Lorraine Connection

Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti

Book: Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dominique Manotti
they’re impartial observers . The Nancy security company 3 G , which employs them, has been very cooperative. It has supplied us with the security guards’ duty rotas and contact details. Start with the guards on the second shift. They were called in as backup at around three p.m. They don’t know anyone in the company so they won’t be biased. They were patrolling the factory continuously from three p.m. until the fire broke out so they’ve got an overall view of events. Also question Ali Amrouche, a decent guy who was directly involved in the whole business, always trying to calm things down, and who should be useful in helping us to determine the next stage of the investigation.
    ‘Once these preliminaries are completed, we’ll routinely question all those identified by Berjamin and Loriot as being on the premises. And in taking witness statements, be on the alert for hearsay: who was overexcited, who’s violent, who’s a hooligan. And through hearsay the name of our arsonist will eventually emerge. See if I’m not right on this’. A glance at his subordinates. ‘People aren’t stupid. They know a lot, often you just have tolisten.’ That’s what you call experience , muses the superintendent. He puts the top back on the felt-tip and places it on the ledge of the flipchart. ‘To work, and good luck.’
     
    Valentin’s gaze dissects the man who walks into his office: tall, slim, getting on for fifty, wearing an elegant navy pinstripe suit, royal blue printed tie, Hermès most likely; ink-dark hair, a bit thin on top, carefully plastered down; a mobile, smiling face with a high forehead. The ex-cop has put on the uniform of his new profession, private investigator for the insurance industry. Valentin gets up to greet him, walks around the desk, his gaze piercing as always. Finesse rather than force, a form of prosperity , that’s a good sign. But beneath the veneer of elegance is the cop, cynical, burned-out, tough. Just what I need. He shakes his hand, gestures him to sit in an armchair.
    ‘Thank you for coming, Mr Montoya. Coffee?’
    ‘Yes please. Strong, no sugar.’
    Middle-aged female assistant, copper tray, china cups, Italian espresso. So far, so good. Montoya feels a mixture of curiosity and slight apprehension as to what will follow. A former security service chief. Respect. But there are skeletons in my cupboard. He’s the one who asked me to come here, let him spit it out.
    ‘I heard a lot about you when I still worked for the police …’
    Simple code between ex-cops, or a bit more? What does he know?
    ‘… I’m handling a case that requires intelligence, professionalism . Imagination too, a lot of imagination.’ Big smile. ‘And no scruples.’
    Montoya drinks his coffee and puts down his cup. Here we go, smiles back.
    ‘What makes you think I’m your man?’
    ‘1990, Tangier, the Hakim family.’
    A violent flash, white and blue, the old town, the sea, a very big sting, dangerous, no cover, organised with his best inform ers , the Hakim brothers. Contact is made out at sea, the US Drug Enforcement Administration turns up. Why? How? A fuck-up. The traffickers chuck the goods into the sea, the Hakim brothers eliminate the traffickers, and he ends up killing an American agent and sinking the DEA’s boat. Then he and the Hakims make off with the only boat whose motor’s still working and what canbe salvaged of the cargo, leaving the rest of the DEA crew adrift in an old tub. A French police officer is not supposed to shoot an American agent to protect his informants. The killing is blamed on unidentified traffickers on the run, and the affair is hushed up to avoid a serious diplomatic incident with the Americans. But he’s fired. Only a very few people know about his true role. Don’t underestimate Valentin. Does that give him a hold over me? Yes ‚ without a doubt. Not all those involved are dead. The Americans are aggressive. And he needs to keep a few aces up his sleeve.

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