African Ice

African Ice

by Jeff Buick




A diamond formation worth untold millions, hidden deep in the jungles of Africa. Many have tried to find it. All have failed. Can Samantha Carlson do the impossible? The president of Gem-Star thinks so when he hires the geologist to lead a team into the Democratic Republic of Congo and return with the diamonds’ location. Gem-Star has sent other teams in to find the formation. None made it out alive.

Samantha was aware the odds were against her when she accepted the mission. She’s taken hazardous jobs before, and she knows what she’s doing. Plus, Gem-Star has provided an escort team to protect her. But Samantha’s expedition is about to turn into an all-out battle for survival. There’s another team on a mission in the jungle. Their goal: kill Samantha.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780843957204
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/28/2006
Pages: 372
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

African Ice

By Jeff Buick

Dorchester Publishing

Copyright © 2006

Jeff Buick

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8439-5720-4

Chapter One

Samantha arrived at ten minutes past the hour. New York
traffic was impossible to predict. The receptionist ushered
her into a conference room, on the same side of the building
as Kerrigan's office. The view was a carbon copy of the
previous day. She stared at the expanse of buildings that lay
beneath her until she heard the door open. She turned to see
Kerrigan and Travis McNeil file into the room.

"Samantha," Kerrigan said, this time without offering to shake
hands. "Please have a seat. I've had Travis sit in on the
meeting, as you requested."

"That's good, because it's Travis I want to talk to," she
responded. Kerrigan looked slightly taken aback. "You said it
yourself, Patrick. This is the guy who's going to keep me
alive. I'd like to find out how he's going to manage that."

Kerrigan relaxed and cocked his head, nodding in agreement. "I
understand. Tell her whatever she wants to know," he added.

"I'll try." Travis turned to face her. "Ask away."

She scrutinized the man before beginning. He was older than
her by a few years, probably close to forty. His eyes had tiny
crow's feet, and he constantly squinted, a conditioned reflex
from searching the surroundings for danger. His hair was deep
brown, wavy and thick. When he smiled, which was rarely, his
teeth were even and white,contrasting with the deep brown of
his tanned skin. He was an inch or two taller than her, which
put him right at six feet. He was relaxed in the chair, but
she could tell there was a great deal of strength and agility
in his frame. She liked what she saw.

"Your background. Where are you from, what's your military
experience, and have you ever led an expedition like this in
the past?"

"San Antonio, Texas. I was born in Houston, but moved to San
Antonio when I was ten. I did some undergraduate work in the
sciences, but dropped out after two years. It didn't suit my

"The sciences?"

"No, school. I liked physics, and chemistry was okay, but I
hated biology, zoology, and all that stuff. Hated it. Anyway,
I left after two years, and joined the navy. They stationed me
in Little Creek, Virginia."

"SEAL?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am, navy SEAL," he responded.

"Team Six," she muttered. "Where the action is."

"Correct again. I spent six years operating with Team Six."

"And now you're for hire? Mercenary, bodyguard, that sort of

McNeil's stare hardened as she spoke. "Babysitter would be
more like it," he said, between clenched teeth. "And no, I've
never lead a mining expedition before."

"What armaments are you taking into the Congo?"

"We've detailed a list that will give us flexibility under
differing conditions. We'll take in a few Remington 12/26
modified 12 gauges, and some Remington Vent Rib Rangers are
good for in close jungle stuff. I prefer Smith & Wesson
handguns. We've got a few AirLite Titanium M337s, and a couple
of the new model that Smith & Wesson and Walther co-operated
on - the SW 99.40. And a Daisy 600."

"You're taking a sniper rifle?" Sam asked. "I can understand
the shot guns, and the revolvers, but the Daisy 600 is a
sniper rifle. What do you need that for?"

"I used to be a Boy Scout, Ms. Carlson. You know their motto."
He tried not to show it, but he was surprised and impressed by
her knowledge of guns.

Samantha turned to Kerrigan. "Mr. McNeil seems to know what
he's doing. If the rest of his team are equally qualified,
they're quite acceptable." She paused for a moment, then
continued. "I'll need a spectrometer. The one that can perform
laser ablation to determine trace elements. And I'll need a
copy of that report you got from the RCMP."

"I'll have photocopies of the file made up for you." He paused
for a moment. "Are you sure you need a spectrometer? It'll
take some doing to get one away from the Canadian police."

"I need that machine to test the trace elements in any
diamonds we find near Butembo. If the tests match, we'll know
we're onto the same vein of the diamonds in your safe. If they
don't, we've missed it. And we have to be careful, because
there could be alluvial diamonds kicking around. I want to be
sure we have it before I send the location back through the
GPS systems."

