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Five Energy

CHAPTER FIVE - ENERGY

 

London, 10 December 2000.

 

My wife and I returned home from Dubai early on Sunday evening. Daniel, the driver I use for the airport, met us when we landed at Heathrow. The travel people had booked us on a flight, emanating from Colombo. These people seem to have a mind of their own, or sometimes I wonder if they have a mind at all. So now we had to labour our way around the M25 instead of landing at Gatwick, which is where Dubai's own airline goes, and I do not even earn air miles with this flight! As if I, Frank Chardonnay, deal-maker extaordinaire, haven't raised this kind of issue often enough, but I am a captive client, destined to fly the world in the most inconvenient manner possible - next I can see them providing a special wooden seat at the back of the plane by the toilets, for members of my bank only by special reservation, and then they will still double book it. Lord above!

 

Still, my wife had had a great time. Just too short, she said. She would have loved another couple of days on the beach or under the palms by the pool, reading, drinking, eating, being waited on. She did not even seem to mind that Danny and I had consumed a month's maximum recommended alcohol intake in forty-eight hours. All in all this was a successful trip, and now for maximum effect, I would take the six eleven up to London first thing tomorrow and feed the deal of the century straight into the sausage machine and get approval to sign the mandate.

 

Sure enough, when I did the rounds with my deal at the bank next morning, no one was interested in looking at my thirty-five-page report with additional appendices, but they did want to know when the fees would come in. This was good. It allowed me to say that if we faxed back the signed mandate before close of business today in Dubai (i.e. this morning in London), we would have the fees tomorrow.

 

Now, towards the middle of December a lot of bankers can get very interested in fees, that is to say fees in December and not fees in January. There is a very simple difference. They will be paid a bonus out of the December fees a year earlier than January fees by reason of the end of their budget year coinciding with the end of the calendar year. The fact that none of them had anything to do with these fees and would have nothing to do with doing the subsequent work, except for getting in the way every now and then, was not relevant to the bonus process. The simple principle is that the more distant you are from the deal in an upward direction in the bank hierarchy, the bigger your share of the resulting bonus.

 

My fees were so big that approval was guaranteed, and my acceptance of the mandate went out at eleven ten London time, and I called Danny to make sure he retrieved it from his fax machine. The fax was signed by me, as always. That way if anything went wrong, my bosses did not know about it. The fact that by the time things went wrong they might have been reporting the fee income once a month for the last eighteen months usually had no bearing on their apparent and convenient lack of recollection. Some of them could make the Irangate perpetrators look like a wimps who could not even get into the Boy Scouts. The next thing on the agenda was for my secretary, Jill, to pass an urgent message to say I could not make the weekly Monday meeting at two o'clock because I was negotiating the closure of a major deal. With that I went to lunch.

 

Lunch was a bit of a reunion with a couple of the guys we had done a deal for back in the eighties. Richard had been the number two in finance at the time and Neil was their in-house lawyer. Like many of the eighties deals, it had turned sour a couple of years later, but we had all made out like bandits at the time. Top management had been kicked out, which meant they got better jobs elsewhere, so that they could screw those shareholders too, and they had recruited Richard and Neil to do the job for them, since they still had not learned how to do it themselves.

 

I had wanted a mandate, of course, but since our bank had led the way to have their old friends fired from the previous screw-up, this had proved difficult. We met at the Pacifique Grillade in Mayfair. I did not expect to see many bankers in there at lunchtime. As far as I knew, this was more of a media hangout in the evening. I descended the stairs to the art nouveau basement, at least that was my take on the decor, not being quite sure what art nouveau is, so maybe I have got the wrong style, I thought to myself, and maybe its Jugendstil. No matter, my lunch guests were already at the bar, the plan being to have a few beers before moving over to our booth for lunch.

 

"So where've you been, Frank, you're looking tanned," Richard, my lunch guest, said as he greeted me.

"We've just closed on a big deal. I was out in Dubai." I replied.

The conversation moved on to their various activities over the last six months and plans for the coming year. It had always been my great white hope that I would somehow resurrect our relationship with these people, and once again opportunities seemed to be there, but the fish were not biting today. In the back of my mind, I knew that I had to find a counterbalance to avoid being totally sucked in to the business of the people whose mandate I had just signed before lunch. We had a bottle of French white with the hors d'oeuvre, and by the time we had moved on to red with the main course it was abundantly clear that there was still no business here for me.

