When John “Chant” Sinclair learns his oldest and closest friend has been murdered, there’s only one thing on the professional killer’s mind: revenge. But the man who inflicted Harry Gray’s slow, painful death is no simple thug.
After being thrown out of medical school, Richard Krowl dedicated himself to becoming a highly trained specialist in the art of torture. Now, other sadists attend his seminars, learning the tools of the trade from a “doctor” whose horrifying skills know no bounds.
To avenge his friend, Chant must travel to a remote Pacific island and infiltrate Krowl’s secret facility. What awaits him is more terrifying than most could imagine, but Chant has seen the depths to which humanity can sink—and nothing will stop him from exacting justice by any means necessary.
Silent Killer is the 2nd book in the Chant Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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Something dead and rotting that once might have been human, a loser in Amsterdam's extensive lottery in international crime, floated past him in the canal. The man others called Chant ducked away from the balloon-bloated corpse, then treaded water while he adjusted the straps of the waterproof backpack he wore over his black rubber wet suit. Then he resumed swimming across the wide canal, using a powerful breaststroke that propelled him through the garbage-strewn, midnight water as silently as a tidal ripple from the open sea a half mile away.
When he reached the grease-slick waterline on the stone base of the four-story, wood-frame warehouse that was his target, the man with the iron-colored eyes and hair again treaded water while he unlooped a length of thin nylon rope from around his neck; attached to one end of the rope was a lightweight but strong carbon-alloy steel grappling hook. Supporting himself in the water with a lazy but very powerful scissors kick, he leaned back and began to swing the grappling hook over his head, gradually letting out rope and increasing velocity until the hook whistled just above the surface of the water in a circle that was almost seven feet in diamater. A powerful kick and pull with his left arm raised his body out of the water almost to his waist as he changed the angle of his swing slightly and released the rope. The hook soared up into the night, arced across the face of the full moon, and landed on the roof, clearing a three-foot-high cement cornice.
Chant gently tugged on the rope until the hook caught, then tested the rope with a series of increasingly strong pulls. Finally, satisfied that the hook was securely anchored, he gripped the rope with both his gloved hands, planted his feet against the side of the building, and hauled his six-foot, six-inch body out of the water. Then, with considerable speed and little apparent effort, he "walked" up the side of the building, dropped over the cornice, and pulled the rope up after him.
He stripped off the wet suit and threw it aside, then opened the backpack and took out a set of neatly folded clothes. Within less than a minute he was dressed in a warm black turtleneck sweater, black seaman's cap, black, loose-fitting slacks, and black sneakers. Again he looped the rope and grappling hook around his neck, picked up the backpack, and moved silently across the tarred pebbles of the rooftop, keeping low so as not to be silhouetted against the moon or the garish, neon glow of Amsterdam's night sky. He reached a skylight with dirt-encrusted windows, knelt to examine the ancient, rusted padlock that held the cover in place. Within moments he had picked the lock, opened the cover just wide enough to let his body through, then swung down onto a narrow, railed catwalk that ran around the perimeter of the huge warehouse, just beneath the ceiling. He squatted in the darkness, bracing himself against a steel railing, and studied the activity in the cavernous space below him.
A tractor trailer had been pulled up to the open bay doors of the warehouse, and three of Hugo VanderKlaven's thugs were sweating and cursing as they loaded crates of adulterated antibiotics into the truck. VanderKlaven himself was not there, although he should have been in order to deliver a final payment of a million pounds sterling in exchange for falsified shipping documents, Customs seals and bills of lading, to be delivered by a man VanderKlaven believed to be a corrupt South African official in charge of health services in the black "homelands." In the pharmaceutical mogul's place was a thin, balding man known as Acid because of his propensity for killing his victims — VanderKlaven's enemies — by pouring muriatic acid into their eyes and ears, and down their throats. Acid was standing by himself in an aisle between stacks of crates, sipping dark, Dutch coffee from a ceramic mug. A man dressed in stained workman's clothes whom Chant had never seen before and who Chant assumed was the driver of the truck stood off to one side, smoking a cigarette and looking bored.
So Rolf Bakker, an identity Chant had created for himself with painstaking care, a fictional Afrikaaner he performed in a halting manner with a slight lisp, was to have been killed off instead of paid off this evening, Chant thought with a grim smile. It was a hell of a way for VanderKlaven to do business, and was going to cause Chant some inconvenience — but not a great deal. This operation had been relatively easy and, once it had been set up, not even very time-consuming; the two months he had spent in South Africa researching those strands of VanderKlaven's web of death and corruption, stalking and finally killing the Dutchman's original Afrikaaner contact and establishing himself as "Rolf Bakker" had been more like a welcome and much-needed vacation than work. Chant, as "Rolf Bakker," had already collected a million pounds sterling as his down payment, and he would visit VanderKlaven at his leisure, at a later date, to collect the rest of his money along with interest that would be the last the obese man with three-piece suits, diamond rings, and death for sale would ever pay.
