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Money Doesn't Talk, It Kills

Money Doesn’t Talk, It Kills - written by Richard Starks - is a fast-paced crime thriller about money and the two emotions, fear and greed, that most often surround it.

It tells the story of Mark Slater, a university professor turned stock-market analyst, who's 46 years old, happily married, with two kids in college.

From a fellow analyst, Mark learns of an upcoming takeover that would allow him to make a lot of money fast. But to cash in he would need to break the law. And that is something he is sure he’d never do.

Events, however, conspire against him, and when Mark meets a college friend he hasn’t seen in twenty years, he gives in to temptation and commits the crime of insider trading.

Too late, he realizes he has made a terrible mistake. He has put at risk everything he holds dear – his job, his family, his freedom, and his self-respect.

Mark just wants his old life back. But his college friend has other ideas.

He draws Mark into a violent and criminal world by blackmailing him into taking part in the theft of ten million dollars.

Mark’s only way out is to return the stolen millions to their rightful owner. But first he must outwit his blackmailer – and then overcome the unexpected opposition of his wife.

Extracts from Money Doesn't Talk, It Kills


Mark Slater never planned to break the law. Somehow it just happened. At least, that’s what he told himself, because the steps he took – the small, insignificant ones that led him into crime – were so trivial, so inconsequential, that he really could say the whole crazy mess just, well –
     – happened.
     When it was over, and he was able to peer at himself in the mirror again (examining the deep cuts and bruises that still marred his face), he was willing to concede that some of it had been his fault. But other people had been involved, too. People who lived in a violent, murderous world that was far removed from the safe, sheltered life that he had enjoyed.
     So surely they had to shoulder some of the blame.
     Looking back, he could see that his fall began on the Monday. He’d woken early that day, just as he normally did, with Fran lying beside him, and he knew, even without looking, that his wife of some twenty-odd years was curled into a ball, her knees up, hands in small fists tucked under her chin. The way she always slept, protecting her core like a fighter.
     He swung his legs onto the floor and padded along to the bathroom the kids used to share. A year ago, Fran had all but driven him out of the en suite master, deploying huge numbers of bottles and jars that spilled over the vanity like terra-cotta warriors, to claim that this was her turf. So he’d been relegated.
     He showered and dressed in light pants, a white shirt and linen jacket, then tiptoed down to the garage, taking the Honda, not the Jeep, then driving along quiet sleeping streets with names like Maple, Pine and Walnut, past houses flanked by tidy lawns, some with early-morning sprinklers carving arcs and making shisha-shisha pumping sounds like out-of-breath runners.
     He followed the highway into Denver, then dipped the nose of the Civic into the dusty heat of the new Remington Plaza’s underground parking. A quick pit-stop for a take-out coffee from Benny’s, then an elevator ride up to the 25th floor where Cyrus Investments maintained its Western main office. He backed through the double glass doors and swiveled round, decaf in one hand and laptop in the other. Straight ahead, through the floor-to-ceiling windows, he could see the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains that rose like shark’s teeth, one shade darker than the lightening sky beyond...


That same day, nearly five thousand miles away (and unknown to Mark), Yevgeny Ivanovich Kotov stood in his place by the window and stared out at the gathering night – a tall, thin figure, stooped with age and keenly aware of the arthritic pain in his joints. He could just see a corner of Red Square, harsh under a street light, and a small piece of the Kremlin, too – not much, but enough to say that living here in a building that once had been owned by the KGB, he had finally arrived. Right at the top of a slick and unsavory heap.
     He could remember buying the house – and buying the view, too – handing over two million dollars (not rubles) in hard cash. His counselor had come to an ‘understanding’ with the Deputy Minister, an understanding that led to a meeting – around the mahogany table behind him that once had been owned by Catherine the Great – where Yevgeny signed four sets of papers. When the last one was witnessed, he reached down for the calf-skin suitcase that lay at his feet like a patient dog, and slid it across the table towards the Deputy Minister – two million dollars in fifties and hundreds, all new notes – and said, “Keep the suitcase, too”, as if he were adding a tip.
     Beria had used this house to soften up his ‘special prisoners’ before sending them to the Lubyanka where they were again encouraged to confess their sins. Yevgeny thought it fitting. He’d long ago forgotten the number of people that he had tortured...


In London that day, Giles Saunders settled himself behind his large wooden desk in the office of his New Square chambers. It was mid-afternoon, a damp and drizzly day, and Saunders found himself anticipating the dinner he would eat at Hodgkins’ Grill around the corner in Chancery Lane. Game pie, washed down with a bottle of Chateau la Tour Figeac with a large glass of port to finish. He intended to dine alone as he always did, partly because that was the way he liked it, but mostly because few people sought out his company unless they were paying for his extravagantly expensive legal services.
     Sitting at his desk, his small dapper feet were barely able to reach the floor. It was a big desk that required a large chair, but Saunders was short as well as fat, so almost any combination of desk and chair would have left his feet dangling. He reached for a Parker pen from the brass tray in front of him and began to make notes in a tight, cramped hand. He was working that afternoon – at a rate of one thousand pounds per hour (plus VAT) – on a Request for Further and Better Particulars. The Request was part of a case brought by one of his clients – one of his money clients, as he liked to call them – who wanted to evade a large and over-due bill. The client, a construction company in Hammersmith, had subcontracted much of the work on an office complex in Docklands to a smaller firm that now, understandably, wished to be paid. It was Saunders’ job – part of his instructions – to make sure that didn’t happen...