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Also by Adrian Magson

Title Page



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Forty-Nine

Chapter Fifty


Also by Adrian Magson

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The Harry Tate thrillers







The Riley Gavin and Frank Palmer series






* available from Severn House


Adrian Magson

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

First world edition published in Great Britain and the USA in 2021

by Severn House, an imprint of Canongate Books Ltd,

14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE.

Trade paperback edition first published in Great Britain and the USA in 2022

by Severn House, an imprint of Canongate Books Ltd.

This eBook edition first published in 2021 by Severn House,

an imprint of Canongate Books Ltd.


Copyright © Adrian Magson, 2021

All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. The right of Adrian Magson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

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

ISBN-13: 9780727850270 (cased)

ISBN-13: 9781780297705 (trade paper)

ISBN-13: 9781448305087 (e-book)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is purely coincidental.

This eBook produced by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

To Ann. The best hunter-gatherer ever!

And BHT – gone but not forgotten.


It’s been claimed that you don’t hear the sound of the bullet that kills you. Whoever said it wasn’t speaking from experience. Idle thoughts like this tend to slide into your head when death comes too close for comfort.

What I did hear was the snap of a shot passing my face, leaving a ripple in the atmosphere. It was followed by the crack-and-whine as the bullet exploded off a rock three feet away. I ducked instinctively and way too late, feeling the spiteful sting of Lebanese sandstone peppering my cheek. A sound in the background might have been the rolling echo of the shot, but I ignored it. If I’d heard anything at all I was still good to go. I was also busy trying to compute where the shooter might be and whether I was rolling into a position where he could have another go at blowing my head off.

I kept moving, rolling to one side and hugging the earth. Sounds can be confusing in hilly areas, bouncing off rocks and coming back from somewhere different, leaving behind fragments you can’t quite place and leading the unwary to pop up and look the wrong way. Bang, end of game. I hadn’t caught any tell-tale muzzle smoke, but from the angle of the bullet striking the rock it had to have come from the high ground somewhere to my side and rear.

That thought made me go cold. Whoever had pulled the trigger had been looking down at me and I hadn’t even been aware of their presence. But how? I’d been in the country barely twenty-four hours on a last-minute rush arrangement with instructions to sit and wait for a local intelligence source to show up. In that time I’d had minimal contacts and left no footprints. Those I had contacted wouldn’t have been in any position to give me up as illicit gun dealing is frowned upon, even in Lebanon.

The source’s name – it had to be a him because the locals in this part of the world didn’t have much time for women in positions of responsibility and therefore access to what was probably classified information – was top secret, but his DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency) code-name was Tango. Anything else about him was on a strict need-to-know basis and it had clearly been decided I wasn’t on that list, which suited me fine. Using sources is like that; the fewer people who know their real name the less likely it is to blow back in everyone’s face if they get rolled up.

But it didn’t answer the fundamental question of the right-here-and-now. How the hell had someone got onto me so quickly? Had I inadvertently shown up on radar on the way here and tripped an alarm? Always possible but I wasn’t so sure. I’d been extra careful coming here because that’s the way I work. The only people who knew I was here were back in Langley, Virginia, the home of the CIA.

The here in question was on a hillside; a dry spit from the Yammoune nature reserve in the northern half of Lebanon. The briefing I’d had on the area told me it featured a lake and a Greco-Roman temple, but I didn’t think I’d be doing any sightseeing on this trip. Violence had been sweeping the country for decades, from terrorist groups, Sunni and Shi’ite extremists and the twin forces of Hamas and Hezbollah, both outlawed

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