- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
FORMER SAS COMMANDO ANDY MCNAB UNLEASHES A NONSTOP WHIRLWIND OF ACTION AND INTRIGUE IN HIS NEW #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER FEATURING TOP-SECRET OPERATIVE NICK STONE.
Desperate to gain American citizenship and start a new life with the woman he loves, Nick Stone agrees to do one last job for the CIA. He must infiltrate an Arab republic, kill a money-laundering local businessman, and bring back gruesome proof of his death. He ...
Ships from: Federal Way, WA
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
FORMER SAS COMMANDO ANDY MCNAB UNLEASHES A NONSTOP WHIRLWIND OF ACTION AND INTRIGUE IN HIS NEW #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER FEATURING TOP-SECRET OPERATIVE NICK STONE.
Desperate to gain American citizenship and start a new life with the woman he loves, Nick Stone agrees to do one last job for the CIA. He must infiltrate an Arab republic, kill a money-laundering local businessman, and bring back gruesome proof of his death. He doesn't know why, and he doesn't care. Too late, Stone realizes the truth about his real mission — which has only just begun. In the shadowy French underworld, he's caught in the deep end of a very dirty war against al-Qaeda operatives. And as one bloody twist leads to another, Stone soon finds himself on his deadliest assignment yet — and confronted by the most lethal dilemma a man could face....
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2001, 23:16 HRS.
The submarine had broken surface ten minutes earlier, and its deck was still slippery beneath my feet. Dull red flashlight glow glistened on the black steel a few yards ahead of me as five of the boat's crew feverishly prepared the Zodiac inflatable. As soon as they'd finished, it would be carrying me and my two team members across five miles of Mediterranean and onto the North African coast.
One of the crew broke away and said something to Lotfi, who'd been standing next to me by the hatch. I didn't understand that much Arabic, but Lotfi translated. "They are finished, Nick -- we are ready to float off."
The three of us moved forward, swapped places with the submariners, and stepped over the sides of the Zodiac onto the anti-slip decking. Lotfi was steering and took position to the right of the Yamaha 75 outboard. We bunched up near him, on each side of the engine. We wore black ski hats and gloves, and a "dry bag" -- a Gore-Tex suit -- over our clothes with elastic wrists and neck to protect us from the cold water. Our gear had been stowed in large zip-lock waterproof bags and lashed to the deck along with the fuel bladders.
I looked behind me. The crew had already disappeared and the hatch was closed. We'd been warned by the captain that he wasn't going to hang around, not when we were inside the territorial waters of one of the most ruthless regimes on earth. And he was willing to take even fewer risks on the pickup, especially if things had gone to rat shit while we were ashore. No way did he want the Algerians capturing his boat and crew. The Egyptian navy couldn't afford to lose so much as arowboat from their desperately dilapidated fleet, and he didn't want his crew to lose their eyes or balls, or any of the other pieces the Algerians liked to remove from people who had pissed them off.
"Brace for float-off." Lotfi had done this before.
I could already feel the submarine moving beneath us. We were soon surrounded by bubbles as it blew its tanks. Lotfi slotted the Yamaha into place and fired it up to get us under way. But the sea was heaving tonight with a big swell, and no sooner had our hull made contact with the water than a wave lifted the bow and exposed it to the wind. The Zodiac started to rear up. The two of us threw our weight forward and the bow slapped down again, but with such momentum that I lost my balance and fell onto my ass on the side of the boat, which bounced me backward. Before I knew what was happening, I'd been thrown over the side.
The only part of me uncovered was my face, but the cold took my breath away as I downed a good throatful of salt water. This might be the Mediterranean, but it felt like the North Atlantic.
As I came to the surface and bobbed in the swell, I discovered that my dry bag had a leak in the neck seal. Seawater seeped into my cheap sweatshirt and cotton pants.
"You okay, Nick?" The shout came from Lotfi.
"Couldn't be better," I grunted, breathing hard as the other two hauled me back aboard. "Got a leak in the bag."
There was a mumble of Arabic between the two of them, and an adolescent snigger or two. Fair: I would have found it funny too.
I shivered as I wrung out my hat and gloves, but even wet wool keeps its heat-retaining qualities and I knew I was going to need all the help I could get on this part of the trip.
Lotfi fought to keep the boat upright as his pal and I leaned on the front -- or bow, as Lotfi was constantly reminding me -- to keep it down. He finally got the craft under control and we were soon plowing through the crests, my eyes stinging as the salt spray hit my face with the force of gravel. As waves lifted us and the outboard screamed in protest as the propeller left the water, I could see lights on the coast and could just make out the glow of Oran, Algeria's second largest city. But we were steering clear of its busy port, where the Spanish ferries to'd and fro'd; we were heading about ten miles east, to make landfall at a point between the city and a place called Cap Ferrat. One look at the map during the briefing in Alexandria had made it clear the French had left their mark here big-time. The coastline was peppered with Cap this, Plage that, Port the other.