Kerrigan nodded in agreement. "Good point. I'll get on it.
Anything else?"

"What is the possibility of getting a helicopter to recon the
mountains east of Butembo?" she asked. "Can we charter one to
fly overhead and take a few aerial shots?"

"I suppose, but it's dense jungle. You can't see anything but

"The canopy can tell stories," she said. "If you can confirm a
chopper is available, I'd also like a BritPix. It's a camera
you can attach to an aircraft that gives you 360-degree
spherical imaging. If we can arrange for the surface scans to
be transmitted to us on the ground, I can use various filters
to look for differences in the vegetation. It will be useful
in establishing the existence of a pipe."

"What's a pipe?" Travis asked.

She smiled. The ex-SEAL didn't know everything. "It's a
geological term for an outcrop of denser rock that hasn't
eroded over the millennia at the same rate at the surrounding
rocks. It may not stick up high enough to see above the
rainforest canopy, but the vegetation that grows on it may
vary enough to see the difference. It's a long shot, but it'll
give us an area to start in, rather than just combing the area
in a grid."

"Who's the manufacturer?" Kerrigan asked.

"Britannia 2000 Limited. The company's head office is in
Berkshire, U.K. There's been a lot of talk around the industry
about this machine. We think it has incredible potential for
exactly this purpose. It's fairly new, they just began
production a couple of years ago."

"That could take some time, Sam," Kerrigan said, writing down
the information she gave him.

"Then I guess how quickly we leave depends on you, Patrick,"
she answered.

"Of course, you're right. I'll get on it."

"What's the size of the team?" she asked the team leader.

"Myself, and three other ..." he paused for a moment,
"mercenaries. Ex-SEALs, all of us. We'll pick up a dozen or so
locals to help pack the equipment east from Butembo. And you,
of course."

"We can fly directly into Butembo?" she asked hopefully.

He looked uneasy. "No. Our route in will be complex. The
munitions must come in through Kinshasa, the capitol of the
Congo. There's no way we could bring that stuff in through

"No one mentioned Rwanda. Why are you bringing it up now?" Sam

"The team is going in through Kigali, the capital of Rwanda."
Travis saw the color draining from Sam's face, and hurried to
explain. "It's closer. Kigali is only a hundred and sixty
miles from Butembo. Kinshasa is almost a thousand miles to the
southwest of Butembo. The entire trip from Kinshasa is over
the Congo River basin. It's too dangerous."

"And you think Kigali is a nice place?" she asked him,
memories of time spent there coming back to her.

"I've been to Kigali. It's a nightmare. But I'd rather take my
chances with a day or two in the city, than a four-hour plane
flight over the Congolese rainforest."

Sam looked nervous. "Can we fly into Butembo from Kigali?" she
asked. "I'm certain there's a small airport on the south side
of the town."

"You might as well advertise in the local newspaper that we're
looking for something new. Flying into Kigali won't raise any
eyebrows, but heading directly into Butembo would raise red
flags. You'd have diggers and scavengers all over you within
hours. When you land in Kigali, inform the customs officials
you're looking for highland gorillas rather than diamonds.
Mentioning diamonds can trigger people to do stupid things,
like following you into the jungle and killing you when you
find the vein. I may not have led a mining expedition before,
but I know these people. I know how desperate they are." His
tone was serious, his message very clear. Sometimes the truth
only got you into trouble. "We'll travel in Land Rovers from
Kigali to the Ruwenzori Mountains."

She turned to Kerrigan. "What's our budget? Cash in our

"Two million, five hundred thousand, with a line of credit at
the National Congolese Bank for another five hundred."

"Signing authority?"

"You and Travis McNeil, together, or separately."

"Who will be meeting us in Kigali?" she asked.

"Our military contact in Congo has arranged for an escort to
get us safely out of Kigali. Four men, all highly trained and
loyal to their commanding officer."

"And their commanding officer is?"

"Colonel Nathan Mugumba. He's reliable - we've had dealings
with him before. He's well schooled, spent almost five years
in the Boston area in an undergraduate program. He speaks and
writes impeccable English which makes communicating a lot
easier than dealing with the regional dialects. We'll leave
Rwanda and enter the Congo at the Gesenyi-Goma border
crossing. Mugumba himself will provide a small military escort
from the border to Butembo."

Sam nodded. The plan was not appealing, but Kerrigan was
obviously well organized. "Whom do we report back to?"

"You'll relay all information back to me, personally. This
entire operation is very tight-lipped, and I'd like to keep it
that way. You report only to me."

