By Bill Granger
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Devereaux. Both target and triggerman, pawn and master player, the spy who can never come in from the cold….
Devereaux. Code name November. Brilliant, lethally cool operative. Years ago regarded as one of America’s most valuable security assets. Now courted by the KGB, attacked by the CIA. Your mission: foil the planned assassination of England’s richest man and its prime minister in a treacherous war of shadows on the Irish Sea, where the first loyalty is to yourself. And the wrong move can be your last….
Table of Contents
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While reading this book, one should keep these facts in mind:
Despite the general public belief, the Central Intelligence Agency is not the only intelligence-gathering operation conducted by the United States.
Fiction and nonfiction works have made popularly known the former section names attributed to British Intelligence—MI5 and MI6. Because of organizational changes in recent years and a penchant for maintaining secrecy even at mundane levels, British Intelligence has changed its nomenclature.
The Irish Republican Army guerrilla activity in Ulster province of Ireland is funded both by individuals and unofficial channels of foreign governments.
The Soviet Union maintains spy networks in most Western countries and, wherever possible, such spies operate under cover of diplomatic immunity granted them by their status as employees of their respective embassies in those foreign countries.
Though a routine ferry service connects Liverpool and Dublin, there is as yet no rival hovercraft service operating on the Irish Sea.
NEW YORK CITY
The larger man, whose white body resembled a slug, took a step forward and ripped his glove lace-side up across the forehead of his black opponent. Blood exploded from the sudden cut on the black man's head and sprayed red on the slug's body and on the canvas floor of the ring. Yet the darker, smaller man seemed oblivious of blood or pain as he stepped forward himself, between the lumbering swings, grinning with the pleasure of a man controlling a machine in perfect use. The slug's second swing banged harmlessly against the black man's shoulder. Now the smaller man was inside and he tattooed a series of jabs into the expanse of that mottled trunk. The slug stumbled against the ropes, his head snapped back, and sweat sprayed both their faces. The white body heaved hopelessly, floundering in the net of the thick ring ropes. The smaller man moved forward precisely then, jabbing surgically. He hit the punching bag of a body seven more times even though the blood from the cut blurred his vision.
"So much for the great white hope again."
Devereaux let his program drop to the floor.
It was not a signal, although it might have been, because everything about the meeting had been couched in similar melodrama and romance. A signal or not, Hanley chose that moment to begin talking even while the fight was belled to a merciful conclusion.
"I really thought he had a chance," Hanley began. "Well." Pause. "We're worried about Hastings."
Devereaux—and, indeed, everyone in R Section—was aware of Hanley's annoying habit of uttering non sequiturs. Few realized, though, that Hanley had acquired the habit deliberately as an accoutrement of the profession he had entered thirty years before. It was Hanley's belief that non sequiturs confused and misled potential eavesdroppers, made it convenient to insert appropriate code words and other verbal signals in everyday speech, and, finally, improved the attention of the listener.
Devereaux merely thought Hanley was an asshole.
In the ring, the white man was protesting the decision. Around Hanley and Devereaux, in the smoky, flat atmosphere, figures were hurling programs toward the square of light in front of them.
"Hastings?" Devereaux looked at Hanley.
The latter seemed momentarily lost in a private reverie. Finally, he resumed: "You know what Hastings is. Strictly a Second Man in a not-terribly-important posting. He hasn't had anything for six months and now he wants thirty thousand dollars. Won't explain and won't reply to our cables except to hint that he has devastating stuff. 'Devastating.' The very word he used. National security involved, he claims, international ramifications, that sort of thing. He's continued on payroll and we meet his expenses, but frankly, we haven't the faintest hint of what he's talking about."
Hanley folded his program neatly and put it in his vest pocket. Devereaux wondered if Hanley had a hope chest of old programs.
"So now you're going to rein him in," said Devereaux.
"Kill that turkey motherfucker," screamed a black man sitting next to Hanley. In the ring, the two fighters who had waltzed for most of the eleven rounds were now vigorously engaged in a postfight charade. Separated by managers and trainers and the referee, they lunged at each other, hurling promises and insults.
"Not necessarily," said Hanley. Pause. "He was a good man."
Devereaux stared at his own flat fingers. He was not going to point out that Hanley's faint praise was inconsistent with what he had said moments before. Devereaux hated Hanley the way people in the field always hated the clerks back in R Section.
"Get that nigger outta there," cried a white man two rows back.
"Who you callin' a nigger?"
Devereaux looked around. Anxious blue-uniformed security men came rushing down the aisles, and received a barrage of paper cups for their pains. "Christ," he said. "Why didn't you plan for us to meet on the stage of the Met? We could've been extras."
