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The Prodigal Son

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      The Prodigal Son
Colleen McCullough

Potent poisons and deadly rivalries in this glamorous thriller.Jim and Millie Hunter have it all: good looks, brilliant minds, and a meteoric rise to fame.Dr Jim Hunter is a genius biochemist, and author of a smash-hit science book that is propelling him to the top. His wife Millie, is a blonde bombshell and fellow scientist, researching rare poisons derived from puffer fish.They seem to have it all, but others in their academic circle have got the knives out, jealous of their success – and their inter-racial relationship arouses prejudice.So when a double murder is perpetrated, using poison stolen from Millie’s research lab, Captain Carmine Delmonico of Holloman Police must race to find the killer before they can claim their next victim.The pool of suspects is small, but nobody is talking.Have two men died to safeguard the publication of Jim’s book – or do rivalries and betrayals run deeper than that?

For CAROLYN REIDY

the best editor I’ve ever had

a loyal and unflagging publisher

and my very dear friend

with love and thanks

Table of Contents

Title Page (#uf98c9820-2FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Dedication (#uf98c9820-3FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Prologue (#uf98c9820-5FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Part One (#uf98c9820-6FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Thursday, January 2, 1969 (#uf98c9820-7FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Friday, January 3, 1969 (#uf98c9820-8FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Saturday, January 4, 1969 (#uf98c9820-9FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Sunday, January 5, 1969 (#uf98c9820-10FF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Monday, January 6, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Wednesday, January 8, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Part Two (#litres_trial_promo)

Thursday, January 9, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Friday, January 10, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Saturday, January 11, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Monday, January 13, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Tuesday, January 14, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Wednesday, January 15, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Thursday, January 16, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Friday, January 17, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Part Three (#litres_trial_promo)

Tuesday, March 4, until Friday, March 7, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Wednesday, March 12, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Friday, March 14, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Monday, March 31, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Tuesday, April 1, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Wednesday, April 2, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

Thursday, April 3, 1969 (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

Also by Colleen McCullough (#litres_trial_promo)

Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Prologue

Friday, January 3, 1969from

7:30 P.M. until 11:30 P.M.

Breath surrounding him in puffed clouds, John Hall put one not-quite-steady finger on the door buzzer and pushed. The opening chords of Beethoven’s fifth symphony answered, an unexpected shock; the last thing he had associated in his mind’s eye with this unknown father and family was kitsch. Then the door was opening, a tiny little maid was divesting him of coat and gloves, and dancing at her heels came a young and beautiful woman, pushing the maid aside to attack him with outflung arms, lush lips puckered in a kiss.

“Dearest, darlingest John!” she cried, the lips squashed against his cheek because he had turned his head. “I am your stepmother, Davina.” She seized his right arm. “Come and meet us, please. Is Connecticut cold after Oregon?” she cooed.

He didn’t answer, too overwhelmed by the greeting, the young woman’s almost feverish chatter (his stepmother? But she was years younger than he was!)—and the noticeably foreign accent she owned. Davina … Yes, of course his father had spoken of her on the phone during their several conversations, but he hadn’t anticipated a bimbo, and that was how she presented. A brunette bimbo, clad in the height of fashion: a tie-dyed chiffon pantsuit in all shades of red, very dark hair loose down her back, a flawless ivory skin, full and pouting red lips, vividly blue eyes.

“It was my idea to introduce you to the family at Max’s birthday party,” she was saying, in no hurry to commence the introductions. A very few people were scattered around an ugly, hideously modern room. “Sixty!” she went gushing on in well structured English, “Isn’t that wonderful? The father of a newborn son, and the father of a long lost son! I couldn’t bear for you and Max to meet in a less significant way than tonight, everybody looking their best.”

“So this black tie is your idea?” he asked, just a trifle ungraciously.

His displeasure didn’t impinge; she laughed, her rather ropelike hair swinging as she tossed her head complacently. “Of course, John dearest. I adore men in black tie, and it gives us women an excuse to dress up.”

At least her prattle—there was more of it—had enabled him to assimilate those present, even come to some conclusions. Three tall, robustly built men stood together, and were very obviously related; John could say with certainty that they were his father, his uncle and his first cousin: Max, Val and Ivan Tunbull. Their broad Slavic faces were set in lines speaking of undoubted success, their well opened yellowish eyes held confidence and competence, and their thick, waving thatches of brassy hair said that baldness did not run in the family. The Tunbull family … His family, whom he wouldn’t have known before tonight had they chanced to encounter each other at a different black tie dinner party …

A briskly professional looking man of about forty was standing with them, his very pregnant wife of around his own age beaming up at him fatuously: not a bimbo!

Where were Jim and Millie Hunter? They’d said they would be here! Surely no one could be later than he? It had taken almost an hour for him to get up the courage to ring that bell, striding up and down, smoking cigarettes, shrinking back into the shadows when the professional guy and his pregnant wife came across the street, engaged in what sounded like married couple banter. No, maybe not an hour, but a half hour, sure.

Came another dose of Beethoven in tinny bells; the tiny servant moved to the front door, and in they came, Millie and Jim Hunter. Oh, thank all the gods! Now he could meet his father with a confidence bolstered by knowing that Jim Hunter had his back. How much he had yearned for this reunion!

Max Tunbull was advancing toward him, hands outstretched. “John!” said Max in a gravelly voice, taking John’s right hand in both his, smiling on a wall of huge white teeth, then leaning in to embrace him, kiss his cheeks. “John!” The yellow eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Jesus, you’re so like Martita!”

When the fuss died down, when all the introductions were safely in the past, when John felt that he could make some choices of his own without his stepmother foiling him, he sought out Jim and Millie, havens in a stormy, unknown sea.

“I was about to head for the hills when you came in,” he confessed, more to Jim than to Millie. “Isn’t this weird?”

“Three women, six men, and black tie. You’re right, it is weird,” Jim said, but not sounding puzzled. “Typical for Davina, though. She loves to be surrounded by men.”

“Why am I not surprised?” John put his martini glass down with a grimace.

“You no like?” asked a voice at his elbow.

He turned to look, found the midget maid. “I’d much rather have a Budweiser,” he said.

“I get.”
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