Perfect Strangers 2 (Pages 50-162)

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The novel has taken a turning I didn’t expect at all.

While house-sitting for Lana, Sophie invites her friend Francesca in. They discover some invitations to several posh events, and they decide to use them themselves. They go to some kind of charity function with lots of celebrities attending, but Francesca has to leave early. There Sophie meets Nick Cooper, who tells her he is some businessman that invest in oil and gas. From that moment on Nick and Sophie are close and they spend five wonderful days. Sophie believes she is in love, and guilt nags at her since she hasn’t told Nick the truth of her circumstances. Nick believes that she is a wealthy businesswoman and Lana’s house is hers. She intends to tell him the truth that day. After spending the night with him, she is on her way to meet a client for her budding fitness business, but while in the taxi she realises she has forgotten her phone with the woman’s address on it, so she returns to the hotel. To her shock she finds Nick in a pool of blood in the bathroom. His throat has been slashed and he is dead.

The police interview Sophie, who is now the prime suspect. From her interview she learns that Nick lied about his name, and he wasn’t Nick Cooper, but Nick Beddingfield. Sophie is shocked, grief-stricken, and confused. As she returns to her small flat, she finds out she has been burgled. Scared she calls Inspector Ian Fox, who assures her that he will be with her as soon as she can. Sophie takes a few things from her apartment, and as she does that, she remembers the man Nick talked to at the party where she met him. The man Josh McCormack gave her his card, so she calls him, and even though the man is reluctant at first, he agrees to meet her. It is when she leaves the flat, intending to go to Josh, that she is collared by Ruth Boden, who is investigating the murder. Sophie doesn’t want to talk to her and leaves.

Sophie meets Josh on her houseboat. The only thing Josh tells him that Nick was actually a con man, and in all likelihood he was targeting her to trick her out of money. Sophie is once more shocked. Josh won’t tell her more and orders her to leave. Then when she is leaving, she is accosted by two Russian men who threaten her. Josh appears, and taking hold of her hand, they flee with the two men hot on their tracks. They even had to jump into the river to escape them. They eventually make it to a garage that belongs to Josh. There she realises the man has heaps of counterfeit products. So Josh is as untrustworthy as Nick. Yet, Josh wants to help her. He advises her against calling the police as she doesn’t know who she can trust.It is clear that the Russian men believe she has something that allegedly Nick gave her, and that must be the reason why Nick was murdered. Sophie knows that Nick was in Paris recently for some business, and that is where Josh says they will go. So early that morning they leave for Paris, Josh using a friend’s passport, and as they reach Paris, he tells her that they will find out what Nick was up to here.

In London Ruth the day before Ruth followed Sophie to the boathouse and witnessed the exchange with the Russian men. She called the police, and Ian Fox appeared. Ruth tried to wheedled some information out of him, but Ian is a hard nut to crack. The following day Ruth goes to see Julia Ellis, Sophie’s mother, who has just returned from a trip to Copenhagen. The woman finds her house burgled as well, and as Ruth tells her about Sophie going missing, Julia explains about their financial problems and the Fonzi scheme her husband was a fool to invest in. We learn that the man from the prologue is Michael Asner. He and Peter Ellis studied together, but Ruth is surprised that they were even in contact since they belonged to different spheres. Peter was in accounting, and Michael Asner was a billionaire. Julia explains that they drifted apart for years, but then all of a sudden he contacted Peter for that investment. I wonder if there is a link between Nick’s murder and Sophie’s father’s financial problems.

Very interesting. I am curious to learn how Josh thinks he can find out more about Nick and his dealings. Why are the Russians after Sophie? What is it they think she has? I have the hunch that the book her father gave her on her last birthday, a second-hand copy of a book about castles and princesses, might be the key to the resolution of this mystery. Maybe Nick wasn’t actually targeting her for the money he thought she had, but because of her being Peter Ellis’s daughter.

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