The Spy and the Thief: A Jeffery Rand and Nick Velvet Collection

The Spy and the Thief: A Jeffery Rand and Nick Velvet Collection

by Edward D. Hoch

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Overview

A double-barreled collection—two of Edward D. Hoch’s most ingenious creations
In the headquarters of Britain’s Foreign Office, a secretary spies a television actor making a copy of a top-secret key. In an island republic, an intelligence operative is murdered just minutes before exposing a Communist mole. And in a bustling eastern city, the Cold War reaches a turning point over a piece of film the size of a pinhead. These are cases for C. Jeffery Rand, the fixer inside Britain’s secret service. He is bright, ruthless, and smart enough never to be surprised by the depths to which an enemy spy might sink.
Where Jeffery Rand is hard-nosed, Nick Velvet has a supple touch. A master thief, Velvet has a particular skill for stealing unusual items. Where ordinary thieves might be content with jewels or bank notes, Velvet pilfers rare tigers, water from swimming pools, and the letters on a company sign.
In this collection, you will find seven stories of Rand and seven of Velvet—two brilliant men, one on either side of the law, each with a knack for doing the impossible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480456518
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 11/26/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Edward D. Hoch (1930–2008) was a master of the mystery short story. Born in Rochester, New York, he sold his first story, “The Village of the Dead,” to Famous Detective Stories, then one of the last remaining old-time pulps. The tale introduced Simon Ark, a two-thousand-year-old Coptic priest who became one of Hoch’s many series characters. Others included small-town doctor Sam Hawthorne, police detective Captain Leopold, and Revolutionary War secret agent Alexander Swift. By rotating through his stable of characters, most of whom aged with time, Hoch was able to achieve extreme productivity, selling stories to ArgosyAlfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which published a story of his in every issue from 1973 until his death.
In all, Hoch wrote nearly one thousand short tales, making him one of the most prolific story writers of the twentieth century. He was awarded the 1968 Edgar Award for “The Oblong Room,” and in 2001 became the first short story writer to be named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. 
Edward D. Hoch (1930–2008) was a master of the mystery short story. Born in Rochester, New York, he sold his first story, “The Village of the Dead,” to Famous Detective Stories, then one of the last remaining old-time pulps. The tale introduced Simon Ark, a two-thousand-year-old Coptic priest who became one of Hoch’s many series characters. Others included small-town doctor Sam Hawthorne, police detective Captain Leopold, and Revolutionary War secret agent Alexander Swift. By rotating through his stable of characters, most of whom aged with time, Hoch was able to achieve extreme productivity, selling stories to Argosy, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which published a story of his in every issue from 1973 until his death.
In all, Hoch wrote nearly one thousand short tales, making him one of the most prolific story writers of the twentieth century. He was awarded the 1968 Edgar Award for “The Oblong Room,” and in 2001 became the first short story writer to be named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. 

Read an Excerpt

The Spy and The Thief

A Jeffery Rand and Nick Velvet Collection


By Edward D. Hoch

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1971 Davis Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-5651-8



CHAPTER 1

THE SPY WHO CAME TO THE BRINK


THE GIRL WAS SLENDER and dark-haired, and very pretty. "I feel like a fool," she told Rand, gazing across the desk with uncertain eyes.

"Nonsense," he reassured her. "You did the right thing in reporting it. Now suppose you start at the beginning and tell me everything that happened."

"That's the trouble. Nothing happened except that I saw this man taking a wax impression of the lock—the way they do in the movies, and—"

Rand smiled slightly. "You haven't even told me your name, or where you work."

"What? I thought my boss phoned you."

"I'd like to hear it all from you, if I may. From the beginning."

She shifted in the chair and crossed her legs. "Well, my name is Audrey Fowler, and I'm a pool typist in the Foreign Office. I've been there nearly three years and I like it a lot. The girls are so friendly, and there are lots of handsome men—"

Rand cleared his throat. "About yesterday."

"Oh! Yes. I don't usually work on Sunday, of course, but with all those television people around—"

"What television people?"

"They're filming a show about diplomats and they got permission to take some shots in the Foreign Office lobby. I guess then they go back to the studio sets for the office scenes. Some of us had to be there, anyway, to help out."

"Are you an American, Miss Fowler?"

"No. Why do you ask?"

"You talk a little like one."

"I was born right here in London. But I see a lot of American movies."

"Go on," he urged. "I'm sorry I interrupted."

"Anyway, I was coming out of the office on the second floor when I saw this man. He was at the door to the restricted wing, where the Message Center is. He took something out of the lock and dropped it very carefully into a little plastic bag. Honest, it was just like in the movies!"

