Cover image for Rain on the dead
Rain on the dead
Higgins, Jack, 1929-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Grand Haven, MI : Brilliance Audio, 2014.
Physical Description:
7 audio discs (8 hr., 19 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
On a dark summer night, two Chechen mercenaries emerge from the waters off Nantucket to kill the former president of the United States, Jake Cazalet. Unfortunately for them, Cazalet has guests with him, including black ops specialist Sean Dillon and his colleague, Afghan war hero Captain Sara Gideon. The Chechens do not survive, but Dillon is curious as to how they got on the island. What he discovers chills his bones; the assassination attempt is only the beginning.
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Title from container.

Compact disc.
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Audiobook on CD


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On Order



The past comes back to haunt Sean Dillon and his colleagues, as the New York Times bestselling master of suspense returns with a knife-edge story of terrorism, revenge, and a very old nemesis.

In the past few years, the killing and capture of many Al-Qaeda leaders has left the terrorist organization wounded--but by no means dead. And they intend to prove it.

On a dark summer night, two Chechen mercenaries emerge from the waters off Nantucket to kill a high-value target, the former president of the United States, Jake Cazalet. Unfortunately for them, Cazalet has guests with him, including black ops specialist Sean Dillon and his colleague, Afghan war hero Captain Sara Gideon.

The Chechens do not survive the night, but Dillon is curious as to how they even got on the island. What he discovers sends a chill through his bones--a name from very far back in Dillon's past. If this man is working with the terrorists now, the assassination attempt is only the beginning--and the next time, the results might be much, much different.

Author Notes

Jack Higgins is a writer and educator, born in Newcastle, England on July 17, 1929. The name is the pseudonym of Harry Patterson. He also wrote under the names of Martin Fallon, James Graham, and Hugh Marlowe during his early writing career. He attended Leeds Training College and eventually graduated from the University of London in 1962 with a B.S. degree in Sociology.

Higgins held a series of jobs, including a stint as a non-commissioned officer in the Royal House of Guards serving on the German border during the Cold War. He taught at Leeds College of Commerce and James Graham College. He has written more than 60 books including The Eagle Has Landed, Touch the Devil, Confessional, The Eagle Has Flown, and Eye of the Storm. Higgins is also the author of the Sean Dillon series. His novels have since sold over 250 million copies and been translated into fifty-five languages.

His title's The Death Trade and Rain on the Dead made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

A group of assassins have just tried to kill a former American president. Fortunately, they failed. Unfortunately for the hired killers, at least the former president just happens to have a couple of uniquely qualified individuals as his guests: Sean Dillon, the former IRA assassin who's now one of British intelligence's top operatives, and Sara Gideon, another trained killer turned intelligence agent. Vowing to find out who's responsible for the attempted assassination, Sean and Sara soon uncover the existence of a new terrorist threat, someone who seems determined, no matter what the cost, to murder the ex-president. This is another solid entry in the Sean Dillon series, which has been running since 1992 (with a new book pretty much every year), and it has the usual satisfying mixture of action and character. Higgins is a veteran of the genre, and if his work has drifted into something resembling formula over the years, it's an agreeable-enough formula and continues to draw readers.--Pitt, David Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In bestseller Higgins's lackluster 21st Sean Dillon thriller (after 2013's The Death Trade), the legendary ex-IRA gunman plays a largely supporting role. The shadowy Master, who controls a network of international terrorist groups, plots to assassinate Jake Cazalet, a former American president who lives on Nantucket. Two Chechen brothers travel to the resort island to do the job, but fortunately Gen. Charles Ferguson, who commands a secret British antiterrorist unit, and his two chief agents, Dillon and Capt. Sara Gideon, have just arrived for a visit, and are armed and ready when the hapless pair launch their doomed assault. More attempts to kill Cazalet follow. A few of the good guys die in the line of duty, but new recruits quickly fill their places. Higgins appears to be going through the motions in this tired entry. Series fans will hope he returns to form in the next installment. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Literary Agency (U.K.). (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.



