The Kramski Case: Extract
Orlov stroked his chin. “Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I came to work for you. What would I be doing?”
“You’d be continuing the investigation with which Inspector Hartley-Brown and Lieutenant Bronstein have already made commendable progress. You recognised the gunman instantly, I imagine?”
“Dmitri Vassyli Kramski.”
“Which was as much of a surprise to us as it probably was to you. Have you any idea what he’s up to?”
“None at all.”
“Then that’s what you’d be trying to find out.”
“Any news on the man who attacked me at the airport?”
“So far the police have drawn a complete blank. White, mid-thirties, six-two, almost certainly an illegal. You’ve got lots of enemies, so the rest is guesswork. They’re still working on it, obviously.”
Orlov lapsed back into thought.
“Lieutenant Bronstein,” she said, “I’ve cleared it with the NYPD for you to work here, if you choose. They’re anxious not to lose your services for good, so you may prefer to accept my offer as an extension to your secondment. You can confirm that in person. There’s a CIA substation on Canary Wharf, I’ll give you the address and a pass. Or you can contact One Police Plaza in Manhattan. Despite your surface antagonism, I very much hope you’ll say yes.”
Orlov shook his head as if he was still having difficulty. “And you’re saying you don’t want any information from me?”
“With respect, I doubt you could tell us anything we don’t already know.”
“And I wouldn’t be … betraying Russia?”
“We’re not interested in that kind of war.”
He let out a flute of air and nodded. “Provisionally then, I’m happy.”
“And it just so happens,” Bronstein said with a conciliatory shrug, “that I’m looking to escape from New York. It’s why I came to London in the first place.”
“Oh?” Ruby Parker said.
“My folks keep trying to marry me off to Sarah, Rebekah and Esther. I’ll still have to check with HQ. But if they’re up for it, I guess count me in.”
She turned to Hartley-Brown. It was what the cliché called a ‘no brainer’. If only she’d told them they’d be working on the Kramski case when they arrived, there would have been no need for her to explain the ‘Maiden’ business. Which frankly, still sounded bizarre.
He smiled. “If everyone else agrees, I see no reason to decline.”
She handed each a large envelope. “This contains your new address, a month’s pay, bank account details and identification documents to present at the desk each morning. This lady” – she indicated the woman with the bun, who had stood up without smiling – “is Celia Demure. She headhunts and trains new agents. If you know anyone you think might be suitable, tell me in the first instance. But I warn you, she’s very discriminating. Settle in to your new addresses today. Report back here at eight am sharp and I’ll show you your shared office. And Colonel Orlov, I was asked to give you this.”
She reached into her drawer, took out a gun and placed it on the table. His Ots-33. He looked incredulously at it then slipped it into his pocket.
When someone starts assassinating paparazzi in three countries, MI7 sits up. Apparently, the killer is none other than Dmitri Vassyli Kramski, retired SVR field-operative and former Kremlin protégé. True, the Cold War is long finished, but everyone knows Vladimir Putin is as unhappy for Russia to play second fiddle on the international stage as even the most strident of his Communist predecessors. In 2010 therefore, East-West relations remain as tortuous as ever.
Kramski’s trail leads deep into London’s émigré community, forcing his pursuers into conflict with an unknown organisation bent on protecting him. Bit by bit, he begins to look less like a professional assassin and more like someone plotting to scupper the foundations of Western democracy itself. To compound matters, the Russians are as baffled by him as anyone.
Genre – Espionage Thriller
Rating – PG
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