A List to Die For – Graham J. Burlem
“The best detective novel I have read in the last year.
A real page-turner. Steamy, too.” – Amabel
“The tough guys in the book are hardboiled and laconic, the women are sexy and their voices are husky. And although much of the story consists of dialogue and action, it is by no means at the expense of excellent characterisation and descriptions of locations.” – Edward Laing
Jack Kreeger has one simple question, who kidnapped his son?
Jack would pay anything to get Tony free. And he can. Jack’s rich. Very rich. He owns one of the last independent gambling casinos in the West End of London with a car park full of Rollers every night. Classy, but maybe not so clean. It’s a world of glamorous corruption where sex is expensive and life is cheap. And the players think the rules simply don’t apply.
Jack can pay, but whoever has Tony isn’t after money. They want a certain notebook created by Jack’s deceased lifelong friend and business partner Ronnie Miller that details the drug dealing at the casino. The names of A-listers , politicians, members of the bench who get their scores and whores via a hoodlum who pimped his girls from the place.
The notebook also details Ronnie’s connection with a drug dealing blackmailer with a female enforcer who doesn’t like men. If she wants information she hangs them naked upside by their ankles and hits them where it hurts with electric shocks. And where is the notebook they so desperately want that they’d kidnap for. And even kill?
And who is they? The pimp? The blackmailer?
Jack wants answers and Tony back. So he calls on Eddie Sutton. An ex-cop. Likeable, cynical, who knows his way around the London underworld. Who isn’t above buying information or breaking the law or someone’s legs for it. Or getting laid when the opportunity presents itself. Eddie’s a quick study. But is he quick enough to find the notebook and save Tony Kreeger’s life?
“Graham Burlem’s writing is fast, pithy, sometimes surprisingly witty. His novels career from one plot point to the next and are carefully plotted. They are very easy to read.” – Aranzazu
He said to be there at 4 p.m. I was. On the dot. Because you didn’t keep Jack Kreeger waiting. The black electric gates closed behind me. The tyres of my Beema crunched on the driveway gravel. The sun slipped behind some clouds, things turned grey. I hoped it wasn’t an omen. Someone opened the driver’s door.
“Eddie, right?” I nodded. “It’s Eddie, isn’t it? I remember you from the jewellery shop business. The governor’s waiting.”
I followed him into the large red brick mansion. Terry hadn’t changed much. A pound or two heavier perhaps. But still stocky with that ponytail. An earring, that was new. A small diamond stud in the left lobe, probably nicked. I followed him down a long wide highly polished parquet hall. The monotony of lime-green walls broken every so often by still life paintings, an orchard with red apples hanging from the trees, a windmill on top of a hill. He opened double doors at the end and ushered me ahead of him.
“Eddie Sutton, guv!”
The library was large; there were wall-to-wall walnut bookcases filled to the gunnels. Wilton oxblood-coloured carpet deep enough to put a shine on my suede shoes. And there on the edge of a huge mahogany desk sat Jack Kreeger, oval face, silvery thinning hair, a nose like a piece of putty stuck on his face, bushy eyebrows nearly over the eyelids. He was in a navy mohair suit, blue oxford cotton shirt and maroon tie.
I wondered again what this was about. He’d been cryptic on the phone, talking for five minutes about wanting to see me but not really saying anything. But then it’s an enquiry agent’s lot to listen. Not only to what’s being said but to what’s not as well. And he’d said nothing at great length except could I call at his house off Hampstead Heath. 4 p.m. would be good. Which in Kreeger speak meant ‘Be here then’. He came off his desk and offered his hand.
“Long time no see, Eddie.”
“Nice to see you again, Mister Kreeger.”
“Jack, please! Have a seat. How are you?”
I dropped into a leather winged armchair. All I could remember of our chat was that it was a very sensitive matter and urgent. He sat behind his desk staring at me, drumming his fingers.
“Fine, thanks, and you?”
