Double-click to start typing

Nick Sweet 

Click here to edit subtitle

   FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT
   (a crime thriller set in London)     

 QUOTES FOR FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT

"Flowers At Midnight is a gem that shines bright in the often-crowded genres of mystery and suspense. Nick Sweet has created a page-turner you will not want to put down… Nick Sweet is a rising star in crime fiction."--Gary C. King, author of BLOOD LUST and DRIVEN TO KILL.

"Kinky sex, blackmail, murder, three million pounds and a gay psychoanalyst thwart Sir Alex Bolton's desire to be England's next Prime Minister.  DCI Preston enters the fray in this fast paced, tell-all, London caper that will have readers turning pages and looking over their shoulder as Nick Sweet delivers FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT."--Vincent Lardo, New York Times best-selling author of THE HAMPTON AFFAIR (published as DEATH BY DROWNING in the UK) and the McNALLY series.

‘The summer deluge enabled me to read Flowers At Midnight at one sitting… With a good plot and mix of diabolical characters driving the story along, on a tsunami of pitch perfect gritty dialogue, the story races to a nail biting dénouement where nothing is quite as it seems… Flowers will keep you guessing to the last page.’--Roger Busby, ex-crime reporter & author of The Hunter, Crackshot, High Jump and numerous other crime novels.

'A startling and intriguing crime story.' Quentin Bates author of Frozen Assets, Frozen Out and Cold Comfort

 Nick Sweet's new novel sets a blistering pace with a firecracker plot and machine gun dialogue. If you like your crime fiction fast and furious and as murderous as Macbeth then this one is for you .” Rod Madocks, author of No Way To Say Goodbye

"This toxic mix of seedy underworld and political sleaze is a must for fans of Noir Britannia!" Martin Daley author of The Casebook of  Inspector Armstrong Volumne 1, and Fourth, First & Fulham

Chapter One

Bella smiled and said, “Taste okay, did it, darling?”

“I’m sure you could find worse stuff on the wine shelf at Waitrose.”

Bella had been trying to persuade Sir Alex to drink her urine ever since they first slept together, ten days ago, and he’d finally agreed to play ball. The best part was, she’d secretly used the spy camera in her wristwatch to photograph him guzzling it all down.

Sir Alex said, “I have to be at the House in a couple of hours.”

She threw him a coquettish glance over her shoulder, and saw the greedy lust in the old goat’s eyes. Sir Alex was an extremely rich man with a wife of around his own age who probably loved him, but that wasn’t enough for the old bastard. She turned and smiled at him. “Can I do anything else for you?”

“A cup of tea would be nice, darling.”

Bella patted her bobbed black hair into place, and as she pouted into the mirror to check that her cherry lipstick was on right, she saw Sir Alex ogling her ass. She lifted her white cotton dress from the hook on the back of the door and slipped it on. The dress clung to her wet buttocks, their rounded contours shifting like miniature seismic plates, as she padded out to the kitchen.

Sir Alex followed her in his black silk bathrobe, his greying hair still wet from the shower. He shuffled up to her and took her in his arms. He smelt disgusting when he kissed her, and Bella almost gagged. Then the next thing she knew, he was lifting her onto the worktop, and he entered her for the second time that day. She dug her nails into his back as he fucked her hard.

The knowledge that her boyfriend, Martin, would kill her if he knew what she was doing only added to the excitement she was feeling.

Sir Alex cannoned into orgasm, and Bella came with him. Then she slipped down off the edge of the worktop. “I say,” she giggled, “we are feeling hot today.”

“It’s hard not to feel that way when I look at you.” Sir Alex took a deep breath and smiled as he let it out.

“You only want me for one thing, Alex.” Bella balanced this accusation with a coquettish smile.

“I love your pussy, darling, it’s true,” he confessed. “But that’s only because I love you, Gina.”

Gina was the name Bella was using.

“A case of love me, love my pussy, is it?”

“Precisely.”

“But is that the man or the politician talking?”

“How can you possibly say such a thing? I’m only Machiavellian when I’m in the House, darling, but never when I’m with you.”

“What’s that suppose to mean?”

“Machiavelli was an Italian political philosopher. He wrote a book called The Prince, which is all about how to succeed in politics.”

“Don’t tell me. He says you need to bullshit a lot, right?”

“Something like that, yes, as it happens.”

“Did he like to drink women’s pee-pee, too?”

“You’d have to ask him that—only it might prove a tad difficult.”

“How come?”

“He died in 1527.”


