Creator of The Equalizer TV series--the basis for the feature films starring Denzel Washington--Michael Sloan reinvents the story of the mysterious Robert McCall, a former intelligence officer who helps desperate people in need of his unique skill set.
Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer.
McCall’s first client is a distraught mother who is desperate to locate her young daughter, drawn into the shadowy world of white slavery. But this client may not be all she appears to be.
At the time same, McCall is approached by a diplomat who works for the United Nations. Her son, an American Captain in the US Army, is part of a contingent advising Syrian Rebel forces in their fight against the Jihadists. He has been reported KIA, but his body has not been found. His mother asks McCall to find out if her son is alive or dead. When McCall embarks on a suicidal rescue mission in Syria, he stumbles upon a terror plot aimed at the United States. The terrorists are being protected by mercenaries known as Momento MiroRemember That You Must Die. McCall discovers the key to the terror attacks is his one-time boss, Control, the head of a spy organization called “The Company.” He is missing. His life has been deleted from all personal and intelligence records, as if he never existed. McCall has to find his old friend and stop these terror attacks from being carried out on American soil.
McCall also has to deal with an “Equalizer” wannabe, a psychotic vigilante whose attempts to be a “hero” and rid the New York streets of violent crime are getting innocent people killed.
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The two gangbangers were throwing her between them like they were passing a football back and forth. They were Latino, but pale skinned, second- or third-generation American, probably only seen Mexico in TV ads for Puerto Vallarta. They were dressed in black baggy jeans, their asses hanging out the backs. He'd never seen the fashion statement in the youth of today wearing jeans that way. They had on dark boxers. They were both wearing crimson shirts, unbuttoned to their belts, one of them with enough gold necklaces to make the black dude on that old TV show — what was his name? Mr. T — jealous.
The young woman was in her early twenties, medium height, dark red hair to her shoulders. She was wearing a white silk shirt, virtually see-through. No bra. One of the gangbangers had ripped her shirt open, popping little turquoise buttons, exposing her large breasts, but really, he needn't have bothered, they were clearly visible through the sheer fabric. She wore a flared white short skirt, probably very chic, and high-heeled white pumps, which looked like you could only walk a few feet in them before blisters starting forming. That was another fashion trend he had never come to grips with. What was the point of young women wearing shoes with heels so high they'd give you a nosebleed? A Gucci Soho leather shoulder bag was at her feet, rose beige with fine gold hardware on it. Over fifteen hundred bucks if you got it at the Gucci store on Madison Avenue. Probably four hundred in Chinatown. The young woman kept trying to reach down to her bag, as if something were in there she desperately needed. But they weren't letting her get anywhere near it.
Gangbanger #1 slapped her face. It brought a trickle of blood from her nose. He tossed her back to his pal, who shoved her toward a brick wall. She'd come from the art gallery along Essex Street. He'd seen elegant folks through a big glass window, drinking champagne from fluted glasses, sampling hors d'oeuvres from passing silver trays, moving around amid a jumble of weird-looking sculptures and Art Deco pieces that probably cost more than the national debt. He hadn't noticed her in particular, but when she'd left, he'd noted that she'd hurried away down Essex Street to take a shortcut through this narrow alleyway.
As she'd found out.
The young woman tried to pull her ripped shirt across her breasts, but the Latino boys had really done a number on it, and the fragments of her shirt were too shredded to properly close over them. The first gangbanger — he decided to think of him as Manuel — grabbed her faux Gucci bag and started to go through it. The second gangbanger — let's call him Lopez — held the young woman's shoulder tightly with one hand. He stayed back in the shadows, unseen by either the young woman or the gangbangers. He was glad when Manuel came up with her wallet, so he'd have a name for her.
"Megan Forrester," Manuel said, showing her driver's license to Lopez. He looked at her. "Pretty name."
He took a bunch of bills out of the wallet, dropped it back into the open Gucci bag, and kicked it toward her, as if contemptuously.
"Take the money," she pleaded. "Just let me go."
"You think we want to hurt you?" Lopez asked. "We just want to get to know you, Megan. See what you look like under those clothes. Why don't you help us out? Lift up your skirt."
She shook her head violently, her eyes darting around the alleyway.
If she saw him, it didn't register on her face.
Lopez took a knife out of his jacket pocket and flicked up a wicked nine-inch blade. "We haven't cut you yet. And we won't. Just show us what you got."
"No need for you to get hurt," Manuel said reasonably.
"Okay, okay," she gasped.
She reached down and pulled up her white skirt. It was so short she didn't have to pull it up high to reveal the white panties she was wearing.
"Pull them down," Lopez said. "We want you to do it for us."
She froze, her skirt hiked up, her hand trembling.
"Don't make me do it," Manuel said. "You show us what we want to see, we'll let you go." She didn't move. "Okay, I can do it."
"I'll do it! I'll do it!" She pulled down her panties. She tried to hold on to them, but they fell around her ankles.
"Natural redhead," Lopez said. "Nice. Let's see your ass."
She started to turn around.
"Keep your skirt hiked up," Manuel reminded her.
She nodded and turned fully around, facing the brick wall. Her bare behind was pale in the semidarkness.
