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The Silver Stain

Extract

Mavros wondered how Alice survived in such an atmosphere – there must have been steel beneath the soft exterior.
‘Have the local police been involved?’

She nodded. ‘An Inspector Margaritis came to the shoot hotel and expressed concern, but Mr Jannet thought he was just going through the motions.’ She gave a tight smile. ‘Which is where you come in.’

‘Hey, Al!’ Jannet’s voice sounded from the rear of the plane.

‘Excuse me,’ Alice said, adapting into slave mode, though Mavros noticed she wasn’t keen on that form of her name.
He looked out of the window and saw a lengthy mass of rock topped by snow. The White Mountains were as striking as ever. He remembered staying with Anna and Nondas one summer and snow-covered areas still being visible. As the Learjet lost height on its way to the private airport at Maleme, a conversation he’d had with Nondas came back to him.

‘The Germans should never have been allowed to capture the airfield,’ his brother-in-law said. ‘The Allies made so many mistakes. As it was, the invaders only made it by the skin of their Nazi teeth.’

They had been looking around the battlefield sites and memorials. Thousands of paratroopers had been killed in the first days of the assault, Nondas had told him, but still they came. If Freyberg, the Allied commander, had armed the gendarmerie or taken on the locals as irregulars, the result could have been very different.

The model/ hostess checked that he had his safety belt on with a stunningly fake smile. Alice Quincy did not return, presumably now nailed to a seat opposite her boss. As the plane slowed, three things struck Mavros. The first was that he was out of his comfort zone on an island whose inhabitants, apart from Nondas, had always seemed to him very unlike other Greeks. The second was that Hollywood film people were unlike any other human beings. And the last was a question – why had a major director broken into his schedule to spend a morning flying to and from Athens when Alice Quincy could easily have done the job on her own?

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