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Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley Book 18) (English Edition)
 
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Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley Book 18) (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Elizabeth George
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**This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.**

The world is still deceived with ornament. In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt But, being season’d with a gracious voice, Obscures the show of evil?

The Merchant of Venice

15 NOVEMBER

 

EARLS COURT
LONDON


Sitting on a plastic chair inside Brompton Hall among a crowd of two hundred shouting individuals—all dressed in what had to be called alternative garb—was the last thing Thomas Lyn­ley had ever expected to find himself doing. Edgy music was blasting from speakers the size of a tower block on Miami Beach. A food stall was doing a very brisk business in hot dogs, popcorn, lager, and soft drinks. A female announcer was periodically shrieking above the din to call out scores and name penalties. And ten helmeted women on roller skates were racing round a flat ring delineated with tape on the concrete floor.

It was supposed to be an exhibition match only: something to educate the populace in the finer points of women’s flat track roller derby. But it was a case of tell-that-to-the-players, for the women engaged in the bout were deadly serious.

They had intriguing names. All of them were printed, along with suitably menacing photos, in the programmes that had been distrib­uted as spectators took their seats. Lynley had chuckled as he’d read each nom de guerre. Vigour Mortis. The Grim Rita. Grievous Bodily Charm.

He was there because of one of the women, Kickarse Electra. She skated not with the local team—London’s the Electric Magic—but rather with the team from Bristol, a savage-looking group of females who went by the alliterative collective Boadicea’s Broads. Her actual name was Daidre Trahair, she was a large animal veterinarian em­ployed at Bristol’s zoo, and she had no idea that Lynley was among the howling mass of spectators. He wasn’t sure if he was going to keep matters that way. He was, at this point, operating strictly by feel.

He had a companion with him, having lacked the courage to ven­ture into this unknown world on his own. Charlie Denton had ac­cepted his invitation to be enlightened, educated, and entertained at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, and at this moment, he was milling among the crowd at the snack stall.

He’d made the declaration of “It’s on me, m’lord . . . sir,” with that final word a hasty correction that one would think by now he’d not even have to make. For he’d been seven years in Lynley’s employ, and when he wasn’t addressing his passion for the stage through auditions for various theatrical events in Greater London, he served as manser­vant, cook, housekeeper, aide-de-camp, and general factotum in Lyn­ley’s life. He’d so far managed Fortinbras in a north London production, but the West End north London was not. So he soldiered on in his double life, determinedly believing that his Big Break was only round the next corner.

Now, he was amused. Lynley could see that in Denton’s face as he made his way back across Brompton Hall to the array of chairs among which Lynley sat. He carried a cardboard food tray with him.

“Nachos,” Denton said as Lynley frowned down at something that looked like orange lava erupting from a mountain of fried tortilla. “Your dog’s got mustard, onions, and relish. The ketchup looked iffy so I gave it a pass, but the lager’s nice. Have at it, sir.”

Denton said all this with a twinkle in his eye, although Lynley reckoned it could have been just the light shining on the lenses of his round-framed spectacles. He was daring Lynley to refuse the offered repast and instead come forth as he really was. He was also entertained by the sight of his employer sitting chummily next to a bloke whose potbelly overhung his baggy jeans and whose dreadlocks fell the length of his back. Lynley and Denton had come to depend upon this indi­vidual. His name was Steve-o, and what he didn’t know about women’s flat track roller derby did not, apparently, bear knowing at all.

He was attached to Flaming Aggro, he’d told them happily. Plus, his sister Soob was a member of the cheering squad. This latter group of individuals had taken up a position whose disturbing proximity to Lynley added to the general cacophony surrounding him. They wore black from head to toe with embellishments of hot pink in the form of tutus, hair decorations, knee socks, shoes, or waistcoats, and they had so far spent most of their time screaming “Break ’em, baby!” and shaking pink and silver pompoms.

“Great sport, innit?” Steve-o kept saying as the Electric Magic piled the points onto the scoreboard. “It’s tha’ Deadly Deedee-light does most of the scoring. Long ’s she don’t rack up the penalties, we’re in, mate.” And then onto his feet he leapt, shouting, “Do it, Aggro!” as his girlfriend swept by in the midst of the pack.

Lynley was loath to tell Steve-o that he was a supporter of Boadi­cea’s Broads. It was a matter of chance that he and Denton had placed themselves among the Electric Magic fans. The Boadicea’s Broads crowd was on the other side of the taped-off ring, being led into a frenzy of synchronised shouting by their own squad of cheerleaders who, like those supporting the Electric Magic, were dressed in black but with touches of red. They appeared to have more experience in the arena of cheerleading. They executed vague dance moves with accompanying leg kicks that were most impressive.

