Higgins, Jack Rain on the Dead

ISBN 13: 9780007585830

Rain on the Dead

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9780007585830: Rain on the Dead

A storm is coming for Sean Dillon & company in the mesmerizing new thriller of murder, terrorism and revenge from the Sunday Times bestselling author. It begins with the attempted assassination of the ex-President of the United States. Only the presence of Sean Dillon and the fellow members of the 'Prime Minister's Private Army' prevents it becoming a bloodbath. Soon they are on the trail of the perpetrators, confident they will catch them. What Dillon & Co don't realize is that they have just sprung a trap that will lead them to almost certain death. For there is a new Master pulling the strings for al Qaeda in London, and this time he's going to make sure the hated enemy is destroyed once and for all. A storm is coming for Sean Dillon...

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About the Author:

Jack Higgins was a soldier and then a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. 'The Eagle Has Landed' turned him into an international bestselling author and his novels have since sold over 250 million copies and been translated into sixty languages. Many of them have also been made into successful films

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The island of Nantucket, Massachusetts—high summer, the western end of the harbor crowded with boats, many tied up at the jetty. Among them was a scarlet-and-white sportfisherman named Dolphin. On the flying bridge, a gray-haired man sat at the wheel playing a clarinet, something plaintive and touching. He was around sixty, a white curling beard giving him the look of an old sailor.

The man who joined him from below, wearing swimming trunks, had dark tousled hair and the beard of some medieval bravo. He was fit and muscular, his smile pleasant enough, his only unusual feature two scars on his left chest which any doctor would have recognized as relics from old bullet wounds.

He spoke in Irish. “Big night, Kelly!”

The other answered in the same. “You could say that. It’ll be dark soon, Tod—if you’re going to grab that swim, it’d better be now.”

“I will. Keep your eye out for that kid, Henry, from the harbormaster’s office. He’s bringing our passports and the credit card, so don’t forget to speak like the Yank your passport says you are.”

He slid down the ladder, vaulted over the rail, and swam away. Kelly heard a call from the dock.

“Mr. Jackson, are you there?”

Kelly descended the ladder. “He’s having a swim. I’m his partner, Jeremy Hawkins.”

Henry handed over the two passports. “There you go, sir, Mr. Jackson’s credit card is in the envelope and your mooring license covers you until Friday.”

Kelly took the package. “Thanks, son.”

“That’s great clarinet I just heard. Kind of sounds like Gershwin, though I don’t recognize the tune.”

“It’s an Irish folk song called ‘The Lark in the Clear Air.’ And you’re right, I did put a bit of Gershwin in there.”

“I think he would have been pleased, sir. Are you and your friend professional musicians?”

“I was for a while and he does play decent piano, but on the whole, we found other things kept getting in the way.”

“Well, that seems like a damn shame to me,” Henry said, and walked away, calling at another boat.

Kelly turned and looked out over the harbor to see how Tod was getting on, and saw him swimming toward a round buoy floating on a chain. Many people were diving or jumping off the boats, some in wet suits, generally having a good time while the light still held.

For his part, Tod stroked the last couple of yards, then grabbed onto the chain, aware of the unmistakable sound of a helicopter descending somewhere in the distance.

He hung there, listening, and two young men erupted from the water, like black seals in their wet suits. They were like twins, darkly handsome, the same wildness apparent in their faces.

The nearest one grabbed the chain and laughed as his brother joined them. “Mr. Jackson, I recognize you from your photo. We’re the ones you came to meet. The Master sends his regards and hopes that success in our venture will make us your favorite Chechens. I’m Yanni and this is Khalid.”

He had no accent, which his brother explained in a rather mocking tone. “Our parents were killed by barbaric Russian soldiers in the Chechen war. The wonderful American Red Cross saved us and our grandparents, and gave us a new life in good old New York.”

“Where thanks to the public school system, we emerged as normal American teenagers,” Yanni said.

“Creating a problem for Westerners who expect Muslims to look and sound like Arabs,” Khalid said.

“So what can Muslims who look like Westerners do?” Yanni added.

“Why, serve Allah as undercover warriors in the great struggle,” his brother said. “And here we are. We’ve already checked out the house of our target. It’s just off the beach, surrounded by trees, no problem. An easy one, this.”

Tod said, “Except that every security camera on every property you passed walking along that beach probably has your faces now.”

“So we’ll wear ski masks for the hit,” Khalid said. “Why should it matter as long as the target is dead? That’s all that counts.”

They were no longer smiling. Their faces were like death masks, their eyes pinpricks. They were obviously on drugs, which exasperated Tod, though there was no point in mentioning it now.

“I’m going back to that boat.” He indicated the Dolphin.“I’ll see you there in forty-five minutes.”

They didn’t reply, simply turned and swam away, and so did he.

