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Michael Gilbert

Fear to Tread

Hodder & Stoughton 1953

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"Charge your glass" Todd said. "The toast is a small boy who thought it was such fun fiddling with the detonator of the ten-thousand-pound bomb." "It's as bad as that, is it?" said Mr. Wetherall. "Have you got the faintest idea what you're doing ? No, I thought not. Well, how can I begin to explain ? .You're touching the edges you're playing round the fringes of almost the only really organised piece of nonsense in England. . . . "It's big business. It's so big it's almost respectable. . . . Have you ever wondered why the restaurant where you have your supper can serve you three rashers—three walloping thick rashers—of bacon, whilst your wife and you shared a thin rasher between you for breakfast ? Or why there's a full sugar bowl on the table ? To say nothing of the rows of expensive cakes and pastries in the window, all made of butter and sugar and eggs. Or where your favourite Soho restaurant gets the ingredients for that lovely Steak Toreador ? Or why, when you've finished eating the steak, you can buy a hundred of your favourite cigarettes from the head-waiter ? Or why, when your wine-merchant, who's a man and a friend, and whom you've been patronising for years, can't get you more than half a bottle of Scotch for Christmas (and that's a favour) you can drink a good Scotch, to your heart's content, in the X Club and the Y Club and the Z Club?" And it was because he, Mr. Wetherall, an ordinary man, stumbled into this modern underworld, that trouble burst wide open.

Michael Gilbert

Classic Crime Fiction

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