The Equalizer decided this had gone far enough. Although, he had to admit, she had a dynamite ass. Megan turned back to face her attackers. Leaned one hand down, still holding up her skirt with the other, to grab her panties.
"We'll tell you when you can pull them up," Manuel said.
"What do you think?" Lopez said. "Should we let her go?"
"We'll fuck her first."
That was the last thing Manuel said.
The Equalizer sucker punched him in the side of the head, then sank a fist into his gut. He went down on his knees, vomiting onto the dirty concrete. The Equalizer kicked him in the face, sending him onto his side. Then he kicked him hard in the balls.
What happened next happened quickly.
Lopez whirled with the knife, still not quite seeing the figure in the deep shadows, and thrust forward blindly. The Equalizer grabbed his wrist, avoiding the blade, wrenched it up and down, and broke his wrist. Lopez howled. The Equalizer brought him down with three blows to his face, breaking his nose, shattering his left cheekbone, knocking out some teeth. The gangbanger sprawled onto the ground.
Megan pulled up her panties, dropped her skirt, knelt down, flailed a hand inside her Gucci bag, and came out with a Mace spray in a Bianchi Elite pouch.
Manuel had dragged himself up to his feet.
Megan sprayed the Mace right into his eyes.
He screamed and went back down on his knees.
Megan didn't wait to find out who her Good Samaritan was. She grabbed her Gucci bag, then kicked Manuel in the balls with the toe of her white pump. She pulled the shreds of her white shirt over her breasts and ran from the alleyway.
Neither of the Latinos were getting up. The Equalizer knelt down beside Lopez, whose wrist hung like a marionette's with a string cut, and took something out of the pocket of his overcoat.
It was a business card.
On it was the graphic of a figure standing in an alleyway in front of a black Jaguar car, gun in hand, the New York City skyline behind him. Above it were the words JUSTICE IS HERE. Beneath the silhouette of the figure were the words THE EQUALIZER.
He tucked the card into the breast pocket of Lopez's crimson shirt.
Then he straightened and looked over at Manuel. Lopez and Manuel, a matching set of degenerates. But they didn't quite match. He regretted he hadn't broken Manuel's arm. He'd been the one who'd ripped Megan's blouse open and fondled her breasts.
The Equalizer shrugged. What the hell.
He knelt down beside Manuel, gripped his arm, and broke it in two places.
He screamed, but didn't move.
The Equalizer straightened again, pocketed Lopez's switchblade, and looked down at the two thugs. They wouldn't be attacking another defenseless victim for quite a while. Well, he thought, not so defenseless. Megan had sprayed Mace into Manuel's eyes for five long seconds. Might have blinded him.
He heard the sound of police sirens getting closer. Megan must have called 911 on her smartphone. He didn't stay around to be thanked or congratulated. He melted back into the shadows, leaving Lopez and Manuel — or whatever their real names were — lying broken and bleeding on the alleyway concrete.
But it was not Robert McCall who walked out of that alleyway.
Ten adversaries in the partially constructed office building.
His inward smile was fleeting.
He'd have to lower these odds.
The pounding rock music washed over Robert McCall in undulating waves. The sea of people on both sides was like an amorphous being, forming and re-forming, different faces and colors and movement. The overpowering aroma at the rave party was sweet and sickly. McCall pushed past a young man dancing by himself, dressed in lavender jeans, shirt to match, hair teased with violet curls, who was wearing enough Polo Red Intense to gag a lavatory attendant. But he was pretty damn good.
Huge potted plants with towering palm fronds were stationed every few feet across the ground floor. Standing beside one of them was Blake Cunningham. At least, McCall assumed that was who the young man in the elegant suit with the dirty-blond hair was. He held Emily Masden's shoulder tightly. A thin trickle of blood seeped from the young woman's mouth. Her low-cut black dress clung to her figure as if molded to it. She wore black stockings with their tops held up by silver suspenders that the skirt didn't come close to covering. She looked at Blake, startled by being backhanded. She looked around the open building space, with its many staircases up to other half-finished construction levels, as if she'd woken up from a nightmare. Laura, whom McCall had left with her back against one of the big steel supports holding up the second-floor partial ceiling, had said Emily was high. She was right. Emily's eyes were dilated and a bright sheen of perspiration glistened on her face and bare arms. She was having trouble catching her breath.
She was also disoriented and frightened.
McCall knew where the two men behind him had their guns tucked into the waistbands of their jeans. He'd noted that when they'd got up from the booth in the River Café at the Brooklyn docks half an hour ago. They'd nonchalantly buttoned their jackets, but he'd had the impression they'd wanted him to see the weapons. They were armed and dangerous.
And they were right behind him.
McCall stopped suddenly, as if to avoid stepping right into the path of Cologne Man, who probably wouldn't have noticed if he'd stomped on both his feet. McCall half turned, his hands darting out like a blur. When he turned back, both of the men's jackets were gaping open.
Both of their guns were gone.
McCall slid the two pistols, one a Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact, the other a Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm, into the side pockets of his jacket. The two young men stopped dead, confused. The three men coming down the steel staircase on McCall's right were too far away. They'd have to draw their weapons and shoot into the crowd, which would cause immediate pandemonium and bring the cops here.
