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About the Author

Gerald Seymour spent fifteen years as an international television news reporter with ITN, covering Vietnam and the Middle East, and specialising in the subject of terrorism across the world. Seymour was on the streets of Londonderry on the afternoon of Bloody Sunday, and was a witness to the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Gerald Seymour exploded onto the literary scene with the massive bestseller Harry’s Game, that has since been picked by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best thrillers written since 1945. He has been a full-time writer since 1978, and six of his novels have been filmed for television in the UK and US. The Crocodile Hunter is his thirty-seventh novel.

Also by Gerald Seymour

Harry’s Game

The Glory Boys


Red Fox

The Contract


In Honour Bound

Field of Blood

A Song in the Morning

At Close Quarters

Home Run

Condition Black

The Journeyman Tailor

The Fighting Man

The Heart of Danger

Killing Ground

The Waiting Time

A Line in the Sand

Holding the Zero

The Untouchable

Traitor’s Kiss

The Unknown Soldier

Rat Run

The Walking Dead


The Collaborator

The Dealer and the Dead

A Deniable Death

The Outsiders

The Corporal’s Wife


No Mortal Thing

Jericho’s War

A Damned Serious Business

Battle Sight Zero

Beyond Recall

The Crocodile Hunter

Gerald Seymour


First published in Great Britain in 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton

An Hachette UK company

Copyright © Gerald Seymour 2021

The right of Gerald Seymour to be identified as the Author of the

Work has been asserted by him in accordance with

the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Cover image: David Curtis / Millennium.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,

stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any

means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be

otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that

in which it is published and without a similar condition being

imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance

to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library

eBook ISBN  978 1 529 38602 8

Hardback ISBN  978 1 529 38601 1

Trade Paperback ISBN  978 1 529 38603 5

Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London EC4Y 0DZ


For Harriet and Georgia and Alfie.



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17


Many others were celebrating, but not Jonas Merrick. Yelling and shouting behind him were groups heading for the bars on Horseferry Road, and ahead was the cacophony of laughter and singing from the office parties on the booze boats navigating the Thames. It was, that damp evening, a hint of frost in the air, a date that Jonas could well have decided was worth celebrating: his birthday, his sixtieth. Not so . . . the least welcome, dreaded in fact. Retirement beckoned, and later that evening his identification for entry into Thames House would be wiped. He would be a creature from the past, unmissed and forgotten. They called him Eternal Flame in A Branch, not with love or respect, but with a sneer: he never went out, was desk-bound, an encyclopaedia of names and faces, and long redundant because computers did the same job.

He had slipped away through the side door, had walked towards the floodlit face of the Houses of Parliament, had crossed the lawns, sparkling from the afternoon’s rain, and not cared that his shoes, always highly polished, would be muddied when he went back for the reception planned for him in the atrium. He felt the spit of drizzle on his cheeks, and the wind ruffled his sparse hair. The party, in name only, was a bare half-hour away. In the open-plan area used by the A4 Branch he had heard a woman complain, “God, do we have to go to that pillock’s goodbye?” and a young man had said, not caring to lower his voice, “Just so boring, and never achieves anything . . .” and another had murmured, “There’s a war out there, and he’s the only passenger in A4 who doesn’t know what the front line looks like or feels like – good riddance.” The Assistant Deputy Director General would make an appearance, stay ten minutes, mouth platitudes, and be on his way. A formality. He had escaped in order to kill time before he was expected for the humiliation and the chuckling, and the insincerity of it.

Jonas headed for a bench near the river wall, mostly in shadow. His wife, Vera, was not invited, security and all that. He skirted the sculpture, the Burghers of Calais, in the centre of the small park, reached the bench and sat down, felt the moisture seep into his trousers, uttered a mild oath, and became aware he was not alone. There was a slight movement in the gloom beside him. He apologised, was not acknowledged.

He had been in A4 for 35 years, a dinosaur. Knew the targets and the addresses that the surveillance people tracked, just did not do the tracking himself, and his stomach bulged and he felt rheumatism in his knees and hips. He took little exercise, only the walk from home to the station, and from the London terminus to Thames House, and the daily reverse. He had no idea how his life, and Vera’s, would shape after the weekend, all those identities and locations no longer relevant . . . There would be a minimum number of prosecco bottles provided, or cava, and the AssDepDG would smile limply and thank him for loyal service. Beside Jonas, a crisp packet was crumpled and dropped, and it blew against his foot. Another wriggling movement, and an arm reached across him, and he saw the face of a young man, and the litter was picked up and there was a faint grated apology. Not to worry . . . those he worked with were that evening on a high because there had been a good eyeball on the target’s meeting with an additional Tango, and that seemed to link two surveillance targets, a big step forward, and it had been a difficult “follow” with

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