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A distraught lecturer, you might have thought, observing the bookish forward lean and loping stride and the errant forelock of salt-and-pepper hair that repeatedly had to be disciplined with jerky backhanded shoves of the bony wrist.
If he turned on the television set it said Welcome, Mr. Paul Anderson. The exclamation mark in place of the more appropriate question mark was a source of constant annoyance to the pedant in him. Like much else in the room, the bathrobe, too short for his long legs, reeked of stale cigarette smoke and lavender air freshener. As he paced, he determinedly acted out his feelings to himself without the restraints customary in his official life, his features one moment cramped in honest perplexity, the next glowering in the full-length mirror that was screwed to the tartan wallpaper.
Here and there he spoke to himself by way of relief or exhortation. Also half aloud? What was the difference when you were banged up in an empty room with nobody to listen to you but a color-tinted photograph of our dear young Queen on a brown horse?
On a plastic-topped table lay the remnants of a club sandwich that he had pronounced dead on arrival, and an abandoned bottle of warm Coca-Cola.
Though it came hard to him, he had permitted himself no alcohol since he had taken possession of the room. The bed, which he had learned to detest as no other, was large enough for six, but he had only to stretch out on it for his back to give him hell.
A radiant crimson counterpane of imitation silk lay over it, and on the counterpane an innocent-looking cell phone which he had been assured was modified to the highest state of encryption, and, though he was of little faith in such matters, he could only suppose it was.
Each time he passed it, his gaze fixed on it with a mixture of reproach, longing, and frustration. I regret to inform you, Paul, that you will be totally incommunicado, save for operational purposes, throughout your mission, the laborious South African voice of Elliot, his self-designated field commander, is warning him.
Do I make myself clear, Paul? Yet again, out of habit and impatience, he examined his alien wristwatch and compared it with the green numerals on the radio clock beside the bed. The watch was of battered steel with a black dial, a replacement for the gold Cartier presented to him on their twenty-fifth by his beloved wife on the strength of an inheritance from one of her many deceased aunts. But hang on a minute! Paul Anderson has no wife, no daughter. Sharing the joke, determined as ever to be a good chap by his own lights, he looks on while she writes Paul on an adhesive label and locks his gold watch away in a cashbox with his wedding ring for what she calls the duration.
Previous Page Next Page 1 of 13 You are currently viewing this article as a guest. If you are a subscriber, please sign in. Sign in here. Subscribe here. Afterword — From the April issue.
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Readings — From the February issue. Readings — From the December issue.
Quinn's newly appointed Private Secretary , Toby Bell, becomes suspicious of his secretive nature and his close ties with Jay Crispin, the founder of Ethical Outcomes. Bell sees Quinn with Crispin during diplomatic trips to Brussels , Prague , and Berlin , and learns that the two met during Quinn's time at Harvard.
Bell learns that Quinn was saved from scandal after it was discovered that Crispin was found running a privatised spy shop within the Ministry of Defence. Bell learns that Quinn and Crispin are still secretly meeting in London. Against all the rules, Bell makes a recording of a meeting on Operation Wildlife. In , Sir Christopher "Kit" Probyn, now retired and living in Cornwall is surprised by the British team's commander, Jeb, who informs him they had not captured the jihadist leader but had killed an innocent woman and her child.
Probyn contacts Jay Crispin, who assured him that nobody was killed during the operation. Jeb then provides Probyn a detailed account of the botched operation, and the two decide to meet and write a complete report on Wildlife. When Jeb fails to show up at the meeting, Probyn contacts Toby Bell to test where his loyalty lies.
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Probyn is surprised to discover that Bell was kept entirely in the dark about Wildlife and that his entire knowledge of the case stems from the taped meeting record. Toby acquires a lead on Jeb from medical doctor Emily Probyn, Kit's daughter. Inquiring on the whereabouts of Jeb, they discover him assassinated, with the murder poorly disguised as suicide and signs of a police cover-up.
Kit Probyn attempts to trigger an official investigation by communicating his half of the Wildlife dossier to the Foreign Office, but is rebuffed and threatened with a secret trial.
Toby contacts "Shorty", Jeb's former teammate and now a henchman of Crispin's, in the hope of extracting information and possibly recruit him for his investigation.
Beforehand, Toby contacts Oakley, now a private banker, in the hope of acquiring his support, but is rebuffed. At the meeting with "Shorty", Toby is abducted by Crispin's henchmen and led to his lair.
Crispin attempts to recruit Toby, but the latter refuses, reasoning that the offer is a sign that Crispin is actually afraid of him, having overreached so much with Jeb's murder that his high-ranking connections will not protect him anymore. Toby returns home, where he is beaten to within an inch of his life by unidentified attackers, as a warning not to pursue further. He is rescued by Dr. Emily Probyn; soon after, Oakley, having had a change of heart, transmits the "Aftermath and Recommendations" dossier on Wildlife to Toby.
Sirens are heard coming from all directions. Publishers Weekly describes the novel as "entertainingly labyrinthine if overly polemical. His best work has been about the moral ambiguity of spying, while this novel feels as if the issue of who's bad and who's good is too neatly sewn up. The Guardian calls it a 'thriller that resonates with Whitehall secrecy during the Bush-Blair era', and praises its depiction of how 'the last decade in US and UK relations has been dominated by conflicts justified through secret intelligence that proved to be false'.
It was abridged by Sally Marmion and was read by Damian Lewis.
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