K2 Series - Book 1.
The elderly owner of a Swiss bank has been murdered by his adopted son, the inheritance re-directed to a retired British Military Intelligence officer, Sir Morris Beesely - a man of many secrets. A chain of events has begun that will set Europe ablaze. No one is quite who they seem, everyone has their own agenda, every government seeking 'the list' that went missing in 1962, a list that the European Union, and the Swiss Government, dreads being found. The 'list' is buried with a fantastic hord of Nazi treasure - but no one is interested in the treasure, everyone wants the list - it is more valuable. And more dangerous. "Groups within groups, secrets inside secrets, lies on top of lies."
Valetta, Malta. 1963
'Try and rest,' the priest softly encouraged, dabbing his father's brow with a damp cloth, the temperature high for an autumn day in Malta. He idly swiped away another fly, the apartment's cracked windows letting in the shouts of children playing in the street below, an unseen cat crying out for some attention.
His elderly father struggled to sit up, unable to complete that small movement, the energy had left his frail body. 'The list!'
'Rest,' the priest softly encouraged, kneeling at the side of the bed. Easing up, he took in the run down apartment with a puzzled frown, the bottles littering the floor, the cockroaches attracted to rancid cat food placed on old newspapers, empty food tins and a large pile of hand-written pages. Fetching water from a rusted tap, he wondered how his father, a very rich man, had come to end up in this squalor.
The priest had spoken little to his father in the past ten years, since his vows. Before that his father had always been distant, but at least approachable when his mother had been alive, fond memories of a pleasant childhood in Basel, Switzerland. The priest had grown up in a large house, always full of interesting people, always the best of everything. Unlike many families struggling through the lean post-war years, they had enjoyed holidays abroad, especially here in Malta. They had been better off than most.
His mother had died after a short illness whilst he had been in seminary, the detail of that illness a shock, only being revealed to him after she had passed away. Returning to their home in Basel for the funeral, he had found it stripped of everything, his father offering a single 'goodbye' as they passed at the cemetery. Now, little more than a year later, his father had summoned him here, a cheap apartment on the island of Malta, living in squalor, an old revolver visible under the pillow.
The old man tried to speak, lifting a shaky hand. 'Buried in Zug... buried the treasure ... Nazi treasure.'
The priest stared hard at his father, not sure he had heard the words correctly, a chill running through him. 'Nazi ... treasure?'
'Buried ... next to the treasure ... the files ... files of great value. The list!' The words were repeated many times, the old man using his remaining energy to desperately force them out before he slipped into unconsciousness.
Unable to rouse his father, the priest lifted the pile of hand- written notes, scanning the first page whilst he considered fetching a local doctor, and debating how he might go about finding such a person at this late hour. He took several measured steps towards the door as a cat cried out again, enough time to read the first paragraph. He stopped dead. The written words caused him to turn, and to stare open-mouthed, at the seemingly lifeless form of his father.
By dawn, the priest had re-read the numerous pages four times, catching only an hour's sleep during the night, the tear- tracks down his face distinct in the amber light of dawn. Setting light to each page in turn, he let the burning paper float down into apartment's chipped and rusted bathtub, staring at them as they changed colour and slowly folded in on themselves, their hideous story lost forever. Gathering up the brittle ashes, he flushed them down a yellow-stained toilet, another cat crying forlornly at him through a cracked bathroom window. Returning to the bedroom, he snatched the pillow out from under his father's head, placed it over the old man's face and pushed down with force and anger in his arms.
'Forgive me, Lord,' he said in a strained whisper as he pressed down.
Leaving the apartment, and trying not to trip over the dozen hungry cats littering the stairway, the priest considered the final line his father had written, and what it might mean: 'Find the Englishman, Beesely.'