The island of Nantucket, Massachusetts--high summer, the western end of the harbor crowded with boats, many tied up at the jetty. Among them was a scarlet-and-white sportfisherman named Dolphin. On the flying bridge, a gray-haired man sat at the wheel playing a clarinet, something plaintive and touching. He was around sixty, a white curling beard giving him the look of an old sailor. The man who joined him from below, wearing swimming trunks, had dark tousled hair and the beard of some medieval bravo. He was fit and muscular, his smile pleasant enough, his only unusual feature two scars on his left chest which any doctor would have recognized as relics from old bullet wounds. He spoke in Irish. "Big night, Kelly!" The other answered in the same. "You could say that. It'll be dark soon, Tod--if you're going to grab that swim, it'd better be now." "I will. Keep your eye out for that kid, Henry, from the harbormaster's office. He's bringing our passports and the credit card, so don't forget to speak like the Yank your passport says you are." He slid down the ladder, vaulted over the rail, and swam away. Kelly heard a call from the dock. "Mr. Jackson, are you there?" Kelly descended the ladder. "He's having a swim. I'm his partner, Jeremy Hawkins." Henry handed over the two passports. "There you go, sir, Mr. Jackson's credit card is in the envelope and your mooring license covers you until Friday." Kelly took the package. "Thanks, son." "That's great clarinet I just heard. Kind of sounds like Gershwin, though I don't recognize the tune." "It's an Irish folk song called 'The Lark in the Clear Air.' And you're right, I did put a bit of Gershwin in there." "I think he would have been pleased, sir. Are you and your friend professional musicians?" "I was for a while and he does play decent piano, but on the whole, we found other things kept getting in the way." "Well, that seems like a damn shame to me," Henry said, and walked away, calling at another boat. Kelly turned and looked out over the harbor to see how Tod was getting on, and saw him swimming toward a round buoy floating on a chain. Many people were diving or jumping off the boats, some in wet suits, generally having a good time while the light still held. For his part, Tod stroked the last couple of yards, then grabbed onto the chain, aware of the unmistakable sound of a helicopter descending somewhere in the distance. He hung there, listening, and two young men erupted from the water, like black seals in their wet suits. They were like twins, darkly handsome, the same wildness apparent in their faces. The nearest one grabbed the chain and laughed as his brother joined them. "Mr. Jackson, I recognize you from your photo. We're the ones you came to meet. The Master sends his regards and hopes that success in our venture will make us your favorite Chechens. I'm Yanni and this is Khalid." He had no accent, which his brother explained in a rather mocking tone. "Our parents were killed by barbaric Russian soldiers in the Chechen war. The wonderful American Red Cross saved us and our grandparents, and gave us a new life in good old New York." "Where thanks to the public school system, we emerged as normal American teenagers," Yanni said. "Creating a problem for Westerners who expect Muslims to look and sound like Arabs," Khalid said. "So what can Muslims who look like Westerners do?" Yanni added. "Why, serve Allah as undercover warriors in the great struggle," his brother said. "And here we are. We've already checked out the house of our target. It's just off the beach, surrounded by trees, no problem. An easy one, this." Tod said, "Except that every security camera on every property you passed walking along that beach probably has your faces now." "So we'll wear ski masks for the hit," Khalid said. "Why should it matter as long as the target is dead? That's all that counts." They were no longer smiling. Their faces were like death masks, their eyes pinpricks. They were obviously on drugs, which exasperated Tod, though there was no point in mentioning it now. "I'm going back to that boat." He indicated the Dolphin."I'll see you there in forty-five minutes." They didn't reply, simply turned and swam away, and so did he. -- Hawkins was Tim Kelly, and Jackson, Tod Flynn, both of them Provisional IRA who had served sentences in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland for many killings. Released during the peace process, they had become mercenaries. The situations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and elsewhere offered highly paid security work and sometimes rather more than that, for Flynn had been a top enforcer with the IRA, and reputation was everything in the Death Trade. It brought the cautious phone calls, the offers of the big money that went with them, and the offer for this present job had been very big. In the cabin belowdecks, he had a large whiskey, feeling strangely cold, and told Kelly about his meeting with the Chechens. Kelly said, "I knew it was a mistake to get involved with sodding Muslims. What are we going to do?" "There's not much we can do, but I'll tell you this. I'm putting a pistol in my pocket for when they come, just in case it gets nasty. You should, too," and he hurried away to his cabin. -- He showered and dressed, and as he did so, remembered the first time he'd heard the Master's voice, filled with quiet authority, and a touch of English upper class. "Would that be Mr. Tod Flynn?" the voice had asked. "Who wants to know?" "I've just credited your bank account with a hundred thousand dollars. Check for yourself, and I'll be back in fifteen minutes." Tod frowned, but called his bank and received the happy news that the money had indeed been deposited from a Swiss bank in Geneva. When the second call came, he said instantly, "Who is this?" "People know me as the Master. That will do for the moment." "Al-Qaeda," Tod said. "Everyone in the business knows about you guys and the way you operate. Don't you have enough of your own people to call on? What do you want me for?" "Oh, I'm a great admirer. That finance man in Nigeria you took care of--five hundred yards through an open window of a car doing seventy. Splendid