"Sarcasm," identified Hanley.
The black man next to him had vaulted over the back of his seat and was swinging at a white fan.
Hanley continued in the same flat, slightly too precise tone of voice: "Well, it took some doing but we now have the money and the clearance. You're to take the money to him and find out what is going on."
"I'm not a headhunter," Devereaux replied.
Their voices were unnaturally quiet in the chaotic din around them.
Hanley smiled unpleasantly and spread his hands in a gesture of sincerity. "This is not a contract. We merely want you to evaluate our friend and his information and to remind him of certain aspects of… discipline… and to find out what Samuel is getting for his money from that funny little Englishman."
Samuel was the current jargon name for the U.S. Hanley was always up on the jargon.
Devereaux suddenly turned away. He despised them all and all the cute espionage talk that filtered down from R Section. It came from all those dreary clerks spending their dreary lives in Mitty-like imitation of what they thought was the reality of the operation. In fact, their reality came from television and the movies and the latest spy fictions they read on their lunch hour in the marble cafeteria downstairs. Devereaux's reality did not have names or comfort or jargon, and it did not have time for Hanley's potent sense of melodrama.
"I'm going to get a drink," Devereaux said finally and got up. He started to edge along the row to the aisle.
Hanley flushed: "I'm not through, goddammit."
His voice pierced the din because it was so unexpected and so angry. The crowd around them suddenly fell quiet. Devereaux paused and turned back to Hanley. Hanley gaped around him and was instantly aware of the attention.
Devereaux smiled: "Don't be such a tired bitch. Buy us a drink."
Hanley gaped on, now at Devereaux. The black man snickered behind him, and Hanley's face turned red.
Devereaux leered, "Coming?"
"I'm coming," said Hanley meekly, and he rose and followed Devereaux down the row.
"Fags," said the man behind the empty seats. "Fuckin' fairies." The bell continued to sound in the prize ring.
Hanley ordered rye.
A midtown New York bar at ten P.M. Ill-lit, too small, pretentiously priced, it projected a kind of relentless insomnia, just like the city. Devereaux and Hanley sat at the curve at the window end. The street was shut out with red curtains; red flocked wallpaper tarted up the interior with a sort of comfortable insincerity. The bartender plunked down the drinks in large rounded glasses.
"I always order rye in New York," explained Hanley. He made a face as he sipped at the drink. "That's a good habit, you know—order the local drink. Makes you fit in. Rye here. Bourbon in the South—"
"Scotch in Scotland," said Devereaux. He sipped his vodka and felt tired. Hanley, who grew up in Nebraska, had gained his indelible impression of the habits and mores of New Yorkers from the countless B movies that had ground their way through his local movie house in the thirties.
"Speaking of Scotland." Hanley sipped again like a man just trying to get through a drink. "Did you know that's Hastings' base now?"
"I haven't seen him for years. Since Athens."
Hanley frowned. "I'm aware of that. You don't keep up."
"Why doesn't the Section send around a newsletter?" Devereaux was sick of talking to Hanley and sick at the thought of what the job was going to turn out to be. He had liked Hastings once.
"Despite your sarcasm," Hanley began, "I'm aware of what you think. You know you could have done better if you had kept up." Like me, implied Hanley.
"What's the job?" It was maddening.
"You leave tomorrow to see Hastings. It has to be made clear to him that he won't get the money until we have a solid idea—an idea that will satisfy you—of what his information entails."
"Thirty thousand dollars is hardly exit money," said Devereaux. The cold vodka was numbing his tongue pleasantly.
"There's more," said Hanley, sipping dutifully at the rye.
Devereaux waited and let the coldness of the drink warm him.
"I didn't get the chance to tell you everything."
"Hastings wants thirty thousand now." Pause again. Devereaux sat still and stared at the ice bobbing in his drink. "For the first part of whatever he has. And a hundred thousand dollars deposited in a Swiss bank in nine days for the second part."
Devereaux had had enough. "I'm not playing, Hanley. Until you give me some idea of what the hell this is all about."
Hanley spread his hands in the same familiar and insincere gesture of openness.
"I've told you. We simply have no idea of why he's being so secretive. We've talked to our London people—my God, they should certainly be on top of things. Hastings has never played this sort of game. Frankly, he's never had much to be secretive about. Some of the people at Britdesk in the Section think most of his stuff has been clipped out of the Economist or Telegraph—"
Which it probably was, Devereaux thought.
