The Good Thief's Guide to Venice

The Good Thief's Guide to Venice by Chris Ewan Read Free Book Online

Book: The Good Thief's Guide to Venice by Chris Ewan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Ewan
Tags: thriller, Mystery, Humour
hissed. ‘Is it safe?’
    ‘ Si . I have told you this.’
    ‘Excuse me if I take a little convincing.’
    ‘But you have no choice, Charlie. The polizia , they are inside now.’
    I thought it best to ignore the way she’d just used my name. ‘If you’re lying,’ I whispered, ‘I’ll find you. You won’t get away with this.’
    ‘Do as I say and you will find me for sure. Take the door. Hurry to San Polo. Be there before two o’clock or I will destroy your book. I will do it. Understand?’
    I didn’t understand, not even close, but the phone line went dead before I had a chance to tell her so. I cursed under my breath, then reached out tentatively and prodded the door. It wouldn’t budge. I put my shoulder to it. It snagged on the frame, then began to give way. I barged it once more and it banged open against the external wall. I was afraid another police officer might be waiting for me there, but I found nobody at all – the dingy, cheerless alley was deserted – and so I kicked the water from my shoes and lurched into a squelching run.

    By the time I reached the address I’d been given, my feet were itching from the cold and the damp, and I badly wished that I could whip off my shoes and socks to scratch my toes for a couple of days. I would have settled for a change of footwear. Unfortunately, I couldn’t indulge either fancy, and my feet were destined to remain as miserable as my mood.
    Stuffing my map into the pocket of my overcoat, I tucked my gloved hands under my armpits and rocked from side to side, shivering. I was lurking beyond a squat fire hydrant in a dog-legged alley blighted by graffiti. The neighbourhood was dark and deathly quiet. Every window that surrounded me was shuttered and unlit. The silence was so complete that it felt like a form of deafness, and if someone had told me that the entire city had been evacuated, I could have quite readily believed it.
    The ramshackle building I was concerned with should have looked no more suspicious than any of the others, but it seemed to tower above me and vibrate with menace. The front wall bulged in the middle, where a rusted metal brace had been used to stitch it together, and ornate metal fretwork filled the arched space above the door, like a prison with ideas above its station. The door itself had been sanded back for a fresh coat of paint that had yet to be applied. The exposed wood was scarred and gnarled, and a corroded lion’s head knocker sneered out at anyone fool enough to approach.
    There was no sign of a tangible threat, but I felt uneasy all the same. Digging my hand into my coat, I felt around for the mobile and redialled the number of my new Italian gal pal, hoping that I’d be able to hear the ringing of her phone from inside the property. I couldn’t. I supposed it was possible that her handset was set to silent, or that I’d made it across the city before her, but the fear that I was being set-up was hard to ignore. I would have loved for her to ease my concerns, but since my call went unanswered, so did my doubts.
    I pocketed the phone and gave myself a quick pep talk. It didn’t help a great deal. Until tonight, it had been a long time since I’d performed my burglar routine, and I was being forced into a rushed encore. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been so bad if the first show had been a resounding success, but my undignified escape from the police had hardly merited a bow, and I really would have preferred some kind of rehearsal before tackling a strange building I hadn’t had an opportunity to case.
    Looking at my watch, I saw that 2 o’clock was fast approaching. Part of me was tempted to stay where I was and see if she called. But I was worried about what the consequences might be – most especially, if she was serious about destroying my copy of Hammett’s novel. Life is all about risks, I suppose. Some I’m prepared to take, and others I simply can’t contemplate. And this time around, flexing my

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