Related to: 'John Grisham'

Hodder & Stoughton

The Rooster Bar

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham
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The Whistler

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

The most corrupt judge in US history.A young investigator with a secret informant.The electrifying new thriller. Lacy Stoltz never expected to be in the firing line. Investigating judicial misconduct by Florida's one thousand judges, her cases so far have been relatively unexciting. That's until she meets Greg Myers, an indicted lawyer with an assumed name, who has an extraordinary tale to tell.Myers is representing a whistle blower who knows of a judge involved in organised crime. Along with her gangster associates this judge has facilitated the building of a casino on an Indian reservation. At least two people who opposed the scheme are dead. Since the casino was built, the judge has made several fortunes off undeclared winnings. She owns property around the world, hires private jets to take her where she wishes, and her secret vaults are overflowing with rare books, art and jewels.No one has a clue what she's been doing - until now.Under Florida law, those who help the state recover illegally acquired assets stand to gain a large percentage of them. Myers and his whistle blower friend could make millions.But first they need Lacy to start an investigation. Is she ready to pit herself against the most corrupt judge in American history, a judge whose associates think nothing of murder?'The best thriller writer alive' Ken Follett

Hodder & Stoughton

Camino Island

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

The Sunday Times 'Thriller of the Month', Mail on Sunday 'Thriller of the Week' and Sun 'Best for Mystery-Lovers'.John Grisham's novels have sold over 300 million copies worldwide. CAMINO ISLAND is both an unputdownable beach read and a thriller for book lovers, beginning with a literary heist and finishing with a cat and mouse duel between a beguiling criminal and the woman set to uncover his guilt.The most daring and devastating heist in literary history targets a high security vault located deep beneath Princeton University.Valued at $25 million (though some would say priceless) the five manuscripts of F Scott Fitzgerald's only novels are amongst the most valuable in the world. After an initial flurry of arrests, both they and the ruthless gang of thieves who took them have vanished without trace.Dealing in stolen books is a dark business, and few are initiated to its arts - which puts Bruce Kable right on the FBI's Rare Asset Recovery Unit's watch list.A struggling writer burdened by debts, Mercer Mann spent summers on Florida's idyllic Camino Island as a kid, in her grandmother's beach cottage. Now she is being made an offer she can't refuse: to return to the peace of the island, to write her novel - and get close to a certain infamous bookseller, and his interesting collection of manuscripts . . .'This story takes you into the dark underworld of the black market for rare books. Think Da Vince Code meets Sherlock Holmes' Sun'The gripping plot will have you devouring the chapters in such a frantic fashion you'll begin to wonder if you are somehow complicit in this perfect crime' Heat

Hodder Paperbacks

Theodore Boone: The Scandal

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham
Hodder Paperbacks

Rogue Lawyer

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham
Hodder & Stoughton

Gray Mountain

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

One week ago, Samantha Kofer was a third-year associate at New York City's largest law firm. Now she is an unpaid intern in a legal aid clinic deep in small-town Appalachia. When Lehman Brothers collapsed, she lost her job, her security, her future. As she confronts real clients with real problems, she finds herself a world away from her past life of corporate fat cats and fatter bonuses. This is coal country. Meth country. The law is different here. And standing up for the truth means putting your life on the line. America's greatest storyteller brings us a new masterpiece of legal courage and gripping suspense - and his finest heroine since The Pelican Brief.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Innocent Man

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

John Grisham's first work of nonfiction, an exploration of small town justice gone terribly awry, is his most extraordinary legal thriller yet.In the major league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory.Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits-drinking, drugs, and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept twenty hours a day on her sofaIn 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.With no physical evidence, the prosecution's case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row.If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in the death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you.(P)2006 Random House, LLC

