In the aftermath of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, a megalomaniac terrorist holds the world hostage, threatening to poison every major city with a deadly virus. He has the means—a form of anthrax capable of wiping out millions in minutes—and demonstrates its potency by adding a small vial of it to the drinking water in a small South African town, killing all of the inhabitants. With only seven days to meet his demands, the world’s leaders call on David Morton, a brilliant and ruthless Mossad agent. The result is a tense global chase, leading from China to Athens, London, Libya, South Africa, Tel Aviv, and New York, drawing good and evil closer and closer in a battle to the death.
Deadly Perfume penetrates the real world of intelligence-gathering to reveal its secret subculture, with its hidden loyalties and agendas. Gordon Thomas has imagined a world so terrifyingly real that it poses the question, Is it imagined at all?
“[A] horribly convincing thriller . . . Intelligence agent David Morton deals with the psychodynamics of terrorism, with modern technology at his fingertips and the ears of Western politicians at his command. I was left hoping that we have some real Mortons at our disposal.” —Daily Mail
About the Author
He has been a widely syndicated foreign correspondent and was a writer and producer for three flagship BBC programs: Man Alive, Tomorrow’s World, and Horizon. He contributes regularly to Facta, a respected monthly Japanese news magazine. Thomas was the lead expert for a twelve-part series on international intelligence for Ian Punnett’s Coast to Coast, the most listened-to overnight radio broadcast in North America, with three million weekly listeners. He has recently appeared on Euronews (available in ten languages and three hundred million households) and Russia Today.
He has received numerous awards for his reporting, including an International Television Award and two Mark Twain Society Awards. Shipwreck won an Edgar Award.
Four of Thomas’s books—Voyage of the Damned, Ruin from the Air, The Day the Bubble Burst, and The Day Their World Ended—have been made into feature films starring such A-listers as Paul Newman, Billy Crystal, Robert Vaughn, and Jacqueline Bisset. The Day Guernica Died is currently under option.
Thomas’s most recent bestseller is Gideon’s Spies: Mossad’s Secret Warriors. Published in sixteen languages and forty countries, Gideon’s Spies is known throughout the world as the leading resource on Israeli intelligence. It was made into a major documentary for Channel 4 in Britain, which Thomas wrote and narrated, called The Spy Machine. The Observer called The Spy Machine a “clear” picture of Israeli intelligence operations, and the Times called it “impressive” and ”chilling.”
A member of the London Speaker Bureau and Macmillan Speakers, Thomas continues to grow his already-impressive platform, lecturing widely on the secret world of intelligence. He also regularly provides expert analysis on intelligence for US and European television and radio programs.
Read an Excerpt
A David Morton Novel
By Gordon Thomas
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1992 Gordon Thomas
All rights reserved.
Not even the Chinese knew David Morton had entered China. He'd traveled a route a thousand years old—a smugglers' trail established around the time the first Emperor unified the seven warring states into a great country.
Now, six days later, he was well inside the People's Republic, in the rain forest, keeping watch on the four Arabs who were far from their lair.
The coin-sized headphones built into the air vents in Morton's jungle combat hat enabled him to follow the Arabs' conversation. So far it was about how good it would be to go back home.
They reminded him of desert foxes, tense and nervous, with their noses sniffing and eyes darting. But they hadn't spotted the children. The cloying humidity stifled everything. The girl and boy from the village a mile back down the track were also trailing the Arabs.
Morton had glimpsed the children a moment ago, gliding through the foliage to his right. The boy seemed no more than ten, the girl a little younger. Kids playing hunt the stranger.
Long ago he'd learned the adult version—learned all the rules for survival in jungle, mountain, snow and desert. There was a simplicity about them, of falling back ultimately on what his own body could provide, which went to the very core of who and what he was.
Even here, among trees a hundred and more feet tall, his own height was striking. That, and his massive head, topped with a shock of fair hair still without a trace of gray. People marveled at the way he avoided the more obvious signs of aging. His skin was unlined and wrinkle-free, his vision perfect, his body lean and trim. He didn't look like a man in his forty-ninth year.
The way he dressed, khaki drill shirts and pants, winter and summer, made for necessary easy packing. He was entitled to a lieutenant colonel's epaulettes, but he didn't bother with rank. Those who needed to knew who he was.