work. I have a list. My favorite was the Russian paratroop general who glanced out of the turret of his tank for a moment during a street battle and you took him at five hundred yards." "Four hundred," Tod said. "And it was snowing. So what do you want?" "I have a target, living quietly in a house on the island of Nantucket with a manservant. I'm sending in a couple of Chechen boys to knock him off. All I need from you is to keep an eye on things and pick them up when they're done. You'll be waiting in a boat off the beach and they'll swim out to you." "So I'm the getaway driver, is that it?" Tod laughed harshly. "What's he done, this target?" "No need for you to know. Let's just say he's an old enemy." Tod nodded. "And what would be in it for me?" "You've already got one hundred thousand. That's for you and your friend Kelly. I'll give you another hundred afterward and take care of your expenses." As usual, greed won the day. "Add another fifty thousand," Tod said. "Which rounds it to a quarter of a million, and I expect the full advance before we go." The man who called himself the Master paused, then said, "Agreed." And Tod, some part of him already regretting it, said, "Done. When do we meet?" "That will never happen, my friend. You'll have to be content with my voice on the phone. I'll send you a coded mobile with the tickets." -- Tim Kelly was shocked when Tod told him about the call. "Holy Mary, do we have to get involved with a bunch of Muslims like al-Qaeda?" "You'll dance a jig when that money turns up in your bank account," Tod said. Later, he did wonder why the Master wanted him at all. The mystery man had made all the arrangements and the plan itself was simple enough. It was the height of tourist season, and the two assassins would be just another couple of people strolling along by night, carrying beach bags that would contain a couple of silenced Glocks, more than adequate to handle the situation. When they were done, they could just walk away from the scene of silent slaughter, which wouldn't be discovered until morning, long after they had swum out to sea, each with a phosphorescent signaling ball held in his palm to guide in the waiting Dolphin. It seemed too simple, and Tod couldn't think why, still couldn't as he finished dressing now, and then he heard a disturbance above. He hurried through the cabin, went on deck, and found Kelly switching on all the lights against the hurrying dark. The Chechens were there. "What's going on?" Tod demanded. "These two bastards are cracked, if you ask me," Kelly said. "They were sharing a bottle as they came along the jetty. That young guy from the harbormaster's office remonstrated with them as they were boarding." He pointed at Khalid. "This one told him to fuck off." Tod grabbed Khalid by the front of his shirt. "Stupid bastard, are you crazy? That kind of trouble is the last thing we need." Yanni reached in his beach bag and produced a silenced Glock. "Touch my brother again and I'll kill you." Kelly, standing behind them, drew a Walther, but Tod released Khalid, laughing harshly. "Go on, do it. Kill both of us, why don't you? Then tell me who's going to wait off that beach to pick you up." Yanni put the Glock away and smiled falsely. "Hey, can't you take a joke, Mr. Jackson? Khalid was having a laugh. Like boxers going in the ring for a big fight. You get kind of nervous waiting for the action." "Then I suggest you go, find the action, and get on with it, and we'll get on with our part of the job." Yanni laughed out loud. "You know something, you're a real funny man, Mr. Jackson. I like you, I really do . . ." He gave his brother a push and they scrambled up onto the jetty. Khalid took a bottle from his pocket, held it up, then tossed it into the harbor. "Just kidding, Mr. Jackson," he said, and they walked away. "Total fruitcakes," Kelly said in disgust. "Where the hell did this Master find them? Don't tell me he didn't know they had problems." "Never mind that for now. We've got half an hour to spare before we have to cast off and go round the coast to wait for them. I could do with coffee and a sandwich," Todd said. He led the way below, and as they reached the kitchen area, the coded mobile phone the Master had given him trembled. He took it out and switched it to speaker. He turned to Kelly, touched a finger to his lips and waited. "Mr. Flynn, I'm afraid something's come up that affects our plans," the voice said. "And what would that be?" Tod demanded. "I've just heard from a source that the target is receiving guests tonight by helicopter." "We heard one arriving somewhere in the island not long ago," Tod told him. The Master's voice was unemotional. "Probably the one delivering them." "They'll get a shock when they find themselves invaded by two crazy Chechens." "It's the Chechens we need to worry about," the Master said. "His guests are General Charles Ferguson, who commands the British Prime Minister's private hit squad, and he has two of his top people with him. A Captain Sara Gideon and one Sean Dillon, a notorious IRA gunman who now works for Ferguson." "But I know these people, everyone in the Death Trade does." Flynn was angry now. "Why the hell would they be here?" "It's time to tell you who our target is. It's the former president of the United States, Jake Cazalet." Tod was shocked. "You lousy bastard." The Master continued. "You must cancel the operation. I can't do it. Yanni and Khalid have no phone." "I see," Tod said. "You knew they were wild cards and too untrustworthy to handle your special phone." "You must try and stop them. Surely there's still time?" Tod was so angry he switched off. Kelly said, "Christ, what a cock-up. Maybe we'll be lucky and catch them walking the beach to Cazalet's house." "No, we won't," Tod told him. "I don't want anything more to do with this. We'll cast off right now, sail overnight to Long Island, and leave the boat at Quogue. Then we'll head straight to the airport and find the first plane that'll take us back to Dublin." "And not even try to pick the boys up?" "Do you really think there'll be anyone to pick up? Sean Dillon is a bloody living legend of the IRA, as no one knows better than you, and this Sara Gideon