After a government sanctioned hit in Barcelona goes spectacularly wrong, Mossad agent Thomas is blamed for the mission’s failure by his superiors, ousted before completing his very first job. Desperate to prove himself, Thomas accepts an offer from his former handler, Yakov, to assassinate Jacob Okonjo, the head of the African Union. It seems that Jacob is allowing certain parties to control Africa’s lucrative diamond trade, and in doing so has made some powerful enemies.
But like that Mossad hit-team caught on camera in Dubai a few years back, how is Thomas supposed to terminate such a prominent figure without being caught on CCTV? The answer: he’s to work undercover as a room-service waiter at a top London hotel, where, in a few months time, Jacob Okonjo will be staying. It’s the perfect plan. Jacob is to be administered an untraceable poison, and afterwards, even if there is an investigation, a trusted member of staff like Thomas will be above suspicion. That’s the idea, anyway. In the meantime, Thomas has to suffer month after month of boring, menial employment, serving rich, famous people dinner, when he should be making a name for himself amongst the intelligence community.
Then there’s Nadine, the beautiful and mysterious desk clerk. Immune to his charms, what’s really going on with her? If only she knew Thomas was so much more than a lowly waiter. And what of Yakov, his handler? Rumour has it he’s done this kind of illegal, private sector work before. Can he really be trusted? And why are all the patrons at the hotel so impossible to please? Why is Thomas’ manager so relentlessly uptight? The chefs in the kitchen so angry? Because you can bet this never happened to Bond or Bourne. Never had to work for tips, subjugating themselves like some average, everyday citizen.
After a final debriefing, took a dawn flight out of Tel Aviv arriving in Berlin just over four hours later. He checked into a cheap hotel and waited, only leaving to exercise, practice his German, which, despite being the language of his youth was lately the language of his dreams. It felt strange to use it again, the words like a forgotten song, rushing back as he passed the time with the local shopkeepers and café-owners, commenting on the weather, the state of the Eurozone. Mostly, though, he kept to his room, going over and over his cover story until his new identity was locked, came as easily as breathing: Klaus Ormand Amsel, electrician from the Kopenick district. An ordinary, working guy, recently divorced, looking for a quiet, out-of-season holiday so as to escape the shame of his marriage falling apart.
‘Aren’t I a little young to have been married?’ Thomas had asked his case-officer, back at the facility.
‘So, she was your high-school sweet-heart,’ the case-officer shrugged, as if he thought the query trivial.
But nothing is trivial.
No detail wasted.
Thomas had been taught that; yet the case-officer, Yakov, was dismissive of anything learnt in a seminar or classroom, believing instead in practical, hard-won experience.
‘Point is,’ he went on. ‘You need some time alone, okay? Okay.’
And so, seventy-two hours after touching down in Berlin, Thomas caught another flight, this one bound for Barcelona. Once there, he picked up the hire car, drove it to meet the Sayanim. The Sayanim was the manager of a reputable sea-food restaurant near the beach-front. A small, fat man, he’d obviously been waiting, jumping to his feet as Thomas entered, offering him a drink, maybe a cocktail from the bar. Thomas checked his watch, asked for a water, which the Sayanim hurried to fetch, a sheen of excited perspiration forming on his brow. Like everything else, Thomas had been advised about the possibility of this very occurrence. These ‘helpers’, dedicated to the cause, and often with a vital role to play, yet untrained, thrilled at the prospect of some real-life adventure.
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