Stuart Black

Stuart worked for Saatchi & Saatchi in Sydney and London, before becoming the founding partner and CEO of South-East Asia’s leading healthcare communications group, Ward6. Alongside his career in advertising, Stuart is the author of two novels. In 2003, he had a manuscript shortlisted for the NSW Writers’ Centre Popular Fiction Competition and, in 2009, published the psychological thriller Shallow Water. Stuart’s second novel, The Signatory, is based on his intimate knowledge of the international corporate world. Stuart is married and has two children.






from Chapter 1

Chaz Bailley was naked, sitting tightly bound to a chair. His wrists and ankles hurt. They’d used thin white rope to tie him, the kind you might find on a small sailing boat. The room was nearly empty. Some kind of storage facility. It had a grey cement floor, faded brick walls, a stack of brown cardboard boxes in the far-right corner, no windows that he could see, and a pair of old-fashioned fluorescent lights. A steel table was pushed up against the wall beside him. The only clean thing around.

He heard a door opening behind him. Turned out to be Blondie, the same lady he’d seen outside the Imperial Hotel. Dressed like a cocktail waitress.

‘You’re in good shape,’ she said, giving him the once over. Her accent had an Australian twang to it, but there was something else there, too. French or Swiss. ‘I hope you stay that way.’

‘Who are you?’ Chaz demanded.

Blondie was pacing around the room. ‘Doesn’t matter.’

‘Can you at least tell me why I’m here?’

‘Come on, Chaaaazzzzzz. You know why.’

‘I honestly don’t. Maybe this is some kind of mistaken identity or something?’

She sat herself down on his lap and crossed her legs, placing a cigarette between her lips. ‘Look at you. Putting it all together.’ She lit the cigarette and leaned into him, her elbow resting on his shoulder.


‘Can you hear that music out there?’ she asked. ‘It’s one of those small Bluetooth speakers. They’ll bring it in here, soon. Not for you, of course, but for themselves. They’ll turn the volume up until the speaker distorts, and they’ll pretend you’re screaming along to it. Like you’re some kind of rock star. Isn’t that something?’

‘What are you saying?’

‘People make some awful noises in these…circumstances. I prefer the sound of music.’

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