lass has a Military Cross for killing Taliban. Not to mention Ferguson himself. No, those Chechens are dead meat. And frankly, I couldn't care less." -- The house stood in trees behind a vast beach reaching out from town. The helicopter had landed some distance away, where Cazalet's Secret Service man, Dalton, waited in a Jeep. He went to greet Ferguson and his people, who walked to meet him. Ferguson shook hands. "Here I am again, Agent Dalton. Nice to see you." They waited as the helicopter drifted away. Dalton said, "It'll be back in the morning." He eased Sara's bag from her hand and led the way to the Jeep. "President Cazalet's really pleased to be seeing you. Mrs. Boulder has left out a lovely supper in the conservatory." "The President? Is that how you still address him?" Sara asked. Ferguson said, "Technically, all former holders of the office retain the title for life, but I think it's a matter of individual choice. Cazalet says there can only be one Mr. President and asks that I call him Jake. I could never bring myself to do it, so I make do with 'sir.'" "Then 'sir' it will be for me also," Sara said. "I'm looking forward to seeing Murchison again," Ferguson said. "That's the dog of the house, Sara, a wonderful flat-coated retriever." "Who once saved the President's life, as I recall," Dillon said. "Although there's no official documentation of that." "Too bad he isn't here tonight," said Dalton. "Mrs. Boulder has taken him home with her. She gets lonely since her husband died last year, and the President doesn't mind." He turned off the road at a point where high-wire fencing fronted the trees. He paused, waiting for a ten-foot gate to open slowly between stone pillars, and drove through, pine trees and lots of shrubbery crowding in from both sides. To the left, they could see a terraced conservatory and they continued, circling around to a formal garden that fronted the old Colonial-style house with steps leading up to a pillared entrance, the door standing open, light pouring out, and Jake Cazalet waiting to greet them. "Charles, my dear old friend," he cried. "Marvelous to see you, marvelous to see all of you." Then he rushed down the steps to greet them, arms outstretched. After embraces, Ferguson said, "Now, this was all most mysterious. It's always a pleasure to see you, sir, but why were we summoned?" Cazalet said, "Oh, it's nothing dire. The President wanted to invite you to the Oval Office, but couldn't because of the publicity such a visit would have caused. He said you were in New York to meet the British ambassador and proposed that we kidnap you for a night so that I could say a heartfelt thanks on his behalf for your handling of the Husseini affair. If Iran had been able to use his work to perfect their nuclear bomb--well, it wouldn't bear thinking of. All three of you did a remarkable job, and we are in your debt." "Please tell the President how grateful we are," Ferguson said. "But it's all in the game these days, and a damn ugly game it is." "You've got that right," Cazalet said. "It's a complete mess. Jihadists allied to al-Qaeda have infiltrated international terrorism like the plague, linking groups worldwide, each controlled by that anonymous leader always known as the Master, a shadowy figure, a voice on the phone. Backed by millions obtained from oil-rich states in the Middle East. They're extremely dangerous." "As Captain Gideon can attest to firsthand," said Ferguson. Cazalet turned to Sara, who said, "Dillon and I were targeted by al-Qaeda in London, with orders to dispose of us." "I notice you're still here," Cazalet said. "You should see her in action, sir," Dillon told him. "So there's a Master responsible for London?" "He also handled affairs in Paris," Dillon said. "And later in Beirut." "And turned out to be General Ali ben Levi, the commander of the Iranian Army's Secret Field Police." "He was killed in London, though we weren't responsible," Ferguson said. "But we had his body disposed of. We couldn't see the point of sending the details to the Iranian military, and they're still looking for him. They had no idea of his al-Qaeda connection." "And I'm sure he has already been replaced," said Cazalet. "That there's a new Master out there now. Terrorism has completely changed warfare as we know it. Enemies without uniforms, bombs everywhere." He shivered. "End of an era. But enough of that for this one night. Tonight, let's go out on the terrace and have some champagne. Or perhaps you'd prefer a glass of port, Charles?" "Now you're talking, sir," Ferguson said, and led the way out. The dining room opened into the conservatory, where great sliding doors gave access to the terrace with tables and lounging chairs, the garden crowding in, flowering shrubs of every description, tall pines and palm trees that someone had experimented with over many years. The scent of flowers, the sound of grasshoppers chirping in the lights, all combined to create a kind of tropical splendor. "Wonderful," Sara said. "I love the smell of it." Cazalet said, "It's a bit of a jungle really, but at my age I can do as I please, so I let it run riot. Reminds me of my tours in Vietnam. Come, have something to eat." Yanni and Khalid had reached the house without the slightest trouble, following the beach, passing the occasional barbecue, sometimes a fire. There were lots of other people in the darkness, laughter, guitar music, but there was no one by the Cazalet house. They passed it, turning up the left side of the estate through a marshy area with reeds growing high, found a place where the fencing gaped and squeezed into the garden. They could hear conversation and laughter, light through the trees and shrubbery. They had taken pills before leaving the cottage and were feeling the effects. "Are you getting high, brother?" Yanni whispered. "I'm floating, man," Khalid told him. "Then put on your face." Yanni pulled the ski mask on, and grinned as his brother did the same. "You look like a clown." "So do you," Khalid told him, and took his Glock out and dropped the shoulder bag to the ground. "Let's do it," he said to Yanni, and led the way cautiously. -- On the terrace, they were at the coffee stage, Ferguson