Chicago cop James Hawker had a choice: Follow orders to stand down or take out a murderous terrorist. Hawker pulled the trigger—but not before the terrorist killed two children. Now exiled from his career, Hawker won’t stop fighting for justice.
Deadly in New York: To take revenge on the men who marked him to die, Hawker travels to New York City, where the Fister Corporation backs up their ruthless real estate development with murder. In the twisted streets of Greenwich Village, Hawker will risk his life in the name of justice.
Houston Attack: Hawker goes undercover and across the border to catch a human trafficking ring funded by a millionaire Texan rancher. The slavers prey on illegal Mexican immigrants, but tonight they picked up the wrong man.
Vegas Vengeance: Barbara Blaine is the most talented madam in Sin City—as well as the toughest. So when gangsters want to take over her brothel, she’s ready to fight. But when her longtime lover disappears, she knows the only man who can help her is Hawker, America’s deadliest vigilante.
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Little Cayman Island, British West Indies
The assassin who had followed James Hawker from New York to Miami, from Miami to this tiny Caribbean island south of Cuba, stood outside the row of seaside cabanas in the darkness.
He pulled back his cotton worsted leisure jacket and drew the .38 Colt Detective from its holster. The two-inch barrel had been machined for a sound arrester. The silencer was cool in his hands as he screwed it into place.
He waited a full minute before he moved again.
A fresh wind drifted off the reef, and the tropic moon was a gaseous orange above the line of coconut palms.
The assassin, whose name was Renard, moved closer to the cabanas. Sand spilled into his Gucci loafers, and mosquitoes began to find him in a whining haze.
Renard cursed softly, thinking to himself as he watched James Hawker's silhouette in the cabana window. Summer was no time to be in the tropics. Too many bugs. Wilting heat. And it was not unlikely there were snakes, too.
Renard shuddered. Snakes revolted him — as did, in fact, this entire island. He couldn't keep a crease in his slacks because of the humidity. There was no such thing as room service, because there wasn't a hotel on the whole irritating chunk of sand. Just stone and wood cabins. A resort camp, they called it. Pirate's Point, Little Cayman Island, British West Indies.
He had spent three days there watching Hawker.
He'd done everything properly, too. Just as he always did. Renard was a fanatic about the proprieties of his craft. After a workmanlike job of tailing Hawker to the tropics, he had bugged his room, along with the rooms of that older fellow named Hayes and his surly British butler.
And he had heard just enough to convince him that his employers in New York were correct. Hayes had plans to stick his nose into the business of Fister Corporation. And that simply couldn't be tolerated — not that Renard cared much about Fister Corporation. It was his employer, nothing more. Just as Dubois Ltd. of London occasionally employed him, as did the Galtchen firm of Munich and, once, even the Union Corse of France. Of course, now he did most of his work for Fister Corporation, or the Unione Siciliano.
It made no difference to Renard who paid him. But the proprieties of the craft required a certain loyalty to one's employer.
So, now they all would die, the three of them.
It was easy. Almost too easy. Except for the heat. And the bugs. And this god-damn island. Nothing to do but scuba dive and fish.
Renard had no interest in such things. He had tried scuba diving once. On the clear reef off Bloody Bay. It had been a group dive, with Hawker, Hayes, the butler, and three or four other guests of the resort. It had amused Renard to think that he would soon be killing the three men he accompanied side by side, underwater.
He could have, in fact, killed them then. But there were all those irritating fish down there to worry about. And, of course, the other guests of the resort might see him.
It wouldn't have been a very professional job.
And no matter how distasteful he found the surroundings, he would still do the very best job he could.
Later, though, his return to Miami would be pleasant, Renard thought as he waited. He liked Miami — in the winter.
Since he had established himself with the organization, he had been able to afford to go to Miami for a few weeks every winter. He always took a lady with him. Something attractive, something to complement his own good looks. Like that blonde last winter. Britta? Yes, Britta. Tall blonde with legs a mile long and spectacular mammary development. She was the one with the fake furs and the bright-red lipstick and enough paste diamonds to open her own five-and-ten. They had had some laughs. Won big on the horses at Hialeah, then blew it all — and more — on the dogs in Biscayne.
