Ivory

Ivory

by Tony Park, Mark Davis
     
 

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Alex Tremain is a pirate in trouble. The two women in his life—one of them his financial adviser, the other his diesel mechanic—have left him. He's facing a mounting tide of debts and his crew of modern-day buccaneers, a multi-national band of ex-military cut-throats, is getting restless.

A chance raid on a wildlife smuggling ship sets the Chinese

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Overview

Alex Tremain is a pirate in trouble. The two women in his life—one of them his financial adviser, the other his diesel mechanic—have left him. He's facing a mounting tide of debts and his crew of modern-day buccaneers, a multi-national band of ex-military cut-throats, is getting restless.

A chance raid on a wildlife smuggling ship sets the Chinese triads after him and, to add to his woes, corporate lawyer Jane Humphries lands, literally, in his lap. Another woman is the last thing Captain Tremain needs right now—especially one whose lover is a ruthless shipping magnate backed up by a deadly bunch of contract killers. Meanwhile Jane finds herself torn between the crooked but charming pirate and her coolly calculating millionaire boss, George Penfold. Both are passionate, and both are dangerous. What Alex really needs is one last big heist—something valuable enough to fulfil his dreams and set him and his men up for life. When the South African government makes a controversial decision to reinstitute the culling of elephants in its national parks, Alex finds the answer to his dilemma—three tonnes of ivory.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/07/2015
Alex Tremain, the rogue hero of this fun, deftly plotted thriller from Australian author Park (The Delta), turns to piracy in order to finance the renovation and reopening of the crumbling hotel that his parents once operated on an island off Mozambique. While plundering the Peng Cheng, a Chinese freighter, Alex witnesses the Peng Cheng’s captain give a package to the engineer of the Penfold Son, an ocean liner anchored nearby. When Alex learns that the package has contents worth one million pounds and is somewhere on the Penfold Son, he and his crew attack the ocean liner. In the ensuing fray, Jane Elizabeth Humphries, a lawyer employed by and romantically involved with George Robertson Penfold, the ocean liner’s owner, is knocked unconscious and taken captive on Alex’s island. Jane, who suspects George is involved in illegal activities and is attracted to Alex, is drawn into a deadly struggle between the two men to find the package first. Events proceed at a blistering pace to a masterly conclusion. Agent: Isobel Dixon, Blake Friedmann Literary Agency (U.K.). (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-09-03
A fast-moving thriller set in South Africa and the Indian Ocean. Alex Tremain is a good guy. Really. He simply needs plenty of quick cash to restore his five-star hotel off the Mozambican coast. So naturally, he becomes a pirate, planning to go strictly legit after a few good scores. He and his band of alpha males hijack the Oslo Star for its cargo of trucks. Then they come upon the reeking hellhole MV Peng Cheng, filled with large, suffering animals, including rhinos and elephants. "This place isn't just a zoo, it's a bloody goldmine," one of Alex's team exclaims. But that's nothing. The big money would be in stealing a shipment of ivory, and ship owner Chan asks him to do just that. When Alex expresses moral concerns, Chan jokes "My, my, a pirate with a conscience?" In an especially bloody and disgusting scene, coldblooded hunters slaughter elephants for their ivory. Profiting from such butchery may be too much for Alex, who ponders that there are "degrees of wrongness." Eventually he wants "out of the piracy game," though some on his team emphatically disagree. During all of this, the container ship Penfold Son plies the high seas. It's owned by the three-timing George Penfold, who cheats on his wife and a girlfriend. Jane Humphries works as an attorney for Penfold Shipping and currently sleeps in Penfold's bed, but will she accept his marriage proposal, or will she come to her senses and mate with a decent pirate like Alex? The action here is crisp and nearly nonstop. Even when the story looks like it's finally winding down, one last crisis appears. A compelling tale filled with tension, blood, and a disturbing moral question: will humans stop killing Africa's large animals before they become extinct?

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781743191484
Publisher:
Bolinda Publishing Pty, Limited
Publication date:
03/12/2012
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
8.37(w) x 7.00(h) x 2.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ivory


By Tony Park

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Tony Park
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5891-6


CHAPTER 1

Southampton, England

The overheated interior of the security minivan in which Jane was driven across the dock stank of the driver's body odor and the cigarette he'd obviously been smoking before she got in. The relief she got from opening the sliding door was short-lived, and the wind and rain lashed her while she struggled to drag her rucksack and day pack out. The driver had no intention of leaving his seat to help her, and was probably looking forward to relighting his smoke. Her strawberry blonde hair was plastered to her face and rivulets cascaded off the collar of her Gore-Tex parka and down the back of her neck. The bleak day matched her mood. There was no band, no streamers, no crowds of well-wishers, no tearful farewells. Just row upon row of brand-new Land Rovers, awaiting loading on a car carrier.

