/ Language: English / Genre:det_espionage

The Deceiver

Frederick Forsyth


PRAISE FOR

THE DECEIVER

“Nothing that Frederick Forsyth has written in the 20 years since his debut, The Day of the Jackal, is as solidly entertaining as The Deceiver. That’s how good it is.”

—Daily News, New York

“Forsyth’s stalwart tribute to the spies who came in from the cold: four ingenious thriller-novellas featuring the intrigues of British superagent Sam McCready ... sophisticated, shrewd, roundly sat­isfying spy-stuff.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“A master of Cold War suspense, Forsyth here points out a few directions toward which glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall might deflect the genre. ... Flawless espionage fiction.”

—Publishers Weekly

The Deceiver

by Frederick Forsyth

The Cold War lasted forty years. For the record, the West won it. But not without cost. This book is for those who spent so much of their lives in the shadowed places. Those were the days, my friends.

In the summer of 1983 the then Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service sanctioned the formation, against a cer­tain internal opposition, of a new desk.

The opposition came mainly from the established desks, almost all of which had territorial fiefdoms spread across the world, for the new desk was designed to have a wide-ranging jurisdiction that would span traditional frontiers.

The impetus behind the formation came from two sources. One was an ebullient mood in Westminster and Whitehall, and notably within the ruling Conservative government, following Britain’s success in the Falklands war of the previous year. Despite the military success, the episode had left behind one of those messy and occasionally vituperative arguments over the issue: Why were we so taken by surprise when General Galtieri’s Argentine forces landed at Port Stanley?

Between departments, the argument festered for over a year, reduced inevitably to charges and countercharges on the level of we-were-not-warned-yes-you-were. The Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, had felt obliged to resign. Several years later, the United States would be seized by a similar row following the destruction of the Pan American flight over Lockerbie, with one agency claiming it had issued a warning and another claiming it had never received it.

The second impetus was the recent arrival at the seat of power, the General Secretaryship of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, of Yuri V. Andropov, who had for fifteen years been Chairman of the KGB. Favoring his old agency, Andropov’s reign instituted an upsurge of increasingly aggres­sive espionage and “active measures” by the KGB against the West. It was known that Andropov highly favored, among active measures, the use of disinformation—the spreading of despondency and demoralization by the use of lies, agents of influence, and character assassination, and by the sowing of discord among the Allies with planted untruths.

Mrs. Thatcher, then earning her Soviet-awarded title of the Iron Lady, took the view that two can play at that game and indicated she would not blanch at the notion of Britain’s own intelligence agency offering the Soviets a little return match.

The new desk was given a ponderous title: Deception, Disinformation, and Psychological Operations. Of course, the title was at once reduced to Dee-Dee and Psy Ops, and thence simply to Dee-Dee.

A new desk head was appointed in November. Just as the man in charge of Equipment was known as the Quartermaster and the man in charge of the Legal Branch as the Lawyer, the new head of Dee-Dee was tagged by some wit in the canteen the Deceiver.

With hindsight—that precious gift so much more prevalent than its counterpart, foresight—the Chief, Sir Arthur, might have been criticized (and later was) for his choice: not a Head Office careerist accustomed to the prudence required of a true civil servant, but a former field agent, plucked from the East German desk.

The man was Sam McCready, and he ran the desk for seven years. But all good things come to an end. In the late spring of 1991 a conversation took place in the heart of Whitehall. ...

The young aide rose from behind his desk in the outer office with a practiced smile. “Good morning, Sir Mark. The Per­manent Under-Secretary asked that you be shown straight in.”

He opened the door to the private office of the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—the FCO—and ushered the visitor through it, closing the door behind him. The Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Robert Inglis, rose with a welcoming smile.

“Mark, my dear chap, how good of you to come.”

You do not become, however recently, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, or SIS, without developing a certain wariness when confronted by such warmth from a relative stranger who is clearly about to treat you as if you were blood brothers. Sir Mark steeled himself for a difficult meeting.

When he was seated, the country’s senior Foreign Office civil servant opened the scarred red dispatch box lying on his desk and withdrew a buff file distinguished by the red diagonal cross running from corner to corner.