 

 

Chapter Two

 

Martin Butler was standing in a phone box on King’s Road, in his stonewashed jeans and leather jacket, thrumming his fingers on the window as he listened to the ringtone.

“Hello?”

“It’s me. I’ve got the photographs.”

         “And they came out clearly and as I wanted, did they?”

“They came out perfectly.”

         “Good. In that case I need you to bring them to me. Be on the embankment by Putney Bridge, on the northwest side, at eleven sharp tomorrow morning.”

“Sure.”

“I’ll need the camera and the chip that you used in it, too, of course. Bring it all in an A4 manila envelope. An associate of mine will be there to meet you.”

“Why won’t you be there?”

“I’ll be nearby. You will need to wait for a minute or two while my man brings me the package, so I can check it. Then so long as everything’s in order, he’ll come straight back and pay you.”

“How long’s all this gonna take?”

“Couple of minutes, tops.”

“But how will I recognize this associate of yours?”

“You won’t. He’ll recognize you.”

“And how do I know you’re gonna pay me, once your guy leaves with the package I’m gonna give him?”

“Listen, if people who work for me do a good job then I pay them—that way I can always use them again, you understand me?”

“Sure.”

“Good. Don’t be late.”

They hung up and Martin drove back to the flat in Cambridge Gardens, off Portobello Road.

         Bella was sitting up in bed, reading a magazine, when he walked in. She was wearing one of his old shirts and nothing else, and looked utterly ravishing. “All right, Bel?” He winked at her and worked his arms out of his leather jacket, dropping it over the back of an upright chair.

“What happened?” She put her magazine down and looked at him.

“I’ve spoken to the lady.”

“Mrs. Big?”

Martin sat on the side of the bed, took his brown leather loafers off and swung his legs up. “We’re gonna make the exchange tomorrow morning at eleven.” He turned and caressed Bella’s cheek, which was very white and wonderfully smooth to the touch. “You look’n smell terrific, babe.”

“What about the photos, Mart?”

“What about them?”

“You can see that it’s definitely him in them, can you?”

“Old David fuckin’ Bailey couldn’t’ve made the guy come out any clearer, Bel, I’m telling you. No worries.”

“Let me have a look at them, then.”

“They aren’t here. I’ve got them stashed away in a safe place.”

“Can you see my face in them, too?”

“Course you can’t. D’you think I’m stupid or something?”

“I was only asking.”

“Fuck me, Bel.” Martin shook his head like he couldn’t believe she could ask him such a dumb question.

“But what if he comes into the Revuebar looking for me, Mart?”

“Who?”

“Alex fucking Bolton, our politician friend, of course.  Who d’you think I meant?”

“But he doesn’t know you work there.”

“He might be able to find out, though. . . I mean, he must have all sorts of contacts, a man in his position.”

“Now you’re starting to get paranoid. Anyway, even if he did find out you work at the Revuebar, he’s not gonna try’n come after you, is he?”

“How do you know he won’t?”

“The man’s a fucking politician, not some bloody lunatic.”

“You just love the danger of it, don’t you?”

“We need the money, Bel. Besides, we need to move out of this place. That mad hubby of yours’ll be out to kill us both if he knows I’m shacked up here with you.”

“But Joey’s banged up in nick.”

“He won’t be in there forever.”

Mona Chapman drove down through South London and pulled up outside of a particularly dilapidated squat on Brixton Hill.

She climbed out of the car, and went and hammered on the door of the house. A lad with his hair in dreadlocks came and opened up. “I’ve come to see Al,” Mona said.

“Ain’t no Al lives here, man.” The lad went to shut the door in Mona’s face, but she used her foot to stop him.

“I’m an old friend of his. Tell him I’ve got some good news.”

The lad eyed Mona up and down suspiciously for a moment, but then he told her to wait and disappeared inside the house.

Moments later, Al came to the door.  An extremely pale and skinny man of medium height, he was dressed in dirty jeans and a dirtier T-shirt.

“Oh, Mo, it’s you…This’s a surprise. How’re tricks?”

“I don’t do that kind of thing anymore.”

         He laughed. “You always did have a sense of humour.”

         “I’ve got a job for you.”

“You mean you’re bringing me a commission?”

“Not exactly. There’s money in it, though.”

“What do I have to do, Mo?”

“I’ll explain on the way. Come on, let’s go.”

“Hang on a sec.” Al disappeared for a moment, then when he came back he was wearing an old pilot’s jacket.

         “Aren’t you going to brush your hair first?”

“This is the way I wear it.”

“I’ve seen spaghetti that looked less of a tangled mess.”

