Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered. Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy —and a shocking fate.
About the Author
Matt Johnson served as a soldier and police officer for 25 years, and is the author of Wicked Game. He lectures on PTSD.
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By Matt Johnson
Orenda BooksCopyright © 2017 Matt Johnson
All rights reserved.
Metropolitan Police Headquarters, New Scotland Yard, Central London, October 2001
Dawn was breaking over the capital.
Grahamslaw watched the circle of moisture form on the glass. It was early and, despite the double glazing, the cold autumn air had penetrated to the inner surface. His warm breath created a small, clouded patch that grew with every successive exhalation.
Twelve floors down, traffic was starting to build up into unbroken lines. Most were delivery vehicles that, by now, would have completed their allotted tasks and were heading back to their depots. There were one or two private cars, but not many, and very few of those drivers would be heading to the underground car park below the building in which he stood. That was almost exclusively reserved for operational transport and the few luxury cars the Met retained for the exclusive use of the most senior ranks. From the black, box-like shapes discharging heavy grey exhaust fumes, it looked to the anti-terrorist detective like most of the snaking, weaving lines were formed by taxis.
The Anti-Terrorist Commander checked his watch. Ten past six. Toni Fellowes was late, but that wasn't a real cause for concern. Provided the MI5 officer turned up within the next twenty minutes he would have plenty of time to get to his next meeting. For now, he was determined to enjoy what were probably the only moments of tranquillity he would experience that day.
A noise from the corridor caused him to turn towards the door. Squad members were starting to arrive for work. The skeleton night team would be pleased to see the first arrivals. A quick handover briefing and they would be on their way to their homes and some welcome sleep.
Turning towards the desk – a large, oak affair that had followed him up the ranks and through a plethora of different offices – he cast an eye over the report that lay waiting to be read by Ms Fellowes. Time for one last check through. Swinging his large chair around, he sat and began to read.
To: Director T Dept, MI5
From: Commander SO13, Anti-Terrorist Squad
Cc. Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner 'SO'
Date: 29th September 2001
Re: Operation Hastings – Executive Summary
This interim report deals with the recent attacks on serving police officers in London, their aftermath and the conclusions I have reached through my investigations.
In recent weeks, four Metropolitan police officers and one MI5 officer were killed on duty as a result of terrorist action.
1. Inspector Robert Bridges (attached Marylebone Police Station)
2. PC John Evans (attached Hackney Police Station)
3. PC Roderick Skinner (attached Barkingside Police Station)
4. PC Giles Duncan (attached Marylebone Police Station)
5. Nial Monaghan, MI5
Inspector Bridges and PC Duncan were killed as a result of an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by suspects 1, 3 and 4 listed below. PC Skinner was shot dead outside his home address by suspects 1 and 3. PC Evans was shot by suspect 2 during a street check of a suspect vehicle, which, it transpired, was carrying equipment and material intended for use in terror attacks in the capital. Suspect 2 was shot and killed by the armed response crew that responded to this incident.
Attempts were also made by suspects 1 and 3 to murder Inspectors David Heathcote and Robert Finlay, Sergeant Michael Holbrook (all attached Stoke Newington) and PC Kevin Jones (attached Hornchurch).
Results of investigation – summary
Investigations carried out by SO13 determined these murders and attempts were not the result of random attacks on uniformed police officers doing their duty. Early on in the enquiry it was established that Inspectors Bridges and Finlay, and PCs Skinner and Jones all formerly served in the army together as members of 22 Special Air Service Regiment (SAS).
During the course of the attacks, SO13 were able to identify five suspects:
1. Declan Costello, born Ireland, now deceased
2. Seamus McGlinty, born Ireland, now deceased
3. Dominic McGlinty, born Ireland, now in custody and remanded at HMP Belmarsh
4. Michael Hewitson, born Kentish Town, now in custody and remanded at HMP Belmarsh
5. Richard Webb, alias Selahattin Yildrim, born Ireland, now deceased
Enquiries have now established that, following attacks on Inspector Bridges and PC Skinner, an approach was made by MI5 officer, Nial Monaghan, to involve Inspector Finlay and PC Jones in a plan to intercept and terminate the attacks on other former soldiers.
Monaghan was known to both Finlay and Jones as their former Commanding Officer at the time these officers were all serving in the SAS in the 1980s. Finlay and Jones were persuaded to assist Monaghan in what they believed to be an attempt to identify those responsible for murdering their former military colleagues and to prevent further murders.
The activities of the suspects and the resulting incidents can be summarised as follows:
1. Street search of lorry by police patrol car led to the unplanned shooting of PC Evans.
2. Planned IED attack targeted and killed Inspector Bridges, with the collateral death of PC Duncan.
3. Planned shooting of PC Skinner.
4. IED attack on a car due to be carrying Inspector Finlay resulted in serious injury to Inspector Heathcote and Sgt Holbrook.
