Extract – Chapter 3

Harold Adrian Russell Philby was a traitor. Gerald Hammond knew it in his gut, and he knew it in his heart. There had been too many pointers for him not to be. Too many unnecessary contacts with the stench of espionage about them. Too many tainted friends and colleagues surrounding him. Too many of his operations that had gone bad, and way too many coincidences.
Philby had been in Vienna for two days, ostensibly looking for work as a journalist on a foreign desk. Which newspaper’s foreign desk didn’t seem to matter to him; British, American, French, Spanish, even German. Philby had tried them all.
It seemed nobody wanted him, and so why did he persist in this farcical quest for employment, and why had he specifically chosen this city? His history with the city was well documented, but that had been many years ago. What was ‘Kim’ Philby really doing in today’s volatile and intensely militarized Vienna?
As he sat watching the man he knew to be a traitor, Hammond wondered if Philby had decided to cut his losses and defect. With so many now blaming him for intelligence debacles past, and so many closing in on so many sides, it could be time for him to make a run for it. Hammond glanced up and down the street, and grimly acknowledged the fact. If ‘Kim’ Philby was about to make a run for Soviet sanctuary, he couldn’t have chosen a better place, and he couldn’t have chosen a better time.
Nowadays Vienna was sectionalized, its outer districts carved up between the four allied powers, its city center overseen by each in strict rotation. This month it was under British control, but with Soviet MGB seemingly on every street, and the Soviet controlled sectors so close, sanctuary for ‘Kim’ Philby was only a bus ride away.
It was a bitterly cold December afternoon in Central Vienna’s Inner Stadt district. Hammond sat nursing a long-since-cold cup of coffee at a table in the window of a deserted cafe on the west side of Kärntner Straße. Philby sat nursing a glass of flat beer, in a gloomy bar on the eastern side of the same street. Other than ordering their drinks and ignoring the sullen stares of underemployed waiting staff, neither man had moved for over an hour.
But, there it was again. The second time Hammond had seen the same car, in less than ten minutes. It had turned around and was now making another pass along Kärntner Straße, traveling south, heading toward him. It was an ominous-looking black Mercedes 300 limousine, the car they called the ‘Adenauer’. It was moving slowly, hugging the kerb, its driver scanning the traffic ahead and behind, its three dark-suited and swarthy-looking passengers staring menacingly out. They were scanning the side streets and alleyways as the car dawdled along, checking the shadows for potential danger, and reading the passing faces as Vienna’s afternoon throng hustled and jostled along the busy street.
Had the Mercedes been trawling certain sections leading from The Gürtel, rather than The Ringstraße, and had it been much later in the day, its passengers could well have been mistaken for late-night revelers, hoping to round off an evening’s entertainment in the company of working Fräuleins. But, crawling along Kärntner Straße, in midafternoon and in such a splendid and pristine automobile, they merely looked stupidly incongruous.
Hammond smiled as he watched. The four men in the car were looking and behaving like the archetypal villains from every bad Hollywood movie and comic book story he had ever seen or read. He didn’t know who they were, but one thing was certain. They weren’t American or British, and they certainly weren’t Soviet.
The Mercedes was now approaching the café. Hammond turned away from the window. He summoned the waiter, and ordered another coffee. By the time the waiter had acknowledged his order, and Hammond had turned back to once again study the street and check on his quarry, the car and its sinister-looking occupants had passed in front of the café’s façade, and were moving away down the street. He watched them go, somehow doubting that he’d seen the last of them, as a wisp of blue-white exhaust smoke announced the vehicle’s sudden acceleration.
Had they noticed him? Hammond didn’t think so, but someone else had noticed them. Philby had left his beer at the table and walked to the entrance to the bar, He was now standing in the doorway, craning his neck to watch them as they sped away. The Englishman stayed framed in the doorway for a few more inquisitive seconds, watching as the rear lights dissolved among the distant glare of traffic. Then he glanced up and down the street, admiring a pretty girl who had glanced back at him, before turning away and sauntering back to his table. He didn’t seem concerned by the potential for danger. Hammond wondered why.
But then, just as the waiter brought Hammond his fresh cup of coffee, an unexpected and additional complication arrived in the form of yet another sinister-looking man. He was wearing a crumpled gabardine raincoat, and had appeared from the north side of the street. He was standing with his back to the café window, staring across the street to where Philby had returned to his table.
