DEAD RICH is the sensational new thriller from G.W Shaw, otherwise known as William Shaw. Part locked-room suspense, part adventure story, DEAD RICH is an unforgettable, edge of the seat thriller set in the blazing heat of the Caribbean. Ahead of publication next week, Crime Files have an exclusive extract from the start of the book for you to enjoy. Check it out below.
They arrive at luxury marinas, slipping up the Thames, shadowing the pink mansion houses that fringe the shores of Portofino, edging slowly into fat moorings off Brooklyn Marina. From the hills of Monaco, you see them crowding the harbour below.
Each one is different; each special. The cheapest cost mere millions. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, spent four hundred million on his. Roman Abramovich has a fleet of them, several costing as much as Sheikh Mohammed’s. He paid over a billion for Eclipse.
Most of these floating palaces are gleaming white, though some are grey or even black. Their owners like their exteriors to say something about them. There is one you often spot cruising in the Mediterranean that has been painted in rich geometrical shapes of yellow, pink and blue by the artist Jeff Koons.
But more impressive is what you can’t see. Yachts are secretive, like their owners. Their gleaming hulls conceal dance floors, fireplaces, spas, underwater observation windows and swimming pools with glass floors, under which you can see the fish moving. Many have what their designers call toy garages, with doors in their hulls that open to launch other smaller versions of themselves, tenders and sailing boats, even mini-submarines.
The bigger, the richer. Compared, say, to the fragile carracks that took Columbus to the Americas, these are huge, fantastical monsters. Like castles, these vessels become symbols of power, created to inspire awe; a physical projection of wealth and power and internationality. Like their owners’ money, they can slide silently in and out of any port. Like castles, too, they are defended.
They are an entire world, separate from the rest of us. They are fabulous.
The house cleaner is Romanian. Her name is Mihaela and the first time she hears the phone ping in her handbag she does not look at it because she is under the bed in an apartment off the south end of Paris’s Rue de Vaugirard trying to retrieve a pair of knickers that she has discovered there while vacuuming.
The second time it pings she doesn’t pay it any attention either, because she is examining the knickers more closely; they are black, flimsy and not the kind that would belong to Mme Caron, who is a tall, broad-hipped woman. Mihaela is fond of Mme Caron; she tips Mihaela whenever they meet, much to M. Caron’s annoyance. Mme Caron also remembers Mihaela’s son’s name, despite the fact that she has only met him once, when Mihaela had to bring him with her to work because he had an upset stomach.
‘And how is poor little Florian?’ she asks each time, as if she imagines her son to be perpetually ill.
Mihaela considers returning the knickers to the place under the bed where she discovered them; or innocently putting them into one of Mme Caron’s own underwear drawers where she can find them and confront her husband about who they might belong to. Mihaela very much dislikes the idea of his infidelity.
However, she is a cleaner and depends on M. Caron for her work. Not just an ordinary cleaner, like so many others in this city. She cleans for a very exclusive class of client. The agency she works for boasts of their reputation for discretion, and lecture their workers on the importance of it. Confidentiality is of the
utmost importance. So she puts the knickers in the pocket of her jeans and carries on with her work.
It isn’t until after she leaves the apartment over an hour later, setting the alarm and locking the door, that she finally takes the phone out of her bag and looks at it. The message that arrived when she was under the Carons’ bed is there on the lock screen.
Returning from Orly now will need to sleep today. No cleaning today. DB.
The colour vanishes from Mihaela’s face. She clutches the dark wood banister of the staircase and sways.
It was Kiki’s fault. Kiki works at a gay nightclub in the Quai d’Austerlitz and carries her sense of excess with her wherever she goes. It was Kiki who suggested they hold Daria’s twenty-first birthday party in David Bullimore’s apartment in the sixième
Though maybe it was Mihaela’s fault as well, for boasting to Kiki about David Bullimore’s hot tub. ‘It has a built-in stereo and a TV.’
The neatest feature of the Englishman’s apartment is a secluded roof garden from which you can see the Eiffel Tower, plus the six-person jacuzzi that he has installed up there. Sometimes, she cannot resist telling her friends the details of her clients’ lives, just to remind them that though the hours are long and the pay could be better, her job is superior to theirs. She has told them about the woman who had a Swarovski-studded catflap; the couple with the vitamin-C-infused shower; the chain-smoking academic who appears on TV and who has a genuine Mondrian in his toilet.
‘David’s jacuzzi has really cool lights,’ Mihaela said, like she was a friend of his.
