Teenage bodyguard Connor must survive the wilds of the African savanna in a life-or-death missionperfect for fans of Alex Rider, Tom Clancy's The Division, and James Bond!
With two successful missions under his belt, Connor Reeves is quickly rising up the ranks of the covert teen bodyguard organization known as Guardian. So he’s the natural choice when a French diplomat seeks Guardian’s services to protect his family on a safari in Africa. With no obvious threats at hand, it sounds like the vacation of a lifetime.
But deep in the savanna, the safari turns to chaos when their convoy is ambushed by brutal gunmen seeking bloodshed and riches. Fleeing through the bush, Connor and those under his protection become the prey in a deadly hunt across the African plains.
Combining pulse-pounding action, diabolical enemies, and an insider's knowledge of the tricks of the trade, the Bodyguard series is the perfect target for fans of Alex Rider, James Bond, Jack Bauer, and Jason Bourne.
Praise for the Bodyguard series:
“Breathtaking action . . . as real as it gets.”—Eoin Colfer, author of the bestselling Artemis Fowl series
"Bradford has combined Jack Bauer, James Bond and Alex Rider to bring us the action-packed thriller"—Goodreads.com
"A gripping page-turner that children won't be able to put down"—Red House
About the Author
Chris Bradford (www.chrisbradford.co.uk) is a true believer in "practicing what you preach." For his BODYGUARD series, Chris embarked on an intensive close protection course to become a qualified professional bodyguard. His bestselling books, which include the Young Samurai series, are published in over 20 languages and have garnered more than 30 children's book award nominations internationally. He is a dedicated supporter of teachers and librarians in their quest to improve literacy skills and provides free Teachers' Guide to his books on his website. He lives in England with his wife and two sons. Follow Chris on Twitter @youngsamurai.
Read an Excerpt
Connor was violently awakened by a bag being thrust over his head. As he gasped for breath, the thick black fabric smothering all light, strong hands pinned his arms and legs behind his back. He fought to free himself. But plastic zip ties were quickly fastened around his wrists and ankles, binding him tightly.
“Let me go!” he cried, thrashing wildly in a desperate bid to escape. Wrenched from a deep sleep, his mind was a whirl of confusion and blind panic. Lashing out, his heel struck one of his captors, and he heard a grunt of pain.
More hands seized Connor, yanking him upright. As he was hauled from the room, his sneakers dragging across the carpet, he screamed, “HELP! SOMEONE HELP ME!”
But no one answered his call, his cries muffled by the bag.
All of a sudden Connor was hit by a blast of ice-cold air as his captors bundled him outside. Heart pounding and body trembling from the shock of the attack, Connor knew that if he was to survive this ordeal, he had to get a grip on himself. During his bodyguard training in hostage survival, he’d learned that the first thirty minutes of any abduction were the most dangerous. The kidnappers were on edge and highly volatile.
Although it goes against every human instinct, his instructor Jody had explained, this is the time to stay calm and stay sharp. Be aware of anything that could provide a clue to your whereabouts or your kidnappers’ identity.
Feet crunched on gravel. Three sets, Connor noted, trying in some small way to take control of the situation. He heard the trunk of a car being opened. A moment later he was dumped in the back and it was slammed shut with an ominous thunk.
No, it isn’t a car, Connor corrected himself. He’d been lifted, not dropped, into the luggage compartment. The deep throaty rumble of a powerful diesel engine confirmed his suspicions. It’s a 4×4.
Wheels spun on gravel as the vehicle roared away. His body flung around, Connor’s head struck the rear panel with a crunch. Stars burst before his eyes, and pain flared in his skull. Any last vestiges of grogginess were wiped out in an instant.
Someone must have seen me being taken, thought Connor, his mind now sharp. Someone will raise the alert.
The wheels hit pavement. The vehicle banked left before accelerating away fast. With the bag still over his head, Connor attempted to visualize the route his abductors were taking. He carefully counted off the seconds before the next turn.
Sixty-seven . . . sixty-eight . . . sixty-nine . . . The 4×4 took a hard right. Connor began counting again, building up a crude map in his head. He felt the vehicle rise and fall as they passed over a small bridge. He continued his count . . . twenty-four . . . twenty-five . . . twenty-six . . .
Connor was totally baffled by his abduction. Usually it was the Principal, the person he was assigned to protect, who was the target for a kidnapping. Surely his captors had made a mistake. Gotten the wrong person. Besides, he wasn’t even on an official mission. Then an uncomfortable truth struck Connor: perhaps his kidnappers had indeed snatched the right person.
Crumpled in a heap against the rear panel, Connor shifted position to create a space for his hands. The ties around his wrists and ankles were digging painfully into his flesh, cutting off the circulation. He tried to pull a hand free, but the zip ties were heavy-duty, and the plastic just cut deeper into his skin. No matter how hard he strained, they simply wouldn’t break.
At a count of forty-seven, the vehicle swung right. Then barely ten seconds later it bore left. And soon after that, left again. By the sixth turn, Connor’s mental map had become a confused mess. It seemed like the 4×4 was going in circles, as if his captors were purposely trying to disorient him. Connor now tried to listen above the noise of the road for any conversation in the vehicle. He hoped to gain some insight into his abductors’ identity: accent, language, gender, even a name. But they all stayed disturbingly silent. From this Connor deduced they were professionals. They had to be, to break into Guardian HQ undetected.
Maybe my kidnapping’s connected with a previous mission?
The best he could hope for was that his captors intended to ransom him. That way he’d be worth more to them alive than dead. But if they wanted to interrogate him, or use him as a pawn in some political or religious protest, then he’d likely be killed. In that case he would risk an escape attempt.
Whatever his abductors’ intentions, he needed to find out as soon as possible—his life could depend upon it.
The 4×4 ground to a halt, and the engine was switched off. The back door opened, and he was manhandled out. A gusting wind sent a chill through his body, his T-shirt offering little protection against the winter freeze. Gripped tightly on either side by his captors, Connor detected the faintest trace of perfume through the bag. Was one of the abductors a woman?
“Where are you taking me?” asked Connor, his voice now steady and calm, hoping that the woman would respond.
But his kidnappers remained tight-lipped as they escorted him away from the 4×4. They moved briskly, not allowing Connor to find his feet. He heard the soft swish of a door sliding open, a welcoming warmth embraced him, and the ground changed from pavement to cushioned carpet. As he was borne deeper into the building, Connor caught the aroma of frying onions and the distant clatter of pots and pans. Heading away from what he presumed was a kitchen, he was dragged several more paces before being shoved into a chair. Its hard wooden slats dug painfully against his bound hands, but at least he could plant his feet on the floor. Connor tried to sit up straight to maintain some dignity before his anonymous enemies, at the same time readying himself to spring into action at the first opportunity.
The place he’d been brought to was oddly quiet, indicating that other people were there with him.
When nobody spoke, Connor demanded, “Who are you? What do you want with me?”
“It’s not about what we want,” a man’s voice replied. “It’s about what you want.”