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Remote Control (Nick Stone Book 1): Andy McNab's best-selling series of Nick Stone thrillers - now available in the US, with bonus material by [Andy McNab]
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Remote Control (Nick Stone Book 1): Andy McNab's best-selling series of Nick Stone thrillers - now available in the US, with bonus material Kindle Edition

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About the Author

As a teenage delinquent, Andy McNab kicked against society. As a young soldier, he waged war against the IRA in the streets and fields of South Armagh. As a member of 22 SAS, he was at the centre of covert operations for nine years, on five continents. During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, ‘will remain in regimental history for ever’. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS. Since then Andy McNab has become one of the world’s bestselling writers, drawing on his insider knowledge and experience. As well as several non-fiction best-sellers, he is the author of the bestselling Nick Stone and Tom Buckingham thrillers. Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK and works in the film industry, advising Hollywood on everything from covert procedure to training civilian actors to act like soldiers. He continues to be a spokesperson and fundraiser for both military and literacy charities and was awarded a CBE by the Queen in 2017 for services to literacy. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I dialed another number, and Kev answered. His voice was wary, until he recognized mine. "Nick! How's it going?" He sounded really happy to hear me.

"Not too bad. I'm in Washington."

"What are you doing? Nah, I don't want to know! You coming to see us?"

"If you're not busy. I'm leaving tonight, back to the UK. It'll be a quick stop and hello, OK?"

"Any chance of you getting your ass up here right away? I've just got the ball rolling on something, but I'd be interested to know what you think. You'll really like this one!"

"No problem, mate. I'll hire a car at the hotel and head straight over."

"Marsha will want to go into cordon bleu overdrive. I'll tell her when she gets back with the kids. Have a meal with us, then you can go on to the airport. You won't believe the stuff I've got here. Your friends over the water are busy."

"I can't wait."

"Nick, there's one other thing."

"What's that, mate?"

"You owe your goddaughter a birthday present--you forgot again, dickhead."

DRIVING WEST ALONG the freeway, I kept wondering what Kev could want to talk to me about. Friends over the water? Kev had no connection with PIRA that I knew of. He was in the DEA, not the CIA or any antiterrorist department. Besides, I knew that his job was far more administrative than fieldwork now. I guessed he probably just needed some background information.

I thought again about Slack Pat and made a mental note to ask Kev if he had a contact address for the assless one.

I got on the interstate. Tyson's Corner was the junction I had to get off at--well, not really; I wanted the one before but I could never remember it. The moment I left the freeway I was in leafy suburbia. Large houses lined the road, and just about every one seemed to have a seven-seat minivan in the drive and a basketball hoop fixed over the garage.

I followed my nose to Kev's subdivision and turned into their road, Hunting Bear Path. I continued on for about a quarter of a mile until I reached a small parade of shops arranged in an open square with parking spaces, mainly little delis and boutiques specializing in candles and soap. I bought candy for Aida and Kelly that I knew Marsha wouldn't let them have, and a couple of other presents.

Facing the shops was a stretch of vacant ground that looked as if it had been earmarked as the next phase of the development. On and around the churned-up ground were trailers, big stockpiles of girders and other building materials, and two or three bulldozers.

Far up on the right-hand side among the sprawling houses I could just about make out the rear of Kev and Marsha's "deluxe colonial." As I drove closer I could see their Ford Windstar, the thing she threw the kids into to go screaming to school. It had a big furry Garfield stuck to the rear window. I couldn't see Kev's company car, a Caprice Classic that bristled with antennae. They were so ugly only government agents used them. Kev normally kept his in the garage, safely out of sight of predators.

I was looking forward to seeing the Browns again even though I knew that by the end of the day I'd be more exhausted than the kids. I got to the driveway and turned in.

There was nobody waiting. The houses were quite a distance apart, so I didn't see any neighbors, either, but I wasn't surprised--D.C.'s bedroom suburbs were quite dead during weekdays.