But when the money was gone, Britta had started getting bitchy. Whining all the time. Sitting in their hotel room polishing her nails, belting down martinis and chainsmoking. Then she started getting unpleasant about that problem he had in bed, laughing at him. She had made the mistake of turning his inabilities against him like a weapon.
Renard's finger twitched nervously on the trigger of the Colt as he thought about it.
The woman had gotten exactly what she deserved. Who in the hell was she to call him a faggot? He didn't accept that kind of talk from anyone — especially a 42nd Street whore.
So he had killed her. Damn right, he had killed her. He had punched her infuriating face to pulp, then gone to work on her throat until he was sure she would never call him another name. Ever.
As Renard relived the hooker's death, his breathing became shallow and the muscles of his face went slack.
He had a hard, dark, bullfighter's face and a thin moustache.
After a time, his eyes fluttered open and his breathing returned to normal. Deep inside, Renard felt the warm, good glow he always felt after he had killed.
It was a feeling better than any other, better than drugs or booze.
When he was younger, that feeling had frightened him. Like after that cat he had played with ... then tortured ... then beheaded in secret, way back when he was twelve; just him and the cat in that alleyway near their flat outside Versailles.
Or when he was in his teens and found himself driving alone in his old Fiat, far beyond Paris, and he had seen that horse all by itself in the pasture, looking sleepy in the light of the full moon.
It had frightened him because who in his right mind would butcher a cat or slit a horse's throat just for the hell of it?
It wasn't until much later in his life that he admitted to himself why he did it. It wasn't until he had already eliminated a few people and the organization had hired him and treated him with respect because he was very, very good at what he did.
It was only then that Renard finally admitted to himself that he killed for one reason, and one reason only.
He killed because it made him feel good.
Now killing was his job. His craft, as he liked to think of it. And he had risen very quickly to the top of his field.
He was rare among assassins because he killed intelligently and without mercy. He planned every step of a job meticulously, from his first advance to his final escape.
Renard liked to think that, whatever difficulties a job presented, he had the ingenuity and the intellect to complete it as quietly and discreetly as possible.
Time was rarely a consideration. If an assassination took weeks to set up and effect, then Renard invested weeks. Once he'd worked for a month as an elevator operator before he found the perfect opportunity to make his hit. But his insistence on a perfect kill each and every time had paid great dividends.
Even the Russians had shown their admiration for his work through intermediaries, querying to see if he might be interested in handling a few of their contracts. He had told the intermediary that he considered their interest a great honor and, yes, of course, he would be pleased to work for them.
The assassin took a deep breath and moved soundlessly to within five feet of the window. Hawker hadn't stirred. He still sat beside the lamp, with the book propped up in front of him.
Against the window shade, Hawker's silhouette was unmistakable: the square jaw; hair medium length and mussed; the broken, boxer's nose.
For a moment, Renard considered going inside to do it. He would enjoy it more, doing it face to face. There was more intimacy in that. And, if Hawker was asleep, that would be even better because he could take his time.
But what if he wasn't asleep? What then?
In his entire life, Renard had never feared any man because he knew he held ultimate hole card — he wasn't afraid to kill.
But there was something in James Hawker's face that troubled him. Perhaps even scared him. Hawker had piercing gray-blue eyes that said more than he wasn't afraid to kill. James Hawker's eyes also said he wasn't afraid to die.
It was the one quality Renard lacked.
He decided not to take the chance of confronting Hawker face to face.
Quietly and deliberately, Renard lifted the Colt Detective in both hands to steady the unbalanced weight of the silencer. He brought the fixed sights to bear on Hawker's right temple, then cocked back the hammer.
He held the revolver in place for a full minute, enjoying the sudden godlike power he wielded. When his chest began to heave and his heart began to race high in his throat, he knew it was time. Lovingly, Renard squeezed the trigger.
