THE AWKWARD PACKAGE
SYNOPSIS: Western Europe 1958. King Feisal of Iraq is overthrown. A contract is put out to kill Prince Abdullah, a distant (and spoilt) cousin living in Rome. Jonas Forbes has the job of bringing to London a most uncooperative individual. The Mafia, the Unione Corse and others set out to kill the Prince, who comes to hate and fear his protector. Will the 'package' arrive undamaged in London?
EXTRACT: 'Telephone wires were being overused as someone had been ‘volunteered’ to tell capofamiglia Tranquillo Gallo what had happened on the Autostrada del Sole. If anyone had spent his whole life rebelling against his name it was Tranquillo. He’d been given the name because he’s been born on 15 March and his mother had insisted that her fourth son should be given the name she chose. Why hadn’t he been born on another day! He’d had his revenge twenty years before when his second conviction had broken his mother’s heart – securing his membership of the Cosca of San Benito by the murder of a priest who’d broken omerta by blabbing to the local Fascist boss. Everyday for the next thirty years by exercising his temper at the slightest opportunity he spat on his own forename. And today proved to be another excellent demonstration.
“Three soldati killed by an Arab? Were they fucking useless?”
“We don’t think they were killed by the Arab. We think the killer was an Englishman.”
“That’s just as bad!” A brief silence showed the capofamiglia might be up to something. In fact, he was checking a battered calendar which hung from a picture-rail. Finally there was a whisper that carried more menace than the blustering preceding the pause. “I want to see the fucking man’s head served up for me on Sunday – in five days time…..” There was another slight pause, just in case the listener had any problems counting up to five. “Do you understand? Five days from now!” The line went dead.
Ercole del Sarto understood all too well. He was the sotto capo whose soldati had proved such a disaster. Lucky for them that all three had died otherwise he’d have finished them off himself – and it wouldn’t have been just a bullet. It all came down to a question of honour. He had three men investigating the road towards Siena and three more giving close attention to any strangers arriving in Arezzo. Although he’d dismissed the idea of the Arab and the killer as having hitched a lift, that also was being checked out. He was being helped out from Milan by the sotto capo there, Thomaso Lombardi, who was enjoying the situation tremendously and, perhaps, rubbing his hands at the exciting prospect of expanding into Rome. That was but one more reason why he wanted to get his hands on the killer of his soldati.'
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