Every week or so I will be putting up an advance chapter or two of my newest International Thriller...
Murmansk! You can of course find the earlier chapters further down the page.The book should be
published around July of this year!
**Note this is first draft so be kind ;)
November 24, 2000
“A dog?” Preacher asked incredulously, his mouth slack in disbelief.
Sighing to myself, I nodded in response.
“An award-winning Bluetick Hound to be precise…a Coonhound.”
“What the…”Preacher started before reigning himself in, shaking his head in frustration.
“This is the important first case we are assigned? This is worth being lined up in the laser sight of a rifle? A dog?”
I nodded as I pulled the car out of the driveway and onto the one-lane road.
“It’s pretty important to the man I just met,” I started, nodding toward a folder on the seat between us. “All of the pertinent information on the animal is in there by the way.”
Preacher picked up the folder, but his frustration kept him from opening it.
“What kind of man is this guy anyway? Lives in a fortress…but can’t keep track of a mere dog?”
“I get the impression that the missing dog is just a symptom of his current problems,” I started while accelerating toward the highway. “I have a feeling that the beefed-up security may be a fairly new addition to his life. Before I entered his office, I noticed a man stepping out of a doorway down the hall to see what was going on. By his apparent disposition and dress, I would hazard a guess that he is the butler of the house…or had been. When he saw the man with the assault rifle leading me, he quickly stepped back into the room he had come from.”
Preacher was quiet for a few moments, but I could see that his mind was quickly gearing up on the case. After another minute, he opened the folder on his lap.
Freedom…that’s a mouthful…says they call her Monte. This dog has won a lot of
honors,” he mumbled as he continued to scan the pages in the file. “She’s
probably worth a lot of money to the right person.”
“Who’s the right person?” I asked next, glancing at Preacher.
He shrugged, “Other dog breeders or show people I suppose.”
We were silent for a few minutes as we both digested the new information until a thought struck me.
“I don’t know much about breeding and showing dogs, but I have a friend that breeds Thoroughbred horses. From what he has told me, pedigree is everything. For that dog to be valuable, people would need to know its pedigree. If they knew that…”
They’d know who the owner is!” Preacher finished my thought. “It’d be the same for showing her then…everybody in that business would know who she was.”
I nodded in reply but kept silent, trying to make sense of what we knew.
“You thinking this is more like a kidnapping then?” Preacher finally asked, “If the man doesn’t have any kids, it’d be the next best thing.”
“Could be,” I mumbled as I braked for a stoplight and glanced toward my partner. “Does it say in there what this guy’s name is?”
Preacher looked back at the page before him. “Horace Castile…sounds like he has his own pedigree.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” I muttered while starting off again when the light changed to green, “At least he hasn’t been in his current residence for long.”
“How do you know that?” Preacher questioned suspiciously. “That palace he lives in looks older than dirt.”
I shrugged, “It is old, but nothing inside is old. I was in a book-lined study that had all newer furnishings…including the built-in bookcases. None of the books had that old look either, most were new leather…the gold lettering crisp and bright. The huge hallway I was in was all stone, so all of the electric was in shiny metal conduit. Modern lighting everywhere, the furniture there wasn’t old either. I’d guess everything there was less than two years old.”
“Easy enough to check,” Preacher replied, “Abby can dig that info up on her computer.”
A thought was forming in my mind that prevented me from responding. Actually, it was more like poking at my thoughts…insistent in its quest for my attention. When it finally formed fully, I had to smile.
“I think our search into Mr.
background will lead to a dead end,” I finally replied. “I think this guy isn’t
who he pretends to be.”
Preacher looked flummoxed. “And just who do you think he is Kreskin?”
I grinned and turned my eyes toward Preacher.
“That I don’t know, but I bet someone does. And I think whoever took the dog did it as a warning that they know too!”
November 25, 2000
The man glanced through the curtains of the darkened room. The house across the street was still quiet, having gone dark hours ago.
Reflecting back on his time here so far, he was as always amazed that it would take him most of a whole day to set up his operation. Although bringing in the equipment through the back alley so as not to be observed had taken a couple of hours, it had only been part of the work that had needed done.
Though not unexpected, he had spent a good part of the day running additional electric to the room. Laying the 12 gauge cable on the floor, he had run several strands of it down the two sets of stairs so that he could reach the electric panel in the basement.
He would of course have to remove it all before leaving the house in a few months, but until then it was a necessity.
Couldn’t have the equipment shutting down in the middle of an operation after all!
