As investigative reporter for the Sunday Herald’s high-profile “Exposure” column, Julia Hamilton exposes everything from corruption in high places to the mutilation and murder of five-year-old twin sisters in a small Welsh village. Now that Julia’s proven herself, her boss, Lord William Western, entrusts her with her most challenging assignment yet: Dig up dirt on rival media tycoon Harold King. Rumored to be linked to the Mafia and terrorist groups, King came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the country’s most controversial figures. Julia must find out what the self-proclaimed Pole—who speaks fluent German—is concealing.
With formidable editor Ben Harris accompanying her, she travels to Nessenberg, Germany, where a young King—then known as Hans Koenig—was rescued from a refugee camp after the war by a kindhearted Englishwoman. As they delve deeper, Julia and Ben uncover evidence that King’s entire past may be pure invention. But the truth is far more horrific than anyone imagines: a legacy of hate and mass murder that stretches back almost a half century—and a shared secret that two powerful men are determined to keep buried forever.
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About the Author
Evelyn Anthony is the pen name of Evelyn Ward-Thomas (1926–2108), a female British author who began writing in 1949. She gained considerable success with her historical novels—two of which were selected for the American Literary Guild—before winning huge acclaim for her espionage thrillers. Her book, The Occupying Power, won the Yorkshire Post Fiction Prize, and her 1971 novel, The Tamarind Seed, was made into a film starring Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif. Anthony’s books have been translated into nineteen languages.
Read an Excerpt
By Evelyn Anthony
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1993 Anthony Enterprises, Ltd.
All rights reserved.
Julia Hamilton had dodged the private detectives watching her. She had booked her seat on the morning flight to Jersey using another name and travelled to Heathrow by Underground. Timing had been vital; she had to arrive at the terminal at the last minute, check in and speed through to the departure lounge.
Once airborne, she couldn't be followed. The flight was bumpy but Julia didn't mind. She was never airsick and loved flying.
The skies were grey and heavy with rain; as they began their descent, she leaned to look out of the window. Below, the sun was shining through a break in the bank of cloud. The land below was green and the sea dashed against the craggy shoreline, whipped by a sharp wind.
Janey had been waiting to meet her at the airport.
It had been so easy to manipulate her cousins; they were kind, straightforward people. When she said she needed a few days' holiday, they responded with a warm invitation. Julia refused to feel guilty; what she had come to find out was more important than a mild deception. Richard Watson was on that island, and she had come to find him. Richard Watson, she was certain, held some of the missing pieces in a jigsaw of betrayal and death.
It had been easy to gain the introduction. Her cousin Janey Peterson was thrilled to have such a celebrity to show off to her friends.
Julia Hamilton, the Fleet Street megastar, author of a famous book on the Rhys child murders, now head of the Sunday Herald's much publicized new feature, 'Exposure'. Everyone, Janey had enthused, would be dying to meet her.
Including their friend, Richard Watson. A telephone call had secured an invitation to dinner. And there she was, sitting at Richard Watson's right hand, the guest of honour. There were six people round the table that night; Watson and herself, David and Janey Peterson, and a couple called Thomas. He had a booming voice and an avuncular manner. His wife was small, spoke just above a whisper, and was, as Julia had discovered during the pre-dinner drinks, quite waspish.
Julia knew that Richard Watson was observing her. It was the price of a high profile. She was used to paying it, able to deal with men who felt the need to be aggressive, and women jealous of her success. And her good looks. She had enough scars not to be conceited about either.
'We're all such fans of yours,' Bob Thomas said. 'You must tell us what "Exposure" has up its sleeves ... Rumour has it you're going after a politician?'
Julia said gently, 'You never want to listen to rumours. I'm afraid you'll have to wait till the paper comes out.' She gave him a charming smile. He grinned.
'Well, it was worth a try, anyway. So what brings you to our little island – hot on the trail of some juicy scandal?' Julia shook her head.
'Afraid not. I'm having a lovely pre-Christmas break staying with David and Janey. Just relaxing and being spoiled.' She smiled at them as she said it. They were so generous and hospitable. So genuinely proud of her.
