Set in London, A Lot of Nerve tells the story of Jones, a chancer, always on the lookout for an opportunity and the next big deal.
Noticing two obvious gangsters in a pub who are exchanging papers for cash, Jones cleverly inserts himself in the middle of their deal. The papers turn out to be stolen technical reports. Jones asks an old friend, Paradine, for help in interpreting them. A few nights later, two detectives turn up at Jones’ door; Paradine has been brutally murdered, presumably because of the papers. There is an instant spark between Jones and the female detective, Hernandez. Jones is subsequently approached by MI5 who are trying to discover who the gangsters are selling the papers to. They had an agent on the inside, but he has disappeared. Jones is blackmailed into infiltrating the gang.
Hernandez is officially warned off the murder case, but she decides to keep investigating. She and Jones form an uneasy alliance, although the chemistry between them is electric. Jones manufactures a meeting with the gang leader, Tomassetti, a seemingly harmless old man with a penchant for drinking Horlicks. One of Tomassetti’s henchmen, Carrot, takes an instant and belligerent dislike to Jones. The feeling is mutual. The gang are currently a man down as one of their number was killed for being disloyal. Jones concludes that this must be the MI5 operative. The old man decides to test Jones to see how well he can handle himself. Despite attempts by Carrot to sabotage him, Jones succeeds spectacularly. He is now fully accepted by Tomassetti, leaving Carrot under a cloud. The old man shows Jones around his operation, including taking him to a secret location where he stores the records of all his criminal operations. Jones manages to steal some files and smuggles them out to Hernandez. He also discovers that the technical papers are being sold to the American government.
Tomassetti realises the files are missing and immediately blames Jones. Beaten up and held captive, Jones is about to be killed, but is reprieved when Tomassetti discovers that Carrot was responsible. It transpires that Hernandez has skilfully set Carrot up. Carrot is now to be killed in Jones’ place. Hernandez and Jones meet. He gives her all the details she needs to be able to arrest Tomassetti and whoever in the police he is paying off. They talk about their relationship. She tells him that there isn’t one but hints that there might be. Jones contacts MI5 to tell them what he has discovered. They admit that he wasn’t recruited to find out what was going on, but to take suspicion away from their own agent. Despite several previous theories to the contrary, the stolen papers relate to the development of a new super nerve agent that is intended to replace Britain’s nuclear deterrent, however the results are being doctored to convince the Americans that their attempts are unsuccessful. Jones is paid £500,000, which he subsequently gives to Paradine’s widow, untouched.
The story ends when Jones reveals that in the conversation with MI5, he discovered that their agent was not, as he thought, the man that Tomassetti had killed, but Carrot.
After working in finance for Marks & Spencer for more years than was good for him, Ian turned to writing for a living, focussing mainly on the world of football. He has worked freelance for a variety of magazines and for Fulham Football Club where he was their staff writer. Born and raised in inner London, an upbringing reflected in his current writing, he presently lives in the US where his wife is on assignment.
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