Cap Ferrat itself was easy to recognize. Its lighthouse flashed every few seconds in the darkness to the left of the glow from Oran. We were heading for a small spit of land that housed some of the intermittent clusters of light we were starting to make out quite well now as we got closer to the coastline.
As the bow crashed through the water I moved to the rear of the boat to minimize the effects of the spray and wind, pissed off that I was wet and cold before I'd even started this job. Lotfi was on the other side of the outboard. I looked across as he checked his GPS (Global Positioning System) and adjusted the throttle to keep us on the right bearing.
The brine burned my eyes, but this was a whole lot better than the sub we'd just left. It had been built in the 1960s and the air conditioning was fading. After being cooped up in diesel fumes for three days, waiting for the right moment to make this hit, I'd been gagging to be out in the fresh air, even air this fresh. I comforted myself with the thought that the next time I inhaled diesel I'd be chugging along ninety yards below the Mediterranean, back to Alexandria, drinking steaming cups of sweet black tea and celebrating the end of my very last job.
The lights got closer and the coastline took on a bit more shape. Lotfi didn't need the GPS anymore and it went into the rubber bow bag. We were maybe four hundred yards offshore and I could start to make out the target area. The higher, rocky ground was flooded with light, and in the blackness below it, I could just about make out the cliff, and the beach Lotfi had assured us was good enough to land on.
We moved forward more slowly now, the engine just ticking over to keep the noise down. When we were about a hundred yards from the beach, Lotfi cut the fuel and tilted the outboard until it locked horizontal once more. The boat lost momentum and began to wallow in the swell. He'd already started to connect one of the full fuel bladders in preparation for our exfiltration. We couldn't afford to fiddle around if the shit hit the fan and we had to make a run for it.
His teeth flashed white as he gave us a huge grin. "Now we paddle."
It was obvious from the way they constantly ragged on each other that Lotfi and the one whose name I still couldn't pronounce -- Hubba-Hubba, something like that -- had worked together before.
Hubba-Hubba was still at the bow and dug his wooden paddle into the swell. We closed in on the beach. The sky was perfectly clear and star-filled, and suddenly there wasn't a breath of wind. All I could hear was the gentle slap of the paddles pushing through the water, joined now and then by the scrape of boots on the wooden flooring as one or other of us shifted position. At least the paddling had gotten me warm.
Lotfi never stopped checking ahead, to make sure we were going to hit the beach exactly where he wanted, and the Arabic for "right" I did know: "Il al yameen, yameen."
The two of them were Egyptian, and that was about as much as I wanted to know -- not that it had turned out that way. Like me, they were deniable operators; in fact, everyone and everything about this job was deniable. If we were compromised, the U.S. would deny the Egyptians were false-flagging this job for them, and I guessed that was just the price Egypt had to pay for being the second biggest recipient of U.S. aid apart from Israel, to the tune of about two billion dollars a year. There's no such thing as a free falafel.
Egypt, in its turn, would deny these two, and as for me, the Egyptians probably didn't even know I was there. I didn't care; I had no cover documents, so if I was captured I was going to get screwed regardless. The only bits of paper I'd been issued were four thousand U.S. dollar bills, in tens and fifties, with which to try to buy my way out of the country if I got into shit, and keep if they weren't needed. It was much better than working for the Brits.
We kept paddling toward the clusters of light. The wetness down my back and under my arms was now warm, but still uncomfortable. I looked up at the other two and we nodded mutual encouragement. They were both good guys and both had the same haircut -- shiny, jet-black buzz cuts with a left-hand parting -- and very neat mustaches. I was hoping they were winners who just looked like losers. No one would give them a second look in the street. They were both in their mid-thirties, not tall, not small, both clear-skinned and married, with enough kids between them to start up a soccer team.
"Four-four-two," Lotfi had said, smiling. "I will supply the back four and goalkeeper, Hubba-Hubba the midfield and two strikers." I'd discovered he was a Manchester United fan, and knew more than I did about the English Premier League, which wasn't difficult. The only thing I knew about soccer was that, like Lotfi, more than seventy-five percent of Manchester United's fans didn't even live in the U.K.
They weren't supposed to talk about anything except the job during the planning and preparation phase, in a deserted mining camp just a few hours outside Alexandria, but they couldn't help themselves. We'd sit around the fire after carrying out yet another rehearsal of the attack, and they'd jabber on about their time in Europe or when they'd gone on vacation to the States.
Lotfi had shown himself to be a highly skilled and professional operator as well as a devout Muslim, so I was pleased that this job had gotten the okay before Ramadan -- and also that it was happening in advance of one of the worst storms ever predicted in this part of the world, which the meteorologists had forecast was going to hit Algeria within the next twelve hours. Lotfi had always been confident we'd be able to get in-country ahead of the weather and before he stopped work for Ramadan, for the simple reason that God was with us. He prayed enough, giving God detailed updates several times a day.
We weren't going to leave it all to him, though. Hubba-Hubba wore a necklace that he said was warding off the evil eye, whatever that was. It was a small, blue-beaded hand with a blue eye in the center of the palm, which hung around his neck on a length of cord. I guessed it used to be a badge, because it still had a small safety pin stuck on the back. As far as the boys were concerned, I had a four-man team with me tonight. I just wished the other two were more help with the paddling.
The job itself was quite simple. We were here to kill a forty-eight-year-old Algerian citizen, Adel Kader Zeralda, father of eight and owner of a chain of 7-Eleven-type supermarkets and a domestic fuel company, all based in and around Oran. We were heading for his vacation home, where, so the int (intelligence) said, he did all his business entertaining. It seemed he stayed here quite a lot while his wife looked after the family in Oran; he obviously took his corporate hospitality very seriously indeed.
The satellite photographs we'd been looking at showed a rather unattractive place, mainly because the house was right beside his fuel depot and the parking lot for his delivery trucks. The building was irregularly shaped, like the house that Jack built, with bits and pieces sticking out all over the place and surrounded by a high wall to keep prying eyes from seeing the number of East European whores he got shipped in for a bit of Arabian delight.
Why he needed to die, and anyone else in the house had to be kept alive, I really didn't have a clue. George hadn't told me before I left Boston, and I doubted I would ever find out. Besides, I'd fucked up enough in my time to know when just to get the game-plan in place, do the job, and not ask too many questions. It was a reasonable bet that with over three hundred and fifty Algerian al-Qaeda extremists operating around the globe, Zeralda was up to his neck in it, but I wasn't going to lie awake worrying about that. Algeria had been caught up in a virtual civil war with Islamic fundamentalist groups for more than a decade now, and over a hundred thousand lives had been lost -- which seemed strange to me, considering Algeria was an Islamic country.
Maybe Zeralda posed some other threat to the West's interests. Who cared? All I cared about was keeping totally focused on the job, so with luck I'd get out alive and back to the States to pick up my citizenship. George had rigged it for me; all I had to do in exchange was this one job. Kill Zeralda, and I was finished with this line of work for good. I'd be back on the submarine by first light, a freshly minted U.S. citizen, heading home to Boston and a glittering future.
It felt quite strange going into a friendly country undercover, but at this very moment, the president of Algeria was in Washington, D.C., and Mr. Bush didn't want to spoil his trip. Given the seven-hour time difference, Bouteflika and his wife were probably getting ready for a night of Tex Mex with Mr. and Mrs. B. He was in the States because he wanted the Americans to see Algeria as their North African ally in this new war against terrorism. But I was sure that political support wasn't the only item on the agenda. Algeria also wanted to be seen as an important source of hydrocarbons to the West. Not just oil, but gas: they had vast reserves of it.
Only fifty or so yards to go now, and the depot was plainly visible above us, bathed in yellow light from the fence line, where arc lights on poles blazed into the compound. We knew from Lotfi's recce (reconnaissance) that the two huge tanks to the left of the compound were full of kerosene 28, a domestic heating fuel.
On the other side of the compound, still within the fence line and about thirty yards from the tanks, was a line of maybe a dozen tankers, all likely to be fully laden, ready for delivery in the morning. Along the spit, to the right of the compound as I looked at it, were the outer walls of Zeralda's vacation house, silhouetted by the light of the depot.
Copyright © 2002 by by Andy McNab
Posted November 18, 2003
As usual Nick Stone is upto his eyeballs in s**t trying to build a better life for himself only to get 'trapped' into doing one more job. Superb detail as usual. I stumbled across McNabb's first book Bravo Two Zero back in early '95 when visiting the UK and have been reading him ever since. Just picked up this book and read it on the plane on the way back from the UK this past weekend. An iteresting cast of characters and a good page turner. I see that McNabb has a new book out in hardcover that is available in the UK but doesn't seem to be available here in the USA.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2003
Posted May 12, 2003
This book is absolutely fantastic. I read the entire book in 8 hours. I loved it from the beginning. I really enjoyed the butchery of Nick Stone, he is really ruthless in this epic. I can't wait until i read his next book. Which hopefully will be next year or sooner. If you enjoyed Andy's first novels you will really enjoy this one. It is a real page turner. I found myself not being able to sleep until i finished the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.