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Authors: Jack Higgins

Angel of Death

BOOK: Angel of Death
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Synopsis:

They call themselves “January 30”, after the date of a British massacre in Belfast. They are the enemies of peace — and they are plotting an assassination that will shatter the uneasy truce that reigns in Ireland. Former IRA enforcer Sean Dillon must hunt down January 30 before they kill again — before they spark a war.

 

 

Angel Of Death
Jack Higgins

 

The fourth book in the Sean Dillon series
Copyright © 1995

 

 

 

Between two groups of men that want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy except force. . . . It seems to me that every society rests on the death of men.

— OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

 

 

 

BELFAST
LONDON
1994

 

ONE

 

A cold wind blew in from Belfast Lough, driving rain across the city. Sean Dillon moved along a narrow street between tall warehouses, relics of the Victorian era, mostly boarded up now. He stood on the corner, a small man, no more than five feet five, wearing a trench coat and an old rain hat.

He was on the waterfront now. There were ships out there at anchor, their riding lights moving up and down, for there was a heavy swell driving into the docks. There was a sound of gunfire in the distance. He glanced in the general direction, lit a cigarette in cupped hands, and moved on.

There was an air of desolation to the whole area, examples of the devastation caused by twenty-five years of war everywhere, and his feet crunched over broken glass. He found what he was looking for five minutes later, a warehouse with a peeling sign on the wall that said MURPHY & SON — IMPORT & EXPORT. There were large double doors with a small Judas gate for easy access. It opened with a slight creak and he stepped inside.

 

 

It was a place of shadows, empty except for an old Ford van and a jumble of packing cases. There was an office at the far end with glass walls, one or two panes broken, and a dim light shone there. Dillon removed his rain hat and ran a hand nervously over his hair which he’d dyed black. The dark moustache which he’d gummed into place on the upper lip completed the transformation.

He waited, still clutching the rain hat. It had to be the van, only reason for it being there, so he wasn’t surprised when the rear door opened and a rather large man, a Colt automatic in one hand, emerged.

“Slow and easy, my grand wee man,” he said in the distinctive Belfast accent.

“I say, old chap.” Dillon showed every sign of alarm and raised his hands. “No problem, I trust? I’m here in good faith.”

“Aren’t we all, Mr. Friar,” a voice called, and Dillon saw Daley appear in the doorway of the office. “Is he clean, Jack?”

The big man ran his hands over Dillon and felt between his legs. “All clear here, Curtis.”

“Bring him in.”

When Dillon entered the office, Daley was sitting in a chair behind the desk, a young man of twenty-five or so with an intense, white face.

“Curtis Daley, Mr. Friar, and this is Jack Mullin. We have to be careful, you understand?”

“Oh, perfectly, old chap.” Dillon rolled his rain hat and slipped it into his raincoat pocket. “May I smoke?”

Daley tossed a packet of Gallaghers across. “Try an Irish cigarette. I’m surprised to find you’re English. Jobert and Company; now that’s a French arms dealer. That’s why we chose him.”

Dillon lit a cigarette. “The arms business, especially at the level you wish to deal, isn’t exactly thriving in London these days. I’ve been in it for years ever since getting out of the Royal Artillery. I’ve worked as an agent for Monsieur Jobert all over the world.”

“That’s good.”

“Monsieur Jobert told me I’d be meeting your leader, Mr. Quinn?”

“Daniel? Why should he expect that? Any special reason?”

“Not really,” Dillon said hurriedly. “I did a tour with the Royal Artillery in Londonderry, nineteen eighty-two. Mr. Quinn was quite famous.”

“Notorious, you mean,” Daley said. “Everyone after him. The police, the Army, and the bloody IRA.”

“Yes, that does rather sum it up,” Dillon said.

“Loyal to the Crown, that’s what we Protestants are, Mr. Friar,” Daley said, genuine anger in his voice. “And what does it get us? A boot up the arse, interference from America, and a British Government that prefers to sell us out to damn Fenians like Gerry Adams.”