McCall glanced up at the two men on the second level above him, leaning casually on the railing, their jackets open, revealing their Heckler & Koch 9mm pistols. Same problem. They'd have a better shot at him, but what would be their motivation? He was just threading his way through the dancing mayhem below. By the time he reached Emily and Blake Cunningham, McCall would be under the level of the balcony where the men were standing. To get a shot at him they'd have to lean way down and shoot virtually backward, which would be risky, and even a novice would know it was not a viable move. And McCall was certain none of these young thugs were professional gunmen honing their craft.
That left the two young men moving quickly through the partygoers on McCall's left. One of them wasn't carrying a weapon. But his partner had a subcompact Glock 26 already in his hand. McCall turned a half step to his left and grabbed the second man's hand.
One second the gun was in his hand.
Then it wasn't.
McCall dropped the Glock 26 into one of the big palm-frond tubs.
McCall moved up behind Emily and jerked her out of Blake Cunningham's grasp.
Then he slapped her hard across the face.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" McCall demanded. He squeezed her face with his hand. "Did you take something?" He looked over at Blake Cunningham, who had taken a step back. "Who is this?"
"I'm her boyfriend. Who are you?"
"I'm her father. What is she on? Quaaludes, or mollys — whatever the hell they are — or cocaine?"
McCall grabbed Emily's right arm, twisting it around so he could see the veins. She had been so stunned by being slapped by a complete stranger that she hadn't moved. Now she tried to twist out of his grasp, but it was like a steel trap.
"I don't know what she's on, if she's on anything," Blake said evenly.
He glanced over McCall's shoulder and give the barest shake of his head. Telling the college thugs behind McCall to back off. Blake could handle this. He did the same subtle head flick to his right, moving back the two on that side. McCall didn't appear to notice it.
"You said you're her boyfriend?" McCall's tone was still loud and accusatory.
Blake Cunningham only raised his voice a little, so that it carried just above the cacophony of the party. McCall thought Cunningham probably kept his voice well modulated at all times. Part of the hip young stockbroker image. He was wearing a Giorgio Armani Soho black wool-and-silk pinstripe suit, a Versace black-and-gold silk shirt, and black loafers with no socks, and a pair of Fendi 411 Aviator sunglasses rested on the top button of his shirt.
"I suppose saying Emily is my girlfriend could be debatable. We broke up and I haven't seen her in a week. I thought I might find her here," he added with an apologetic shrug. "This is the kind of party she likes to go to. How long has it been since you've seen your daughter?"
"Two months, if it's any of your business."
Emily looked up at McCall as if trying to focus through the smoky haze, most of it inside her head. "You're hurting my arm."
"I'm taking you out of here," McCall said.
Again, Blake's soft, insinuating voice: "What if she doesn't want to go with you?"
"I'm her father. She doesn't get a choice."
"She's twenty-two years old. That gives her the choice. You can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do."
Emily was still staring at McCall. She said almost tentatively, "You're not —"
McCall swung round on her. "Your mother's been sick with worry. How could you do this to her? Stop phoning, stop communicating? You know how much money it's cost me to fly out to New York to come and get you? I look at you, Emily, dressed like a slut, and I don't know you. You're not the daughter I raised. Who else are you sleeping with?" Back to Blake: "You don't think you're the only one, do you?" Back to Emily: "You want to stay here, take some more drugs, fry your brains, grope this degenerate, go ahead. I won't stop you."
He let go of her arm.
Emily continued to stare at him, but now it was with some kind of bleary realization. She looked from him to Blake Cunningham.
"I have to go with him, Blake. He's my dad."
Blake raised his hands as if in surrender. "Sure, take her out of here. She'll come back and find me. She always does."
Blake smirked and nodded a little more openly at the young men behind McCall. McCall assumed they took the hint and were fading back into the party. He kept his eyes on Blake. He wanted to knock that smirk off his face, but would good old self-righteous Dad, the CPA from Stillwater, Minnesota, haul off and slug him?
McCall spun Emily around and marched her away. He could feel Blake's eyes boring into his back. The seven men who'd crowded McCall on both sides had disappeared. McCall had a firm grip on Emily's arm, but not as tight as before. She looked up at him. Her eyes were more focused now.
"They'll just come for me again. They'll take me away from you."
"No, they won't."
"You don't know them."
McCall ignored that. "What did you take?"
"One of the girls dragged me into the ladies' room. I snorted some stuff she put on her wrist. I felt icy. Warm, then cold."
"Your pupils are large and you're sweating. You look like you could be running a fever. How fast is your heart beating?"
"Real fast," she whispered. "What was it I took?"
"Cocaine. You know the girl who gave it to you?"
"Yeah. Her name's Lucy. A friend of Blake's. She told me I had to 'look right.' I changed into this dress. Put on suspenders and black stockings. Blake likes those. I made up my face. Black tears. The kind you cry inside."
Then her body convulsed as she began to sob. McCall held her tighter, gently pushing their way through to where he had left Laura.
Excerpted from "Killed in Action"
Copyright © 2018 Michael Sloan.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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