Rand nodded. "A wax-coated blank key, probably. Do you know what's kept in the Message Center?"

"Lists of embassy personnel in various countries, teletype machines—"

"Anything else?"

"Well, the diplomatic code—oh, the code book! I'll bet that's why they sent me to you!" She glanced over her shoulder at the frosted-glass door with the words Department of Concealed Communications neatly lettered on it.

Rand shifted in his chair and lit an American cigarette, one of his few vices. "What did the man do when you saw him?"

"He said good afternoon and went back downstairs, as if it was nothing at all."

"Did you recognize him?"

"Of course I recognized him! That's the whole point of it!"

"And who was he?"

"Barton O'Neill, the television actor. Why do you think Barton O'Neill would want to steal the diplomatic code?"

"That's what we're going to find out," Rand said.


Rand rarely ventured into the other departments of British Intelligence, because his job was concerned more with words than with people. But men like Hastings were always glad to see him.

"Well, Rand, how've you been?"

"Good as ever." He shook the hand of the balding man.

"What's up? You usually bring trouble."

Rand laughed. "Not this time. I only want some information. About a television actor named Barton O'Neill."

"Officially or unofficially?"

"Let's start with the official information."

Hastings shrugged, pretending indifference. "He's a character actor on television, bit parts mostly. Age forty-five, divorced twice."

Rand reached for a cigarette. "Now the unofficial part."

"We've suspected for some time that Barton O'Neill is one of the smartest foreign agents now operating in London. We think he's available to the highest bidder, with most of his work done for Moscow or Cairo."

"You haven't arrested him?"

"He's too clever for that. We had proof on only one job, but there were political reasons for not arresting him. Actually, we've never caught him violating the Official Secrets Act."

"He's British?" Rand asked.

The balding man nodded. "Did you ever hear of the Legion of Saint George, later called the British Free Corps? It was an attempt by the Germans during World War II to enlist British war prisoners to fight on the Russian front. It was mainly a propaganda effort, and only a few dozen men joined up. Several of them were tried for treason after the war, but we never had enough evidence against O'Neill. We've kept our eye on him ever since, though."

"Interesting."

"Now it's your turn, Rand. What's he up to?"

"One of the typists at the Foreign Office claims she saw him taking a wax impression of a lock there yesterday."

Hastings didn't seem surprised. "Since you and Double-C are interested, I gather the diplomatic code must be involved."

"It seems to be. I always thought the security arrangements there were safe enough. There's a twenty-four-hour guard in the lobby to check passes, and a locked door leading into the restricted wing. Then there's a guard at the door of the Message Center and people working inside day and night. Of course all personnel are carefully screened."

"And the code books?"

"They're constantly in use, so they're not locked up regularly. There's one on each of the six desks in the Center, where people are on duty at various hours. Messages come in from embassies constantly. They're decoded at the Center and sent upstairs by pneumatic tube."

Hastings scratched his head. "How did O'Neill get by the guard in the lobby?"

"He's apparently part of a television company that had permission to film in the lobby. With so much confusion it would be simple for him to slip away for a few minutes."

"Aren't those people screened before permission of that sort is granted?" Hastings asked querulously.

"Do you have any idea of the number of people necessary to produce a television show? It would take a month to check them all, and then who would you exclude? A security risk can include anyone from an outright spy to a homosexual or a neurotic. Besides, I assume the Foreign Office regarded their code books as quite inviolate."

"If he made a wax impression, he must be planning to return."

Rand nodded. "I already checked. The television company winds up its shooting on Wednesday evening, after regular office hours. Barton O'Neill is almost certain to try for a code book then, if he's going to try at all."

"Even though this girl recognized him?"

"He's a bit player. He probably doesn't realize he was recognized by a film and television fan."

"Even after he gets through that locked door to the restricted wing, how can he walk past the inside guard and into the Message Center where people are always working, and then out again with a thick code book under his arm?"

Rand chewed on his lower lip. He was thinking of a man named Taz in Moscow who would give a great deal to be able to read the coded messages which passed between British embassies throughout the world. "That's what we'll find out Wednesday night," he said. "And I'll be there myself to give O'Neill a little surprise."


On Wednesday evening Rand felt good. The February air was sharp but clear, and for the first time in weeks his annual sinus attack seemed to be easing. The work at the office was well under control, and the minor irritation of an actor named Barton O'Neill promised to be cleared up with ease.

Rand had stationed one of his best men—a young fellow named Parkinson—inside the lobby of the Foreign Office, and he himself would be watching O'Neill's arrival with the other actors and technicians. When the actor used his duplicate key to enter the restricted wing, he'd be arrested on the spot. A simple affair, really, thanks to the girl's report.

