Authors: Ian Barclay
THE TERRORIST’S HAND drifted toward his gun pocket. Dartley surprised him with how quickly he closed the space between them.
He pushed the terrorist’s pistol in his pants top and forced him along the hotel corridor at knife point.
The Arab knocked at his room door, and said something in Arabic too fast for Dartley to understand. The door began to open
slowly inward. Dartley seized the terrorist by the hair, drew the blade across his throat, and booted him against the door.
Blood spraying from his severed arteries and veins, the terrorist fell forward on his comrade opening the door.
This youth screamed in horror, splashed with his friend’s blood. He backed into the room, while Dartley checked that his Colt
Commander .45 automatic was ready to fire.
The Crime Minister
The Crime Minister: Reprisal
The Crime Minister: Rebound
The Crime Minister: Reckoning
WARNER BOOKS EDITION
Copyright © 1987 by Warner Books, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Warner Books, Inc.
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Visit our website at
First eBook Edition: October 2009
“It’s just like a picture postcard,” Cheryl said, looking out the car window at the tulips and windmills.
Her husband, Barry, who was driving, nodded and the car wavered on the roadway as he gazed out over the rectangles of color
made by different tulip varieties in the fields.
“Flowers make me throw up,” said one of their twin twelve-year-old daughters in the backseat.
“Let’s go to Amsterdam right now,” her sister said. “I want to see the punks.”
They had left Philadelphia four days previously, landed in Brussels and spent two days there before hiring a car. They hit
Ghent, Brughes, Antwerp— cathedrals, moats with swans, diamond centers—before heading north into Holland. The twins had quit
on the food, surviving now on French fries and chocolate.
“Only ten more days to go,” one had said to the other.
“Can we stop at the next town?” the second asked. “I have to go to the bathroom.”
Barry decided on a belt of Scotch from his bottle, next time they stopped. He had already killed one of the two duty-free
bottles they brought in. If things kept going like they were, he’d soon have to turn to local stuff because Scotch cost an
arm and a leg here. Cheryl’s voice droned on in a long account from a guidebook about how and why the Dutch built dikes and
dammed inland seas. One of the girls said she
needed to go to the bathroom.
“Hey, look at that big windmill over there, with its sails turning,” Barry said.
“Windmills suck,” one of his daughters said.
Barry wasn’t listening. He had a new Minolta Professional Maxxum 9000, which he had already used on various color bands of
flowers. The contrast between this weathered, battered windmill and the scarlet tulips in the fields at its base would really
show what this camera could do. He pulled the car off ,the road onto a dirt track leading to the mill. His daughters groaned.
“I need you for scale,” he said, making his wife and the twins stand with their backs to the windmill. No one was around to
disturb him, so he had a chance to make fine adjustments for different shots to see how they would turn out.
“Daddy, someone is coming,” one of his daughters said after a while.
She was right. A black Mercedes was moving slowly over the dirt road toward them. The local farmer wouldn’t own such a car,
Barry decided. These were probably tourists like themselves. You only had to stop at a beautiful spot for someone else to
decide it was worth their while to pull in also. He went on taking pictures and heard the car stop behind him.
“Barry, it’s the three men who were watching us in Antwerp,” his wife said urgently.
He saw fear in her eyes and turned around to face the newcomers. All three had gotten out of the car, two from the front,
one from the back, leaving three doors hanging open. The engine was still running. The men were in their mid-twenties, well-dressed
and groomed, Mediterranean in appearance. He couldn’t say for sure these were the same three who had frightened his wife and
daughters at the hotel in Antwerp. He hadn’t caught a close look at them then and hadn’t wanted to add to the hysteria by
appearing alarmed. His wife had claimed they were being watched by them and that they were Arabs. This was possible, he conceded
to her, but as Americans they had no need to fear them. The diamond centers in Antwerp were crowded with Orthodox Jews in
beards, black hats, and black coats. Even if these men were Arabs and even if they meant trouble, they were not going to pass
over targets like that to bother with Yanks named Halloran. Yet his wife and the twins claimed they were followed.