5. IED car bomb attack at home of Inspector Finlay caused injury to Explosives Ordnance Disposal Officer, Rupert Reid.
And following the approach made by Mr Monaghan to Finlay and Jones and their involvement in his plan:
6. Shooting attempt on the life of PC Jones, resulting in serious injury to the officer and the death of Declan Costello.
7. Attempt on the life of Inspector Finlay, together with his wife, resulting in the death of Richard Webb.
8. IED car explosion causing the death of Nial Monaghan.
Result of subsequent enquiries
In attempting to establish a motive for these attacks, several lines of enquiry were pursued, including surveillance of officers Finlay and Jones. It was established that these two officers were making their own efforts to identify the terrorists and were likely to be in possession of relevant information as to motive.
It was further established that Finlay and Jones had secured access to unlawfully held firearms, explosives and equipment in order to pursue their efforts.
With the authority of the Home Secretary, a decision was made to allow Finlay and Jones to continue, under surveillance, in the hope they would lead the enquiry team to the attackers and enable arrests to be made.
In 1980, while serving with the SAS in Northern Ireland, Robert Finlay was attacked by four armed men. In the resulting firefight, Finlay killed three men, one of whom was the brother of Richard Webb.
It has now been established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the reason for the attack on Inspector Finlay was a result of a personal sense of grievance and a desire for revenge on the part of Richard Webb.
Correspondence found in the possession of Nial Monaghan reveals the attacks on the other former SAS soldiers appear to be due to a desire on Monaghan's part for revenge, he having formed the belief his wife committed suicide following the revelation of affairs with men serving under Monaghan's command. Our evidence is that Monaghan and Webb were cooperating on this murderous campaign.
There appears to have been no separate motive in the murders of PCs Evans and Duncan, who appear to have been killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Since the deaths of both Monaghan and Webb, the attacks have ceased. This tends to corroborate the preceding evaluation.
Dominic McGlinty and Michael Hewitson are awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to murder and to cause explosions.
Following the decision of the Home Secretary to allow Finlay and Jones to operate in an armed unsupervised role, a report was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether either officer should be charged with any offence. The decision was made (with Home Secretary and DPP authority) that no criminal action would be taken against either officer.
Inspector Finlay, together with his family, is currently being provided with secure accommodation by MI5 and is expected to return to work soon.
PC Jones has made a good recovery from his injury, has declined the offer of secure accommodation and is also expected to return to full police duties in the near future.
While some speculation has appeared in the press with regards to the attacks on Metropolitan officers, no mention has been made or theory attributed to the involvement of former armed services personnel.
The Metropolitan Police Press Bureau has ensured all arrests resulting from this operation have been credited to police enquiries. Deaths of suspects have been attributed to self-inflicted injuries (Webb) and lawful police action.
My understanding is that Director 'T' has tasked MI5 officer Antonia Fellowes to act as support officer to the Finlay family and PC Jones and to complete a final confidential report to the Home Secretary on the activities of Monaghan and Webb.
Specialist Operations Directorate
New Scotland Yard
Just as Grahamslaw reached for his pen to sign the report he sensed he had company.
He looked up and saw Toni Fellowes standing in the doorway. 'May I join you?' she asked.
Without speaking, the Commander indicated his visitor should use the seat on the other side of the desk. The MI5 officer looked smart and business-like: a dark-blue trouser-suit complemented by matching shoes – low heels, she always wore low heels – and a white blouse. Under her left arm she was carrying a stiff, buff-coloured folder. Given her next port of call would be the Home Office, she gave the appearance of being well prepared.
'Apologies for my lateness, Commander. Is that the Hastings report?' Fellowes closed the door behind her and sat down.
'Hot off the press, you might say. Taken me the best part of a week to finish, it has.' Grahamslaw quickly signed the final page, tapped the pages together neatly and slid them across the desk. It wasn't, he mused, a particularly lengthy or complicated report, just that the previous few weeks had easily been the busiest of his police career. Demands on anti-terror policing had increased manyfold since the New York attacks on September 11th. Finding the time to complete a report hadn't been easy.
As Fellowes flicked through the document, his gaze returned to the window.
He was pleased the Director of Public Prosecutions had seen fit to take no further action against Finlay and Jones. They had faced a situation most would find beyond imagination. Their former Commanding Officer had played a game with the two former soldiers – leading them a merry dance in order to draw them in, mislead and then kill them. That they had managed to turn the tables on him was to their immense credit. What troubled the Commander now was whether there was really a need to continue the investigation. The decision to appoint an MI5 liaison officer to look after both PC Jones and the Finlay family was well founded and Toni Fellowes had handled the responsibility with her usual professionalism. But as to whether there was a point in continuing to dig, he had serious doubts. From his limited experience of the murky world of the men in suits, he had learned that such things were often best left alone.
But now, with his report signed, the enquiry was effectively out of his hands.
After her brief flick through the document Fellowes slipped it back into the buff folder.
