Read The Informant Online

Authors: James Grippando

Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #General

The Informant

BOOK: The Informant
8.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

James

Grippando

THE

INFORMANT

For Tiffany

Contents

Part One

1

Chapter 1

gerty Kincaid expected the worst.

3

Chapter 2

special Agent Victoria Santos was staring down the barrel of…

9

Chapter 3

two rapes, nine robberies and a fatal drive-by shooting. After…

20

Chapter 4

a record-breaking cold front was working through south-central Georgia that…

28

Chapter 5

mike sped along the coastline on Bayshore Drive, toward the…

41

Chapter 6

the Tribune headquarters sat right off sparkling Biscayne Bay, with…

46

Chapter 7

nightfall made mirrors out of the windows overlooking Biscayne Bay,…

52

Chapter 8

victoria wasn’t invited to the meeting in Miami with Aaron…

58

Chapter 9

victoria arranged to meet Mike Posten at Mango’s Café in…

64

Chapter 10

on Friday evening Karen headed home on

Miami’s Metrorail, an…

72

Chapter 11

by 4:00 P.M. Pacific time a thick, bone-chilling fog had…

78

Chapter 12

“a Tribune Exclusive,” boasted the morning’s front page, “by…

89

Chapter 13

thirty minutes before sunrise Victoria

parallel-parked her car at the…

95

Chapter 14

on Wednesday morning Victoria and the field coordinator from the…

101

Chapter 15

late Friday evening Victoria cabbed it to the airport to…

105

Chapter 16

karen’s eyes blinked open at the crack of dawn.

The…

118

Chapter 17

victoria arrived at Washington National Airport with pleasant thoughts of…

128

Chapter 18

for the first time in two months, Mike went home. 135

Chapter 19

the Sunday-morning Tribune landed with a thud on the Baines’s…

140

Part Two

151

Chapter 20

victoria arrived in Quantico, Virginia, for a team meeting at…

153

Chapter 21

victoria arrived in Miami just after three o’clock that Monday…

160

Chapter 22

victoria parked the borrowed Mercury Grand Marquis in the far…

165

Chapter 23

mike left the Hilton at seven-thirty and headed toward Zack’s…

170

Chapter 24

mike collected his thoughts for a moment before dialing the…

179

Chapter 25

torrents of icy air streamed from the

air-conditioning vents in…

186

Chapter 26

mike woke at precisely 7:30 A.M. He lay in bed… 192

Chapter 27

the cuckoo clock on the wall chirped three times in…

197

Chapter 28

a shaft of morning sun from the skylight cut through…

201

Chapter 29

from the penthouse balcony overlooking Biscayne Bay, Mike could see…

213

Chapter 30

frank Hannon woke at ten minutes till two that afternoon.

219

Chapter 31

the winding mountain road reached a dead end at a…

224

Chapter 32

it took several hours for the Fairfax County Sheriff to…

232

Chapter 33

hannon reached Brooklyn before 10:00 P.M. and parked the Volvo…

239

Chapter 34

victoria and her friend Freeda Schnabel arrived at the Fairfax…

249

Chapter 35

on Saturday afternoon Victoria dropped her muddy baseball cleats at…

258

Chapter 36

the Charter Bank of Antigua opened for business at nine…

268

Part Three

277

Chapter 37

mike was critiquing the eleven o’clock news from the couch,…

279

Chapter 38

clouds rolled in a few hours before dawn, blocking out…

287

Chapter 39

two hours passed before the door finally opened.

In the…

294

Chapter 40

lieutenant Scot was in his office early that morning, sitting…

306

Chapter 41

their plane landed at Miami International Airport that afternoon on…

316

Chapter 42

the night sky was a cloudless blanket of stars from…

325

Chapter 43

the stale smells of burned coffee and pipe tobacco lingered…

332

Chapter 44

at ten after eight Karen put on her robe and…

338

Chapter 45

the luxury cruise ship MS Fantasy sailed from the Port…

345

Chapter 46

one floor directly below the Academy’s gun vault, Victoria was…

353

Chapter 47

a three-foot tail of perforated computer paper flapped behind her…

359

Chapter 48

at 3:30 that afternoon the sun was shining down brightly…

372

Chapter 49

from an altitude of eleven hundred feet, the MS

Fantasy…

378

Chapter 50

at 5:00 P.M. Victoria and David Shapiro met with the…

383

Chapter 51

at sunrise, the MS Fantasy docked at pier number 3…

390

Chapter 52

the double bed was stripped, and what was left of…

399

Chapter 53

the sea was up as the MS Fantasy sailed out…

411

Chapter 54

victoria dialed David Shapiro’s direct supervisor in Quantico, the Assistant…

420

Chapter 55

just after 4:00 P.M., Hannon was kneeling in front of…

425

Chapter 56

kevin McCabe was nearly running as he reached the communications…

435

Chapter 57

hannon’s cabin was closer to the bow than midship, so…

438

Chapter 58

mike took a deep breath and started walking from the…

443

Epilogue

mike filed his firsthand account of Hannon’s demise by modem…

452

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Praise

Other Books by James Grippando

Cover

Copyright

About the Publisher

PART

ONE

Chapter 1

g
erty Kincaid expected the worst.