“You have done the rounds of your stations and will doubt­less let me have your impressions?” he asked.

“Certainly, Robert—in due course.”

Sir Robert Inglis followed the top-secret file with a red, paper-covered book secured at its spine by black plastic spiral binding.

“I have,” he began, “read your proposals, ‘SIS in the Nineties,’ in conjunction with the Intelligence Co-Ordinator’s latest shopping list. You seem to have met his requirements most thoroughly.”

“Thank you, Robert,” said the Chief. “Then may I count upon the Foreign Office’s support?”

The diplomat’s smile could have won prizes on an American game show.

“My dear Mark, we have no difficulties with the pitch of your proposals. But there are just a few points I would like to take up with you.”

Here it comes, thought the Chief of the SIS.

“May I take it, for example, that these additional stations abroad that you propose have been agreed upon with the Treasury, and the necessary monies squirreled away in some­body’s budget?”

Both men well knew that the budget for the running of the Secret Intelligence Service does not come wholly from the Foreign Office. Indeed, only a small part comes out of the FCO budget. The real cost of the almost-invisible SIS, which unlike the American CIA keeps an extremely low profile, is shared among all the spending ministries in the government. The spread is right across the board, including even the unlikely Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food—per­haps on the grounds that they might one day wish to know how many cod the Icelanders are taking out of the North Atlantic.

Because its budget is spread so widely and hidden so well, the SIS cannot be “leaned upon” by the FCO with a threat of withholding funds if the FCO’s wishes are not met.

Sir Mark nodded. “There’s no problem there. The Co-Ordinator and I have seen the Treasury, explained the position (which we had cleared with the Cabinet Office), and Treasury has allocated the necessary cash, all tucked away in the research and development budgets of the least likely minis­tries.”

“Excellent,” beamed the Permanent Under-Secretary, whether he felt it was or not. “Then let us turn to something that does fall within my purview. I don’t know what your staffing position is, but we are facing some difficulties with regard to staffing the expanded Service that will result from the end of the Cold War and the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe. You know what I mean?”

Sir Mark knew exactly what he meant. The virtual collapse of Communism over the previous two years was changing the diplomatic map of the globe, and rapidly. The Diplomatic Corps was looking to expanded opportunities right across Central Europe and the Balkans, possibly even miniembassies in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia if they secured independence from Moscow. By inference, he was suggesting that with the Cold War now laid out in the morgue, the position for his colleague in Secret Intelligence would be just the reverse: reduction of staff. Sir Mark was having none of it.

“Like you, we have no alternative but to recruit. Leaving recruitment to one side, the training alone is six months before we can bring a new man into Century House and release an experienced man for service abroad.”

The diplomat dropped his smile and leaned forward ear­nestly. “My dear Mark, this is precisely the meat of the discussion I wished to have with you. Allocations of space in our embassies, and to whom.”

Sir Mark groaned inwardly. The bastard was going for the groin. While the FCO cannot “get at” the SIS on budgetary grounds, it has one ace card always ready to play. The great majority of intelligence officers serving abroad do so under the cover of the embassy. That makes the embassy their host. No allocation of a “cover” job—no posting.

“And what is your general view for the future, Robert?” he asked.

“In future, I fear, we will simply not be able to offer positions to some of your more ... colorful staffers. Officers whose cover is clearly blown. Brass-plate operators. In the Cold War it was acceptable; in the new Europe they would stick out like sore thumbs. Cause offense. I’m sure you can see that.”

Both men knew that agents abroad fell into three categories. “Illegal” agents were not within the cover of the embassy and were not the concern of Sir Robert Inglis. Officers serving inside the embassy were either “declared” or “undeclared.”

A declared officer, or brass-plate operator, was one whose real function was widely known. In the past, having such an intelligence officer in an embassy had worked like a dream. Throughout the Communist and Third Worlds, dissidents, malcontents, and anyone else who wished knew just whom to come to and pour out their woes as to a father confessor. It had led to rich harvests of information and some spectacular defectors.

What the senior diplomat was saying was that he wanted no more such officers any longer and would not offer them space. His dedication was to the maintenance of his department’s fine tradition of appeasement of anyone not born British.