Hodder & Stoughton

The Brethren

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham
Hodder & Stoughton

The Rainmaker

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

It's summer in Memphis. The sweat is sticking to Rudy Baylor's shirt and creditors are nipping at his heels. Once he had aspirations of breezing through law school and punching his ticket to the good life. Now he doesn't have a job or a prayer-except for one: an insurance dispute that leaves a family devastated and opens the door for a lawsuit, if Rudy can find a way to file it.By the time Rudy gets to court, a heavyweight corporate defense team is there to meet him. And suddenly he's in over his head, plunged into a nightmare of lies and legal maneuverings. A case that started small is exploding into a thunderous million-dollar war of nerves, skill, and outright violence--a fight that could cost one young lawyer his life, or turn him into the biggest rainmaker in the land.(P)1995 Random House, LLC

Hodder & Stoughton

The Pelican Brief

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

In suburban Georgetown, a killer's Reeboks whisper on the floor of a posh home. In a seedy D.C. porno house, a patron is swiftly garrotted to death. The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief.To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it's political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder-a murder intended for her. Going underground, she finds that there is only one person-an ambitious reporter after a newsbreak hotter than Watergate-she can trust to help her piece together the deadly puzzle. Somewhere between the bayous of Louisiana and the White House's inner sanctums, a violent cover-up is being engineered. For someone has read Darby's brief-someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of an unthinkable crime. "Gripping...a genuine page-turner. Grisham is a skilful craftsman." - The New York Times (P)1992 Random House, LLC

Hodder & Stoughton

Theodore Boone: The Collection (Books 1-3)

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

Collecting the first three of John Grisham's bestselling Theodore Boone series together for the first time, Theodore Boone: The Collection showcases three classic mysteries. In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he's only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he's one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk - and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom. In Theodore Boone: Young Lawyer, Theo finds himself dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial when a cold-blooded killer is about to be set free. In Theodore Boone: The Abduction, Theo's best friend April disappears from her bedroom in the middle of the night. As fear ripples through his small hometown and the police hit dead ends, it's up to Theo to use his legal knowledge and investigative skills to chase down the truth and save April. Theodore Boone never expected to be the victim of crime himself. But, in Theodore Boone: The Accused, stolen computer equipment turns up in Theo's school locker. The police start leaning on him hard, and Theo is the only suspect. What if he is found guilty? What about his dreams of becoming a lawyer?

Hodder Paperbacks

The Racketeer

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

Number One bestseller John Grisham returns with his most suspenseful thriller yet.Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of the USA only four active federal judges have been murdered.Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five.His body was found in the small basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies - Judge Fawcett and his young secretary.I did not know Judge Fawcett, but I know who killed him, and why.I am a lawyer, and I am in prison.It's a long story.

Mulholland Books

Guilt By Degrees

Marcia Clark
Authors:
Marcia Clark

The gripping legal thriller from author and prosecutor Marcia Clark, perfect for fans of James Patterson and David Baldacci.Rachel Knight has never been one to let justice slide from the grip of the law. So when a deputy district attorney mishandles a murder case and then shrugs it off - the victim was a homeless guy, so who cares? - she decides to take the case on herself. With the help of Detective Bailey Keller, Rachel soon finds a missing piece of the puzzle. And a new mystery: the homeless man's death is somehow connected to the vicious murder of a LAPD cop a year earlier. The prime suspect in the murder was acquitted - but now Rachel and Bailey are hot on the trail of new leads. What Rachel doesn't know is that she's being watched. Someone is following her every move, and just waiting for a chance to strike...