I braced myself; on past form, I'd get ambushed as soon as the car pulled up. The kids would jump out at me, with Marsha and Kev close behind. I always made it look as if I didn't like it, but actually I did. The kids would know I had presents. I'd bought a little Tweety-Pie watch for Aida, and Kelly's was the Goosebumps kids' horror books numbers thirty-one to forty--I knew she already had the first thirty. I wouldn't say anything to Aida about forgetting her birthday; hopefully she'd have forgotten.

I got out of the car and walked toward the front door. Still no ambush. So far, so good.

The front door was open about two inches. I thought, here we go, what they want me to do is walk into the hallway like Inspector Clouseau, and there's going to be a Kato-type ambush. I pushed the door wide open and called out, "Hello? Hello? Anyone home?"

Any minute now the kids would be attacking a leg each.

But nothing happened.

Maybe they had a new plan and were all hidden away somewhere in the house, waiting, trying to muffle their giggles.

Inside the front door there was a little corridor that opened up into a large rectangular hallway with doors leading off to the different downstairs rooms. In the kitchen to my right I heard the sound of a female voice singing a station jingle.

Still no kids. I started tiptoeing toward the noise in the kitchen. In a loud stage whisper I said, "Well, well, well--I'll have to leave ... seeing as nobody's here ... What a shame, because I've got two presents for two little girls ..."

To my left was the door to the living room, open about a foot or so. I didn't look in as I walked past, but I saw something in my peripheral vision that at first didn't register. Or maybe it did; maybe my brain processed the information and rejected it as too horrible to be true.

It took a second for it to sink in, and when it did my whole body stiffened.

I turned my head slowly, trying to make sense of what was in front of me.

It was Kev. He was lying on his side on the floor, and his head had been battered to shit by a baseball bat. I knew that, because I could see it on the floor beside him. It was one he'd shown off to me on his last visit, a nice light aluminum one. He'd shaken his head and laughed when he said the local rednecks called them Alabama lie detectors.

I was still rooted to the spot.

I thought: Fucking hell, he's dead--or should be, looking at the state of him.

What about Marsha and the kids?

Was the killer still in the house?

I had to get a weapon.

There was nothing I could do about Kev at the moment. I didn't even think of him, just that I needed one of his pistols. I knew where all five of them were concealed in the house, always above child level, and always loaded and ready, a magazine on the weapon and a round in the chamber. All Marsha or Kev had to do was pick up one of the weapons and blast anyone who was pissed off at Kev--and there were more than a few of those in the drug community. I thought, Fuck, they've got him at last.

Very slowly, I put the presents on the floor. I wanted to listen for any creaking of floors, any movement at all around the house.

The living room was large and rectangular; against one wall was a fireplace. On either side of it were alcoves with bookshelves, and I knew that on the second shelf up, on the right, was the world's biggest, fattest thesaurus, and on top of that, tucked well back out of view, just above head level but close enough to reach up for, was a big fat gun. It was positioned so that as you picked it up it would be in the correct position to fire.

I ran. I didn't even look to see if there was anyone else in the room. Without a weapon, it wouldn't have made much difference.

I reached the bookcase, put my hand up, and took hold of the pistol, spun around, and went straight down onto my knees in the aim position. It was a Heckler & Koch USP 9mm, a fantastic weapon. This one even had a laser sight under the barrel--where the beam hits, so does the round.

I took a series of deep breaths. Once I'd calmed myself, I looked down and "checked chamber." I got the topslide and pulled it back a bit. I could see the brass casing in position.

Now what was I going to do? I had my car outside; if that got reported and traced, there'd be all kinds of drama. I was still under my alias cover; if I got discovered, that meant the job got discovered, and then I'd be in a world of shit.

I had a quick look at Kev, just in case I could see breathing. No chance. His brains were hanging out, his face was pulped. He was dead, and whoever had done it was so blasé they'd just thrown the baseball bat down and left it there.

There was blood all over the glass coffee table and the thick shag pile carpet. Some was even splattered on the patio windows. But strangely, apart from that, there wasn't much sign of a struggle.


