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All rights reserved. The guard on duty in the security control room, Lionel Kenton, drew himself up in his chair. His hands went to his neck and tightened the knot in his tie. On the control panel in front of him, one of the light-emitting diodes, a red one, was blinking. He pressed a control that triggered the video surveillance for that floor. Nothing moved on the monitors. Kenton was the senior security guard that night. He was so senior that he had a shelf above the radiator for his exclusive use.
On it were framed photos of his wife, two daughters, the Pope and Catherine Deneuve; an ebony elephant; and a cassette rack of opera tapes. Puccini kept him alert through the night, he told anyone so philistine as to question opera in the control room. None shall sleep. Listening to music was more responsible than reading a paper or a paperback.
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His eyes were alert to anything on the panel and his ears to any sound that clashed with the music. He silenced Pavarotti and touched the button that gave him a direct line to Knightsbridge Police Station. They must already have received the alert electronically. He identified himself and said, "Intruder alert. I'm getting a signal from the seventh floor.
Section nine. Nothing on screen. He was betraying some nervousness. He tried another survey of the seventh floor. Nothing untoward was visible, but then he hadn't much faith in video surveillance. Every terrorist knows to keep out of range of a camera. And he had to assume this was a terrorist. Twenty-two night security officers were posted in various parts of the store. He, put out a general alert and asked for a second check that all the elevators were switched off. The security doors between sections were already in position and had been since the cleaners left.
In the business of counter-terrorism nothing can be taken for granted, but really it wasn't feasible to break into Harrods. If so, someone's job was on the line. Someone who should have checked section nine. You weren't allowed one mistake in this line of work. His second-in-command that night, George Bullen, burst in. He'd been patrolling when the alert sounded. Wardrobes, cupboards, chests of drawers and units of every description. The nightly check for devices was a wearisome chore.
Another light flashed on the console and one of the monitors showed headlights entering the delivery bay. The police response couldn't be faulted. Kenton told Bullen to take over and went down to meet them. Three patrol cars and two vans already. Marksmen and dog-handlers climbing out. More cars arriving, their flashing alarms giving an eerie, blue luminosity to the delivery bay. Kenton felt a flutter in his bowels. The police weren't going to vote him security man of the year if this emergency had been triggered by a blip in the system.
A plainclothes officer stepped out of a car and ran across to him. That's routine. They'll be guarding the stairways above and below level seven. A squad of a dozen or so peeled off and raced up that staircase while he led the remainder to the next. Mounting seven floors was a fitness test for Lionel Kenton. He was relieved to be told to stop after six and a half, and even more relieved to find four of his own security staff in position as he'd claimed they would be.
Now he had a chance to recover normal breathing while radio contact was made with the party on the other stairs. One of Kenton's team, a burly ex-CID officer named Diamond, gave a rapid rundown of the furniture display positioned nearest to the stairs. Peter Diamond was the man responsible tonight for this section. You poor bugger, thought Kenton. You look more sick than I feel. A team of three marksmen went up the final flight. Others took up positions on the stairs. The rest moved down to the landing below. Someone offered Kenton some chewing gum and he took it gratefully.
Perhaps six nerve-racking minutes went by before there was a crackle on the senior policeman's ratio and a voice reported, "Negative so far. Another long interval of silence. Security Officer Diamond was just to the left of Kenton.
He had his hands clasped, the fingers interlaced as if in prayer, except that the fingernails were white with pressure. The last dregs of Kenton's confidence were draining away when someone announced over the scratchy intercom, "We've got your intruder. Strangely so, as if the tension had lifted altogether.
Police and security staff dashed up the stairs.
Diamond Solitaire (Peter Diamond, book 2) by Peter Lovesey
The seventh floor lights were fully on. The marksmen had converged on a section where armchairs and settees were displayed. He must identify her in order to save her life. Peter Lovesey is the author of more than thirty highly praised mystery novels, including the Peter Diamond Investigations and the Sergeant Cribb Investigations.
A superb series. Me, all I can do is wait for the next book. A knotty puzzle mystery? A fast-paced police procedural?
Something more high-toned, with a bit of wit? Lovesey is a wizard at mixing character-driven comedy with realistic-to-grim suspense. And in a writing career spanning four decades, he has created a stylish and varied body of work. The enduring draw of the Peter Diamond books derives both from the beguiling Bath cityscape and the brusque character of Diamond himself. Paperback —. Add to Cart.
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