Coronet

The Art of the Loophole: Making the law work for you

Nick Freeman
Authors:
Nick Freeman

Mr Loophole, Britain's highest profile lawyer reveals his loophole secrets to help you with the law. Nick Freeman is Britain's highest profile lawyer. He has won more cases and attracts more media attention than any other lawyer practising in this country today.Nicknamed Mr Loophole by the press for his success in using legal technicalities to get clients acquitted, his career as a criminal defence lawyer has been nothing short of stratospheric. His roll call of stellar defendants - which includes Jimmy Carr, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham and Ronnie O`Sullivan - ranges from actors and sporting heroes to pop stars and captains of industry.Mr Loophole is famous for forming winning, quirky and innovative defences - even when a case appears indefensible. In the process, he has revolutionised the way in law -particularly motoring law - is practised.In this book, Nick explains his unique approach to the law and in the process identifies his killer loophole principles which make it possible to win even in the face of almost certain defeat. Each principle is illustrated with cases that show how he has deployed his pioneering strategies to devastating effect. In the process the reader is given a ringside seat to thrilling courtroom drama and taken on a lively and engaging journey into the heart of the judicial system.There's no doubt that Nick's personality has significantly impacted on his approach to fighting and winning cases. His revealing personal anecdotes and backroom stories, offer a unique insight into a brilliant mind at work.

Hodder & Stoughton

Calico Joe

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

Thirty years have passed since eleven-year-old Paul Tracy watched his troubled father, Warren, a pitcher for the New York Mets, clash with his childhood hero, the Cubs' golden-boy Joe Castle, in a contest from which no winners emerged.Now the news that his father is dying brings the memory of that day flooding back. Deciding that it's time to face up to what really happened on that baseball field in 1973, father and son make their way to Calico Rock, Arkansas, where either redemption or rejection awaits them.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Litigators

John Grisham
Authors:
John Grisham

Oscar Finley: street cop turned street lawyer.Wally Figg: expert hustler and ambulance-chaser.David Zinc: Harvard Law School graduate.Together, this unlikely trio make up Finley & Figg: specialists in injury claims, quickie divorces and DUIs. None of them has ever faced a jury in federal court. But they are about to take on one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the States.David gave up his lucrative career at Chicago's leading law firm for this: the chance to help the little guy stand up to the big corporations. But if Finley & Figg have right on their side, why do his new partners feel the need to carry guns in their briefcases? David thought he was used to cut-throat law from his days at Rogan Rothberg, but this is something else.He knows he was right to get out. He just may live to regret his new choice of firm...

Chapter One

A MOST WANTED MAN, by John le Carré

Read the first chapter of John le Carré's A MOST WANTED MAN.

Nick Freeman

Nick Freeman had intended to pursue a career in corporate law. However, after being entered for and winning an advocacy competition, he took a job as a prosecutor for Greater Manchester Police in 1981. It was at that stage that he realised the huge benefit of knowing the law intricately to secure success in the courtroom - the precursor to his Mr Loophole technique. In 1983, he moved to a large firm of criminal lawyers in Manchester and was made a partner within six months. Although his work involved representing those facing serious criminal charges such as murder, fraud and rape, he established an unparalleled reputation for winning road traffic cases. At the age of 42 he left to go it alone and established his own law practice, Freeman and Co. His cases involving clients such as Katie Price, David Beckham and Colin Montgomerie are widely reported across the media. And he frequently appears on radio and television to offer comment on topical matters of the law. He makes regular contributions to the Sunday Times motoring pages and writes a monthly opinion column in the Manchester Evening News. Follow Nick on Twitter @TheMrLoophole.

