The Sator Square
A terrorist is on the loose in the UK -his target- a member of the royal family
A micro disk with images intended to plunge the monarchy into crisis.
A security chief intent on damage limitation, whatever the cost.
A young jihadist on a path to suicide - terrorist or unwitting puppet?
A detective faced with a series of unexplained deaths.
A middleman ruthless and unscrupulous - interested only in money.
Papapicman, the elusive pope of the paparazzi and harbinger of death.
All brought together by the enigmatic code of the mystic Sator Square
In France, a killer stalks the ranks of the paparazzi as he prepares to commit a series of ritual murders.
When compromising pictures of the prince are published in a French tabloid, Broadhurst, the Palace's head of security is drawn into a murky world of fundamentalist fever, brutal revenge and sinister conspiracy.
Across the Channel, Marchal, a widowed detective on the verge of retirement, is trying to investigate a series of suspicious deaths, but being thwarted at every turn.
Tying the two conspiracies together is the enigmatic Sator Square - an ancient code with a deadly new resonance.
Madrid - 2019
He had sat in the car since four that morning. The fake Rolex showed it was now almost ten. That would make it eleven Spanish time. He adjusted the dial. It would always be Spanish time from hereon in. After today, he doubted he would ever need to turn it back to Portuguese or UK time. They would never release him. They would take the watch. Just as well. It was a miracle the fucking thing hadn’t stopped working years ago. What kind of fake keeps going? Him, perhaps?
He had kept the windows closed whilst the early morning chill in the city persisted. His stale breath had misted up the windscreen. The interior of the ageing Astra carried the faint smell unique to the aftermath of a takeaway McDonald’s hamburger meal and tinged with an aroma of ground coffee beans from the café con leche to accompany it.
He clasped his fingers around the cuff of his jacket, moving forward in his seat to clean the windscreen with his arm. The finished result was worse than when he started. Leave it. As soon as he saw them, he would start the engine and put on the heater blower. That would clear it. No point in drawing attention to a parked car with the engine running, especially one with UK plates and no road tax or insurance, and a driver with no licence.
It hadn't rained overnight, so the car was still sparkling from yesterday’s car wash. It had taken a mix of Castellano and sign language to convince the attendant he wanted the super-duper wash with the wheel polish, special waxing and underbody sealant treatment. The man had looked bemused. The paintwork on the car was faded and pitted with age, rusting in points where it had been standing for too long. The wheels were encrusted with dirt and burred where they had been scraped against kerbs.
‘¿Estás seguro?’ the man had asked, looking at his colleague with a sardonic smile on his lips. Crazy English. More money than sense.
‘Perfectly sure,’ he replied. ‘Sí.’
He couldn’t be angry. The attendant had his best interests at heart. The man wasn’t to know.
He half-opened the window and brushed the remains of a cobweb off the wing mirror. Tenacious things, cobwebs. With all those whirring brushes, streams of water and hot air to contend with, they still hung around, seemingly indestructible. Lucky humans weren’t built that way.
He felt he owed the couple that much. If he was going to accelerate into two people and get blood and twisted limbs all over the paintwork, at least he would show them the courtesy of making sure they were killed by a clean car. It was the decent thing to do.
The front door of the apartment block opened. These people were creatures of habit. The man checked he had the keys in his pocket, ushered the woman down the steps and closed the door.
He started the engine, turning the screen heater to maximum as he did so. The car spluttered into life. Traffic was light along this residential street. He knew exactly how long it would take him to reach the crossing. Two days of watching and practice. You know what they say: practice makes perfect. The car rolled forward.
Some people never did the sensible thing. Ridiculous! The pastelería was on the other side of the road, twenty metres before the marked crossing. The sensible thing to do was walk further along, cross the road safely and stroll back to the café for their morning solos y pasteles. But no , they crossed as soon as they were directly opposite. What would they save? Two minutes? Lazy. Plain lazy.
Why was he getting uptight? On or off the crossing, he was going to kill them anyway.
He pushed down on the accelerator, his arm accidentally jerking on the windscreen wipers. He slowed slightly as he looked to cancel them. Shit! The windscreen was all smeary on the outside now. Damn! He fumbled to locate the screen washer control. At the very last moment, they had to be able to see him, to recognise their executioner.
They were looking around to see if it was safe to cross. Give me another few seconds, he said under his breath.
The car was doing sixty. That was miles per hour, not kilometres. He didn’t need to look at the speedometer. The tracking wobble began at sixty, the steering wheel trembling under his unyielding grip.
They had started to cross and he was closing fast.
They were in the middle of the road, no man’s land. Not far enough across; too far to turn back.
One thing he hadn’t foreseen. As they saw the car advancing, they halted, unsure of whether to continue. He was fifty metres away.
A car was approaching in the other direction. Hurry on or turn back? What would they do? He pushed the accelerator to the floor.
They began to turn back, all the time looking straight at the Astra. Had they seen him? Did they recognise him? It wasn’t just terrorists who drove vehicles at innocent people; not that these evil bastards could be described as innocent.
The oncoming car began to slow down, giving them the opportunity to turn and walk back.
It was now or never. He swerved across the road, picturing in his mind the moment of impact. With any luck, once he hit them they would be propelled backwards into the air and crash into the other car. Thankfully, the other car looked fairly clean.
He aimed and closed his eyes tight. He could not look. ‘Here I come. Die, you treacherous bastards!
‘For God’s sake, someone, tell me,’ he screamed. ‘How has it come to this?’