"What is your position with Gem-Star?" she asked, suddenly
aware that she had no idea.

"President," he said.

"But not CEO?" she asked.

He stared at her, his eyes searching, but not finding what
they were looking for. "No, Ms. Carlson, I'm not the chief
executive officer of the company. That title is held by Davis
Perth, grandson of the founder."

"Some people are just born into it, aren't they?"
Patrick Kerrigan rose from his chair, this time extending his
hand to her. "I'll make sure you have your spectrometer, Ms.
Carlson, in addition to any other equipment that would be
considered standard. Take care, I'll be in touch later this

"Thanks. And please have your accounting department make the
initial cheque out to Samantha, not Sam. The bank still thinks
anything made out to Sam is for my father."

"As you wish."

Sam left the office and the building. She glanced about her as
she walked, taking in the cityscape - the concrete jungle. It
was widely known to be dangerous, and difficult to live in New
York. It was a cakewalk compared to what lay ahead - the real
jungle. Butembo bordered on the equatorial rainforest, and to
the east it was solid jungle to the base of the Ruwenzori
Mountains. On her previous visit she had hiked in a few miles,
just to get the feel. It was eerie moving about the ancient
forest, surrounded by multitudes of rare and exotic species.
And dangerous. The smaller creatures had more enemies, and
therefore, better defense systems, often poison. The larger
animals could simply eat you.

Her mind drifted back to Travis McNeil. He intrigued her. His
demeanor was calculated, and wary, but she suspected a very
different man would emerge once they were on the go. He had
never led a mining expedition before, so the chances were good
this was his first business arrangement with Patrick Kerrigan.
She had a sixth sense that Travis didn't trust Kerrigan. She
could understand why, because she didn't trust him either.

He troubled her, but she couldn't put her finger on it. He
came across as a consummate businessman, professional and
organized. The firm was successful, and he had achieved the
leadership of the company without being born into it. Davis
Perth, the CEO, had been born with the silver spoon, and that
obviously riled Kerrigan. It didn't take a Masters in
psychology to pick up the body language when she had made the
comment in his office. Kerrigan didn't like playing second
fiddle. And he had proven his tenacity by bouncing back from a
disastrous divorce and rebuilding his financial net worth to
sixty million. Quite a feat.

But Patrick Kerrigan was the least of her worries right now.
In the next few weeks her skills as a geologist would be
tested under the most rigorous conditions. Her ability to
survive the deceit of the diamonds traders, the corruptness of
the military, the constant threat of disease, and the perils
of the jungle were foremost in her mind. She swallowed hard as
full reality hit her.

She was going back to Africa.


Excerpted from African Ice
by Jeff Buick
Copyright © 2006 by Jeff Buick.
Excerpted by permission.
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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African Ice 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read Jeff Buick's three novels, Bloodline, Lethal Dose, African Ice, and enjoyed them all, immensely. African Ice shows continuing development of the Author's skills. He's developing his characters well, showing their backgrounds, personalities, and motivations. Also his plots are well developed, and fast paced. Real page turners, and hard to put down. Jim Stevenson Palm Springs
Guest More than 1 year ago
It may be a cliche but this was one of those books I did not want to finish because I was drawn into the story but I did not want to put it down because it was so stressful. The characters were well drawn but the reader learns about some of the issues troubling modern Africa. The ending was a little too pat but after all of the physiological stress I had experienced reading it, I was ready for it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
She has the reputation of being a female Indiana Jones, which is why Gem-Star President Patrick Kerrigan hires Samantha Carlson to locate a diamond vein in the Ruwenzori Mountains in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has the location down to a seventy square mile radius, but his team vanished, which is not shocking as the government is corrupt and the military is worse than the civilians.----- Knowing all this and more, she still accepts the job. Travis McNeil and his men will protect her as she seeks the diamonds. Unknown to either the geologist or the bodyguard is that Patrick has arranged with a local military officer and his troops to track them so that once the mission is achieved they will die. However, once the assault starts, Travis and his men win the day, but a deadlier team is on the way with another on standby.----- AFRICAN ICE is the ultimate cat and mouse thriller with Travis being Hans Solo and Samantha is Lara Croft. The story line electrifies the audience with its non-stop action reminiscent of the Indiana Jones¿ movies, but also provides insight into the poverty of the people and the corruption of the military and civil leaders in this poor African nation. Jeff Buick creates lead characters that readers will care about as they go from one deadly scenario to the next with the light at the end of the tunnel coming from the subsequent lethal fire they will end up in shortly.---- Harriet Klausner