Although he hadn’t started the actual work of the project yet, he had kept an eye out on the comings and goings of his targets.
Two had returned several hours ago, and then one had left again…probably for the night…probably after supper.
He would need to infiltrate the target residence at his first opportunity to plant the additional equipment, but he had time.
He’d been given a week for the setup and five months to collect the data.
Sighing to himself at having to spend that long in the abused rental, he nevertheless would make it work. He got paid very well for what he did, and it wasn’t the first time he had been subjected to the bare living required for these projects.
Besides, after this operation, he would take a well deserved vacation! Someplace warm…with an abundance of scantily clad women!
Smiling at his thought, he made his way to the army surplus cot. Time to turn in for some well deserved rest!
He had an idea that before this was all over, he and the cot would know each other very well.
November 25, 2000
“You were right about
Abby mumbled when she entered the kitchen that morning, her eyes dark and
puffy. “There is no trace of him in any record I could find before 1997. It’s
like he just suddenly appeared out of nowhere.”
I could only guess how long Abby had been up in the night looking for the information. She was just getting started on it when May and I had gone to bed at eleven.
“I have some stuff printed out I’ll show you in a bit,” she continued before taking her fist sip of coffee.
May had once again offered to get up with Ya Su in the night, and I was aware of at least three times that she had left our bed. She wasn’t looking very chipper this morning either.
“That may have been the easy part,” I offered then, “It will probably be tougher to figure out who he really is.”
Everyone had agreed the night before that knowing who Horace Castile really was would do more to help us find whoever was threatening him now.
“Wouldn’t Patrick McGruder know that?” May asked with a confused look. “He seems to know everything else.”
I shrugged. The same thought had crossed my mind more than once since our visit to
“I plan on calling him in a little while and asking him,” I replied, “Although I’m not sure if I’ll like it if he knows and didn’t tell us up front.”
We all stared at our coffee for a few moments, digesting that thought. Even though we worked for McGruder, it would be impossible, for me at least, to continue the relationship if we had to fight both him and the customer for relevant information.
“Never mind about later,” I grumbled then, “I’m calling him now.”
Powering up the secure phone, I hit the speed dial and waited. As before, when the other party answered, no one said anything.
“Patrick?” I queried.
“Yes Gabriel, have you solved the puzzle already?”
“No,” I admitted tentatively, “But we need more information.”
The line was silent for a few moments.
“I have already forwarded all that he revealed to me,” he finally replied, “Although I admit that we usually get a little more to work with.”
“You gave us an address and the statement that he had lost something. I know you know more than that Patrick.”
Again the line went silent as I stewed in my seat.
“May I ask what you have deduced so far?” Patrick asked then.
Sighing, I relayed everything that we knew, had observed, as well as what we had presumed from our visit.
“Splendid!” he crowed when I had finished. “I knew you and your crew would be a force to be reckoned with!”
“As much as I enjoy your compliments, Patrick,” I sighed, “It is not our habit to try and solve a case with no clues to start with…especially since I know that a man that can do what you do knows more than he has told us.”
Again I was met by silence. When he finally did respond, he seemed contrite and apologetic.
“I appologize for my misstep Gabriel, but I must preface that apology with a little explanation if you will allow me.”
“Please, enlighten me,” I grumbled, unable to hold back my frustration.
“What I had said earlier was true, the information that I had forwarded to you was indeed all that he transmitted to me.”
“But?” I egged on.
“But…I of course quickly identified the caller…as well as worked out who he really was in time. What you could not know however, was his request for ultimate secrecy. With him asking us to simply find something, I made the determination that you would not need to know anything else. I can see now that that wasn’t true…and I sincerely appologize, but my customer’s perception of privacy has always been foremost in my past dealings.”
I closed my eyes as I thought about his admission. I could now see the point in his actions, but that didn’t make us wrong either.
“We are very good at keeping secrets Patrick,” I started, “But we can’t work well if you keep us in the dark about anything you know about a client. I would have to ask that from here on out that you forward everything you have on a client…you never know what might be pertinent until we delve into the project.”
“I will do so forthwith and in the future,” Patrick replied happily. “You will have the information via courier within the hour!”
“Thank you,” I replied, relieved. “You won’t regret it.”
“I dare say that I will never regret our collaboration Gabriel. Even I can learn!”
With that, the connection ended.
“What did he say?” Abby asked then.
I looked at the phone for a few moments before folding it and turning again toward the table.
“He said he will never regret our collaboration,” I summarized.
I just hope we don’t.