“Who would write a thriller the wrong way round? Jeffery Deaver has penned a classic - a story that starts at chapter thirty six, intrigues all along until it reaches chapter one, and still has twists and turns before the reveal of a startling beginning. That’s when you will have to go back to the start of the book to check out those events in… chapter thirty six!!”
The warehouse was just as he’d left it on Friday, when he’d been here making preparations.
Damp, brick walls covered with scabby light green paint, redolent of cleanser fumes and oil and pesticide and rust, lit by unkind fluorescents. One began flickering and Joseph rose from the table where he’d been sitting, took a mop from the corner, the strands molded into a mass, sideways, like windswept hair, and with the tip of the handle shattered the offending tubular bulb. There was nothing sturdy enough to stand on to remove it. Shards fell, dust too. The crackle was satisfying.
The building was similar to the one where he’d done his little surgery last night, the warehouse west of Times Square. Here, in SoHo, there was a demand for industrial spaces to turn into private residences – at astronomical sums, of course. This particular building would probably never be converted. There were no windows. Bad for resale to chic-minded lawyers and brokers. Good for Joseph’s purposes, though. In fact he could just make out a faint splatter of dark brown dots on the floor. Several months ago those discolorations had been bright red. The man had finally told Joseph what he wanted to know.
Solid brick walls. They absorbed the screams well.
Before returning to the chair, he walked to the heater panel, turned the unit up. Mold-scented air slipped out of the vents. Warmish. Still, he kept his gloves on – thin flesh-colored cloth. Not for the comfort, though. Force of professional habit. Joseph recalled many times in the heat of summer when he’d worn gloves like these.
In the living room of the apartment Daniel Reardon made introductions. ‘This is Gabriela McKenzie.’
‘Andrew Faraday,’ said the older of the two men who’d just entered. The other man offered, ‘Sam Easton.’
Hands were shaken. Sam was tanned, balding and had a craggy face, quick eyes. Andrew, pocketing the keys to the apartment, was in his mid-sixties. He had thick white hair, streaked with black strands, swept back and razor-parted on the side. Businessman’s hair. Politician’s hair. Andrew was leaner than Sam and Daniel and not particularly muscular. No more than five-nine. But Gabriela’s impression, an immediate one, was that he was more imposing than the others. And not because of his age.
A natural born boss…
Daniel said, ‘These are the people I was telling you about. I’m a client of theirs. Have been for years.’
Gabriela and Daniel sat down on the decades-old couch, which released a more intense version of the musty odor she’d tried to eradicate from the apartment with the kitchen trick not long before.
Funerals, she thought. Funerals…
Daniel poured some more of the red wine. He lifted the bottle to her again. She declined. Andrew and Sam both took glasses. They sipped.
‘Daniel was telling us about the situation,’ Andrew said. His voice was comforting, baritone.
She said with a frantic slope to her voice, ‘I don’t know what to do! It’s a nightmare. The deadline’s in two hours! Joseph said I have until six and no extensions this time. After that…’ She inhaled, exhaled hard.
The men seemed troubled by these stirrings of hysteria, as if not sure how to reassure her. Finally Andrew Faraday said, ‘Well, we have some thoughts.’
Sam deferred with his eyes to Andrew. He was secondary or tertiary in hierarchy, she saw at once. She assessed he was dependable and loyal.
Daniel eased against Gabriela on the couch and she felt the warmth of his thigh against hers. He gripped her arm briefly with his long fingers. And she felt the strength she’d noted earlier.
‘May I call you Gabriela?’ The question was from Andrew. He seemed the sort who would ask permission. Proper, old-school.
‘Sure, yes.’ She smoothed frazzled hair. Then stopped her busy hands.
Andrew continued, ‘First, so I can understand, Gabriela: Just to get the facts. This man who’s kidnapped your daughter – Joseph you were saying. That’s his name, right?’
‘He wants the document Daniel was telling us about. The October List?’
Andrew took in her hollow eyes. ‘And Daniel said you don’t know what it means.’
She shrugged. ‘Names and addresses. Maybe criminals. All we really know is that people are willing to kill for it.’
Andrew said, ‘And no idea what the word refers to, “October”?’
Gabriela glanced to Daniel, who offered, ‘It could be something that happened in October, in the past: a meeting, an event. Or,’ he added darkly, ‘it’s something that is going to happen – next month. Given what we’ve heard, it might be something pretty bad. But on the other hand, it could be no more than a name. A company, even a person. Or maybe a code. Number ten – the tenth month.’
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