The clues were there in his chin, jutting, ready to confront trouble halfway. His gray eyes observed everything and revealed nothing—except to say if you weren't part of the answer, you were part of the problem. They suggested, too, an obsession with the truth, both seeking and telling it. He'd hidden his face behind insect repellent cream and camouflage green so that, lying perfectly still, he'd pass for a log.
Three of the Arabs were wiry, with the forgettable faces of gunmen the world over. The fourth was squat and muscular and completely bald. He was an incongruous sight; a bull of a man clutching a shiny new briefcase. Bagman and escort.
They were soaked from the first of the afternoon cloudbursts. Once more the light drained from the sky as another rainstorm swept in and was over in a minute. It left the air heavy like a warm sponge filled with moisture.
The mikes picked up the faint rustling of the children moving through the growth. There was a whispering in Morton's ears. The girl wanted to go back.
"Not yet," urged the boy. "Let's go a little closer."
"All right. But not too close," agreed the girl reluctantly.
Their dialect was Cantonese, thin and reedy. There was no way Morton could head them off. That would alert the Arabs. Nothing must be allowed to do that.
The parabolic microphones he'd ordered planted in southern Lebanon had alerted him about these Arabs. And the money they'd offered in those cryptic calls to Bangkok had deepened his suspicions. Two million U.S. dollars. No haggling. He had to know what was worth that much. And put a stop to it.
He had patiently followed the Arabs all the way from Beirut, flying on the same TriStar as they to Bangkok. They had not given him a second glance; no one had.
The Arabs spent a day sampling the sexual offerings at Pattani, going from one brothel to another, choosing underage boys and girls as the mood took them. The bagman had also bought the briefcase, and Morton had realized then he was not wasting his time.
The Arabs had gone to a branch of the Royal Bank of Thailand in Bangkok. That evening they traveled by train north to Udon. He had taken a compartment near them and left the train before they did. From Udon a Thai guide took them by road to Chiang Rai, the hilly capital of Asia's drug-running gangs, far older and as powerful as Colombia's Medellín cartels. Morton followed, knowing now, for sure, where they were going.
At Chiang Rai the Thai handed the Arabs over to a Chinese, a short, light-skinned member of the tribe of Yao, one of China's minority peoples who had long been renowned smugglers. The man had taken the Arabs into the People's Republic. The party traveled light, pausing only to eat and rest at villages where their guide was known in this region of slash-and-burn farming. Locals no longer looked curiously at strangers who came in search of heroin and cocaine.
Nevertheless Morton never showed himself but waited close by in the jungle, eating high-protein food concentrates specially prepared in Tel Aviv. He had enough food for two weeks. After that he could live off the land. He knew now he would not need to. When he had led the Arabs into the clearing, the guide said they had reached their destination.
An hour later, they were still squatting on the ground, the Arabs in their cheap Lebanese bazaar suits, the guide in the baggy trousers and high-buttoning shirt of his people. From time to time he glanced furtively at the case. The bagman rested a hand lightly on its handle. Like the others, he chain smoked.
Morton saw the bagman look at the guide. The Arab's cough rasped in Morton's headphones.
"How much longer?" demanded the bagman in English.
"Not long now," promised the guide. "They come long way."
The bagman grunted and lit a fresh cigarette. One of the gunmen pulled out his pistol and made a show of checking it before shoving it back in his belt.
"Bad men," came the girl's whisper in the headphones. "We go now."
"No!" insisted the boy. "You can go. I'm staying."
Morton judged the children were slightly ahead of him. The gunmen were talking quietly among themselves in Arabic, ignoring the guide.
"We can kill him once we are back across the border," said one.
"He may have friends waiting," objected the second. "We kill him here, no one knows."
"We need him to get us out of here," insisted the third gunman.
Even at this distance Morton heard the sudden fury in the bagman's voice.
"There will be no killing until I say so."
The gunmen fell into a resentful silence.
Rather than stir, Morton let a column of ants march across his hands, a million and more of them passing in review before his face half buried in the mulch. He closed his eyes tight and sucked in his lips when the termites suddenly changed direction. Despite the cream, they filed up one side of his head and down the other, barred from entering his body by wadding placed in his nose. When the ants passed, he opened his eyes.