The man was some way short of six feet in height, but beneath the raincoat his torso looked thickset and powerful. As he turned back to the café, hooded eyes peered out from beneath a dark brown trilby hat. Beneath them, the chiseled features looked taut and tanned. When he saw Hammond staring back at him, those same chiseled features broke into a grin. When Hammond gave an answering frown of recognition, a hand appeared from his left raincoat pocket and cheekily raised the trilby. With welcoming grin and greeting done, the man began pushing his way through the pedestrians and into the café’s largely deserted interior.
“Afternoon, Gerald.”
“Morton. . . You’re a long way from the Balkans.”
“A damn sight nearer to there than you are to E-Street.”
Hammond viewed his friend, and all too frequently insubordinate subordinate, Morton Simmonds.
Hammond had first met Simmonds six years earlier, when Simmonds had been working for the FBI on a largely unsuccessful purge of communist sympathizers in the White House. Following the failure of the White House purge, and a public falling-out with FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, Simmonds had left the Bureau.
But Gerald Hammond never forgot a friend, and he never forgot that Simmonds had once provided him with helpful advice and valuable information. Although the irascible FBI man was unpopular with many of his CIA colleagues, Hammond had risked their wrath by bringing him into the Agency and setting him to work as ‘his man in the Balkans’.
To date Simmonds’ appointment had proved largely uneventful, but now this.
“So why are you here, and how did you find me?”
Simmonds smiled.
“Finding you? Not a problem. All anyone has to do is look for Philby, and there you’ll be; it’s entirely predictable.” The smile faded. “You should watch that, Gerald. Predictability in this game is not a trait to recommend.”
Hammond nodded. He could see the logic. Simmonds went on. “As for what I’m doing, freezing my butt off in downtown Vienna, when I should be sunning myself with a couple of dusky and accommodating young hoşurs in Istanbul. . . Well, that’s just a little more complicated.” He stopped for a moment, peered across at the counter, and summoned the waiter. “Bourbon, straight-up. Jack, if you’ve got it.”
The waiter shook his head, and pointed to the bar across the street. Simmonds returned his attention to Hammond. “You mean I gotta consort with scum like Philby, just to get a decent drink around here? The waiter looked mystified. Simmonds looked exasperated, but then called out, “Coffee, Turkish, make it strong.”
The waiter tried glaring at Simmonds’ brusqueness and lack of grace, but got no change out of that and so he nodded and busied himself with the coffee. Simmonds glanced to the heavens. When Hammond repeated his earlier question, Simmonds leaned closer and asked, “You remember Murat?”
Hammond nodded.
“Of course.”
The man both men knew only as Murat was the Turkish-Albanian head of MAH, Turkey’s national security service. He was a shadowy figure who worked out of the Turkish capital, Ankara. A few months earlier, Hammond had met him at a NATO reception: a shindig thrown to welcome Turkey as its newest member. Murat was as tough as they came; a former guerrilla fighter who was known to be a fierce opponent of communism, and especially of the Communist People’s Republic of Albania and its Stalinist leader, the brutal Enver Hoxha.
Hammond had liked what he’d seen in Murat the man, but other than second-hand reports, and the usual fact-sheet profile, he knew little about Murat the intelligence chief. Simmonds continued his explanation.
“Well, it seems Murat had a brother-in-law, a young Albanian émigré who volunteered to go back into Albania in forty-seven, along with around two hundred other insurgents. The whole operation was a total screw-up. Albanian Sigurimi caught and shot just about every one of them. Someone in or close to MAH was obviously leaking the details of each insurgency, and the Sigurimi were simply mopping them up as they came across the border.”
“I’m aware of that. . . So?”
This wasn’t news, and Hammond was becoming impatient.
“So, Murat’s wife was very unhappy about the death of her brother. She told Murat, in no uncertain terms, that if he didn’t make a kebab out of whoever was responsible he could forget about skewering anything else around the Murat household for the foreseeable.”
Simmonds smirked, clearly enjoying his own crude analogy. Hammond didn’t. Simmonds let go of the smirk and returned to his story.