Hawkins was Tim Kelly, and Jackson, Tod Flynn, both of them Provisional IRA who had served sentences in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland for many killings. Released during the peace process, they had become mercenaries. The situations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and elsewhere offered highly paid security work and sometimes rather more than that, for Flynn had been a top enforcer with the IRA, and reputation was everything in the Death Trade. It brought the cautious phone calls, the offers of the big money that went with them, and the offer for this present job had been very big.

In the cabin belowdecks, he had a large whiskey, feeling strangely cold, and told Kelly about his meeting with the Chechens. Kelly said, “I knew it was a mistake to get involved with sodding Muslims. What are we going to do?”

“There’s not much we can do, but I’ll tell you this. I’m putting a pistol in my pocket for when they come, just in case it gets nasty. You should, too,” and he hurried away to his cabin.

He showered and dressed, and as he did so, remembered the first time he’d heard the Master’s voice, filled with quiet authority, and a touch of English upper class.

“Would that be Mr. Tod Flynn?” the voice had asked.

“Who wants to know?”

“I’ve just credited your bank account with a hundred thousand dollars. Check for yourself, and I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

Tod frowned, but called his bank and received the happy news that the money had indeed been deposited from a Swiss bank in Geneva.

When the second call came, he said instantly, “Who is this?”

“People know me as the Master. That will do for the moment.”

“Al-Qaeda,” Tod said. “Everyone in the business knows about you guys and the way you operate. Don’t you have enough of your own people to call on? What do you want me for?”

“Oh, I’m a great admirer. That finance man in Nigeria you took care of—five hundred yards through an open window of a car doing seventy. Splendid work. I have a list. My favorite was the Russian paratroop general who glanced out of the turret of his tank for a moment during a street battle and you took him at five hundred yards.”

“Four hundred,” Tod said. “And it was snowing. So what do you want?”

“I have a target, living quietly in a house on the island of Nantucket with a manservant. I’m sending in a couple of Chechen boys to knock him off. All I need from you is to keep an eye on things and pick them up when they’re done. You’ll be waiting in a boat off the beach and they’ll swim out to you.”

“So I’m the getaway driver, is that it?” Tod laughed harshly. “What’s he done, this target?”

“No need for you to know. Let’s just say he’s an old enemy.”

Tod nodded. “And what would be in it for me?”

“You’ve already got one hundred thousand. That’s for you and your friend Kelly. I’ll give you another hundred afterward and take care of your expenses.”

As usual, greed won the day. “Add another fifty thousand,” Tod said. “Which rounds it to a quarter of a million, and I expect the full advance before we go.”

The man who called himself the Master paused, then said, “Agreed.”

And Tod, some part of him already regretting it, said, “Done. When do we meet?”

“That will never happen, my friend. You’ll have to be content with my voice on the phone. I’ll send you a coded mobile with the tickets.”

Tim Kelly was shocked when Tod told him about the call. “Holy Mary, do we have to get involved with a bunch of Muslims like al-Qaeda?”

“You’ll dance a jig when that money turns up in your bank account,” Tod said. Later, he did wonder why the Master wanted him at all. The mystery man had made all the arrangements and the plan itself was simple enough. It was the height of tourist season, and the two assassins would be just another couple of people strolling along by night, carrying beach bags that would contain a couple of silenced Glocks, more than adequate to handle the situation. When they were done, they could just walk away from the scene of silent slaughter, which wouldn’t be discovered until morning, long after they had swum out to sea, each with a phosphorescent signaling ball held in his palm to guide in the waiting Dolphin.

It seemed too simple, and Tod couldn’t think why, still couldn’t as he finished dressing now, and then he heard a disturbance above. He hurried through the cabin, went on deck, and found Kelly switching on all the lights against the hurrying dark. The Chechens were there.

“What’s going on?” Tod demanded.

“These two bastards are cracked, if you ask me,” Kelly said. “They were sharing a bottle as they came along the jetty. That young guy from the harbormaster’s office remonstrated with them as they were boarding.” He pointed at Khalid. “This one told him to fuck off.”

Tod grabbed Khalid by the front of his shirt. “Stupid bastard, are you crazy? That kind of trouble is the last thing we need.”

Yanni reached in his beach bag and produced a silenced Glock. “Touch my brother again and I’ll kill you.”

Kelly, standing behind them, drew a Walther, but Tod released Khalid, laughing harshly. “Go on, do it. Kill both of us, why don’t you? Then tell me who’s going to wait off that beach to pick you up.”

Yanni put the Glock away and smiled falsely. “Hey, can’t you take a joke, Mr. Jackson? Khalid was having a laugh. Like boxers going in the ring for a big fight. You get kind of nervous waiting for the action.”

“Then I suggest you go, find the action, and get on with it, and we’ll get on with our part of the job.”

Yanni laughed out loud. “You know something, you’re a real funny man, Mr. Jackson. I like you, I really do . . .”

He gave his brother a push and they scrambled up onto the jetty. Khalid took a bottle from his pocket, held it up, then tossed it into the harbor. “Just kidding, Mr. Jackson,” he said, and they walked away.