“I hear what you are saying, Robert, but I cannot and will not start my term as Chief of the SIS with a purge of senior officers who have served long, loyally, and well.”

“Find other postings for them,” suggested Sir Robert. “Central and South America, Africa ...”

“And I cannot pack them off to Burundi until they come up for retirement.”

“Desk jobs, then. Here at home.”

“You mean what is called ‘unattractive employments,’ ” said the Chief. “Most will not take them.”

“Then they must go for early retirement,” said the diplomat smoothly. He leaned forward again. “Mark, my dear chap, this is not negotiable. I will have the Five Wise Men with me on this, be assured of it, seeing that I am one myself. We will agree to handsome compensation, but ...”

The Five Wise Men are the Permanent Under-Secretaries of the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office, the Home Office, the Ministry of Defense, and the Treasury. Among them, these five wield enormous power in the corridors of govern­ment. Among other things they appoint (or recommend to the Prime Minister, almost the same thing) the Chief of the SIS and the Director General of the Security Service, MI-5.

Sir Mark was deeply unhappy, but he knew the realities of power well enough. He would have to concede. “Very well, but I will need guidance on procedures.”

What he meant was that, for his own position among his own staff, he wanted to be visibly overruled. Sir Robert Inglis was expansive; he could afford to be.

“Guidance will be forthcoming at once,” he said. “I will ask the other Wise Men for a hearing, and we will lay down new rules for a new set of circumstances. What I propose is that you instigate, under the new rules that will be handed down, what the lawyers call ‘a class action’ and thus establish specimen counts.”

“Class action? Specimen counts? What are you talking about?” asked Sir Mark.

“A precedent, my dear Mark. A single precedent that will then operate for the whole group.”

“A scapegoat?”

“An unpleasant word. Early retirement with generous pen­sion rights can hardly be called victimization. You take one officer whose early departure could be envisaged without demur, hold a hearing, and thus set your precedent.”

“One officer? Had you anyone in mind?”

Sir Robert steepled his fingers and gazed at the ceiling.

“Well, there is always Sam McCready.”

Of course. The Deceiver. Ever since his latest display of vigorous if unauthorized initiative in the Caribbean three months earlier, Sir Mark had been aware that the Foreign Office regarded him as a sort of unleashed Genghis Khan. Odd, really. Such a ... crumpled fellow.

* * *

Sir Mark was driven back across the Thames to his headquar­ters, Century House, in a deeply introspective mood. He knew the senior civil servant in the Foreign Office had not merely “proposed” the departure of Sam McCready—he was insisting on it. From the Chief’s point of view, he could not have chosen a more difficult demand.

In 1983, when Sam McCready had been chosen to head up the new desk, Sir Mark had been a Deputy Controller, a contemporary of McCready and only one rank above him. He liked the quirky, irreverent agent whom Sir Arthur had ap­pointed to the new post—but then, so did just about every­body.

Shortly afterward, Sir Mark had been sent to the Far East for three years (he was a fluent Mandarin-speaker) and had returned in 1986 to be promoted to Deputy Chief. Sir Arthur retired, and a new Chief sat in the hot seat. Sir Mark had succeeded him the previous January.

Before leaving for China, Sir Mark had, like others, specu­lated that Sam McCready would not last long. The Deceiver, or so ran the received wisdom, was too rough a diamond to cope easily with the in-house politics of Century House.

For one thing, he had thought at the time, none of the regional desks would take kindly to the new man trying to operate in their jealously guarded territories. There would be turf wars that could only be handled by a consummate diplo­mat, and whatever else his talents, McCready had never been seen as that. For another, the somewhat scruffy Sam would hardly fit into the world of smoothly tailored senior officers, most of whom were products of Britain’s exclusive public schools.

To his surprise Sir Mark, on his return, had found Sam McCready flourishing like the proverbial green bay tree. He seemed to be able to command an enviable and total loyalty from his own staff while not offending even the most die-hard territorial desk heads when asking for a favor.

He could talk the lingo with the other field agents when they came home for furlough or a briefing, and from them he seemed to amass an encyclopedia of information, much of which, no doubt, should never have been divulged on a need-to-know basis.