“It’s them, Barry. I’m sure of it.”
“I’m scared, Daddy.”
Without being obvious about it, Barry snapped a shot of the three men and advanced the film. He photographed them again. “Nice
day,” he said.
One of the men nodded.
“Let’s go, kids,” Barry said and turned toward his car.
The man who had nodded to Barry nodded again, this time to the one who had been in the backseat of the Mercedes. This man
reached inside the car and brought out a Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine gun. He cocked the weapon and waved it at Barry to
make him join his wife and children against the wall of the windmill.
As Barry went he talked in a calm, reasonable voice, slowly enough for people with a poor grasp of English to understand.
“Let my family go. Keep me hostage or shoot me, but let them go. Killing women and children won’t help your cause. No one
agrees with killing women and children.”
“We picked you because of your woman and girl children,” said the man who had been doing the nodding. He spoke in accented
but clearly understandable English. “If we let anyone go, it will be you.”
“Are you crazy?” Barry shouted at him. “You think shooting that seventy-year-old man in a wheelchair on the
got you converts to the Arab cause?”
“I understand your point,” the man said. He could
not have been more than twenty-five and spoke politely, even kindly. “We do not enjoy killing a mother and her children. We
must harden our hearts to do it.” He beckoned to the man with the gun. “Ali, this talk achieves nothing.”
Ali caught the two adults at chest level in a single burst of fire. He had to lower the submachine gun barrel to cut the twins
across the middle in a second burst.
The man who had done the talking now said in Arabic, “Go over them once more, Ali.” While he watched Ali empty his thirty-round
magazine of 9mm bullets into the bodies, he shouted over the gunshots to the third man, “He photographed us, Hasan. Open that
camera and expose the film.”
Blue-gray gunsmoke drifted in the clear Dutch air toward the tulip fields. Traffic moved on the road. There was no indication
anyone had heard or seen anything. Naim Shabaan was pleased with the way neither Ali nor Hasan had hesitated to obey his orders.
They were going to work well together as a team. He snapped the thick stalk of a weed and used it to trace an Islamic star
and crescent—symbols of peace and life— on the windmill wall, dipping the end of the stalk into blood oozing from the wounds
in Barry Halloran’s back.
Charley Woodgate sat at the long kitchen table of his farmhouse near Frederick, Maryland, and worked on the trigger mechanism
of a rifle. For many years
Charley had made a good living as a gunsmith. Also sitting at the table was his old friend Herbert Malleson, whom he often
referred to as the Viscount for his rather grand British manner. Like Charley the Englishman was a free lance of sorts, earning
his way in Washington by providing intelligence to those willing to pay for it. Sometimes they had the same customers, Charley
providing them with customized weapons. Both men were in their sixties, healthy and fit, though Woodgate walked with a bad
limp from a leg wound received at Monte Cassino, as the Allies drove the Germans northward through Italy.
As Woodgate worked on the trigger mechanism, Malleson leafed through that day’s issues of the
Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer
New York Times,
as always looking for the real story behind the news.
“‘In The Hague today, a spokesman for the Dutch government denounced the murder of the Halloran family as a brutal and senseless
crime,’” Malleson read from one of the papers. “They don’t mention a word about Holland agreeing to sign the Ostend Concordance.”
“The what?” Charley asked.
“The Halloran murders were brutal but not senseless. The Dutch government doesn’t want the real story to get out. They were
warned not to announce their intention of signing the Concordance.”
“The Ostend Concordance is the American-sponsored international treaty committing its participants to close cooperation in
fighting terrorists. The U.S., Canada,
Israel, and Japan have already signed, but the agreement is meaningless without the inclusion of the European Common Market
countries. If even one influential Common Market country refuses to sign, the Ostend Concordance is dead.”
“I suppose I’m being a bit dense today,” Charley Woodgate said, looking up from his work, “but surely the killing of this
American family in Holland would only strengthen the Dutch government’s determination to sign, instead of weakening it?”