London. June, 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on a wrought iron fence, Detective Ted Stratton suspects that Morgan's fatal fall may have been the work of one of Soho's most notorious gangsters. Meanwhile, undercover MI5 agent Diana Calthrop discovers that her employer is involved in espionage. Only when Stratton's path crosses Diana's does the pair start to uncover the startling truth. And soon they also begin to realize they like each other a little too much... London. June, 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on a wrought iron fence, Detective Ted Stratton suspects that Morgan's fatal fall may have been the work of one of Soho's most notorious gangsters. Meanwhile, undercover MI5 agent Diana Calthrop discovers that her employer is involved in espionage. Only when Stratton's path crosses Diana's does the pair start to uncover the startling truth. And soon they also begin to realize they like each other a little too much...
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July 01, 2009
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Excerpt from The Innocent Spy by Laura Wilson
The Innocent Spy
A child saw her first.
June 1940, Fitzrovia: five o'clock, and the sky overcast. The boy, six years old, had been running half-heartedly up and down the empty street, pretending to be an aeroplane, but it wasn't much good without the others. He'd been delighted when his mother came to take him away from the farm, with its pig-faced owner and the huge smelly animals that still chased him, snorting and steaming, through nightmares. His mother, smothering for the first few days, had soon tired of him under her feet and turned him outdoors to play, and three months on, with most of his friends still evacuated and his old school requisitioned by the ARP, he was bored.
He picked up a stick and ran it up and down the iron railings in front of the tall houses, then turned the corner and, sighing, sat down on the kerb and pulled both his socks up, hard.
Raising his head, he saw a sack of something draped over a set of railings further down. It hadn't been there when he'd run down the road after his dinner, he was sure. He dawdled along for a closer look. It wasn't a sack, but a woman, impaled on the sharp black spikes. He stared at her, uncomprehending. Face down, her dress was caught up round her waist, and he could see her drawers. He extended a finger and poked her shoulder. Under the slippery material, she felt scraggy and bony, like the meat his mother sent him to fetch from the butcher's. She seemed to have two lots of hair, one short, brown and stiff looking, on the back of her head, and the other, longer and yellow. This top hair had slipped forwards, hanging down on either side of her face so that he couldn't see what she looked like. He considered this for a moment, then looked down at the pavement, where a number of little round whitethings were scattered. He picked one up and rolled it between his fingers - hard and shiny. A sweet? He put it in his mouth, sucking first, then testing it against his teeth. It felt slightly rough when he bit it, but tasted of nothing. Spitting it into his palm, he squatted down and peered up at the face between the long yellow curls.
In shadow, upside down, one eye stared back at him. The other was closed - a long, lashless slit like a wound, its outer corner pulled upwards, as if by invisible thread. Then, with a groan, the mouth opened, a black, cavernous O, to swallow him whole.
He screamed. Someone else screamed, too, and for a moment he thought it must be the woman, bent on eating him alive. Then feet pounded towards him, and in a confusion of shouts, gasps and police whistles, an unknown hand pressed his head to an alien bosom. Howling and thrashing in terror, he was carried away down the road, pounding at his rescuer, the single pearl still clutched in his left fist.