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Manning Coles

The House Above the River

Hodder and Stoughton 1955
Jacket design unknown

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IN THE BACK SEAT OP THE CAR THERE SAT A STOUT ELDERLY man with a black Fascist cap pulled low over his forehead to hide his conspicuous bald head. As the car moved off he leaned forward and spoke to a man who was perched on the running-board outside, level with him. " If this comes off, Colonel Valerio, I will offer you an empire ! " " A thousand thanks," said Valerio politely. He could not spare a hand to salute since he was using one to hold on with and the other to carry a sub-machine-gun. In the rear seat beside the bald man there was also a young woman, young enough to be his daughter. She spoke to him but he did not answer, he had other things to think about at the moment. Women, he had always thought, were for a man's leisure hours, not when he was busy or worried and anxious. The car, a black saloon with Rome number-plates, was proceeding very slowly up a steep road and the driver slowed still more for a sharp bend. The man sitting beside the driver shifted his position and the Sten gun he was nursing came more plainly into view. There was yet a third armed man in the party, he was on the running-board on the other side, beyond the girl. There had been two more ; the elderly man turned his head and glanced out of the rear window. They were still there, trotting behind and keeping up easily, for they were young and active. He glanced at the girl ; tears were running steadily down her face and she made no move to wipe them away

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