'I thought you'd want to read it now ... just to check it over, perhaps?' he said.
She shook her head. 'No time. I'm hoping the Security Service contribution will simply be a rubber stamp to your conclusions.'
He smiled, broadly. 'Let's hope so, Toni. This wasn't the kind of thing that happens every week, was it?'
'It wasn't. Do you mind if I ask what your plans for Jones and Finlay are, now the Home Secretary has approved the decision not to prosecute?'
'With Jones it should be fairly straightforward. He's making a decent recovery from his injuries and he told me he wants nothing more than to get back to being a normal cop. For Finlay, things are more complicated, as you know.'
'I spoke to his Chief Superintendent.'
'Let me guess,' said Grahamslaw, 'not keen on having him back?'
'He's a realist. Finlay is something of a pariah, now. Too many people know both his background and about the attacks on him.'
'The Met rumour mill always did work quickly.'
'I spoke to Hereford as well. They've had calls – people checking up on him, some of them former members of the regiment who were being nosy.'
'He won't be easy to place ... and he's too young to retire.'
'And his skill set isn't what you might describe as easily transferrable.'
Grahamslaw shrugged. 'You sound like you're building up to something. If it's a position with the Security Service, I can tell you now, he won't go for it.'
'I know. He's made that more than clear when I've talked it over with him. I was thinking of something closer to home.'
'Here at the Yard, you mean?'
'Yes, exactly. Easy commute from the safe house and somewhere we can keep an eye on him.'
'But doing what? He has no detective experience and he's not the kind of man to slip easily into some kind of administrative role.'
Fellowes paused for a moment. 'Is it too late in his career to be taught to do detective duty?'
'Depends what you have in mind. Junior CID courses are normally for DCs ... but I'm sure I could swing something, if needed.'
'How about your new trafficking squad? It's undermanned and underfunded.'
'Max Youldon's team, you mean?'
'That's right. I thought he might do well working with Nina Brasov.'
Grahamslaw pondered the idea. 'It might work. Brasov is damn good ... Finlay would learn a lot from her. She's been doing some undercover work lately that takes her away from the office, though.'
'I could have a word at the Home Office, if that would help?'
'To what end?'
'Your budget. A little help with the cost of running the squad.'
'You're suggesting, if I put Finlay on that squad, the Whitehall mandarins might be more sympathetic to our requests for more funding?' The Commander laughed. 'I'm not so green as I am cabbage-looking, you know.'
Fellowes smiled, her expression open and betraying no guile.
He returned her gaze, maintaining a friendly exterior, but he wasn't fooled. It was his guess Toni Fellowes was using him to help get Finlay placed so she could concentrate on the work that would have been building up in the aftermath of 9/11.
'OK, I agree,' Grahamslaw said. He grinned, almost imperceptibly, and this time to himself. He hoped Finlay would prove agreeable to the offer. The first step would be to get him up to the Yard to talk about it. And if a little plan he had in mind proved successful, that might happen sooner rather than later.CHAPTER 3
MI5 safe house, West London
The transition from the disturbed world of my subconscious to self-awareness was brutal.
As I woke, I found the bed beneath me was wet, soaked in sweat, my skin dripping. Although I was hot, I shivered, my heart pounding, my chest heaving with huge, deep breaths.
My senses returned, and with them awareness ... familiarity. I recognised where I was. Home.
Our new home. And I was alone.
I'd been dreaming again, one of a number of disturbing nightmares that now regularly troubled my sleep and ended with me waking, like this, gripped by panic. And although the scenes varied, they were always very similar. Sometimes I would be fighting with my fellow policemen, desperate to alert them to some form of danger. In other scenarios, the strength in my limbs would be overcome by gravity and the unnatural, weighty resistance of the air around me. Time and again, these dreams would feature people from my past – ghostly memories returning to haunt me. Most nights I would lie on a bath towel in anticipation of the moment when my dreams would wake me. It helped to absorb the sweat and saved on bed sheets.
I lay quietly for a few moments, waiting for my body to wind down from its imaginary exercise. My eyes, accustomed to the dark, allowed me to pick out the now familiar window of our bedroom. I say ours, although it was no longer shared.
Excerpted from Deadly Game by Matt Johnson. Copyright © 2017 Matt Johnson. Excerpted by permission of Orenda Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Combination of SAS thriller with police procedural – hard to put down. This novel takes place after a previous one and follows on with the plot – which is a little tricky if you haven't read the previous one - like me. There is an explanation to some extent of what has come before but it emerges as the book proceeds. Robert Finlay is an ex-SAS operative now in the police force and having recently survived an attempt on his life. He is assigned to a sex trafficking unit but his previous experiences also come into play. This book includes action from both the SAS/MI5/MI6 world and from the police environment. It's quite a page-turner, exciting and engaging. However I feel that this will lead into another book and I prefer my thrillers to be stand-alone unless I know in advance that I am looking at a series. Recommended to all fans of both genres. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.