Sampler: The Desolate Garden by Daniel Kemp

Review: “A fresh spy mystery providing entertainment, stimulation and insight with a winding plot, stealthy loopholes, and clever humour.”

What secrets lie in the ledgers of the Royal Government Bank?

After Harry Paterson is summoned to London following his father’s murder, he finds out that the late Lord Elliot Paterson had discovered hidden information dated all the way back to 1936… and a vast quantity of money erased from the accounts.

Mysterious initials and an address in Leningrad – a major port in former Soviet Union – are his only clues.

Together with the attractive Judith Meadows, Harry must unravel his father’s mysterious death – and figure out the mystery hidden in the files of the Royal Government Bank.

Daniel Kemp

Sampler: The Desolate Garden

“I was chosen by Trimble, and that’s how it came about.”

“Did your father say if he needed to persuade them, or did they accept his offer of you straight away, Harry?” Judith asked.

“No apparently, they had someone else in mind but, according to my father, he swung the vote my way after extolling all my virtues.”

We were back in her home in Clapham, that I had labelled the barracks, and recapping all the events that had directly involved me. Her dog was asleep at my feet, having enjoyed Mrs Squires’ plate of leftovers as much as we had enjoyed her cooking, and the refrigerator in Judith’s pristine, uncluttered kitchen was full of goodies for my later pleasures.

“Incidentally, Judith…what happened to Messrs. Willis and Howell? Did they get ousted with the other Blair lot, or survive to stand and fall with Brown?”

“They both moved up the slippery pole, H. Being Civil Servants means they can’t be shafted, only moved, so they’ve gone up in the world. Working out of Brussels now, the two of them. EU representatives on Trade policy, more mouths to feed in that junket. While I’m on the subject of dubious politicians and outright liars, let’s not use the two ‘B’ names in here again, please. They don’t sit well in my company.”

I never pressed her on this, allowing her to decide if she ever wanted to explain it. I thought that it may have been tied-in with the other unmentionable, her late husband, and I was not wrong. However, before I was made aware of that story, there was more of my own to narrate.

“You were fifteen going on sixteen then when Maudlin died, Harry, weren’t you? My father was there at the funeral, and told me of it. He said that it was a strange day, but never elaborated on the details. Tell me what you can remember, and if you can recall, who attended apart from family members?”

It was just over twenty-six years ago, on a freezing January morning in snow-covered Harrogate. It was a ridiculous day. I was nearing sixteen, carrying the usual teenage baggage along with several other suitcases called Lords, Ladies, Honourable’s and privileges. I was too wrapped up in my own life, both at school and on the rugby pitch, to properly understand what was happening. Father had told me that great-grandfather had died some days before, and that his body had been laid out in an open casket in the chapel for the day and night leading up to the funeral. I thought that I would feel sick on seeing him on display there, and the thought of him lying there, overnight, was too nightmarish to think about. Elliot spoke to me, reassuring me that ghosts and wandering spirits were stories that mediums made up to profit from, and that I shouldn’t be afraid as Maudlin loved me and could never harm me. I wasn’t sick, but I remember that I didn’t sleep that night.

The coffin lay on pedestals, draped in black, with a single vase of white lilies beside it. If anything, I think I felt disgusted; he was grey and bloated, and it just was not him, to me. I remained unmoved emotionally, unable to react, whilst some around me cried, and others bowed their heads. Phillip was speaking to me, but I never heard what he said. All I could do was look at the laid out body and feel both sadness and indifference; an odd feeling, and difficult to explain.

I had known him briefly, but in the short time that I had with him, I remembered him in a childish, frightened, way. He was a big man to me, both in stature and presence, and had a loud voice which, when addressed to my young ears, made me stop whatever I was doing and take notice.

With Phillip and father it was different. Obviously I obeyed them, as with my mother, but I could ignore their words of wisdom or censure, poking my tongue out when they had turned their backs. Not so with The Old Man, as Maudlin was always referred to when at home. Towards him, that behaviour would never have seemed right why, I cannot say but that’s what frightened me (if frightened is the right word to use), from an early age, to when I knew him more intimately. The sadness I felt was not for my loss, nor, I’ll be honest, for his death. It was for the others who were crying.

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