, quietly, through the dark night.
The driver sat back, relaxed but watchful. The man by his side sat upright, body tensed; a third man, in the back, perched on the edge of his seat and rested one arm on the back of the front seat. Behind them, the heart of London was quiet in sleep; at two in the morning only the night-birds prowled. On the periphery of the sprawling, giant city, houses built of dark-red brick stood solid on either side of tree-lined roads. Here and there a light showed at a window, dull yellow. Each house had its low brick wall, separating it from its neighbour; hedges grew thickly, giving privacy to house and garden.
The driver flicked on his head-lights.
“Put them out,” ordered the man by his side.
The driver ignored him. They neared a corner, bright light shining on the windows of a house directly in front, dazzling, warning. The driver slowed down.
“You should’ve turned right,” the passenger next to him said.
“I’m going to turn right.” The driver cut the corner, allowed the beams to sweep the empty road ahead, then switched into darkness. “We can get away quicker,” he said.
“How much farther?” asked the passenger behind him.
“Two minutes. Maybe three.”
The driver’s relaxed manner did not change. Driving with side-lights only, he turned twice again. A house with white walls loomed out of the darkness, tall trees black against the white. He slowed down, switched off the engine, and braked gently; the car stopped with hardly a sound. He switched off the side-lights, and all was dark.
“Ed,” he said softly, “you get out and wait by the wall. Stay there unless you see or hear anyone around. Jay, you come with me as far as the gate. I might need some help. Ed” — he spoke in the same tone; flat, lifeless — “keep off the bottle.”
“Sure,” muttered Ed. “Sure.”
They got out. The driver closed the doors to the first catch to avoid slamming. Ed moved to the wall, the others walked to a corner, a few yards away. The house they were going to enter was built in a shallow cul-de-sac, off the street itself.
No lights shone anywhere.
Round the corner, the driver said: “Stay here, Jay. Watch Ed. We’ll have to do something about Ed.” From the sound of his voice, the darkness hid a smile no one would want to see. “Stay right here.”
“Okay. But Mac —”
“Not you,” Mac said. “Not you, as well as Ed.”
“You don’t have to worry about me. But are you sure the kid won’t wake up?”
“The kid won’t wake up,” Mac said “None of them will wake up. They’ll still be asleep, two hours from now, when we reach the airport Everything’s fixed.”
“You watch Ed.”
Mac gripped the other’s forearm, then moved away, rubber-soled shoes making little sound. He could make out the shape of the iron gate of the house which stood squat and dark against the cloudy sky. Wind soughed down, rustling the leaves on trees and bushes. It was the middle of September, neither cold nor warm.
He reached the gate and opened it, then slowly pushed it back. He bent down and hooked it to a stumpy post in the ground, so that it couldn’t swing to. He stepped on to grass and walked on this as far as the garage. Inside there was a ladder. He did not stop at the garage, but followed a gravel path leading to the rear of the house, and paused by the back door. Behind him was a square of lawn, tennis-court size, around it flower-beds, beyond the lawn a vegetable-garden hidden by ramblers proliferating about a rustic wooden fence.
It would take only a minute to force the catch, and there was a chance that the door wasn’t even locked. The people here, overwhelmed with the opiate they had been given, should be asleep in their chairs; unless they had staggered up to their bedroom.
The child would have had his dinner much earlier than the parents, for the Shawns had strict ideas about bringing up children.
Mac had telephoned the house at midnight and again at one o’clock, and there had been no answer; evidence that everything had gone according to plan. The lock of the back door clicked, and he withdrew a pick-lock, slipping it into his pocket before turning the handle and pushing. The door yielded. He stepped inside, closing it behind him, and put on a flashlight. The beam stabbed at a stainless steel sink and big metal taps, then moved until it shone beyond the shiny white tiled wall and through the open door. He knew the house well, and found his way easily through the three ground-floor rooms. In the dining-room, he grinned as the white light shone on the littered table, on some half-eaten ham, limp salad in a bowl, a percolator, dirty cups, plates and knives. They hadn’t been able to finish the meal, they’d been, so tired.
Mac went to the table.
He was short, with very broad shoulders, stocky but quick in his movements. His glossy dark hair was brushed straight back from his forehead, he had small features in a big face, a tawny skin, and unexpectedly clear grey eyes. If one failed to notice the thin lips his appearance, on first sight, was likeable.
He picked up the cups and saucers and took them to the kitchen, putting them on the metal draining-board, then went back for the percolator, which was nearly full. Resting the flashlight on the window-ledge, he washed the cups and saucers, emptied the milk jug and washed this also. He opened the refrigerator, took out a quart bottle of milk, half full, and emptied it. He washed this bottle, too. Next he took a pint bottle of milk out of his pocket, poured it into the empty quart bottle, then poured some from that into the jug.
He poured a little milk and some cold coffee into each cup, swilled it round and spilled a little into each saucer, then put the empty pint bottle back into his pocket. He ran some water to rinse the sink and remove all traces of the opiate which had been in the quart bottle of milk. He put the pure milk into the refrigerator, then carried cups and saucers, jug and percolator back into the dining-room, replacing them where he had found them.
His hands were cold from the water, except at the finger tips, which were protected by sticking-plaster. He rubbed them together as he went upstairs. The door of the main bedroom was ajar, and the Shawns lay together on the big double bed, Shawn nearer the door, his dark head close to his wife’s, which was almost platinum blonde. She lay on her back, Shawn on his left side, facing her, one hand limp on her breast. She wore a filmy pink nightdress or pyjamas, but Shawn hadn’t undressed completely. Mac went across to the bed, buried his fingers in Shawn’s hair, and tugged. Shawn’s head jerked back, but he didn’t make a sound or flicker an eyelid. Mac shone his torch into the woman’s face and stood there for a long time. He had a reputation that was bad even among people who rejected the ordinary moral codes; his expression showed why. It was hungry; it was brutal.
