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Since being forced into retirement by the CIA, Miles Kendig had tried everything in an effort to satisfy his hunger for excitement. But he could not recreate the ultimate conflict of life or death with no rules, the experience of pitting himself against the enemy with no holds barred. Despite his bitterness at being shelved by the CIA, Miles was still scrupulously American—so when he found himself tempted by an offer from the Russians, he realized the time had come for him to put up or give up.
Miles has been waiting, carefully planning, for years—and, finally, he's ready. By threatening to expose the espionage secrets of the major powers, he set himself up as the quarry of an international manhunt. Now he would either prove to himself that after 25 years of playing the game he was still a winner, or he would meet his death at the hands of younger men.
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Brian Garfield is the author of numerous suspense/adventure novels. His exepertise as a writer has resulted in his being published in such diverse fields as romance, gothic, Westerns, adventure, mystery, suspense, crime, history, film, and theatrical plays. Some 20 million copies of his books have been sold. He writes under at least eight names besides his own, including Brian Wynne, Frank Wynne, Jonas Ward, Drew Mallory, Frank O'Brian, Alex Hawk, John Ives, and Bennett Garland.
His novel Death Wish was made into a 1974 film by Paramount Studios and starred Charles Bronson. Two novels, Gun Down and Hopscotch, were made into films. And two other novels, Wild Times and Relentless, were made into TV movies. The TV movie "Wild Times" was a mini-series starring Sam Elliott, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr. and many other Western movie actors, many of whom were personally selected by Garfield. He has served as the director of the Mystery Writers of America, and the President of the Western Writers of America.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
In Paris the gambling was hidden but easy enough to find. This one was in the fifteenth arrondissement near the Citroën factory. The thick door had an iron ring for a handle; a thug absurdly disguised as a doorman admitted Kendig and there was a woman at a desk, attractive enough but she had a cool hard air. Kendig went through the tedium of establishing the credentials of his innocence—he was not a flic, he was not Sicilian, he was not Union Corse, he was not this or that. “Just a tourist. I’ve been here before—with Mme. Labrie. There isn’t a message for me by any chance?”
There wasn’t. Kendig paid the membership admission and crossed to the elevator. There will be an interesting message for you tonight at the Club Rouge. It had been typed, no signature; delivered to his concierge by an urchin clutching a five-franc note.
He went up in a lift cage piloted by a little fellow whose face was the texture of old rubber dried grey by a desert sun: the look of an Algerian veteran. The old fellow opened the gate on the third étage. “Bonne chance, M’sieur.” Behind the smile was a leering cynicism.
Kendig’s fathomless eyes looked past the tables at a desolate emptiness of his own. The crowd was moderate, the decor discreet, the costumery tiresomely fashionable. Soft laughter here, hard silence there: winners and losers. The bright lighting leeched their faces of color. Kendig drifted among the felted tables. A croupier recognized him from somewhere and smiled; he was in the uniform—the tuxedo that only appeared to have pockets; to discourage temptation. Kendig said, “They’ve moved the poker?”
“You must speak with the maître.” The croupier glanced toward a largish man in black who loomed over the neighboring wheel.
Kendig had a word with the maître and had to show his bankroll to the cashier behind a cage. He bought five thousand francs in rectangular chips and the maître guided him officiously past the tables to an oak door with massive polished brass fittings. Beyond it Kendig found the game, six players around a table that accommodated eight chairs. A houseman stood in the shadows.
There was one woman in the game; he knew who she was but they’d never met. He knew the American, Paul Jaynes; the others were strangers.
Jaynes gave him a debonair greeting and the others glanced at him but Kendig hung back until they had finished the hand. They were playing seven stud—unusual for a room like this. And the house wasn’t dealing.
The woman won the hand and gathered the pot; the maître bowed his way out and Kendig pulled out one of the empty chairs and sat down with his chips. His place was between Jaynes and the woman, with the woman on his left; he knew Jaynes’s manner of play and it didn’t trouble him to be downwind of the American.
“Been a while,” Jaynes said with his beefy smile and Kendig nodded acknowledgment. Jaynes had a deep suntan and a huckster’s compulsion to touch anyone to whom he spoke. He was a film producer of independently financed sex-and-sandal epics. The others had the same look: businessmen, promoters—two Frenchmen, a German, a Swede. The woman he knew by sight and reputation; he’d seen dossiers on her—she’d spent a few years as patroness of American exiles in Algeria before she’d tired of the game or been frightened out of it by the professionals. She had been married to a banker but there’d been a divorce and she’d reverted to her maiden name.
“Pot limit of course,” Jaynes told him, laying out the ground rules. “Check-raise. It’s not table stakes—you can go into your pocket if you want to. Or you can tap out. We try to make it easy on ourselves.” He smiled; it was a little nervous—it looked as if he might have started with a larger stake than he had now. “Ante twenty-five francs to the player. The house takes one ante for its cut.”
