KILLING PLATO (A Jack Shepherd crime thriller)

KILLING PLATO (A Jack Shepherd crime thriller) by Jake Needham Read Free Book Online

Book: KILLING PLATO (A Jack Shepherd crime thriller) by Jake Needham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jake Needham
although I figured that was mostly stagecraft on his part, and then he exhaled slowly. “I love Thailand and I may well live here for the rest of my life. Nevertheless I would like to visit America from time to time…so yes, I guess that must mean I do miss it, in a way.”
    “You’re up to something, Plato,” the Englishman blundered on, apparently heedless of the consternation he had caused at the table. “I know it. I can feel it.”
    “I’m not sure what will happen from here,” Karsarkis responded very slowly. “I’d like to work things out, but I don’t really feel very sure of anything anymore.”
    Suddenly Yuri spoke up, back from the dead.
    “There must be something that can be done, Plato,” he said. “I have many friends. All you must do is say the word.”
    I wasn’t sure what
that
was supposed to mean, but I didn’t much like the sound of it.
    “Well…” Karsarkis seemed to think, but again the gesture struck me as affected, although to impress whom I had no idea. “There are one or two people standing in my way.”
    Everyone laughed merrily at that while a few obvious solutions to the problem danced through my mind, such as Karsarkis having all those people’s throats slashed exactly like Cynthia Kim’s had been. Not to appear disagreeable, I kept my thoughts on the subject to myself and mimed a chuckle or two of my own.
    The former prime minister, who had been almost completely silent throughout the entire meal thus far, rumbled to life. His voice was smooth and cultured, and the sound of it suggested the man’s formative years had probably been spent at an expensive English boarding school, certainly not in Thailand.
    “The Kingdom of Thailand is proud to have Plato here,” he said. “And we hope he will stay with us for many years to come.”
    “Thank you, Prime Minister.” Karsarkis bobbed his head in acknowledgment of the man’s endorsement and tried—without any success, I thought—to look modest and self-effacing at the same time. “You are too kind.”
    “Not at all, Plato. Not at all. You are one of the giants. It is our honor to have you in our country.”
    Sakda looked as if he had more to say—and Karsarkis looked as if he hoped he didn’t—but the old man started talking again before Karsarkis could head him off.
    “You are a true friend of the Thai people, Plato, and the Thai people are your friends. Your work on our behalf has guaranteed a supply of competitively-priced petroleum far into the future and given us a secure basis for rapid industrial expansion.”
    With that, the old m [at,to than went back to his lobster.
    Ah ha
, I thought.
So that’s it.
    Translation: Plato Karsarkis was selling Thailand some of the embargoed Iraqi oil he was accused of smuggling, naturally at cut-rate prices.
    Most Asian countries lacked any domestic sources of oil at all and were almost wholly dependent on a steady stream coming in from the Middle East to keep their cars going and their electrical generators turning. High oil prices and tight supply meant economic stagnation, or a good deal worse. Low oil prices and loose supply meant prosperity, particularly for the people who controlled the oil and took a cut as it flowed by.
    And that was no doubt the second part of the equation here.
    Karsarkis’ supplies of Iraqi oil were obviously being delivered through Sakda and his cronies, which explained where Karsarkis’ protection was coming from. That was a vastly more effective arrangement for Karsarkis than straight bribery. When you bought a politician, your problem was the same in any country—to make sure he
stayed
bought. If the buying was done through a continuing drip feed of Iraqi oil at below-market prices, then you had the problem pretty well licked. Shrewd of Karsarkis, I had to admit to myself. Very shrewd indeed.
    The former prime minister’s sudden wakefulness seemed to energize his Australian wife as well. All of a sudden the woman pitched forward in her

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