and Cazalet sitting down and Dalton pouring it out. Dillon was standing by the open window, enjoying a cigarette. There were three stone steps leading up to the terrace crowded with overgrown shrubbery, and Sara stood there waiting for her coffee. Yanni crouched, watching her admiringly. His brother stood a few feet away in heavy bushes behind the balustrade. They could have killed everyone if they'd fired without hesitating, but the drugs had taken full control and they were shaking with excitement, and it was Yanni who made the first move. "Let's go!" he shouted, and took three quick steps up to the terrace. Sara half turned and he hit her sideways in the face, pulled her against him, and rammed the barrel of the Glock into her side. "A present from Osama, with regards from the Master." "Oh God," she moaned, as if terrified, and closed her eyes, apparently fainting, starting to slide to the floor so that he was losing his grasp. Dalton was already drawing his weapon and jumping in front of Cazalet. Khalid stepped out of the bushes and shot him in the chest. In the same moment, Dillon drew the Colt .25 he always carried in a rear belt holder and fired rapidly three times, the hollow-point cartridges tearing Khalid apart, hurling him back into the shrubbery. Yanni howled in rage, allowed Sara to slide, and fired once at Dillon, denting the wall. Sara withdrew the flick knife from the sheath she always wore around her right ankle, sprang the blade, and stabbed him under the chin. He dropped his weapon, fell back down the steps, and lay in the middle of rosebushes, kicking as he choked to death. There had been surprisingly little sound, just the dull thud of silenced weapons, and Cazalet was already on his knees with Ferguson, examining Dalton, Dillon standing over them, his gun still in his hand. Dalton groaned and Cazalet looked up in relief. "Thank God, he was wearing his vest. I'll leave him to you, Charles, while I raise the alarm." He found Dalton's cell phone and called in. "This is Cazalet. Empire down. Two intruders down. Request Nightbird Retrieval." He said to the others, "Which means a cover-up job by the CIA. It should be easy enough, since all the weapons were silenced, so the neighbors shouldn't have any idea what's been going on, and as you know, the occasional helicopter landing is nothing new here." He turned to Sara. "I can see why they awarded you a Military Cross in Afghanistan, but your suit will never be the same again. It's badly bloodstained." "No problem, sir, I have another in my luggage. If you'll excuse me, I'll go to my room to shower and change." "Of course," he said. As she moved out, Dillon murmured, "Are you okay?" She held up a bloodstained hand. "As usual, not even shaking." "Just like in the Bible. The sword of the Lord and of Gideon." "Which doesn't help me in the slightest," she said, and went out. Cazalet eased Dalton onto a chair and gave him some brandy to sip. Dillon poured champagne for himself and Ferguson, who said, "God knows why we're drinking this, but it's a pity to waste good stuff." "That's what I was thinking." Dillon toasted him. Cazalet cut in: "Did you two hear what the one she killed said to her?" Dillon nodded. "A present from Osama, with regards from the Master." "It appears that al-Qaeda has found us, right here in Nantucket." -- The Nightbird was of medium size, black in color, the engine noise remarkably quiet. A dozen men in black overalls got out. The officer in charge, wearing the same black uniform, was calm and efficient. "Colonel Sam Caxton, Mr. President. We'll be treating this as a crime scene, although it's not a police investigation. If you would, I'd like you all to wait inside and two of my men will record interviews with you, both individually and together, to cover all the bases. We also have a doctor with us, just to check you all out." "We're at your service, Colonel," Cazalet said. "If you could move in, we'll get started. It goes without saying that we're delighted to find you in one piece." He went out, and Cazalet said to Dalton, "How do you feel, Frank?" "The vest I'm wearing can stop a forty-four." "You deserve a medal, jumping in front of me like that." "That's what I'm paid to do, sir." Cazalet clapped him on the shoulder. "Let's all return to the kitchen and have a cup of coffee. It's going to be a long night." -- On the Dolphin out at sea, the lights of Nantucket had faded when Kelly entered the wheelhouse with two mugs of tea and gave one to Tod, who was listening to a jazz trio. "Sounds good. Who is it?" Kelly asked. "No idea. It's Nantucket local radio. I was waiting to hear if there were any news reports." "What are you going to tell the Master?" "I'll think of something." He sighed. "Probably better get it over with." "I'd like to hear that," Kelly said. "Put it on speaker." In a moment, they were connected. "This is Tod Flynn." "I've been waiting to hear from you. Are you still in Nantucket?" "We're at sea. Couldn't contact the Chechens, and there didn't seem to be any sign of action at the Cazalet house. Nothing on local news, either, so I decided the smart thing to do was leave." The Master cut in. "Then I have news for you. Yanni and Khalid are dead, bagged, and waiting to be flown away." Shocked, Tod made an instinctive response. "That's impossible. How could you know that?" "Because I provided backup that even the Chechens did not know about. A woman sympathetic to our cause that I had in place. After I phoned you, I called her. She had seen you casting off to go to sea and smelled a rat, went after the Chechens herself, and was right behind when they entered Cazalet's jungle of a garden. There was no time to warn them." "So what happened?" Tod asked. "The Chechens were butchered. Dillon shot Khalid, and the Gideon woman stabbed Yanni with a knife. When a CIA black unit arrived by helicopter, she slipped away." "A hell of a cool customer," Tod said. "Yes, a remarkable lady--but to business. Admit it, you were doing a runner. You never even attempted to warn those boys." "Okay, we were. We know Dillon from way back in the Troubles. Nobody messes with him, he's a killing machine and the Gideon woman is the same. If we had tried to