Rand stood in the shadow of a little bookstore opposite the Foreign Office, waiting for O'Neill to appear. A few people hurried by, bound for a late dinner or the theater, but mainly the street was empty. Most of the halls of government had long since closed for the night.

The Double-C man recognized O'Neill almost at once. He was walking alone, carrying the sort of attaché case popular with diplomats and American advertising men. He was tall and grayishly handsome, much like the photos Rand had studied for the past two days. He looked like a government official. Or an actor.

Rand moved out to follow him at a distance of a dozen paces. He didn't see the other man until that man stepped directly in front of Barton O'Neill, materializing out of the shadows like a ghost. The man wore a dark leather jacket with a cap pulled down over his eyes. He might have spoken a word or two to O'Neill, but Rand couldn't be certain. Then, without warning, the stranger fired two shots through the pocket of his leather jacket.

Barton O'Neill half turned, clutching his chest. The man fired a third time and then Rand was on him, toppling him backward to the pavement. Somewhere a woman screamed, and suddenly the street was alive with panic. Rand brought his fist down on the gunman's jaw and then tore the weapon free from limp fingers.

Parkinson and a uniformed policeman were already running across the street, fighting their way through the gathering crowd. "What happened?" Parkinson called out.

Rand, catching his breath, looked over at the actor's crumpled body. "This man shot O'Neill."

The policeman knelt for a moment, carefully avoiding the spreading pool of blood, and then shook his head. Barton O'Neill was dead, and the game was ended—and yet Rand had the gnawing feeling that he had witnessed a carefully planned drama that he didn't even begin to understand.


For most of Thursday the head of Double-C tried to ignore it. O'Neill's murder might only have been the work of some would-be bandit, or even of a wronged husband. There was no reason why it had to be connected with the actor's attempt to steal the diplomatic code. None at all.

All morning had been spent inspecting the extremely interesting contents of O'Neill's attaché case. There was a carefully made duplicate key to the locked door on the second floor of the Foreign Office. There was a man's black wig, a pair of bushy false eyebrows, two tubes of makeup, and a small metal mirror. There were three large candid photographs of a man identified as James Corbin, an employee of the Foreign Office Message Center.

And last, there was a book about the size of a desk dictionary, carefully bound in impressive black cloth, and filled with 882 pages of recipes and cooking suggestions.

"A cook book?" Parkinson asked, somewhat unbelieving.

Rand nodded. "But a specially bound cook book. The binding is almost identical with that of the diplomatic code books, and the size is the same too. I think we can piece together his plan. During a lull in the filming downstairs, he'd slip up to the second floor, just as he did on Sunday. In the stairwell he'd open his case and make himself up to look like James Corbin, one of the employees on the day shift. Then he'd simply unlock the door, walk past the inner guard with a mumble, go to Corbin's desk, and switch this cook book for one of the real code books. It would go into the attaché case, and he'd be out of there in a couple of minutes. Anyone on duty in the room would probably be too busy to give him more than a glance."

Parkinson shook his head. "He couldn't have gotten away with it."

"That's something we'll never know. He obviously thought he could. Check on this Corbin fellow right away, will you?"

Parkinson returned in an hour with the news that James Corbin—the real James Corbin—was vacationing in the south of France for two weeks.

"But," Parkinson argued, "the inside guard would have asked him why he wasn't away on his holiday. He'd have had to say something—and how do we know he could imitate Corbin's voice well enough?"

"He was a character actor as well as a secret agent. We'll have to assume he thought he could bring it off. He was in the building and he had a key, and that would have automatically canceled out a lot of suspicion. He must have met Corbin at some time, though—perhaps over a few beers at a pub one night. Maybe that's how he learned about the size and binding of the code books if he didn't learn it from another agent. We'll have to question Corbin when he returns. Even a completely trustworthy person can let things slip at times."

Toward mid-afternoon a phone call from Scotland Yard brought news of O'Neill's killer. He was a suspected Communist named Ivar Kaden, an unemployed dockworker with a long criminal record. On the morning of the murder he'd been visited at his flat by a minor official of the Russian Embassy.

"All right," Rand conceded reluctantly to Parkinson. "So the Russians order a man killed just as he is about to steal our code book for them. Why? Was it a mistake, or what?"

"They don't make many mistakes, sir," Parkinson said.

"Then why did they have O'Neill killed?"

"Because he knew too much. Spies always know too much."

"Too much about what?"

"I don't know, sir."