It was known he could share a beer with the technical cadres, the nuts-and-bolts men and women—a camaraderie not always available to senior officers—and from them occa­sionally obtain a phone tap, mail intercept, or false passport while other desk heads were still filling out forms.

All this—and other irritating foibles like bending the rules and disappearing at will—hardly caused the Establishment to become enamored of him. But what kept him in place was simple—he delivered the goods, he provided the product, he ran an operation that kept the KGB fully stocked with indi­gestion tablets. So he had stayed ... until now.

Sir Mark sighed, climbed out of his Jaguar in the under­ground car park of Century House, and took the lift to his top-floor office. For the moment he need do nothing. Sir Robert Inglis would confer with his colleagues and produce the “new set of rules,” the “guidance” that would enable the troubled Chief to say, truthfully but with a heavy heart, “I have no alternative.”

It was not until early June that the “guidance”—or in reality the edict—came down from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and enabled Sir Mark to summon his two Deputies to his office.

“That’s a bit bloody stiff,” said Basil Gray. “Can’t you fight it?”

“Not this time,” said the Chief. “Inglis has got the bit between his teeth, and as you see, he has the other four Wise Men with him.”

The paper he had given his two Deputies to study was a model of clarity and impeccable logic. It pointed out that by October 3, East Germany—once the toughest and most effec­tive of Eastern European Communist states—would literally have ceased to exist. There would be no embassy in East Berlin, the Wall was already a farce, the formidable secret police, the SSD, or Stasi, were in full retreat, and the Soviet forces were pulling out. An area that had once demanded a large operation by the SIS in London would become a side­show, if any show at all.

Moreover, the paper went on, that nice Mr. Vaclav Havel was taking over in Czechoslovakia, and theirspy service, the StB, would soon be teaching Sunday school. Add to that the collapse of Communist rule in Poland, Hungary, and Romania, its coming disintegration in Bulgaria, and one could grasp the approximate shape of the future.

“Well,” sighed Timothy Edwards, “one has to concede we won’t have the operations we used to have in Eastern Europe, or need the manpower there. They have a point.”

“How kind of you to say so,” smiled the Chief.

Basil Gray he had promoted himself, his first act on being appointed Chief in January. Timothy Edwards he had inher­ited. He knew Edwards was hungry to succeed him in three years’ time; knew also that he had not the slightest intention of recommending him. Not that Edwards was stupid. Far from it; he was brilliant, but ...

“They don’t mention the other hazards,” grumbled Gray. “Not a word about international terrorism, the rise of the drug cartels, the private armies—and not a word about prolif­eration.”

In his own paper, “SIS in the Nineties,” which Sir Robert Inglis had read and apparently approved, Sir Mark had laid stress on the shifting rather than the diminishing of the global threats. At the top of these had been proliferation—the steady acquisition by dictators, some of them wildly unstable, of vast arsenals of weapons; not war-surplus pieces such as in the old days, but high-tech modern equipment, rocketry, chemical and bacteriological warheads, even nuclear access. But the paper before him now had treacherously skimmed over these matters.

“So what happens now?” asked Timothy Edwards.

“What happens,” said the Chief mildly, “is that we envis­age a shift of population—our population. Back from Eastern Europe to the home base.”

He meant that the old Cold War warriors, the veterans who had run their operations, their active measures, their networks of local agents out of the embassies east of the Iron Curtain, would come home—to no jobs. They would be replaced, of course, but by younger men whose true profession would not be known and who would blend into the embassy staffs unperceived, so as not to give offense to the emergent democ­racies beyond the Berlin Wall. Recruitment would go on, of course—the Chief had a Service to run. But that left the problem of the veterans. Where to put them? There was only one answer—out to pasture.

“We will have to set a precedent,” said Sir Mark. “One precedent that will clear the way for the smooth passage into early retirement for the rest.”

“Anyone in mind?” asked Gray.

“Sir Robert Inglis does. Sam McCready.”

Basil Gray stared across with his mouth open. “Chief, you can’t fire Sam.”

“No one’s firing Sam,” said Sir Mark. He echoed Robert Inglis’s words. “Early retirement with generous compensa­tion is hardly victimization.”

He wondered how heavy those thirty pieces of silver had felt when the Romans handed them over.

