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"The plane was late and detectives were waiting at the airport all morning. They were expecting a valuable parcel of diamonds from South Africa. A few hours earlier, someone HAD told the police that thieves would try to steal the diamonds. "

From what I understand, here the author used past perfect tense to describe something that happened before the event he was referring to. But I also came across this sentence:

"I was having dinner at a restaurant when Tony Steele came in. Tony WORKED in a lawyer's office years ago, but he is now working at a bank.".

Why did the author use past tense instead of past perfect tense here? Any subtleties?

If you need full context, here are the two passages:

The plane was late and detectives were waiting at the airport all morning. They were expecting a valuable parcel of diamonds from South Africa. A few hours earlier, someone had told the police that thieves would try to steal the diamonds. When the plane arrived, some of the detectives were waiting inside the main building while others were waiting on the airfield. Two men took the parcel off the plane and carried it into the Customs House. While two detectives were keeping guard at the door, two others opened the parcel. To their surprise, the precious parcel was full of stones and sand!

I was having dinner at a restaurant when Tony Steele came in. Tony worked in a lawyer's office years ago, but he is now working at a bank. He gets a good salary, but he always borrows money from his friends and never pays it back. Tony saw me and came and sat at the same table. He has never borrowed money from me. While he was eating, I asked him to lend me twenty pounds. To my surprise, he gave me the money immediately. 'I have never borrowed any money from you,' Tony said, 'so now you can pay for my dinner!'

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You're right, the author chose past perfect.

In many cases the choice of past or past perfect is a free stylistic choice.

The reason is to create a particular sense of narrative and a flow of time. The chronology is strong in the "Diamonds" extract, there is a clear sequence of events. But the fact that "someone had called the police" is out of sequence

In the "Tony" story, there is a break in the narrative. For two sentences the story stops and the writer describes Tony, using past and present tense. Then the narrative continues.

In the "diamonds" story, the author tells of an event that occurred previously and has an effect at the time of the narrative. In the "Tony" story, the author is not telling about a past event, but describing Tony.

It would be possible to use past tense in the first example, and past perfect in the second, but I think the authors made the right choice in both cases.

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