“Total fruitcakes,” Kelly said in disgust. “Where the hell did this Master find them? Don’t tell me he didn’t know they had problems.”

“Never mind that for now. We’ve got half an hour to spare before we have to cast off and go round the coast to wait for them. I could do with coffee and a sandwich,” Todd said.

He led the way below, and as they reached the kitchen area, the coded mobile phone the Master had given him trembled. He took it out and switched it to speaker. He turned to Kelly, touched a finger to his lips and waited.

“Mr. Flynn, I’m afraid something’s come up that affects our plans,” the voice said.

“And what would that be?” Tod demanded.

“I’ve just heard from a source that the target is receiving guests tonight by helicopter.”

“We heard one arriving somewhere in the island not long ago,” Tod told him.

The Master’s voice was unemotional. “Probably the one delivering them.”

“They’ll get a shock when they find themselves invaded by two crazy Chechens.”

“It’s the Chechens we need to worry about,” the Master said. “His guests are General Charles Ferguson, who commands the British Prime Minister’s private hit squad, and he has two of his top people with him. A Captain Sara Gideon and one Sean Dillon, a notorious IRA gunman who now works for Ferguson.”

“But I know these people, everyone in the Death Trade does.” Flynn was angry now. “Why the hell would they be here?”

“It’s time to tell you who our target is. It’s the former president of the United States, Jake Cazalet.”

Tod was shocked. “You lousy bastard.”

The Master continued. “You must cancel the operation. I can’t do it. Yanni and Khalid have no phone.”

“I see,” Tod said. “You knew they were wild cards and too untrustworthy to handle your special phone.”

“You must try and stop them. Surely there’s still time?”

Tod was so angry he switched off.

Kelly said, “Christ, what a cock-up. Maybe we’ll be lucky and catch them walking the beach to Cazalet’s house.”

“No, we won’t,” Tod told him. “I don’t want anything more to do with this. We’ll cast off right now, sail overnight to Long Island, and leave the boat at Quogue. Then we’ll head straight to the airport and find the first plane that’ll take us back to Dublin.”

“And not even try to pick the boys up?”

“Do you really think there’ll be anyone to pick up? Sean Dillon is a bloody living legend of the IRA, as no one knows better than you, and this Sara Gideon lass has a Military Cross for killing Taliban. Not to mention Ferguson himself. No, those Chechens are dead meat. And frankly, I couldn’t care less.”

The house stood in trees behind a vast beach reaching out from town. The helicopter had landed some distance away, where Cazalet’s Secret Service man, Dalton, waited in a Jeep. He went to greet Ferguson and his people, who walked to meet him.

Ferguson shook hands. “Here I am again, Agent Dalton. Nice to see you.” They waited as the helicopter drifted away.

Dalton said, “It’ll be back in the morning.” He eased Sara’s bag from her hand and led the way to the Jeep.

“President Cazalet’s really pleased to be seeing you. Mrs. Boulder has left out a lovely supper in the conservatory.”

“The President? Is that how you still address him?” Sara asked.

Ferguson said, “Technically, all former holders of the office retain the title for life, but I think it’s a matter of individual choice. Cazalet says there can only be one Mr. President and asks that I call him Jake. I could never bring myself to do it, so I make do with ‘sir.’”

“Then ‘sir’ it will be for me also,” Sara said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Murchison again,” Ferguson said. “That’s the dog of the house, Sara, a wonderful flat-coated retriever.”

“Who once saved the President’s life, as I recall,” Dillon said. “Although there’s no official documentation of that.”

“Too bad he isn’t here tonight,” said Dalton. “Mrs. Boulder has taken him home with her. She gets lonely since her husband died last year, and the President doesn’t mind.”

He turned off the road at a point where high-wire fencing fronted the trees. He paused, waiting for a ten-foot gate to open slowly between stone pillars, and drove through, pine trees and lots of shrubbery crowding in from both sides. To the left, they could see a terraced conservatory and they continued, circling around to a formal garden that fronted the old Colonial-style house with steps leading up to a pillared entrance, the door standing open, light pouring out, and Jake Cazalet waiting to greet them.

“Charles, my dear old friend,” he cried. “Marvelous to see you, marvelous to see all of you.”

Then he rushed down the steps to greet them, arms outstretched.

After embraces, Ferguson said, “Now, this was all most mysterious. It’s always a pleasure to see you, sir, but why were we summoned?”

Cazalet said, “Oh, it’s nothing dire. The President wanted to invite you to the Oval Office, but couldn’t because of the publicity such a visit would have caused. He said you were in New York to meet the British ambassador and proposed that we kidnap you for a night so that I could say a heartfelt thanks on his behalf for your handling of the Husseini affair. If Iran had been able to use his work to perfect their nuclear bomb—well, it wouldn’t bear thinking of. All three of you did a remarkab...

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Higgins, Jack
Published by Harpercollins Publishers (2015)
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