Jon Courtenay Grimwood Effendi: The Second Arabesk (Arabesk)

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Inhaltsangabe zu „Effendi: The Second Arabesk (Arabesk)“ von Jon Courtenay Grimwood

CHAPTER 1<br><br><br><b>18th October</b><br><br><br><b>Nine days before the Grand Jury met in an upstairs</b> office at Champollion Precinct, Ashraf Bey sat through a warm Iskandryian evening, bombed out of his skull, at a pavement table outside Le Trianon, drinking cappuccino and listening to DJ Avatar wreak havoc on the words of a Greek philosopher.<br><br>The afternoon call to prayer had finished echoing from the mosque on Boulevard Saad Zaghloul and the bells from l'Eglise Copte had yet to begin. If it hadn't been for a sense of dread hanging over El Iskandryia, this could have been a Monday in October like any other.<br><br>Horse-drawn caliches, their brasses shined and wheel bosses polished, rumbled up the Corniche, from the fat seawall known as the Silsileh all the way north to Fort Qaitbey, where the ancient Pharos lighthouse once stood.<br><br>And at both ends of the sweeping Corniche, at Silsileh in the shadow of Iskandryia's famous library, and at Fort Qaitbey, groups of tourists watched as fishermen set hooks or mended and untangled nets, waiting for the evening tide.<br><br>It was a tourist who'd taken the taxi that stopped outside Le Trianon, with its window down and sound system up too loud, giving Raf the chance to hear the city's favourite DJ one more time.<br><br>"And remember . . ." Avatar's voice was street raw. "Rust never sleeps. Coming at you from the wrong side of those tracks, this for the Daddy, the Don . . ."<br><br>Most of Raf's officers thought DJ Avatar came up with <i>SpitNoWhere</i> on his own; if they thought at all, which Raf considered unlikely. So they happily stamped the corridors at Police HQ, humming along, not knowing that the unchopped original went, "In a rich man's house, there's nowhere to spit but his face."<br><br>Raf hadn't known that, at least not until recently, but the fox in his head did. And while the fox couldn't say why, the General's <i>aide de camp</i> had just delivered to Raf an engraving of hell, inscribed with the words, "<i>At its centre hell is not hot</i>." It had at least been able to identify the picture as late Victorian, unquestionably by Gustave Dore . . . <br><br>". . . <i>ou know</i>," said the fox, before all this happened. ". . . <i>ese things, they occur</i>."<br><br>The fox had a grin like the Cheshire cat, except that no cat ever owned so many teeth or carried its tail wrapped up round its shoulders like a stole. Come to that, few cats took afternoon tea at Le Trianon.<br><br><i>These things</i> could have been Raf becoming Chief of Detectives by default, or his recent refusal to marry the daughter of a billionaire.<br><br>"Why?" Raf asked. "<i>Why</i> do they occur?"<br><br>But the fox didn't answer.<br><br>Sighing, Raf took a gulp of cold cappuccino to wash away the taste of cheap speed and fixed his gaze on the pedestrians who streamed past his cafe table, separated from the terrace where he sat by a silk rope and the assiduous attention of two bodyguards.<br><br>The only pedestrians to meet Raf's stare were those, mainly tourists, who didn't realize who he was. They just saw a blond young man in dark glasses, wearing an oddly old-fashioned suit, the kind with a high collar.<br><br>"Come on," said Raf, searching inside his head. "You can tell me."<br><br>He ignored his two guards, who looked at each other, then hurriedly looked away. Raf didn't doubt that they could see tears trickling from under his glasses, but he didn't much care either.<br><br>The fox was saying good-bye.<br><br>The beast had been dying for years. Its abilities limited by memory conflicts, failed backup and the fact that, these days, the animal could only feed on neon light.<br><br>Once Tiri had been state of the art. Feeding on daylight, infrared and ultraviolet, or so it told Raf. White light, black light--back then anything went. The fox sharpened Raf's reflexes, steadied his ne
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