 

It was three thirty by the time we ascended to street level. Instead of parting on Piccadilly, Richard suggested we go somewhere for a pint, unless I had an urgent reason to race back to the office. I agreed, but then my phone rang. It was Danny and he wanted to talk, so I asked him to hold for a second while I said my goodbyes.

"Good lunch, huh. I guess you've just turned your phone back on," Danny said.

"You know how it is in London this time of year. Pretty tough for us bankers."

"I do. I can smell it from here. My guess is Margaux. So thanks for the mandate. I've talked to Vermouth in Singapore. He wants to set up the first major meeting with all parties. We need to know you will be there. It's scheduled for next Monday, one full day. Can you make it?" A combination of lager, white and red wine is not known to induce timidity, so I had no hesitation in my response.

"Sure."

" In that case, take the flight out on Saturday which stops in Dubai. I'll join you and we'll be in Colombo by lunchtime Sunday."

"Colombo?"

"Yeah, didn't I say? We're all meeting in Sri Lanka for some reason."

 

Back in the office, Jill was struggling with my expense claims from Dubai. It was always the modest pile of receipts that caused her the problem, when she couldn't work out why I hadn't had any meals, or why there seemed to be a bottle of red wine on the breakfast bill and nothing for the rest of the day. The idea that hotel billing times might not coincide with my consumption, or that someone might have invited me to a meal, did not seem to occur to her. But I liked the red wine at breakfast conclusion: I thought it would be good for my image when the Accounts Department came to check the expense claims.

 

She looked up.

"You've all got to attend a dinner on Tuesday. Chairman's in town." This was good. Not only did I have the opportunity of a trip to Sri Lanka, but I was going to be very visibly missing the chairman's dinner because I was engaged on a major deal. I think Jill quite enjoyed apprising our Illustrious Leader's secretary of this. But he still called me in to see him.

 

"So it seems your ticket's come up after all, Frank. You'll survive another quarter."

"It seems that way." I replied.

"You wanna watch your weight, Frank. Bit of a paunch there. When's your medical?" He asked.

"It'll keep me going longer in a nuclear winter." I advised him, but he seemed to want to develop the theme.

"Balding a bit, just under five eleven, slightly grey. Premature for someone just turned thirty."

"Is this a management technique they're teaching you now?" I quipped.

"You remember that bunch that screwed it up here?" he asked, changing the subject.

"No."

"Your ex-colleagues, Frank."

"If you mean former executives of the bank who put good business on the books, which was wrongly written down so that their successors could achieve their budgets with supposed recoveries of bad debts which were never bad to start with, rather than by doing business themselves, yes, I remember those ex-colleagues."

"Yup, I guess those are the same rats as I'm thinking of, Frank. I just wanted to make sure you knew I was serious about cleaning up around here."

"If you want to chop out the dead wood, I'll give you a list."

"Not what I had in mind, Frank."

"So what do you have in mind?" Bravado on my part.

"Give me time, Frank. I just wanted to wish you luck on your trip."

This seemed as good a point as any to stand up and leave, so I did. I had not the foggiest idea of what he was on about. He was probably fantasising about ways to secure my deal's stream of fee income, and then chop me, so that he could take the credit; but so what, he would take the credit anyway. Maybe it was just the fun of chopping me. You sometimes had to wonder if these people were committable psychopaths full time or just at work.

 

A full week in the office could become a bit of a drag without some careful time management on my part. Nothing to do on the deal, because as far as I could see all the work required so far had been done in Dubai, the stuff I had seen in the boxes. I was not really keen that I would be working on the coming weekend, so I decided to shoot off early today, and told Jill I would also take Friday off as well in lieu of working on Saturday, i.e. sitting on the plane eating dinner and knocking back a few cognacs. In the meantime, I would arrange to punctuate the week's lunches and cocktail parties with a few appearances in the office.

 

***

I did not know what to expect in Colombo, but with all the material I had seen in Dubai, I felt well briefed if we were to be meeting the client. One thing I have always prided myself on is that I can easily assimilate and retain the complex information required for this kind of work. I recognise my shortcomings, in particular that life seems to lead me rather than me leading life, but I do seriously believe that I provide real value to my clients on the job, and at the bar when appropriate, which in the case of my clients is not infrequent.