A short story by the author of The Saint series, Leslie Charteris

The Uncritical Publisher

Even the strongest men have their weak moments. Peter Quentin once wrote a book. Many young men do, but usually with more disastrous results. Moreover he did it without saying a word to anyone, which is perhaps even more uncommon; and even the Saint did not hear about it until after the crime had been committed. ‘Next time you’re thinking of being rude to me,’ said Peter Quentin, on that night of revelation, ‘please remember that you’re talking to a budding novelist whose work has been compared to Dumas, Tolstoy, Conan Doyle and others.’ Simon Templar choked over his highball. ‘Only pansies bud,’ he said severely. ‘Novelists fester. Of course, it’s possible to be both.’ ‘I mean it,’ insisted Peter seriously. ‘I was keeping it quiet until I heard the verdict, and I had a letter from the publishers today.’ There was no mistaking his earnestness; and the Saint regarded him with affectionate gloom. His vision of the future filled him with overwhelming pessimism. He had seen the fate of other young men – healthy, upright young men who had had a book published. He had seen them tread the downhill path of pink shirts, velvet coats, long hair, quill pens, cocktail parties and beards, until finally they sank into the awful limbos of Bloomsbury and were no longer visible to the naked eye. The prospect of such a doom for anyone like Peter Quentin, who had been with him in so many bigger and better crimes, cast a shadow of great melancholy across his spirits. ‘Didn’t Kathleen try to stop you?’ he asked. ‘Of course not,’ said Peter proudly. ‘She helped me. I owe—’ ‘—it all to her,’ said the Saint cynically. ‘All right. I know the line. But if you ever come out with “My Work” within my hearing, I shall throw you under a bus... You’d better let me see this letter. And order me some more Old Curio while I’m reading it – I need strength.’ He took the document with his fingertips, as if it were unclean, and opened it out on the bar. But after his first glance at the letter-head his twinkling blue eyes steadied abruptly, and he read the epistle through with more than ordinary interest. Dear Sir, We have now gone into your novel THE GAY ADVENTURER, and our readers report that it is very entertaining and ably written, with the verve of Dumas, the dramatic power of Tolstoy, and ingenuity of Conan Doyle. We shall therefore be delighted to set up same in best small pica type to form a volume of about 320 p.p., machine on good antique paper, bind in red cloth with title in gold lettering, and put up in specially designed artistic wrapper, at cost to yourself of only £600 (Six Hundred Pounds) and to publish same at our own expense in the United Kingdom at a net price of 15/ (Fifteen Shillings); and believe it will form a most acceptable and popular volume which should command a wide sale. We will further agree to send you on date of publication twelve presentation copies and to send copies for review to all principal magazines and newspapers; and further to pay you a royalty of 25% (twenty-five per cent) on all copies sold of this Work. The work can be put in hand immediately on receipt of your acceptance of these terms. Trusting to hear from you at your earliest convenience, We beg to remain, dear Sir, Faithfully yours, for HERBERT G. PARSTONE & Co. Herbert G. Parstone, Managing Director Simon folded the letter and handed it back with a sigh of relief. ‘Okay, Peter,’ he said cheerfully. ‘I bought that one. What’s the swindle, and can I come in on it?’ ‘I don’t know of any swindle,’ said Peter puzzledly. ‘What do you mean?’ The Saint frowned. ‘D’you mean to tell me you sent your book to Parstone in all seriousness?’ ‘Of course I did. I saw an advertisement of his in some literary paper, and I don’t know much about publishers—’ ‘You’ve never heard of him before?’ ‘No.’ Simon picked up his glass and strengthened himself with a deep draught. ‘Herbert G. Parstone,’ he said, ‘is England’s premier exponent of the publishing racket. Since you don’t seem to know it, Peter, let me tell you that no reputable publisher in this or any other country publishes books at the author’s expense, except an occasional highly technical work which goes out for posterity rather than profit. I gather that your book is by no means technical. Therefore you don’t pay the publisher: he pays you – and if he’s any use he stands you expensive lunches as well.’ ‘But Parstone offers to pay—’ ‘A twenty-five per cent royalty. I know. Well, if you were something like a bestseller you might get that; but on a first novel no publisher would give you more than ten, and then he’d probably lose money. After six months Parstone would probably send you a statement showing a sale of two hundred copies, you’d get a cheque from him for thirty-seven pounds ten, and that’s the last trace you’d see of your six hundred quid. He’s simply trading on the fact that one out of every three people you meet thinks he could write a book if he tried, one out of every three of ’em try it, and one out of every three of those tries to get it published. ‘The very fact that a manuscript is sent to him tells him that the author is a potential sucker, because anyone who goes into the writing business seriously takes the trouble to find out a bit about publishers before he starts slinging his stuff around. The rest of his game is just playing on the vanity of mugs. And the mugs – mugs like yourself, Peter – old gents with political theories, hideous women with ghastly poems, schoolgirls with nauseating love stories – rush up to pour their money into his lap for the joy of seeing their repulsive tripe in print. I’ve known about Herbert for many years, old lad, but I never thought you’d be the sap to fall for him.’ ‘I don’t believe you,’ said Peter glumly. An elderly mouse-like man who was drinking at the bar beside him coughed apologetically and edged bashfully nearer. ‘Excuse me, sir,’ he said diffidently, ‘but your friend’s telling the truth.’ ‘How do you know?’ asked Peter suspiciously. ‘I can usually guess when he’s telling the truth – he makes a face as if it hurt him.’ ‘He isn’t pulling your leg this time, sir,’ said the man. ‘I happen to be a proof-reader at Parstone’s.’ The surprising thing about coincidences is that they so often happen. The mouse-like man was one of those amazing accidents on which the fate of nations may hinge, but there was no logical reason why he should not have been drinking at that bar as probably as at any other hostel in the district. And yet there is no doubt that if Mr Herbert Parstone could have foreseen the accident he would have bought that particular public house for the simple pleasure of closing it down lest any such coincidence should happen; but unhappily for him Mr Herbert Parstone was not a clairvoyant. This proof-reader – the term, by the way, refers to the occupation and not necessarily to the alcoholic content of the man –had been with Parstone for twelve years, and he was ready for a change. ‘I was with Parstone when he was just a small jobbing printer,’ he said, ‘before he took up this publishing game. That’s all he is now, really – a printer. But he’s going to have to get along without me. In the last three years I’ve taken one cut after another, till I don’t earn enough money to feed myself properly; and I can’t stand it any longer. I’ve got four more months on my contract, but after that I’m going to take another job.’ ‘Did you read my book?’ asked Peter. The man shook his head. ‘Nobody read your book, sir – if you’ll excuse my telling you. It was just put on a shelf for three weeks, and after that Parstone sent you his usual letter. That’s what happens to everything that’s sent in to him. If he gets his money, the book goes straight into the shop, and the proof-reader’s the first man who has to wade through it. Parstone doesn’t care whether it’s written in Hindustani.’ ‘But surely,’ protested Peter half-heartedly, ‘he couldn’t carry on a racket like that in broad daylight and get away with it?’ The reader looked at him with a rather tired smile on his mouse-like features. ‘It’s perfectly legal, sir. Parstone publishes the book. He prints copies and sends them around. It isn’t his fault if the reviewers won’t review it and the booksellers won’t buy it. He carries out his legal undertaking. But it’s a dirty business.’ After a considerably longer conversation, in the course of which a good deal more Scotch was consumed, Peter Quentin was convinced. He was so crestfallen on the way home that Simon took pity on him. ‘Let me read this opus,’ he said, ‘if you’ve got a spare copy. Maybe it isn’t so lousy, and if there’s anything in it we’ll send it along to some other place.’ He had the book the next day; and after ploughing through the first dozen pages his worst fears were realised. Peter Quentin was not destined to take his place in the genealogy of literature with Dumas, Tolstoy and Conan Doyle. The art of writing was not in him. His spelling had a grand simplicity that would have delighted the more progressive orthographists, his grammatical constructions followed in the footsteps of Gertrude Stein, and his punctuation marks seemed to have more connection with intervals for thought and opening beer-bottles than with the requirements of syntax. Moreover, like most first novels, it was embarrassingly personal. It was this fact which made Simon follow it to the bitter end, for the hero of the story was one ‘Ivan Grail, the Robbin Hood of modern crime,’ who could without difficulty be identified with the Saint himself, his ‘beutiful wife’, and ‘Frank Morris his acomplis whos hard-bitten featurs consealed a very clever brain and witt’. Simon Templar swallowed all the flattering evidences of hero-worship that adorned the untidy pages, and actually blushed. But after he had reached the conclusion – inscribed ‘FINNIS’ in triumphant capitals – he did some heavy thinking. Later on he saw Peter again. ‘What was it that bit your features so hard?’ he asked. ‘Did you try to kiss an alligator?’ Peter turned pink. ‘I had to describe them somehow,’ he said defensively. ‘You’re too modest,’ said the Saint, after inspecting him again. ‘They were not merely bitten – they were thoroughly chewed.’ ‘Well, what about the book?’ said Peter hopefully. ‘Was it any good?’ ‘It was lousy,’ Simon informed him, with the privileged candour of friendship. ‘It would have made Dumas turn in his grave. All the same, it may be more readable after I’ve revised it for you. And perhaps we will let Comrade Parstone publish it after all.’ Peter blinked. ‘But I thought—’ ‘I have an idea,’ said the Saint. ‘Parstone has published dud books too long. It’s time he had a good one. Will you get your manuscript back from him, Peter – tell him you want to make a few corrections, and that you’ll send him his money and let him print it. For anyone who so successfully conceals a very clever brain and wit,’ he added cruelly, ‘there are much more profitable ways of employing them than writing books, as you ought to know.’ For two weeks after that the Saint sat at his typewriter for seven hours a day, hammering out page after page of neat manuscript at astonishing speed. He did not merely revise Peter Quentin’s story – he re-wrote it from cover to cover, and the result would certainly not have been recognised by its original creator. The book was sent in again from his own address, and consequently Peter did not see the proofs. Simon Templar read them himself; and his ribs were aching long before he had finished. The Gay Adventurer, by Peter Quentin, was formally pushed out upon a callous world about two months later. The Times did not notice it, the library buyers did not refill their fountain pens to sign the order forms, the lynx-eyed scouts of Hollywood did not rush in with open contracts; but nevertheless it was possible for a man with vast patience and dogged determination to procure a copy, by which achievement Mr Parstone had fulfilled the letter of his contract. Simon Templar did not need to exercise patience and determination to obtain his copy, because the author’s presentation dozen came to his apartment; and it happened that Peter Quentin came there on the same morning. Peter noticed the open parcel of books, and fell on them at once, whinnying like an eager stallion. But he had scarcely glanced over the first page when he turned to the Saint with wrathful eyes. ‘This isn’t my book at all,’ he shouted indignantly. ‘We’ll call it a collaboration if you like,’ said the Saint generously. ‘But I thought you might as well have the credit. My name is so famous already—’ Peter had been turning the pages frantically. ‘But this – this is awful!’ he expostulated. ‘It’s – it’s—’ ‘Of course it is,’ agreed the Saint. ‘And that’s why you must never tell anyone that I had anything to do with it. When the case comes to court, I shall expect you to perjure yourself blue in the face on that subject.’ After the revelations that have been made in the early stages of this story, no one will imagine that on the same morning Mr Herbert Parstone was pacing feverishly up and down his office, quivering with anxiety and parental pride, stopping every now and then to peer at the latest circulation figures rushed in by scurrying office-boys and bawling frantic orders to an excited staff of secretaries, salesmen, shippers, clerks, exporters and truck drivers. As a matter of fact, even the most important and reputable publishers do not behave like that. They are usually too busy concentrating on mastering that loose shoulder and smooth follow-through which carries the ball well over that nasty bunker on the way to the fourteenth. Mr Herbert Parstone was not playing golf, because he had a bad cold; and he was in his office when the Saint called. The name on the card that was sent in to him was unfamiliar, but Mr Parstone never refused to see anyone who was kind enough to walk into his parlour. He was a short ginger-haired man with the kind of stomach without which no morning coat and gold watch-chain can be seen to their best advantage; and the redness of his prominent nose was not entirely due to his temporary affliction. ‘Mr Teblar?’ he said, with great but obstructed geniality. ‘Please sit dowd. I dode thig I’ve had the pleasure of beetig you before, have I?’ ‘I don’t think so,’ said the Saint pleasantly. ‘But any real pleasure is worth waiting for.’ He took the precious volume which he was carrying from under his arm, and held it up. ‘Did you publish this?’ Mr Parstone looked at it. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘that is one of our publicashuds. A bost excelledd ad ibportad book, if I bay perbid byself to say so. A book, I bight say, which answers problebs which are dear to every wud of us today.’ ‘It will certainly have some problems to answer,’ said the Saint; ‘and I expect they’ll be dear enough. Do you know the name of the principal character in this book? Do you know who this biography is alleged to be about?’ ‘Biography?’ stammered Mr Parstone, blinking at the cover. ‘The book is a dovel. A work of fickshud. It is clearly explaid—’ ‘The book is supposed to be a biography,’ said the Saint. ‘And do you know the name of the principal character?’ Mr Parstone’s brow creased with thought. ‘Pridcipal character?’ he repeated. ‘Led be see, led be see. I ought to dough, oughtud I?’ He blew his nose several times, sniffed, sighed, and spread out his hand uncertainly. ‘Iddn it abazing?’ he said. ‘The dabe was od the tip of by tug, but dow I cadd rebember id.’ ‘The name is Simon Templar,’ said the Saint grimly; and Mr Parstone sat up. ‘What?’ he ejaculated. Simon opened the book and showed him the name in plain print. Then he took it away to a chair and lighted a cigarette. ‘Rather rude of you, wasn’t it?’ he murmured. ‘Well, by dear Bister Teblar,’ said Parstone winningly. ‘I trust you are dot thinkig that any uncomblibendary referedds was intended. Far frob id. These rebarkable coidcidedces will happud. Ad yet it is dot every yug bad of your age who fides his dabe preserved for posterity id such a work as that. The hero of that book, as I rebember him, was a fellow of outstaddig charb—’ ‘He was a low criminal,’ said the Saint virtuously. ‘Your memory is failing you, Herbert. Let me read you some of the best passages.’ He turned to a page he had marked. ‘Listen to this, Herbert,’ he said. ‘“Simon Templar was never particular about how he made money, so long as he made it. The drug traffic was only one of his many sources of income, and his conscience was never touched by the thought of the hundreds of lives he ruined by his insatiable avarice. Once, in a night club, he pointed out to me a fine and beautiful girl on whose lovely face the ravages of dope were already beginning to make their mark. ‘I’ve had two thousand pounds from her since I started her on the stuff,’ he said gloatingly, ‘and I’ll have five thousand more before it kills her.’ I could multiply instances of that kind by the score, and refrain only from fear of nauseating my readers. Sufficient, at least, has already been said to show what an unspeakable ruffian was this man who called himself the Saint.”’ However hard it might have been for Mr Parstone to place the name of Simon Templar, he was by no means ignorant of the Saint. His watery eyes popped halfway out of their sockets, and his jaw hardened at the same time. ‘So you’re the Saind?’ he said. ‘Of course,’ murmured Simon. ‘Id your own words, a low cribidal—’ Simon shook his head. ‘Oh, no, Herbert,’ he said. ‘By no means as low as that. My reputation may be bad, but it’s only rumour. You may whisper it to your friends, but the law doesn’t allow you to put it in writing. That’s libel. And you couldn’t even get Chief Inspector Teal to testify that my record would justify anything like the language this book of yours has used about me. ‘My sins were always fairly idealistic, and devoted to the squashing of beetles like yourself – not to trading in drugs and grinding the faces of the poor. But you haven’t heard anything like the whole of it. Listen to some more.’ He turned to another selected passage. ‘“The Saint”,’ he read, ‘“always seemed to derive a peculiar malicious pleasure from robbing and swindling those who could least afford to lose. To my dying day, I shall be haunted by the memory of the fiendish glee which distorted his face when he told me that he had stolen five pounds from a woman with seven children, who had scraped and saved for months to get the money together. He accepted the money from her as a fee for trying to trace the grave of her father, who had been reported ‘missing’ in 1943. Of course he never made any attempt to carry out his share of the bargain. He played this cruel trick on several occasions, and always with the same sadistic pleasure, which I believe meant far more to him than the actual cash which he derived from it.”’ ‘Is that id the book too?’ asked Parstone hoarsely. ‘Naturally,’ said the Saint. ‘That’s what I’m reading it from. And there are lots more interesting things. Look here. “The bogus companies floated by Templar, in which thousands upon thousands of widows and orphans were deprived—”’ ‘Wait!’ interrupted Parstone tremblingly. ‘This is terrible – a terrible coidcideds. The book will be withdrawd at wuds. Hardly eddywud will have had tibe to read it. Ad if eddy sball cobbensation I cad give—’ Simon closed his book with a smile and laid it on Mr Parstone’s desk. ‘Shall we say fifty thousand pounds?’ he suggested affably. Mr Parstone’s face reddened to the verge of an apoplectic stroke, and he brought up his handkerchief with shaking hands. ‘How buch?’ he whispered. ‘Fifty thousand pounds,’ repeated the Saint. ‘After all, that’s a very small amount of damages to ask for a libel like this. If the case has to go to court, I think it will be admitted that never in the whole history of modern law has such a colossal libel been put on paper. If there is any crime under the sun of which I’m not accused in that book, I’ll sit down right now and eat it. And there are three hundred and twenty pages of it – eighty thousand words of continuous and unbridled insult. For a thing like that, Herbert, I think fifty thousand pounds is pretty cheap.’ ‘You could’n get it,’ said Parstone harshly. ‘It’s the author’s liability—’ ‘I know that clause,’ answered the Saint coolly, ‘and you may be interested to know that it has no legal value whatever. In a successful libel action, the author, printer and publisher are joint tortfeasors, and none of them can indemnify the other. Ask your solicitor. As a matter of fact,’ he added prophetically, ‘I don’t expect I shall be able to recover anything from the author, anyway. Authors are usually broke. But you are both the printer and the publisher, and I’m sure I can collect from you.’ Mr Parstone stared at him with blanched lips. ‘But fifty thousad pouds is ibpossible,’ he whined. ‘It would ruid be!’ ‘That’s what I mean to do, dear old bird,’ said the Saint gently. ‘You’ve gone on swindling a lot of harmless idiots for too long already, and now I want you to see what it feels like when it happens to you.’ He stood up, and collected his hat. ‘I’ll leave you the book,’ he said, ‘in case you want to entertain yourself some more. But I’ve got another copy; and if I don’t receive your cheque by the first post on Friday morning it will go straight to my solicitors. And you can’t kid yourself about what that will mean.’ For a long time after he had gone Mr Herbert Parstone sat quivering in his chair. And then he reached out for the book and began to skim through its pages. And with every page his livid face went greyer. There was no doubt about it. Simon Templar had spoken the truth. The book was the most monumental libel that could ever have found its way into print. Parstone’s brain reeled before the accumulation of calumnies which it unfolded. His furious ringing of the bell brought his secretary running. ‘Fide me that proof-reader!’ he howled. ‘Fide be the dab fool who passed this book!’ He flung the volume on to the floor at her feet. ‘Sed hib to be at wuds! I’ll show hib. I’ll bake hib suffer. By God, I’ll—’ The other things that Mr Parstone said he would do cannot be recorded in such a respectable publication as this. His secretary picked up the book and looked at the title. ‘Mr Timmins left yesterday – he was the man you fired four months ago,’ she said; but even then Mr Parstone was no wiser.

Chapter One

THE MAN WHO DISAPPEARED, by Clare Morrall

Read the first chapter of Sceptre author Clare Morrall's THE MAN WHO DISAPPEARED.