Read Ammunition Online

Authors: Ken Bruen




Also by Ken Bruen




Shades of Grace




Rilke on Black


The Hackman Blues


Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice


A White Arrest


Taming the Alien


The McDead


London Boulevard


The Guards


The Killing of the Tinkers




The Magdalen Martyrs






The Dramatist




A Fifth of Bruen


American Skin




This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

. Copyright © 2007 by Ken Bruen. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Bruen, Ken.


Ammunition / Ken Bruen.—1st ed.


p. cm.


ISBN-13: 978-0-312-34145-9


ISBN-10: 0-312-34145-8


1. Brant, Detective Sergeant (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Roberts, Chief Inspector (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 3. Police—England—London—Fiction. 4. London (England)—Fiction. I.Title.


PR6052.R785A84 2007



10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2




I have never experienced institutionalised wrongdoing, blindness, arrogance and prejudice on anything like the scale accepted as routine in the Met.


—Sir Robert Mark,
Metropolitan Police Commissioner




BRANT WAS ON his third whisky, knocking it back like a good un. He was feeling real bad, Ed McBain was dead, and nothing could ease the loss he felt. He muttered:


The barman, highly attentive to Brant’s needs, asked:


Brant gave him the granite eyes, said:

‘I want something, you’ll know.’

Brant’s rep was legendary. In South-East London, he was feared by cops and villains alike. Numerous attempts had been made by the brass to get rid of him, but he had survived every effort.

London was in a state of high alert. Since the terrorist attacks, an air of paranoia ruled. It wasn’t that the populace wondered if the bombers would strike again, but a question of where and when.

The only hero Brant had ever had was McBain, and he’d collected all the novels. He had the latest one. Alas, now the
final one, and he couldn’t bring himself to read it. He was about to shout another drink when he heard:


He turned to see Porter Nash, the recently promoted Porter Nash, dressed in a very flash suit. Porter was the only openly gay cop on the squad and was probably their best investigator. Brant, who hated everyone, had an unlikely friendship with him. Neither of them could quite figure out why they enjoyed each other’s company, but fuck, go figure, they just went with it. Brant said:

‘Some suit.’ Porter took the stool beside Brant, asked:

‘You like it?’

Brant signalled for the barman, took a long look at the suit, said:

‘It helps if you’re gay.’

Porter laughed, most times it was the only way to go. You had dealings with Brant, you needed a great sense of humour or a sawn-off. Brant ordered two large whiskies and Porter protested:

‘I wanted some vodka.’

Brant blew it off, said:

‘With lime, I suppose. Have a real drink for once.’

The barman knew Brant, of course, everybody knew him, but the other geezer, he was new and very worrying. He had manners, said thank you when he plonked the drinks down, so he couldn’t be a cop. But he had a look, despite the nancy suit, he had a way of holding himself, that was… not to be
fucked with. The barman would keep an eye, see what he could discover.

Brant clinked his glass against Porter’s, said:

‘I think the bar guy fancies you.’

Porter took a quick glance, said:

‘Not my type.’

Brant knocked back a lethal gulp, Porter sipped at his then, seeing Brant’s expression, took a larger sip, said:

‘Could I get some water for this?’

Brant was lighting a cig. He’d switched to a so-called low-tar brand, it wasn’t doing it. Porter, six months without smoking, inhaled the smoke greedily, resigned himself to the neat whisky, asked:

‘So what do you think of the Yank?’

Brant looked at his watch and, if he’d only known, he had maybe ten minutes before he was shot.

The Yank was L. M. Wallace, a terrorist expert. All the squads had been assigned one, the reasoning being that they knew when and where an attack might happen. As the Americans spoke of 9/11, the Brits, alas, now had 21/7. Brant stubbed out the cig, said:

‘Haven’t met him yet.’

His tone suggested he could give a fuck, but he asked:

‘You met him?’

Porter nodded. He’d been assigned as mentor, guide, nanny, what the fuck ever, mainly to ensure the guy was made welcome. He said:

‘He’s big, I’ll give him that.’

