Summary: Simon Edwards, “Executive Services Officer” at Biggin Hill Airport, nervously awaits Teabing’s arrival. Also waiting for the jet to land is an armed police response squad. When the plane lands, however, instead of taxiing to the terminal as agreed, Teabing’s pilot heads directly for the private hangar. Once the police reach the hangar to barricade the plane’s passengers in, the local chief inspector asks Teabing to remain aboard his plane. Teabing refuses, claiming he must keep an important medical appointment. He asks Edwards to inspect the plane—a plan to which the inspector objects, but on which Teabing insists. Unfazed, the inspector searches the jet. To his amazement, he finds no one aboard. Teabing threatens a lawsuit as he is driven away in his limousine—on the floor of which are Langdon, Sophie, and the still bound-and-gagged Silas. They quickly left the jet and got into the car before the police reached the hangar.
Analysis: As this chapter opens, Simon Edwards finds himself in much the same position that André Vernet did earlier in the novel: caught between the competing interest of his clients’ desire for privacy and law officials’ demands. The same kind of formal symmetry is hinted at between Bezu Fache and the unnamed Kent police inspector—although the latter clearly lacks the former’s dogged desire to “get his man”: once he finds Teabing’s jet empty, he concludes Fache gave him “a bad tip” (p. 363). He does not share his French counterpart’s conviction that he is correct and must be vindicated. Although he resents the fact that, as he sees things, “Men of privilege always felt like they were above the law” (p. 362), he knows, unlike Fache, when he has been bested. Most of the chapter concerns the unfolding of Teabing’s scheme to smuggle his passengers into London. Here again, then, readers see Teabing’s capacity for deceit, and might wonder whether his prowess at deception will ultimately prove more of a liability than an asset.