Zulu billionaire George Sithayi, personal friend and benefactor of the president, is having dinner with a Ukrainian family in Sandton, the rich man’s suburb of Johannesburg, when they are murdered with an AK-47. By presidential order Rian Schröder is told to find the killers. Media speculation is that it was drugs and arms related. What puzzles Rian, who gave the killers access to this fortified property? While he is trying to establish who the target was, George or the Ukrainian, he receives little cooperation from some senior local police officers. Then the killers come gunning for him.
George is chairman of Uthlanga Mining, the biggest coal mining group in South Africa, most of which is exported to Japan, whereas the Ukrainian Alexander Klochko represents Ukrainska Coal, the biggest coal mining operation in the Ukraine that exports its coal to Russia. Ukrainska is located in the Donetsk province which is predominantly Russian-speaking.
Uthlanga Mining owns a stake in Ukrainska Coal which makes George the biggest individual in coal mining globally. His eldest son Mgwazeni is deputy CEO; daughter Mjanisi is P.R.O. but is also a shareholder of Swallow’s Nest, a chain of exclusive boutiques in some European cities; and youngest son Dingiswayo is a playboy who has a reputation for partying, promiscuity, speeding and drunken driving.
George’s P.A. tells Rian she was threatened by the police after she was unable to open his safe. The code to the safe is locked up in a puzzle, the words Magnificent Memories, but no-one can tell Rian what it means. He unravels it and discovers records of off-shore accounts of two billion U.S. dollars in cash. Also a proposal for George to buy a stake in a diamond mining venture in Zimbabwe being jointly developed by Ukrainska and Chinese. Mgwazeni has no knowledge of this. Was someone after the off-shore cash or did they want to subvert the diamond deal? The deposits thereof is rumoured to be bigger than the diamond mine De Beers is developing in Limpopo Province.
Local office manager for Ukrainska, Larisa Kovrizhkna refuses to cooperate. ‘non engleesh,’ she tells Rian but by using persuasive powers he discovers the real power behind Ukrainska is a South African-born Jew Gregory Volskenk who was also supposed to attend the dinner.
Delving deeper into Volskenk’s background a picture emerges of a man who controls an empire of drugs, arms and human trafficking, prostitution, money laundering, and blood diamonds across the globe. Senior Interpol Agent Benoit Decugis advises Rian that Interpol has had Ukrainska under investigation for some time.
After numerous attacks on him Rian wonders who is behind the attacks, the Ukraine syndicate, Russian Mafia or Chinese Triads? With China towns opening up in every city and town the Triads are not far behind. Evidence indicates that some police officers are in a cartel’s pocket.
Rian calls John Berrington, in charge of fraud & economic crime at Interpol, and discovers that Benoit had gone rogue. Who does she work for? She is not to be trusted and Rian decides to keep her close.
Wondering if Volskenk was perhaps the real target of the Sandton hit and seeking answers Rian and Benoit travel to the Ukraine. He meets the CEO of Ukrainska who tells him Volskenk is in London. He also meets Russians who tell him how opium that originates in Afghanistan is transported to Ukraine.
In London Rian is told to go to Towan Blistra, a famous race horse stud in East Anglia, and to come alone. This was the property of the late Richard Rushworth whose grandfather was a partner of Gregory Volskenk’s grandfather Grzegorz Volotzky in Johannesburg more than a century ago. An excited Rian is told two horses have been entered for the Darley July Cup Day races at Newmarket and that is where Volskenk will meet him.
A shoot-out at this famous race track provides Rian with some answers, enough to give him a final clue as to the solution of this case.