Brant laughed, his special filthy one that had no relation to humour, and he said:

‘Hung, eh?’

Porter finished the drink and felt the warmth caress his stomach, the artificial ease. He’d take any relief he got, said:

‘The guy is about fourteen stone and has a face that looks like someone blasted him with a blowtorch, and his credentials, impressive, I’ve got to admit.’

Nothing, nothing in the world impressed Brant. He asked:

‘Impress me.’

The shooter entered the bar, the Browning Automatic in his jacket. He had racked the slide a moment before and was, so to speak, cocked. He saw the two cops at the bar. Got his stance in gear.

Porter said:

‘FBI Anti-Terrorist Squad, Special Ops, Homeland Security, and a whole batch of citations.’

Brant digested this and was about to make a smart-ass reply.

The shooter had the Browning out. He was about to squeeze the trigger when a woman pushed open the door, knocking him slightly off balance. He muttered:


Tried to regain his balance, pulling on the trigger. Released a barrage of shots. Bottles exploded behind the counter, pieces of the counter flew in the air, and Porter pushed Brant to the floor, covering his body with his own. The gunman,
seeing the cops down, hoped to fuck he’d hit something and legged it. People were screaming, a drunk, sozzled in the corner, came out of his stupor, asked:

‘Is it Christmas?’

Porter was on his radio, screaming:

‘Shooting, gunman heading from the King’s Arms on the Kennington Road.’ He stood up, the smell of cordite, mixed with the spilled booze, was heady. He looked down. Brant wasn’t moving and Porter bent, put out his arm, saw the hole in Brant’s back, he screamed:

‘Get a fucking ambulance.’

To his radio, he shouted:

‘Officer down, repeat, officer down.’

The drunk began to hum ‘Jingle Bells.’

Ammunition. Powder, shot, shell, etc. Offensive missiles generally.


—dictionary definition


WHEN PC McDONALD heard Brant had been shot, he nearly punched the air, wanted to shout:

‘Fucking brilliant.’

But he was in the police canteen and had to act like the others, pretend to be shocked, outraged, jumping to his feet, ready to seek out the shooter. He was shocked all right, couldn’t believe that someone had finally got Brant. He hated that bastard with all his heart. There’d been a time, Jesus, how long ago? McDonald had been golden, the kid on the way up, earmarked by the Super as his boy. All he had to do, simple really, was ensure that Brant got fucked and good.

Piece of cake.

Alas, piece of very poisoned cake.

Brant was such a wild card, such a maverick, that all you had to do was watch him, let the proof fall into your lap, bingo, he was gone. But Brant got wind of it, and ever since, McDonald’s career was in the toilet. Fuckup followed fuckup and always, behind each new disaster was the smirk of Brant. It culminated in a last-ditch effort to be a hero and yeah, that
went south and worse, McDonald got shot. The Met were in dire straits and desperately needed good press so they managed to have McDonald appear some sort of half-arsed hero, and though he kept his job, he was a figure of derision to the others. A leper in blue, to be avoided, and the Super, just buying time till he quietly dumped him.

Meantime, he was drawing all the shite assignments and like, who was he gonna call? The duties usually given to rookies were now thrown to him. His current brief? Standing outside shopping centres, giving directions to pissed-off pedestrians. He needed something major, something biblical, to turn his career around, but for the life of him, he couldn’t come up with anything. Nigh resigned to his fate, he’d begun looking at security guard advertisements, truly, the bottom rung of a cop’s descent into hell.

WPC Andrews was the exact opposite of McDonald. She was relatively new, had gotten the break he’d dreamed about, she’d been a reluctant hero, and even Falls, who cut slack for nobody, seemed to almost like her. On hearing about Brant, she began to weep, she still bought the crap, how the downing of one of their own diminished them all. She actually voiced this to Chief Inspector Roberts, who looked at her like she was mad. She put this down to shock, she knew how close he was to Brant.

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