“It’s sad, of course, because we all like Sam,” said Ed­wards predictably. “But the Chief does have a Service to run.”

“Precisely. Thank you,” said Sir Mark.

As he sat there he realized for the first time exactly why he would not be recommending Timothy Edwards to succeed him one day. He, the Chief, would do what had to be done because it had to be done, and he would hate it. Edwards would do it because it would advance his career.

“We’ll have to offer him three alternative employments,” Gray pointed out. “Perhaps he’ll take one.” Privately, he sincerely hoped so.

“Possibly,” Sir Mark grunted.

“What have you in mind, Chief?” asked Edwards.

Sir Mark opened a folder, its contents the result of a conference with the Director of Personnel.

“Those available are the Commandant of the Training School, the Head of Administration/Accounts, and the Head of Central Registry.”

Edwards smiled thinly. That should do the trick, he thought.

Two weeks later the subject of all these conferences prowled around his office while his deputy, Denis Gaunt, stared gloom­ily at the sheet in front of him.

“It’s not all that bad, Sam,” he said. “They want you to stay on. It’s just the question of the job.”

“Someone wants me out,” said McCready flatly.

London flagged under a heat wave that summer. The office window was open, and both men had removed their jackets. Gaunt was in a smart pale-blue shirt from Turnbull and Asser; McCready had a confection from Viyella that had turned woolly from much washing. Moreover, the buttons had not been inserted into the right buttonholes so that it rode up on one side. By the lunch hour, Gaunt suspected, some secretary would have spotted the error and put it right with much tut-tutting. The women around Century House always seemed to want to do something for Sam McCready.

It baffled Gaunt, the matter of McCready and the ladies. It baffled everyone, for that matter. He, Denis Gaunt, at six feet, topped his boss by two inches. He was blond, good-looking, and as a bachelor no shrinking violet when it came to the ladies.

His desk chief was of medium height, medium build with thinning brown hair, usually awry, and clothes that always looked as if he had slept in them. He knew McCready had been widowed for some years, but he had never remarried, preferring apparently to live alone in his little flat in Kensing­ton.

There must be somebody, Gaunt mused, to clean his flat, wash up, and do the laundry. A charlady, perhaps. But no one ever asked, and no one was ever told.

“Surely you could take one of the jobs,” said Gaunt. “Itwould cut the ground right out from under their feet.”

“Denis,” replied McCready gently, “I am not a school­teacher, I am not an accountant, and I am not a bloody librarian. I’m going to make the bastards give me a hearing.”

“That might swing it,” agreed Gaunt. “The board won’t necessarily want to go along with this.”

The hearing inside Century House began as always on a Monday morning, and it was held in the conference room one floor down from the Chief’s office.

In the chair was the Deputy Chief, Timothy Edwards, immaculate as ever in a dark Blades suit and college tie, the man the Chief had picked to ensure the required verdict. He was flanked by the Controller of Domestic Operations and the Controller for Western Hemisphere. To one side of the room sat the Director of Personnel, next to a young clerk from Records who had a large pile of folders in front of him.

Sam McCready entered last and sat in the chair facing the table. At fifty-one, he was still lean and looked fit. Otherwise, he was the sort of man who could pass unnoticed. That was what had made him in his day so good, so damned good. That, and what he had in his head.

They all knew the rules. Turn down three “unattractive employments,” and they had the right to require you to take premature retirement. But he had the right to a hearing, to argue for a variation.

He brought with him to speak on his behalf Denis Gaunt, ten years his junior, whom he had raised over five years to the number-two slot under himself. Denis, he reckoned, with his brilliant smile and public school tie, would be able to handle them better than he could.

All the men in the room knew each other and were on first-name terms, even the clerk from Records. It is a tradition of Century House, perhaps because it is such a closed world, that everyone may call everyone by first names except the Chief who is called “Sir” or “Chief” to his face and “the Master” or other things behind his back. The door was closed, and Edwards coughed for silence. He would.

“All right. We are here to study Sam’s application for a variation of a Head Office order, not amounting to redress of grievance. Agreed?”

Everyone agreed. It was established Sam McCready had no grievance, inasmuch as the rules had been abided by.

