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Authors: Emlyn Rees

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Wanted

BOOK: Wanted
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Emlyn Rees
is an author, editor and director of the Dark & Stormy Crime Festival. He spent his early twenties travelling around Asia and pouring drinks in London for the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Princess Anne, before joining the Curtis Brown literary agency and having his first crime novel published aged twenty-five, his second a year later, and then co-writing seven comedies with Josie Lloyd, including the Number One
Sunday Times
best-seller
Come Together.
He set up and launched the UK and US paperback crime fiction imprint Exhibit A for Angry Robot, and now lives in Brighton with Jo and their three kids. You can find out more about him at emlynrees.com, or follow him on Twitter
@EmlynReesWriter
.

Praise for
Hunted

‘Hunted
gives new meaning to the phrase “fast-paced”. Filled with clever twists, stylishly written and populated with characters who are as real as our friends and family (and enemies!), this thriller moves at breakneck pace from first page to last. Bravo!’
Jeffery Deaver

‘Fast and furious from the very start,
Hunted
is a shot of pure adrenalin.’
Sam Bourne

‘Hunted
reads like Simon Kernick and Jeff Abbott have joined forces to write an action-packed, pedal to the metal, tour de force. I loved it!’
Matt Hilton

 

 

 

 

Also by Emlyn Rees

Hunted
That Summer He Died

WANTED

EMLYN REES

 

 

Constable & Robinson Ltd
55–56 Russell Square
London WC1B 4HP
www.constablerobinson.com

First published in the UK by C&R Crime,
an imprint of Constable & Robinson, 2014

Copyright © Emlyn Rees, 2014

The right of Emlyn Rees to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without written permission from the publisher and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in
Publication data is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-78033-035-8 (B-format paperback)
ISBN 978-1-47211-350-4 (A-format paperback)
ISBN 978-1-78033-554-4 (ebook)

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Printed and bound in the UK

To my father, Richard, for always being there as solid as a rock.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

To my editor James Gurbutt, and Martin Palmer, and everyone at C&R for their monastic patience, and occasional ‘prompts’, over what was a glacially slow delivery. Thanks also to the very talented Hazel Orme and Clive Hebard for tightening the ride. And to Kev for general cleverness. And finally to Jo, Trees, Rox and Min for, well, you know, everything.

CHAPTER 1
CAUCASUS MOUNTAIN RANGE

Valentin Constanz Sabirzhan arrived exhausted at the edge of the snowbound forest and raised a gloved fist. The two masked men behind him stopped dead in their tracks.

Valentin coughed and spat. He didn’t need to look down to know that there would be blood in his phlegm. He smoked too much. Cigars. Like some big-shot Moscow
Bratva
crime lord – that was what his wife always said, knowing how it riled him to be compared to such filth; she hoped the insult might shame him into quitting. Not that it would. He was too old to change his habits. Death could take him as he was. He would not live his last years in fear. All he hoped – all he’d ever hoped – was what every soldier hoped: that his end, when it came, would be fast.

He willed his heaving chest to be still and listened. He heard nothing. Not so much as a breath of wind stirred in the frosted branches above his shaven, hooded head. He remembered the roar of the helicopter that had dropped him and his unit in the forest clearing two kilometres away. Standing there now, poised in the silence like an exhibit in a museum, it seemed impossible to Valentin that no one had heard them arrive. But the pilot, still waiting in the clearing, had been adamant that the snow and terrain had masked any sound.

Valentin’s eyes glinted darkly as he stared into the valley. His expression hardened.

A bright crescent moon illuminated the village cradled below. It was a nothing place: fifty-nine properties, mainly residential, with a nursery school, a grocery, which also served as the village bar, a carpenter, a butcher, an animal feed shop, and a pharmacist beside the dairy and slaughterhouse, which employed nearly every able-bodied man and woman within a ten-kilometre bus ride.

The outline of a grey, gritted road snaked between the shabby buildings, leading to other similarly isolated towns and villages further up and down the treacherous mountain range. Valentin thanked the God he had never believed in that he had moved to the city long ago. He’d have drunk himself to death through boredom if his life had been confined to a shithole like this.

He checked his watch. It was an hour before sunrise. None of the buildings was lit. Even in a hard-working farming community like this, everyone was still asleep. The only sign that the village was inhabited was the blackness of its roofs, betraying the heating inside.

Valentin’s leather boots creaked in the snow as he shifted his legs. Cramp cut deep into his muscles. As a young man, he’d been able to march in weather like this for days. But those times were long gone. He sucked cold, pine-rich air deep into his heaving lungs. His shoulders ached for the comfort of an armchair or a hot bath.

The sooner I’m back in Moscow, the better, he thought.

