Authors: Ken Follett
Table of Contents
Lie Down with Lions
“An exciting and complex tale.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“MASTERFUL . . . plot and counterplot, treachery, cunning and killing . . . keep you on edge every moment.”
—The Associated Press
“Combines modern warfare, international espionage, and a love story while also, in typical Follett fashion, playing out the fate of his characters amid thrilling escapes and shattering revelations.”
“There is an incredible sex scene and desperate trek across ice-covered mountains . . . an exotic setting, a strong, courageous heroine, a strong, courageous hero, good guys, bad guys, and a supporting cast of thousands . . . A ROARING GOOD READ.”
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“SOLID SUSPENSE FICTION . . . romance, adventure, exotic settings with a healthy dash of intrigue. . . . When it comes to reliable entertainment, few authors deliver as consistently as Follett.”
“Follett’s great strength is his female characters—they are smart, strong, independent, and when they love a man, by golly, he knows the game is up.”
“Harrowing escapes . . . larger-than-life characters performing larger-than-life deeds. . . . It shouldn’t work but it does.”
“BEAUTIFUL IN CONCEPTION AND EXECUTION . . . full of adventure and love blended as only a master such as Follett can do . . . a most provocative tale.”
—Ocala Star-Banner (FL)
“KEN FOLLETT SCORES AGAIN . . . an enthralling web of suspense . . . a well-crafted love story . . . unrelieved page-to-page tension . . . a wonderfully clean and simple writing style . . . holds constant interest.”
—The Anniston Star
“EXCITING . . . ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, INTRIGUE. . . . Ken Follett can hold his own with the best.”
—The Indianapolis Star
ROARS . . . highly entertaining, quickly paced . . . skillfully crafted . . . and a nicely detailed quartet of characters that makes the novel click.”
—Los Angeles Herald Examiner
“Deftly built tension . . . the thrills of a chase . . . well-developed characters and atmosphere . . . keep the action going and have the credibility of a true tale.”
—The Orlando Sentinel
ALSO BY KEN FOLLETT
THE MODIGLIANI SCANDAL
EYE OF THE NEEDLE
THE KEY TO REBECCA
THE MAN FROM ST. PETERSBURG
ON WINGS OF EAGLES
LIE DOWN WITH LIONS
THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH
NIGHT OVER WATER
A DANGEROUS FORTUNE
A PLACE CALLED FREEDOM
THE THIRD TWIN
THE HAMMER OF EDEN
CODE TO ZERO
New American Library
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Previously published in a Signet mass market edition.
First New American Library Printing, December 2003
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eISBN : 978-1-101-14382-7
There are several real organizations that send volunteer doctors to Afghanistan but
Médecins pour la Liberté
is fictional. All the locations described in this book are real except for the villages of Banda and Darg, which are fictional. All the characters are fictional except Masud.
Although I have tried to make the background authentic, this is a work of the imagination, and should not be treated as a source of infallible information about Afghanistan or anything else. Readers who would like to know more will find a reading list at the end of this book.
he men who wanted to kill Ahmet Yilmaz were serious people. They were exiled Turkish students living in Paris, and they had already murdered an attaché at the Turkish Embassy and fire-bombed the home of a senior executive of Turkish Airlines. They chose Yilmaz as their next target because he was a wealthy supporter of the military dictatorship and because he lived, conveniently, in Paris.
His home and office were well guarded and his Mercedes limousine was armored, but every man has a weakness, the students believed, and that weakness is usually sex. In the case of Yilmaz they were right. A couple of weeks of casual surveillance revealed that Yilmaz would leave his house, on two or three evenings each week, driving the Renault station wagon his servants used for shopping, and go to a side street in the Fifteenth District to visit a beautiful young Turkish woman who was in love with him.
The students decided to put a bomb in the Renault while Yilmaz was getting laid.
They knew where to get the explosives: from Pepe Gozzi, one of the many sons of the Corsican godfather Mémé Gozzi. Pepe was a weapons dealer. He would sell to anyone, but he preferred political customers, for—as he cheerfully admitted—“Idealists pay higher prices.” He had helped the Turkish students with both their previous outrages.
There was a snag in the car-bomb plan. Usually Yilmaz would leave the girl’s place alone in the Renault—but not always. Sometimes he took her out to dinner. Often she went off in the car and returned half an hour later laden with bread, fruit, cheese and wine, evidently for a cozy feast. Occasionally Yilmaz would go home in a taxi, and the girl would borrow the car for a day or two. The students were romantic, like all terrorists, and they were reluctant to risk killing a beautiful woman whose only crime was the readily pardonable one of loving a man unworthy of her.
They discussed this problem in a democratic fashion. They made all decisions by vote and acknowledged no leaders; but all the same there was one among them whose strength of personality made him dominant. His name was Rahmi Coskun, and he was a handsome, passionate young man with a bushy mustache and a certain bound-for-glory light in his eyes. It was his energy and determination which had pushed through the previous two projects despite the problems and the risks. Rahmi proposed consulting a bomb expert.