 

We picked up Danny in Dubai as planned, or rather the airline did. His view of this leg of the journey was that it was time for a pre-emptive snooze. I was not sure what the pre-emptive meant and did not hazard a guess, in case I found out too early, but the snooze suited me well. We landed on schedule, grabbed our carry-on bags and were VIPed out of the terminal to a waiting Mitsubishi Pajero. Exiting the airport, we wove our way through a few portable barriers. They did not look as if they could control a football crowd, let alone Tamil Tiger suicide bombers. No wonder the Tigers had recently blown up half the local airline on the runway.

 

First, we drove into Colombo to pick up a couple of people at the Rinola hotel, who turned out to be secretaries. They sat on the jump seats at the back. Colombo has a smart beach and promenade which we followed, heading south. After a couple of miles the driver stopped outside a porcelain shop. It transpired that this was the works outlet for Sumitaki, the famous Japanese name, which had established a plant here years ago. We were picking up a set of porcelain for one of the conference delegates, so Danny and I took a look around. Although many of the designs were a touch ornate for my taste, there was some amazing stuff at unbelievable prices. We took off again in the Pajero and were soon at our destination, the Gardenia Hotel.

 

The Gardenia Hotel was a huge and very attractive, perhaps colonial style, building. At hotel reception Danny said that he had a couple of hour's work to do. I registered and then briefly checked the place out. There were a number of jewellery shops, which reminded me of my shopping expedition with Zara in Karachi a couple of weeks ago - I half expected her to emerge from one. Emeralds were high on the agenda and there seemed to be a lot of lapis lazuli. Precious stones do not hold my attention for more than about five seconds, so I went up and changed for a run and a swim. This is my standard procedure wherever I travel.

 

I ran along the beach barefoot, the blue sea on my right with heavy waves rolling in close to the shore. The sand was coarse and sharp. I ran for about ten minutes, which was about as much as my feet were going to take on the sharp sand, and then plunged into the waves. They were stronger than I anticipated with an undertow, so I gave up after a few minutes, returning to the hotel and my room. I read for a bit, wandered around the hotel for a bit, read a bit more. Danny had vanished. No one else seemed to be concerned about me. At eight a note was slipped under my door to advise me of a pick-up tomorrow at six in the morning, so I simply ordered the spiciest dish on the room service menu, ignored the mini-bar and sank into the soft, downy double bed for an early night.

 

***

The meeting started with a minimum of formality. We had been taken to a villa just over an hour south of Colombo, driving through lush vegetation with the coast to our right and villages generally to the landside on our left. The villa was set in its own gardens which you entered through twin wrought iron gates. The driveway took you past servant's quarters and then on to the main house. We stopped under a white portico, crossed through an archway and were in an internal courtyard with cafe tables set out under a pergola.

 

Once in the main house, we were offered fruit juices, coffee and pastries, but there was no time. We were almost immediately asked to move through and take our seats in the Kandy Room. It was seven thirty in the morning. We had place cards with print a touch too fine, so it took me a moment to find "Frank Chardonnay". The table and chairs were a fairly informal pastel green rattan. My seat was in the middle on the left of the chairman's seat, two down from Vermouth, who had greeted me affably on the way in. The chairman, six foot, powerful, dark haired, walked in, sat down and called the meeting to order in one fluid movement. A dozen seats were filled.

 

"For those of you who have not met me, my name is Suleiman, and I look forward to meeting you all in due course (in fact, I did not get that opportunity). The purpose of this meeting is to establish our modus operandi and assign responsibilities for the very important project, which lies before us. This is the only time we shall all be together today. There is no point in wasting time having all delegates listen to issues which concern just a few." This is a sound approach, I thought, rather than the interferences of the ill-informed which I was more used to. "Each of us will deal with his own issues and liaison will be effected as required. For this reason we will break into groups. Vermouth."

Vermouth stood to address us. "I am point man today for everyone. Anything you need, come to me here. Agendas are in the folders in front of you. Let's get to work."

 

I opened my folder, which contained a sheet with Cinnamon Room with Ferdinand Moon written on it. I stood up, and sure enough, off to the left was an arrow showing a number of rooms including mine. Like good boy scouts we all followed the arrows. My interlocutor entered the room immediately behind me, a Spanish looking guy with a huge cigar stuck between his teeth, and introduced himself as Ferdie.

"Can't get these in the States, Frank. They're Havana's. Only place you do get them is in the White House." I opened my folder.

"There seems to be a mix up here, Ferdie. I don't have an agenda."

"The day there's a mix up at one of Suleiman's meetings, I'll vote Clinton back into office. No mix up. You have no agenda."