find them, we'd be lying dead next to the Chechens." "Nevertheless, that was your charge. You owe me a quarter of a million dollars." Tod said, "We didn't sign up for any of this. You lied about everything. It wasn't our fault that things turned out the way they did." "Don't think you can shirk your responsibility. Everybody is accountable. But you can keep the money." Tod was astonished. "What do you mean?" "You and Kelly are men of a mercenary persuasion, as the song goes. Go home to Drumgoole, to your horses and the stud and your aunt Meg--she runs things there, correct? Oh, and you'll be losing your niece Hannah; she just heard yesterday that she's been accepted by the Royal College of Music in London." "Damn you, how do you know all this?" "I know everything, Tod, I thought you knew that. I just want to make sure you realize that there is nowhere that you--and yours--can go that I can't touch. Now, I have tickets waiting for you at the airport. When you get home, shave off the beards and it will be as if you never left Ireland, and I'm sure you'll have plenty of friends to swear you never did. Good luck and try to stay sober. I'll be in touch soon, and this time you are going to earn the money you have from me." He faded away, the Dolphin plowed on, rain bouncing off the screen. Kelly said, "Is he for real?" "Oh, yes, and a barrel of laughs, too. I admire his fine turn of phrase." "Well, he's going to want something for his quarter of a million bucks, God knows what. Here, you take the helm. I'm going below to try to get a little shut-eye." -- Sara Gideon lay in bed in a bathrobe, unable to sleep. Outside, the wind howled, rain rattled against the window. There was a knock at the door, which opened and Dillon peered in. "What's happening?" she asked. "Ferguson and Cazalet are downstairs and there's an intermittent flow of information about the two people we knocked off. They're Chechen brothers, but American, brought into the country as refugees with their grandparents, who have since died. Shouldn't be long before we know everything about them." "Wouldn't be too sure about that." "Why?" "It was all so wild, weird even. It was as if a piece of foolish nonsense came to an unlooked-for end." "That's really quite literary," Dillon told her. "Are you by chance regretting the fact that you had to kill that maniac?" "Not at all, he'd have finished us all off. Dammit, Sean, he got a shot off at you that just missed." "And you put the knife in to save my life, girl," Dillon said. "So bless you for that." "Anything else happening?" "Well, Ferguson's spoken to Roper in London, and I'm sure he's been put to work. You can feel free to contact him on your mobile if you want." -- In the Holland Park safe house in London, Major Giles Roper sat in his wheelchair in the computer room, wearing a bathrobe, a towel about his neck, his bomb-ravaged face shining with sweat. He was smoking a cigarette and drinking a glass of whiskey when Sara called. "My goodness, love, so you've been playing executioner again?" "No choice, Giles, not this time. Sean was his usual deadly self." She shivered. "Seconds, Giles, just seconds. It could have turned out so badly for all of us." "Well, it didn't, and that's all that counts." "So who do you think was behind them? You're the best that I know at squeezing answers out of cyberspace." "I have to agree with you, but these things take time. Besides, you have to remember that what happened tonight in Nantucket didn'thappen. Nobody heard a thing, nobody saw a thing. And if nothing happened, then no one can claim responsibility. I'm certainly not going to go on line saying there's a rumor that there was an assassination attempt on former president Jake Cazalet. Then everyone would know--and all the wrong sort of people would claim responsibility." "So what can you do?" "Just wait and watch, see if anything unusual pops out. You never know. Anyway, get some sleep. I'll see you when you get back." -- Dalton had reluctantly gone to sleep on a couch in the sitting room, and Cazalet and Ferguson sat in the kitchen, drinking coffee and turning things over between them. "I'm almost flattered that someone feels I'm worth being a target," Cazalet said. "Nonsense, you were a great president. Your death would have made headlines around the world." "Maybe," Cazalet admitted grudgingly. "Anyway, there was one matter I was asked to raise with you before you leave." "What's that?" "Colonel Declan Rashid. He was an enormous help in the Husseini business, so disgusted at the way Husseini was treated by the Iranian government that he deserted their army and supported your people in everything." "And took a couple of bullets in the back doing it. He's agreed to work for us when fit again," Ferguson added. "Well, apparently the CIA would like to talk with him. They're really quite keen on it, though I expect I know your answer. I told them I'd pass it along, but wouldn't promise anything." "And you were right. You know Rashid's history. He was a paratrooper at sixteen and, during Iran's war with Saddam Hussein, made his first jump into action without training. Over the years, he has been wounded many times, and now his doctors, including our own Professor Bellamy, say enough is enough. He needs time to recuperate. The CIA will just have to retire gracefully from the conflict." Cazalet laughed out loud. "That'll be the day. Anyway, let me just check my office messages. I've given Mrs. Boulder the morning off, so when it comes to breakfast, we'll all have to pitch in." He went out. Ferguson boiled the kettle, made tea, and Dillon entered. "You look fit," the general said. "Didn't sleep worth a damn, but I dry-shaved and had a cold shower. I could kill for a cup of tea." "Help yourself," Ferguson told him. Cazalet came in. "Your helicopter arrives at eleven. Also, photos of the Chechens have just come through. The machine's pumped out some extra copies." "Goodness me," Ferguson said. "They look like any young convicts from about a century ago." Dillon helped himself, took one of the sheets and slipped it in a pocket. Cazalet said, "Right, who's for bacon and eggs?" "Sounds good to me," Ferguson replied, but Dillon said, "I think I'd