I HAD TO MAKE sure Marsha and the kids weren't still here, tied up in another room or held down by some fucker with a gun to their heads. I was going to have to clear the house.

If only room clearing were as easy as Don Johnson made it look in Miami Vice: run up to the door, get right up against the doorframe, jump out into the middle of it, pistol poised, and win the day. A doorway naturally draws fire, so if you stand in one, you're presenting yourself as a target. If there's a guy waiting for you there with a shotgun, you're dead.

The first room I had to clear was the kitchen; it was the nearest, plus there was sound there.

I was on the opposite side of the living room from the kitchen door.

I started to move along the outside wall of the room. I stepped over Kev, not bothering to look at him. The pistol was out in front of me; it had to be ready to fire as soon as I saw a target. Where your eyes go, the pistol goes.

I mentally divided the room into sections. The first was from the couch halfway across the living room, a distance of about twenty feet; I got there and froze by a big TV stereo setup, which gave me a bit of cover while I cleared the door that led back to the hallway. It was still open.

There was nothing in the hallway. As I moved through, I closed the door behind me. I approached the one to the kitchen. The handle was on the right-hand side; I couldn't see the hinges, so it had to open inward. I moved across to the hinged side and listened. Just above the sound of my breath and that of my heart thumping, I could hear some bonehead going on about "Injured at work? Fight for compensation through our expert attorneys--and remember, no win, no fee."

My pistol arm wasn't completely stretched out but the weapon was still facing forward. I leaned over to the handle, turned it, gave the door a push, and moved back. Then I opened it a bit more from the hinge side to see if there was any reaction from inside the kitchen.

I could hear more of the radio and also a washing machine--turning, stopping, turning. But nothing happened.

With the door now open just a few more inches I could see a small part of the kitchen. I moved forward and pushed the door fully open. Still no reaction. Using the doorframe and wall as cover, I edged around slowly.

As the angle between me and the frame increased, I gradually saw more of the room. I took my time so I could take in the information in stages. If I had to react, being two yards away from the doorframe would not affect my shooting, and if it did, I shouldn't be in this business anyway. Using my right thumb, I pushed the laser sight button. A small dot of brilliant red light appeared on the kitchen wall.

I leaned my body over to present as small a target as possible. If anyone was in the kitchen, all they'd see was a very nervous bit of head, and that would be what they'd have to react to, not the full Don Johnson.

The room was like the Marie Celeste. Food was still on the side in the middle of preparation. Kev had said Marsha was going to cook something special. There were vegetables and opened packs of meat. I closed the door behind me. The radio was now playing some soft rock and the washing machine was on spin. The table was half-set--and that really upset me. Kev and Marsha were very strict on the kids' chores; the sight of the half-set table made me feel sick inside because it heightened the chances of the kids being either dead or upstairs with some fucker who had a 9mm stuck in one of their mouths.

I moved slowly to the other end of the room and locked the door to the garage. I didn't want to clear the bottom of the house only for the guys to come in behind me.

I was starting to sweat big-time. Were Marsha and the kids still in the house, or had they made a run for it? I couldn't just leave. The fuckers who'd done that to Kev would be capable of anything. I was starting to feel my stomach churn. What the fuck was I going to find upstairs?

I went out into the hallway again. As I moved, I had my pistol pointing up the stairs, which were now opposite me. The last room uncleared downstairs was Kev's study. I put my ear to the door and listened. I couldn't hear anything. I did the same drill and entered.

It was a small room, just enough space for some filing cabinets, a desk, and a chair. Shelves on the wall facing the desk were full of books and photographs of Kev shooting, Kev running, that sort of stuff. Everything was now on the floor; the filing cabinets were open and paper strewn everywhere. The only thing not ripped apart was Kev's PC. That was lying on its side on the desk, the screen still showing the British army screensaver I'd sent him for a laugh. The printer and scanner were on the floor beside the desk, but that was where they had always been.