Chant straightened up and, silent as a great, stalking jungle cat, moved around the catwalk until he was in a position directly over Acid. He draped the straps of the backpack over his left shoulder, took the rope from around his neck, and fashioned the free end into a lasso. Then he leaned out over the railing in the darkness near the ceiling and slowly began to lower the rope, twirling it slightly to keep the lasso loop extended. Finally he let it drop; the loop dropped cleanly over the thin man's balding head, landing with a light slap on the concrete floor. Instantly, Chant yanked on the rope, tightening the loop around the man's ankles, snatching him off his feet and pulling him up into the air Chant anchored the rope by twirling the end with the grappling hook around a girder, then rolled over the railing and dropped toward the bright lights four stones below him.
Startled by Acid's panicked shriek, the three thugs dropped their handcarts and, along with the driver, glanced first at Acid dangling and struggling in the air upside down, then into the darkness over his head.
What they saw was a huge man, dressed all in black and with cold, iron-colored eyes, dropping down the rope toward them as smoke rose from the leather gloves on his hands.
The three men grabbed for their guns, but Chant had already reached the bottom, braking his descent on Acid's up-turned soles, dropping off the rope and rolling on the floor. Bullets kicked up chips of stone near his head and spine, but then he was on his feet and spinning, smashing his backpack into the face of one gunman, disabling the second man with a powerful side kick to the solar plexus, knocking the third unconscious with a forearm strike across the jaw.
Acid had managed to pull his revolver from the shoulder holster inside his jacket, but he was unable to aim properly from his upside-down position; he was firing wildly, the recoil from the large handgun making him spin and sway as he hung by his ankles from the rope. Bullets whined in the air, richocheting off the floor and steel support girders of the warehouse, smashing crates and the bottles inside. Amber-colored fluid splashed over Chant, the driver, and the three unconscious gunmen. Chant shrugged his right shoulder, and a shining, star-shaped blade fell into his palm. He flicked his wrist, and the shuriken whistled through the air, embedding itself in the thin man's right wrist. Acid screamed in pain, and his gun dropped from his hand to clatter on the concrete floor.
"Stay!" Chant commanded unnecessarily to the ashen-faced driver, who was crouched down between two stacks of crates, his arms over his head.
Chant walked over to Acid, who was still swaying and gripping his injured wrist as he stared at Chant, his muddy brown eyes wide with astonishment and terror. Blood flowed from his wrist and dripped off his fingertips, forming an intricate pattern of dots and splashes on the floor below his head. Without speaking, Chant reached out and casually plucked the shuriken from the man's wristbone, where it had stuck. As Acid shrieked again, Chant wiped the blade on the man's jacket, then put it into his pocket. He picked Acid's gun off the floor, patted the man's clothing until he felt the round, hard shape of what he was looking for, then used the stock of the revolver to smash the glass vial inside the man's pants pocket.
Acid's screaming grew in pitch and volume as the muriatic acid that had been in the vial ate through his clothes and flesh, smoking as it oozed down from his groin, across his belly, through the curve of his throat and onto his face. He died soon after the acid entered his eyes.
"Who're you?" Chant asked in Dutch as he strolled back to where the driver was still crouched on the floor.
"Holy shit," the man replied in a hoarse voice.
Chant suppressed a smile. "That's your name?"
The man gave his name, then slowly straightened up and swallowed hard. "Who are you?"
"You the driver of this truck?"
The man nodded nervously.
"You work for VanderKlaven?"
"No. The truck is mine. I was hired to transport this stuff to the docks and see that it was loaded. We were waiting for some guy who was supposed to show up with papers that would get the load through Customs."
"Does that sound like normal procedure to you?"
"Money isn't that easy to come by, mister. I wasn't asking questions. Look, I ain't no part of —"
"You know what's in those crates?"
The man wrinkled his nose. "It smells like medicine."
"You know where it was supposed to be shipped?"
"South Africa, I think."
"What else do you know about this shipment and what was supposed to happen here tonight? Don't try to lie to me."
"I don't know nothin' more than what I told you, mister. That's God's honest truth. I don't want to die here tonight, mister — not for the few lousy bucks I was supposed to make."
Chant studied the other man's face, decided that he was telling the truth; he would not have profited from the sale and distribution of the adulterated antibiotics, and he had not known that a man was to be killed. "You can go," Chant said curtly. "Leave the truck here. Wait exactly one half hour, then call the local office of Interpol. Ask to speak to Inspector Bo Wahlstrom. Tell the inspector that John Sinclair sends his compliments, and there'll be something for him in the cab of your truck, which I'll park down the street. Do as you're told, and you'll get your truck back."
"You want me to call the police?"
Chant smiled thinly. "No; just Interpol. Hugo VanderKlaven's operations aren't exactly news to the Amsterdam Police."
"You John Sinclair?"
