Authors: Nick Oldham
Tags: #Police Procedural, #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective
Recent Titles by Nick Oldham from Severn House
BIG CITY JACKS
THE NOTHING JOB
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First world edition published 2010 in Great Britain and in the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9â15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright Â© 2010 by Nick Oldham.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Oldham, Nick, 1956â
Seizure. â (A DCI Henry Christie mystery)
1. Christie, Henry (Fictitious character) â Fiction.
2. Police â England â Blackpool â Fiction. 3. Drug
dealers â Fiction. 4. Fugitives from justice â Fiction.
5. Kidnapping â Fiction. 6. Hostage negotiations â Fiction.
7. Suspense fiction.
I. Title II. Series
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-189-7 Â Â Â Â (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-6876-3 Â Â Â Â (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-221-5 Â Â Â Â (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
To Belinda, Philip, Jessica and James
teve Flynn was feeling just a little apprehensive. Pulling down the peak of his baseball cap to shield his eyes from the blinding glare of the hot sun reflecting off the flat, calm Atlantic, he squinted across the shimmering water, jaw rotating thoughtfully.
July and August were when the first run of the giant blue marlin passed through these waters. Flynn knew that if he were lucky enough to hook into one, it would be a big one. A 1,000lb fish had been caught not long ago and 900lb was not uncommon. The trouble was that there are no banks or shallows around these islands to hold the fish for long, like in the Caribbean, which is why Flynn was feeling the way he was. The fish were definitely out there but he knew if he didn't get a strike soon, they'd be gone. He shook his head in frustration.
âIsn't it about time you got me into a fish?'
Flynn glanced sideways at the good-looking woman lounging indolently in the fighting chair of the sportfishing boat, an ice-chilled bottle of San Miguel in her hand, resting on her lightly tanned thigh.
Gill Hartland, somewhere in her late thirties, worked in the world of celebrity PR. She had built up a thriving business back in the UK, leaving two husbands gasping in her wake like floundering fish, and this was her sixth annual pilgrimage for the big marlin that cruised through these waters each year. So far, though, this year's trek looked like being a barren one, which would be a pity for a couple of reasons.
First, this was her only real break from the hurly-burly stress of whining celebs and paparazzi. It was a chunk of time she lived for, having picked up the sportfishing bug on holiday with one of her exes. To leave empty-handed would be a gut-wrenching disappointment.
Second, though she had paid a non-refundable two and a half grand sterling up front for the week-long charter (to the owner of the boat, not to Flynn), fish or no fish, there was an additional payment on the side, and in kind, for Flynn.
However, he had been told in no uncertain terms, âNo fish, no getting laid' â which put a lot of extra pressure on him as skipper of this little vessel, ironically named
. It was an arrangement the pair had come to four years ago, the year Flynn had arrived on the island, and its no-strings-attached small print suited them both; an additional facet of the trip to look forward to, but it was totally dependent on success, meaning fish.
Flynn was determined, therefore, to get into a big fish and Gill Hartland.
She reached out and ran the cold San Mig down his bare arm, letting her eyes give his muscular body a sultry once-over. He shivered involuntarily.
âIt's not as though you haven't caught anything,' Flynn pointed out. She had hooked, caught and fought numerous wahoo, barracuda and small shark, but nothing approaching the size and reputation of a blue marlin even though there had been some exciting mini-contests on the light tackle that Flynn preferred.
She pouted and gave him a narrow-eyed look, which made his muscles go weak. âIt's the big one I want,' she declared, leaving him no choice but to ensure the client got what the client paid for. And more. She sank the remainder of her
, said, âI need another one,' pushed herself off the fighting chair, walked across the deck and disappeared down the steps into the stateroom where the picnic chiller box containing supplies was stored.
Flynn watched her all the way, and she knew it, exaggerating her feline-like movements as a tantalizing reminder of what was on offer.
âHey!' Jerked rudely out of his reverie, Flynn looked up to the control tower of the flying bridge and the guy presently at the helm of the
as they trolled unsuccessfully in search of the big fish. âYour tongue hanging out,' Jose laughed dirtily, letting his own tongue loll out like a dead bull's in a butcher's shop.
Flynn's middle finger made it clearly understood what he thought of the remark. Although Jose was a Spaniard, he got the message loud and clear.
âWhat we gonna do, boss?' he shouted over the lovely burble of the Volvo engines. âLast day,' he added unnecessarily, and tapped his wristwatch.
Flynn shrugged his shoulders and glanced at Tommy, the third member of the crew. The teenage son of the boat's owner was bending over the bait preparation area, doing a bit of tidying up. Time was definitely against them. They were four hours into the day, another two hours to go, so Flynn had to come up with something quick otherwise Gill Hartland would be heading home rather dissatisfied on all points.
Not one to shirk his responsibilities, Flynn came to a snap decision. One he would live to regret.