"So what do I do?"

"I have the agenda, Frank. I'm here to brief you. I'm not gonna pull any punches. You don't like anything, you tell me. You don't like me, you go do whatever it is they do in San Francisco."

"I'm all ears, Ferdie."

 

As Ferdie progressed, my head began to swirl, my stomach thanked me for skipping breakfast today, and my heart truly did begin to palpitate for the first time in my life. I could not believe how I had dug myself so deep in this hole. It had got off to a good start. Ferdie had intimated that keeping my bank sweet was a number one priority. If anyone above me started creating problems, they would see that he would get fired, and I had thought fondly of my Illustrious Leader.

 

It was the ensuing revelations that concerned me. None of what Ferdie said was new to me: it's just that virtually everything he said is what I really did not want to know about. Take the power projects. All the equipment purchased was being invoiced at 20% over the price, so that the equipment supplier could pay the extra funds received into a Swiss bank account for our group's benefit. Different companies in the group were to buy and sell from one another at bogus prices and often with no goods moving. Companies were to be bought and sold, merged, spun off, floated, delisted and usually with one of two objectives: either to shift funds around internationally or to manipulate share prices.

 

Then there was the big one, which I had yet to understand. Somehow they were going to use derivatives and options trading markets to achieve something which to me looked very akin to money laundering. My bank's role, which I had also not fully understood, seemed to be to run accounts for many of these entities and add an air of legitimacy. He then passed across a sheet of A4 size paper with boxes, names, numbers and arrows on it. It set out the value gained from the planned exercise for which the total box showed US$ 550 million, which seemed to be an estimate of the net profit.

"So to sum up, Frank. These are the mechanics for your bit of the operation. You don't have to know about the other aspects. I've probably phrased this a bit more bluntly than the big accounting firms do when they take this kind of consultancy role, but Mr Suleiman does not like us to beat about the bush."

 

It had taken four hours, which had passed in ten minutes. Four hours, or ten minutes, in which my world had changed. Either I had to do something majorly drastic or go mountain biking with Danny. I was beginning to understand Danny's point of view. The easy way was to knuckle down, do what they want, and become a mega-hero at the bank, pulling in fees like nobody's business.

 

As if on schedule the door behind me opened the moment Ferdie closed his folder.

"You guys coming?" A breathy female voice. Ferdie nodded. I sighed and looked down at the table, still distraught.

"Frank?" she said. Who could this be, one of the secretaries from the Rinola? I stood up and looked round.

"Zara!" I exclaimed. Ferdie was packing his stuff into his document carrier. Who is Zara? He thought. I hope Zenap doesn't take offence.

"I thought that since you did your jewellery shopping a while back, Frank, we three should go to the beach. What say you, Ferdie?"

"I want the beach with the Lion brand beer, not the Three Coins."

"Done! Let's go."

 

So we went out. The Pajero was waiting, and we headed further south, the three of us in the back, the driver in the front, and the beer cooler in the very back. Ferdie helped us to three Lion beers, icy to touch, and immediately launched into a string of ribald jokes that should have made Zara blush. For some reason Ferdie kept calling her some weird name like Zenap, which did not seem to faze her. In the end we drove a good couple of hours, which did not matter because we had a pretty big beer cooler in the back.

 

The local driving style seemed to be to follow a vehicle until you saw someone coming the other way, at which point you would pull out to overtake, hooting like mad, and then at the last moment you swerved in front of your victim, just avoiding certain death. As for me, certain death looked like a pretty good option after the session with Ferdie. By the time we reached the beach I was mellowing. Zara called the beach something like Ben Tota; whatever it was it sounded to me like some Italian mountain which had relocated to Scotland.

 

We tumbled out of the Pajero and headed across the beach towards the sea. Behind us were hotels opening out V-shaped towards the sea with gardens, palms, bars and pools in the V. Ahead was open sea and to the left a rocky reef running parallel to the sand just a few yards out. Local kids were doing very impressive somersaults from the beach into the sea. Scattered along the beach were a few older folk, characterised by white, or red, skins and large bellies. From the few words snatched from the wind as they passed, I guessed German pensioners.

"It's not busy this year", Zara said. "Most of the hotels have had to batten down the hatches. Blowing up airliners on the ground in Colombo is bad for tourism. It's up to the left." We walked about half a mile, passing signs advertising Sauerkraut and other German culinary delicacies, and reached Ferdie's preferred bar, where they brought us three half-litre bottles of Lion brand beer before we even asked.