"Let's go." The girl's further plea whispered in Morton's headphones.
"No!" said the boy, more determinedly.
The girl's sigh was followed by the sound of them wriggling closer to the clearing. They were expertly using the shadows and sounds of the jungle to cover their approach. Suddenly the boy gasped and their movements stopped.
Morton, the Arabs and their guide, and the children saw the two men emerging on the far side of the clearing at the same time.
The guide scrambled to his feet, smiling in relief. One of the Arabs moved to the bagman's side, the other two separated, ready to provide crossfire. The newcomers ignored the move.
Morton studied them through the sight of his light machine gun. Dark-skinned Han, dressed in coolie smocks and pantaloons, mountain people used to open terrain. As well as carrying M-16s, both wore belts on which were clipped knives, the long, serrated blades matt-finished to avoid glare. From each belt hung a trenching tool, similarly coated. No Han went anywhere without one. The men stood for a moment before retreating into the jungle, moving awkwardly and using their guns to beat a path.
They returned with a third man. The man was middle-aged and his chest heaved as if he had walked a long distance. He wore a cheap suit and carried a case identical to the bagman's.
He was tall for a Chinese, close to six feet, but well-built, not undernourished or weak. Someone who received extra rice and meat. A privileged person. The hands holding the case had never done a hard day's manual work. The face was pale, almost like ivory. An indoor person.
The man's narrowed eyes took in the Arabs. Then, his breathing calmed, he walked into the clearing, holding his case with both hands as if it were heavy.
As he started to speak to the guide, there was an electrical crackle in Morton's ears. The headphones were shorting. Water, probably. The cloudburst had left him soaked as if he had been swimming with all his clothes on.
He watched the guide turn to the bagman and point to the briefcase.
"Open, please ..."
Morton could see hatred in the bagman's eyes.
"The money is all ..." The bagman's words were lost in renewed crackling in the headphones.
"Open, please ..." repeated the middle-aged Chinese, "... za say oke-dokey ..."
Morton stiffened. He held his breath, silently cursing the static. Yet despite the poor transmission and the man's imperfect command of English, there was no mistake. The Chinese had said ——za.
Only one name that mattered to Morton ended like that. Raza.
During the Gulf War Khalil Raza had vied with Abu Nidal as the grand master of global terrorism. Then, in one horrific and never-to-be-forgotten incident, Raza had established himself as the world's most evil man. The memory of what had happened once more bored into Morton's mind.
Raza had personally planted, in a Jewish maternity hospital in Jerusalem, the Semtex that slaughtered sixty-three newborn infants and their mothers, along with thirty-one of the nurses and doctors tending them.
One had been Ruth, Morton's sister.
She had been a living reminder of the rest of their family who had died in those grim Stalinist years when Soviet pogroms against Jews matched Nazi atrocities. Ruth and he were among the first Jews freed by a Kremlin eager to show it had changed. Flown to Israel, they'd been fostered by the Vaughans. Steve was a Talmud scholar, Dolly an earth mother. It had taken Morton years to understand Steve had changed Ruth's and his surname because there'd be less chance of anyone persecuting someone with a name like Morton.
They were good and gentle people, who had understood his protectiveness toward Ruth. He'd encouraged her through high school, college and university, flown halfway across the world to attend her graduation, and insisted on visiting the hospital the day she started work, prowling the corridors and asking every member of the staff for Doctor Ruth Morton. Six months later he'd been there when Ruth brought home her Benjy, a handsome young Sabra, also a doctor at the hospital. Ruth said they planned to marry, and Steve opened a bottle of wine to toast the happy couple. Next day Raza struck. They'd found Ruth and Benjy beneath several tons of rubble in a delivery room.
When they'd told Morton Ruth was dead, he'd felt like the day Steve took him to the Holocaust Museum. Then, too, he could show nothing. He had never gone back there. Never attended any of the remembrances for the Six Million. He didn't need to know his past that way.
