Illegal action /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Rimington, Stella.
Edition:1st Vintage Crime/Black Lizard ed.
Imprint:New York : Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2009.
Description:320 p. ; 21 cm.
Format: Print Book
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Hidden Bibliographic Details
ISBN:9780307389060 (pbk.)
0307389065 (pbk.)

1 November For once Alvin Jackson had made the wrong choice. Usually he had an unerring eye for a soft target. It wasn't about size-once a man built like a nightclub bouncer had cried when Jackson showed him the knife. No, it was something less tangible, a kind of passivity that Jackson could sniff out, the way a sniffer dog smells contraband. Not that he expected much resistance from anyone in this part of London. He stood against the iron railings in one of the squares that run off the side streets below Kensington High Street. The night was moonless, and a mass of grey cloud hung over the city like a dirty blanket. Earlier in the evening it had rained: now the tyres of passing cars hissed as they splashed through the puddles, and the pavements were the colour of dark sodden sponges. Jackson had picked a corner where two of the street lights were out. He'd already checked carefully for patrolling policemen and traffic wardens. There weren't any. The woman walking towards Jackson along the opposite pavement was well into her thirties-not young enough to be foolish and too affluent to be streetwise. She wore a smartly cut black overcoat, her hair was coiffed back, doubtless from a fancy salon, and her heels went clack-clack-clack on the pavement. There was a bag hooked over her right shoulder, one of those trendy leather bags with floppy handles. That's where her purse would be, Jackson decided. He waited against the railings until she was about fifteen feet away, then sauntered casually across the road and stood on the pavement, blocking her path. She stopped, and he was pleased to see she looked a little startled. "Hello," he said softly, and her eyes widened slightly. She had a delicate, pretty face, he thought. "I like your bag," he said now, pointing at it with one extended arm. "Thank you," she said crisply, which surprised him, since most of the women were too scared to speak. Funny how reactions differed. Maybe she was foreign. With his other hand he showed her the knife. It was a seven-inch blade, with a sweeping crescent curve that ended in a honed point. The Americans called them Bowie knives-Jackson liked the name. He said, "Give me the bag." The woman didn't panic. That was a relief; the last thing he wanted was for her to scream. She just nodded, then reached with her left arm and unhooked the bag from her shoulder. She held the bag's handles with one hand, and he started to reach forward to take it, then realised she was rummaging in it with the other. "Just hand it over," he was saying as the woman withdrew her hand. It suddenly shot out straight towards him, and something glinted in the dark. He felt an agonising pain in his left arm, right below his shoulder. " Jesus! " he shouted, wincing. What had she just done to him? He looked and saw blood spurting from his arm. The pain was excruciating. I'm going to cut you bitch, he thought, full of rage. He began to move forward, but the metal implement she held glinted again and jabbed him sharply in the middle of his chest. Once, then twice, each time causing him to flinch. He was in agony, and when Jackson saw the woman's hand move again, he turned and ran as fast as he could. He reached the corner, clutching his wounded arm, and thought who the hell was that? Whoever she was, Jackson decided, as blood continued to ooze through his fingers, he'd picked the wrong lady. Looking around her carefully, she saw that there was no one else in the square. Good. Calmly, she took a tissue out and wiped the end of the Stanley knife, sticky from her assailant's blood, then retracted the blade. Normally she would never have resisted a street robbery, but there had been no way she was going to give the man her bag. A light went on outside one of the houses and a curtain was drawn back, so she moved away qu Excerpted from Illegal Action by Stella Rimington All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.