I went back out and looked at the stairs. They were going to be a problem. They went up one flight, then turned back on themselves just before hitting the landing. That meant that I'd have to be a bit of a Houdini to cover my ass getting up there. I wouldn't use the laser now; I didn't want to announce my movements.

I put my foot on the bottom step and started to move up. Fortunately, Kev's stair carpet was a thick shag pile, which helped keep the noise down, but still it was like treading on ice, testing each step gently for creaks, always placing my feet to the inside edge, slowly and precisely.

Once I got level with the landing, I pointed my pistol up above my head and, using the wall as support, moved up the stairs backward, step by step.

A couple of steps; wait, listen. A couple more steps; wait, and listen.

There was only one of me, and I had only thirteen rounds to play with, maybe fourteen, if the round in the chamber was on top of a full magazine. These guys might have semiautomatic weapons for all I knew, or even fully automatic. If they did and were there, it would not be a good day out.

The washing machine was on its final thundering spin. Still soft rock on the radio. Nothing else.

Adrenaline takes over. Despite the air-conditioning, I was drenched with sweat. It was starting to get in my eyes; I had to wipe it with my left hand, one eye at a time.

The girls' room was facing me. From memory there were bunk beds and the world's biggest shrine to Pocahontas--T-shirts and posters, sheets and bedspreads, and even a doll whose back you pressed and she sang something about colors.

I stopped and prepared for the worst.

I reached for the handle and started to clear the room. Nothing.

No one.

For once the room was even clean and tidy. There were piles of teddy bears and toys on the beds. The theme was still Pocahontas, but Toy Story was obviously a close second.

I gradually came out into the hallway, treating it as if it were a new room because I didn't know what might have gone on in the half-minute since I'd left it.

I slowly moved to the next bedroom with my back nearly touching the wall, pistol forward,

As I got nearer to Kev and Marsha's room, I could see that the door was slightly ajar. I couldn't actually see anything inside yet, but as I moved nearer I started to smell something. A faint, metallic tang, and I could smell shit as well. I felt sick. I knew that I'd have to go in.

As I inched around the doorframe I got my first glimpse of Marsha. She was kneeling by the bed, her top half spread-eagled on the mattress. The bedspread was covered with blood.

I sank to my knees in the hallway. I felt myself going into shock. I couldn't believe this was true. This was not happening to this family. Why kill Marsha? It should have been Kev they were after. All I wanted to do was throw my hand in and sit down and cry. But I knew the kids had been in the house. They might still be here.

I got a grip of myself and started to move. I went in, forcing myself to ignore Marsha. The room was clear.

The next job was the master bathroom. I went in, and what I saw made me lose it, totally fucking lose it. Bang, I went back against the wall and slumped onto the floor.

Blood was everywhere. I got it all over my shirt and hands; I sat in a pool of it, soaking the seat of my pants.

Aida was lying on the floor between the bath and the toilet. Her five-year-old head had been nearly severed from her shoulders. There was just three inches of flesh left intact; I could see the vertebrae still holding on.

Turning my head away and looking out of the bathroom, I could now see more of Marsha. I had to hold back my scream. Her dress was hanging normally, but her tights had been torn, her panties were pulled down, and she had soiled herself, probably at the point of death. All I saw at this distance of about fifteen feet was somebody that I really cared for, even loved maybe, on her knees, her blood splattered all over the bed. And she'd had the same done to her as Aida.

I was taking deep breaths and wiping my eyes. I knew I still had another two rooms to clear--another bathroom and the large storeroom above the garage. I couldn't give up now because I might wind up getting dropped myself.

I cleared the other rooms and half-collapsed, half-sat on the landing. I could see my bloody footprints all over the carpet.

Stop, calm down, and think.

What next? Kelly. Where the fuck was Kelly?

Then I remembered the hiding place. Because of the threats to Kev, both kids knew where they had to go and hide in the event of a crisis.

The thought brought me to my senses. If that was where Kelly was hiding, she was safe for the time being. Better to leave her there while I did the other stuff I had to do.