They were presently about six miles due south of Puerto Rico on Gran Canaria, trolling over some very deep water. Looking north, Flynn could see the horizon very clearly and in particular the Roque Nublo â the rock in the clouds â rising majestically up from the island. The last big fish he'd caught, two weeks earlier for a one-day charter of four drunken Scotsmen, had weighed in at an estimated 700lb from the stretch of water they were currently trolling. But there had been no joy this week. Maybe it was time for a change of scenery.
âTommy, Jose â get the outriggers in,' he instructed the crew. He jumped on the ladder leading up to the flying bridge, gave Jose a jerk of the thumb to get out of the way â and took control.
Jose was a big brown bear of a Spaniard, born in Madrid, but raised in Tenerife, then Gran Canaria, where he'd learned his trade on the sportfishing boats out of Las Palmas. He'd been fishing virtually all his life but though he was good and knowledgeable, he did not have Flynn's innate intuition, his ability to âsmell' fish; nor did he have Flynn's recklessness â at least that's what Flynn told him anyway, much to Jose's contempt.
Despite Jose's dirty scowl and tut of annoyance when Flynn grabbed the wheel and increased the speed, Flynn shouted, âAnd when you've done that' â referring to the outriggers â âhook on the mackerel I prepared earlier. The
bait,' he added with a double raise of the eyebrows, designed to get Jose's goat.
âSpecial bait my arse,' Jose responded.
Flynn turned the boat's tail to the island with a dignified swish and powered her due south, showing how desperate, yet inventive, a man can be when his pride is threatened.
Gill Hartland was on the flying bridge next to Flynn, coming into regular contact with his bare back and arms as she swayed with the movement of the boat in the much choppier, deeper seas they were now in. Flynn was doing his utmost to ignore the deliberate touching so he could concentrate on the job in hand, but it was proving difficult.
âYou need to be ready,' he warned her, âsat in the fighting chair, strapped in for when we lay eyes.'
On this boat it had become part of the tradition to use the expression âlaying eyes' when something special was spotted. It sounded almost religious. For a heathen like Flynn it was probably as close as he came to any form of spirituality when he laid eyes on a monster fish that was going to test his skills and ingenuity to the limit. He came over all strange and humble â happened every time.
Flynn looked at Gill. She twisted her lovely mouth down sardonically and said, âYeah, right, as if,' like some disbelieving teenager.
As he turned his head to look forward, he mimicked her voice and said, âYeah, right . . .' And then he said urgently, âYeah, right â actually!' Excitement blasted down his spine as he caught a glimpse of that most magnificent of fish, the ocean wanderer, surging through the ocean about two hundred metres dead ahead. âThere!' he announced, pointing with gilt-edged triumph. âAnd a hell of a big one.'
Gill Hartland had sharp eyes too and she'd spotted the fish only a nanosecond after Flynn. âGet me into him,' she ordered, âand I'll fuck your brains out and give you a thousand-euro bonus on the side.' She spun away, literally slid down the ladder onto the deck and leapt into the fighting chair. Jose and Tommy, both alerted, did not miss the opportunity to help a scantily clad woman into the harness.
Suddenly the whole boat seemed to crackle with a shot of electricity, including
herself, who came alive like a thorough-bred racehorse. Innately, Flynn knew it could not be true, but he was certain that at moments like this, she sensed she was about to be used for what she'd been built to do â hunt big fish. She literally champed at the bit.
It took Flynn almost twenty minutes of skilful but frustrating manoeuvring before the boat was in the correct position ahead of the marlin, from which it would even consider taking the bait. He trolled the mackerel expertly in spite of Jose's continual derogatory remarks to the contrary and Gill's foul-mouthed curses of annoyance, most of which were lost on the wind. Thankfully.
Initially the fish couldn't be tempted, no matter what Flynn did, and the air of excitement on board was being gradually eroded to be replaced by tension and impatience at the shy creature's reluctance.
But then it all came good. Before it went bad.
Flynn had the boat and bait ideally placed. The marlin tensed and then, amazingly, took the bait with a powerful lunge.
With a scream of primal excitement â which Flynn hoped would be replicated later that night â Gill Hartland heaved up the rod, her muscles turning to sinews of steel, embedded the forged steel hook into the fish's mouth and, grimly determined, commenced battle with what Flynn estimated to be an 800lb fish.
It was an unfair contest: Flynn pitied the fish.
Half an hour later, the struggle was still in full swing, no punches being pulled on either side.
Gill Hartland's muscles howled agonizingly as she worked the rod, keeping the pressure on, pumping the fish when appropriate, then allowing it to sound and reeling in quickly as the magnificent creature burst from the ocean depths in a series of stunning, frenzied leaps, desperate to worry the hook loose and escape this torment. Each time, Flynn's heart was in his mouth, but Gill had the measure of the beast, kept her nerve and fought it like the expert she was becoming â ably assisted by Flynn's superb boat handling, his ability to spin
on a sixpence and manoeuvre her as though she was an extension of his own being. The crew played their part too, providing Gill with a succession of energy drinks, constructive advice and buckets full of cold seawater to keep her cool.