Table of Contents
Books by Jack Higgins
THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER
DRINK WITH THE DEVIL
YEAR OF THE TIGER
ANGEL OF DEATH
ON DANGEROUS GROUND
MIDNIGHT MAN (originally published as EYE OF THE STORM)
THE EAGLE HAS FLOWN
MEMORIES OF A DANCE-HALL ROMEO
A SEASON IN HELL
NIGHT OF THE FOX
TOUCH THE DEVIL
DAY OF JUDGEMENT
THE LAST PLACE GOD MADE
A PRAYER FOR THE DYING
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED
THE RUN TO MORNING
TO CATCH A KING
THE VALHALLA EXCHANGE
FLIGHT OF EAGLES
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, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
EYE OF THE STORM
Book / published by arrangement with the author
All rights reserved.
Higgins Associates Limited
This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission. Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability.
For information address:
The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-16199-9
Books first published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
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Electronic edition: May, 2002
In memory of my grandfather,
Robert Bell, M.M., Gallant Soldier
The winds of heaven are blowing. Implement all that is on the table. May God be with you.
Iraq Radio, Baghdad
The mortar attack on Number Ten Downing Street when the War Cabinet was meeting at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, 7 February 1991, is now a matter of history. It has never been satisfactorily explained. Perhaps it went something like this . . . .
T WAS JUST before dark as Dillon emerged from the alley and paused on the corner. Rain drifted across the Seine in a flurry of snow, sleet mixed with it and it was cold, even for January in Paris. He wore a reefer coat, peaked cap, jeans and boots, just another sailor off one of the barges working the river, which he very definitely was not.
He lit a cigarette in cupped hands and stayed there for a moment in the shadows, looking across the cobbled square at the lights of the small café on the other side. After a while, he dropped the cigarette, thrust his hands deep in his pockets and started across.
In the darkness of the entrance two men waited, watching his progress. One of them whispered, “That must be him.”
He made a move. The other held him back. “No, wait till he’s inside.”
Dillon, his senses sharpened by years of entirely the wrong kind of living, was aware of them, but gave no sign. He paused at the entrance, slipped his left hand under the reefer coat to check that the Walther PPK was securely tucked into the waistband of his jeans against the small of his back, then he opened the door and went in.
It was typical of the sort of place to be found on that part of the river: half a dozen tables with chairs, a zinc-topped bar, bottles lined against a cracked mirror behind it. The entrance to the rear was masked by a bead curtain.
The barman, a very old man with a gray moustache, wore an alpaca coat, the sleeves frayed at the cuffs and there was no collar to his shirt. He put down the magazine he was reading and got up from the stool.
Dillon unbuttoned his reefer coat and put his cap on the bar, a small man, no more than five feet five with fair hair and eyes that seemed to the barman to be of no particular color at all except for the fact that they were the coldest the old man had ever looked into. He shivered, unaccountably afraid, and then Dillon smiled. The change was astonishing, suddenly nothing but warmth there and immense charm. His French, when he spoke, was perfect.
“Would there be such a thing as half a bottle of champagne in the house?”
The old man stared at him in astonishment. “Champagne? You must be joking, monsieur. I have two kinds of wine only. One is red and the other white.”
He placed a bottle of each on the bar. It was stuff of such poor quality that the bottles had screw tops instead of corks.
“All right,” Dillon said. “The white it is. Give me a glass.”
He put his cap back on, went and sat at a table against the wall from where he could see both the entrance and the curtained doorway. He got the bottle open, poured some of the wine into the glass and tried it.
He said to the barman, “And what vintage would this be, last week’s?”
“Monsieur?” The old man looked bewildered.
“Never mind.” Dillon lit another cigarette, sat back and waited.
The man who stood closest to the curtain peering through was in his mid-fifties, of medium height with a slightly decadent look to his face, the fur collar of his dark overcoat turned up against the cold. He looked like a prosperous businessman right down to the gold Rolex on his left wrist, which in a way he was as a senior commercial attaché at the Soviet Embassy in Paris. He was also a colonel in the KGB, one Josef Makeev.
