This excerpt is from the beginning of the book when news of the coup hits the media.
‘Who’s the bloody head?’ The editor of the Sun stomped around the main office, tie loosened, sleeves rolled up, glasses waving in his hand.
‘Who’s the bloody head of what?’
‘The Civil Service?’
‘That chap Ansten. Sir Perrymore Ansten.’
‘What do we know about him? Dig out everything we’ve got. Dirt, crap, photos, biography, education, wife, mistresses, bits on the side, friends, contacts, children, what he had for bloody breakfast. Get me it all. And fast.’
‘On to that.’
‘Anyone know him? Met him?’
‘Good. Get onto him. Set up an interview for this afternoon. Exclusive. Take Len for photographs. Have it all on my desk by five pm latest.’
‘Anything else known about this lot?’ Heads nodded. ‘Good. Search it out. Let me have it. Use your contacts. Squeeze their balls on this. Dig. Dig for glory, you guys. And don’t come back with nothing. Crombie and Yelland. Pump your sources. We need comment from the usual politicos. Leaders, backbenchers. The disaffected. Hell, there must be plenty of those today. Ditto those willing to spill the shit. Good angles. You know the drill. Now get moving.’ He rubbed his hands in glee. ‘This baby’s just going to run and run.’
This excerpt is from just over half way through the book when McTavish is unable to contact Ludmilla or discover her whereabouts.
‘Where the hell’s Ludmilla?’ wondered McTavish for the hundredth time. He’d called, left messages, and now her phone was switched off. He swithered between annoyance and concern – annoyance as she appeared to be avoiding him, concern lest her lack of response indicated something amiss. An image of Angela Kirkcudbright’s material draped coffin was lodged in his mind. What if…oh dear heavens, what if…? He fought down his fear, reassuring himself there was a simple explanation that didn’t involve violence and death. Yet…
On the Friday evening he waited for her by the outer entrance to the flats but she didn’t appear. He tried her door, but no response. Where the hell was she?
‘Hello, this is McTavish Bonspiel. How are you? I was wondering if Ludmilla was there? I seem unable to contact her.’ He was aware his voice sounded breathless with nerves, his request to Ludmilla’s mother a bit of a gabble.
‘Whom did you say it was?’
‘McTavish Bonspiel. I spent last Easter with you.’
‘McTavish… Oh, yes. The chap from…from…Caledon.’ She made the place sound like a dead rat dragged in by the dog.
‘And what were you wanting?’
McTavish wondered if Ludmilla’s mother could actually be that thick, or if this was a well rehearsed act to put people in their place. He suspected the latter. ‘Is Ludmilla there?’ He saw no point in couching his request in circumspect terms and niceties. He’d get nowhere. The full on assault, that’s what was required.
Perhaps his suspicion was wrong, perhaps she was thick, thought McTavish as he peered out the window, probing the darkness with his eyes for Ludmilla’s bob of blond hair. Or maybe Ludmilla was right. Her mother was too self absorbed to waste time on others. ‘Yes, Ludmilla. Your daughter.’
A pause was crumpled by her intake of breath. ‘I am perfectly aware who Ludmilla is. Thank you, young man. I don’t know why you’re phoning here. You should try her mobile. I take it you have that number?’
‘Well, yes, but…’
‘In that case, goodbye.’
He heard the click as the connection was cut. His finger itched to press out the number again, but he stopped himself. The pantomime would be repeated. If Ludmilla was there, for whatever reason she might have given instructions she didn’t want to speak to him. But why? Why would she feel the need to avoid him? His concern was ratcheted up a notch.