False Value (Rivers of London, #8) by Ben Aaronovitch Read Online (FREE)
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January: Some Swans are White
My final interview at the Serious Cybernetics Corporation was with the company’s head of security himself – Tyrel Johnson. Mid-fifties, one of those big men who by dint of clean living and regular exercise have failed to go to fat and instead compacted down to the tensile strength of teak. Light-skinned, with short grey hair and dressed in a bespoke navy pinstripe suit with a lemon cotton shirt and no tie.
Since everybody else in the building dressed in varying degrees of slacker-casual, wearing a suit made a statement – I was glad I’d worn mine.
Judging by the pastel-coloured walls, the spindly stainless-steel furniture and the words Ask me about my poetry painted along one wall in MS Comic Sans, I was guessing that Mr Johnson hadn’t decorated his office himself.
I was stuck on the low-slung banana-yellow sofa while he was perched on the edge of his desk – arms folded. Working without notes, I noticed.
‘Peter Grant.’ He spoke with a West Indian accent, apparently Trinidadian although I can’t tell them apart. ‘Twenty-eight years old, Londoner, plenty of GCSEs, three C-grade A levels but you didn’t go on to further education, worked for Tesco, a couple of small retailers, something called Spinnaker Office Services – what was that?’
‘So you know your way around a mop?’ He smiled.
‘Unfortunately,’ I said, manfully resisting the urge to add ‘sir’ to the end of every sentence. Tyrel Johnson had stopped being a copper the year I was born, but obviously there were some things that never leave you.
I realised that I might have to come to terms with that myself.
‘Two years as a PCSO . . . then you joined the Metropolitan Police and managed a whole six years before leaving.’ He nodded as if this made perfect sense to him – I wish it did to me.
‘Following probation you went into Specialist, Organised and Economic Crime Command,’ said Johnson. ‘Doing what exactly?’
It had been agreed that it would be counterproductive all round if I was to mention the Special Assessment Unit, otherwise known as ‘The Folly’, also known as ‘Oh God, not them’. That there was a section of the Met that dealt with weird shit was quite widely known within the police; that it had officers who were trained in magic was not exactly a secret, but definitely something nobody wanted to talk about. Especially at a job interview.
‘Operation Fairground,’ I said.
‘Never heard of it.’
‘Nigerian counterfeiting gangs.’
‘No,’ I said. ‘Interviews, statements, follow-ups – you know – leg work.’
‘Why don’t we just get down to the main event?’ said Johnson. ‘Why did you leave the police?’
Being ex-job, Johnson was bound to still have contacts in the Met – he would have checked my name out as soon as my CV was shortlisted. Still, the fact that I was even having this interview indicated that he didn’t know everything.