Her ship loomed above her. At nearly four hundred meters in length, the one hundred and thirty thousand tonne MV Penfold Son was hard to miss. The last of its cargo of twelve thousand steel shipping containers was being loaded by a giant crane on the dockside. It was one of the largest container ships afloat and just within the Suezmax specifications that allowed it to squeeze through the Suez Canal. It was an impressive beast, this flagship of a family-owned line; however, Jane didn't like to think of the word family when she thought of the name Penfold. It made her feel bad, and she wasn't, she told herself for the third time that morning, a bad person. Was she?

The man at the top of the gangway stared down at her as she walked up. Pale-faced and gaunt, with lank, greasy, graying hair that protruded from under his white plastic hard hat, he wore a blue boiler suit and orange safety vest.

He wiped his nose and sniffled as he took her passport from her and opened it. "Jane Elizabeth Humphries. You are from head office, da?"

"Yes."

"Welcome aboard." He made a note on a clipboard and handed back her passport.

She thought it a talent of the man to make the word welcome sound like an insult.

"I am engineer, Igor Putin. Name is like former president. I show you to your cabin. Come."

Another crewman, who looked Filipino, appeared and Putin handed him the clipboard. The man nodded and smiled at Jane, and took over Putin's position at the top of the gangway.

Jane wiped wet hair from her eyes and followed the Russian officer down the narrow passageway. From somewhere far beneath her came the throb of the ship's engines, vibrating up through the deck into the soles of her feet — a far more pleasant sensation than following in Igor's wake, which smelled of cheap aftershave and body odor.

"You are lawyer, yes?" Igor said without turning around to face her.

"Yes." She'd heard all the jokes and aspersions before.

"I have just got divorced from Englishwoman. I don't like lawyers. No offense."

"None taken." She didn't like smelly Russians either, but thought it wise not to upset the crew too early in the voyage.

Igor showed her to the owner's cabin. This was the crème de la crème of accommodation on board a working freighter. She'd seen pictures, but this was her first time on board one of the company's ships, though not her first cruise.

Jane hated flying. It terrified her, so she did everything — anything — she could to avoid it. If she was required to be in Paris for a business meeting on a Monday morning, she would book herself onto the Eurostar train on the Sunday afternoon and stay in a hotel, rather than risk her life on a forty-five minute flight.

She holidayed in England — something that had annoyed and, in two cases, eventually alienated past boyfriends — or took cruises. She'd been around the Mediterranean and Aegean and taken a cruise to Sydney and back on board the Queen Mary. She was still paying off the credit card bill from the last voyage, but that was a small price to pay, she reasoned, compared to plunging thirty thousand feet to her death.

Jane considered herself something of a seasoned sea traveler, though this would be a new adventure for her.

The owner's cabin was actually a two-room suite — a bedroom and small sitting room, with an ensuite shower and toilet. She knew it to be thirty square meters and that turned out to be about as big as a very small London flat, minus the kitchenette. There was a double bed, a bar fridge, a television with a VCR and DVD player, an AM-FM radio and an electric kettle and tea and coffee supplies on a small sideboard.

The cabin was immediately below the navigating bridge and faced forward. Through thick glass windows she had a fantastic view across the expanse of stacked shipping containers. At least the view would be fantastic when the rain cleared, she thought.

When she opened the fridge she saw six bottles of vintage Krug champagne and a punnet of strawberries. She closed the door and smiled. As she unpacked she reflected on the last two weeks at work and the way her life had been thrown into disarray.

It had been clear to her, not long after she started her new job nine months earlier, that the managing director and future owner of Penfold Shipping, George Robertson Penfold, wanted to sleep with her.

As the in-house counsel for the London-based international shipping firm, Jane could have reeled off a dozen legal and moral reasons why this would have been a bad idea, starting with the fact that George was married and had three teenage children. Had she been minded to take his increasingly unsubtle advances in a different way, she could have mounted a good case for sexual harassment. However, Jane had been attracted to George from the moment she'd entered his city office for her job interview.

He was tall, fit — he ran seven kilometers and did a hundred push-ups a day — handsome, rich, urbane, funny, intelligent and well-read. At forty-five he was young to be the MD of a company with a profit of several hundred million pounds per annum.