Hanley realized, with something like horror, that he had finished his drink without finishing his conversation. "I suppose you want another," he began. Devereaux nodded to the bartender. They did not speak until they were served. In a booth at the other end of the bar, a large, heavy man placed his hand on the thigh of a drunk young woman. He was not asked to remove it. Hanley stared at them.
"Hastings has been our informal link, as it were, with Brit Intell. He retired from them two years ago, you know."
Brit Intell. For God's sake, thought Devereaux.
"Well, as you may know, there's damned little the Section is interested in getting from the blokes." He used the old military expression of contempt for the English. "Still. He was worth his allowance, just to have all bases covered. Never gave us very much but… well… Hastings was justifiable. Then, six months ago, he stopped giving. Just… stopped… giving."
Above the bar, the television set flickered on. There was no sound. The screen filled with the images of the slug and the black man. The fight was being repeated. Devereaux felt strangely disoriented. The edge of his tongue stung with cold vodka.
"Was he dead?" asked Hanley rhetorically. "No, old Hastings was very much alive. We sent a Third Man over a month ago to talk with him. No, he couldn't tell us what was up. Hastings said he was putting pieces together. He said he'd let us know. The Third Man said he looked like a cat who'd swallowed a bird."
Hanley now folded his hands and looked confidentially at Devereaux, rather like an employment counselor about to explain a company's pension plan. "As you know, the Section operates rather loosely compared with the Langley company."
Devereaux winced at the phrase—Langley meant the Central Intelligence Agency headquartered off the Beltway in that sleepy Virginia suburb.
"Because we are a much smaller operation—and because our charter is so much more limited—we have developed a rather loose field program and our operators are permitted a rather wide latitude in information-gathering. Still, Hastings has sorely vexed us with his silence—"
"As I have."
"As you have," agreed Hanley. "I can tell you there were some on the committee who wanted to pull the plug on him."
"In what way?"
"Perhaps reveal his… ah… role in our organization to someone in Brit Intell—"
"That would be stupid," said Devereaux.
Hanley smiled. "Right. That's what the Chief said. That's what I said. Stupid and self-defeating, I said. Look at the matter logically, I put it to the committee: There are several possibilities. One, Hastings is stringing us along and merely wants the money and has nothing at all. Two: Hastings has information of genuine worth and is entertaining bids for it from our side, from the Langley company, and others. Three, Hastings has the information and genuinely does not want to blow it—"
"—by telling your second-rate couriers about it—"
"We sent a Third Man," complained Hanley defensively.
"Four," said Devereaux. "Hastings has made the hit of his life. He's going to milk it for every last drop. And then he's going away."
"Four," agreed Hanley. "So good that it can make the Section. I don't need to tell you we've had our problems with the committee."
"No, you don't need to tell me," said Devereaux. He considered it. "Hastings. He must be fifty-five years old now."
"Fifty-four," said Hanley.
"Does he have a network?"
"Not much of one. Nothing too important. A couple of school chums involved in Brit Intell's domestic operation in Belfast, keeping an eye on the Boys." Such were members of the Irish Republican Army called. "But that's not really of much interest to us."
"No," said Devereaux.
"That's what's got us stumped," said Hanley. "I mean, where the hell did Hastings put his hands on something really important?"
"His British probes?"
"But you know what British Intelligence is. I mean, what could they know that we don't know?"
Devereaux nodded. On the television screen, the slug was against the ropes again, again being hammered in slow motion by the smaller man. "So it might be important for a change, what old Hastings has found."
"Every bit of information is important," Hanley said with blithe inconsistency. Devereaux's attitude seemed always to threaten Hanley and the structure of the world in which he found comfort.
"Nonsense," said Devereaux. "You don't believe that. Even you don't believe that. Almost none of it is important. And the important stuff we usually get by accident. That Soviet fighter plane last year. Flown into our waiting hands and those of the Japanese because Yuri What's-his-name was pissed off at his wife in the Soviet paradise. Don't make it all seem more than it is."
Hanley was angry again. He had had quite enough. He reached into his vest and said, "This is all you need."
He had pulled out the fight program.
"Am I supposed to give him that? Do you think he'll believe it's thirty thousand dollars? Or a Swiss account book?"
"Damn." Hanley flushed. He shoved the program back into his coat and then reached into the vest and came out with a brown envelope. He placed the envelope on the bar, between the two glasses. Then he pulled a little notebook from a second pocket and put it in front of Devereaux. "Sign, please, there," he said.
Devereaux made his scrawl.
"Thirty one-thousand-dollar bills. An account with the State Bank of Zurich containing one hundred thousand dollars in his name. Just in case he has both parts. It's your judgment, Devereaux, remember. That's a lot of money—"
"Why not fly him back here?"