So different from the ruthless, grasping denizens of her professional world. Fiona, the waspish little wife of Bob Thomas, leaned across and said to her, 'You wrote that book, didn't you – the one about the Rhys murders – a few years ago? I can't remember the name, but it was so much better than Truman Capote's book ... I can't remember the name of that, either ...'
Julia said, 'The Colour of Blood.'
'That's right,' Thomas bellowed. 'I thought yours was wonderful, brilliant analysis.'
'Thank you,' Julia said. 'I'm glad you liked it.'
'Well,' his wife whispered, 'I wouldn't say I exactly liked it because of the subject. Horrifying, actually. Dreadful having to deal with child murders like that. Didn't it bother you? You must have been very young?'
Julia said, 'Yes, putting it mildly, it bothered me a great deal. I felt afterwards I had to write in depth about what happened and why. It was the only way I could get it out of my mind.'
Then her host, Richard Watson, joined in. 'I'll admit I didn't read your book,' he said. 'I found the reporting harrowing enough, even though it was brilliant. You've never followed up with another one?'
'No, I just haven't the time. My publishers have given up nagging me. I'm really a journalist, that's what I love doing. The book was a catharsis. I don't think I'll ever do another.'
'I envy you,' Bob Thomas said. 'I wish I could write a book. Couldn't put anything down to save my life.'
'I've talked enough about myself,' Julia said, turning to Richard Watson. 'Tell me about you. How did you come to live here?'
Not rich, her cousin Janey Peterson had said. But very comfortable. Retired from a senior job in industry. Widower, rather a self-contained man, although everybody liked him. He lived in a fantastic house, part of Jersey's past in its way, and he entertained beautifully. Julia was sure to like him. He'd often talked to them about her articles in the Sunday Herald. He said she was the main reason he bought the newspaper.
'Well,' he leaned back and looked at her. He was a good-looking man, with remarkably blue eyes that were warm and friendly. Also shrewd. 'My wife died and I took early retirement. We had no children, you see, and I'd nobody to worry about but myself. We'd spent holidays here and made friends, so I decided to live here. You didn't have to be a millionaire in those days, or I assure you I wouldn't have qualified. And what clinched it was seeing this house for sale.'
'Oh yes,' the small-voiced woman called Fiona Thomas whispered from her place on his left, leaning across him to make herself clear to Julia. 'Do tell Miss Hamilton all about that.'
Julia leaned towards her. 'Call me Julia,' she said. 'Please.'
Fiona smiled and sat back. 'Julia,' she murmured. 'How sweet of you ...'
'This house is rather an oddity. But I was absolutely bowled over by the site and the views. It was very run down when I saw it; the garden was a wilderness, and it was very bleak – pouring with rain, I remember. I was intrigued by it, and, let me say, even more intrigued by the price. It had belonged to someone called Hunter – long before your time, my dear,' he said to Julia. 'She'd married a succession of rich men, and the last husband was one of the richest. She was very beautiful, and apparently very good fun. But in the end, she drank like a fish and became quite impossible. The equivalent of our tabloids absolutely adored her. She was always saying or doing something outrageous, and she was always in the news.'
'I remember,' Janey said. '"Mink is too hot to sit on," – wasn't that her?'
Richard Watson laughed. 'It certainly was. She had a new motor car with gold-plated fittings, doorhandles, ashtray, and the seats were covered in leopardskin. She'd have been lynched by the anti-fur people today. When the Press asked her why leopardskin, that's what she said. "Because mink is too hot to sit on." It made headlines all over the world. She really knew how to get herself into the papers.'
'She certainly did if she came up with quotes like that,' Julia said. 'I love it, I really love it. Mink is too hot to sit on ...' She laughed. 'So what happened to her?'