Of course, it didn't hurt that his father was chairman of the board, but George was a man who quite clearly could have been running a similarly sized business on his own merits. Indeed, according to company legend, he had done everything in his power not to inherit the business from his father.

George had run away to sea — literally — bunking out of private school at the age of sixteen to work for a rival shipping company. Being the scion of one of Britain's elite shipping families had not helped him on board a rival's vessel; in fact, it had proved a curse for his first few years. He had defended himself and his family name — even though he had earned his father's wrath — in a series of fistfights in ports around the world.

According to George, it had been his wife, Elizabeth, who had talked him into returning to the family fold. By then George was twenty-five and had more than earned his right to serve as an officer on one of his father's ships. He'd risen to captain by the age of thirty-five — no mean feat at the time — and there were few in the industry who would suggest he'd made the rank of Master Mariner by virtue of anything other than merit.

But George missed the sea, or so he'd told Jane when he'd first taken her out for a long weekend on the company yacht. There had been others aboard — the IT manager and chief financial officer — but George seemed to engineer quiet moments when it was just the two of them together. Elizabeth, George said, hated the sea and anything to do with "boats," as she insisted on calling them. She liked his family's money, George said, but not the family business.

He also suspected Elizabeth was having an affair.

Jane had been shocked to hear him make such a private admission to her. The other members of the executive team were ashore, enjoying wine and seafood in the French port in Brittany. Jane, who loved sailing, had willingly volunteered to stay behind and help George secure the yacht. Their work done, George had opened two chilled Czech pilsners, which they drank in the slanting afternoon sunshine.

"I know I'm away from home on business a hell of a lot, but I do try to be a good husband and father," George had said, looking back out to the channel.

He was a handsome man whose tan and callused hands attested to the fact he didn't spend more time than necessary in his London office. His broad shoulders sometimes looked constrained in a suit, but out on his yacht in an old T-shirt he looked free and cool, in his true element.

"Elizabeth and I have grown apart, as the Americans would say."

She'd smiled at his awkwardness.

"It's been ... well, rather too long since ... Oh, bugger, this is what my kids would call TMI. I'm so sorry, Jane. I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"It's fine, George. I like to think we're friends, and you can talk to me about anything. Really."

He'd laid a hand on her forearm — the first time she could recall him touching her — and it had sent a ripple of electricity throughout her entire body. She'd had to catch her breath.

"God, now I suppose you expect me to say my wife doesn't understand me. I feel like a walking bloody cliché."

"Does she?" Jane had asked.

"No."

They'd had dinner ashore at a brasserie George had frequented often enough to be greeted warmly by the maître d'. Afterward, in a boutique hotel he'd booked for the evening, Jane again found herself alone with her boss, over coffee and Cointreau. There were even candles.

"I know it's wrong, but I'm attracted to you, Jane."

She'd had a moment of panic. She, too, was drawn to him, though she had never in her life been with a married or otherwise attached man. She told herself she was not the kind of woman who'd try to take another's man, though she'd never actually found herself in such a situation. She thought of Elizabeth and the children, and said, "I'm so sorry, George."

"Forgive me," he'd blurted out.

"No, no. I'm flattered, believe me, and I do like you, George. I really do. And I'm not just saying that because you pay me an inordinate amount of money."

He'd laughed it off, but she'd had the distinct feeling he would try to woo her again. She was right. Two weeks ago, after sharing two bottles of wine at a posh restaurant, she'd gone with him to the empty company flat in Soho and they had made love.

She pushed thoughts of George from her mind for the moment. There would be plenty of time to think about him on the long voyage to Africa.

The normal route from the UK to Cape Town would have taken the Penfold Son down the west coast of Africa, but there was nothing normal about this voyage. George had his sights set on acquisitions in Africa and north Asia. The Penfold Son would be taking a slow trip, through the Suez Canal, across to Mumbai and then back to Africa, stopping at Mombasa, Durban, Port Elizabeth and, finally, Cape Town. The costly voyage was as much about public relations as it was about trade. "Britannia used to rule the waves," George had told The Times recently, "but in the twenty-first century it's going to be Penfold in charge." George wanted to show off his new ship and let his competitors know that he was a major player with money to spend.

Jane wasn't sailing away to forget George, so much as put some distance between them while she thought through a lot of things.

There was also a business reason for her travel to South Africa. Penfold Shipping had begun negotiations to purchase a South African company, De Witt Shipping, and Jane would play a key role in the talks. A round of intensive meetings was planned for the end of the month and George and other members of the senior executive team would be flying out to Johannesburg. Jane, of course, would rather jump out the window of her twenty-third floor London office than be stuck on an aircraft for nine hours.

The cruise on the Penfold Son — which had been named after George by the old man — would arrive in Cape Town three days before the meetings were due to begin. Jane would then catch a luxury train, the Pride of Africa, from the Cape to Johannesburg.

She'd come to an arrangement with George about taking so much time out of the office. She would, in fact, be in contact with her colleagues and boss by satellite phone and e-mail while on board. She unpacked her laptop and booted it up. Her BlackBerry beeped in her handbag, reminding her she was still very much on the job, but it would soon lose its signal. As a goodwill gesture she had offered to take two weeks' leave as well, but George had refused.

"It's high time you got a look at the sharp end of this business. Call it an extended familiarization trip. Besides, you're saving me the cost of a business class airfare by taking a slow ship to South Africa," he'd said.

There would be time to relax, though. Plenty of time, in fact. She unpacked a dozen chunky paperbacks and stacked them on the shelf next to the bed. She opened her handbag and checked the BlackBerry.

Hi. Hope you've settled in and Igor hasn't offended you too much. They're a good bunch and you'll get used to washing dishes and swabbing the decks soon enough. George. x


The kiss at the end of the message struck her as slightly improper, even in such a relaxed, abbreviated form of work communication.

Improper, but exciting. Just like George.


Indian Ocean, off the coast of South Africa

"Two targets, six miles ahead," Hans, the first mate, said.

Captain Are Berentsen put down his cup of coffee and shifted his position on the bridge of the MV Oslo Star so he could see the radar screen. "No AIS," he said — neither boat displayed the Automatic Identification System code that any vessel of substance would display. That wasn't unusual, though, in African waters, where the transponder was a luxury not everyone could afford. "Fishermen, I suppose."

It was the mate's watch and Are had come to the bridge to drink his coffee with his old friend, and to find an excuse to get away from the computer and the paperwork that was sadly so much a part of a master's job these days. A lookout, a Filipino able seaman, stood at the far end of the bridge.

Berentsen picked up a pair of binoculars himself and scanned the horizon. Beneath his feet the twenty-one thousand tonne deadweight Pure Car and Truck Carrier, or PCTC as it was known, was packed with row after row of new motor vehicles, tractors and earth-moving equipment. The fifteen-deck floating car park's last stop had been Port Elizabeth, where she'd taken on scores of South African-manufactured Hummer H3 luxury four-wheel drives bound for Australia. They'd take on some more cars from the Toyota plant at Durban and disgorge half-a-dozen mining trucks before the long haul across the Southern Ocean through mighty swells spawned in the empty expanses between the Antarctic and Africa.

"They're not moving." Are lowered the binoculars and rubbed his eyes. They were close to shore, less than three nautical miles, hugging the coast in order to stay out of the Agulhas current. No, it wasn't unusual to come across a couple of trawlers here. So why was the hair on the back of his neck suddenly prickling to life?

"Captain, I see them." Hans pointed to the tiny specks.

Berentsen refocused his own glasses and saw two fishing trawlers, line astern and close to each other. A streak of smoke scratched a path from the lead boat across the otherwise perfectly empty blue sky. "Orange flare. Try to raise him on the radio."

The mate repeated the Oslo Star's call sign three times into the radio handset and asked the trawlers to identify themselves. There was no reply. He picked up his binoculars again. "He is flying N over C, Captain." The flags — and the orange flare — were internationally recognized distress signals.

Berentsen swore to himself. Any delay in their tight schedule meant money, but he was obliged to render assistance to any vessel at sea that needed it.

"Turn into the weather, starboard five, dead slow ahead," Berentsen said.

"Turn into weather, starboard five, dead slow ahead," Hans repeated, signaling he had understood the order to use engines and the onshore breeze to starboard to slow them down. Had they simply stopped the ship's single engine, it would have taken more than two kilometers to stop the Oslo Star, which had been traveling at close to twenty knots. By turning away from the stricken fishing vessels Are was using the elements to reduce his speed.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Ivory by Tony Park. Copyright © 2009 Tony Park. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

TONY PARK grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has worked as a newspaper reporter in Australia and England, a government press secretary, a public relations consultant, and a freelance writer. He is also a major in the Australian Army Reserve and served in Afghanistan. He and his wife, Nicola, divide their time between their home in Sydney, and southern Africa.

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