 

"I had to give you the full gen, Frank. You can't afford to screw up with Suleiman or he'll kill you - I don't mean literally - and if you don't know what you're doing you will screw up."

Zara supported him: "You have to keep it in perspective, Frank. You are out here in Sri Lanka. To all intents and purposes you can forget what Ferdie told you, now that you know it, if you know what I mean. I'm looking forward to working with you, Frank. Two weekends together already in as many weeks, wow!" She was laughing and swaying on her chair. The sun by now dropping lower, she pulled out a pair of dark glasses and masked those seductive blue-grey eyes.

 

"OK, so tell me what I do." I suggested.

"You do your job, Frank, and nothing else. So it's going to be a whole lot easier now that you have some background. You will have accounts opened at your bank, you will have money transferred, you will write up projects, prepare Information Memoranda, all the things you do so well. The only difference is that you will have five hundred percent more support than you have had from any other client before, you will always get what you ask for, and your bank will earn huge fees. There is no catch."

"Since you put it like that."

"I do."

She stood up taking my hand. Ferdie dumped some cash on the table, and we headed back towards the Pajero.

 

As we walked, Zara said, "OK, Frank, let's quickly run through the list.

"One: profits are skimmed through over-invoicing. You don't know."

"Two: profits are moved out through transfer pricing. You don't know."

"Three is slightly more complicated: our foreign investment vehicle subscribes to a rights issue of our locally quoted company, we ramp up the share price by bidding for the (usually limited) free float with a local vehicle, our foreign vehicle sells to our local vehicle at the ramped up price and that's how we ship the funds out of the country. You don't know."

"Four: we won't go in to detail, but we shift the funds through an acquisition. You don't know."

Five: our energy companies do forward trades, derivative trades etc. with each other like bets on a two horse race, but if the trade goes the wrong way, we simply tear it up and write it retrospectively the opposite way. You don't know."

"All you do, Frank, is the mechanics, and that's all you need to know, now that you know, or rather don't' know. Is that clear or shall I go on?" she finished.

"I think you've made your point, Zara," I said.

Another exotic beach promenade with Zara was over.

 

In the Pajero I asked her about Hamid and the rugby trip.

"He just had a bit part. Recruited for one scene," she said. "You must have realised by now, that you threw everything out of kilter when you got on that bus. We had to rejig the whole thing. Hamid was chuffed that he got to fly out to Karachi for the weekend. We were naughty, too, slipping a little something in your Champagne, when you were dumb enough to actually board the 747."

"And my passport?" I asked.

"Your passport." She laughed. "Your travel guys don't have security to match even Buck House. You remember the guy who climbed the wall and got as far as the Queen's bedroom, with her in it!" She smiled again. "You're growing on me, Frank. You make me horny. I think I'm going to need electric shock treatment to hold me back. Stop grinning, Ferdie." Well, that should give him a bit to think about over the coming weeks, she thought.

 

They arrived back at the Gardenia shortly before midnight, having eaten en route. As I was waiting for the lift, I saw Ferdie in discussion with a very attractive, but very irate lady. From what I could gather, she was his wife. She was giving him stick for coming back at midnight and being totally immersed in business deals with no time for her. I could see her point, in as far as it was close to midnight, but I didn not think that rampaging around bars at the beach really qualified as business. I decided not to intervene. I guessed he might want to keep quiet about that bit, in the circumstances.

 

A few minutes later Suleiman heard a characteristic knock on his door. He looked up, a pool of light on the desk before him, various pieces of electronic equipment, a red LED blinking. The door was not locked. She stepped in, closed the door and leant her back against it. Why does she have to come now, he thought. During the day I can handle it, but here, now, in this suite, the door ajar to the adjoining bedroom. Over the last few months he had felt a growing electric charge between them. As if reading his mind, she stepped towards him, unbuttoning her shift from the top down. The red garment slipped down, falling to the floor around her feet, to reveal her naked form, a sight for man over the ages, unchangeable by fashion, and she took a step closer.

 

"Suleiman, I have only ever worked with you, not for you. Is that correct?"

"It is," he intoned in a half-voice."

"That is important for the conversation we will have later. First you may choose. You may have me for yourself, or you may have me for our cause. It is your choice. It cannot be both. If you have me for yourself, you will not allow me to do what I must for our cause." He gazed at her, taking his time, the curves of her figure glowing in the dim light.

