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"The Nigerian: One of the best MI6 Spy Novels of 2018" - Oliver Smith "A desperate Nigerian man blackmailed in a spy and die plot to bring down the Russian mafia." - Jack Brown "MI6 Fiction at its Best" - Aiken Taylor (Beta Reviewer) When Debare Balogun, a Nigerian man is approached by a mysterious British agent in Lagos, the last thing he expects is to be forced into a spy for hire except that his life depends on it. British intelligence has been watching over his shady business deals for years, and have more than enough evidence to implicate him and put him away forever. But MI6 has an offer for The Nigerian: to win his freedom and clear his name, he must go in as an amateur assassin and spy on a Russian organized crime network through Parliament channels on possibly the heist of the century. Sent undercover as an asylum seeker, it's not long before The Nigerian is tangled up in a web of Russian roulette and government corruption, despite the intelligence provided by his British counterparts; bad intelligence that says nothing about a mysterious female mastermind on seducing into her own network. The Nigerian can only hope to deliver on his promise while keeping his cover intact in one of the year's best KGB espionage novels.
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Copyright © 2018 by Eric Reese
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
“You gotta be able to smile through the bullshit.”
About the Author
Lago’s streets were crowded; it was typical for that time of the day since everybody went to their workplace and school. The traffic wasn’t helping, and Debare Balogun was late for his meeting. The city was a nice choice to live in, and the nightlife was his favourite although the large mass of people was sometimes bothersome.
He walked through the streets, his suit radiating from the busy crowd. He pushed through the crowds in a hurry, determined to get to his meeting as quickly as possible. It was a twenty-minute walk to his shop, and he could get there with only being a little late.
Walking through the doors of the Balogun Jewellery, he was welcomed by his secretary, Daraja Agu, standing behind the receptionist desk. Her hair was styled in a ponytail and she was dressed modestly as always.
“Good day, sir.” She greeted him with a smile, which he returned.
“Morning Daraja,” he replied.
“The guests are expecting you,” Daraja stated, making him speed up his steps to the room. He hoped they would accept his offer if they didn’t that meant Balogun Jewellery wouldn’t last much longer.
Debare’s reputation wasn’t blooming in Lagos. He was known as a scammer, few wanted to work with, and it was all due to his greed. Fixing his suit, he walked into his office greeting the men seated at the roundtable.
“Morning, gentleman,” he greeted.
They had disapproving looks, but Debare ignored them, setting his suitcase on the table, as he felt the burning gazes on him.
“You’re late,” one of them yelled.
“The traffic was horrendous.” He tried his best to excuse himself, much to his dismay they weren’t buying it.
“How’s our project going?” Marcel, one guest asked. He heard about the rumours of Debare’s former past dealings and wasn’t so sure about him but had given his support for Debare’s latest project.
“The gold transfer will start in a few days, sir. We have all the designs, so we just need your final transfer.” Debare spoke, hoping he wouldn’t see through his clear lie.
“We haven’t released the remaining transfer because the client has yet to receive the gold, are you aware of the reason for the delay?” Marcel’s voice said calmly but straightforwardly. He had already made his mind about Debare cheating him. Still, he thought he’d give Debare a chance. Unfortunately, the situation was alarming.
“Uh, no sir, is there a problem?” Debare said sweating heavily. Maybe they had caught him in his lies.
The other men accompanying Marcel sighed, mumbling something to each other. “The problem is you, Debare.” Marcel stated, already picking up the documents he placed on the table.
“Excuse me?” Debare tried to play it off, failing on the ground clumsily and picking himself up. “You thought you could fool me?”
Marcel chuckled showing his pearl white teeth. “I know what you’ve been doing all this time.” His tone turned serious. “All the money, I wasted on this project, went straight to your pockets,” he yelled as his fist banged on the table. The sound echoed through the office, and all everyone present including Darja could hear the rage of Marcel through the office’s corridor.
Debare was done. He knew that his company was in ruin and there was nothing he could do about it.
“How dare you do this to me?” Marcel burst out continuing to yell angrily.
Not only did he do the deal with Debare but he was renting out his shop to assist Debare’s company. Never did Marcel think Debare would deceive him.