'It all ended sadly,' Watson said. 'They had this big yacht, Paradiso I think it was called, and her antics got her husband kicked off the board of his family business, so they spent their lives cruising from one tax haven to another. She used this house as a pied-àterre when they berthed here. It was a forties time warp when I bought it. My drawing room was fitted up as a private cinema, screen, projector – everything left just as it was. Apparently one day she got bored, or had a row with the Jersey authorities – she was always rowing with people – it was drink, unfortunately. They just left, didn't even bother to put the house on the market. When she died, her executors put it up for sale. And I bought it.'
Someone said, 'You've done wonders with it, Dick. You ought to see the garden he's made. And all that clever lighting at night.'
'Dawn and sunset are the best times,' he said. 'Not that I'm up in time for the sunrises these days. But I've had a lot of fun getting it the way I wanted it. Sheila, that was her name. Sheila Hunter. Such a shame she went to pieces like that.'
'I must read up on her,' Julia said. 'She sounds interesting.'
'Very small beer compared to the scandals we get these days,' Thomas boomed cheerfully. 'Hardly rate a mention in the Sun, would she?'
'Now that could be a subject for a book for you,' his wife suggested to Julia. 'I don't think there's been a biography. Of course, nobody dared when she was alive. She was a great one for suing. She had some famous black pearls. They became very fashionable.'
Julia let Richard refill her glass. The food and wine were as well chosen as the candles and winter-flower arrangements on the table. He was a man of taste and style. She liked him. She felt he liked her. She refused to feel guilty because she had come to his house under false pretences to make use of him.
As she was using her nice cousins, Janey and David Peterson, who'd been so delighted to see her. So welcoming. She withdrew from the conversation, adopting the role of a listener.
'The definition of age', Richard Watson was saying, 'is a desire to talk about the past. I find myself doing it more and more. I spent a few nights in London with my nephew ... the solicitor, you met him, Janey, he came over for a sailing holiday last summer —'
'Yes, I remember him, charming young man,' Janey said brightly.
Richard Watson grinned. 'Not particularly, he's rather bumptious and pleased with himself, but at least he's kin, so I keep in touch. He took me out to dinner at his smart club – excellent food, much better than restaurants – I found myself talking about the time I spent as a prisoner of war. I don't think I'd thought about it, let alone talked about, for years! And there I was in full flood, banging on about being captured and spending three years in a camp in Germany. I suddenly realized he was bored stiff, poor chap. So I cut it short and changed the subject. I felt what a boring old fool I'd become.'
'That's the trouble,' Bob Thomas snorted. 'The young think they know it all.'
Richard Watson said gently, 'Didn't we? I know I never listened to a word my father said after the age of eighteen. Sad thing was, you know, when I did come back from the POW camp, we couldn't communicate at all. Of course, they were delighted to see me – my mother cried and rushed off to make tea; my old father managed to put his arm round me and then hurried upstairs with my bag. He just didn't know what to say.'
Julia judged the moment had come. 'Did it affect you badly? It must have been awful trying to adjust.'
'It wasn't easy,' he admitted. 'I'd come back home a stranger. To myself as much as to them. I didn't realize what the loss of freedom had done to me. I couldn't make my mind up about anything. I'd lost the habit of taking decisions. If someone had told me what socks to put on in the morning, I'd have done it.'
'How long did that last?' Julia leaned close, engaging his full attention.
'Couple of years. I tried several jobs, couldn't settle to anything; it was quite a common manifestation of POW fatigue. Then I was taken on by ICI as a trainee, and I got interested. Absorbed, actually. And it all started to come right after that.'
Julia took a breath. Now.
'I read your book,' she said. 'I have a friend who's mad on the last war and he gave it to me to read. I really enjoyed it. Did you map it out while you were in the prison camp?'
'Yes,' Richard Watson said. 'I did. It was so desperately boring and miserable, and so damned cold in the winter ... We were always hungry, too. Most of the chaps spent their time talking about escape or playing chess, or bridge. I worked on my insignificant wartime memoirs. I can't believe you found them interesting, but I must admit I'm flattered.'
He smiled at her.
Bob Thomas boomed out, 'Book? What's all this, Dick – been keeping secrets from us?'