"Zenap, twenty years ago the choice would have been as certain as it is today, but it would have been a different choice. Recover your dress." As she turned to pick up her shift, he saw her bend and he rose from the desk, seduced by what he saw. Should he reverse this choice before it was too late? But in a fluid movement she had raised the shift above her head, slipped it over her red hair and shoulders, down to her hips and below. I have trusted him with myself, she thought. This man will now trust me absolutely, forever.

"Suleiman, I was not here for this. I do not know why this happened. We must speak urgently, which is why I have come."

 

They had moved to the coffee table and were sipping J&B with ice.

"I have been researching the missing computer files which were hacked," she said.

"And?"

"And they're too greedy. They came back for more, and I've traced them to the UK. They could be hackers, they could be intelligence, they could be Prince Charles for all the trace tells me. Now I want to remind you that I work with you. I don't follow orders."

"OK."

"I stuck in a decoy. It washes you clean but leaves Vermouth incriminated. I know you won't like that, but we'll have to deal with that later. Better him than you as far as the Board is concerned."

"So the hacker thinks I'm not a drug baron, money launderer, whatever else, after all."

"Not the hacker, Suleiman, British intelligence."

"But you told me you can't tell from the trace."

"I can't, but I put in another decoy, incriminating me. Don't worry. I've only incriminated my alias, which I can dump any time."

"So what does that tell us?"

"It tells us nothing. At least it didn't until I met that UK private banker by contrived chance, not contrived by me."

"The guy I asked you to have checked out, because of that unfortunate slip?"

"The very one, Suleiman. I picked him up in a bar, but I know he was sent to pick me up - he couldn't keep his eyes off me." Suleiman could not help smiling.

"I don't think that's conclusive proof."

 

"It wouldn't be, except that the guy was pissed out of his mind by the time I reached the bar, and there were plenty of other sexier numbers to ogle. But it's what I've matched it to that counts. I have detailed notes from our watcher who was checking him over. I only downloaded them today - I've been busy and this was routine stuff - and this is why I'm talking to you now, after midnight." She drained the remains of her glass and topped up the J&B, neat without ice this time. "Just three days earlier he went into the Devil's Retreat pub and met a Church of England vicar. The watcher recorded them drinking four pints of bitter and then leaving in good spirits. He couldn't overhear any of their conversation."

"I guess they would be in good spirits after four pints of bitter, Zenap."

 

"I've checked and double checked three months of the watcher's records, Suleiman. The records are meticulous. This guy drinks, no doubt about that, but you know what, he drinks max two pints of beer and then moves on to wine, G and T, a Bloody Mary, you name it, but he never, I repeat never, drinks four pints of beer."

"That doesn't tell me anything, Zenap, except that he was thirsty that day."

"The devil is in the detail, Suleiman. What it says to me, plain as day, is that the vicar doesn't know the habits of his bosom chum he's meeting in the Devil's Retreat, because it was the vicar who bought all the drinks. And you tell me who goes out to meet a vicar he doesn't know and drinks four pints of beer. You know what that tells me? It tells me that the vicar is not a vicar. And you know what the next question is? You tell mw who runs around pubs, masquerading as a vicar, knocking back pints of beer with people they are only pretending to know, but greet as old pals at the door. Suleiman, there is no coincidence in espionage. QED."

 

"You would not be Zenap, if you had no game plan."

"There's not much I can do. I just wanted you to know that a channel is open for passing deceptive information."

"What about our friend the banker?"

"We are going to use him and I hope turn him at some point. As regards the vicar, well, he already knows that his mole believes in your guilt, so he's not going to ask him about you again. In fact, the vicar's going to turn his attentions to Vermouth, and since the vicar now believes that you are innocent, he's not going to be interested in what his mole says about you, which anyway will be nothing, since he won't ask him about you. Sorry if that sounds a bit convoluted, but that's the way I read it. So that's it. I'm off to bed, and I'm sure you appreciate that the earlier thing has to have been a one-off, Suleiman."

"I do. Thank you, thank you twice, and good night."

Contents

The Beginning

One Frank

Two Dubai

Three The Board

Four Nathan

Five Energy

Six Brewster

Seven Bangalore

Eight Lannington

Nine Economy Class

Ten Afghanistan

Eleven Meribel

Author's Comment on Means to an End

Publisher's Review of Means to an End

Author's Foreword

Czar Rising