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Authors: Michael Dobbs

The Lords' Day (retail)

BOOK: The Lords' Day (retail)
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Praise for
The Lords’ Day

‘A gripping tale which leaves behind deeply uncomfortable thoughts, not only about the vulnerability of our institutions but also about guilt, responsibility and
revenge’
Literary Review

‘The plot is riveting . . . A first-rate tale – Dobbs’ thrill chamber!’
Sunday Express

‘Exciting and unpredictable’
Sunday Telegraph

‘An entertaining romp’
The Sunday Times

Further praise for Michael Dobbs

‘It kept me up all night. I couldn’t put it down’
BBC Radio 2, Steve Wright in the Afternoon

‘Think
Die Hard
with a stiff upper lip’
Financial Times

‘The best kind of British thriller’
Guardian

‘Your publisher very kindly sent me a copy of your new novel but there was no need as I have bought and read with enormous pleasure all MD books over the years’
Denis MacShane, M.P.

‘Dobbs was clearly put on this earth to write thrillers of the most shamelessly page-turning quality’
Daily Express

‘Explosive in every sense. His novels are famously predictive’
Daily Mail

‘Fascinating and pretty frightening stuff ’
Freddie Forsyth

‘A thriller that is both nightmare vision and timely warning’
Financial Times

‘A brilliant drama . . . His reputation as Britain’s foremost exponent of the pacy, shock-inducing thriller is more than maintained’
Press
Association

 

MICHAEL DOBBS – Baron Dobbs of Wylye – is an active member of the House of Lords and an internationally bestselling author who has never been
far from controversy. He worked at the centre of British politics for Margaret Thatcher, John Major and now David Cameron, and was once described as ‘Westminster’s baby-faced hit
man’. He is the author of 17 thrillers, including
House of Cards
which became a hugely successful television drama and will star Kevin Spacey in a forthcoming remake, and three
previous Harry Jones thrillers,
The Lords’ Day
,
The Edge of Madness
and
The Reluctant Hero
. He tries to live quietly near a pub and a church in Wiltshire. For more
information about his other books, visit his website at www.michaeldobbs.com

 

First published in Great Britain by Headline, 2007
This edition published by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2011
A CBS COMPANY

Copyright © Michael Dobbs, 2007

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

The right of Michael Dobbs to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act,
1988.

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London
WC1X 8HB

www.simonandschuster.co.uk

Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-0-85720-806-4
eBook ISBN 978-1-84983-908-2

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual people living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Typeset by M Rules
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

 

To Rob.

A charming godson and an inspiring young man.

It was generally accepted as being unthinkable, a proposition to which no one dared give a name.

Until the day it happened.

 
Contents

Prelude

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

 
Prelude

H
E KNEW HE HAD BEEN
wounded, but he felt no pain. He had answered a knock on his door and when he had opened it,
unsuspecting, two men had forced their way in.

He had put up a stern fight. He had once been a top-class athlete, even though confined to a wheelchair, and he had warded off their first blows. His attackers were small in stature, youthful,
wiry, and he had been able to hurl one of them back into the other, causing them to stumble while he retreated down the hallway. But after that there was no place to hide. You can’t hide, not
on wheels.

Perhaps they had come to rob him, but he wasn’t worth much, that should have been obvious, living in a dump like this. There were his cups and medals, yet what were they worth? They
weren’t real gold or silver, only sentimental value, like the photograph of him shaking hands with the Princess Royal just a couple of years earlier. There was nothing in here for them; they
had made a mistake and, as soon as they realised this, they would go.

Yet they had pursued him – not run, but followed him inexorably, silently, not in anger but with unflinching intent, into his living room.

‘Why, why?’ he had screamed when they had produced the knife, ‘we are of the same skin.’ He could tell that their fathers, at very least their grandfathers, must be some
sort of cousins to his own, children of the same region with sun and dry dust in their boots; perhaps this was simply a case of mistaken identity, but they wouldn’t listen. And they
wouldn’t talk. They stalked him, held him. Then they cut him.

He hadn’t been able to speak after that, something in his throat wasn’t working properly. And they didn’t ransack the place but stood watching, their dark eyes troubled, almost
sorrowful. Everything was so very strange, he thought. Nothing was making much sense any more.

It was only when he looked down and saw his chest covered in rich, fresh blood, his blood, that he realised his throat had been cut and that he was dying. Like a sheep, slaughtered at festival
in the old country, as his father had described to him in a childhood tale. He had always wondered if they felt pain as they bled. Now he knew.

 
One

Before dawn. The 5th of November.

T
HE
L
ORDS
’ D
AY
. It was to be a day of atonement, a day of anguish, of
terrors that would squeeze the country so tight it came close to expiring, but Harry Jones had no way of foreseeing that. For the moment he was having difficulty seeing anything. He struggled to
focus, only gradually becoming aware that the object he was staring at, from very close quarters, was a nipple. Hell, what an evening.

