Алистер Маклин: Death Train

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Алистер Маклин Death Train
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    Death Train
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An Alistair MacLean’s UNACO novel #3 In Europe a train carrying a deadly cargo has been hijacked. When the mission looks impossible, the world calls upon UNACO. Somewhere in Europe a train is carrying a deadly cargo of plutonium-IV packed in six reinforced steel kegs. But one of the kegs has been damaged… A unit of UNACO is sent to track down the kegs – and find out how and why the plutonium was stolen in the first place. Agents Sabrina Carver, Mike Graham and C.W. Whitlock find themselves up against a powerful conspiracy of interests, including a sinister arms dealer and a highly placed business magnate. Then comes the most frightening discovery of all. Only five of the kegs contain plutonium. The contents of the sixth keg could have catastrophic results for the whole of Europe for generations to come. And time isn't on their side…

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Alastair MacNeill

Alistair MacLean’s UNACO



Alistair MacLean’s

Death Train


Alistair MacLean, who died in 1987, was the best-selling author of thirty books, including world famous novels such as The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare. Of the story outlines he was commissioned to write by an American film company in 1977, two, Hostage Tower and Air Force One is Down, were, with Alistair MacLean's approval, published as novels written by John Denis; these were followed with six by Alastair MacNeill, the highly successful Death Train, Night Watch, Red Alert, Time of the Assassins, Dead Halt and Code Breaker, and two Borrowed Time and Prime Target by Hugh Miller.

Alastair MacNeill


Alastair MacNeill was born in Scotland in 1960. When he was six years old his family emigrated to South Africa, where he showed a growing interest in writing, winning several school competitions. He returned to Britain in 1985 to pursue a full-time writing career. As well as writing seven novels based on MacLean outlines he has written five novels under his own name. He lives in Sheffield.

Death Train is the third title in the UNACO series.


On an undisclosed date in September 1979 the Secretary-General of the United Nations chaired an extraordinary meeting attended by forty-six special envoys who, between them, 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 to another but national police forces were prevented from crossing international boundaries without breaching the protocol and sovereignty of other countries. Furthermore, the red tape involved in drafting extradition warrants (for those countries who at least had them) was both costly and time-consuming and many an unscrupulous lawyer had found loopholes in them, resulting in their clients being released unconditionally. 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 of the forty-six envoys was then requested to submit one detailed curriculum vitae of a candidate its government considered to be suitable for the position of UNACO Director, with the Secretary-General making the final choice.

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

*UNACO charter, article 1, paragraph 1c


It was to be the culmination of months of planning. The assassination of General Konstantin Benin.

Dawn on Monday morning shone only a bleak grey light over Moscow and it looked as though the weathermen would be right in their prediction of rain by midday. The national six o’clock news had just begun when the blue transit van pulled into one of the numerous lay-bys on the hard shoulder of the southbound ringroad. Lena Rodenko killed the engine and turned off the monotonous drone of propaganda. She pushed a cigarette between her dry lips then fumbled in her coat pocket for a lighter and, cupping her trembling fingers around the flame, lit it and inhaled deeply. She was naturally attractive but took no interest in her personal appearance. Her short red hair was crudely shaped in a wedge and her pallid cheeks and small chin were peppered with unsightly acne. She glanced at her brother sitting beside her and managed a weak, nervous smile. Vasili was twenty-two, three years her senior. His hair, by contrast, fell untidily to his shoulders and his patchy beard looked as though it had been stuck on at random. She took a cassette from her pocket and slid it into the machine. The tape was of an English band, given to her by Vasili for her last birthday, which had become her most cherished possession. Neither of them understood the words but the music represented all that was fair and just. Democracy. As she sucked thoughtfully on the cigarette her mind wandered back to the contents of the dossier they had prepared on Benin.

A graduate of the Red Army Academy in 1950 he was recruited by the KGB four years later but first came to prominence in 1961 as one of the architects of Fidel Castro’s Direccion General de Inteligencia. The two men were to remain lifelong friends. He then spent several frustrating years as a military attaché in Brazil, a move rumoured to have been spearheaded by his superiors fearful of their own positions, before returning to Moscow as head of the Surveillance Unit. He then spent a brief spell on the staff at the Gaczyna spy school before being sent to Angola in 1974 as a senior military adviser; three years later he took over as commandant of the notorious Balashikha, a centre on the outskirts of Moscow used for the training of international terrorists. He was subsequently appointed deputy director of Directorate S, the most sinister division within the KGB. Its functions were abduction, assassination, sabotage and terrorism, both at home and abroad. He was promoted to director in 1984. It was said, even within the confines of the Politburo itself, that he was responsible for sending more people to their deaths in the Siberian concentration camps than any other KGB officer in living memory.

They had encountered one setback while compiling the dossier. Apart from his graduation picture there was no other known photograph of Benin. In retrospect Lena could see the ingenuity of his ploy. He had become just another faceless bureaucrat. This had initially seemed to be an insuperable problem until someone said that his face might not be familiar but they certainly knew his car. More like a bulletproof tank, someone else said; it would take an anti-tank missile to get at him. She hadn’t heard the rest of the conversation. In her mind she was already formulating a plan of action

She looked at the cracked face of her cheap wristwatch and swallowed nervously. It was almost time. As though in response to her thoughts the two-way radio in Vasili’s lap crackled into life. They had the all-clear sign. She struggled to start the van and just when she thought she had flooded the engine it spluttered into life and she eased out into the road. She stopped the van seventy yards further on beside a steel drum and slipped the gear into neutral, leaving the engine idling. Vasili checked the time. They had a little over four minutes. They climbed out and hurried round to the back of the van to open the doors.

Gennadi Potrovsky still found his good fortune hard to believe. Two days earlier he had been driving troop carriers at Kuchino, one of the KGB’s training centres outside Moscow, and now he’d been asked to drive for General Benin no less. He had been ordered not to tell anyone, not even his pregnant wife, until the letter of appointment made it all official. She would be the first to know, then he would throw a party to tell his friends who had graduated from the Red Army Academy with him the previous year. They would celebrate with him but he knew they would be envious. After all, Benin was the legend of the academy.

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