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What happens in the Merrion Club stays in the Merrion Club . . .
Edgar Carlton is rich, handsome, and in line to be the next Prime Minister. But his rise to the top takes a steep turn downward when somebody begins murdering alumni of the 1984 Merrion Club, an exclusive Cambridge University society to which he belongs. Bullheaded Inspector Carlyle is tasked with handling this delicate case, and to discover the killer, he must question all the members of the 1984 Merrion Club. But finding the truth proves difficult when this group of powerful men is so determined to let events of the past remain in the dark . . .
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James Craig has worked in London as a journalist and as a consultant for almost thirty years. He lives in Covent Garden with his wife and daughter.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Shuffling into the tiny kitchen of his one-bedroom flat in Tufnell
Park, north London, George opened a cupboard above his head
and pulled out an economy tin of baked beans. After opening it,
he poured about half of the contents into a small pan resting on
the stove. What was left in the tin went into a small fridge that
was otherwise almost empty, containing only a pint of milk and
a couple of bottles of Red Stripe beer that had been on special
offer in the local minimart.
Taking a box of matches from the worktop, George lit the gas
and began stirring. When he estimated that the beans were on their
way to being hot, he fished his last two slices of white bread out of
their wrapper, and carefully dropped them into an ancient toaster.
Switching it on gingerly, he stepped back quickly, fully expecting
the machine to blow up at any moment. Returning his attention to
the stove, he also kept half an eye on the bread. George knew that
multi-tasking had never been his strong point, and more often than
not something got burnt. It was quite stressful, really. Giving the
beans another stir, he had a quick taste. Though bubbling away
nicely, they were still quite cold. He then decided to pop the toast;
the bread was barely coloured, but that was, he always thought,
better than waiting too long and incinerating it. Err on the side of
caution was his motto. Or, at least, it had been for a long time now.
Happier that he could now focus exclusively on the pan,
George relaxed. As he stirred the beans, he listened to the
background hum of city life. George liked to listen.
Tonight, he could hear the television in the flat downstairs
over the ever-present rumble of traffic from the road outside.
After a few moments, his ears picked out the sound of footsteps
coming up the stairs. He heard them stop outside his front door.
After a couple more seconds, the buzzer sounded, harsh, flat and
At first, George didn’t react. He couldn’t imagine why anyone
would want to ring his bell. When was the last time he’d received
a caller? With no intention of answering the door, he carefully
speared a bean and dropped it on to his tongue – still not quite
The buzzer sounded again: another short, authoritative burst.
George hesitated. Maybe he should see who it was. But would he
have time to answer the door without the beans getting burnt?
He remonstrated with himself for even debating about it. Why
should he bother? It would only be some door-to-door salesman,
a cold caller, wanting him to change his electricity supplier or
Dropping the toast on a nearly clean plate, he wondered if he
should have any butter. The buzzer sounded again, longer this
time, as if the person outside knew for sure that he was there.
‘Go away!’ George hissed, under his breath, as he gave
the beans one last stir. Turning off the gas, he decided against the
butter and poured the beans directly over the toast. Sticking
the pan under the tap, he half filled it with water and dropped it
in the sink.
He was hunting for a knife and fork when the buzzer went
again, a series of short staccato bursts that said: Come on, answer
the bloody door. I’m not taking no for an answer.
‘All right, all right, I’m coming.’ George turned away from his
dinner and shuffled into the tiny hallway. As a matter of routine,
he put his eye to the spyhole. There was no one there. Typical,
he thought, bloody kids. They’ll be hiding up on the next floor,
thinking this is hilarious. With a sigh, he turned back to his plate.
Before he’d even taken a step, the doorbell went again, much
louder this time, the buzzer right above the door drilling harshly
into his skull.
‘You little sods.’ Turning on his heel, he swung the door open
and stepped on to the landing, his chin making perfect contact
with the fist that had been waiting for it all this time.
Waking up, George had a nasty taste in his mouth and a
throbbing headache that made him want to cry. He was sitting
in the living room, his hands and legs tied to the only upright
chair. His upper chest had also been taped to the back of the
chair, to ensure that he was totally immobile. There was another
strip taped across his mouth. Realising that even utility companies
would probably not go this far in order to convince
customers to switch their accounts, he started to panic, gnawing
at the tape with his teeth, and trying desperately to push himself
out of the chair.
