Joe sits in the office of his detective agency in Vientiane, drinking and smoking, watching the rain come down, and reading trashy fiction:
The book was a worn paperback with a garish, colourful cover. It showed a multi-story building in the final stages of collapse, a dusty African street, and people running away from the blast. The book was called Assignment: Africa and, in an only slightly smaller subtitle, announced it as the third title in the series Osama Bin-Laden: Vigilante. The unlikely named of the author was Mike Longshott.
A woman comes into in Joe’s office with a job for him:
At last, she said, ‘I want you find him,’ and her fingers caressed the book; he couldn’t put a name to the look she had in her eyes then; he thought she looked lost, and sad, and a little vulnerable.
‘Mike Longshott,’ she said.