‘I bet David,’ Kiki mocked, ‘would like to get you in there one day.’
Mihaela wouldn’t mind if he did. She harbours what she knows are adolescent fantasies of a man like him taking her and Florian away from a life of short-term contracts. ‘The water is always kept hot so he can use it whenever he wants.’
Kiki goes on Extinction Rebellion protests and thinks that kind of squandering of resources is unforgivable. ‘Somebody should use it,’ she declared. ‘Otherwise it’s a waste.’
Plus, Daria has been feeling miserable because she has no work and knows nobody in this foreign city. The Englishman David Bullimore was supposed to be away in Tel Aviv on business until next Tuesday.
There were a total of five of them up there last night dressed in their bikinis, drinking strawberry jalapeño mint juleps under the June stars, smoking weed, listening to hip hop and giggling, all except for Mihaela, who hated every minute of it. The breeze splashed candle wax all over the decking. She sat in the pink-lit bubbling water, fingering her crucifix, anxious about the babysitter she had hired to look after Florian, worrying that one of them would break something, or spill pink drinks on his white stair carpet, or that David’s neighbour would spot them on his security cameras.
Unlike all her other clients, David Bullimore doesn’t have a burglar alarm. He boasts that he doesn’t need one because his neighbour, who owns the top three floors of the eighteenth-century building next door, is an ultra-paranoid Russian billionaire called Stepan Pirumov – the Stepan Pirumov – who has security cameras overlooking the front and back of his apartment. Having such a wealthy neighbour is good for the neighbourhood.
‘Relax,’ Kiki told her as she sat in the brightly illuminated tub. ‘The Englishman isn’t back for a week. I’ll help you tidy up. It’s not a problem.’ For some reason, Kiki was wearing a black nylon wig like the one Uma Thurman wore in Pulp Fiction, and whenever Mihaela complained about the mess she said, in English, ‘Don’t be a . . .’ and drew a square in the air.
But by the time Mihaela told them the party was over, Kiki was so drunk she had thrown up takeaway pizza into the frothing water. When they hauled her out, she could barely walk. She and Daria had to guide her cautiously down the back stairs to the servants’ entrance in the narrow Rue de Nevers behind the house. ‘What about my coat?’ complained Kiki, loudly. ‘I left my coat behind. It’s Zadig and Voltaire and it cost me five hundred
euros. Six hundred. I don’t remember.’ ‘I’ll get it tomorrow.’
‘But I’m cold.’
The Uber driver refused to take her home unless they accompanied her, so Mihaela had no option but to leave the mess upstairs for another day.
She reads the message on her phone again, hoping she has made a mistake. She hasn’t. It is an hour old. The Englishman will be on his way back from Orly now and the sixième arrondissement is at least twenty minutes away on the Metro. She fumbles with the key for her Piaggio scooter.
The Englishman is a neat freak. He has hundreds of vinyl records which he keeps in strictly alphabetical order. He sends her texts if the toilet roll has been installed the wrong way around, or if there are smears on the mirror above the fireplace, but as a cleaner she respects that. When she has her own apartment, she will be the same. She knows where she stands with him, and he with her; now she feels as if she has betrayed him. At Saint-Placide she cuts in between a cyclist and a braking car and the cyclist yells at her.
The Rue Guénégaud is close to the Île de la Cité. She dodges pedestrians on crossings on the Rue de Rennes. David Bullimore will already be there, she thinks. She will have to admit everything. He will tell the agency that she held a party in his flat and she will lose all her work. In this country good work is so hard to find. She has been an idiot.
The Rue Guénégaud is a one-way street. It’s quicker to park at the south end and walk up. She has just made it to the junction on Rue Mazarine and is locking her bike when she looks up and she sees the black Mercedes rounding the corner at the top. Somehow, she knows that will be Bullimore’s car. She watches in horror as it pauses right outside number 15 and the door opens.
A uniformed driver in a peaked cap emerges. The passenger door opens.
It is him.
It is her fault for giving in to Kiki. She should never have listened to her. Now there is no way she can make it to the apartment before the Englishman to try and tidy the worst of it. To reach the servants’ entrance from here – the only door she has the key for – she would have to walk all the way past the front of the house up to the Quai de Conti and then turn right into the narrow back street, and there is David Bullimore already ahead of her, taking his bag from the driver and reaching into his pocket for the front door key. Any second now he will be inside, calling the lift.