The little Colt thudded, jumping in his hand. The window shattered as a chunk of cranium exploded from the silhouetted head, and Hawker slumped forward, knocking the book and table lamp into darkness.
For James Hawker, it was the final darkness.
Renard exhaled deeply, trembling.
He stood outside Hawker's window for a moment, feeling the warmth move through him like a wave. His toes clawed spasmodically within his shoes.
Finally he tapped a Players cigarette out and lighted it. It had been a clean shot. A little high on the temple, perhaps. The window glass had probably caused a slight change in the bullet's trajectory. But not enough to make any difference.
It had been a clean kill, professionally done. No thrashing and moaning afterward. No time to scream for help.
Hawker never knew what hit him — and that's the only thing Renard regretted.
It would have been nice if he could have looked into Hawker's eyes before he killed him. It would have been much better if he could have looked into his eyes.
When Renard had finished his cigarette, he snuffed it out and jammed the butt into his pocket before he moved on toward the other cabanas to kill Jacob Montgomery Hayes and Hendricks, the Englishman.
Renard decided he wouldn't have to be as careful with these two. With them, he could make it last longer, and enjoy it more.
Afterward, he would escape to Cayman Brac in the boat that Fister Corporation had waiting for him. From there, a company plane would fly him to Miami.
It was an easy job — except for the bugs and the heat. Almost too easy. Renard began to plan the two days he would spend in Miami as he walked toward Hayes's cabana.
He would dine at a good restaurant and flash enough hundred-dollar bills to make the headwaiter jump to light his cigarettes.
Then maybe take in a few races at Hialeah. The corporation had a bookmaker there who would reward him with some winners — as long as he unloaded them on some other bookie.
The corporation was funny about money. They paid royally up front, but they did not like an employee making it through the back door. Renard knew that better than most — it was his job to kill those who tried.
Hayes and Hendricks were in separate cabanas, side by side beneath coconut palms. The orange moon made the coral sand glow like gold along the beach.
Renard walked carefully along the sea's edge, staying in the shadows of the tree line.
Both cabins were dark. Hayes and Hendricks were asleep.
Automatically, Renard tightened the silencer down as he approached the front door of Hayes's cabana and tested the knob.
It wasn't locked, and the door swung open. Renard raised the Colt Detective to fire, then flipped on the overhead light.
The room was empty. The bed was still made.
What is happening? he wondered in French.
As he turned to walk quickly to the next cabana, something whistled out of the darkness and clubbed the gun from his hand. In the same instant, two figures appeared in front of him: the stocky figure of Hayes and the lanky, somber Englishman, Hendricks.
"Renard — catch!" said a voice, and Renard was aware of something tumbling through the moonlight toward his face. He got his hands up just in time to knock it away. In the light from the room, he could see that they had thrown a fish at him; a funny-looking, colorful fish with bright fanlike spines. Renard jerked back involuntarily, kicking at the thing.
"Hey, god damn it, what is the big idea —"
He stopped in midsentence and suddenly grabbed his right hand. Renard looked at the two men, his eyes growing wide. "This fish has stung me or something ... stings like hell!"
Jacob Montgomery Hayes, who, along with being one of the world's richest men, was also a respected amateur biologist, watched patiently as the blood drained from the assassin's face.
Renard's breathing was already becoming labored.
Calmly Hayes peeled off the heavy rubber gloves he had used to protect his own hands. "You've had a very unlucky holiday, Mr. Renard," he said easily. "You went out for a walk on the beach this evening and made the silly mistake of picking up a scorpionfish — or, at least, that's what the authorities will think."
"M-monsieur!" Renard stammered, still wringing his hands as if he might somehow be able to scrape the sting away. "The pain is very bad! I will require medical attention if ... this ... this ..."
The assassin's face contorted as his body heaved with flooding pain.
