Double-click to start typing
Double-click to start typing
Double-click to start typing
Double-click to start typing
Double-click to start typing
Double-click to start typing
Double-click to start typing
Double-click to start typing

connectionsbooks by Paul Stuart

Your entry to the Connections series

AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE is the final part of the Exmoor Trilogy. Ray Quinn is due to retire to a well earned quiet life, but he is given one final mission and it is his most difficult and dangerous. He crosses swords with old foe Quentin Legard, and the future of the country and the free world is under threat. He is given carte blanche and his methods keep everybody guessing. He enlists the help of his old friend, Frank and a young London petty criminal named Books. They leave no stone unturned as they try to solve the complicated problem. We are taken on a journey of extraordinary twists and turns as we become inescapably entwined in the plot. Guessing what happens next is almost impossible as the plot is driven forward at relentless speed.

ALL MY BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON AND KINDLE OR

CLICK ON A BUTTON AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE.  


PROLOGUE

The hand on his shoulder took some time to register and caused him no concern at first, so light was the touch. When he eventually became aware of it, he turned in his seat. His gaze travelled from the hand up its owner’s arm, and his eyes widened as they recognized its source. As the message finally registered in his brain, the butterflies began to flutter and his stomach churned. He had last seen that hand and its owner disappearing from a courtroom. They had also previously met when he had clashed with the man’s wife over some horse related issue. He couldn’t remember the exact details, but there were already anxious beads of sweat beginning to form on his forehead.

“Hello again, Quentin,” said Ray Quinn amiably. “I’m very disappointed in you. I’m sure you are aware that we are all judged by the choices we make, and you’ve made yours. Are you familiar with the Dutch saying that ‘trust arrives on foot but leaves on horseback’? I ask because I trusted you to change your ways and you’ve let me down. Worse than that, you’ve upset my wife. It’s appropriate really, when you consider that my wife’s business is horses. I can’t stand the things myself, but that’s not the point now.”

Quentin Legard looked up at the man. There was a rising fear in his heart and a stinging fright in his eyes, as he recognized the voice that belonged to the ex SAS man who had given evidence against him from behind a screen. He was looking up at the face of the man who’d ‘had a word’ with him about the issue of stabling Lisa Richards’ horse. It had not been a pleasant experience.

He had never been afraid of anything or anybody in his life, but the words he heard next terrified him utterly.

“I need a word,” said Ray Quinn.

The hand remained on his shoulder with a grip that was tightening gradually, and the eyes penetrated the very depths of his evil soul.


-1-

Ray Quinn was ushered with the utmost politeness into the inner sanctum. He obviously recognized the figure who shook him firmly by the hand and looked him straight in the eye, but he was struck by how weary the PM appeared. The bags under the eyes were a giveaway.

“Mr. Quinn, I am pleased to meet you at long last. Please sit down.”

A deep leather chair was indicated with a waft of the hand. The cracks and creases reflected the age and use to which the historic piece of furniture had been put. Its design attested to the period of its creation and, Ray Quinn thought, it could no doubt tell a myriad of tales.

“I wish we had more time. I would like to get to know you better,” the Prime Minister said.

“Prime Minister, we both understand that the less you know, the better it is for you,” Ray Quinn replied, not in any way cowed by the situation.

“I understand the concept of deniability, Mr. Quinn. I was merely stating that I would like to know more about you as a person.”

“There’s not much to tell,” Quinn responded with genuine modesty.

“I’ve done my homework, Mr. Quinn, and yours has been an extraordinary life.”

“I’m flattered, Prime Minister, that you have taken so much trouble and made so much effort. You have obviously sent for me for a reason.”

Ray Quinn had always been uncomfortable with unnecessary small talk. His military training, his SAS background, his experience in the field and his particular personality had produced a singular and modest man.

The Prime Minister’s homework had been thorough. A complete appraisal of the man sitting there now had been given top priority and the best judges of worth in the land had provided their verdict. But the PM had gone further, undertaking deeper and wider research, as befitted a politician used to winning. General Elections are not won by being slipshod. The PM had delved deeply behind the scenes, privately, with discretion and circumspection. Ray Quinn was a careful and thorough man himself, but even he would have been surprised by the diligence of the politician sitting opposite him. The overall and unanimous conclusion of all the Prime Minister’s sources was that if anybody could succeed in the matter it would be the man who had been summoned. The leader was thankful to have recognized a kindred spirit.

One of the revelations of all the background digging was that the man was partial to a glass of good quality whisky, so it was poured and the cut crystal glass set down on the table beside Quinn’s chair.

Ray Quinn sipped cautiously for a moment and smiled.

“You’ve done your homework,” Quinn remarked.

“More than you’ll ever know,” the Prime Minister replied and then continued immediately. “To business, Mr. Quinn. The sooner we start, the sooner this awful situation can be addressed. What you are about to learn is so confidential that only Her Majesty and myself know its entirety. She has kindly consented to this meeting and, if you accept the undertaking, she wishes me to convey you to her immediately we have concluded our business here. She wants to talk to you in confidence.”

Ray Quinn realised at once that he had no choice. Merely being briefed on the matter and its details meant that he was involved. If he wanted a quiet retirement, then now was the time to say so.

“Prime Minister, you already know what my reaction will be. You also know that you may be assured of my loyalty to The Crown and this great country. Let’s not waste time. Please continue.”

A smile was allowed to cross the politician’s face. The mission took almost an hour to explain. This was not only intricate and delicate, but its ramifications were enormous and far-reaching. Failure would not be a simple embarrassment, perhaps leading to untold loss of life in this country and elsewhere, but it could also lead to a shift in world power and politics that was unthinkable.

“I believe you have this man Legard at your disposal, Mr. Quinn.”

“Yes,” he confirmed. “He has been in my charge for a while and I think he will soon be ready.”

“Mr. Quinn. Please don’t misunderstand. There is no room for merely thinking. He is either prepared or he is not. If not, then I’m sure you know what must be done with him.”

“I understand. I meant to convey no doubt. He is ready.”

“Good. Then please read the contents of the file on the table before you. I’ll wait while you read. Please ask questions as you go. Don’t worry about how long it takes. This is vital to our interests.”

Ray Quinn allowed himself a second small sip of whisky, savoured the liquor as he rolled it around his tongue before swallowing, and began to read.

He took one hour and thirty-five minutes to finish. It was a detailed and complicated file, but Quinn knew there were important gaps and missing documents. He replaced the file on the table and looked up at the Prime Minister.

“I assume you want me to locate and retrieve the missing material.”

“Exactly,” the Prime Minster responded.

Ideas were already beginning to form in Quinn’s mind and he knew this mission was going to be the most difficult and dangerous he had ever undertaken. He also knew it was the most important.

“Well, let’s not keep Her Majesty waiting,” Ray Quinn said, rising from the warmth of the leather chair, pausing only to drain his glass.