State Of Emergency: (Tom Buckingham Thriller 3)

BOOK: State Of Emergency: (Tom Buckingham Thriller 3)
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ABOUT THE BOOK

3 a.m. on a frozen winter’s night. A small craft skims the Thames, closing in on London’s most exclusive new riverside hotel. On board is a lone assassin. His target: Britain’s most powerful new politician. In a nation threatened by extremist jihadis and torn apart by civil unrest, Vernon Rolt has just been catapulted into government on an extreme anti-terror platform.

Rolt’s plans for a zero-tolerance crackdown on ethnic violence has touched a popular nerve. But his move into politics has made him some unlikely enemies – British ex-servicemen, once his most committed supporters, who now want him dead.

Ex-SAS trooper turned MI5 operative Tom Buckingham is undercover inside Rolt’s organization. His mission: to neutralize the rogue assassins for whom he has also become a target, and to discover the deadly intentions of Rolt’s new financier, shadowy Crimean oligarch Oleg Umarov. But all too soon, Tom gets caught up in a far more devastating plot which will change the political landscape of Europe – for ever . . .

Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Epilogue

Red Notice

About the Author

Also by Andy McNab

Copyright

STATE OF EMERGENCY

Andy McNab

1

02.45 GMT
River Thames, London

The inflatable bucked and kicked as it skimmed the surface of the Thames. A stiff breeze flustered the water, sculpting it into small waves that smacked the bow as the craft progressed upriver. The low cloud pressing down on the capital glowed a dull orange, reflecting the city lights on to the deserted waterway. A lone night-bus made its way across Battersea Bridge, empty of passengers, like a ghostly
Mary Celeste
on wheels.

The only interruption to the boatman’s progress had been a River Police launch heading downstream to its base at Wapping. He had throttled back to tick-over and steered into the shadow of one of the few remaining Thames barges moored on the seaward side of Tower Bridge. As the launch came past he flattened himself against the hull, clenching his teeth against the cold. The launch slowed and veered so close that for a few seconds he could hear the radio coming from it – the sound of cheering. The election results were coming through. He stayed like that until the sound of the launch had faded into the night. The snow was starting again; welcome additional cover to obscure the small craft, fine flecks that swirled uncertainly in the biting wind.

All but his face was covered by the marine dry-suit. The chill sliced at his features, freezing the moisture in his nose and round his lips, a warning that whatever snow made it to the ground would quickly freeze. Already, ice was crusting along the water’s edge. He decided to ignore it. Years ago he had taught himself not to worry about things that were out of his hands and focus on what he could control – and what was ahead.

Although he had never been there, he knew the layout of the hotel inside out. He had started with YouTube, and the news reports of the opening, then read all the entries on TripAdvisor – it was amazing how much time people wasted recording their visits in mind-numbing detail. From there he had graduated to a presentational CGI animation prepared by the architects, and finally the plans themselves, until he could conjure up the whole layout in his mind’s eye, like a hologram. He had two entry-point options: one through the kitchens, the other the laundry. But the kitchens even at three thirty a.m. were unlikely to be empty. A skeleton crew would still be on duty, handling room-service requests and keeping the last of the revellers fed and watered. The laundry should be deserted. He had to find somewhere to slip out of the dry-suit and ditch the backpack after he’d pulled out the less conspicuous overnight bag that held the kit he needed: the weapon, a Glock 9mm with a titanium suppressor and an extended twenty-round magazine – much more than he required for what he expected to be a surgical strike – a Bowie knife, smoke canisters, a mask. From his research, he knew that there was a locker room and a toilet to the back of the laundry: he needed a mirror to check himself over before he moved into the public area.

In the first plan there were to have been three of them: two for cover. He hadn’t liked it. Too conspicuous. ‘But who’s going to watch your back?’ they’d asked. He’d said he’d watch his own. He was used to it: why break the habit of a lifetime? Alone, he had complete control, no one else to consider if he had to make a change of plan. The truth was he didn’t much care about his back, didn’t want to be encumbered. This was his idea, his plan. ‘We won’t forget this, Fez,’ they’d told him.

Whatever.

The hotel came into view: the ‘Ice Palace’. These days, all new buildings in London seemed to acquire nicknames – the Gherkin, the Cheese Grater and so on. And Ice Palace sounded better than ‘Battersea Regina’ – some smartarse had already called its giant three-storey atrium the Battersea Vagina. True to its name, though, this one looked the part, all tiered glass, like something that had time-travelled out of the future. And, like all good palaces, it was surrounded by a vast fortified wall to keep out any trouble. But not the river front. Didn’t the architects have any sense of history?

