From the author of the award-winning Mamur Zapt books, the first in a new series introducing Seymour of Special Branch and set in the British embassies and consulates of Europe in the early 1900s.
Trieste in 1906 is one of the greatest seaports in the world, the Austrian Empire's main outlet to the Mediterranean and beyond. But various nationalist movements are threatening to pull the place apart. The heavy-handed militarist regime has trouble keeping a lid on it, the secret police are everywhere, and now the British consul has gone walkabout. Was this the result of some liaison, which it's best not to enquire into too closely? Or could he have fallen foul of the secret police, or the even more secret revolutionaries? And does it matter? Well, yes it does. Britain has commercial interests in the port and there have been rumours of too close a relationship between the consul and some of these. Has something gone wrong? In which case, it would be better to find out about it quick. The Austrian police are of course investigating, but the Foreign Ottice would prefer this matter to be handled with sensitivity so perhaps it would be wise to send someone out. Someone very special from Special Branch, perhaps. Capable of speaking the relevant languages? Special Branch is, alas, not over-endowed with linguistic talent, but there is one man … He is not what you might call sound. Capable enough, and rather a good officer but . . . not British. Not straightforwardly so, anyhow. Born here, lived here, but… a member of one of those East End immigrant families from somewhere in Europe. He's all right, but with these blokes you never can tell. You can never quite rely on them. A bit dubious really. Just the man for the job