The flat was empty save for the lone man sitting in a dilapidated wooden chair by the window. No one else had lived there in months and the musty scent of disuse hung heavily in the air. The room was in darkness, except for a ray of sunlight creeping in through a small gap in the ragged curtains. Harry Rule looked at his watch, lifted his binoculars from the table beside him and peered out through the gap.
He blinked, allowing his eyes to adjust to the brilliant mid-day light of the bustling London street outside. A bright red Routemaster grumbled by and there was the toot of horn as a black cab stopped to pick up a fare several doors down.
But Rule wasn’t focused on the traffic, or the countless pedestrians coming and going on the pavement. He swung the binoculars to a set of steps leading to a basement flat further along the street on the opposite side of the road.
The flat was unremarkable, half-hidden in the shadow cast by the adjacent building. Not one of the passing pedestrians gave it a second glance. Yet Rule was certain that his target was inside. William Alexander, leader of one of the most powerful gangs operating in Europe.
Rule had been on his trail for months, tracking down leads from half a dozen intelligence agencies and spending countless hours on computer analysis and probabilities. Once or twice Rule had almost caught up to him, only to be given the slip at the last moment. This time, there would be no such escape. Rule had been staking out his quarry’s flat for the best part of a week. Alexander hadn’t left in all that time, but Rule felt sure that he would make an appearance soon.
He checked on the flat at regular intervals, but there was no movement, nothing to betray that anyone was there at all. One o’clock came and went. Then Two. Then Three.
Just as Rule took another look and began figuring his hunch had been wrong, he saw Alexander ascend the steps to street level. He was carrying a slim black briefcase and making quick strides along the pavement.
Rule threw down his binoculars and dashed out of the flat, nearly tearing the thin door off its hinges in his hurry. He couldn’t afford to let Alexander get too far ahead as there was every chance he’d lose him in the crowded streets.
Outside Rule took off at a run, narrowly avoiding being struck by an oncoming car as he rushed across the road. The angry blare of the horn drew a quick glance back from Alexander. In a second he had seen Rule and taken flight. Rule thundered after him along the main street.
Up ahead, Alexander turned sharply and fled into an alleyway. Rule’s pace was ferocious. He came level with the alley and turned the corner at full pelt. Alexander was waiting for him.
With a rapid swing of his arm, he smashed the briefcase into Rule’s stomach, sending him crashing into a row of dustbins nearby. Alexander was off again, running along the alley and clambering up a stack of pallets outside a warehouse loading dock. He dived through the huge doorway and slammed his hand against the control button inside.
The door began to descend, but Rule was already on his feet and running once again. He charged up the stack of pallets and took a flying leap at the loading dock, landing and rolling under the door just before it closed.
“That’s far enough!” The voice was hard and meant business.
Alexander stepped forward, a lone figure in the cavernous, empty space. The squat gun in his hand was pointed directly at Rule’s head.
“I think it’s time that you and I had a little chat, Mister Rule.”
TO BE CONTINUED….