As the craft made its way towards the target, he reviewed his route once more. He was right to avoid going through the kitchens. Unless he could slip past the staff he would have to take down whoever was there, which would be messy and risky. He didn’t want collateral: there was only one target. The better option was through the laundry. He smiled grimly as he thought of the heavy security out front, ever vigilant, never imagining the threat that was coming by river on a frozen February night.

He slowed as the hotel came into view. A giant slab of glass and concrete bordering the southern bank of the river, so new there were still traces of the last construction work. He unclipped the oars and dropped their paddles into the water. Short, shallow scoops brought the craft noiselessly up to the jetty.

Over his shoulder he spotted a lone silhouetted figure on the broad apron that separated the hotel from the river, leaning against the balustrade, the orange dot of a cigarette glowing minutely as the smoker drew on it. The figure straightened, the cigarette suspended in front of him. As he watched, he unzipped the suit, felt for the Glock. One well-aimed shot and it would be that smoker’s last gasp. But before he drew down his weapon the man flicked the butt into the water, turned and ambled back out of the cold.

The craft nudged the jetty and he reached for one of the polystyrene bumpers that dangled from it, tugged it and drew the craft towards a metal gangway. The whole structure was encased in a thick glaze of ice. He struggled for grip through the waterproof gloves. The boat slid from under him and, for a few seconds, he feared he would drop into the icy river. He was out of shape: he hadn’t done shit like this in a long while. After several tries he managed to haul himself high enough to get one foot on the structure. Then he kicked the inflatable away. He wouldn’t be needing it. Maybe someone downstream, Gravesend perhaps, would be the lucky owner of a new boat by the end of the night. There was no exit from this, no going back now.

Half crouching, he moved swiftly along the gangway, which bucked and creaked under him. The snow was thickening: bigger, heavier flakes falling with more purpose now, already laying the beginnings of a carpet of dull white across the hotel river front. He fixed on a point some four metres beyond the west wing of the façade. From his memory of the plans he had studied, there was a ramp from which vehicles could reach the lower-level service area, bordered by a metal fence. He was just about to set off towards it when he saw the camera tower. That wasn’t in the plans or the photos. It was new. Builders’ plastic barriers were grouped around the base. Were the cameras live? He would stand out a mile against a white background. But then he remembered the havoc snow played with night-sights, filling the image with miniature starbursts of reflected light. He decided to risk it, moving nonchalantly with a civilian gait.

He vaulted the fence and dropped on to the ramp, paused, scanned the area for any more new cameras, any more smokers. Nothing. He moved down towards the laundry service door, unzipped the suit and took out the precious key card charged with that day’s code. In his mind it was the one weak link in the plan, the only thing for which he’d had to depend on someone else. But it had given the others something to do so they felt part of it. He approached the door beside the shuttered vehicle entrance. The key reader was at eye level, just to the left. He went up to it, swiped the card. Nothing. He tried it again, pushed the door again. Then he saw the hinges. It opened outwards. One more swipe and a tug. He was in.

He moved between the vast stainless-steel machines that by day could handle the four-hundred-plus bed sheets but were now silent. It was almost completely dark, just a pinprick of blue light: the master switch for the machines at the end of the row. He took out the mini-Maglite so it was ready in his hand. The smell of trichloroethylene went straight to the back of his throat. How did the poor fuckers who worked here put up with it? Probably they were illegals who’d got in hanging on to a cross-Channel truck. After a trip like that it didn’t matter what the world smelt like. He reached the end of the row and paused, considering whether it was time to step out of the dry-suit.

A flurry of rustling said panic and flight. His first thought was rats. Then, in the pencil beam of the Maglite, he saw them: what little of the woman that was still dressed suggested she was either a waitress or a cleaner, the man harder to tell in just the wife-beater that clung to his heaving chest. There was no choice. The woman was about to scream, but the sound never made it. All that came out of her throat was a gush of blood. The guy got his in the forehead. The suppressed coughs of the pistol seemed to hang in the air as they dropped, still entwined, onto the heap of clothes beneath them.

He sighed, holstered the weapon, dropped the backpack, unzipped and stepped out of the dry-suit.

2

03.30

The hotel had a network of service passages so cleaners and maintenance staff could move throughout the building unnoticed: perfect. The suit, white shirt and black tie had the right anonymous security-operative look about it. He had a fake ID if anyone queried him. And if that didn’t work there was always the Glock in its polymer belt holster. The bag was more of a giveaway.

Six months ago, he would have been on the guest list, a valued comrade, a loyal brother. But he had burned those boats. Two waiters came past bearing silver trays of glasses. They didn’t give him a second look. Good. He moved on closer to the room where the reception was.

BOOK: State Of Emergency: (Tom Buckingham Thriller 3)
6.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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