"Go! Remember: a half hour."
The man bolted away, squeezing through the narrow space between the truck bay and the warehouse doors and running off down the deserted street.
Chant waited until the echo of the driver's footsteps had died away, then turned back to examine the three gunmen. The one he had hit in the face with his backpack was just beginning to stir, and Chant clipped him on the jaw, knocking him unconscious again. From his backpack Chant removed a long, thin, glass pipette in a cushioned case. Taking the pipette in his hand, he snapped off the end, watching as a clear, viscous fluid began to ooze out of the open jagged end. Then he knelt down beside the man closest to him, turned the man's head, and slowly carved a wound just behind the man's earlobe, carefully working the thick fluid into the open cut with the broken end of the glass pipette. He repeated the procedure with the other two men, then threw the unconscious men into the back of the truck and locked the doors.
He took a packet of documents from his backpack and carried them with him to the cab of the truck, where he taped the manila envelope beneath the dashboard. He drove the truck fifty yards down the street, parked it at the curb. He locked the doors when he got out, then threw the keys into the gutter.
Back inside the warehouse, he walked down the aisle between two stacks of crates, then knelt and set the timer on the last of the items left in his backpack — a compact but very powerful satchel charge, plastique with the explosive force of a dozen sticks of dynamite. This done, he walked out of the warehouse, closing the doors behind him, then disappeared silently into the Amsterdam night.
Ten minutes later a thunderous explosion shook the ground in the warehouse district, and a ball of orange fire lit up the sky as Hugo VanderKlaven's warehouse and twenty million dollars worth of medically useless antibiotics disappeared in a storm of smoke and flame.
For more than two decades, since walking away from the war and out of the jungles of Southeast Asia, Chant had been hunted as an international criminal; for ten years he had been the world's most wanted international criminal, and the hunt for him had been conducted with mounting frenzy and intensity. He was wanted by the police of a hundred cities, the governments of dozens of countries; he was wanted by Interpol, and he was wanted by the Americans. Especially the Americans.
There was no doubt in Chant's mind that the CIA and Interpol, separately and in cooperation, spent an enormous amount of man hours and computer time gathering information at the sites of his operations, such as the one against Hugo VanderKlaven, even as they constantly monitored international telephone traffic with the help of America's ubiquitous, enormously powerful National Security Administration with its global web of satellites and dish antennae.
Chant knew better than to underestimate the danger posed by the worldwide, electronic net that had been cast for him, and so he took security measures of his own. Years before, he had learned that the most efficient security measures were usually the simplest, and one precaution he took was never, except under the most extraordinary circumstances, to make international telephone calls to, or from, his homes. He had three principal residences — a castle in Northern Ireland, a country estate in England, and a chalet in Zermatt, Switzerland, looking out over the face of the Matterhorn. Each of the residences was listed under a different, carefully constructed identity, and staffed by personnel who owed their lives to Chant and would gladly have sacrificed themselves to protect him. Whenever Chant was away, engaged in an operation, important mail that arrived at any of his residences would be repacked and sent to him in care of a cover name at a local American Express office.
On the morning after he had blown up Hugo VanderKlaven's warehouse, Chant went to check "Rolf Bakker's" mail at the American Express office. There had been nothing for him during the time he had been in Amsterdam, but this morning there were two items inside the same packet — a small, battered package wrapped in brown manila paper, and what appeared to be a letter from Gerard Patreaux, the head of the Amnesty, Inc. office in Geneva, and Chant's friend.
Chant examined the outside of the package, noting from its various postmarks that it had originally been mailed from Lima, Peru, and that it had been in the mails for more than a month. Chant recognized the handwriting as belonging to Harry Gray, an American investigator for Amnesty, Inc. and a friend of Chant's dating back to the war in Southeast Asia. Gray, along with Gerard Patreaux, was one of perhaps two dozen completely trusted men and women who knew all of Chant's residences, and could reach him on very short notice.
Chant tore off the wrapping paper to find a small, white cardboard box. Inside the box, nestled in a soft bed of packing material, was what appeared to be an almost perfect black pearl — the largest Chant had ever seen. Chant turned the pearl in his fingers, examining its ebony surface and mysterious, milky depths under the fluorescent light above his head, then grunted softly and put the pearl in his pocket.
There was a note — water-stained and barely legible.
A lot more where this little sucker came from. Interested? Will be back in GN in a couple of days. Call me when you're in town. H
Chant tore up the note, threw it and the box into a wastebasket as he felt a sense of foreboding well in his heart. Then he opened the letter from Gerard Patreaux. The message inside was abrupt and to the point.
Out mutual friend HG is dead. Call me in GN if you want details. G
Chant closed out Rolf Bakker's account with American Express, then caught a taxi to the airport where he bought a ticket for the first available flight to Geneva.
Excerpted from "Silent Killer"
Copyright © 2017 George C. Chesbro.
Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
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