"Our Third Man suggested it to him. He wouldn't buy."
"Doesn't he trust us?"
Hanley shrugged. "We've always played him fair—"
"Except for recruiting him in the first place," said Devereaux. "Remember? I was there." A long time ago. On an island in the Aegean. The last time Devereaux had seen Hastings, the happiness had drained out of that puffy face, the eyes were both mocking and betrayed.
"If that's all," said Hanley. His voice was coming from a distance.
Devereaux smiled again. Hanley was irresistible. "One more thing as long as you're here."
Hanley glanced at him.
"My American Express card," Devereaux said quietly. "I picked up my mail this weekend and there was a notice threatening cancellation. I thought you had taken care of it."
"I'm sure we did."
"Don't give me that 'sure' shit. Just call up the goddam AmEx tomorrow and get the fucking thing straightened out. They said they hadn't received a payment in four months—"
"You submitted your bills—"
"Fuck my bills," said Devereaux, just as quietly. "You think those cowboys in the CIA worry about their credit cards getting canceled?"
"The error is probably on the part of American Express—"
"I don't care who's part it's on. Just fix it." Devereaux was actually enjoying himself, because Hanley prided himself on the efficiency of the Section, particularly the intricate paymaster system which he had created. Comparisons with the CIA's lavish budget bothered Hanley as well. All of which put Devereaux in a better mood.
"The Langley people have their problems, too," said Hanley. Then he saw Devereaux's smile and refused to play anymore.
They finished their drinks, staring along with the bartender at the silent television screen.
"Oh, yes," said Hanley at last. "If it's one or two. Well. Let us know right away."
"One or two?"
Hanley nodded. "Scenarios. That he's stringing us or becoming an independent contractor."
Devereaux was suddenly very tired and drained. He did not want to talk with this vile little man anymore. If it were possibilities one or two, in Devereaux's judgment, it meant the end of Hastings.
"You pay," Devereaux said. He got up then and went out the door without another word.
November rain, full of ice and bleakness, dashed against the black and gray stones of the old city. Scottish noon: no one had seen the sun for days. Ugly clouds convened above the spires, permitting only varying shades of dull, gray light. Outside, the rain stung faces red and soaked into heavy tweeds and numbed the bones of shoppers bent against the wind whistling down Princes Street.
Hastings muttered like a priest's housekeeper as he bustled around the room, picking up pieces of clothing and straightening the cover on the creaky couch. The air in the room was close with leftover odors of gin, Scotch, and cigarettes. A sudden puff of wind flung a hail of raindrops against the window.
"Damn it all." Hastings felt suddenly depressed by his morning-after activity and sat down fatly on the couch. He fumbled as he lit a Player's.
The smoke did not satisfy him.
He sighed and ran his hand through his thinning brown-tinted hair. Then he expelled a big puff of smoke and sighed again. The chill in the room crept up on him. The place was always damp and musty and always cold.
Not like the islands. Something softened his eyes at that moment, as though he saw the past clearly in the pattern of brown smoke. He had grown accustomed to the heat then. Too much so.
He dashed out the cigarette, ending the mood. After all, the cable had arrived that morning and it was no dream. Money due today.
Money due today. The money. The exit money.
The excesses of his life were obvious in lines on his too-red face and the swell of his paunch. But what excesses, really, dearie? Drank too much? Who wouldn't with the loneliness of it all. And now this climate—why, duck, half the city is drunk from morning till night in winter. One always needed a little money, just to mitigate the pain. Hanley had once wired from R Section: How do you manage to spend so much money in such a miserable poor country? Hanley's idea of repartee.
The wind knocked at the window again like an insistent visitor.
Well, there wasn't anything funny about it, my darlings. It was a miserable and poor country and one needed money just to retain one's sanity. Just to stay drunk when the night comes at three in the afternoon. The men were stuffy, righteous, close, even pompous in their smug tams and tweeds; the places of pleasure were opened only grudgingly; one felt as though one were a child again living here—only the childhood consisted of a single, eternal Sunday afternoon.
For a moment, a tear appeared in the corner of Hastings' eye as he thought of that poor child of himself, trapped in tweeds and knickers, staring out the window at the rain on the immense lawn, tiptoeing through the adult house of shadows and too many rooms. Poor darling boy.
He shivered. He rose and went to the gas ring and turned it on. The blue flames hissed evenly and he held his hands over them.
Well, ducks, weep not for Hastings but for yourselves. The money was coming today and Hastings must be up and about his father's business. His uncle's business, in any event.
