Julie Martin is the most unlikely of heroines in a struggle for supremacy which reaches to the very pinnacles of power within modern Britain. The letter, found amongst her recently deceased aunt’s belongings, sets in motion a chain of events which had their roots in the death throes of Nazi Germany in 1945.
Roger Fretwell and Madeline Colson, two young lovers at the end of hostilities, are in possession of a set of files which fleeing survivors of the Third Reich would rather had lain buried. Now exposed once more, the secrets which they hold put their very lives in peril, and set in motion a chain of events from which there could only be one winner.
Set against the idyllic backdrop of the West Country, Roger and Madeline’s love story weaves its way into the dark and troubled waters of espionage, as competing forces will stop at nothing to gain control of a situation so vital for the future of democracy in modern Britain.
The breathless pace of the storyline is unrelenting, as the chase over the length and breadth of the country comes to a shattering climax on the platform of Nottingham’s Midland Station.
Julie Martin, an unlikely heroine, finds herself at the centre of a struggle between the forces of good and evil, as no quarter is spared in the fight for possession of the top secret files.
Doug was one of life’s men who firmly believed that he had a sense of humour and that the rest of the world just wasn’t on the right wavelength.
He introduced himself as Sam, nothing else just Sam. His wife was ‘Ma’ and they had been married for over forty years. They had lived in the cottage all of that time, and he had been at school with Molly since ‘infants’.
Madeline Colson was two years his junior and a qualified nurse at one of the hospitals reserved for the treatment of returning servicemen. At five feet seven, with auburn hair and dark brown eyes she could have charmed the birds down from the trees, and Roger’s heart leapt each time his eyes fell on her.
Miranda & Gregory Farnley
Gregory Farnley played a poor second fiddle to his wife’s activities within the organisation, and over the years had been given little opportunity to display his loyalty and abilities to fellow members. Miranda had kept him on a very short leash, well aware of his impetuousness and unpredictability whilst being grateful for the financial clout which his family name provided for her to realise the ambitions which she harboured.
Julie approached a tall, silver haired gentleman in his seventies as he hung up his coat just inside the library door. He smiled as any author would upon meeting a reader of their work, and accompanied her back to the table where her ‘research’ lay spread out.
Bertram Peterson had served in the same army regiment as Skerritt and they had been through a number of post war campaigns together. A bond of absolute trust had built up between the two men and they had served the needs of their country on several occasions in the intervening period
Alan Mason’s orders to his operatives had been quite clear. They were to recover the documents from Roger Fretwell by any means necessary and at all costs. Perhaps he should have made it clear in words of one syllable that under no circumstances was anyone to be allowed to evade capture.
Their attention was drawn to the doorway, where a tall, distinguished looking man in his fifties was standing. He stepped into the room and said one word. “Fostropp”
Marshall had spent the better part of the past two days setting up a set of surveillance cameras in Watkinson’s office. They had waited patiently each night since the papers had been ‘carelessly’ left in the desk drawer, and were sure that the mole would be aware of the security risk surrounding the act.
Graham Poundall was a ‘facilitator’. He hated the term ‘burglar; it seemed so coarse for the type of service which he offered to a select clientele. He would obtain, for an appropriately substantial fee, almost anything which was required by those individuals who did not have it. It could range from money and other easily convertible commodities to works of art.
Timson stared out of the window and shook his head. His face suddenly bore all the traces of a man who had lost the will to continue and Watkinson pocketed the revolver in case he changed his mind.
In a boardroom somewhere in the Midlands, what remained of the organisation was now seated around a nondescript table in an anonymous building on an industrial estate. The six there were all that was left of the power structure which had been so carefully and meticulously laid down since the early fifties. Those originally involved in the early days were now no longer alive, but sons and daughters had continued the work which had been so efficiently destroyed by the very system which had been targeted to underpin their vision of the future. A seventh figure entered the room and their collective gaze homed in on him as all conversation abruptly ceased.
Locations From The Book
St Mary's Lane
The cottages stood a little way back from the bank of the river, each with its own fairly small but neatly tended front garden, and a ginger cat was sunning itself on the broad window sill of one of the properties. An old man was busy pottering around the flower beds which surrounded an immaculate lawn, and he paused in his labours, curious to see two visitors in a place where strangers were something of a rarity. Leaning on his hoe, he removed a handkerchief from his pocket, tipped back his cap and dabbed away the perspiration from his brow as they approached. Julie had never been backwards at coming forwards and introduced herself and Doug as relatives of Molly Brown; the man’s faced brightened in recognition of the name.
The Post Office
It wasn’t until a few days later whilst out shopping for their weekly necessities that they had occasion to call in at the post office. As with many small settlements there are a number of establishments which form the backbone of the local community and typically these would include, to varying degrees of personal importance, the church, the local pub and the corner shop. Having no corner shop as such, the post office served a dual function for those in the neighbourhood, and in addition to being the conduit for exchange of gossip, it also boasted a small area containing a few tables where afternoon teas were served. In this way it acted as a magnet for those veterans of the locality whose families had grown up and left the area. Today was no exception and the usual gathering was present discussing such weighty matters as the price of potatoes, the vicar and the young couple who appeared out of nowhere to bring dear Molly Brown home (God rest her soul).
The building, situated at the corner of Albert Road and Alexandra Road is a single story open plan structure offering a cool reservoir from the midday heat, and the two children disappeared into its shady depths immediately leaving Julie and Doug to make their enquiries at the desk. The librarian was a very helpful woman in her mid fifties who pointed them in the direction of a well-stocked local history section and a set of tables and chairs for study. It didn’t take Julie very long to find just what she needed – a soft back A4 booklet produced by the local historical society containing biographies of all the major local dignitaries and personalities. With Doug happily occupying himself in the science fiction section, she sat down to read.