prefer a last walk on the beach, sir. I can get something down there." So he left them to it, tiptoeing past Dalton still sleeping heavily on the couch and letting himself out on the drive, and was soon walking along the beach, plenty of tourists out already, for it was a particularly fine day. He wandered through them, uncertain about what it was he was looking for. The Chechens fascinated him. Two real wild boys, and how had they got to Nantucket? Looking at the crowded harbor, he found a very possible answer. The sea, because that's what he would have done. He went up on the jetty and started to walk along past people working on the decks of the boats, others diving into the harbor and swimming. A young man with a money satchel around his neck and a register in his hands was working his way along the line of boats. The name tag on his shirt said "Henry." Dillon said, "Can you help me, have you ever seen these guys?" He unfolded the sheet with both photos. Henry stopped smiling. "What have they done, are you a cop?" "I work for a security firm," Dillon said. "They've been leaving unpaid bills all over the place." "Sure, I've seen them. Yesterday evening, they were around here really high on something and drinking booze, and they had an argument with people on one of the boats. Went off making a hell of a row." "Show me the boat involved." "I saw it leave last night as it was getting dark, which was strange, because the mooring fee was paid until Friday. It was a sportfisherman, a rental from Quogue. Two guys on board named Jackson and Hawkins. I brought them passports. Maybe they're just cruising about out there." "I don't think so. Did you do any copying of their passport details, photos and so on?" "No, that would be illegal. Anyway, the national agency just tells me either it's okay or not okay." "It's just that I'd been wondering whether you could use a fifty-dollar bill." Henry smiled. "Only if you'd be happy with a picture I took of them on my phone. They were chatting on deck." He took the phone out of his pocket. "Why did you take it?" "Because jazz and swing are my thing, and Mr. Hawkins plays a great clarinet. He turned an old Irish folk song, 'The Lark in the Clear Air,' into pure Gershwin, special enough to bring tears to the eyes. That's him with the white beard." The disguises, which in effect the bearded faces were, had succeeded brilliantly. Not for a moment had Dillon recognized them from the photo, but Henry's musical anecdote was unique. It related to the deepest and most poignant moment in Dillon's life, which meant the man in the white beard was Tim Kelly and the other was probably Tod Flynn. "Does it ring any bells, sir?" "Not really, it was a hell of a long time ago. I'd like to have a copy of the photo anyway, if that's okay with you. Can you e-mail it to me?" Dillon held out the fifty and gave Henry his number. "You're more than welcome, sir." Henry sent it and slipped the bill into his pocket. "Have a nice day." Dillon walked away, his mind in a turmoil, never so conflicted. It was obvious that he should tell Ferguson what he had discovered, but it was impossible to discuss why at the moment, and certainly not with Sara around. She served the Crown, wore the uniform. On the other hand, they were returning to Roper, the bomb-scarred hero trapped in his wheelchair. He nodded to himself. Roper would know what to do. He hurried along the beach. -- At the end of the strand across from the house, a mobile beach concession had appeared, a sandwich and burger bar on wheels with canvas chairs and fold-up tables, most of which were taken. Dillon stopped and ordered tea and an egg sandwich, sitting close to the bar. The woman sympathetic to the Cause whom the Master had mentioned to Flynn sat not too far away, keeping an eye on the situation over the road where the helicopter had just drifted in behind the house. Her name was Lily Shah, and she worked in the dispensary at the Army of God headquarters in London. She was quite small, wore sandals, a Panama pushed down over fair hair, her blue linen shirt loose over khaki shorts. She removed her Ray-Bans to scratch her nose, revealing a calm, sweet face. She was forty-five and looked younger. On seeing Dillon, she replaced her Ray-Bans, took a sound enhancer from her shirt pocket, slipped it into her right ear, and adjusted it as Sara Gideon crossed the road. "Anything special happen while I've been out?" Dillon asked as he finished his tea. Lily could hear perfectly as Sara answered. "The President wants Cazalet safe. The black team from last night is coming in tomorrow to start doing all sorts of security things to the house. Since it's been in the family since before the Civil War, Cazalet is not pleased. Even more, the staff has been suspended. Dalton's going to hang on to hand over to the team and Mrs. Boulder keeps Murchison, bless her. And I'm here to tell you to get a move on--we're boarding the helicopter in minutes." They hurried across the road and entered the drive, cutting it very fine, for it seemed no more than five minutes later that the helicopter lifted above the trees and turned away, causing a certain excitement among the tourists. -- Once things settled down, Lily wandered along the beach, turned across and down the side of the house, the marshy area with the reeds growing high. She stood looking at the place where the fencing gaped and, on impulse, scrambled through into the garden, and then ventured a little farther cautiously to where the carnage had taken place. The windows on the terrace slipped open and Dalton walked through, comfortable in shirtsleeves, a can of beer in one hand, and sat down on the swing chair. He opened the newspaper, and she pointed her right index finger at him, thumb raised, then smiled, eased back through the jungle of the garden, and left. Walking back to town, barefoot at the sea's edge, she phoned the Master and told him what happened. "So Ferguson and company will be back to trouble you again very soon." "And trouble is the right word. He's been a thorn in our side for much too long. I'm sure he was responsible for the disappearance of General Ali ben Levi. We know that he flew in here, to Northolt, in