Mona pushed the button on the fob in her hand, the locks on her Volvo opened with a clunk, and they both climbed in. “Good solid set of wheels you got here,” Al said.

         “You know me. I never did buy into the starving artist bit, not even when we were at the Slade.”

“You look good, Mo.”

Mona flashed him a sideways glance. “You look like shit, Al. Whatever happened to you?”

“Right now I need a fix and I’m broke.”

“Just think of me as your fairy godmother.”

“You mean you’ve got some smack for me?”

“No, but I can help you get some.”

“I like the sound of this, but what’s the catch?”

“The usual quid pro quo, Al.”

“Quid what?”

“You scratch my back. . . .”

“What particular kind of back-scratching are we talking about?”

“How much does a wrap of heroin cost nowadays?”

“Twenty quid.”

“Well, you do something very simple for me, and in return I give you twenty quid to score a wrap. How does that sound?”

“Will you drive me there, too, to save me the fare?”

“Think I can probably stretch to that.”

“Okay, so what’s this something very simple you’re talking about?”

“You go and meet a man.”

“What man?”

“You don’t need to know.”

“Must be someone dangerous. Who is it, General fuckin’ Gaddafi?”

“No, he’s dead. Don’t you read the papers?”

“So who is it, then?”

“Nobody you need to worry about. The guy’s completely harmless as a matter of fact.”

“What’s keeping you from meeting him, then?”

“He’s my ex, and I know he’d only start pleading with me to go back with him. You know the score.”

“You were always more into girls back in the days when we were at the Slade, I thought.”

“Still am.”

“But this ex you’re talking about’s a bloke, you said, right?”

“He was a mistake’s what he was.”

“The Mr. Wrong who confirmed for you that you were right to want to be with girls all along, you mean?”

“Something like that.”

“All right. First we go and score some smack, though, yeah?”

“No, we get the heroin after. Didn’t they ever teach you at school that you have to do your work first and then you get to play?”

“I didn’t go to that kind of school.”

They drove over Putney Bridge, took a left, and Mona found a place to park. Then she reached into the glove compartment, brought out a pair of binoculars and looked through them. She saw traffic moving over the bridge in a steady stream, passengers walking along the footpath, a red bus. The sky was a dull grey, as was the river, and blocks of flats and offices ran along the far bank.

Mona shifted the binoculars to the left and saw a man out walking his dog along the embankment. She moved them again, only too far, and found herself looking at the high towers of the city’s financial district in the distance. She adjusted the angle slightly once more, and spotted Bella Armando’s photographer boyfriend, Martin Butler. He was standing on the embankment by the start of the bridge and had a large manila envelope under his arm.

Mona turned to Al. “He’s over there—look.” She handed him the binoculars, trying to keep them pointing at the same angle. “Shortish brown hair, wearing faded jeans, scuffed brown loafers. . .a brown leather jacket over a T-shirt that has ABERCROMBIE written across it.”

“Yeah, I got him.”

“Just ask him to give you the large envelope he’s got for me and bring it straight over. And don’t open it or anything on the way. Think you can manage that?”

“And then we go’n score some heroin, right?”

“Sure, once I’ve checked that he’s handed over what I asked for. Then, presuming he has, you’ll have to go back and give him something from me.”

“And what if the guy fails to cough up what you wanted—I still get my twenty quid plus the ride to Brixton, right?”

“Of course. I just meant you wouldn’t have to go back and give him anything, in that case. Oh, and one more thing. . . don’t get into conversation with him.”

“Why, is he likely to want to talk?”

“No, but if he tries to, just cut him off, okay?”

“Right.”

“Good, so get to it.”

Mona watched Al through her binoculars as he went over to Martin Butler and took the envelope from Butler’s outstretched hand. “Good lad, no talking, that’s it,” she said aloud, as she watched Al turn and start to make his way back.

As soon as he got back to the car, Mona stuck her hand out the window and snatched the manila envelope from him. She slid one of the photographs out, taking care to hold it up so that Al couldn’t see what she was looking at. Then her head spun with excitement as she looked at a photograph of Sir Alex Bolton. In the photo, the MP was lying in a bathtub with his mouth open while a woman whose face was off-camera pissed into it. Mona was experiencing the sort of “buzz” a person gets when they know they are close to making a great deal of money at a stroke.

Mona handed Al the envelope with the money in it. “Now give him this.”

She watched Al through the binoculars once more as he went and handed Martin Butler his fee. The moment he got back into the passenger seat, he told her he needed his fix.

Mona couldn’t get over what a mess the guy had become.