Rand was still enough under forty to resent being called "sir," but he never corrected Parkinson. The fellow did his job, and he was acquiring a good knowledge of the intricate world of Concealed Communications. But just then Rand wanted to think, so he sent Parkinson away.

Alone, staring out the window at the great sweep of the muddy Thames, he wondered how the weather was in Moscow that day. He often wondered about Moscow, and sometimes he tried to visualize the man in the Kremlin who was his counterpart. He knew nothing about Taz except his name, which was the same as a river in western Siberia. Sometimes he pictured a gentle little man who worked eight hours a day over coded messages and secret writings, and then took the Moscow subway home to a wife and four waiting children. On days like this, though, when Taz became the, shadowy figure on the other side of a giant chessboard, Rand pictured something quite different.

Was it Taz who had pressed a button in Moscow and ordered the death of Barton O'Neill on a London street? The same Taz who went home every night to his wife and four waiting children? Rand sighed; he knew there were men in London and Washington and Paris who did the same thing.

There was a soft knock on the frosted-glass door and Hastings entered, carrying a folder of reports. "I have an idea about this O'Neill thing," he said.

"What's that?"

"Well, he was an actor. And actors often have stand-ins or doubles, don't they? Look, the Russians have been after one of those code books for five years now. They certainly wouldn't murder the one about to get it for them, would they? I think the man they killed was O'Neill's double, and the whole thing was some sort of diversion to cover the real theft of a code book."

Rand smiled. "They've checked the dead man's fingerprints. It was O'Neill, all right. Besides, a bit-part character actor wouldn't be likely to have a double." He paused to light a cigarette. "In any event, I was prepared for a possible diversion. The real code books were moved to a room upstairs on Monday. The Message Center has just been going through the motions since then, sending messages upstairs still encoded."

"Maybe that's it," Hastings said. "The Russians found out you were setting a trap and killed O'Neill."

But Rand would have none of it. "Everyone in that Message Center is completely loyal—I'd stake my life on it. Besides, if there is a spy there, O'Neill's complex plot would have been completely unnecessary."

"What about the girl who saw O'Neill take the impression of that lock?"

"Audrey Fowler? We've checked her. She's a bit naive, but perfectly trustworthy. She'd hardly have reported O'Neill in the first place if she weren't."

"So what do we have?"

Rand shrugged. "A dead spy."

"Why?"

"Perhaps because he knew too much. About something."


The next day, Friday, Rand went down to visit Ivar Kaden in jail. He interviewed him in a bare room with pale green walls and barred windows. The man was sitting across the table while a guard stood silently with his back to the door.

"I'd like to ask you a few questions," Rand began.

Kaden was stocky with middle age, and a shadow of beard traced itself across his cheeks. "You're the one jumped me the other night," he said, and his muscles seemed to ripple at the recognition.

"It was my job," Rand told him. "The same as your job was killing Barton O'Neill."

"You're bloody right! That was my job and I did it."

"How much did they pay you?"

A sly smile now. "Enough."

"Why was he killed?"

"Look, mister, I don't ask questions and I don't answer them. I do my job, that's all."

"Are you a Communist, Ivar?"

The bulky man shifted in his chair, looking at his hands. "I guess so. I guess I would be if I knew what they were talking about."

"Who paid you to kill O'Neill?"

His eyes came up to meet Rand's. "Do you really think I'll tell you, mister?"

"You don't have to, Ivar. We know the orders came from a Russian agent. Just one thing—did they tell you when to shoot him?"

Ivar Kaden hesitated and then said, "Before he went into the Foreign Office on Wednesday night."

"Yes," Rand mumbled to himself. "Before." He got to his feet and motioned to the guard. "I'm finished. You can take him back."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Spy and The Thief by Edward D. Hoch. Copyright © 1971 Davis Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

A Book with Three Introductions,
RAND, the master spy,
The Spy Who Came to the Brink,
The Spy Who Had Faith in Double-C,
The Spy Who Took the Long Route,
The Spy Who Came to the End of the Road,
The Spy Who Purchased a Lavender,
The Spy and the Calendar Network,
The Spy and the Bermuda Cipher,
about NICK VELVET, the master thief,
The Theft of the Clouded Tiger,
The Theft from the Onyx Pool,
The Theft of the Brazen Letters,
The Theft of the Wicked Tickets,
The Theft of the Laughing Lions,
The Theft of the Coco Loot,
The Theft of the Blue Horse,

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The Spy and the Thief: A Jeffery Rand and Nick Velvet Collection 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
much to be desired . Could not get interested . for those who follow the two series and like format of short stories. page counter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago