Nocturne for a Dangerous Manby Marc Matz
Gavilan Robie was a man who lived a very private lifeunder any of a number of names and faces, many of whom had acquaintances and friendsbut only a very few people were acquaintances of Gavilan Robie. Robie was a hunter, once a member of the clandestine Action Rescue Commitee, now freelance. And when he's hired by a powerful multi-national corporation
Gavilan Robie was a man who lived a very private lifeunder any of a number of names and faces, many of whom had acquaintances and friendsbut only a very few people were acquaintances of Gavilan Robie. Robie was a hunter, once a member of the clandestine Action Rescue Commitee, now freelance. And when he's hired by a powerful multi-national corporation to find an employee kidnapped by terrorists, he finds himself in over his head. He will need every trick he's picked up during years of covert ops just to survive.
"Matz's first novel combines near-future intrigue with hard-boiled detection in a well-paced tale of high-level politics."Library Journal
"Matz comfortably balances action and contemplation...interesting weaponry and global settings captivate to the very end."Booklist
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Read an Excerpt
Friday, October 22.
Hooker was in the heart of the South Bay colonia, being invisible in a crowded brahmin bar. Slowly nursing a beer, with his fingernails sketching lines on the frosted lager glass like a child drawing on a wintry window pane. He should be calm, easy. He wasn't. He had thought it would be better to wait in a place where no one would know him, where no one would expect him to be, than to prowl restlessly over rain lashed streets. His temples were throbbing painfully. He ached to be anywhere else. Away from this room, the air thick with useless, monotonical, talk. Away from the parasites with their rusted-out souls.
No, it wasn't true that he wanted to be just anywhere else. He knew exactly what he longed for: the porch of Abbie's whitewashed cottage, his bare feet up on the rail, listening to the singsong of the katydids. Watching the late light caramelize his wife's tawny shoulders and cheeks, the shadows slowly gliding down her damp shift, the cotton twisting at her hips as she would turn to him, watching him.
Like a prayer, he quoted to himself words from her favorite poem: "Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike." It wasn't a comfort.
But it was because of Abbie, and what they, he had lost, that he was here among these zombies. He and the team. He stood up abruptly and drained his glass.
He was wrapping his scarf around his neck when he heard a man speak with an inflection, a turn of phrase, that shouted his memories back. The voice from the end of the bar called out again, "Melissa, cher, come by me!"
Anotherlost Louisiana boy. A fellow refugee from one of the long arc of drowned parishes: Orleans, Saint Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche, Terrbonne, Saint Mary, Vermillion, Cameron, Iberia. A rosary of dead names, villages, people, and the lost, once inexhaustibly sweet land. With a clarity that he hated, he could still see it all. He knew he should let it go, but it had been such a long, long, time since he had heard home.
He worked his way down the length of the bar to where a sallow-skinned blond was embracing a woman. Their shoulder wraps had the same corporate tartan: deep gray and turquoise braided with crimson helixes. From his student days he vaguely recalled the pattern as belonging to one of the lesser biomed combines. On the woman's muscular arms dangled delicately filigreed lifemonitor bracelets, fetishes for the self-obsessed. There was a clear spot next to them. He unobtrusively filled it; leaned against the shiny marble counter with his back to the man, and listened.
"...So I told Martinez not to take it so hard. Po' Jenkins had it worse when the Serengeti Alliance banned our rectal KV-12's you didn't hear about that cher? Ahn, Jenkins told me that the yammers claimed they were causing brain damage!"
Hooker sighed, turned around, loosened the left cuff of his jacket and waited politely for the woman to finish laughing.
Then he knifed the man.
Not literally of course. He was a sometime believer that punishment should fit the crime. And while mindless bigots were a never-ending disease, they weren't the plague carriers. But there were times. The s/m was already on its way back into its wrist holster.
But for the blond, his nervous system was shrieking as he felt a shearing pain rip upwards from a point just below his back ribs, curving though part of his left lung, and ending as a cold steel needle punching into his heart.
Before the man fell to his knees, Hooker was already more than ten feet away moving with ease through the unknowing crowd. The man's companion just stood there, fright clawing at her face. Finally she screamed.
From the corner of his eyes he saw a waitress running over with the bar's Zo ll medpac and fitting it over the stricken man's chest and face. In seconds the device would adjust itself to the victim's size, run puzzled diagnostics and attempt emergency treatment. From the doorway, with only zombie backs to see him, he nodded approvingly as he slipped out to the street.
"Sorry Abbie," he whispered to no one, "I've fallen too far for endurance."
The rain was thinning to a drizzle as he strolled casually to his bike. He popped the canopy and slid into the saddle. A press of the starter and BMW-Honda's flywheel purred quietly between his legs. He was happy with his choice; he had driven the motorcycle from Amarillo to LA in less than twenty hours and it had performed flawlessly. Always steal the best and leave the poor fools the rest the one part of the bastards credo he believed in.
He tugged his right earlobe. 23:31.17 the comlink murmured like a drowsy lover. Then the slight hiss of a clear channel. Good. The target was supposed to be primed and ready by 0100 hours. He had plenty of time to get himself into position.
He took the empty back streets to the beach, feeling the bike gently shudder as it drifted over the sweaty bricks. The tall villas pinched together on their narrow lots glowed like steamy hothouse orchids in the bike's soft beam. He had to swerve carefully around some broken solar shingles that had been blown down during the rainstorm. They were as black and sharp as shattered obsidian. Before dawn the tinkers would scoop up the pieces and recycle them to the high desert communes. An example of what the zombies laughingly liked to call trickle-down ecology.
When he got near the seawall he killed the lights, cut the engine and coasted until he was about a hundred meters from the Flower club; the Blue Azalea. The party club was housed in a trapezoidal structure partly defiantly cantilevered over the levee. Some local half-wit tagger had recently sprayed with reflective paint "Dykes Against the Wall" along the building's foundation. He pushed back the bike's side windows. The only sounds were of the surf ghosting onto the massive pile of concrete boulders, and the faint thump of the club's ocean generator, its piezoelectric panels flexing with the tide.
The Blue Azalea's sign, a bright cobalt swirl of tubeless neon, illuminated the row of great cars situated across the wide intersection from the club entrance. He smiled. This part of South Bay was a restricted zone with limited access for automobiles even the richest and most powerful had to keep their limos parked vulnerably out in the open. Prudence and the weather kept the drivers in their vehicles. But they had spaced their cars well apart, motors idling standard security procedure.
He thumb keyed his saddle bags. He hadn't bothered to check them before, because if anyone had managed to get at the bags, the bike and the thief would have gone up in a small but spectacular fireball which would have been a pity, but not an inconvenience. The team believed in redundancy. He took out his tools, put them on his lap and sighed. He wished he could have been inside the building working the wing position, but the Blue Azalea was for women only. So he compensated for his disappointment by half closing his eyes and imaging the scenario. The cavernous interior would be filled with glittering mist and music. Each distinctly colored plume of smoke, guided by dozens of micro-fans controlled by origami processors, was a stream of neuroactive agents: euphorics, kinesthetic stimulants, topical aphrodisiacs. An agile dancer moving the long length of the main room could undergo a dozen distinct sensory impacts, matching each to the music's beat and rhythm.
Teresa would be one of those dancers, feeling shamefully awkward in her Cretan style bodice bare breasted, waist tightly cinched Little Havana and its morals still pulsed in her blood. But she was an experienced wing. Wearing nose filters and flesh colored skin block, her attention would be wholly fixed on the players within the zone: Chloe, the team's center; the target that Chloe was seducing and most importantly, the target's bodyguard who Teresa knew would be as protected and alert as she was.
Chloe wasn't shielded from the drugsmoke, but after years of playing in Flower clubs she had a high threshold for its effects. And more than that, her will and determination would carry her through. Only the unsuspecting target would be completely helpless. The woman had come to the club looking for quick love; the team had used her profile to transform Chloe into an irresistible force. The piercing looks, the promising words, the melting touch the physics of desire are remarkably simple if you know all the right formulas. When Teresa was certain that Chloe had snagged the target and had positioned herself to neutralize the bodyguard she would give the signal. Then he and the other members of the team would handle the rest...
* * *
"12:47.2. We're leaving, ETA 2 minutes hard. Harvest Moon." Over the comlink, Teresa's voice had a slight, uncontrollable, tinge of excitement. Despite her Ch'an training, she still had trouble keeping herself fully calm. Hooker smiled thinly; courtesy of other people's wars he had his own resources. The comlink began counting down the seconds.
He put his helmet on and pressed hard under his left armpit, triggering his implant. 107 seconds, 106 seconds... The proprandol/amphetamine/cortisol mix filled him like a blessing. In moments a rush of absolute focus came over him. 89 seconds, 88 seconds... He started the bike's main engine and took it smoothly up to within a thousand rpms of the redline. 65 seconds, 64 seconds, 63 seconds... One of the limos, a Mitsubishi Koten, fast blinked its parking lights twice, redundantly confirming which vehicle in the row was to be his objective: the pewter colored Rolls; its adiabatic armor creating subtle bugles along its long flanks. He checked the action on the 12mm H&K and put it on the magnetic strip he had installed above the instrument panel. 33 seconds, 32 seconds... he pulled the firing pin off the ring airfoil grenade. 11 seconds, 10 seconds...
The bike almost jumped off the ground as it flew across the intersection. At the beginning of the tee, Hooker spun the bike around. As the tires skidded and squealed harshly on the rain slicked tarmac he corrected his balance without thinking and fingersnapped the grenade at the Rolls. The RAG, exactly like its ancestral frisbee, soared, dipped, and then swooped under the car's chassis. The explosion caused the Rolls to lift and buck like a crazed horse, flipping over on its side with a sickening crunch. The Koten was already on its way to the club's entrance. He drew his pistol and started to lay down a barrage of flash rounds in front of the limos. On the periphery he saw the brief struggle by the door. The target had collapsed in Chloe's arms. A tough looking woman, guard or patron he couldn't tell, started to move towards the melee, saw the twin fingered shine on the barrels of the scatter gun sticking out from the car and reconsidered. A sudden burst of red Jesu! Teresa must have used her torch on the bodyguard. The burning, howling figure spun wildly back towards the club scattering those few of the crowd that had remained frozen by panic. At the door the blaze collided with a rushing guard armed with a wide bore sonic. His scream merged with hers. Then the team and the target were in the car and moving.
Hooker wheeled in a circle. The street was a maelstrom of light and chaos. Nobody was trying to be a hero. He slowed the bike and carefully put a shot into the Blue Azalea's sign. The phosphorus flare blossomed, engulfing brilliant blue with blinding yellow white. He gave a rebel's shout, a Lucifer's yell to the night: "All ain't lost!" As if it heard, the sky shuddered and brought down a sudden curtain of rain. He grinned, twisted the bike's handlebars savagely and took off in the opposite direction from the getaway car.
"12:52.3" said the comlink.
Excerpted from Nocturne for a Dangerous Man by Marc Matz. Copyright © 1999 by Marc Matz. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Meet the Author
Mark Matz lives in California. Nocturne For a Dangerous Man is his first novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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First bought this book when it was published in 1999, I have read it several times since then. It is smart, fast paced and engrossing. I loved the world and character building. Highly recommend.