The day he'd buried Ruth it had rained, making the ground treacherous. He'd felt the other pallbearers grip each other's hands anxiously as they supported the coffin. They'd been Ruth's friends from the hospital, and he'd been struck by how young they were and how they could show their feelings, grown men weeping.
When he stepped forward to recite the committal prayer, his voice had been cold and clear, and had shown no grief or anger. Yet, as the soil covered her coffin, he knew he had been left with an emptiness nothing could ever fill. Burying Ruth, he'd conducted a funeral in his own heart.
As Steve and Dolly led the others away, he had stared at her fresh mound, his prayer shawl heavy on his shoulders, the prayer book in his hands closed. Into his mind had come the one passage he still remembered from those Friday nights Steve read the scriptures to them. The words were from the Prophet Ezekiel: And the enemy shall know I am the Lord when I shall lay down my vengeance on them.
He'd silently repeated them as a promise to Ruth. Then he had taken off his prayer shawl and walked quickly away, ignoring the shocked, accusing whispers. In his cold, remote world there was no more time for grieving.
Steve had come after him and asked what he was going to do. He'd looked into the old man's face and said softly that he was going to kill those who had killed Ruth.
He'd hardly seen the old couple since, pleading work, pleading anything. He hadn't wanted to look into those eyes that believed the answer was to turn the other cheek.
He'd continued to hunt Raza and his people, flushing out a dozen of their nests. When he'd read in a Beirut newspaper that Raza had placed a $100,000 bounty on his head, dead or alive, he'd sent word he'd pay a single Israeli shekel for Raza. The price of an Israeli bullet.
Almost a year ago, Raza had disappeared after two spectacular failures. His plans to launch a Stinger missile against the House of Commons from a warehouse across the Thames, while at the same time detonating a bomb in the newly reconstructed Reichstag in Berlin, had both ended in firefights with antiterrorist forces who had killed or captured Raza's men. Raza's own credibility among his Arab supporters had nose-dived. The general consensus was that Raza had followed his notorious predecessors, Carlos the Jackal and Abu Nidal, into broken-backed oblivion. When Morton had said to wait and see, his peers had told him he was just being Morton.
Now Raza's specter loomed large in the gloom of the clearing. And the children were still arguing.
As Morton reached up to tweak the headphones he smelled burning. A miniature electrical thunderstorm filled the headphones, then silence. The acrid smell was stronger. Morton removed the hat. A wisp of smoke was coming from the headphones. He reached for a dollop of mud and smothered them.
In the clearing the bagman opened his briefcase and, watched by his bodyguards, the Chinese was pulling out bundles of U.S. dollar bills, expertly riffling them. Satisfied he was not being short-changed, he handed over his own case, unopened. The bagman held it in his hands testing its weight.
Morton thought it seemed to weigh the same as the two million dollars. He eased the stock into his shoulder. He'd found the weapon where Asia Division said it would be, wrapped in layers of waxed paper and buried near one of the stockaded villages he'd passed. He was still getting used to adjusting his aim to compensate for the weight of the bulbous silencer.
The light was going. And where were those kids? Then all else was forgotten. The groups were separating. The middle-aged man clutching the bag was retreating to the far side of the clearing, the bodyguards walking backwards, ready to deal with any attempted shot in the back. The Arabs and their guide moved quickly and diagonally across the clearing, making the range hard to judge.
Morton switched to automatic fire: five seconds to empty the magazine of twenty rounds of 7.67-mm cartridges, three to reload.
He saw the children then. The boy had risen out of the ground and was trotting toward the Arabs, laughing and pointing at the briefcase. The girl was running, hands outstretched, trying to pull him back.
Through the gun sight Morton could see the sudden fear in her eyes. See the boy reach the bagman. See the Arab smash the case against the child's head. Hear the crunch of breaking bone. See the boy go down, poleaxed. Feel and hear the rage choke in his own throat.
The girl was screaming. He could see her mouth opening, see the surprisingly white teeth. And see, as she turned to run, one of the Arabs shoot her. For a moment the child stood, poised in mid-stride. Then, as the crimson spread on the front of her smock, she collapsed against another of the gunmen. He hurled the limp, lifeless form from him.
Excerpted from Deadly Perfume by Gordon Thomas. Copyright © 1992 Gordon Thomas. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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.