She picks her phone out of her bag. She will send him a note of apology right away before he sees the mess, and throw herself at his mercy, knowing that it will make no difference. Tell him she would work for nothing, perhaps. Of all her clients, he is the one who would be most outraged by the mess they had left. I am most sorry, Mr David, she begins to write in English.
As she hesitantly presses the keys, composing her message, she barely notices the noise, a dull crump that came from somewhere up the road.
She hears a man next to her gasp, but she doesn’t look up. The screaming starts a second later. Finally she tears her eyes from the phone.
From where she is standing, she has a clear view up the pavement on the right side of the road. A man appears to be lying on the ground barely a metre from where David Bullimore is standing. There is something strange about the shape of his body.
The woman who is screaming is on the far side of the man; she was pushing a child in a buggy. The man lies just in front of the little boy’s dangling legs. Now David Bullimore’s voice joins the woman’s in an inchoate wailing, his voice deeper, but just as full of shock.
She watches, puzzled as her client staggers backwards now, tripping over his own suitcase, falling, then scrabbling up again, pushing himself away on his elbows. A man has emerged from the gallery on the opposite side of the street talking on a mobile phone while pointing upwards.
It takes Mihaela another second to realise that the man is not just lying there; he must have fallen. There is blood, she sees now, on the grey of the pavement. He has landed between the woman and David Bullimore, missing both of them only by centimetres.
In no time the gendarmes seemed to have arrived too, blocking the street. Not just ordinary flics either, which is strange. They are RAID, a tactical unit, in full body armour, automatic weapons not just slung over their shoulders, but grasped in gloved hands. They hustle Bullimore and the others back from the prone body, away from the apartment’s front door. A SAMU car arrives, blue light flashing, and two paramedics leap out. She watches them as they close off the whole street.
Looking up, she mentally traces the line between the pavement and the balcony he must have fallen from, and realises that it is the one next to Bullimore’s – the Russian’s. She glances again at the paramedics and the man they are busying themselves with and then turns away.
Through all of this Mihaela is strangely calm. She recognises the opportunity for what it is. God-given. Pushing past the shocked faces that have gathered around her, she walks the long way back until she reaches Rue Dauphine, turning left again into the back alleyway.
She guesses the front entrance will be blocked for at least half an hour, maybe more. That will be enough.
She is pulling out her key for the servants’ door when she notices something strange, and her skin goes cold.
The black door is not properly locked. To any passer-by it would look closed, but she can see a couple of centimetres of white door frame. She was an idiot getting drunk with friends here last night. In her hurry to get Kiki out of the building she must not even have closed the door behind her properly.
If David discovered that she had left his back door unlocked, she would be sacked on the spot. Another stroke of luck; another chance to set things straight.
Closing the door behind her, she climbs the stairs quickly. In the living room, Kiki’s Zadig and Voltaire faux-fur jacket is lying abandoned across the back of a leather sofa, along with her Uma Thurman wig.
Mihaela tuts; she doesn’t even hear the footsteps behind her. Not until the hand is clamped firmly over her mouth.
In horror, she sees the other hand holds a kitchen knife.
She thinks of the body on the pavement below her; that this is all Kiki’s fault. She thinks of her son Florian and how he will be alone here in a strange country without her.
by G W Shaw
Part locked-room suspense, part adventure story, Dead Rich is an unforgettable, edge of the seat thriller set in the blazing heat of the Caribbean
'A totally gripping, impeccably crafted thriller that never slackens the tension for a minute. . . Hugely enjoyable' Jane Casey
'A fresh, high-octane take on the ever-popular adventure thriller genre' Vaseem Khan
W G Shaw's gripping new thriller strips bare the ugliness of the filthy rich' Lesley Thomson
Super yachts are secretive, like their owners. The bigger the richer. Like castles, they are created to inspire awe. Like castles too, they are defended. They are an entire world, separate from the rest of us.
Kai, a carefree once-successful musician is invited by his new Russian girlfriend Zina to join her family's Caribbean holiday. Impulsively accepting he learns that Zina is the daughter of a Russian oligarch, Stepan Pirumov and that the trip is aboard his yacht, the Zinaida, moored in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
On arrival Kai discovers that the head of security has been arrested, armed guards are below deck, there's an onboard panic room and a strong sense of all not being quite right beneath the gleaming surfaces of the Pirumov's lives. An unnerving presence punctures the atmosphere: a murderous imposter is on board the Zinaida, but who is it?
Kai will find that the only person he can trust will be Erin and that the world of the super-rich will become a prison from which they must escape.