“I can appreciate your point of view.” Dillon managed to sound slightly alarmed.

“That’s why we call our group Sons of Ulster. We stand here or die here, no other route, and the sooner the British Government and the IRA realize that, the better. Now, what can Jobert offer?”

“Naturally I’ve put nothing on paper,” Dillon said, “but in view of the kind of money we’re talking about, a first consignment could be two hundred AK-47s in prime condition, fifty AKMs, a dozen general-purpose machine guns. Brownings. Not new, but in good order.”

“Ammunition?”

“No problem.”

“Anything else?”

“We had a consignment of Stinger missiles delivered to our Marseilles warehouse recently. Jobert says he could manage six, but that, of course, would be extra.”

Daley sat there frowning and tapping the desk with his fingers. Finally he said, “You’re at the Europa?”

“Where else in Belfast, old chap?”

“Right. I’ll be in touch.”

“Will I be meeting Mr. Quinn?”

“I can’t say. I’ll let you know.” He turned to Mullin. “Send him on his way, Jack.”

Mullin took Dillon back to the entrance, and as he opened the Judas gate there was a hollow booming sound in the distance.

“What was that?” Dillon said in alarm.

“Only a bomb, nothing to get alarmed about, my wee man. Did you wet your pants then?”

He laughed as Dillon stepped outside, was still laughing as he closed the door. Dillon paused on the corner. The first thing he did was peel away the moustache above his lip, then he removed the rain hat from his pocket, unrolled it, and took out a short-barrelled Smith & Wesson revolver, which he slipped into his waist band against the small of his back.

He put the hat on as the rain increased. “Amateurs,” he said softly. “What can you do with them?” and he walked rapidly away.

 

 

At that moment Daley was ringing a Dublin number. A woman answered. “Scott’s Hotel.”

“Mr. Brown.”

A moment later Daniel Quinn came on the line. “Yes?”

“Curtis here. I’m glad I caught you. I thought you might be on the way to Amsterdam tonight.”

“How did it go?”

“Jobert sent a man called Friar. English. Ex–army officer. He offered to meet all requirements, including some Stingers if you want them.”

“That’s good. What was he like, this Friar?”

“Second-rate English public school type. Black hair and moustache. Frightened to death. Said he thought he was meeting you.”

“Why should he think that?”

“Jobert told him he would. Apparently he did a tour with the Royal Artillery in Londonderry in eighty-two. Said you were quite famous.”

There was a moment’s pause, then Quinn said, “Take him out, Curtis, I smell stinking fish here.”

“But why?”

“Sure, I was in Londonderry in eighty-two, only not as Daniel Quinn. I used the name Frank Kelly.”

“Jesus!” Daley said.

“Take him out, Curtis, that’s an order. I’ll call you from Beirut.”

 

 

Dillon was staying at the Europa Hotel in Great Victoria Street by the railway station, the most bombed hotel in Belfast if not the world. He was still wearing the rain hat when he entered the suite.

The woman who sat reading a magazine was thirty years of age, wore a black trouser suit and horn-rimmed glasses. She had short red hair. Her name was Hannah Bernstein and she was a Detective Chief Inspector in the Special Branch at Scotland Yard.

She jumped up. “Everything work out?”

“So far. Have you heard from Ferguson?”

“Not yet. When do you make your move?”

“Daley said he’d get back to me.” He took off his hat. “I need a shower. I want to get rid of this hair dye.”

She made a face. “Yes, it’s just not you, Dillon.”

He took off his coat and jacket and made for the bathroom. At that moment the phone rang. He raised a hand — “Leave it to me” — and picked the phone up.

“Barry Friar,” he said, putting on the public school accent.

“Daley. Mr. Quinn will see you tomorrow night at six.”

“Same place?” Dillon asked.

“No, drive from the Europa to Garth Dock. It’s close to where you were tonight. I know you have a hire car, so use that — and make sure you come alone. You’ll be picked up. Mr. Quinn will be there.”

The phone went dead. Hannah Bernstein said, “Now what?”

“Daley. The next meeting is tomorrow evening at six to meet Quinn. I’m to drive there alone.”