'It was years ago – long before I came over here,' Richard Watson protested. 'I had some copies privately printed. I didn't know there were any circulating anywhere. I just wanted to get it off my chest, I suppose.'
'Hidden talents,' Bob Thomas had their attention. 'Better watch out, Julia, or you'll have a rival in Dick here ... I'd like to read it some time. I bet you've got a copy of the great work stashed away. The Army was the best time of my life. I often regretted not making a career of it. Too young to get into the actual war, but I enjoyed my National Service.'
He looked around for approbation.
Julia said quietly, 'Did you feel like that, Richard? Your book didn't read like that.'
He turned to look at her, and then, suddenly, he turned away.
'I hated the Army,' he said. 'I hated everything about it. And I wasn't a good soldier. The idea of killing someone absolutely appalled me. I had no blood lust.'
'Did you ever kill anyone?'
He hesitated for a moment. Then he said, 'No. But I did save a man's life.'
Julia had borrowed Janey's little Ford run-about to get to the dinner party. She was determined to meet Richard Watson before anyone else arrived.
As they got into the two cars, Janey complained.
'What a pity you made such a fuss about being on time. We could have driven back together and had a lovely post mortem on the evening.'
'Knowing you, darling,' her husband retorted, 'we'll have one as soon as we get inside the front door. Do you know, Julia, she really enjoys talking about the party afterwards more than the party itself. I warn you, you'll be in for a long session unless you're firm. Janey, you'd better drive.'
'I should think so,' his wife giggled, 'after the size of that last brandy. Julia, you can follow us, all right?'
Julia started the car, and set out after them, keeping the rear light in view. In spite of the cold wind blowing in off the sea, she opened the window and breathed in the salty air. She couldn't believe it. She went over Richard Watson's story in her mind; he had made it so real, so vivid. No-one had spoken a word till he'd finished.
And then, as if some high tension had been released, everyone changed the subject and took refuge in banter and small talk. The last hour after dinner was the longest Julia could remember. Coffee was followed by an exodus of the women from the dining room, leaving Richard Watson and his male guests to port and cigars. The only other man Julia knew who continued the archaic practice of separating the sexes was William Western. But then he was a law unto himself, and he said so. He was also Julia's boss ... She remembered a Saturday night spent at the mansion in Hampshire, when her dinner companion had announced that this was the part of the evening he enjoyed most, as she got up to leave.
She had ignored him when he tried to talk to her afterwards.
When finally the men rejoined them in the big drawing room with its spectacular sea views, everyone moved round and she found herself sitting beside her cousin, David. Liqueurs were brought for what the booming Mr Thomas called 'the girls'. Julia refused anything.
'This is nice,' David said, sinking deeper into his chair, cradling a half-full balloon of brandy. 'At last I've got a chance to talk to you. My darling wife's monopolized you from the moment you arrived. Tell me, how are Hugh and May? We must look them up when we come over next time.'
Julia assured him that her parents were well and would love to see them both.
'And tell me about the job,' he went on, lighting a cigar and bent on enjoying himself. 'What's it like working for Western?'
Julia checked her screaming impatience to get out of there and get to a telephone. She said, 'Impossible, most of the time. He's impossible as a person. Totally demanding and absolutely ruthless. He's also a genius, if that excuses it. I'm not sure it does. Just don't ask me if I like him, will you!'
'I don't have to, after that. But then you love the rat race, don't you, Julia, and look what a success you've made. Top job, big salary. You're a public figure. And the really nice thing about you is it hasn't made you the least bigheaded. You're just as sweet as you ever were.' He stretched over and patted her knee. Julia judged he'd had a little too much of Richard Watson's brandy.
'I've no reason to be big-headed,' she said. 'I've had all the lucky breaks, David. Starting with Western picking me out. Otherwise I'd be still plugging away on a provincial newspaper with nothing more in my sights than editing the women's page. David —'
Excerpted from Exposure by Evelyn Anthony. Copyright © 1993 Anthony Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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