The younger, dark-haired man in the expensive vicuña overcoat who peered over his shoulder was called Michael Aroun. He whispered in French, “This is ridiculous. He can’t be our man. He looks like nothing.”
“A serious mistake many people have made, Michael,” Makeev said. “Now wait and see.”
The bell tinkled as the outer door swung open, rain blowing in, and the two men entered who had been waiting in the doorway as Dillon crossed the square. One of them was over six feet tall, bearded, an ugly scar running into the right eye. The other was much smaller, and they were dressed in reefer coats and denims. They looked exactly what they were, trouble.
They stood at the bar and the old man looked worried. “No trouble,” the younger one said. “We only want a drink.”
The big man turned and looked at Dillon. “It seems as if we’ve got one right here.” He crossed to the table, picked up Dillon’s glass and drank from it. “Our friend doesn’t mind, do you?”
Without getting out of his chair Dillon raised his left foot and stamped downwards against the bearded man’s kneecap. The man went down with a choked cry, grabbing at the table, and Dillon stood. The bearded man tried to pull himself up and sank into one of the chairs. His friend took a hand from his pocket, springing the blade of a gutting knife, and Dillon’s left hand came up holding the Walther PPK.
“On the bar. Christ, you never learn, people like you, do you? Now get this piece of dung on his feet and out of here while I’m still in a good mood. You’ll need the casualty department of the nearest hospital, by the way. I seem to have dislodged his kneecap.”
The small man went to his friend and struggled to get him on his feet. They stood there for a moment, the bearded man’s face twisted in agony. Dillon went and opened the door, the rain pouring relentlessly down outside.
As they lurched past him, he said, “Have a good night,” and closed the door.
Still holding the Walther in his left hand, he lit a cigarette using a match from the stand on the bar and smiled at the old barman, who looked terrified. “Don’t worry, Dad, not your problem.” Then he leaned against the bar and called in English, “All right, Makeev, I know you’re there, so let’s be having you.”
The curtain parted and Makeev and Aroun stepped through.
“My dear Sean, it’s good to see you again.”
“And aren’t you the wonder of the world?” Dillon said, just the trace of an Ulster accent in his voice. “One minute trying to stitch me up, the next all sweetness and light.”
“It was necessary, Sean,” Makeev said. “I needed to make a point to my friend here. Let me introduce you.”
“No need,” Dillon told him. “I’ve seen his picture often enough. If it’s not on the financial pages, it’s usually in the society magazines. Michael Aroun, isn’t it? The man with all the money in the world.”
“Not quite all, Mr. Dillon.” Aroun put a hand out.
Dillon ignored it. “We’ll skip the courtesies, my old son, while you tell whoever is standing on the other side of that curtain to come out.”
“Rashid, do as he says,” Aroun called, and said to Dillon, “It’s only my aide.”
The young man who stepped through had a dark, watchful face, and wore a leather car coat, the collar turned up, his hands thrust deep in the pockets.
Dillon knew a professional when he saw one. “Plain view.” He motioned with the Walther. Rashid actually smiled and took his hands from his pockets. “Good,” Dillon said. “I’ll be on my way, then.”
He turned and got the door open. Makeev said, “Sean, be reasonable. We only want to talk. A job, Sean.”
“Sorry, Makeev, but I don’t like the way you do business.”
“Not even for a million, Mr. Dillon?” Michael Aroun said.
Dillon paused and turned to look at him calmly, then smiled, again with enormous charm. “Would that be in pounds or dollars, Mr. Aroun?” he asked and walked out into the rain.
As the door banged Aroun said, “We’ve lost him.”
“Not at all,” Makeev said. “A strange one this, believe me.” He turned to Rashid. “You have your portable phone?”
“Good. Get after him. Stick to him like glue. When he settles, phone me. We’ll be at Avenue Victor Hugo.”
Rashid didn’t say a word, simply went. Aroun took out his wallet and extracted a thousand-franc note, which he placed on the bar. He said to the barman, who was looking totally bewildered, “We’re very grateful,” then turned and followed Makeev out.