“Anyway, assuming that it must have been an internal MAH leak, Murat became almost fanatical about plugging the breach and punishing the source. But, and despite all that increased effort, he didn’t make a lot of progress and things went from bad to worse when the same thing started happening to MAH insurgencies into Soviet Armenia and Soviet Georgia. Murat now knew than that this wasn’t just pillow talk from some loose-mouthed courier or disgruntled office boy. He obviously had a mole, and a dangerous one.”
The waiter arrived with the coffee. Simmonds took a swig and grimaced, but then dismissed the man with a wave of his hand. As the waiter retreated, to stand scowling at Simmonds from behind his counter, Simmonds lit a cigarette.
“For months Murat continued his search for the mole, and for months he found nothing. However, it wasn’t until a certain Cambridge University graduate, and former head of SIS in Istanbul, was linked with two high-profile British traitors that Murat finally figured out just who that someone might have been.”
“Philby.”
Grim-faced, Simmonds nodded back. Hammond suddenly remembered the amateurish-looking goons in the ‘Adenauer’ Mercedes.
“And so Murat sent an assassination squad to Vienna, to take out Philby?”
Simmonds shook his head.
“I wish he had. That would have made life a whole lot easier for everyone. No, Murat’s a man who prefers to deal in certainty. He knew that if he simply took out Philby he’d never know the truth for sure. So he sent a team of Neanderthals to pull Philby off the street, take him into a backroom, switch on all the lights, and see if the answers he gives without his fingernails are the same as the answers he gave to the Brits while he still had them.”
Hammond suddenly understood why Simmonds was in Vienna.
“So you found out, and reported it to E-Street?” Simmonds nodded. “And. . ?”
Simmonds looked more than a little embarrassed.
“And you weren’t there, of course. Unknown to me, they passed the message up to Marcus Allum, and that was when the proverbial shit hit the fan. Allum called me within the hour. Told me that if a bunch of Turkish goons got a confession from Philby using, shall we say, unsophisticated methods of interrogation, and if we knew about said bunch of goons and their unsophisticated methods, it would seriously taint the agency and leave an embarrassing amount of egg on a whole lot of well-known and powerful faces.”
Hammond added the obvious.
“And, even if the Turks didn’t kill him, whatever evidence they got would be either shot down by his lawyers, or deemed inadmissible in just about every civilized court in the western world. Our knowing about it, and doing nothing to stop it, would also strain Anglo-American intelligence relations even more than they are now.”
“Right. . . You see the problem?”
Hammond was following a logical train of thought.
“So Allum assigned a team of guardians to watch over Philby, and, if necessary, dissuade our Turkish allies?” Yet again, Simmonds shook his head.
“Worse than that. Allum told Conrad Zalesie, and Zalesie called the Brits. I called Zalesie when I heard. I asked him why he’d warned them. He told me that he wanted to keep us out of the loop. He said he was sick and tired of wet-nursing the Brits, and it was about time SIS started cleaning up their own mess.”
“And so Zalesie then sent you here, to tell me to sit still while that happens.”
“Yeah, that’s about the gist of it. Although, he actually told me to tell you to get your ass back to E-Street on the next available plane. He said you were one of the brightest and most senior people in E-Street, and you should stop behaving like some kind of modern-day wild west bounty hunter and start doing the job he put you there to do. . . his words.” Simmonds smiled. “You have to see the irony.”
“What irony?”
“Well, here you are, having spent the last two months shadowing Philby all over, in the hope of catching him with his fingers in a dead letter box, and you’ve achieved nothing. Now, along comes a bunch of goons, who’re all but guaranteed to force the truth out of him, and you have to sit back and watch them fail.”
Hammond suddenly had a thought.
“More than that. I have to make sure Philby doesn’t find out about Murat’s people. It could be all the excuse he needs to panic and run to the Sovs or, worse still, go to ground.”
“And how the hell are you gonna do that?”
“I don’t know, but one thing I do know. I’m not just going to sit still and do nothing, while that traitorous bastard slips the net again.”
“But that is precisely what you are going to do, Mister Hammond.”
The voice was English and authoritative, and belonged to a man standing in the café doorway. Hammond turned to assess the speaker. He found himself studying an immaculately dressed and clean-shaven individual wearing a light-gray cashmere overcoat with a dark felt collar. A red carnation protruded from the buttonhole of his lapel. A red bow tie, to match the carnation, added a further splash of garish color.
