Prologue

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Three masked men ran out of the building, one of them carrying a dark sports bag which knocked awkwardly against his leg. Doors sprang open from the car idling at the curb and the three men flung themselves inside. "Go! Go! GO!" shouted one. Tyres squealing, the car roared off down the street.

The first police on the scene caught a glimpse of the rear end disappearing around a corner and accelerated in pursuit, siren screaming.

A second police car pulled up in front of the bank and two officers hurried inside, eager to assess the damage. When two detectives in plain clothes turned up about ten minutes later, the officers were able to tell them that, fortunately, no-one had been seriously injured but the thieves had escaped with almost a million dollars in cash.

Seeing that the officers were quite capable of interviewing the customers, one of the detectives stepped outside for a moment to cast his eyes over the small crowd which had gathered on the footpath in front of the bank. He wondered whether anyone here had noticed the car idling at the curb, or more importantly the person inside at the wheel.

A young man dressed in dark trousers with a grey coat on top, approached him with a tentative expression on his face. He cleared his throat. "Excuse me, sir, but I think they dropped that bag." He pointed toward the road. Automatically, the detective followed the pointing finger, even as he opened his mouth to say, "What bag?" He blinked. There was a large nylon bag resting in the gutter. His eyebrows met in a deep frown above his nose. He could have sworn it hadn't been there earlier.

He gestured to the nearest uniformed officer to collect the bag then turned back to question the helpful civilian, but the man was no longer at his side. A grey-coated back was just disappearing into the alley beside the bank. The detective smiled grimly. He knew it was a dead end. He set off in pursuit, he had more than a few questions for that young man. He turned the corner and saw his quarry at the end of the alley. "Police!" he called. "Don't move!"

Then the man disappeared, right before his eyes. One minute he was there, and the next second he wasn't. The alley was empty apart from a few pieces of rubbish, scarcely big enough to hide a rat.

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