“Could be better.”
“There’s a bit of a problem. And I thought you’d be the man to help because of how you handled the jewellery shop business. Mrs Kreeger and I were very impressed.”
“How is she?”
He lifted a leather-bound photo holder near him and stared at it wistfully for a while. I was going to say something. But there are times when you just know to keep your gob shut.
“Mrs Kreeger passed away just under a year ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I only met her a couple of times. But she was always nice to me.” ‘A slice of my apple cake, Mister Sutton. I do all my own baking, you know. There hasn’t been a shop-bought cake in this house for years.’ And then she’d plonked a piece on my plate that would have given King Kong indigestion. “Very sorry to hear that, Jack.”
“We were married for thirty years. I couldn’t ever remember her being really ill, apart from the odd bouts of flu or a cough. Then one morning my Kitty wakes up, says she’s not feeling so well and a few months later she’s dead from stomach cancer.”
I didn’t say anything. Because what can you say?
He went back to drumming his fingers.
“I suppose you’re wondering why I asked you here?”
“It crossed my mind.”
“Like I said we were very happy about the business with the jeweller, which made me think of you.”
He walked over to the window hands in trouser pockets and stared at the tennis court. At the white lines and the net thrown over itself just visible in the fading light, then puffed a couple of shots from an inhaler. He looked at me looking at it and said,
“Asthma. It’s brought on by anxiety. What the quacks call an anxiety episode. But I’ll be okay. Once I’m rid of the anxiety, that is.”
I was going to ask what a multimillionaire living in a five or six million-pound house in Hampstead would have to be anxious about. But I didn’t get the chance.
“There’s a bit of a problem. That’s why I rang you.”
“What are we talking about?”
“You want me to kidnap someone?”
He pulled a face and said,
“Do me a favour! I’m sixty-three. I’m planning on retiring soon. Not starting a career as a low life. No. It’s my son, Tony. He’s been kidnapped.”
“Shit! How? When?”
“The early hours of this morning. In the car park of his flats.”
“I can tell you right now what to do, Jack. Ring the police.”
He shook his head and kept shaking it. “They’re the best equipped, best experienced at dealing with this kind of thing.”
I sat looking at him. There was no colour in his face. The lines on his forehead were deep, corrugated.
“That’s the ex-copper in you talking, Eddie.”
“No. That’s common sense talking.”
He buzzed his intercom.
“Lilly, we want…” He looked over and asked if I wanted tea or coffee.
“Whatever! I don’t think I’m going to be here that much longer.”
“Pot of coffee. Small jug of cream, and sugar.”
“I’m telling you, Jack, 999 tout-suite!”
“If only it was that simple.” He took another couple of puffs and a deep breath. “Cannot do, Eddie. They start putting their size fourteens over things including my life, and well, let’s say I wouldn’t want that. Besides, I think I know who’s taken him.”
“But you’re talking kidnap, Jack!”
“The way I handled the jewellery shop business, for instance It’s not the first time I’ve used that approach. The cops discover I don’t do small claims court actions, if you get my drift And they’ll discover other things that I’d rather they didn’t.”
“Once again Eddie Sutton is called in to sort things out; from the start we are drawn into a maelstrom of intrigue and skulduggery, interwoven with unexpected shards of wit and unforeseeable twists in the plot – leading to an unforgettable finale” – Amazon Customer
About the Author
He left school at 15 without any qualifications and after a series of dead-end jobs went into estate agency in Islington. He opened his own agency in the mid-80’s.
Graham has written a number of award winning short stories and, now that he has retired, he concentrates full time on writing novels.
“I decided that I would just sit back and enjoy the book, and let the story unfold so that I could learn the identity of the kidnapper the way the author intended. And I am so glad I did! I didn’t see the twist when the big reveal occurred – never even entered my mind that it could enter the way it did. Which is a good thing! I look forward to reading more from this author,” – BookLover6514