The Fat Lady Sings
The very latest action novel from top author Cyril Clunge, The Fat Lady Sings (2011) takes the reader into the bizarre, twisted world of international espionage, defence procurement, foreign policy and mind-control.
Set in the near future, the work is a curious miasma of past, present, truth and untruth, with a heady dosage of reality (and 1970s fashion) thrown into the bubbling cauldron of ‘what ifs?’
Something is wrong - very wrong. Former ACF instructor and ex-SAS assassin Jack Small - on the run for a crime he didn’t commit – is hired by MI5 to go deep undercover into the very heart of Whitehall. His mission: to discover who is drugging government mandarins with mind-altering narcotics and forcing them to make irrational and insane decisions regarding the nation’s defence. But the clock is ticking, and time is running out.
Terminal 1 at Heathrow was busy as usual. The thronging masses from all corners of the planet seemingly converging in Baggage Reclaim. Jack Small: assassin, renegade and gun-for-hire was back in London. After six months hiding out in an apartment in New York City, he’d had enough. It was time to face the music. Copious quantities of champagne on the Concorde flight from JFK had eased the way and now he was ready for a fight.
Jack’s well-battered Bergen appeared on the carousel. Spray-painted in desert sand camouflage and full of bullet holes, it was easily spotted and stood out from the garish pink and yellow Samsonite luggage that obviously belonged to either homosexuals or some crabs. Jack heaved the rucksack on to his bronzed and rippling shoulders and strode purposefully into the Arrivals hall.
He cut a dash in a tailored beige polyester suit which he’d had made by Mr Wong in Kowloon. It contrasted with his ever-present tropical tan perfectly. The rhythmic footfall of his Cuban-heeled, cream-coloured slip-ons was almost hypnotic on the highly polished floor of the terminal. His close-cropped hair, outrageous sideys and chiselled good looks attracted admiring glances from both sexes. Cab or Tube? Decisions, decisions. Jack decided on the bar instead. The terminal was hot and stuffy and he needed another drink. He glanced at his G10 Pulsar chronograph. It was early, but never too early for a snifter.
Jack placed his beer on the table and slumped back into the sumptuous leather sofa in the airport bar and closed his eyes, his mind momentarily drifting back to the Cyprus job - the job that had dropped him in the shit with the grown ups at the ministry after he’d rubbed out an insane defence attache.
‘Hello Jack!’ Startled, Jack was immediately alerted to a well-dressed gentleman sitting down beside him. ‘Faulkner?’ Indeed it was. Harold Faulkner: art collector, semi-pro golfer, one-time mercenary and MI5 agent – and one sufficiently high enough up the food chain to mean business. ‘It’s OK Jack. I’ve not come to dob you in to the filth old boy.’
Jack looked perplexed. Faulkner was the last person he expected to meet. ‘In fact, I’ve got something of a proposition for you - a job. The pay packet is one hundred thousand. Fifty now in an account of your choice, and fifty when you’ve nailed the bastard! No pressure, of course. But the defence of the realm is at stake Jack. Interested?’
‘I’m not entirely sure I understand’ said Jack, ‘could you elaborate?’ Faulkner smiled and suddenly turned serious. ‘The world’s a dangerous place Jack, and it’s getting worse. The Middle East is disappearing up its own arse at a substantial rate of knots and the old order is very much now out of order. The yids are twitchy and it could all go pear-shaped at any moment. Someone is nobbling our people at the very top – forcing them to make defence decisions which defy belief.’
‘The current economic climate is nothing to do with banks Jack. That’s smoke and mirrors. It’s the ministry that’s the root cause. It has wasted trillions’ worth of taxpayer’s cash on projects and initiatives that, quite simply, do not make any logical sense.’ Jack looked baffled.
‘A recent audit discovered that a minister initiated a feasibility study to completely refurbish the RAF’s Lancaster bomber fleet, converting them into jet-engined stealth robot gunships! Even when it was pointed out that the Avro Lancaster had been retired for over half a century, the study went ahead.’
‘Four years of focus groups and several billion pounds later it was found that such a project would be impractical, and that the money earmarked would be better spent on office chairs and the refurbishment of Main Building. Oh they did a fine job Jack. The ladies’ powder room makes King Solomon’s palace look like a pikey yard and the smoking area looks like the hanging gardens of Babylon! Then they gave themselves a massive pay rise… and a bonus… and promptly scrapped the entire navy and awarded the contract to Hoseasons.’
‘Almost every week they change all the office stationary to incorporate bizarre mission statements. Every department has its own corporate logo that gets re-branded constantly at vast expense. It’s madness. And all this while our front line troops are being forced to eat their own boots and drink their own urine! It is clear to us that something is very wrong and that a deliberate campaign is underway to erode this nation’s ability to defend itself from foreign aggression. Something must be done… and fast!’
Jack was clearly shaken by these revelations. ‘So… who’s doing all this?’ Faulkner shook his head. ‘We simply don’t know. Sure we have our suspicions: Iran, China, Welsh separatists.’ Jack interjected. ‘Welsh separatists?’ ‘Oh, things have come a long way since burning holiday cottages Jack. The fucking trogs have even got their own T62. It’s amazing what you can get off ebay for a few hundred quid. God help us if they get nukes off the Russian Mafia. They could turn Swansea into a featureless wilderness!’ Jack laughed ‘No change there then?’ Faulkner shot him a glance. ‘It’s no laughing matter Jack. You cannot patrol the Atlantic ocean with two Air cadets and a Cessna – and that’s what it’s coming to. Help us Jack. Find the bastard who’s doing this. Everything you need to know is in this dossier. Read it and destroy. Under no circumstances leave it on a bus or on the back seat of a taxi.’ Jack smiled. ‘When do I start?’
Rabid paranoia or a stark warning? Clunge pulls no punches in this damning critique of what might happen. Sometimes lauded, and often panned The Fat Lady Sings touches a raw political nerve and is a clarion call to those who would treat the future with flippant complacency.
Both fattist and sexist, this book is a disgrace – The Slimmer Magazine
The usual Clunge de force – Cliché Magazine
Imaginative and inspiring – RUSI
Sexy – Gay Times