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Authors: James Hawkins

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The Dave Bliss Quintet

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THE DAVE BLISS QUINTET

Also by James Hawkins

INSPECTOR BLISS MYSTERIES

Missing: Presumed Dead
The Fish Kisser
No Cherubs for Melanie
A Year Less a Day

NON-FICTION

The Canadian Private Investigator's Manual
1001 Fundraising Ideas and Strategies for Charities and
Not-for-profit Groups

THE DAVE BLISS QUINTET

An Inspector Bliss Mystery

James Hawkins

A Castle Street Mystery

Copyright © James Hawkins, 2004

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise (except for brief passages for purposes of review) without the prior permission of Dundurn Press. Permission to photocopy should be requested from Access Copyright.

Editor: Barry Jowett
Copy-editor: Jennifer Bergeron
Design: Jennifer Scott
Printer: Webcom

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Hawkins, D. James (Derek James), 1947-

The Dave Bliss Quintet / James Hawkins.

ISBN 1-55002-495-7

I. Title.

PS8565.A848D39 2004       C813'.6       C2004-901390-4

1     2     3     4     5          08     07     06     05     04

We acknowledge the support of the
Canada Council for the Arts
and the
Ontario Arts Council
for our publishing program. We also acknowledge the financial support of the
Government of Canada
through the
Book Publishing Industry Development Program
and
The Association for the Export of Canadian Books
, and the
Government of Ontario
through the
Ontario Book Publishers Tax Credit
program.

Care has been taken to trace the ownership of copyright material used in this book. The author and the publisher welcome any information enabling them to rectify any references or credit in subsequent editions.

J. Kirk Howard, President

Printed and bound in Canada.
Printed on recycled paper.
www.dundurn.com

To my son, Captain Ian Hawkins, one of the
many brave mariners who have navigated the
Mediterranean Sea, at the mercy of its unpredictable
winds, since time immemorial.

chapter one

“Am I interrupting? What are you writing?”
The blade of a dagger sliced between her ribs, nicking her bikini strap. A pair of perfectly moulded breasts perked upwards in momentary relief, her back arched in agony, then she slumped to the sand with her attacker's name on her lips.

“Sorry,” he says, glancing up at the slender woman silhouetted against the Mediterranean sun, her plentiful breasts still safely clasped in her bikini's hold.

“I asked you what you were writing,” she repeats, sliding closer to him along on the seawall while casually dusting sand from her naked feet.

“A novel,” he answers, pumping himself up, getting a lift from the words. Nothing wimpish — not a short story or a newspaper article. Nothing egotistical, either — like poetry or memoirs. “A novel,” he repeats, immediately realizing the allure the simple phrase could have.

“Can I read it?” she asks.

That's allure, he thinks, saying, “No. Sorry, it's not finished yet.” And, folding his journal with emphasis, he gazes out over the blue bay, seemingly seeking inspiration.


Pardonnez-moi
,” she mumbles, edging away, then pauses quizzically. “Are you known? I mean … famous, perhaps. Should I recognize you?” Her narrowed, questioning eyes corner him.

“Dave,” he says, tentatively extending a hand, peering into her eyes with the slowly developing realization that she may be the one he is seeking.

“Dave?” she queries, then hesitates. And …? her eyes demand. Do I have to ask? Do you expect me to drag it out of you? Maybe your mother stitched it to your underpants — should I look? “Dave?” she queries again.

“Dave …” He wavers, still undecided. “Dave Burbeck.” Shit! he thinks, why did I say that? Maybe because that poster over there says:
“Festival de Jazz de la Côte d'Azur — avec Dave Brubeck.”

With a curious eye on the poster she inches closer to him. “Not …?”

“Oh, good Lord … no. Not
Bru
beck,” he replies a touch hastily. “It's
Bur
beck, Dave Burbeck.”

Now she eyes him skeptically and queries, “Burbeck?” as she checks out the poster again. “Bit of a coincidence, isn't it?”

Bugger — I've only just started and she's blown my cover already.

“I said,” she continues, like a poodle with a bone, “it's a bit of a coincidence — Brubeck; Burbeck.”

“Sorry,” Detective Inspector David Bliss of London's Metropolitan Police replies, hoping to move on. “I was miles away … thinking of the next line for my book.”

“It must be very exciting being a writer,” she says, putting on her high beams in admiration and letting go of the bone. “What's it about?”

“Life.”

“Romance?” she queries with a mischievous smirk.

“Death.”

“Oh,” she shudders, “I'm not keen on death.”

“I'm not sure many people are.”

“I'm Marcia, by the way,” she says, finally reciprocating and offering a hand, deliberately holding back her surname, waiting for him to be straight with her.

“Dave Burbeck,” he starts, still holding her hand, still wondering how to break the ice. “Oh. You know that already.”

“Yes,” she says, critically eyeing the poster on the billboard. “That is what you told me.” Then, catching Bliss by surprise, she jumps onto the sand and strides off along the beach towards the centre of St-Juan-sur-Mer. “See you again, Mr. Brubeck,” she calls over her shoulder with a knowing lilt in her voice.

“It's Burbeck,” he calls after her, adding, “Wait, I need to talk to you.” But she doesn't.

“Nice looking woman; could she be the one?” he muses, watching as she heads towards the centre of town. “Who would want to stick a knife in her?” And he picks up his pad and starts again.

A gunshot rang out …

“I think I've made contact,” Bliss says a few hours later, telephoning his office in London from a pay phone a few miles along the coast, in the ancient Provençal port of Antibes, strictly according to his
handler's instructions. (“Christ, that's taking it a bit far,” he said originally. “Can't be too careful, Dave,” the senior officer insisted.)

“You
think
you've made contact,” his handler queries now, impatience adding a critical edge. “Didn't she ID herself positively — give the code word?”

“Not exactly, Guv, though I didn't expect her to immediately. She'll probably be a bit cagey for awhile … want to check me out. She's probably got a lot at stake.” He pauses, thinking: Her neck, probably. “But she's English, thirty-five-ish, short black hair, mouthwatering breasts, eyes like pools of liquid ebony …”

“What the hell?” exclaims the voice on the phone.

“Oh. Sorry, Guv. I got carried away. Anyway, she obviously made a beeline for me when no one else was about. The beach was almost deserted — everyone still sleeping it off or jostling for a croissant and
chocolat chaud
. The bloody beaches are packed by nine in the morning, and Noel Coward was wrong — mad dogs and Englishmen aren't the only ones baking in the midday sun — and no one leaves 'til five.”

“Hardly a day in the office, though,” snorts the sarcastic voice at the other end with the weariness of a wet Thursday in London.

“Tougher, if you ask me. Have you any idea what it's like to be a professional sunbather?”

“Stop whining. You're getting paid. By the way, what's your cover?”

Bliss tells him, and the phone explodes. “Dave Burbeck!” yells his contact.

“I know what you're thinking, Guv. But the name just slipped out. Anyway, it matches my initials. Dave Bliss, Dave Burbeck.”

BOOK: The Dave Bliss Quintet
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