I got up and started to move down the stairs, making sure that, as I moved, I had my pistol pointed. As I descended I could see the blood I had left on the wall and carpet where I'd sat. I was almost willing the attackers to appear. I wanted to see the fuckers.

I got a cloth and a trash bag from the kitchen and started to run around the house wiping door handles and any surfaces where I might have left fingerprints. Then I went over to the patio sliding doors and closed the curtains. I didn't want anybody to discover this mess before I was well out of it, hopefully on a plane back to London.

I took a quick look at Kev and knew I was back in control. He was now just a dead body.

I went back upstairs, washed the blood off my hands and face, and got a clean shirt and a pair of jeans and running shoes from Kev's closet. His clothes didn't fit me, but they would do for now. I bundled my own bloodstained stuff into the trash bag that I'd take with me.


KEV HAD SHOWN me the "hidey-hole," as he called it, built under an open staircase that led up to a little makeshift loft stacked with ladders. The kids knew they had to hide there if ever Kev or Marsha shouted the word "Disneyland!"--and they were never ever to come out until Daddy or Mommy came and got them.

I headed to the garage. Pushing the door slightly, I could see the rear of the large metal doors to the right. The garage could easily have taken three extra vehicles besides Kev's company car. "Fucking thing," I remembered Kev saying, "all the luxury and mod cons of the late nineties, in a car that looks like a nineteen-sixties fridge."

The kids' bikes were hanging from frames on the wall, together with all the other clutter that families accumulate in garages. I could see the red laser dot on the far wall.

I moved in and cleared through. There was no one here.

I went back to the area of the staircase. Chances were she wasn't going to come out unless her mom and dad came for her, but as I moved I started to call out very gently, "Kelly! It's Nick! Hello, Kelly, where are you?"

All the time the pistol was pointing forward, ready to take on any threat.

Moving slowly toward the boxes, I said, "Oh well, since you're not here I'll go. But I think I'll have one more look, and I bet you might be hiding underneath the staircase in those boxes. I'll just have a look ... I bet you're in there ..."

There was a pile of large boxes. One had contained a freezer, another a washing machine. Kev had made a sort of cave with them under the staircase and kept a few toys there.

I eased the pistol down my waistband. I didn't want her to see a gun. She'd probably seen and heard enough already.

I put my mouth against a little gap between the boxes. "Kelly, it's me, Nick. Don't be scared, I'm going to crawl toward you. You'll see my head in a minute, and I want to see a big smile ..."

I got down on my hands and knees and kept talking gently as I moved boxes and squeezed through the gap, inching toward the back wall. I wanted to do it nice and slowly. I didn't know how she was going to react.

"I'm going to put my head around the corner now, Kelly."

I took a deep breath and moved my head around the back of the box, smiling away but ready for the worst.

She was there, facing me, eyes wide with terror, sitting curled up in a fetal position, rocking her body backward and forward, holding her hands over her ears.

"Hello, Kelly," I said very softly.

She must have recognized me, but didn't reply. She just kept on rocking, staring at me with wide, scared eyes.

"Mommy and Daddy can't come and get you out at the moment, but you can come with me. Daddy told me it would be OK. Are you going to come with me, Kelly?"

Still no reply. I crawled right into the cave until I was curled up beside her. She'd been crying; strands of light brown hair were stuck to her face. I tried to move them away from her mouth. Her eyes were red and swollen.

"You're in a bit of a mess there," I said. "Do you want me to clean you up? Come on, let's go and get you sorted out, shall we?" I got hold of her rigid hand and gently guided her out into the garage.

She was dressed in jeans, a denim shirt, running shoes, and a blue nylon fleece. Her hair was straight and just above her shoulders, a bit shorter than I remembered it; she was quite lanky for a seven-year-old, with long, skinny legs. I picked her up in my arms and held her tight as I carried her into the kitchen. I knew the other doors were closed; she wouldn't see her dad.