“Please forgive me, Marcel.” He pleaded taking out the last bit of his pride. “If you don’t get me my money by the end of this month, Kirikiri will be your new home. Do you fucking hear me?” Marcel’s warning ringed as loud as a church bell in Debare’s ear.
Marcel and the others left leaving Debare to sink in his thoughts of guilt. How would Debare find fifty grand in less than a month’s time? It would be only a miracle that can save him.
Debare had no choice but to leave his office for the day, thinking about what he should do to repay Marcel’s debt. He walked pass Daraja, embarrassed and pitiful, with his head down. His heart ached for his secretary, and how she would be left unemployed. He promised himself he would fix the problem as soon as possible, bring Balogun Jewellery to Its feet and correct his wicked ways.
The day passed by, and Debare paced alone in his apartment. It was not an understatement he was living in a luxurious flat, designed and done to his personal taste. The vodka bottle in his hand was half empty, and his mind was rushing with thoughts he couldn’t bear.
“How could this happen?”
He slammed the bottle against the wall, pieces of glass shattering everywhere on the floor. It was the least he was expecting, disappointed at himself.
After hours of thinking and calling around to all of his friends, one of them told him to visit a man named Shakale Oni in the loan shark district of Lagos. He told Debare that Shakale would be at the Lexus Bar around 10 PM. Shakale Oni wouldn’t be hard to spot because he wore an eye patch. Unfortunately, the Lexus Bar was in a neighbourhood notorious for being swarmed with drug addicts, prostitutes, and thieves. Debare felt he had no other option.
He got dressed in his casual clothes, lighting a cigarette on his way to the bar. The location was known as the darkest neighbourhood In Lagos because there were few street lights. As he neared the place, he received weird looks from its people passing by. They knew he was a total stranger.
The neighbourhood was filled with all forms of evil which he wasn’t used to seeing on a daily basis. As he treaded deeper in the area, he got used to being stared at and just focused his eyes on finding the one person he knew that might help him. Shakale Oni seemed to be his last hope out of the mess he put himself in. Debare reached the Lexus Bar and ordered himself a drink.
Hoping for the man with the eyepatch to show up, Debare started losing hope after an hour of waiting. Debare’s drinking that night wasn’t the plan, but his nerves were getting the best of him. While sipping on what he believed was his last drink, a group of men entered the bar, dressed in rather elegant suits that were odd for that kind of environment. He noticed in the middle of them, stood a man with a leather eye patch. Bingo. It had to be Shakale, judging from his appearance.
Debare watched the men as they made their way to the table not too far away from where he stood. Taking immediate action, he walked over and shouted, “Shakale Oni?” acting like he knew him. Catching his attention, Shakale looked up at Debare with displeasure.
“What?” Shakale answered rudely, wanting to get rid of him.
“I wanted to have a word with you if that’s possible,” he said, filled with hope.
“Not in the mood today.” He shrugged him off, scramming him away with his hand.
Debare stood his ground in front of their table, not moving an inch. “I need to ask you something, sir.”
Shakale first looked at him with a long pause and then with a more sinister look. Tensed up, Debare’s heart began racing. He had never encountered such a situation of this heightened desperation.
“I need monies from you to lend me.”
The table sat in silence, and after a few seconds delay, which seemed like an eternity, Shakale cracked a smile.
“Why did you say that from the very beginning? Sit down,” he instructed him, pointing to the chair. Debare sat down on the opposite side of the Shakale's men. “How much do you need?” Shakale asked him while taking a sip of Scotch.
“Fifty grand.” He couldn’t meet Shakale’s eyes, somehow ready for rejection.
The amount of money wasn’t something easy to find, although Debare looked like he was filled with wealth. Shakale’s entourage seemed focused on his drink, in suspense. After a long pause, Shakale stares at Debare.
“What do you need it for?” Shakale asked suspiciously thinking Debare could have been sent by the police.
“I’m in debt, sir.” Debare lowered his head in embarrassment. He never would have thought he would end up like this, borrowing money from loan sharks.
Shakale nodded his head, being in thought. He wasn’t sure if he should give him the money. Debare appeared as a man that didn’t belong there, resembling someone of a higher class.
