House of Birds by Roland Lloyd Parry (The Azo Coke thrillers Book 2)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.7 MB
Roland Lloyd Parry worked as a reporter across Europe and Latin America before publishing his first fiction. Based in Paris, his work has taken him around the world but his creative and literary heart lies in his native northern England, the setting for his series of Azo Coke Liverpool thrillers. Research for the stories took the author through the streets of the city and even on board a cargo ship from Antwerp to the port of Liverpool, to see the place as sailors have for centuries.
Recovering from the wounds of his first mission, delinquent-turned-government spy Azo Coke has scarcely made his way from hospital to the pub before trouble comes looking for him again.
A local gangster with a grudge, a pushy newspaper reporter, Becky Suarez, and his own shadowy spymaster, Paterson – everyone is after Azo as he gets back on the trail of the extremist gang he thought he had beaten. And then there’s Leanne, his punchy ex and mother of his estranged toddler son, Ali.
Blackmailed by Paterson on the promise of seeing Ali, Azo tracks the gang as it regroups for a fresh plot. Soon he is fighting not only for his son but for the refugees and captives the gang holds in the depths of its House of Birds – including Azo’s own one-time girlfriend, Maya.
In tunnels and cellars that once held slaves in the city’s underbelly, they are kept hidden by Dicey, a ghostly woman with connections to the local church and a spooky fascination with Azo; and by one of the gang’s most brutal members, Rodney, the last man standing when Azo broke up their previous plot. He’s had it in for Azo from the day they met. When contacts close to Azo start turning up dead, he knows he risks falling back into Rodney’s clutches.
Azo’s mission to find Maya and foil the latest attack on Liverpool takes him on a terrifying underground quest into the city’s past and closer to the truth of his own lost identity.
There was this boss offie on Smithdown Road with these big bottles of cherry cider. The first glass chilled you out and the second made you punchy. The third glass made your face go numb. The fourth had you on your back, seeing lights and fairies. I’d go straight to the fourth without stopping. I couldn’t afford to be getting in fights.
I was just out of the posh hossie and still not feeling right. I had scars all over, one big one still sore on my right arse cheek so I had to sleep on my side. I was living on my own in that little safe-house flat off Lodge Lane. No one to talk to. I tried going to the gym and hitting the bag. But it wrecked. I had this weak spot in my chest where some twat had shot me.
I wanted to go and see Ali but Leanne wouldn’t let me near him. Paterson told me he could fix that for me. But I had to finish the job first, he said. Then I could see my little lad again. He was always telling me that. Paterson, my handler. My spymaster. My almighty smartarse. He’d been running me for the best part of a year. The shittest part. But it was all there was.
He had let me see Ali just once after I’d come out of the hossie. We spent a couple of hours at Frank’s. I used the time wisely. Gave him his fifth-birthday pressie. Only a few months late, eh. A Hot Wheels set.
Then I taught him some pickpocketing tricks. How to nick someone’s watch. We had a better laugh with that than with the toy cars. I always had a laugh when I got to see Ali. But those two hours were my lot for now, Paterson said. Till I got the job done.
I couldn’t go to the school for a glimpse of my little lad. Not after all that had happened last September. There were bizzies with guns posted outside there now. I couldn’t get in the playground. Couldn’t even wait outside. It wasn’t enough to be the dad of one of the kids. Your name had to be on the list.
Worst of all, I had no leads to get the job done.
I didn’t know where Maya was.
I’d eat sausage and chips from the Chinese for tea and then glug myself daft on cider till I fell asleep. Wanted to get some draw but I didn’t know who to go to anymore. Things had changed in Tocky. Had to be careful who I talked to, didn’t I, after all that had happened.
I said to myself I’d get out and about in a bit. I just needed a few weeks’ rest first.
Paterson had briefed me in the hossie before I came out. Not much to it. Find Maya. Right. How? You’re the last one who saw her, spy lad, he said. You work it out.
He’d given me a new Huawei smartphone. Told me to call him on the secret number I had in my head and wipe the call list after. I’d been cut loose a week and all I’d done with it was play Fortnite. I didn’t have anything to tell him yet. Didn’t dare talk to him and have him guess how lost I was.
I sat there on the settee, eating Monster Munch and swilling the cider round my gob to wash the mush off my teeth. I tried to think through the last day I saw her. After all those weeks living with Raz and Rodney and the other crazies in the house of lads.