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Lost Tango in Paris

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Synopsis

A notorious Arab terrorist has escaped from a French prison, just days before a warrant for his extradition to the UK is issued.

Abdul Mohammed is an expert bomb maker and assassin par excellence. Wanted in just about every Western democracy, he’s also wanted by Chechen extremists who can put his expertise to deadly use.

Jack Small of the SAS is on a special NATO secondment to the DGSE – France’s version of MI6. He’s in the right place… and at the right time.

Excerpt

The wailing of a police siren awoke him. Jack gingerly opened his eyes. It had been a heavy night. Jack slowly rose, rubbed his tired eyes and padded over to the window. He flung back the shutters, and the bright morning sun pierced his brain like a lance. God he felt rough. That’d be the seemingly endless measures of absinthe that the friendly concierge had plied him with until the small hours.

Jack took in the view from his hotel room balcony, and watched the police car far below weave its way through the chaotic Parisian traffic. ‘Oh man, what a night!’ Jack mused to himself, ‘What was in that shit?’ and why did his rectum feel as if it was on fire? He put that down to the absinthe too. It was 8am and he had to be at the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure by nine. He’d better get a move on.

Jack made his way to the bathroom for a shower. He needed it, if only to rinse off the body oil that had mysteriously been applied to his rippling physique. It was then he noticed a tub of marjerine by the bed. Quite curious. He’d have a word with the concierge later.

The hot water was instant rejuvination – the shower spray cascading over the toned and tanned torso that Jack had honed to perfection. He stepped out of the shower, dried himself quickly and dressed in his ‘grey man’ attire. As cosmopolitan as Paris was, he felt the kilt was overdoing it somewhat and instead opted for the Ron Hills, norgie and Barbour look. How the French loved his kilt – or rather what was under it.

Jack locked his room and leaped down the flights of stairs like a startled antelope – his dessies squealing on the polished linoleum. He never used elevators – especially after surviving 9/11. The concierge waved as he breezed throught the lobby and out in to the bustling Rue des Garçons before descending in to Le Metro.

Half an hour later Jack entered the HQ building of the DGSE to be met by a quizzical reception girl: ‘Monsier Jaques! Good moaning. No kilt today?’ ‘Sorry sweetheart, I’m incognito. And in any case kilts and martial arts don’t go together very well.’ The girl laughed. ‘Oh, monsieur Jaques, je suis tres dissapointed.’ Jack smiled and then swiped his access card through the reader before disappearing in to the bowels of the building. It was a warren, but he found his way to the gymnasium with relative ease.

Jack had been tasked with training the French secret service in the subtle art of savate – ironically a French form of unarmed combat. Jack was an expert in a specific style unique to him alone and it was this that the French wanted to learn. Jack laughed at the thought: sand to the Arabs and coals to Newcastle. He entered the spacious room whereupon the gathered trainees instantly rose to their feet and bowed in unison. Their Instructeur en Chef had arrived. Jack quickly stripped to the waist before entering in to the ring. He beckoned the first victim.

A huge, chisel-jawed behemoth leaped forwards and launched himself through the air before landing in front of Jack on one foot – the other inches from Jack’s unimpressed face. The Frenchman laughed. ‘Ow youz Rossbeefs say? Time for slap, eh?’ The grinning frog’s mirth was short-lived as Jack delivered a perfect roundhouse kick to his startled sparring partner’s throat sending him flying out of the ring only to land in a crumpled heap amongst the astonished trainees.

‘No hard feeling chum, eh?’ smiled Jack as he helped the bruised frog to his feet. The room was suddenly filled with the trill sound of Jack’s pager going off. He reached in to the pocket of his well-worn Barbour and read the brief text instruction: ALERT-TANGO-ACTION-IMMEDIATE. Jack quickly dressed. What did it mean? He was soon to find out.

Critique

As with most of Clunge’s works, Lost Tango in Paris was initially met with literary derision from the usual critical suspects. Unsurprisingly, the work touches on several matters that are controversial, such as man love. It has, however, since been hailed as an action masterpiece – excerpts even being quoted at UN Security Council meetings by Kofi Annan (an admitted Clunge fan) as an example of counter-terrorism techniques – many of which have actually been adopted by many countries, including Mongolia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Testimonials

  • Another Clunge-de-Force – Times Literary Review
  • C’est magnifique!Savate pour des Débutants
  • Utterly believable - Irish Post