An Arctic front was dipping through Dixie, and southeast Georgia was bracing for its first blast of winter.

By nightfall, said the weatherman, it might even snow.

After seventy-eight years, Gerty wasn’t tickled by the novelty. In the small town of Hainesville, January at its worst meant ice storms and downed power lines—not fluffy white snowfalls and a winter wonderland. There was no sophisticated meteorological explanation for it.

That was just the way it was—and always would be.

That simple logic was like the town creed.

Life in Hainesville, they said, was as predictable as the sweet smell of azaleas in the spring and the April crop of onions. Vidalia onions, to be exact. They were the town’s bona fide claim to fame, but it wasn’t very southern to brag, so nobody claimed it. Hainesville was a one-stoplight town, population 532. It relied on one school-house, a white clapboard

3

THE INFORMANT

rectangle serving kindergarten through twelfth grade. The First Baptist Church was the sole house of worship, built of bricks from the red Georgia clay. And there was just one doctor, a semiretired family physician who’d been honored with a parade, marching band, and key to the city when she moved down from Atlanta.

By early Friday evening a wind sock full of bitter northeasterlies was blowing through town. The smell of charred oak wafted from the chimneys of old homes with no electric heaters. Gerty was bundled up warmly in her beige trench coat and plaid wool scarf as she hurried up the curved sidewalk that led to her front door. Covered by a thin glaze of icy rain, the front steps and pathway glistened in the dim yellow porch light. It was slick and treacherous. She could have walked it blindfolded, however, having lived in the same old two-story, white frame house for nearly fifty years, the last ten alone as a widow.

She tucked her shopping bag under her arm while digging through her purse for the keys. The brass ring was enormous, cluttered with house keys, car keys, keys to an old shed that had burned down in ’67—even keys to luggage she’d never actually locked. She kept them all on one ring, having promised herself that the day she could no longer tell the good ones from the bad would be the day she’d accept her daughter’s persistent invitation to move in with her.

“Ah, fiddlesticks,” she muttered. Her fingers ached with arthritis, and the tattered knit gloves only made it harder to grab the right key. The key ring jingled and jangled like a wind chime in her shaky hand. Finally 4

James Grippando

she got it. With a quick shove the door opened, and she rushed inside to keep out the cold.

An eerie yellow glow from the porch streamed through the slatted windows on the door, lighting the needlepoint words of wisdom in the gold-leaf frame hanging on the wall. Gerty had designed and stitched it herself. THERE

BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I, it read. Southern for

“Better you than me.”

She flipped the light switch in the foyer, but the expected illumination didn’t come.
Must be a power shortage.

But then she realized the porch light was still burning outside the door.
Maybe a blown fuse?

It took a minute to hang her coat and scarf neatly on the rack. Then she fumbled for her key again in the dim yellow light. She needed the key to secure the lock. Her granddaughter, now a big-city girl with self-proclaimed street smarts, had come down from Richmond over Thanksgiving and replaced the old-fashioned chain and dead bolt with new high-security locks, the kind that required a key to get
out
of your own house. The idea was to keep burglars from reaching through the window from the outside to unlock the door on the inside.

It seemed like overkill to Gerty. What was next, a blood test to sit down at your own dinner table? She knew it defeated the purpose, but she’d developed the habit of letting herself in, then leaving her keys right in the lock on the front door.

As her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, she started across the living room. The curved back of the Victorian sofa was visible in the shadows. A shaft of light from the porch reflected off the oak-framed

5

THE INFORMANT

mirror above the fireplace. The century-old floorboards creaked beneath her feet.

“General Lee?” she called out. “Where are you, baby?”

Her voice had an apologetic tone. She’d promised to be home no later than five o’clock, and the general was one kitty who didn’t like his dinner late.

“Come on, sweety. Mommy’s sorry she’s late.”

She stopped at the table by the staircase to try the crystal lamp. It didn’t light. The whole living room appeared to be without power. Strangely, though, the time displayed on the digital clock on the table seemed about right, and she watched one of the digits fall, which confirmed it was working. Seven-forty-two P.M.

She started down the narrow hall toward the kitchen.

Halfway down, she was completely beyond the outer limits of the faint glow from the porch. She’d reached total darkness. With each additional step she relied more on memory than on vision. She slid her hand across the wall to feel for the light switch. A quick flip of the button brought an erratic flicker from the fluorescent bulb over the stove, giving her a start. Her pulse quickened, but the calm returned as she scanned the familiar old kitchen.

BOOK: The Informant
8.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Stealing the Bride by Paulin, Brynn
Always by Celia Juliano
Final Scream by Lisa Jackson
Memoirs of a Timelord by Ralph Rotten
TakeItOff by Taylor Cole and Justin Whitfield
Blueberry Muffin Murder by Fluke, Joanne
Crimes and Mercies by James Bacque
Imperium by Christian Kracht
Home Fires by Gene Wolfe