When the Vice President of the United States visits a Welsh monastery he suffers a fatal heart attack and the world is in a state of shock.
Special Branch detective, William Jones, is the only member of the protection detail who believes he was murdered.
Under suspicion are a beautiful American psychologist and a former chemistry professor who has chosen to become a monk.
But since the death of his wife and child in a car accident, feelings of guilt have torn the detective’s life apart and he is forced into retirement.
When he decides to continue the investigation on his own, he finds himself falling in love and uncovers what really happened to his family.
Pursued to a Greek island by a rogue operative from the Secret Intelligence Service, he attempts to foil a plot that threatens the very existence of humanity.
Also by Ken Donald on Obooko:
Detective Inspector William Jones resented the fact that he felt out of place, because he was not. Besides the skipper, he reckoned he was the only Welsh native on the boat. Admittedly the hot weather made him appear a tad overdressed in his suit and tie, but he was on duty and he had little choice. At least he’d chosen to travel on one of the ferries transporting holidaymakers to the island, which was more than could be said for the arrogant pricks he was forced to work with from the American Secret Service.
The Yanks had opted to ride in their own launch, naturally, and while they strutted in their shirtsleeves, displaying their sidearms in their holsters, Jones slouched in his creased suit, trying to avoid the stares of his fellow passengers. A young boy seated next to him was having difficulty extracting a troublesome object from his left nostril with his index finger, and Jones envied him his lack of self-consciousness. The detective’s worn boxer shorts were doing their best to ride up his thin body, and he would have liked nothing better than to stand up and perform some major adjustments to his underwear, but decorum dictated that he remain seated and tough it out. Luckily, he’d been assured it would only take thirty minutes to reach the island.
It was a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze, even though the sanctuary of the harbour had receded behind them. Jones thought about how much his wife and little girl would have loved the boat ride, if they hadn’t been feeding the worms, dead and buried - one year, two months and three days ago. The thought of their terrified faces, watching in disbelief as the oncoming car smashed into them, haunted him for the thousandth time and he shook his head in an effort to purge the ghastly vision from his mind. Noticing his strange behaviour, the mother of the nose-picker drew her offspring closer, hoping to offer her son some protection from the strange individual in their midst. Jones registered the gesture, and it threatened to throw him deeper into despair.
Mercifully the boat finally reached its destination. It consisted of a small jetty, where a leather-skinned man in his sixties, a loincloth protecting his modesty and a handkerchief on his head, helped the new arrivals on to dry land. The man grabbed Jones by his right arm, hurting his old wound, and the detective winced. There was a stony track, wending its way between a sandy beach and an imposing rock face, and visitors had the option either to walk, or hop on a trailer, drawn by an aged tractor that had seen far better days. A fat couple possessing a combined weight of no less than forty stone chose the trailer. Jones made a small wager with himself that it would result in the destruction of the tractor – it just wasn’t up to the task it was being asked to perform.
Catching sight of his reflection in the window of the tractor, Jones began to wonder if he himself would be able to reach the monastery unaided. He’d become nothing but skin and bone since Sarah and Amy had been killed, and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually sat down and eaten a meal. He decided he would just hope for the best and pray he didn’t collapse from exhaustion.
Fortunately the monastery hove into view round the next bend, accompanied by a café and a shop selling perfume and chocolate. He was feeling light-headed, so he purchased a bar of the monks’ home-made confectionary and devoured it. He managed to get some melted chocolate on his shirt but couldn’t be bothered to make his way to the public toilets to wash it off. What the hell, he thought.
Somewhat revived, Jones set off for the monastery, but when he spied a group of Secret Service agents talking to the abbot at the main entrance, he veered off and headed for a small church, located beyond a quaint set of whitewashed cottages.
“There he goes,” whispered one of the taller agents, “England’s answer to Colombo.”
“Yeah,” agreed his friend, “but without the brains.”
They began to chuckle to themselves until the Special Agent in Charge scowled in their direction.
“What’s he doing here, anyway? He told me he’s not even carrying a gun,” the younger agent wondered aloud.
“It’s a matter of jurisdiction,” explained the Colombo fan. “We need him in case we have to arrest somebody.”
“That bag of bones couldn’t arrest a flea.”
“Some of the other guys in Special Branch say he was quite a detective in his day, till he lost his wife and kids – then he fell apart.”
Jones could feel them watching him with disdain, as he made his way to the cemetery that encircled the small church. He was past caring. He didn’t even know why he was bothering to cling on to his job. Perhaps it was because his pension was only around the corner. So here he was, checking out a remote island before the Vice President of the United States of America paid a visit. Wonderful.
He wandered through the cemetery, idly looking at the 19th Century headstones, marvelling at how many of the graves’ occupants had taken up residence before they’d reached the age of forty. For some reason, at forty-nine, he didn’t feel particularly blessed.
He heard someone talking and he idly wondered if he’d sunk so low that he was hearing voices in his head. No, they were coming from the church. A woman’s voice, hushed – probably out of respect for her holy surroundings, Jones guessed.
“Are you still willing to go through with it?”
There was a pause before a man replied.
“Of course. But you shouldn’t be here - not today.”
“I needed to see for myself …”