“It worked,” she said. “You were right.”

“I usually am.”

“Where’s the meeting?”

“Oh, no,” he said. “I tell you, you’ll tell Ferguson, and he’ll have some SAS hit squad on my case. No go, Hannah.” He smiled. “I’ll be all right, girl dear. Go and do your bit with Ferguson and I’ll have a shower.”

“Damn you, Dillon!” But she knew better than to waste her breath in argument. She left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

He stripped and went into the bathroom, whistling cheerfully as he turned on the shower, stood under it, and watched the black dye run from his hair.

 

 

In most places in the world, by the early seventies, terrorism was a growing problem, especially in Britain because of the IRA and in spite of the activities of the Security Services and Scotland Yard. The Prime Minister of the day had decided drastic measures were needed and had set up an elite intelligence unit responsible to him alone and no one else.

Brigadier Charles Ferguson had headed the unit since its inception, had served every Prime Minister in office, had no personal political allegiance. He usually operated from an office on the third floor of the Ministry of Defence overlooking Horse Guards Avenue, but when Hannah Bernstein rang him on the red phone she was patched through to his flat in Cavendish Square.

“Bernstein, Brigadier. Dillon made contact.”

“With Quinn?”

“No, Curtis Daley. Dillon has a meeting tomorrow night at six. He won’t tell me where. Says he doesn’t want you sending the heavy brigade in. He has to drive there alone.”

“Awkward sod,” Ferguson said. “Will Quinn be there?”

“So it seems, sir.”

Ferguson nodded. “Catching him is the name of the game, Chief Inspector. Some of these Loyalist groups are now as big a threat as the IRA. Quinn is certainly the most dangerous leader to be found amongst their rather numerous factions. Sons of Ulster.” He grunted. “I mean, my mother was Irish, but why do they have to be so damned theatrical?”

“Dillon always says it’s the rain.”

“He would, wouldn’t he. Everything’s a joke.”

“So what do you want me to do, sir?”

“You do nothing, Chief Inspector. Dillon wants to do things his own way as usual, get close enough to Quinn to put a bullet between his eyes. Let him get on with it, but I won’t have you in the line of fire. You provide backup at the Europa only. If he pulls this thing off tomorrow night, get him straight to Aldergrove airport. I’ll have the Lear jet waiting to fly you to Gatwick.”

“Very well, sir.”

“I’ll have to go. I’ve got my weekly meeting with the Prime Minister at Downing Street in an hour.”

 

 

Hannah Bernstein checked her makeup and hair, then left her room and took the lift downstairs. She went into the bar, but there was no sign of Dillon, so she sat at a corner table. He came in a few minutes later wearing a roll-neck sweater, Donegal tweed jacket and dark slacks, his hair, washed clean of the black dye now, so fair as to be almost white.

“Half a bottle of Krug,” he called to the barman and joined her, taking out an old silver case and lighting a cigarette.

“Still determined to take a few years off your life,” she said.

“You never give up, do you, sweetheart?” His voice was Humphrey Bogart to perfection. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she walks into mine.”

“Damn you!” She laughed as the waiter brought the Krug and opened it.

“You could have a Guinness instead. After all, you’re in Ireland.”

“No, I’ll force a little champagne down.”

“Good for you. Did you speak to Ferguson?”

“Oh, yes. I brought him right up to date.”

“And?”

“You can go to hell in your own way. If it works, the Lear will be waiting at Aldergrove and I get you straight out.”

“Good.” He raised his glass. “Here’s to us. Are you free for dinner?”

“I can’t think of anything else to do.”

At that moment he noticed a poster by the bar. “Good God, Grace Browning.” He went over to inspect it and turned to the barman. “Is it still playing?” Dillon asked, reverting to his English accent.

“Last night tomorrow, sir.”

“Could you get me a couple of tickets for tonight’s performance?”

“I think so, but you’ll have to be sharp. Curtain up in forty minutes. Mind you, the Lyric isn’t too far.”

BOOK: Angel of Death
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