"A doctor wouldn't help, I'm afraid, Mr. Renard," Hayes continued calmly. "There's no known antidote for the sting of a scorpionfish. Ah, from the look on your face, I'd judge the poison is already into your bloodstream. Quite painful, is it? Yes, I've read that it is. Soon you'll begin to experience nausea. Then vomiting. Probably convulsions, too — before you die."
Renard took two painful steps toward Hayes and Hendricks, his hands outstretched. "Please ..." he sobbed, "you must help me ... can't stand it ... I did not want to kill your friend. They made me; the organization made me. Please ... please ... I don't want to die ... God, the pain!"
Renard buckled over, clutching his stomach in agony as Hayes allowed himself a thin smile. "I know your record, Renard, and I know the kind of mercy you've shown others. But you have us wrong if you think this is some kind of revenge for the murder of James Hawker." Hayes turned and looked into the darkness. "Is it, James?"
James Hawker stepped out of the shadows of a massive bayonet plant, holstering his customized .45 ACP. "I've got to hand it to you, Jacob," said Hawker as he stood over the writhing figure of Renard. "I think you've just staged the perfect murder."
"The credit goes to Hendricks," Hayes said simply. He looked at his butler and old friend. "One of your tricks from the old days in British Intelligence, right, Hank?"
"Quite, sir," the Englishman said without emotion. "Of course, the plaster bust of James was something less than innovative. But the business with the fish has its novel aspects. The lads at M-5 HQ dreamed it up. Seemed silly at the time — not many scorpionfish around in Verdun or Berlin, you know. But it's actually quite useful in these climes. Unfortunately, though, it's not failsafe."
"Why's that?" demanded Hawker.
Hendricks sniffed. "The sting of a scorpionfish is fatal in about ninety percent of cases where medical attention is not available. Death is likely, but not guaranteed."
Renard was lost in a series of wracking convulsions now. Hawker pocketed the Colt Detective and grabbed the collar of the assassin's coat. "I'm going to do the world a favor and drag this French lunatic down to the water. That ought to finish him." He looked at Hayes. "Maybe you ought to bring that nasty little fish of yours along, Jacob. We don't want to leave it too far from the body. Everything else has been taken care of, right?"
"Right, James. Hendricks found the tapes in Renard's room. He took those and nothing else. I've told Samuel McCoy, the manager, we'll be flying out tonight. From here, we'll be flying to Grand Cayman where you'll let me off."
"Why Grand Cayman?"
"There were two reasons for my coming to the islands —" A light smile crossed his lips. "— aside from the bonefishing, I mean. One, I wanted to show you just how professional and how thorough the Fister Corporation is. I think Renard amply demonstrated that. He tailed you from the moment I put you on the case — and I have no idea how they found out we were interested in their New York scam.
"Two, since the late sixties, Grand Cayman has become one of the great tax havens of the western world. There are four hundred nineteen banks on Grand Cayman, and all just as tight-lipped as any bank Switzerland has to offer. If you want to hide illegal earnings, or set up dupe corporations, Grand Cayman is the place to do it. Fister Corporation is both registered and licensed in Grand Cayman, so if I'm to do my job —"
"I'll still not even sure what my job is," Hawker interrupted.
Hayes smiled. "You will, Hawk. I'll tell you all about it tonight on the plane. Believe me, I didn't call you down here just to fly fish for bones."
Renard had settled into a series of convulsions, followed by a moaning catatonia. Hawker dragged him through the sand and dropped him facedown into the water. The assassin choked violently, then looked up through a haze of pain. His eyes seemed to focus, then refocus on Hawker's face.
"But you are ... you are dead," Renard hissed.
James Hawker turned and didn't look back.
"Let's not spread it around, Renard," he said. "You're the only one who knows."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Hawker Series Volume Two"
Copyright © 2018 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc..
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.
Table of Contents
DEADLY IN NEW YORK,
Preview: Detroit Combat,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Excellent series. Hard to put down once you start. Dovetails nicely with the Doc Ford series. I cannot wait for the rest of the series!