The Colson Residence
After a pleasant lunch at the Lifeboat pub on the corner of Queens Parade and Kingsway, the family made their way along the former to its junction with Oxford Street where a large corner plot contained the imposing dwelling place of the family of Madeline Colson. It was a large double fronted Edwardian villa sitting in the back right hand corner with elegantly structured gardens to the left and front. The driveway was partially concealed by a mature shrubbery which ensured a level of privacy for the dwelling. Ensuring that she had, in fact, got the correct address Julie led her family up the gravelled drive to a large porch and rang the bell, half expecting a liveried servant to answer the summons, and was pleasantly surprised when an immaculately dressed woman in her mid forties opened the door.
“Mrs Martin? Hello, it’s Tom Skerritt from the library the other day. Oh good, I’m glad you remembered. I wondered if it were convenient to see you and your husband this evening for a discussion about the Colsons. Well I thought dinner would be appropriate, my treat of course and bring those lovely children of yours along too. Well there’s a nice pub/restaurant on Taylor’s Avenue; it’s called The Lynton, and the menu is quite extensive. Right I’ll see you all there at around eight-thirty then? Cheerio.”
The Morecambe Cottage
The property was a two storey holiday cottage facing the sea, and the closed curtains told Skerritt that it was currently unoccupied. The Martins awoke as the car pulled up behind the building and the three occupants of the vehicle followed Fretwell to the front door as he produced a key ring from his pocket. The rooms were very dark, and with the car now concealed from immediate view nothing was done to attract any attention to their visit. Roger led the way upstairs to the bathroom, where he carefully removed a well-concealed panel from behind the toilet cistern. From the small space he pulled a parcel bound in Hessian cloth which revealed, once opened, two faded brown briefcases wrapped in oilcloth. The three of them held their collective breath as Roger opened the bundle. There, on the leather front strap of one of the cases, was the faded but still discernible gold embossed lettering ‘M. B.’
With all six MI5 agents now stationed at various points within the confines of the park, Watkinson headed in that direction along with Steve Marshall. The open space was an ideal place for the burglar to meet those who commissioned the robbery without being overheard, and it was now clear that the sole purpose of the ‘milkman’ had been to ensure that he was taken to a pre-arranged spot at a given time. The place chosen for the rendezvous however seemed to have been Speakers’ Corner and with a large number of the public in attendance it was easy for the agents to close in on the party without becoming conspicuous. The burglar and his driver stood to one side of the range of podiums and constantly scanned the passing crowds for some sign of the person they had arranged to meet.
Madeline had given George Watkinson precise details as to where the documents were located, and he made the trip to the Central Library in Cheltenham personally to retrieve the bundle. Posing as a government official from the central land registry, his carefully prepared credentials gained him almost immediate access to the archive store room indicated by Madeline. The staff almost fell over themselves to be helpful, and it was only after accepting repeated offers for tea that he was eventually left alone.
Bishop's Cleeve - The Safe House
The village of Bishop’s Cleeve lies some two to three miles due north of Cheltenham and the place of Skerrit's destination was a house on Evesham Road at the northern edge of the settlement. The area was quiet, particularly in the middle of the afternoon and he parked his car out of sight of the main road. Entering the property through the back door with a key given to him by Watkinson, he called a secure number from his mobile and sat down to await the arrival of those charged with the security of the briefcase which he had brought from the library.
The Cat & Fiddle
They caught up with Skerritt’s car as they skirted Manchester on the M60, heading across the Pennines on the A57 Snake Pass for an intersection with the M1 at Sheffield. The roads across the hills were too narrow for the sort of tactics used on the M6 and any following vehicles would be clearly visible, so a stop was made at the Cat and Fiddle whilst all parties in the convoy reassembled. While Watkinson briefed the drivers, Julie took the opportunity to take Roger Fretwell to one side.
Thames House - MI5 Headquarters
The descent on to the roof from the helicopter had been easy enough, and he smiled at the mole’s concerns for his accuracy. He told the man he could land on a paving slab given calm weather and tonight had been perfect. Carefully folding away the parachute canopy, he approached the access door to the stairway which would take him to the offices below. He knew it would most likely be locked, but gave it a gentle tug anyway. The lock held firm and he took out a set of tools from the small bag he had brought along. Inserting a narrow metal fillet into the small gap between door and jamb, he released the locking mechanism on the other side and eased it open, listening for the merest hint of any sound from within. Satisfied that no-one was about, he donned a pair of night vision goggles and descended the pitch black stairway to the first level.
Nottingham's Midland Station
Looking around, there was no sign of any police pursuit and Montgomerey grabbed his coat from the rear seat and made his way down to the main road into Nottingham. With time against him he needed to disappear into the crowd, and flagging down the next available bus took the short trip into the city centre. He was hungry but with no time to spare took the first available taxi to the Midland Station. Having paid the fare he checked his wallet – about four hundred in there and it would have to go a long way if he were to avoid capture. He was not to know it, but Watkinson’s men were hard on his heels and had already located the abandoned car. From there it was fairly obvious that he would head for the nearest big city as his best option, and the railway police had already been put on alert.
I'd tell how it ends, but that would surely spoil it for you and I wouldn't want that kind of thing on my conscience. Go and buy the book and find out for yourself - you won't regret it.