Алистер Маклин: Dead Halt

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Алистер Маклин Dead Halt
  • Название:
    Dead Halt
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    HarperPaperbacks, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Жанр:
    Боевик / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1992
  • Город:
    New York
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • Рейтинг книги:
    3 / 5
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Dead Halt: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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An Alistair MacLean’s UNACO novel #7 A CONSPIRACY OF CHAOS When a private schooner is smashed upon the rocks of Nantucket, a cache of brand-new ArmaLite Assault Rifles tumbles out. It’s only the first clue in a deadly puzzle that will take two extraordinary and daring agents to crack wide open. UNACO agents Mike Graham and Sabrina Carver once again plunge themselves into a desperate investigation that tests their skills and courage. In a nonstop race around the globe, from the United States to England, Switzerland, and Ireland, Graham and Carver are caught in the mire of a worldwide intrigue that unites illegal arms traders, a vicious drug cartel, and the Mafia, in an international power gambit that threatens to shatter the peace of the world for our lifetime. THIS TIME, THE FIGHT IS PERSONAL

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Alastair MacNeill

Alistair MacLean’s UNACO

DEAD HALT

1992

Prologue


On an undisclosed date in September 1979 the Secretary-General of the United Nations chaired an extraordinary meeting attended by forty-six envoys who represented virtually every country in the world. There was only one point on the agenda: the escalating tide of international crime. Criminals and terrorists were able to strike in one country then flee across its borders, secure in the knowledge that pursuit would breach the sovereignty of neighbouring states. Furthermore, drafting extradition warrants (at least for those countries that had them) was both costly and time-consuming and many contained loopholes that lawyers could exploit to secure their clients’ release. A solution had to be found.

It was agreed to set up an international strike force to operate under the aegis of the United Nations’ Security Council. It would be known as the United Nations Anti-Crime Organization (UNACO). Its objective was to “avert, neutralize and/or apprehend individuals or groups engaged in international criminal activities”* Each envoy then submitted a curriculum vitae of a candidate their Government considered suitable for the position of UNACO Director, and the Secretary-General made the final choice.

UNACO’s clandestine existence came into being on 1 March 1980.


*UNACO charter, article 1, paragraph 1c

Chapter One


“For God’s sake, we can’t last out here much longer. It’s getting worse by the minute. We’ve got to make port while we still can. It’s our only chance now.”

Rory Milne knew Earl Reid was right and that Reid was an experienced seaman who knew the area like his own backyard. Although Reid owned the Ventura, the 190-foot topsail schooner, Milne still had the final say on whether they tried to ride out the storm or whether they headed for the shelter of the nearest port. Reid always had reservations about the arrangement but the money he was being paid had helped to ease his conscience. Now he knew his fears had been well-founded. But there wasn’t anything he could do about it without Milne’s authorization. He waited anxiously for Milne to come to a decision …

The Coast Guard had issued a storm warning for the Cape Cod area earlier that afternoon. Ten on the Beaufort Scale. Winds of up to fifty-five knots. It was due to hit Cape Cod around ten o’clock that evening. Reid had been confident they could ride it out. The Ventura had done it before. But when it struck, Reid immediately knew it was no ordinary storm. The winds were gusting at up to eighty knots and the waves were already reaching heights of twenty feet. They were in a hurricane. And all the time the winds were increasing. The Ventura was reeling under the onslaught and Reid knew it would only be a matter of minutes before she foundered. They had to make for the Nantucket coast. And time was running out. Fast …

Reid couldn’t wait any longer for Milne to come to a decision. He swung the wheel hard to starboard, a plan already taking shape in his head. He knew there was little chance of the Ventura reaching the sanctuary of Madaket Harbor in these conditions unless he used the huge seas to help him maneuver the schooner into the harbor. It was something he had never tried before. But he could still vividly remember the day when, as an eight-year-old, he had watched from his bedroom window as his father had used a storm off Martha’s Vineyard to help him steer his crippled fishing trawler back to port. His father had turned the trawler into the path of a towering wave and used it to propel the trawler into the mouth of Edgartown Harbor. Admittedly, the trawler had been a lot closer to the harbor at the time and the storm wasn’t nearly as severe as the one they were in, but Reid knew it was now their one chance of survival. The risks were enormous but he had to chance it.

He was still turning down sea when a towering wave seemed to lift the Ventura momentarily out of the water before crashing her down into the path of another wave which broke across the bow, smashing the wheelhouse window, and drenching the two men. A sliver of glass sliced across Milne’s cheek as he was thrown back heavily against the bulkhead. Reid clung to the wheel as he fought desperately to turn the schooner toward the Nantucket coastline. Milne struggled to his feet and wiped the back of his hand across his bloodied cheek. His eyes were wide with fear. Reid glanced at him but said nothing. He wondered if he also looked that frightened. These were certainly the worst conditions he’d ever encountered in his fourteen years at sea.

“Look,” Milne shouted above the howling wind.

Reid followed Milne’s pointing finger. At first he couldn’t see anything. Then he saw it. A flashing light in the distance. The lighthouse off Madaket Harbor. Reid checked its bearing. The lighthouse was now forty-five degrees on the starboard bow. Reid had thought he had been heading toward the light. Perhaps initially he had, but then the waves had battered the schooner back off course again.

“Make for the lighthouse,” Milne yelled.

“Are you crazy?” Reid screamed back. “It’s there to warn us off the rocks. I’m making for the harbor. It’s our only chance now.”

“Where is it–”

Milne’s words were cut off as another wave smashed over the decks, sending a cascade of water into the wheelhouse. Milne was knocked back against the door with such force that it burst open and the scream was torn from his lips as he tumbled out onto the deck. A wave swept across the deck and Milne clawed desperately for the guardrail as he felt himself being washed toward the ship’s side. Reid grabbed the radio handset and brusquely ordered the other three crewmen up on deck. For a moment he was caught in a dilemma. If he left the wheel to help Milne the schooner would be blown even further off course and possibly broach in the enormous seas. But what if the crew didn’t reach Milne in time? Milne was essential to the whole operation. Even if they did reach port, the operation would have to be aborted without him. And that meant Reid wouldn’t be paid the remainder of his money. A considerable amount of money …

Reid secured the wheel and as he struggled toward the door another wave buffeted the side of the schooner, throwing him to the floor. He looked around frantically for Milne, and for a moment he couldn’t see anything. Then he noticed a pair of hands gripping the base of the guard rail. The rest of Milne was dangling precariously over the ship’s side. Reid knew that Milne couldn’t hold on for more than a few seconds. He shouted to him but the wind tore the words from his lips the moment he opened his mouth. Then he noticed the Jacob’s ladder spread across the deck a few feet away from him. He made his way onto the deck to where the ladder lay. He looped his arm around the rope then, dropping onto his stomach, squirmed his way toward the guard rail. He closed his hand around the cuff of Milne’s windcheater but his fingers were numb and he couldn’t get a proper grip on the material. He pulled himself forward, reaching down over the side to get a hold of Milne’s windcheater. He felt his fingers slipping again. At last one of the crewmen appeared behind Reid and, inch by inch, they hauled Milne up toward the deck. Then a second crewman joined him and helped to haul Milne up toward the deck. Milne’s black hair was plastered against his pale face and the blood was streaming down his cheek from the gash inches below his left eye. As he reached up to grip the guard rail his rescuers saw his eyes widen in horror.

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