After another long pause, and longer glance from his entourage, Shakale replies, “Give me a day, you’ll have the money.” He continued sipping on his Scotch, turning his attention to the night scene while flashing a crooked smile. Debare finally felt at ease.
“Come first thing in the morning.” Shakale gave him a salute, signalling it was already considered done.
“Thank you, sir.” Debare expressed his gratitude while clumsily tripping over as he prepared to leave. Now that Debare had the money, he needed to call Marcel to make the delivery. Shakale offered him a drink, but Debare declined excusing himself to the bathroom. He locked himself in the last stall, dialling Marcel’s number.
After a few rings, Marcel picked up the phone, annoyed. “What do you want!?” The angry tone ringed through the phone filling the bathroom.
Debare cleared his throat, nervous. “Uh, I have your money.” A moment of silence.
Then, Marcel spoke while chuckling on the line, “Wonder who you scammed to get fifty grand?”
“Friday, your office.” Debare cut the line, not wanting to hear from him anymore. He was fed up but relieved and was ready to call it a night.
The bathroom was empty, and Debare was glad no one heard his call. Putting the phone in his pocket, he turned on the tap and splashed his face with water. For at least this moment, he tried to forget where he was located, and what he had done to find the money. Shakale’s people were more dangerous than Marcel’s, and he was thinking of the worst-case scenarios that could happen if he didn’t return Shakale or Marcel’s money on time.
His hands gripped both sides of the sink, breathing heavily. “Fifty grand? That seems like a stretch.”
A strange voice startled him from his thoughts. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and saw a man dressed in black standing behind him.
“Excuse me?” Debare questioned confused.
The man smiled. “It seems like a lot of money.”
He raised his eyebrows as the man continued talking and carefully turned around to face the man. “Were you eavesdropping on my conversation?” He scrunched his eyebrows in confusion to why this man was questioning him.
“Not really, let’s put it this way.” He paused. “Let’s say I know a lot of things.” The man locked the bathroom door.
Debare was already preparing himself for a fight.
“Well, I mean I work for people that know a lot of things.” He corrected himself taking out a black object from his belt that resembled a gun.
“Who are you?” Debare was now alarmed. He rushed to the door, but the man blocked his way.
“Count me as your knight in shining armour,” he calmly replied.
“What? What the fuck do you want? I have nothing."
“I’m an MI6 agent, and here to recruit you,” he explained in a serious tone. Much to his dismay the man he wanted to recruit chuckled. “Nice try now move.”
Debare pushed him out of his way, not buying his ‘joke’ although the man was speaking the truth. He tried unlocking the door, but the man behind him grabbed his neck into a chokehold, restricting his breathing.
Unable to breathe, Debare tried his best to fight back but failed. His eyes rolled in the back of his head and with his last strengths, he tapped the man’s hand signalling he was giving up. The agent released him, and Debare gasped for air, regaining his consciousness.
“What do you want?” Debare hissed struggling to catch his breath. The man kneeled beside him aiming the gun at his head, “I can turn you into the police right now, and you can rot in Kirikiri till you die.” The man’s rage showed as he pushed the gun to Debare’s temple.
“Please don’t.” He closed his eyes shut, pleading to spare him.
“Get up, you coward!” The man instructed him with his gun not moving an inch. With his arms on the back of his head, Debare got up sweating in fear.
“Now, you do as I say no questions or funny stuff.” He sighed dialling something on his phone afterward. “Unless you want to be bankrupted or imprisoned, your choice.”
Debare went silent not muttering a word. They left the bathroom and headed for the exit. Debare looked around to see if Shakale was still there, but there was no sign of him or his entourage. Once they got out outside, he was forced inside of a black van.
After a few minutes of silence, Debare spoke. “Listen, I’m in debt sir, and I borrowed money from one of the biggest and most dangerous loan sharks in Nigeria at that bar. At least, let me take care of my business tomorrow.” He hoped that the agent would set him free.
“I’ll fix your problem, just sit back and prepare yourself for tomorrow. We have a long flight ahead of us.”
“Welcome, to the United Kingdom.” A woman dressed in a passenger service agent uniform welcomed Debare.
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