John Nance: 16 Souls

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John Nance 16 Souls
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    16 Souls
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    thriller_techno / на английском языке
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16 Souls: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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The Latest Aviation Thriller From New York Times Bestselling Author John Nance! On takeoff from Denver during a winter blizzard, an airliner piloted by veteran Captain Marty Mitchell overruns a commuter plane from behind. Bizarrely, the fuselage of the smaller aircraft is tenuously wedged onto the huge right wing of his Boeing 757, leading Mitchell to an impossible life-or-death choice. Mitchell’s decision will land the former military pilot in the cross-hairs of a viciously ambitious district attorney determined to send him to prison for doing his job. Despondent and deeply wounded by what he sees as betrayal by the system, Mitchell at first refuses to defend himself or even assist the corporate lawyer forced against her will to represent him. Pitted against the prosecutorial prowess of flamboyant Denver DA Grant Richardson, who is using Mitchell’s case to audition for a presidential appointment as a U.S. attorney, is young defense attorney Judith Winston. Her lack of experience in criminal cases could mean the end of Mitchell’s freedom, if he doesn’t end his own life first. However, a rising level of gritty determination even her law partners have never witnessed before, propels Winston to lay it all on the table to save Mitchell and expose Richardson as a fraud. 16 SOULS “In the air, or in a courtroom, nobody writes a better thriller than John J. Nance.” — bestselling author Steve Jackson

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New York Times Bestselling Author

John J. Nance



As always, this work required my reliance on a cadre of people for help from the technical to the lyrical. First and foremost, of course, is Kathleen Bartholomew, without whose love and support and editing, Marty’s story would not have seen print. I am very appreciative of the contributions and encouragement of two of the earliest fans and progenitors of this story, Bianca and Dave Vanderwal. I also greatly appreciate the time and effort expended by Arna Robins, Arthur Ferreira, Curt Epperson, and especially Debbie Haagensen, and the excellent assistance of Annie LeFleur, JD, in helping this Texas lawyer navigate Colorado’s legal system.

And thanks especially to Steve Jackson, Michael Cordova, and Ashley Butler at WildBlue Press.

This work is dedicated to the memory of a great literary agent and friend, the late George Wieser of New York’s Wieser and Wieser Agency, who started it all 35 years ago.


August 14th

Marty Mitchell awoke and pulled himself up to peek over the ancient slab of granite that had concealed him all afternoon. Strange he’d slept so long. A glance at his watch told him it was half past five. To his relief, the gaggle of climbers who’d been milling around, celebrating their summit, had long since moved on. Now there was no one left on the 14-thousand foot plateau to wonder why he hadn’t departed.

He’d be gone soon enough anyway.

Marty filled his lungs with the crisp, rarified air as he took in the cobalt blue sky overhead and the gentle breeze. For his last afternoon on the planet, the conditions couldn’t be better. In a weird way, this place felt like a launching pad — his own Kennedy Space Center from which to soar safety home.

His eyes instinctively tracked an inbound jetliner descending toward Denver International, fifty-five miles distant, and the mere sight roiled his stomach. It was a 757, the same model he’d been flying last January when his world imploded.

Marty struggled to ignore the Boeing and ditch the negative thoughts as he looked east, focusing on the edge of the boulder-strewn plateau where the path back down the mountain began, the so-called Keyhole Route. He assumed that all the other climbers had heeded the park rangers’ warnings about getting off the summit of Long’s Peak by one. Even experienced climbers were eager to pick their way down the steep rock face along the “trough” before any freak afternoon thunderstorms had a chance to pop up out of nowhere — lightning-charged storms which too often flailed the rocks with sixty knot winds and stinging rain, raising the stakes by making each footfall exponentially more slippery and treacherous. Beyond that, a mile distant, there was a narrow, challenging trail laterally along the southern rock face which climbers had to traverse to get back to the Keyhole, the jagged and natural passageway leading back to the north side of Long’s Peak.

The dangers along that backside path were very real — a major stumble could mean a seventeen-hundred foot plunge down the mountain. And, truth be told, he’d originally considered that an option.

But this is better, he thought. Much more elegant to go out on top. And, he thought with a rueful chuckle, a rather classy way to get the last word without fear of contradiction.

The morality of his fury had already been decided. If, by some galactic miracle, he could teleport the Denver District Attorney to the rock next to him, Marty would have absolutely no hesitation and even less remorse about tossing Richardson off the edge of the vertical east face of the mountain. The sound of the shyster’s body splatting on the granite below would be the equivalent of a symphonic masterpiece.

I’m entitled to a few impossible daydreams, he thought. I’m alone and doomed, but in complete control!

But the word “control” triggered an icy flash through his bloodstream and a feeling of loathing. He’d never lost control… control of himself, or control of his aircraft, and for that very reason, Richardson wanted him in an orange jumpsuit and caged like an animal for doing his job.

After several minutes, the anger that had masked his pain began to subside with the setting sun, and his heart ached in sorrow. His entire life had been marked by an intense determination to do the right thing. He’d grown up with a sense of integrity and an unquestioned intent to contribute something good to the world. How could it have come to this?

A brief coughing spell distracted him, and when it had passed, Marty reached down to rummage through his backpack, reviewing the plan, searching for the small vial of pills and the unopened bottle of his favorite bourbon alongside a bottle of wine…

And, there was the varietal cigar he was anticipating — a real Cuban.

First a snack and a little wine, then — as the sun went down — there would be time for the last cigar accompanied by the liquor, and then the deepest of sleeps. He regretted the fact that the rangers would be forced to clean up after him, but that couldn’t be helped. Despite his best logistics planning, that detail remained unsolvable.

Marty stood and stretched, keenly aware the thin air at 14-thousand feet was contributing to his lightheadedness. It was easier to look outward, then inward. To the north, he could see almost all the way to Laramie, and at night, the town would be clearly visible from such a high vantage point. Back to the west and northwest were the sister peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, familiar even from this angle of dominance. Hallet’s Peak in particular triggered a fond memory of standing on its summit with a girl he hadn’t thought of in years.

What was her name?

He shook off the memory. The Never Summer range was off to the northwest, and, of course, the sprawl of Denver to the southeast.

For a reason he could neither explain nor ignore, the more contemporary thought of Judith Winston popped into his consciousness. It wasn’t her image, or the memory of her voice that caused him to tense. It was what Winston represented: The do-good lawyer dutifully trying to save a client she obviously detested. A tough broad when crossed. He could see the cynicism in her eyes the first time he’d refused to play the game.

More accurately, when I tried not to, he thought.

A caution light went off somewhere in the cockpit of his mind as he realized he’d missed a basic courtesy. Winston hadn’t done anything to deserve complete silence, yet among all the other notes he’d carefully placed on his dining room table, he’d forgotten to leave one for her.

Marty knelt by his pack and rummaged until he found the small, leather-bound diary he’d been counseled to fill and hadn’t. Oh, a few items were inscribed, like his grocery list, last minute chores, and a feeble attempt at recording his feelings which carried all the passion of an engineering log. But now, for a brief moment in time, that little book would have center stage.

He pulled out a pen and wrote the goodbye note he should have left for her back home. At least there was no doubt she’d get it. Anything he wrote would find its intended recipient.

(Broomfield, Colorado — 5:40 pm, August 14th)

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