Tim Glister: Red Corona

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Tim Glister Red Corona
  • Название:
    Red Corona
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Point Blank
  • Жанр:
    Исторический детектив / Шпионский детектив / Триллер / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2020
  • Город:
    London
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-1-78607-779-0
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    4 / 5
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Red Corona: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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A missing scientist. A desperate spy. It’s 1961, and the white heat of the Space Race is making the Cold War even colder. The age of global surveillance dawns. Secret Agent Richard Knox has been hung out to dry by someone in MI5, and he needs to find the traitor in their midst. Meanwhile in a closed city outside Leningrad, top Soviet Scientist Irina Valera discovers the secret to sending messages through space, a technology that could change the world. But an accident forces her to flee. Desperate for a way back into MI5, Knox makes an unlikely ally in Abey Bennett, one of the CIA's only female recruits, while Valera’s technology in the hands of the KGB could be catastrophic. As three powers battle for dominance, three people will fight to survive….

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Tim Glister

RED CORONA

PROLOGUE

Everyone on the Shining Emerald was bored.

The captain of the small Mexican fishing trawler’s arms ached from holding the same position off the California coast for the last three hours. The crew hadn’t thrown out any nets for days and were stiff from inaction. Even the KGB officer standing alone on the forward deck had grown weary of endlessly searching the sky for a sign of his target.

For the last six months, instead of sailing south out of the Sea of Cortez to the fertile waters of the southern Pacific, every few weeks the Shining Emerald had left its home port of La Paz, rounded the Baja peninsula, and headed north. Always to the same spot fifty nautical miles out to sea, and always with a KGB officer aboard.

The Russian held a pair of binoculars to his eyes, scanning the sky. He completed a wide arc, dropped his head a few degrees, and began again. The work wasn’t hard, but it was tiring, on his eyes and his mind.

He was anxious. Mexico was supposed to have been an easy posting. America was busy obsessing over the Caribbean turning red and for once its politicians and spies weren’t paying attention to her southern neighbour, which meant neither were Russia’s. That was until the Cold War turned into a space race.

Arc after arc he saw nothing but bright blue until, on what felt like the hundredth sweep of the sky, he spotted a distant glint. He gently stroked the large dial on the top of the binoculars and slowly, very slowly, it began to change shape and come into focus. Suddenly there it was: a parachute no more than five metres across. Hanging beneath it was a silver cone-shaped canister with the letters NASA written in dark red letters along its side – the payload capsule of a Corona spy satellite.

‘Hello, Falling Star,’ the KGB officer whispered to himself.

The Shining Emerald’s crew sensed a change in the Russian, from tense frustration to anticipation, and finally began to prepare their nets. Moments later a familiar droning sound started to fill the air. A US Air Force Hercules C-130 transport plane was rapidly approaching from the California coast.

‘Star Catcher.’ Another nickname.

The Hercules wasn’t as large or elegant as its Soviet counterpart, the Tupolev Tu-95 with its swept-back wings and chromed, missile-shaped fuselage, but the Russian had to admit it was an impressive beast.

It had taken the KGB months to find out exactly what Corona was, and where it was operating from, after a Soviet submarine stumbled on a jettisoned test capsule in the Arctic Ocean near Svalbard. Their breakthrough came when an informant at Cooke Air Force Base outside Lompoc, California, reported that one of the Hercules transports stationed there was undergoing a very strange refit.

As the KGB officer watched the American plane fly over the trawler its rear cargo door opened and a large hooped hook extended from it, snaking out into space.

The Hercules had been sent to retrieve the Corona payload as it fell through the sky. It slowed down as it closed on its prey, letting its hook fall beneath it. It swooped mere metres over the parachute, but failed to snag the thin guidelines. The plane banked, lined up again, and missed again.

When the Hercules came back round for a third pass, the crew of the Shining Emerald started to smell a catch. And the Russian started to hope. He’d already watched the Americans snatch their capsule out of thin air twice. If he reported a third failed mission to the KGB residentura in Mexico City he wasn’t sure what would happen to him – a demotion if he was lucky, a trip somewhere far less hospitable than Mexico or Moscow if he wasn’t.

The captain swung the wheel and pushed the throttle. If the Hercules missed again and the capsule splashed down, the Shining Emerald would only have a few minutes to grab it off the ocean surface before its salt plug dissolved, flooding it and consigning it to the depths.

‘Andale! Andale!’ the crew chanted as one. In the sudden excitement of the race the KGB officer didn’t know if they were begging their captain or the Americans to go faster.

The Hercules had one last chance. It went into a steep dive, racing the capsule and the trawler to the splashdown point. For a terrifying moment, the Russian wondered if the Americans were going to ram the capsule and maybe even the Shining Emerald, destroying them both rather than letting the KGB capture the precious secrets the spy satellite had dropped from orbit.

But at the last second the plane flattened out, barely ten metres above the water. Then it pulled up, inclining over the capsule so the parachute grazed and snagged on the underside of the fuselage. The payload smacked against the Hercules until the force of the plane thrusting up into the sky shook the parachute loose and at last it was caught by the hook and swept up behind the plane.

A minute later, the Hercules disappeared back over the horizon towards California, leaving the Shining Emerald and the KGB officer sitting alone in the middle of the ocean.

JULY 1961

CHAPTER 1

The Gresham Arms was not a salubrious establishment.

A casual observer might assume it had seen better days, but it hadn’t. Tucked away in a quiet backstreet off Whitehall, it had struggled to deliver its various owners any kind of profit for two hundred years. But, from the height of Empire and through two world wars, its doors had opened at the same time every day, offering the same three things to whoever needed them – time, space, and a drink.

Richard Knox wasn’t a regular. In fact, he’d only been to the Gresham Arms once before. But sitting alone at a corner table, two empty pint glasses in front of him and another well on its way at one o’clock in the afternoon, he looked like he belonged. His tie was loose, the top button of his shirt undone. His suit jacket had been discarded on the stool next to him. His face was drawn, and his thick black hair, normally kept in place with a heavy pomade, had fallen over his forehead, concealing the old scar that stuck out from his hairline above his left temple. He looked like someone had recently done a number on him, because they had.

Two weeks ago Knox had been the darling of MI5. The officer who had broken the Calder Hall Spy Ring, a network of Soviet sympathisers who had been passing classified information about the nuclear plant at Sellafield in Cumbria to the KGB. Two hours ago he had been summarily suspended from the Service, escorted from its headquarters in Leconfield House in Mayfair, and found himself walking the short distance to the Gresham Arms. It was a sunny morning, but he’d felt very much out in the cold.

The breaking of the Calder Hall network – made up of Nigel Slaughter, a security guard at the nuclear plant, Patrick Montcalm, a travelling salesman, and Sandra and Peter Horne, a retired couple in Richmond with a house full of radio equipment and one-time code pads – had been a major triumph for Knox.

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