- Author: Freddie Peters
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Also by Freddie P. Peters:
In the HENRY CROWNE PAYING THE PRICE series
IMPOSTOR IN CHIEF
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FREDDIE P. PETERS
Nancy Wu Crime Thriller Series BOOK 1
First published 2021 by Freddie P. Peters
Text copyright © Freddie P. Peters 2021
The right of Freddie P. Peters to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Cover design by Ryan O’Hara.
Typesetting by Aimee Dewar.
This is entirely a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events or localities is purely coincidental.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Glossary of Technical Terms
List of French Expressions with English Translations
Cora hadn’t called. She hadn’t turned up at their rendezvous at the Groucho club either. Nancy accelerated the pace. She lifted the collar of her thick coat and re-arranged the orange pashmina that kept her throat warm. She had made room in her busy diary to meet her young artist friend, but, somehow, she could not find it in her to be annoyed. She was perplexed. Cora’s voice message and text conveyed a sense of urgency.
Nancy recalled the words that had sounded out of place.
What to do?
Nancy arrived at the top of Dean Street without having noticed she had overshot her turning. Shaftesbury Avenue was buzzing at 10.30pm. Theatregoers were in the streets, after the end of their shows. The cinemas on Leicester Square were emptying of their patrons and Chinatown in February was getting ready for the Lunar New Year. The energy of it all enticed Nancy. Milling around the crowd was what she needed to alleviate the disappointment of the evening. She crossed Shaftesbury Avenue and made her way into the melée of Chinatown. Lorries had started delivering their cargoes of exotic fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs of many kinds. She slowed down to watch the men unloading the crates and was almost knocked over by a young woman on her bike. She apologised with a smile and moved on.
Perhaps Cora had been distracted by the intense activity that surrounded the food stores preparing for the Chinese New Year. Nancy had invited her and her boyfriend Ollie to celebrate the event with her in a few days’ time. She had rarely acknowledged the day in the past but the recent desire to reconnect with the country in which she was born, her father’s country, had brought her closer to the Sleeping Giant.
The smell of food made her mouth water. She lingered for a short moment in front of a restaurant offering takeaways. She had tasted their food in the past and found it delicious … Not of course as good as her own Sichuan cooking, but still very enjoyable.
She looked at her watch. DCI Pole might still be at Scotland Yard. His latest case was proving challenging … but the chance of a late-night dinner with Nancy might tempt him away from his desk.
The menu was stuck in the window. She dived into her handbag for a pair of elegant Chanel glasses. As she turned around, a shadow disappeared into the alleyway at the corner of the restaurant. Nancy frowned. So many people around her were walking, stopping, barely avoiding each other … She shrugged. Cora’s missed rendezvous was still preying on her mind. Nancy shook her head and pressed number one on her iPhone speed dial list.
His phone rung a few times. She was preparing to leave a message when Pole’s voice responded, slightly out of breath.
“Nancy … I was not expecting you to call tonight.”
“I was not expecting to call either, but my little artist friend has been a no-show.”
“The artist’s bohemian life … she forgot because she was absorbed in whatever she was doing. I should know, my entire family falls into that category.”
“Not her style I’m afraid.” Nancy glanced again over her shoulder. The sense that someone was watching her unsettled her again. “It’s a little late but since I haven’t had any food, would you care to join me for a late-night takeaway?”
“Takeaway … not a word I’ve ever heard you utter.”
“It usually doesn’t but the food of the restaurant I am standing in front of occasionally does … this place is very good. Even I have to admit it and you know how pedantic I can be about Chinese food.”
“I’m not complaining. I very much enjoy being the recipient of your fabulous culinary skills.”
“No teasing … trésor. Otherwise, I might resort to the said takeaways more often.”
Nancy smiled; nothing was more effective then calling Pole ‘sweetheart’ in French. She heard the catch in his voice and sensed the slight blush of his cheeks in his response. “I’ll be with you as soon as I can.”
Nancy entered the restaurant still smiling. She placed her order and asked for it to be delivered to her Islington apartment. Out