It was the sort of event that should have appalled Lynley. Had his father been there—doubtless dressed to the nines with one or two touches of ermine and red velvet lest someone doubt his position in society—he would have lasted less than five minutes. The sight of the women on roller skates might have given him a coronary, and listen­ing to Steve-o drop his t’s and ignore his h’s would have made the poor man’s blood run cold. But Lynley’s father was long in his grave, and Lynley himself had spent most of the evening grinning so much that his cheeks were actually beginning to hurt.

He’d learned far more than he’d ever have imagined possible upon having made the decision to accept the invitation that had been printed on a handbill he’d found among his post a few days earlier.

He’d discovered they were meant to keep their eyes on the jammer, identified by the star cap that stretched across her helmet. This wasn’t a permanent position for a skater, as the star cap was passed round among the women. But the jammer was the team’s scoring position, and the ultimate scoring came during a power jam when the oppos­ing team’s jammer had to sit in the penalty box. He’d learned the purpose of the pack and, thanks to Steve-o, what it meant when the lead jammer rose from her crouched position to place her hands on her hips. He was still rather vague on the purpose of the pivot— although he knew who she was by the striped cap she wore stretched over her helmet—but he was definitely getting the idea that roller derby was a sport of strategy as well as skill.

Mostly, he’d kept his eyes on Kickarse Electra throughout the match-up between London and Bristol. She, he discovered, was quite a jammer. She skated aggressively, like a woman to the roller skates born. Lynley wouldn’t have thought it possible of the quiet, thoughtful veterinarian he’d met seven months earlier on the coast of Cornwall. He knew she was practically unbeatable at darts. But this . . . ? He never would have guessed it.

His pleasure in the wild sport had been interrupted only once, in the middle of a power jam. He’d felt his mobile vibrate in his pocket, and he’d dug it out to see who was ringing him. His first thought was that the Met was calling him back to work. For the caller was his usual partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. Still, she was ring­ing from her home phone and not from her mobile so perhaps, he thought, he was in luck and nothing had occurred that wanted his attention.

He’d answered, but he’d not been able to hear her. The noise was far too intense. He’d shouted that he would ring her back as soon as he was able to do so, and he’d shoved the mobile back into his pocket and forgotten about the matter.

The Electric Magic won the bout twenty minutes later. The two groups of skaters congratulated each other. Athletes mingled with spectators then, cheerleaders mingled with athletes, referees mingled with each other. No one was in a hurry to leave, which was all to the good since Lynley intended to do a little mingling himself.

He turned to Denton. “I’m not sir.”

Denton said, “Pardon?”

“We’re here as friends. Make it school chums. You can do that, can’t you?”

“What, me? Eton?”

“It’s well within your skill set, Charlie. And call me either Thomas or Tommy. It doesn’t matter which.”

Denton’s round eyes got even rounder behind his spectacles. He said, “You want me to . . . I’ll probably choke if I try to say it.”

“Charlie, you’re an actor, yes?” Lynley said. “This is your BAFTA moment. I’m not your employer, you’re not my employee. We’re going to talk to someone, and you’re going to pose as my friend. It’s . . .” He sought the correct term. “It’s improv.”

Charlie’s face brightened. “C’n I do the Voice?”

“If you must. Come wi...

Revue de presse

Praise for the #1 New York Times Bestseller Believing the Lie:

“A multiplicity of subplots and a richness of physical detail....The story strands are untied and retied in satisfying and often moving ways.”—The Wall Street Journal

“[Lynley’s] back in fine form....George has given us a story filled with sex, grit, love, and everything in between.”—The Gazette (Montreal)

“A clever story with fascinating subplots.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Masterly…an intricate crime drama.”—Marie Claire

Praise for Elizabeth George:

“A master of the English mystery.”—The New York Times

“It’s tough to resist George’s storytelling, once hooked.”—USA Today

“A superstar of the crime-fiction world…deservedly so.”—The Seattle Times

“A writer of immense power, keen intelligence, and profound sensitivity.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

Présentation de l'éditeur

When Hadiyyah Upman disappears from London in the company of her mother, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is as devastated as the girl's father. They are her close friends as well as neighbours, but since the child is with her mother, nothing can be done. Five months later, Hadiyyah is kidnapped from an open air market in Lucca, Italy, and this triggers an investigation in the full glare of the media spotlight. Barbara's clever manipulation of the worst of London's tabloids forces New Scotland Yard to become involved. But rather than Barbara herself, her superior officer DI Thomas Lynley is assigned to handle a situation made delicate by racial issues, language difficulties, and the determination of an Italian magistrate to arrest and convict someone - anyone - for the crime.

Biographie de l'auteur

Elizabeth George is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous suspense novels, one book of nonfiction, and two short story collections. Her work has been honored with the Anthony Award, the Agatha Award, and France’s Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. She lives in Washington State.

Recent Inspector Thomas Lynley novels include: Believing the Lie, This Body of Death, Careless in Red, What Came Before He Shot Her, With No One as Witness, A Place of Hiding, and A Traitor to Memory.
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