‘Relax, relax.’ The voice was quiet, soothing. ‘Just try to keep
breathing.’ But the hand on his shoulder did nothing to help calm
him down. It was wearing a rubber glove like the kind doctors
wear, or those you see killers snapping on in movies, just before
they butcher their victims.
Forcing himself to draw in a few deep breaths, George noticed
the plate on the coffee table in front of him was empty now, save
for a few breadcrumbs and a couple of stray beans. His stomach
rumbled in protest, even though dinner was the least of his
worries right now. Next to the plate was a large kitchen knife
with an evil-looking serrated edge. George knew that the knife
had not come from his kitchen. In a moment of bowel-freezing
clarity, he realised that you wouldn’t bring along a knife like that
if you weren’t intending to use it.
Shaking his head, George started to sob. Big, fat tears rolled
down his cheeks, and over the tape covering his mouth. Surely
this couldn’t be the end? His time had gone so quickly. He had
squandered it so badly. There hadn’t even been enough that had
happened in his life for anything exciting to flash in front of his
eyes. What he saw was more of a short loop that kept repeating,
like the trailer for a film that you know is going to be really quite
‘Compose yourself,’ said the voice.
George sniffed. He could hear the banging of pans in
next-door’s kitchen. A young Asian couple. There were voices,
laughter. He didn’t know their names, but he had nodded to
them on the stairs once or twice. A couple of times, he’d
overheard them having sex through the paper-thin walls. Once
he’d even jerked himself off to the rhythm of the woman’s
cautious groans. That was the best sex he’d had in a long time.
The memory of it caused a twinge of arousal in his groin,
sparking a flicker of fight in his belly. Rocking backwards and
forwards on his chair, he started screaming through the tape. All
that came out, however, was a cautious moan, not unlike that of
the careful lovemaking next-door, which he’d liked to listen to
whenever he had the chance.
‘Enough.’ Again, there was the hand on his shoulder. ‘Don’t
wear yourself out.’
Head bowed, George nodded.
For a moment, there was silence. Then the voice continued.
‘You have a very modest abode here, don’t you, George? All that
education. All that money. All those opportunities. All that . . .
privilege. How did you end up like this?’
George shrugged. He badly wanted to blow his nose. It was a
question he himself had pondered many times.
The hand reached over and picked up the knife. George felt
himself gag. The tip of the blade tickled the back of his neck.
‘You know why I’m here?’
‘You know what I’m going to do?’
Again, George tried to scream.
The blade appeared at his left cheek, reflecting the light from
the sixty-watt light bulb overhead. ‘It can happen either when
you’re dead, or while you’re still alive, but I would suggest the
former.’ His guest finally stepped in front of him and brought the
point of the blade to the tip of George’s nose. George felt himself
go cross eyed as he tried to keep it in focus. The blade was moved
a few inches back as if to give him a better look. ‘You have a
choice. I’m not a sadist. Not like you.’
George vigorously shook his head, eyes wide. Along with the
rubber gloves, the visitor was wearing a thin, clear, plastic
raincoat, the kind that tourists bought when caught out by the
weather. It hung all the way down to the floor and looked
‘Oh, you’d say that now. But then . . . when you had the
George felt something press into his flesh, then a burning
sensation, then the agony of the knife chiselling into one of his
ribs. He reached deep into his lungs and bellowed. The sound
that emerged was like a constipated man trying to pass a cricket
‘The harder you make it for me, the worse it will be for you.
I’m no expert in this kind of thing, but I should be able to make
a decent effort at cutting your throat. Sit still now . . .’
George was trying for one last deep breath as he watched the
knife disappear under his chin. Looking down, he was distracted
by the sound of something splattering off his killer’s raincoat.
The knife flashed in front of him for a second time but by now
his head was slumped on his chest, as if he was mesmerised by
the blood that had filled his dinner plate to overflowing.
Inspector John Carlyle of the Metropolitan Police dropped the
copy of Vogue back on to the coffee table in front of him an...
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