Danger In Havana – Episode 20

MARK came back from phoning Simon. He was still trying to get his head around the news he had just been given. Policing could at times be the worst job in the world because you learned things that could devastate other people’s lives. You learned things that could destroy and hurt people when that was absolutely the last thing you wanted.

He looked at Bryony. Inside he was breaking up into little pieces. Nevertheless, he was not going to forget his professionalism now. Many times he had had to retain a poker face and reveal nothing. This was one of those times, yet he wished it wasn’t.

“Did you get through?” Bryony asked. Her kind, sensitive face was expectant, her eyes wide.

He must keep what he’d learned a secret. Trying to find the right time to tell Bryony what he’d been told was going to be one of the most difficult tasks he’d ever faced.

“Er, no,” he said.

Was lying to protect someone OK? He sincerely hoped so as he saw her face drop.

“The signal wasn’t brilliant. I’ll try again later. I think I need another drink,” Mark said as a waiter came and took their orders.

It would give him time to get his head round what he’d learned. As he stood at the bar, his mind ticked over his conversation with Simon . . .

“Did you manage to dig anything up for me, Simon?”

“I did, finally. I don’t have anything yet on your German guy, Otto Weber. I’m still trying. I’ve had a word with our friends in Interpol in Wiesbaden, they’re working on that one for me. But while I was waiting, I thought I’d just take a look at Bryony Kemp and her family. You don’t have too much to go on out there in Cuba, so I thought I’d just hunt around a bit, you know me, always keen on the detail.”

“Yup, that’s why I asked you to look into this for me. Spit it out, Simon.”

“You’re not going to like what you hear, Mark. Did you know Warren Kemp, Bryony Kemp’s husband, was being investigated at the time of his death?”

This was certainly news to Mark and, he suspected, it would have been news to Bryony, too.

“No, what for?”

“Possible tax evasion, possible receiving of stolen goods. The guy was in trouble.”

“What sort of trouble? Why was he being looked into?”

“The guy had his fingers in loads of pies; small ones, nothing definite, nothing defined. It’s just that he knew a few shady people and he seemed to have more money than an IT geek would normally.

“The trouble was, Kemp was a gambler on the quiet. He travelled for work a bit and did the gambling stuff either on the internet, so his wife didn’t learn about it, or far from home. He also liked to dabble in a little art trading and he was quite good at it. If he hadn’t gambled the proceeds away, he could have made a good living at it.”

“Art trading?”

“Mmm. That was just one of his little sidelines. He’d been selling the odd picture here and there for years. Little pieces, things that go under the radar but net around five to ten grand. Seems he managed to hide it from everyone, his wife included.

“Thing is, no-one seems to know where the paintings came from. He wasn’t stupid, he never sold in the same city twice and even then it was only the occasional sale, maybe one a year. He always came up with the same story, that it had been left him by an aunt, a German aunt.”

“Does he have a German aunt?”

“Not that we could find.”

“So where was he getting these paintings?”

“No idea. The investigation went cold. There was nothing that could be pinned on him. Then the guy upped and died and the team looking into him had other fish to fry. Warren Kemp is just a cold case now, sitting on the books doing nothing.”

“Did anyone think of the possibility they were forgeries? I worked on a case, many years ago, where a guy was fencing paintings. Turned out he had a friend who churned them out. Good forgeries they were – they could have kept up a nice little trade, only they got too greedy and were found out. It’s just a thought.”

“Dunno, I don’t think they got that far. It’s a possibility, though, I suppose.”

“Thanks, Simon. You’ll let me know if you come up with anything else, won’t you?

And Simon . . .”


“Was there at any stage in the investigation any hint that Warren Kemp’s wife Bryony might be involved?”

“No.” Simon was definite. “They looked into her, and the daughter. Both are as clean as a whistle. Innocent bystanders, you might say. I feel sorry for them.”

“Do they need to know?”

“Sometimes I think our jobs as policemen are to protect the innocent as well as prosecute the guilty. It’s your call, of course, Mark, you’re the one on the ground, so to speak. But personally I can’t see much merit now in telling Bryony Kemp.

“I just told you because I thought you ought to know.”

Mark had had to walk outside for a moment or two to gather himself before going back to face Bryony. Even now, standing at the bar, he felt unsettled.

What the devil had Warren Kemp been involved in? What other shady dealings might he have kept from his wife and his daughter?

Did anything he was up to when he was alive have a bearing on his daughter’s sudden disappearance?

Mark had been in policing long enough to recognise a hunch when he felt one coming on. He could feel a hunch in his blood that Warren Kemp’s dodgy dealings perhaps had something to do with this whole sorry mess.

Kemp was the one who had been keen to come to Cuba. He was the one who had booked everything, had decided where the family was going to stay.

Did the holiday have something to do with the underhand lifestyle he’d so successfully hidden from his wife?


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!