Behind the speaker, waiting outside and blocking the café entrance, two dark-suited hoods stood watching. They looked nervous. Their right hands were in plain sight, but resting menacingly close to the telltale bulges that Hammond could clearly see on the inside left of each man’s overcoat. Hammond frowned.
“Who the hell are you?”
“My name is Barker, Mister Hammond, Thomas Middleton Barker, and for my sins I am an employee of His Majesty’s. . .” He paused, and smiled a supercilious smile as he corrected himself. “I do beg the dear lady’s pardon. I meant to say, of Her Majesty’s Government.”
Hammond instantly knew the name. Thomas Barker was one of the new breed of MI6 chiefs. He was arrogant and pretentious and foppish, but with a mind like a steel trap and a reputation for ruthless efficiency. With the recent and unexpected resignation of Churchill’s spymaster, the well-liked and self-effacing Stewart Menzies, as head of MI6, a number of possible successors had thrown their bowler hats into the ring. Among those, and from within a now chaotic and rudderless MI6, the pompous Thomas Middleton Barker was considered to be the stand-out candidate. He and Hammond had never met, until now.
Barker carefully and deliberately closed the café door before sauntering in. Hammond scowled, and sat down again as he assessed the man behind the reputation.
Thomas Barker was tall and slim, a good three inches over six feet, and aged somewhere between the mid and late thirties. He was good-looking, in a narcissistic kind of way, with a firm jaw and high cheekbones. He sneered at the world with white and even teeth, while his clear blue eyes quickly and carefully scanned the café’s interior.
A wave of the hand sent the approaching waiter back behind his counter. Barker casually sat down on the corner of Hammond’s table, but didn’t look at Hammond. Instead, he held his left hand up with the palm facing out and began studying the fingernails, tilting his head from side to side and flicking imaginary dirt from the perfectly manicured surfaces. Apparently satisfied with the condition of the left hand, he then performed the same operation with the right, before finally and seemingly reluctantly addressing the waiting Hammond.
“I’m presuming that you are Gerald Hammond?” Hammond said nothing. Barker sniffed disdainfully, and answered his own question. “But of course you are.” He turned his attention away from Hammond and glanced across the street to where Philby still sat nursing his beer, apparently in blissful ignorance. “After all, if there is ever a free show in the offing, one can always rely on the CIA to bag the best seats in the house.”
Barker allowed the condescending sneer to fade as he glanced farther along the street. Hammond followed the direction of the Englishman’s gaze. The Mercedes had turned around and was, once again, nearing the bar. The driver had seemed about to make a third pass, but then suddenly pulled up outside the bar.
Barker smiled coldly, but kept his eyes glued to the car and its occupants.
“It would seem that our not entirely inconspicuous Turkish friends are right on cue. Now, who was it who said the Turkish security services were tardy and unpredictable; all appearance to the contrary? Well now, Mister Hammond, something tells me the next few minutes should be interesting.”
Hammond sat in silence, watching the four men in the Mercedes. Although the driver had stopped the car, he had left the engine running. His three passengers were carefully scanning the bar’s interior. They seemed agitated. As Hammond’s gaze moved on to study the same interior, he saw the reason. Philby had disappeared. To where and how the Englishman had gone Hammond had no idea, but his untouched glass of beer was still on the table.
The four Turkish hoods looked similarly mystified by Philby’s sudden disappearance. They began babbling to each other, gesturing wildly and arguing among themselves. Finally, with their argument apparently settled, the three passengers got out of the car.
One man stayed by the nearside rear door. The other two edged nervously toward the bar. The driver remained sitting at the steering wheel, his eyes frantically scanning the street on either side. From where he sat Hammond could clearly see the driver’s face. The man looked terrified.
That was when it all kicked off.
Two men suddenly appeared from a shop doorway to the left of the bar. Another two appeared from an alleyway to the right. All four were dressed in similar-looking dark-brown overcoats, with trilby hats pulled low, and all four were carrying nine-millimeter Browning automatics.
One of the Turks saw the four men. He instantly assessed their superior readiness and firepower, because he immediately raised his hands. The man standing by the rear of the Mercedes screamed some sort of belated warning, and scrambled back into the car, but the second man panicked and made the wrong move. He fumbled inside his jacket, and started to drag out a handgun.
It was the most stupid thing he could have done.