God bless America and all its money and endless need for intrigue and a chance to meddle in others' business. Yes, bless them all.
He began to hum the old war song as he went to the grim, oak wardrobe by the door. He selected a shabby green Harris tweed jacket and shrugged it over his round, sad little fat-man shoulders. Then the mackintosh. No wonder all this heavy, foul-weather stuff bore Scottish names.
He closed the door carefully, inserting the bit of match just so between the jamb and door. Then he turned and hurried down the musty hall, down the worn stairs to the street. As he opened the outer door, the wind slapped his face in greeting; he joined the other pedestrians in homage to the force of it and bent his uncovered head as he hurried along the narrow mews. Nearly one P.M.
Hastings had the gift to see himself clearly, even when he presented a ludicrous sight. Now he thought of the white rabbit in Alice and managed an odd, twisted smile. Hurry, hurry, old darling. No time to waste.…
He finally emerged onto the broad, windy expanse of Princes Street. On the other side, away from the row of fashionable stores, lay the long gully that carried railway lines out of Edinburgh Station. Above the lines loomed the rocky menace of Edinburgh Castle, carved into the lip of the hill. The rain turned to hail.
"Oh, Christ," Hastings prayed loudly as the hail began to pelt him. "Give us a rest."
For a moment, it was too much for him. He took refuge in the doorway of a tailor shop. Not a cab or omnibus in sight, only the thin miserable line of private cars sloshing through the eternal downpour. Clouds boiled up from the west like new stock. What a miserable country.
He waited in the entranceway for the sudden, furious onslaught to ease. He felt damp already, and cold.
The meet had been decided weeks before. When he had talked with that boy they sent—a Third Man. Not his type at all, ducks—a little too macho, with a ferret face.
He recalled with satisfaction that warmed him how he punctured Ferretface's tough-guy act. It had been quite easy. And then Ferretface had listened to Hastings' instructions.
Your humble servant, Hastings, had selected the buffet in Edinburgh Central Station. Miserable little buffet not a hundred feet from the gate to the afternoon express to Glasgow. Just in case.
Hastings was aware they might not trust him anymore.
He plunged into the street again and half ran down the sidewalk, staying close to the shop buildings. Across the magnificent and gloomy expanse of the famous thoroughfare, the wind built volume that whirled capriciously behind him and prodded Hastings along like a crusher with his nightstick. Move along there, yer bloody queen.…
The brooding gothic columns of the Walter Scott memorial loomed up and then away and Hastings hurried on until he was down at the entrance of the station, breathing hard, his face flushed, his mackintosh soaked. His breath came in foggy jerks.
He wanted to rush into the cover of the station.
Caution, old luv, he told himself. He stood in the entry and waited for his shivering to cease. One o'clock and all's well. The train for Glasgow sits steaming at the far gate. Ticket. There it is. Leaves in ten minutes. Just enough time to judge the situation and make a run for it if he had to.
He strolled to the window of the buffet in the main concourse of the station and peered inside.
Typical British Rail. All bright plasticky colors already fading. Stacks of stale sandwich rounds. A fat woman in a heavy coat with two small, red-cheeked children sat slopping their tea at one table. An old man with a copy of The Scotsman sat near the window, judiciously muttering over the headlines. Two British Rail conductors sat at a third table, leaning over the tits-and-bums page of The Sun.
Hastings caught his breath, felt heavy in his arms.
Rather too much, luv, isn't it? I mean, sending a Ninth Man from Section? Don't they trust dear, dear Hastings? The thought overwhelmed him. He slowly continued his inventory of the buffet and then let his eyes rest again on Devereaux, who sat in a smoking wet raincoat, cupping a mug of milky tea in his broad, flat-fingered hands.
Still the same. Same gray-and-black hair. Same crosshatched face that was neither handsome nor ugly. Devereaux's features all showed age in an oddly appealing way; probably he had not been as attractive as a young man, but, with age, had accumulated character. Same marble-gray eyes and wintry face. Even when they were in Athens a long time ago. Aren't you cold, luv, with a face like that? Then he would smile—Devereaux had liked Hastings—and Hastings had begun to feel comfortable with him. Strictly platonic, old darling, not my type at all.
Six minutes to the Glasgow train.
Hastings fingered the little cardboard ticket in his pocket. The Section would never kill him in a British Rail buffet. No, no. Wouldn't do at all. Indeed, they would prefer not to kill him in these blessed isles at all, since R Section did not exist.
Lost your nerve, old darling?
- On Sale
- Jul 29, 2014
- Page Count
- 352 pages
- Grand Central Publishing