I sat her down on a chair at the table. "Mommy and Daddy said they had to go away for a while but asked me to look after you until they come back, OK?"

She was trembling so much I couldn't tell if her head was nodding or shaking.

I went to the fridge and opened it, hoping to find some comfort food. I found the world's largest Easter egg. "Mmm, yum--do you want some chocolate?"

I'd had a good relationship with Kelly. She was a great kid, and that wasn't just because she was my pal's daughter. I smiled warmly, but she just stared at the table.

I broke off a few pieces and put them on one of the side plates that she'd probably been setting earlier with Aida. I found the Off switch on the radio; I'd had enough relaxing soft rock for one day.

As I looked at Kelly again I suddenly realized I'd fucked up. What was I going to do with her? I couldn't just leave her here: her family was lying dead all over the house. But more important, she knew me. When the police arrived she'd be able to say, "Nick Stone was here." They'd soon find out that Nick Stone was one of Daddy's friends; the house was littered with photographs with me in them. And if they did arrest the grinning drunk in the barbecue shots, they'd find that for some strange reason he wasn't Nick Stone at all--he was Mrs. Stamford's little boy.

Kev's jacket was hanging over one of the chairs. I said, "Let's wrap you up in your dad's coat; that'll keep you nice and warm." At least she'd have something of her dad's; with luck it would cheer her up.

There was just a little bit of whimpering in reply. She was almost in rigor mortis with shock, though at least she had turned her head to look at me now. This was where normally I would have let Marsha take over, because a child's mind was far too complicated for me to work out. But I couldn't do that today.

I wrapped the coat around her and said, "Here you are; get this around you. Look, it's your dad's! Don't tell him, eh, ha ha ha!" I felt something solid in one of the pockets and checked. "Oh good, look, we can phone him up later."

I looked out the window--no movement. I picked up the trash bag, grabbed Kelly's hand, then realized that to reach the front door I'd have to come out of the kitchen and into the hallway.

"Just sit there a second," I said. "I've got to do something."

I had a quick look to make sure the doors were closed. I thought again about fingerprints, but if I'd missed a set, there was nothing I could do about it now. My only thought was to get out of the area and keep Kelly away from the cops until I'd sorted things out.

I went back and got her and checked the front of the house again for movement. She seemed to be finding it hard to walk. I had to grip Kev's coat by the collar, half-dragging her toward the car.

I put her in the front passenger seat and smiled. "There you go; that's nice and warm. Better look after your dad's coat for him. Keep it nice for when you see him."

Then I threw the trash bag in the back, settled into the diver's seat, put my seat belt on, and turned on the ignition.  We drove off at a really sensible pace, nothing outrageous, nothing likely to be noticed.

We'd gone only a few hundred yards when I thought of something; I looked across at her and said, "Kelly, put your seat belt ojn. Do you know how to do that?"

She didn't move, didn't even look at me.  I had to do it for her.

I TRIED TO make small talk.  "It's a nice day today, isn't it? Yep, you'll stay wit me a while; we'll get everything sorted out."


My mind switched back to the matter in hand. What was I going to do? Whatever I decided, I knew it was no good where we were at the moment. We needed to lose ourselves in a crowd.  I headed for Tyson's Corner.  I turned to Kelly and smiled, trying to be the happy-go-lucky Uncle Nick, but it just wasn't happening.  She was staring anxiously out the window as if she was being wrenched away from all her familiar landmarks and seeking them for the last time.

"It's OK, Kelly."  I tried to stroke her hari.

She jerked her head away.

Fuck it, just let her get on with it; with luck I'd be able to drop her off somewhere before too long.

From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Den Coley
1.0 out of 5 stars Just pretty awful.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 24, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced to the end
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 7, 2018
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C. Innes
2.0 out of 5 stars Unremitting misery
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 10, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great books
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 6, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Remote control
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 22, 2017
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2 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Pure fantasy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 3, 2019
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edward devine
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 15, 2017
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A Southall
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 19, 2020
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