pursuit of the traitor Declan Rashid. This is a fact." Referring to Ali ben Levi as flying "in here, to Northolt" Airport had been an unfortunate slip, for his choice of words had indicated that the Master was speaking in London. Come to that, Lily was sure she'd once heard Big Ben chiming in the background of one of his calls. Lily was intrigued, but concentrated on the matter at hand. "The Russians tried to eradicate Ferguson and his prime minister's private army some years ago. All they got was a bloody nose," she said. "Who told you that?" "Dr. Ali Saif, when he was head of education at the Army of God." "What a damn traitor he turned out to be. Another turncoat." "But not to Ferguson. As far as I know, MI5 claimed him. Perhaps he found it preferable to facing twenty-five years in Belmarsh under antiterrorism laws," Lily said. "A traitor is a traitor. And as far as Ferguson goes, I've received an order from the Grand Council. They want revenge for ben Levi. Nothing less than assassination. Bullet or bomb, I'm open to either." He laughed. "I suppose I could put it to Tod Flynn." Lily was shocked at the implication. "The political upheaval would be enormous." "And so it should be. That would be the point. That no one is safe, not even those working at the highest level for the Prime Minister himself, and there's a thought." Lily tried to sound enthused, but managed only a muted "I hear what you say." "Good. With luck, you should be back in London tomorrow. Give my sincere thanks to Hamid Bey for allowing you the few days' leave to assist me as you have. He has been a revelation once he took over as imam. AQ acknowledges its debt." "I'll speak to him as soon as I get back. Is there anything more I can do for you?" "Yes, I'd like you to look up Tod Flynn's niece at the Royal College of Music. She interests me. It seems that when she was fourteen, she lost her parents to a car bomb on a trip to Ulster and was crippled." "Dear God," Lily said, genuinely shocked. "Her father was Flynn's elder brother, Peter. Flynn became her legal guardian, and she's been raised by him and her great-aunt. I want to know more about her. Something tells me it'll come in handy for keeping Mr. Flynn in hand." "The usual file?" "Exactly, now be on your way. God go with you." -- She continued to walk at the water's edge, thinking of Pound Street Methodist Chapel, now converted to the mosque and the headquarters of the Army of God charity. She was a cockney girl who from childhood had only wanted to be a nurse, had qualified against the odds and then joined the Army Medical Corps. In the seven years that followed, one war after another had given her an unrivaled experience of the barbarism, the butchery, that people could inflict on one another. In Bosnia, she'd seen open graves with hundreds of Muslim bodies tumbled into them, as if the Nazis had returned to haunt Europe. In Kosovo, you had to get out of the ambulances to pull the corpses of mothers and their children to one side of the road so you could continue. In northern Lebanon, she had served with the Red Cross and UN with only a handful of soldiers to try to control the rape and pillage outside the mission hospital. It was the only time she'd fought, and that was in desperation, picking up a dead soldier's Browning pistol and emptying it into savage faces one after another, and then the trucks had roared up with the men and rifles. Al-Qaeda, ruthlessly shooting wrongdoers, bringing order where there was none. Two years later and out of the army, a nursing sister at the Cromwell Hospital in London, she'd met the love of her life, Khalid Shah, a handsome Algerian charge nurse, married him, and they'd moved to the dispensary at Pound Street, where it became clear that he was a follower of Osama bin Laden. It was a year later that the cruelty of life took him away from her, when al-Qaeda called him in for service in Gaza, an Israeli air strike a month later ensuring his stay was permanent. She couldn't hate Jews because of what had happened, for her dark secret, even from Khalid, was that she was only a Christian through her father, because her mother was a Jew and had married out. Hamid Bey, the imam at Pound Street Mosque, seemed a reasonable man, and as the dispensary was multifaith, Lily's Christianity caused no problem. The fact that he also looked the other way where al-Qaeda was concerned was understandable, when one considered that the greater part of his congregation supported it. She had yet to realize that she was entirely wrong in her assessment of Hamid, a savage zealot, who supported the Cause as much as the Master. As her husband, Khalid, had been very open about his dedication to al-Qaeda, Lily had, to a certain extent, been drawn in. After all, it was the ruthless actions of al-Qaeda in Lebanon, saving many lives, including her own, which had made it possible for the most important relationship of her life to take place. And when that had ended, the telephone call from the Master to commiserate, had opened a door into what followed. When General Ali ben Levi had been killed, she had not wondered why the Master's voice had suddenly become different, for it was her place to serve without question. But what had taken place here in Nantucket was like a bad dream that wouldn't go away and not like anything that had happened before. Not even like Lebanon and the massacre and the intervention of al-Qaeda, which had saved so many lives. She glanced at her watch and saw the time. If she was going to catch the ferry, she'd have to run. She slung her beach bag over her shoulder and started to do just that. The helicopter was comfortable enough, three tables with bench seats around the windows and a room in the back for privacy, into which Cazalet and Ferguson vanished on boarding. A young man and woman were in attendance, wearing identical dark blue suits and ties, and they ushered Dillon and Sara to one of the tables, belted themselves up for takeoff, and afterward indicated that coffee or tea and a selection of sandwiches were available. Excerpted from Rain on the Dead by Jack Higgins All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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