Quiller Balalaika (Otto Penzler Books)
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minister?' 'In a towering rage. He told me in effect that while the US is pouring billions of dollars into the Yeltsin economy and the UK is doing its rather more limited best in the same direction, the Russian mafiya is threatening to destroy that same economy and bring the country to its knees.' His narrow head was turned to watch me suddenly from the shadows. 'We may remember that quite recently the head of Russia's Analytical Centre for Social and Economic Policies warned Yeltsin that the
made up my mind, so the only thing left was to try ducking the fallout. 'Be that as it may,' I said, 'I'm going to ground.' And left it. You've heard, my good friend, of throwing the gauntlet down. That is the sound it makes. The man who'd brought the shovel in from the street was going across from the counter to the table with his tin tray loaded with potato pancakes and a mug of vasti, and the tart moved in on principle, though her expression was not sanguine. Headlights swept the window
The huts full of steaming men, the ringing of the shovels over for the day, the pathways cleared, a feeling of good work done, someone singing in the wash rooms, singing, in this place, My life, Igor had said, I took his point. The gruel filthy in its tin bowl, but we spooned it up with gusto, blowing on it, searching for the end of a carrot, a lump of potato, a few black beans. I thought of something that Alex could do for me, yes. Perhaps tomorrow, whatever news midnight would bring.
answered, didn't want to say yes because of his pride, so he compromised: 'Maybe for sixty seconds.' 'Don't rush it.' In the wind I heard his pick clinking against the granite. 'And don't drop anything.' Eventually the guards would search the terrain below the massif. They would search everywhere. There was a lot of noise going on below us now: the klaxon horns still sounding the alarm, the dogs barking, engines starting up, the PA system relaying orders to the guards as the big gates swung
Croder said flatly. 'That's a bloody shame,' I told him, 'because that's the deal.' 'There's no provision in the constitution of the Bureau to take human life. You know that.' 'Then you don't get Balalaika.' Croder's claw hand hit the arm of his chair as he got up to face me. 'Why do you want him hit?' 'What else would you do with him?' 'Get him to London and slam him into jail for a start.' 'You'd never keep him there.' 'In solitary confinement during the investigation.' I swung away,