At first the others did not like this idea. Whom could they trust? they asked. Rahmi suggested Ellis Thaler. An American who called himself a poet but in fact made a living giving English lessons, he had learned about explosives as a conscript in Vietnam. Rahmi had known him for a year or so: they had both worked on a short-lived revolutionary newspaper called
, and together they had organized a poetry reading to raise funds for the Palestine Liberation Organization. He seemed to understand Rahmi’s rage at what was being done to Turkey and his hatred of the barbarians who were doing it. Some of the other students also knew Ellis slightly: he had been seen at several demonstrations, and they had assumed he was a graduate student or a young professor. Still, they were reluctant to bring in a non-Turk; but Rahmi was insistent and in the end they consented.
Ellis came up with the solution to their problem immediately. The bomb should have a radio-controlled arming device, he said. Rahmi would sit at a window opposite the girl’s apartment, or in a parked car along the street, watching the Renault. In his hand he would have a small radio transmitter the size of a pack of cigarettes—the kind of thing one used to open automatic garage doors. If Yilmaz got into the car alone, as he most often did, then Rahmi would press the button on the transmitter, and a radio signal would activate a switch in the bomb, which would then be armed and would explode as soon as Yilmaz started the engine. But if it should be the girl who got into the car, Rahmi would not press the button, and she could drive away in blissful ignorance. The bomb would be quite safe until it was armed. No button, no bang, said Ellis.
Rahmi liked the idea and asked Ellis if he would collaborate with Pepe Gozzi on making the bomb.
Sure, said Ellis.
Then there was one more snag.
I’ve got a friend, Rahmi said, who wants to meet you both, Ellis and Pepe. To tell the truth, he
meet you; otherwise the whole deal is off; for this is the friend who gives us the money for explosives and cars and bribes and guns and everything.
Why does he want to meet us? Ellis and Pepe wanted to know.
He needs to be sure that the bomb will work, and he wants to feel that he can trust you, Rahmi said apologetically. All you have to do is bring the bomb to him and explain to him how it will work and shake his hand and let him look you in the eye—is that so much to ask, for the man who is making the whole thing possible?
It’s all right with me, said Ellis.
Pepe hesitated. He wanted the money he would make on the deal—he always wanted money, as a pig always wants the trough—but he hated to meet new people.
Ellis reasoned with him. Listen, he said, these student groups bloom and die like mimosa in the spring, and Rahmi is sure to be blown away before long; but if you know his “friend” then you will be able to continue to do business after Rahmi is gone.
You’re right, said Pepe, who was no genius but could grasp business principles if they were explained simply.
Ellis told Rahmi that Pepe had agreed, and Rahmi set up a rendezvous for the three of them on the following Sunday.
That morning Ellis woke up in Jane’s bed. He came awake suddenly, feeling frightened, as if he had had a nightmare. A moment later he remembered the reason why he was so tense.
He glanced at the clock. He was early. In his mind he ran over his plan. If all went well, today would be the triumphant conclusion to more than a year of patient, careful work. And he would be able to share that triumph with Jane, if he was still alive at the end of the day.
He turned his head to look at her, moving carefully to avoid waking her. His heart leaped, as it did every time he saw her face. She lay flat on her back, with her turned-up nose pointing at the ceiling and her dark hair spread across the pillow like a bird’s unfolded wing. He looked at her wide mouth, the full lips that kissed him so often and so lusciously. Spring sunlight revealed the dense blond down on her cheeks—her beard, he called it, when he wanted to tease her.
It was a rare delight to see her like this, in repose, her face relaxed and expressionless. Normally she was animated—laughing, frowning, grimacing, registering surprise or skepticism or compassion. Her commonest expression was a wicked grin, like that of a mischievous small boy who has just perpetrated a particularly fiendish practical joke. Only when she was sleeping or thinking very hard was she like this; yet this was how he loved her most, for now, when she was unguarded and unself-conscious, her appearance hinted at the languid sensuality that burned just beneath her surface like a slow, hot underground fire. When he saw her like this, his hands almost itched to touch her.
This had surprised him. When he had first met her, soon after he came to Paris, she had struck him as typical of the kind of busybody always found among the young and the radical in capital cities, chairing committees and organizing campaigns against apartheid and for nuclear disarmament, leading protest marches about El Salvador and water pollution, raising money for starving people in Chad, or trying to promote a talented young film-maker. People were drawn to her by her striking good looks, captivated by her charm, and energized by her enthusiasm. He had dated her a couple of times, just for the pleasure of watching a pretty girl demolish a steak; and then—he could never remember exactly how it happened—he had discovered that inside this excitable girl there lived a passionate woman, and he had fallen in love.
