Born in Belfast and a veteran of the British Army, Jack Higgins—a pseudonym of Harry Patterson—is one of the most admired and respected thriller writers in the world. Bursting onto the scene with his classic The Eagle Has Landed, he has since written more than 60 novels, nearly all of them bestsellers, featuring such unforgettable characters as Liam Devlin, Paul Chavasse, Simon Vaughn and, of course, the hugely popular master spy Sean Dillon.
A Devil Is Waiting
It was late afternoon on Garrison Street, Brooklyn, as Daniel Holley sat at the wheel of an old Ford delivery truck, waiting for Dillon. There were parked vehicles, but little evidence of people.
Rain drove in across the East River, clouding his view of the coastal ships tied up to the pier that stretched ahead. A policeman emerged from an alley a few yards away, his uniform coat running with water, cap pulled down over his eyes. He banged on the truck with his nightstick.
Holley wound down the window. “Can I help you, Officer?”
“I should imagine you could, you daft bastard,” Sean Dillon told him. “Me being wet to the skin already.”
He scrambled in and Holley said, “Why the fancy dress? Are we going to a party?”
“Of a sort. You see that decaying warehouse down there with the sign saying ‘Murphy & Son— Import- Export’?”
“How could I miss it? What about it?” Holley took out an old silver case, extracted two cigarettes, lit them with a Zippo, and passed one over. “Get your lips round that, you’re shaking like a leaf. What’s the gig?”
Dillon took a quick drag. “God help me, but that’s good. Ferguson called me from Washington and told me to check the place out, but not to do anything till I got a call from him.” He glanced at his watch. “Which I’m expecting just about now.”
“How kind of him to think of us. Brooklyn in weather like this is such a joy,” Holley told him, and at that moment, Dillon’s Codex sounded.
He switched to speaker and General Charles Ferguson’s voice boomed out. “You’ve looked the place over, Dillon?”
“As much as I could. Two cars outside it, that’s all. No sign of life.”
“Well, life there undoubtedly is. I made an appointment by telephone for you, Daniel, with Patrick Murphy. Your name is Daniel Grimshaw, and you’re representing a Kosovo Muslim religious group seeking arms for defense purposes.”
“And who exactly is Murphy and what’s it all about?” Holley asked.
“As you two well know, several dissident groups, all IRA in one way or another, have raised their ugly heads once again. The security services have managed to foil a number of potentially nasty incidents, but luck won’t always be on their side. You’ll remember the incident in Belfast not long ago when a bomb badly injured three policemen, one of whom lost his left arm. Since then another policeman has been killed by a car bomb.”
“I heard about that,” Dillon said.
“Police officers are having to check under their cars again, just like in the bad old days, and some of them are finding explosive devices. We can’t have that. And there’s more. Attempts have started again to smuggle arms into Ulster. Last week, a trawler called the Amity tried to land a cargo on the County Down coast and was sighted by a Royal Navy gunboat. The crew did a runner and haven’t been caught, but I’ve firm evidence that the cargo of assorted weaponry originated with Murphy & Son.”
The Washington day in August had been almost subtropical, but by late evening an unexpected shower had cooled things.
The Hay-Adams Hotel was only a short walk from the White House, and outside the bar two men sat at a small table on the terrace, a canopy protecting them against the rain. The elder had an authoritative mustache and thick hair touched with silver, and wore a dark blue suit and Guards tie. He was General Charles Ferguson, Commander of the British Prime Minister’s private hit squad, which was an unfortunate necessity in the era of international terrorism.
His companion, Major Harry Miller, was forty-seven, just under six feet, with gray eyes, a shrapnel scar on one cheek, and a calm and confident manner. A Member of Parliament, he served the Prime Minister as a general troubleshooter and bore the rank of Under Secretary of State. He had proven he could handle anything from the politicians at the United Nations to the hell of Afghanistan.
Just now, he was saying to Ferguson, “Are you sure the President will be seeing us?”
Ferguson nodded. “Blake was quite certain. The President said he’d make sure to clear time for us.”
Sean Dillon stepped out onto the terrace, glass in hand, and joined them, his fair hair tousled and his shirt and velvet cord suit black as usual.
“So there you are.”
Before Ferguson could reply, Blake Johnson appeared from the bar and found them.
He wore a light trench coat draped over his shoulders to protect a tweed country suit. He was fifty-nine, his black hair flecked with gray. As a boy, he’d lied about his age and when he’d stepped out of the plane to start his first tour of Vietnam, he’d been only eighteen. A longtime veteran of the Secret Service, he was now Personal Security Adviser to the new President, as he had been for several Presidents before him.
“We thought we’d been stood up,” Dillon told him and shook hands.
“Nonsense,” Ferguson said. “It’s good of him to make time for us.”
“Your report on Afghanistan certainly interested him. Besides, he’s wanted to meet you for some time now.”
“With all the new blood running around, I think that’s very decent of the man,” Dillon said. “I thought we’d have been kicked out of the door along with the special relationship.”
Ferguson said to Blake, “Take no notice of him. Let’s get going.”
For those who didn’t want to make a fuss, the best way into the White House was through the east entrance, which was where Clancy Smith, a large, fit black Secret Service man assigned to the President, waited patiently.
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