Book Jacket


rank 5907
word count 87314
date submitted 09.11.2010
date updated 30.08.2011
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Crime
classification: moderate

The Unluckiest Woman in Belfast

Maria Coyle

What do you do when money laundering, blackmail, death, and a troublesome face from the past surface, and you're a stranger in the city?


Belfast is a city with a history for Sian O’Neill, so when she is sent there on a business trip, all she wants is to get in, get out, and keep it simple.
Instead she finds evidence of money laundering in the books of her client, Provincial Bank, and witnesses her teenage sweetheart roughing up a suspect during an arrest. This pales into insignificance though, when the manager of the team dedicated to preventing money laundering at Provincial is found dead. Sian finds herself accused of killing her, and only hours after she is interrogated, wakes up in casualty – the victim of a hit and run.
What is at the bottom of the quagmire in Provincial?

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1990s, belfast, crime, information technology, ireland, romance, white collar crime

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Good Growth

Joe’s fortieth birthday party didn’t hold great promise to Reena. A night in the pub with his friends, mainly mates from a weekly soccer game as far as she knew, was not her idea of fun. It was the first time she met his younger brother Andrew though. It was the main reason she turned up. She was curious about what the other McGrath men would be like. He had Joe’s handsome features, but at first seemed more aloof. It came across as arrogance. Reena had noticed him come in. He took the room in with his first glance, and then dismissed it with a second. He was wearing an Armani suit that made him look older than he was.

Luckily for Reena, Andrew found the prospect of Joe’s mates as enticing as she did. He stayed out of their way and chatted to her all night. She knew he was in business of some kind, he flush with cash. He never once let her put her hand in her pocket the whole night long. She found the chauvinism from someone younger than her comic. But if he was dumb enough to do it, let him, she figured. Joe rejoined them when his soccer mates departed. By the end of the night they were drunk, and among the last stragglers hanging on to a table at the back of the pub.

Suddenly Andrew stood up. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

“What does your brother do?” Reena asked Joe as she watched him walk towards a bearded man at the front door of the pub.

“He’s a car dealer.”

“Car dealer? He must be doing well. He’s the best dressed man in the room.”

Joe fixed her with a possessive look. “Better than me?”

“My apologies. He’s the second best dressed man in the room. And, no doubt was only able to be so because of your influence.” Joe’s mouth stretched out in a shark-like grin. She had grown accustomed to this. He didn’t care for her. Fine, the lack of feeling was mutual. While he had a rival he was attentive and charming. When there was none, he acted as if she was barely there. He was all about the competition, having what the other guy wanted, and rubbing his nose in it. It was the other guy’s defeat he craved, not her and she knew it. He really was Harry McElroy’s favourite son she thought. Simple-minded.

At the door, the bearded man acknowledged Andrew with a nod. He didn’t speak. He slipped something to Andrew that he put in his trouser pocket. The bearded man left. Andrew came back to the table. He put his arm around Joe. “It’s time to go home and finish the night off properly, pal.” Joe looked at him through bleary eyes. Andrew retrieved a small bag of white powder from his pocket, and for a flash of an instant showed it to Joe. He made it disappear back into his pocket just as quickly. Joe smiled at him. “Murph’s finest. Fresh in today” Andrew said encouragingly.

“Let’s go back to my place” Joe said, putting his arm around Reena, and standing up to go.

The following morning Reena woke fully clothed in Joe’s bed. He was next to her, also fully dressed. She could hear the radio on in the kitchen, and she could smell coffee, eggs and bacon. She got out of bed, and went to the bathroom. She freshened herself up as best she could in day old clothes, that still reeked of the previous night’s perfume. She went to the kitchen. Andrew had the table set, and was cooking breakfast for three.

He smiled when she walked in. “Reena, how are you. How’s the morning after?”

“Delicate” Reena answered non-committally. “Joe’s still asleep.”

“Not for long, the smell of breakfast always wakes him. Have some bread, it’ll give you a bit of soakage. Coffee’s coming.”

“You went out for bread! What time is it?”

“Twelve thirty.”

Reena groaned. “What made you get up so early?”

Andrew smiled. “Business. I had to look after a little bit of business, so I got the makings of breakfast on my way back.”

“Bless you. Hope the business went well.”

“It did.”

“Did you have to drop off a car to a new owner or something? It’s Sunday morning, it couldn’t have waited till tomorrow?”

Andrew gave her an appraising look. “No. I was collecting from a cash customer. He prefers if I carry the risk of having it around.”

“I hope you have a safe. A car’s a big ticket item to pay for in cash.”

“It is. But there are always people who will want to deal in it.”

Reena nodded. “It must be awkward to lodge, if you get a lot of that kind of deal. Once you go over ten grand all of the warning lights start flashing.”

“So Joe tells me. It’s inconvenient... All of this regulation.”

“Hah! Tell me about it, constantly gets in the way of making a profit. To make it worse, I know that part of the money my department makes goes towards funding the compliance department. So I actually pay my own persecutors. Can you believe it?”

Andrew shook his head.

“God knows what a sad, pathetic little mind it must take to tolerate such work...” Reena carped. “Well I suppose I should be grateful that I can keep the likes of Joe’s ex in a job.”

Andrew laughed. “Aw Reena, you know that compared to you, she was a woman of no substance.”

Reena smiled. He’d Joe’s looks and charm it seemed. “Bad enough as it is for me though, it must be much worse for you. Small business, trying to hold everything together...”

Andrew nodded.

A silence developed as Reena thought about it for a minute. “I suppose you could work your way around it, if your company was structured right.”

“Morning all.” Joe walked into the room. He hadn’t changed. “Something smelled good enough to wake me.” He walked over to Reena and gave her a kiss.

Andrew was plating up. “Morning” he replied, but he was concentrating on Reena. “How do you mean, if it was structured right?” Joe turned to see what she had to say too.

“A good accountant will structure your business in the most tax efficient way. If you do services as well as sales for example, they might set up two separate companies for that. You have to file two sets of company accounts, but the tax saving should leave you better off. If it doesn’t, you don’t set up the separate company. Do you follow me?” Andrew nodded, so Reena continued. “I was just thinking that if your business was structured as a number of small companies like that, you could have separate business accounts for each, and split the money you get from cash deals across them. Nobody would be any the wiser.”

Andrew nodded thoughtfully. He looked in Joe’s direction. “I didn’t realise that that sort of thing could be so useful. What do you think?

Joe answered as he made up a bacon and egg sandwich from the contents of his plate. “If that’s the way your cash flow is going, definitely it’s worthwhile. It’s just a matter of trading off how much it’ll cost to maintain, versus the convenience of getting the cash into the system easily.”

Andrew smiled. “I’m seeing good growth, it’ll pay me back in no time.”



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