The ragged crash from four nine-millimeter automatics sent the first two men to the ground, where they lay bloodied and in agony. One of the shooters stepped closer and fired two more rounds apiece into each of their bodies, ignoring the horrified screams of watching pedestrians as he carefully aimed and fired at each in turn. Another of the shooters walked to the car, and then fired through the window. The first two rounds hit the driver as his shaking hands desperately tried to get the Mercedes into gear. The bullets rocked his head to one side, and left blood and bone and matter sliding down the far side of the pristine coachwork. The final two rounds took out the last man. He was sitting on the back seat, with his hands in the air, babbling in Turkish, obviously pleading for his life.
The shooter showed no emotion as he leaned in through the shattered car window and put two rounds into the terrified face.
Moments later the immediate area seemed full of British troops. They appeared from either end of Kärntner Straße and cordoned off the area outside the bar. A military ambulance, with bells ringing, screeched to a halt alongside the Mercedes. A Bedford three-tonner arrived at the same time. A dozen more soldiers jumped out of the back. Eight of them hurried to collect the bodies. They carried them to the waiting ambulance, and unceremoniously dumped them in through the rear doors.
The ambulance doors slammed shut. One of the soldiers banged twice on the side of the vehicle. It took off immediately, heading north. Less than thirty seconds later the Mercedes followed in the same direction, driven by a red-capped army sergeant who hadn’t seemed to notice the blood and gore that covered the car’s interior and smeared his uniform.
Another of the soldiers was painstakingly collecting spent cartridges from the sidewalk. He found the final casing, stuffed it into his pocket, and then clambered up and into the waiting three-tonner. The cordon was removed and the final two men hauled themselves up and into the belly of the British Army workhorse. Someone called out, and the truck moved off, heading in the same direction as the departed ambulance and bloodstained Mercedes.
There was no sign of the four men with the Browning automatics. They had disappeared as rapidly and unobtrusively as they had arrived. Nor was there any sign of Philby.
The only evidence left on Kärntner Straße as to what had taken place there only minutes before was two army policemen, dispersing and directing the shocked pedestrians and backed-up traffic, and a scared-looking waiter who had come out from the bar with a mop and bucket in his hand. He doused the pools of gore in steaming hot water and foaming detergent, and then began scrubbing away any remaining traces from the Kärntner Straße sidewalk.
Hammond sat stone-faced, feeling angry and impotent, knowing that he could have done little or nothing to prevent the slaughter, knowing, too, that his one chance to take out Philby was gone. Barker turned to look at him. When he saw the fury on Hammond’s face, the Englishman shrugged his shoulders matter-of-factly.
“Well, I must say, as operations go, that all went rather well.”
Hammond allowed the fury to explode.
“As operations go it all went rather well? That wasn’t any kind of operation, you callous bastard. That was cold-blooded murder.”
Barker seemed unimpressed by the outburst. He looked away, but when he turned back to give his answer his eyes bore into Hammond’s and his voice was firm and clear.
“Murat has to understand that if he sends his thugs and killers into my territory, without my authority and looking to do any kind of harm to British subjects, I will send those thugs and killers back to him in body bags. As for cold-blooded murder? Perhaps you are right in that, Mister Hammond, but at least the men I dispatched were both armed and awake at the time.”
That had been a reference to one of Hammond’s previous operations, in Rouen, in northern France. It had been during the Second World War, when Hammond had been with the OSS. He and a team of special forces had rescued a captured bureaucrat from the Nazis. During the course of the rescue they had killed a number of German soldiers, many still asleep in their beds. It was an operation that had haunted Hammond ever since. It seemed Barker was also aware of that terrible mission, and of its ongoing effect on Gerald Hammond.
“And what about Philby? Where is he now?”
Barker merely smirked.
“Oh, he’s safe enough. Although, something tells me that our Harold Adrian will be staying a little closer to home from now on. All this gallivanting about can’t be good for the nerves.” Barker stood, apparently waiting for Hammond to comment further. When Hammond angrily pursed his lips and said nothing, he shrugged. “Well, can’t hang around here all night. Things to do and people to see. Toodle pip.”
Barker turned his back and opened the café door. Hammond held the glare, while Morton Simmonds made his contempt for the English spymaster equally plain, with a one-fingered gesture that dated back to ancient Greece. However, neither he nor Hammond said anything further as they watched the callous and pretentious Thomas Middleton Barker saunter out of the café and away down Kärntner Straße.

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