Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra

Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra
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An exclusive short story for World Book Day from one of our bestselling authors. This brilliant comic thriller will have you on the edge of your seat.Albert Rossi has many qualities. He’s a man who can spot polyester at a hundred paces. He’s the person you’d have on speed dial were you to find yourself at the centre of a tailoring emergency. He has an excellent working knowledge of Bonnie Tyler’s back catalogue. These skills are essential to a Gentleman’s Outfitter from Eastcote. They are not necessarily on the job description for recruiting an assassin.When Albert hits an unsuspecting pedestrian whilst listening to ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ in his Nissan Micra he is amazed to escape the inevitable knock on the door from the police. Instead he receives a mysterious phone call from a man who sounds surprisingly like Stephen Hawking telling him that his money will be left in the ‘usual’ place. At that very moment, Albert Rossi decides to change careers.Albert Rossi’s life is about to get a whole lot more interesting…


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Quantum of Tweed

The Man with the Nissan Micra


This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF


A paperback original 2012


Copyright © Conn Iggulden 2012

Conn Iggulden asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

Ebook Edition © February 2012 ISBN: 978 0 00 745608 6

Version: 2017-08-18

To Kiera Godfrey

Chapter One

Albert Rossi would be the first to tell you that breaking into the world of professional assassination is no easy task. In almost any job, you are allowed to make the odd mistake, with red faces all round and perhaps a new office nickname. Not so with hit men. If assassins had a theme tune, it would be something solemn and deeply dignified. Adagio in G minor, perhaps. Soft rock would not be appropriate for such a serious business. Bonnie Tyler would not do at all.

It might have helped if Albert had spent his earlier years in the army, becoming a grim and, yes, somewhat suave dealer in death. He did not do this, however, because Albert Rossi was a late starter. Up to the age of forty-nine, his life had proceeded in an aimless fashion, much like the windows of his beloved menswear shop in Eastcote, Middlesex. Things changed, but things also stayed very much the same. Sadly, his debt to the bank rose every year.

Albert’s life took a lurch onto a new path when he was driving home one Monday afternoon. The bank had taken to writing rather unpleasant letters to him and adding £30 to his overdraft for each one. He had tried replying. He had even tried charging them for his own letters. To his horror, this seemed only to encourage them. Lately, he had begun to receive statements with a red border and the word ‘bailiff’ around line three. Perhaps he was distracted that Monday. The threat of bailiffs will do that to a man.

His car, a Nissan Micra, was also not appropriate for an assassin, but in fairness it was fantastically appropriate for the owner of a men’s clothing shop. He may have been listening to Bonnie Tyler, but moments of immense stress often blur details. To this day he cannot remember why he shudders whenever he hears ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’.

The first he knew of his career change was when a small man wearing a poorly cut suit and smart black shoes ran out in front of him. The brakes of the car were excellent, but as Albert panicked, he locked the wheels and skidded. At the moment of impact, the little man popped into the air, so quickly and completely that at first Albert dared to hope it hadn’t happened at all. To his horror, he saw a smartly shoed foot sliding into view at the top of his windscreen. The little man had ended up on the roof.

In the stunned moment that followed, Albert swallowed nervously. With trembling hands, he turned off the radio – rather than have Bonnie Tyler belt her way through a chorus that could only be slightly sinister in the circumstances. The silence was eerie. The sort of silence that is interrupted by a dead man sliding into view can never be the ‘nuns in a reading room’ kind. ‘Eerie’ is very much it for the slight squeak of a size-nine brogue on your windshield. It did not help that Albert recognised the brand of socks as one he had marked down to 40 per cent of its full price.

The road was empty, though suburban houses seemed to press in on all sides. There had been the squeal of brakes and the thump. Surely the windows would be positively filling with Girl Guides and Miss Marples, noting his number plate and groping for the phone. As Albert stepped out, he was tempted to just push the little fellow off and make a dash for freedom. A man who can sell a jumper with suede strips on the front is made of sterner stuff than that, however.

Albert took hold of a wrist and tried not to look at the rest of the man as he felt for his pulse. There wasn’t one. He checked his own wrist for the right spot and couldn’t find one there either. It’s a lot harder to do than your average medical drama makes it look.

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