The Emerald CrossChapter 4

Emily got into work early the day after the party. She knew she had a busy day ahead. As soon as Danny Connolly and Liam Murphy came in she called them into her office for a briefing.

"Good news, our team has been given a new mission," she began. "Something a little out of the ordinary, this time. A few days ago a most interesting letter arrived at Garda Headquarters. It's from Charles Rundell, a jeweller based in London. I've already run a check on him and he seems to be exactly what he claims, the owner of a very successful jewellery business. Rundell's isn't a chain; they're a small but exclusive shop, very pricey as you can imagine. He tells us in his letter about a recent visit to Antwerp in Belgium, where he saw in a jeweller's shop a very unusual platinum cross, set with four large emeralds. The emeralds he says are unique, in fact he is certain he knows where they came from. Of course they are stolen, but that's not the main reason for our interest. No, if that was all they wouldn't need us. There's a long story connected with these emeralds.

A hundred years ago, some very valuable jewels were stolen from a safe in Dublin Castle. They were given to the Order of the Knights of St Patrick by Edward VII and were usually known as the Irish Crown Jewels. It was believed even at the time that the jewels might have been stolen by an extreme nationalist group to raise money for terrorist activity. Certainly money was spent by these groups that can't be accounted for from any of their usual sources. We know that some of these groups still exist today. Our agents who have managed to infiltrate these extreme Nationalist factions believe that they are trying to raise money once more, to try and sabotage the peace talks. The Secret IRB, to name one of these groups, never agreed to the ceasefire and the surrender of weapons, and they hate the idea of negotiation with the British. That may be why the emeralds have appeared at this time, if they are what Charles Rundell believes they are, part of the Irish Crown Jewels. What we need to do is first, try to confirm that they are indeed the missing emeralds, second, trace the person or organisation who sold them to the jewellers in Antwerp. If we can find out who they are we may have a chance to stop them before anyone gets hurt. Any questions?"

"One thing I don't quite get," Liam asked, "why is Rundell so sure these are the stolen emeralds? If they went missing a hundred years ago, he can't have seen them. I mean, he's not more than a hundred years old, is he?"

"Good question," Emily replied. "The original jewels were set by one of his ancestors. At that time the business was known as Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. The king gave them the jewels which were not only the emeralds but also some rubies and diamonds. Rundell's ancestor had the job of making them into a jewelled cross and badge to be worn by the Grand Master of the Order of St Patrick. He must have been proud of this commission, because he left detailed notes describing the work he had done including sketches and paintings of the original stones and of the finished products. Charles Rundell inherited and studied these papers. It's on the basis of this evidence that he believes the emeralds he saw are identical to the ones in the Irish Crown Jewels. Apparently emeralds of this size and quality are extremely rare."

"A cross with four large emeralds? I remember seeing something like that not too long ago," Danny mused. He was the geek of the team, an expert on anything to do with computers. His fingers moved rapidly over the keyboard of his laptop. "No, that's not it. I wonder if... Ah! Bingo! Look at this!"

He turned the laptop around to show Emily and Liam the picture on the screen. It was obviously a photograph taken at some social function. It had the slightly blurred look associated with pictures taken by a hidden camera. At the centre of the picture, surrounded by men in sombre suits, stood a beautiful woman in an evening dress cut very low at the front. From her neck dangled a large cross on a chain in white metal, set with four large green stones.

"This is a picture taken a few months ago at an occasion we suspected was a fundraiser for the Secret IRB," Danny went on. "Our agent, Jim Nugent, managed to get in by becoming a temporary waiter with the catering company. He didn't manage to overhear anything interesting but he did at least get some photos. When I heard you mention the Secret IRB in connection with an emerald cross, I remembered seeing this."

"Well done, Danny! That's a very good start. Will you be able to find out who that woman is?"

"Shouldn't be too difficult. I'll ask Jim if he caught her name, otherwise I've got some photo matching software that was made for exactly this kind of thing."

Later that day, Danny managed to reach the undercover agent on the phone. Jim remembered the party where he had taken photos and was happy to answer Danny's questions.

"There was one very attractive woman there; she really stood out, you couldn't help noticing her. I remember her name was Belle Mahoney. She's from one of those old Nationalist political families. The man she was with was Dr Paul Robinson, a lecturer at Trinity College. We don't know much about him. If you do find out anything useful about those two, I'd be grateful if you'd pass it on to us. We can't keep an eye on as many people as we would like; it's all about budgets these days, isn't it? Well, good luck, Danny, see you soon."

Danny searched the Garda database for the two names, but couldn't find very much about either of them. Belle Mahoney had donated money to Nationalist political groups but that did not mean she was a terrorist. Using Google he found a whole heap of references to Dr Robinson, mostly about books and papers he had published. He specialised in the ancient history of Ireland and was a respected teacher at Trinity College.

That gave Danny an idea. He was on friendly terms with everyone in Ireland who had an interest in using computers or technology in the police or security field. If there was a training course or convention for people with these interests you would be sure to find Danny in attendance. One of the people he had met in this way was an ex-Garda officer, Mary Healy, now one of the people in charge of security at Trinity College. He would pay a visit to her and see what he could find out about the mysterious Dr Robinson.

The next day he went to the main security office of Trinity College to find that his friend was luckily not too busy to see him. "It will be a pleasure to show you round, Danny," she said, "Was there anything you particularly wanted to see? The History department? No problem, come with me." They strolled through the lovely old buildings and gardens of the university, talking about the latest advances in fingerprint technology. It was not far to the History department.

"Dr Paul Robinson works here, doesn't he?" Danny asked.

"Aha! Is that who you're interested in? He's a bit of an old-fashioned Nationalist, but as far as I know he's never done anything against the law. I'll show you where his room is. Will you need to speak to him?"

"No, I just want to find out as much as I can about him and any associates he may have, particularly any extremist Nationalist connections. I would prefer he didn't find out I'd been asking questions."

"Well, I'm certainly not going to tell him. There's his office at the end of the corridor."

"Is that a CCTV camera?"

"It certainly is, and it's pointed right at Robinson's door. If you really need to know who goes in and out of his office, you can have the old tapes. But I warn you, it will take you a long time to look through them. It's not exactly going to be exciting viewing!"

"Oh, I don't mind a bit of boredom if there's a good chance of a useful lead. Those tapes are my best hope right now."

"Come back to my office and we can look at them together. I can at least identify the university people for you!"

Emily dropped in on Danny towards the end of the day to see what progress he had made in his search for information on Belle Mahoney and Paul Robinson. She found him watching the security tapes on an old monitor connected to a video player. He was fast-forwarding the parts of the tape when there was no movement in the corridor, then stopping the tape to look closely at every visitor to Robinson's office.

"My contact at the university has identified all the lecturers and other employees," he told Emily, "but there are still a few people on these tapes that I haven't yet managed to identify. I'll have to see if the picture quality is good enough to get a match with the photo recognition software I was telling you about." He stopped the video as a tall fair-haired man walked along the corridor and stopped outside Dr Robinson's door. "This man, for example. I have no idea who he is."

"I can help you there," said Emily, peering at the flickering image on the monitor. "His name is Jason Doyle and he's a member of the Dublin Kendo Club."

Trinity College, Dublin