As a pale, reluctant light seeped through the window and started to unwrap itself in front of his eyes, Harry began taking stock of the damage. The bedroom was a mess, clothes strewn haphazardly
in a trail that led like a paperchase across the floor and away beyond the partially opened door, while the duvet was knotted uncompromisingly round his lower limbs, binding him tight. He was
sweating; too much alcohol, a bottle of twenty-year-old Islay full of peat and feathers that now lay abandoned somewhere on the other side of the door, near where he’d left his
self-respect.

Beside him, Melanie stirred in her sleep, turning away from him and curling herself up like a hibernating mouse. Harry cursed once again and stretched, as far as the bonds of the duvet would
allow, but she didn’t stir, still out of it. Oh, what a night it had been, one to look back on in years to come with a touch of awe. It wasn’t every evening your estranged wife invited
you out to dinner then ended up ripping your clothes from you.

He looked round the bedroom –
his
bedroom, as had been, until three months ago – and began to spot little changes, the marks of where his presence was gradually being erased.
The photograph of him in the jungle of Belize that had once adorned the dresser was gone, and his dressing gown with its frayed cord and gentle memories was no longer on the back of the chair. The
table on his side of the bed that he couldn’t remember without its tottering pile of books was now uncomfortably bare, and he searched with growing alarm for his copies of Robert Louis
Stevenson. They were the original Cassell’s editions, 1880s. Gone. Damn, he hadn’t taken them; did she realise what she was throwing out? Of course not, any more than she’d done
when she threw him out. Not that she had referred to it like that. A trial separation, she had suggested, to get her mind clear. Well, whatever was cluttering up Melanie’s mind, it certainly
wasn’t good literature. Yet in spite of it all she had invited him, allowed him back. What did it mean? A knot of curiosity began to grow inside him, competing for elbowroom alongside the
part of his brain that was trying to tunnel its way to freedom through the thicker part of his skull. Had she changed her mind? Back into her bed, and back into her life? He couldn’t tell,
had always been rubbish at reading her, and now she was stirring, her eyelids fluttering innocently.

As she saw him, a look of bewilderment crossed her face. It took several moments to fade. ‘Oh, shit,’ she sighed. Then she threw back the duvet and made for the bathroom.

Didn’t sound much like someone who wanted him back, yet he knew she wasn’t good on her own, she needed a man around. So . . . so who? Had someone else been in his bed, between his
sheets and with his wife? It was supposed to be a trial separation, no one else involved, but he began to wonder if she might have been finding it rather less of a trial than he had. No wonder the
photo was missing.

Beads of suspicion began to prickle on his forehead and his eyes wandered round the room looking for clues, telltale signs of someone who didn’t belong there. But Melanie wouldn’t be
that stupid. He lay back on his pillow, realising with surprise that what he was feeling was jealousy. He wanted her back, very much. He hadn’t realised that, not until this moment. So much
anger and frustration had spilled over between them, but there were still feelings. Last night had daubed his grey life with colour once again and he was surprised how much he missed it all. And
her. The laugh, the lilting irreverence, that body. They’d been married more than three years yet still it was like getting laid for the first time, never knowing quite what to expect. Full
of surprises was Melanie, that was part of her appeal and he missed it much more than he had realised. But what was she missing?

From the bathroom came the sound of water splashing as she washed the traces of him away. Curious, and jealous, Harry disentangled himself from his winding sheet and began rummaging through the
drawers of the bedside table, but he found nothing, not on his side. No one had yet laid claim to his space, not even Melanie, it seemed, and suddenly he was filled with remorse that he could have
suspected her. They’d both agreed that their separation was intended to be a means of refreshing their relationship, to remind themselves all over again how much the other meant –
Melanie had emphasised that point to him. So as he ransacked the drawers he chastised himself for his suspicions, but that didn’t stop him, even when he discovered the drawers on her side of
the bed were over flowing with little more than tissues and trinkets and . . .

A one-page leaflet. A flyer, an ordinary handout. He didn’t know it just yet, but it was to be a moment when Harry’s life changed. In the trembling of a single breath his suspicion
was smothered by pride, a sense of fulfilment that for an instant grew to unbridled joy before he realised he was being a fool. And it wasn’t often that anyone made a fool of Harry Jones. In
another breath he had slipped into the darkness of a very rare anger, the sort of rage that on the last occasion had been put aside only when he’d killed a man, for as he searched through
Melanie’s drawer he found himself clutching a pamphlet from the Marie Stopes clinic. The people who dealt with sexual health. Unwanted pregnancy. Abortion. It was also the moment he heard his
wife throwing up in the bathroom.

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