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Never Say Die / Presumed Guilty: Never Say Die / Presumed Guilty

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Never Say Die / Presumed Guilty: Never Say Die / Presumed Guilty
Tess Gerritsen

Литагент HarperCollins

Thrilling praise for

‘Tess Gerritsen is an automatic must-read in my house.

If you’ve never read Gerritsen, figure in the price of electricity when you buy your first novel by her, ’cause, baby, you are going to be up all night. She is better than Palmer, better than Cook… Yes, even better than Crichton.’ —Stephen King

‘[Gerritsen] has an imagination…so dark and

frightening that she makes Edgar Allan Poe… seem like goody-two-shoes’ —Chicago Tribune

‘Superior to Patricia Cornwell and

as good as James Patterson…’ —Bookseller

‘It’s scary just how good Tess Gerritsen is…’

—Harlan Coben

‘Gerritsen has enough in the locker to seriously worry

Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and even the great Denis Lehane. Brilliant.’ —Crimetime

‘Gerritsen is tops in her genre.’

—USA TODAY

‘Tess Gerritsen writes some of the smartest, most

compelling thrillers around.’ —Bookreporter

Also available by Tess Gerritsen

IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS

UNDER THE KNIFE CALL AFTER MIDNIGHT NEVER SAY DIE STOLEN WHISTLEBLOWER PRESUMED GUILTY MURDER & MAYHEM COLLECTION

Omnibus

Never Say Die

Presumed

Guilty

Tess

Gerritsen

www.mirabooks.co.uk (http://www.mirabooks.co.uk)

Never Say Die

To Adam and Joshua, the little rascals

Prologue

1970

Laos–North Vietnam border

THIRTY MILES OUT of Muong Sam, they saw the first tracers slash the sky.

Pilot William “Wild Bill” Maitland felt the DeHavilland Twin Otter buck like a filly as they took a hit somewhere back in the fuselage. He pulled into a climb, instinctively opting for the safety of altitude. As the misty mountains dropped away beneath them, a new round of tracers streaked past, splattering the cockpit with flak.

“Damn it, Kozy. You’re bad luck,” Maitland muttered to his copilot. “Seems like every time we go up together, I taste lead.”

Kozlowski went right on chomping his wad of bubble gum. “What’s to worry?” he drawled, nodding at the shattered windshield. “Missed ya by at least two inches.”

“Try one inch.”

“Big difference.”

“One extra inch can make a hell of a lot of difference.”

Kozy laughed and looked out the window. “Yeah, that’s what my wife tells me.”

The door to the cockpit swung open. Valdez, the cargo kicker, his shoulders bulky with a parachute pack, stuck his head in. “What the hell’s goin’ on any—” He froze as another tracer spiraled past.

“Got us some mighty big mosquitoes out there,” Kozlowski said and blew a huge pink bubble.

“What was that?” asked Valdez. “AK-47?”

“Looks more like .57-millimeter,” said Maitland.

“They didn’t say nothin’ about no .57s. What kind of briefing did we get, anyway?”

Kozlowski shrugged. “Only the best your tax dollars can buy.”

“How’s our ‘cargo’ holding up?” Maitland asked. “Pants still dry?”

Valdez leaned forward and confided, “Man, we got us one weird passenger back there.”

“So what’s new?” Kozlowski said.

“I mean, this one’s really strange. Got flak flyin’ all ’round and he doesn’t bat an eye. Just sits there like he’s floatin’ on some lily pond. You should see the medallion he’s got ’round his neck. Gotta weigh at least a kilo.”

“Come on,” said Kozlowski.

“I’m tellin’ you, Kozy, he’s got a kilo of gold hangin’ around that fat little neck of his. Who is he?”

“Some Lao VIP,” said Maitland.

“That all they told you?”

“I’m just the delivery boy. Don’t need to know any more than that.” Maitland leveled the DeHavilland off at eight thousand feet. Glancing back through the open cockpit doorway, he caught sight of their lone passenger sitting placidly among the jumble of supply crates. In the dim cabin, the Lao’s face gleamed like burnished mahogany. His eyes were closed, and his lips were moving silently. In prayer? wondered Maitland. Yes, the man was definitely one of their more interesting cargoes.

Not that Maitland hadn’t carried strange passengers before. In his ten years with Air America, he’d transported German shepherds and generals, gibbons and girlfriends. And he’d fly them anywhere they had to go. If hell had a landing strip, he liked to say, he’d take them there—as long as they had a ticket. Anything, anytime, anywhere, was the rule at Air America.

“Song Ma River,” said Kozlowski, glancing down through the fingers of mist at the lush jungle floor. “Lot of cover. If they got any more .57s in place, we’re gonna have us a hard landing.”

“Gonna be a hard landing anyhow,” said Maitland, taking stock of the velvety green ridges on either side of them. The valley was narrow; he’d have to swoop in fast and low. It was a hellishly short landing strip, nothing but a pin scratch in the jungle, and there was always the chance of an unreported gun emplacement. But the orders were to drop the Lao VIP, whoever he was, just inside North Viet-namese territory. No return pickup had been scheduled; it sounded to Maitland like a one-way trip to oblivion.

“Heading down in a minute,” he called over his shoulder to Valdez. “Get the passenger ready. He’s gonna have to hit the ground running.”

“He says that crate goes with him.”
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