“Boy,” he said, “it would only take five minutes. What’s to stop me?”
He moved towards her, hand outstretched, but suddenly drew back, turned on his heel, and went out, leaving the door still ajar. Across the wide landing, another door was open. Inside, a boy of about ten years lay on his side in a single bed, his black hair making him look like a miniature edition of his father. The bedclothes were pulled out of the side of the mattress, and only blue-and-white striped pyjamas covered the boy.
Mac bent over him, seeing features which were startlingly like Belle Shawn’s; then, turning from the bed, he took a small suitcase from the bottom of the wardrobe. In this he packed the clothes the boy had taken off, now folded on a chair, toothbrush, paste, clean handkerchiefs, shirts, socks and a spare suit. Then he went back to the bed, carrying a top coat, sat the boy up, and forced his arms into the sleeves. None of this took very long. He hoisted the boy up to his left shoulder, managing to retain the flashlight in his left hand, picked up the suitcase and went out of the bedroom and downstairs.
He had to put the case down to open the back door, hold the door steady with his foot, pick up the case, and then back out. A gust of wind caught him by surprise, pulling the door free and slamming it The noise shattered the quietness, making Mac hiss.
The wind ruffled the boy’s hair.
Mac kept to the grass, and watched the windows of the neighbouring houses. No lights came on. When he reached the gate, Jay was moving towards him.
“Yeah. Get going.” Mac held out the case, and Jay took it He was taller than Mac, and thinner, with a small head and wide brimmed hat; the two men made a sharp contrast
Ed was at the corner, burly, podgy, scared.
“You hear that door bang?”
“I banged it,” Mac said. Take the kid.”
“If anyone wakes up . . .”
“Just take the kid.”
Ed gulped and obeyed, cradling the boy in his arms. Then he bent down, as Jay opened the rear door of the car, and lifted the boy inside, sat him on the seat and pushed him towards the far corner. By the time he had finished, Mac was at the wheel and Jay was beside him, case on his knees. Ed closed the door, which didn’t fasten properly.
“Leave it,” Mac ordered.
Ed kept a hand on the handle to stop the rattling. Mac didn’t start the engine, but took off the hand-brake; the gradient was steep enough to start the car rolling, and they moved a hundred yards or so before he switched on the engine and the side-lights. The engine made little noise. Near a corner, Mac put on the head-lights and this time Ed didn’t protest. The lights swept the road ahead as they turned the corner, and out of the night came a man.
He was at a gate. He was dressed in dark clothes that looked black, and a helmet. A flashlight seemed to be fastened somewhere on to his stomach. He didn’t move, yet seemed to leap in front of their eyes. They could see his big face and heavy moustache. He was there only for a moment before they passed him. Mac kept the head-lights on.
Ed turned his head and stared out of the back window. As they turned a corner, he moved round slowly, moistening his lips.
“You see him?”
“We’re not blind,” Jay said.
“We don’t have to worry about English cops,” Jay said. He sounded as if he were trying to convince himself.
“We don’t have to worry about anything,” Mac stated flatly.
“Even in this goddamned country it isn’t a crime to drive by night, although maybe you’d think it was, they go to bed so early. Ed” — he maintained the steady monotone — “you’ve got work to do. It should be easy, you have kids of your own. Open that case — give him the case, Jay — and get the kid dressed. We still have an hour. Take it easy. Don’t forget his underpants.” Mac sounded as if that was meant for a joke. “You want to close the door?”
Ed took another glance out of the back window, slammed the door, then began to dress the kidnapped child.
ROGER West lay in bed, eyes closed, breathing heavily, giving a fair imitation of a snore. He heard the door open, and stealthy movements inside the room. He didn’t open his eyes. Rustling sounds followed, and he knew he wouldn’t need to keep up the pretence much longer. Cups chinked as a tray was put on the small table next to the bed on his side, and he opened his eyes and looked through his lashes at the broad face of Martin-called-Scoopy, his elder son, beaming down at him.
“ ‘Morning, Pop!”
“I’ll pop you,” Roger said, gruffly. He struggled up to a sitting position as Richard, his younger son, half a head taller than Martin, entered the bedroom. Both boys had the glow of health in cheeks and eyes, and in that moment something in their expressions made them remarkably alike, although usually they were so different. Your mother’s all right or you wouldn’t be looking so pleased with yourselves. You want something, or you wouldn’t both be here. No.”
He began to pour out tea.
At twenty-one, Martin was more than old enough to know his own mind, and he was studying art at the Chelsea College of Painting, working in the evenings and weekends. Richard was working at a film studio near London, hoping to write scripts for a living. It was seldom that either came to him for anything, these days; for them both to come at once was rare indeed.
“If it’s no,” Richard said, “you’re in for a shock, Dad.”
Roger sipped his tea.
“Well, one of us is,” he temporized. There was something in their minds he couldn’t guess. It wasn’t April Fool’s Day. It wasn’t his birthday. It wasn’t —
Suddenly, he remembered; it was the first day of the Summer Sales, and Janet had said she wanted to go to Oxford Street. She was desperate for a new Autumn outfit; he must have slept on — but no, it wasn’t too late — just before eight.
“All right,” he said. “Shock me.”
“Mum forgot to get any money out of the bank,” Richard said, “and you’ve only a pound in your wallet. So she’s gone to get a place in the queue at Debb’s, and somehow you have to take her some money.”
“Twenty-four years wed, she complained,” said Scoop, “and she still doesn’t know where you keep your secret hoard. She turned the place upside down.”
“I still keep it at the bank, and she knows it,” Roger said. “I’ll have to change a cheque at a shop on the way.”