“Seven stud or dealer’s choice?”
The woman said, “We decided by majority when we began.”
“Suits me.” It didn’t matter.
The game proceeded. He tried to take an interest in it but most of it came to him like the adult voices you half-heard when you were a small child dozing in the next room. It was one of the things he found soothing about gambling: its detachment from everything. He folded out of three hands on the first round of each; on the fourth he caught a pair of wired jacks in which he had little faith but he strung them along to the sixth card before he dropped out, unimproved; that cost him three hundred francs.
“You’re getting cool cards for a newcomer,” the woman said apologetically. “You must be disappointed.”
He made a soundless reply, a courteous expression. She was wrong, actually; disappointment only follows expectation and he’d had none of that.
After the first half hour he was a thousand francs in the hole and had won only two hands. There had been one extravagant pot; he had not participated in it; the woman won it. That was what the game amounted to—like surfing; you endured the ordinary waves while you waited for the occasional big one. The players who approached it professionally would have none of that—they played every hand to win—but the big ones came their way too and whatever their denials it came to the same thing. The woman was pushing the big ones hard and he saw she was the player to beat.
The Frenchman Deroget tapped out and left the table in vile spirits. He left nine thousand francs in the game. When the Frenchman was gone Paul Jaynes said, “More than two thousand dollars. Not much for a game like this one—but too much for a shrimp like him. I’ve heard it around that he’s in pretty deep. They’ll be keeping a close eye on him.” He meant the casino: if a man committed suicide his pockets would be stuffed quietly with money to discourage any idea he might have killed himself over his losses.
A few hands came Kendig’s way and he raked them in without particular joy. He was only marking time.
The fifth card of the hand was dealt around; Kendig’s was a queen and it gave him three hearts face-up. The woman had two nines in sight but she checked them. Kendig checked as well; Jaynes had a pair of fives showing and was eager to bet them—he was cheerfully transparent about it. There were a thousand francs in the pot by then; Jaynes opened the round’s betting with a hundred-franc wager and two of the players beyond him called the bet; the German folded and then it was Mlle Stein’s turn and she saw the bet and raised five hundred francs. It made a nineteen-hundred-franc pot and when Kendig saw the raise it doubled the size of the pot; and Kendig raised the limit. “The raise is three thousand eight hundred.” About a thousand dollars by the day’s exchange rate.
Jaynes called the raise without hesitation but he didn’t raise back; it meant he had his third five but not his full house. The Swede and the Frenchman folded their hands. The woman smiled a little, thought about it and then called the raise. It ended the round’s betting and there was a good sum on the table now: a little over fifteen thousand francs. Two cards remained to be dealt to each player; there would be two more rounds of betting in the hand.
Mlle Stein’s card was another four-spot and gave her two pair in sight, nines over fours. The Swede dealt Kendig the king of spades—no visible improvement of his three-hearts-to-the-queen. Jaynes bought the jack of diamonds: his third suit and no evident help for his matched fives. The three-handed betting began with the woman: she counted out five thousand francs into the pot. It could mean anything. Either she had her boat and wanted to build the pot or she didn’t have it and wanted to frighten her opponents into not raising.
It was Kendig’s turn and he knew every card that had been shown. The hearts were a screen; he had two more queens wired in the hole and he hadn’t seen a single king or deuce anywhere in the table’s up-cards. Caution dictated a straight call but he made the ten-thousand-franc raise and it folded Jaynes and then the woman was smiling again with her valentine mouth and she bumped him back: “I think I must raise you twenty thousand.”
It was as much as some men made in a year. Kendig shrugged and turned to Paul Jaynes. “Can you cover my check?”
“American Express. Paris branch.”
“Will it buy me a peek at your hole cards?”
Jaynes said, “You’ve got enough to cover it of course.” He said it with a bit of an edge on his voice: not quite a threat.
“Yes.” Kendig had a hundred thousand in that bank and a lot more than that in Switzerland. Most of it had come from gambling of one kind or another. Jaynes knew that much about him. Jaynes said finally, “All right. You can play shy here.”
“Thank you.” Kendig said it without inflection; he really hadn’t cared that much. He pulled the woman’s stack of twenty thousand shy and said, “Call.”
“What, no reraise M’sieur?” She was amused. It meant nothing about her cards; she was too good a player to coffeehouse any revelations.
The final card was dealt face-down and of course the woman had to come out betting; it would have made no sense to sandbag and in any case the bet only encouraged one’s opponent to believe it was a bluff: checking the bet couldn’t be a bluff.
She bet twenty-five thousand and Jaynes nodded tautly, covering Kendig. Kendig didn’t have to perform any calculations to know t...
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Book Description Regents/Prentice Hall, 1984. Condition: Good. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Seller Inventory # GRP87586193