His gaze wandered around her little studio flat. He noted with pleasure the familiar personal possessions that marked the place as hers: a pretty lamp made of a small Chinese vase; a shelf of books on economics and world poverty; a big soft sofa you could drown in; a photograph of her father, a handsome man in a double-breasted coat, probably taken in the early sixties; a small silver cup won by her on her pony, Dandelion, and dated 1971, ten years ago. She was thirteen, Ellis thought, and I was twenty-three; and while she was winning pony trials in Hampshire I was in Laos, laying antipersonnel mines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
When he had first seen the flat, almost a year ago, she had just moved here from the suburbs, and it had been rather bare: a little attic room with a kitchen in an alcove, a shower in a closet, and a toilet down the hall. Gradually she had transformed it from a grimy garret into a cheerful nest. She earned a good salary as an interpreter, translating French and Russian into English, but her rent was high—the apartment was near the Boulevard St.-Michel—so she had bought carefully, saving her money for just the right mahogany table, antique bedstead and Tabriz rug. She was what Ellis’s father would call a classy dame. You’re going to like her, Dad, thought Ellis. You’re going to be just crazy about her.
He rolled onto his side, facing her, and the movement woke her, as he had known it would. Her large blue eyes stared at the ceiling for a fraction of a second; then she looked at him, smiled, and rolled over into his arms. “Hello,” she whispered, and he kissed her.
He got hard immediately. They lay together for a while, half asleep, kissing now and again; then she draped one leg across his hips and they began to make love languorously, without speaking.
When they had first become lovers, and they had started to make love morning and night and often midafternoon too, Ellis had assumed that such horniness would not last, and that after a few days, or maybe a couple of weeks, the novelty would wear off and they would revert to the statistical average of two-and-a-half times a week, or whatever it was. He had been wrong. A year later they were still screwing like honeymooners.
She rolled on top of him, letting her full weight rest on his body. Her damp skin clung to his. He wrapped his arms around her small body and hugged her as he thrust deep inside her. She sensed that his climax was coming, and she lifted her head and looked down at him, then kissed him with her mouth open while he was coming inside her. Immediately afterward she gave a soft, low-pitched moan, and he felt her come with a long, gentle, wavy Sunday-morning orgasm. She stayed on top of him, half asleep still. He stroked her hair.
After a while she stirred. “Do you know what day it is?” she mumbled.
“It’s your Sunday to make lunch.”
“I hadn’t forgotten.”
“Good.” There was a pause. “What are you going to give me?”
“Steak, potatoes, snow peas, goat’s cheese, strawberries and Chantilly cream.”
She lifted her head, laughing. “That’s what you always make!”
“It is not. Last time we had French beans.”
“And the time before that you had forgotten, so we ate out. How about some variety in your cooking?”
“Hey, wait a minute. The deal was, each of us would make lunch on alternate Sundays. Nobody said anything about making a
lunch each time.”
She slumped on him again, feigning defeat.
His day’s work had been at the back of his mind all along. He was going to need her unconscious help, and this was the moment to ask her. “I have to see Rahmi this morning,” he began.
“All right. I’ll meet you at your place later.”
“There’s something you could do for me, if you wouldn’t mind getting there a little early.”
“Cook the lunch. No! No! Just kidding. I want you to help me with a little conspiracy.”
“Go on,” she said.
“Today is Rahmi’s birthday, and his brother, Mustafa, is in town, but Rahmi doesn’t know.” If this works out, Ellis thought, I’ll never lie to you again. “I want Mustafa to turn up at Rahmi’s lunch party as a surprise. But I need an accomplice.”
“I’m game,” she said. She rolled off him and sat upright, crossing her legs. Her breasts were like apples, smooth and round and hard. The ends of her hair teased her nipples. “What do I have to do?”
“The problem is simple. I have to tell Mustafa where to go, but Rahmi hasn’t yet made up his mind where he wants to eat. So I have to get the message to Mustafa at the last minute. And Rahmi will probably be beside me when I make the call.”
“And the solution?”
. I’ll talk nonsense. Ignore everything except the address. Call Mustafa, give him the address and tell him how to get there.” All this had sounded okay when Ellis dreamed it up, but now it seemed wildly implausible.
However, Jane did not seem suspicious. “It sounds simple enough,” she said.
“Good,” Ellis said briskly, concealing his relief.
“And after you call, how soon will you be home?”
“Less than an hour. I want to wait and see the surprise, but I’ll get out of having lunch there.”
Jane looked thoughtful. “They invited you but not me.”
Ellis shrugged. “I presume it’s a masculine celebration.” He reached for the notepad on the bedside table and wrote
and the phone number.
Jane got off the bed and crossed the room to the shower closet. She opened the door and turned on the tap. Her mood had changed. She was not smiling. Ellis said: “What are you mad about?”
“I’m not mad,” she said. “Sometimes I dislike the way your friends treat me.”
“But you know how the Turks are about girls.”
They don’t mind respectable women, but I’m a
Ellis sighed. “It’s not like you to get needled by the prehistoric attitudes of a few chauvinists. What are you
trying to tell me?”
She considered for a moment, standing naked beside the shower, and she was so lovely that Ellis wanted to make love again. She said: “I suppose I’m saying that I don’t like my status. I’m committed to you. Everyone knows that—I don’t sleep with anyone else, don’t even go out with other men—but you’re not committed to me. We don’t live together, I don’t know where you go or what you do a lot of the time, we’ve never met one another’s parents . . . and people know all this, so they treat me like a tart.”