He pictured his wife, Anitchka, at home, beneath the thick blankets in the bed they’d been given thirty years before as a wedding gift from her parents. He imagined himself beside her as he drifted off to sleep, and remembered her as she’d been when they’d first met, when they’d danced and kissed and fucked and had fallen in love . . .

He raised his night-vision binoculars, magnifying the available ambient light by a factor of twenty thousand. The world switched from black-and-white to green-and-grey as he zoomed in on the buildings.

The village had been under geostationary satellite surveillance for the past six hours, ever since it had been decided to send Valentin and the retrieval unit here. Only as a precaution, Valentin reminded himself, in case someone had dared to steal the weapon that he and his comrades had hidden there.

Valentin’s view of the village through the binoculars matched his memory of the last satellite photograph he’d studied in the helicopter. It looked the same, but he double-checked, rolling his thumb slowly across the binoculars’ control wheel, booting up a Sentinel app, until the last photograph appeared now as a ghost image over the real-time view.

The smart binoculars compared the two images, matching vehicle placements and searching for anomalies to confirm that nothing had arrived or moved during Valentin’s twenty-minute march there.

Something had. A dairy lorry: the binoculars now highlighted its long articulated shape in pulsing red, revealing where it had been reversed into an alleyway between the square concrete block of the dairy and the end of the row of shops.

Valentin ignored the vehicle. According to his intel, it had been scheduled to arrive during the last quarter of an hour, as it did every morning, to siphon the milk from the dairy’s holding tanks.

He switched the binoculars from night-vision to profile-guided infrared and scoured the valley again. But the only heat signatures he picked up other than chimneys were those of the dairy’s generators and the lorry’s still warm engine.

It seemed there was nothing to worry about. It looked as though he and his comrades had been mistaken: no one had come here to steal from them.

So where is the relief I should be feeling? Valentin wondered. Why instead had the queasy sense of apprehension that had dogged him all day spiked into a peak?

Lowering the binoculars, he turned to the two Arctic-camouflaged men lurking in the shadows behind him, Lyonya and Gregori. Both were recent graduates of the FSB Academy in Michurinsky Prospekt in Moscow, where Valentin presided, and where he’d recruited them into the clandestine organization on whose orders they had come here tonight.

Nothing about the village looks wrong, Valentin considered, but something about it feels wrong . . .

He decided to take no chances and ordered his two subordinates, with a swift series of hand gestures, to approach their target from the front, while he would circle around and approach from the rear.

He watched the younger men fading like ghosts into the tree line, envying them their athleticism and grace, then continued his descent alone, cursing his sciatica, which lanced through his right leg at each heavy step. Less than halfway down, he stumbled and slid, jarring his hip against a frozen tree stump.

I’m getting too old for this, he thought, wincing as he picked himself up and pressed on. But deep down he knew it wasn’t only his age – he’d just turned fifty-eight – that was making this journey so hard.

No, what was slowing Valentin most of all now was fear. Fear of what it would mean if the weapon hidden in the village ever ended up in the wrong hands. Fear that someone might be on their way to steal it. Fear, not for himself, but for all those he might lose.

His wife, Anitchka.

His children, Stefan, Tamryn and Bepa.

His grandson, Mishe.

Everyone he loved.

CHAPTER 2
SCOTLAND

Paper, stone and scissors: God would not rest until they had choked, bludgeoned and torn Danny Shanklin apart.

God – for that was how powerful he believed he truly became at times like these – arranged the twenty newspapers in symmetrical rows across the heavy-duty plastic sheeting he’d nail-gunned to the kitchen floor.

Each front page from the last two days bore a different headline but the same face stared out from them all. It was the face of a cancer, one that had dared to gnaw into God’s own flesh since he had spilled his own blood in the snow.

Every hour of every day that God had spent in the penitentiary, he had pictured this face before him. He had pictured it weeping with blood. He had come so close to killing Shanklin that he could still taste his blood.

One winter’s night seven years ago, he’d followed Danny Shanklin and his family to their cabin in the Nevada woods. The next morning he’d watched as Shanklin had taken his nine-year-old daughter out hunting. By the time they had returned, he had been ready and waiting inside.

Paper . . .

God remembered killing Shanklin’s wife. He remembered pouring the tiny balls of scrunched-up newspaper into the rolled-up magazine he’d rammed down her throat. He remembered the noises she’d made as she’d jerked and spasmed and choked. He’d lost count of how many times he’d replayed these sounds in his memory, of how often they’d soothed him to sleep.

The memory of Danny Shanklin struggling to free himself from the chair he’d been strapped to . . .
Ah, yes
. . . God remembered the rage, the hatred, but, above all, the impotence in his eyes.

Stone . . .

Shanklin’s little boy had refused to play God’s game. He’d been too stupefied with fear. He’d kept his tiny fists clenched like stones.

BOOK: Wanted
5.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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