The enemy

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Desmond Bagley

The Enemy (1977)

and strikes again, as George Ashton
flees for his life after an acid attack
on his daughter.

Who is his enemy? Only Malcolm Jaggard, his future son-in-law, can
guess-when, as a government agent, he sees Ashton's secret file.

In a desperate manhunt Jaggard
outwits the KGB and stalks Ashton
to the silent and wintry forests ofSweden. But his search for the real
enemy takes him further still...

© Literary Publications Limited 1977

To all the DASTards especially

Iwan and Inga Jan and Anita Hemming and Annette

We have met the enemy, and he is ours.
OLIVER HAZARD PERRY - Heroic American Commodore

We have met the enemy, and he is us.
WALT KELLY - Subversive Sociological Cartoonist


I metPenelope Ashton at a party thrown by Tom Packer. That may be a bit misleading because it wasn't the kind of party that gets thrown very far; no spiked" punch or pot, and no wife-swapping or indiscriminate necking in the bedrooms at two in the morning.
Just a few people who got together over a civilized dinner with a fair amount of laughter and a hell of a lot of talk. But it did tend to go on andwhat with Tom's liberal hand with his after-dinner scotches I didn't feel up to driving, so when I left 1 took a taxi.

Penny Ashton came with Dinah and Mike Huxham; Dinah was Tom's sister. I still haven't worked out whether I was invited as a makeweight for the odd girl or whether she was brought to counterbalance me. At any rate when we sat at table the sexes were even and I was sitting nextto her. She was a tall, dark woman, quiet and composed in manner and not very forthcoming. She was no raving beauty, but few women are; Helen of Troy may have launched a thousand ships but no one was going to push the boat out for Penny Ashton, at least not at first sight. Not that she was ugly or anything like that. She had a reasonably good figure and a reasonably good face, and she dressed well.I think the word to describe her would be average. I put her age at about twenty-seven and I wasn't far out. She was twenty-eight.

As was usual with Tom's friends, the talk ranged far and wide; Tom was a rising star in the upper reaches of the medical establishment and he was eclectic in his choice of dining companions and so the talk was good. Penny joined in but she tended to listen ratherthan talk and her interjections were infrequent. Gradually I became aware that when she did speak her comments were acute, and there was a sardonic cast to her eye. when she was listening to something she didn't agree with. I found her spikiness of mind very agreeable.

After dinner the talk went on in the living-room over coffee and brandy. I opted for scotch because brandy doesn't agree withme, a circumstance Tom knew very well because he poured one of his measures big enough to paralyse an elephant and left the jug of iced water convenient to my elbow.

As is common on these occasions, while the dinner-table conversation is general and involves everybody, after dinner the party tended to split into small groups, each pursuing their congenial arguments and riding their hobby-horseshard and on a loose rein. To my mild surprise I found myself opting for a group of two-myself and Penny Ashton. I suppose there were a dozen of us there, but I settled in a comer and monopolized Penny Ashton. Or did she monopolize me? It could have been six of one and half-a-dozen of the other; it usually is in cases like that.

I forget what we talked about at first but gradually ourconversation became more personal. I discovered she was a research biologist specializing in genetics and that she worked with Professor Lumsden at University College, London. Genetics is the hottest and most controversial subject in science today and Lumsden was in the forefront of the battle. Anyone working with him would have to be very bright indeed and I was suitably impressed. There was a lot more to...