“Denis, I believe you are going to speak for Sam?”

“Yes, Timothy.”

The SIS was founded in its present form by an admiral, Sir Mansfield Gumming, and many of its in-house traditions (though not the familiarity) still have a vaguely nautical flavor. One of these is the right of a man before a hearing to have a fellow officer speak for him, a right that is often invoked.

The Director of Personnel’s statement was brief and to the point. The powers-that-be had decided they wished to transfer Sam McCready from Dee-Dee to fresh duties. He had de­clined to accept any of the three on offer. That was tanta­mount to electing early retirement. McCready was asking, if he could not continue as Head of Dee-Dee, for a return to the field or to a desk that handled field operations. Such a posting was not on offer. QED.

Denis Gaunt rose.

“Look, we all know the rules. And we all know the realities. It’s true Sam has asked not to be assigned to the training school, or the accounts, or the files because he is a field man by training and instinct. And one of the best, if not the best.”

“No dispute,” murmured the Controller for Western Hem­isphere. Edwards shot him a warning look.

“The point is,” suggested Gaunt, “that if it really wanted to, the Service could probably find a place for Sam. Russia, Eastern Europe, North America, France, Germany, Italy. I am suggesting the Service ought to make that effort, because ...”

He approached the man from Records and took a file.

“Because he has four years to go to retire at fifty-five on full pension.”

“Ample compensation has been offered,” Edwards cut in. “Some might say extremely generous.”

“Because,” resumed Gaunt, “of years of service, loyal, often very uncomfortable, and sometimes extremely danger­ous. It’s not a question of the money, it’s a question of whether the Service is prepared to make the effort for one of its own.”

He had, of course, no idea of the conversation that had taken place the previous month between Sir Mark and Sir Robert Inglis at the Foreign Office.

“I would like us to consider a few cases handled by Sam over the previous six years. Starting with this one.”

The man of whom they were speaking stared impassively from his chair at the rear of the room. None present could guess at the anger, even despair, beneath that weathered face.

Timothy Edwards glanced at his watch. He had hoped this affair could be terminated within the day. Now he doubted it could.

“I think we all recall it,” said Gaunt. “The matter concern­ing the late Soviet general, Yevgeni Pankratin. ...”

Chapter 1

May 1983

The Russian colonel stepped out of the shadows slowly and carefully, even though he had seen and recognized the signal. All meetings with his British controller were dangerous and to be avoided if possible. But this one he had asked for himself. He had things to say, to demand, that could not be put in a message in a dead-letter box. A loose sheet of metal on the roof of a shed down the railway line flapped and creaked in a puff of predawn May wind of that year, 1983. He turned, established the source of the noise, and stared again at the patch of darkness near the locomotive turntable.

“Sam?” he called softly.

Sam McCready had also been watching. He had been there for an hour in the darkness of the abandoned railway yard in the outer suburbs of East Berlin. He had seen, or rather heard, the Russian arrive, and still he had waited to ensure that no other feet were moving amidst the dust and the rubble. However many times you did it, the knotted ball in the base of the stomach never went away.

At the appointed hour, satisfied they were alone and unaccompanied, he had flicked the match with his thumbnail, so that it had flared once, briefly, and died away. The Russian had seen it and emerged from behind the old maintenance hut. Both men had reason to prefer the gloom, for one was a traitor and the other a spy.

McCready moved out of the darkness to let the Russian see him, paused to establish that he too was alone, and went forward.

“Yevgeni. It’s been a long time, my friend.”

At five paces they could see each other clearly, establish that there had been no substitution, no trickery. That was always the danger in a face-to-face. The Russian might have been taken and then broken in the interrogation rooms, allow­ing the KGB and the East German SSD to set up a trap for a top British intelligence officer. Or the Russian’s message might have been intercepted, and it might be he was moving into the trap, thence to the long dark night of the interrogators and the final bullet in the nape of the neck. Mother Russia had no mercy for her traitorous elite.

McCready did not embrace or even shake hands. Some assets needed that: the personal touch, the comfort of con­tact. But Yevgeni Pankratin, Colonel of the Red Army, on attachment to the GSFG, was a cold one: aloof, self-con­tained, confident in his arrogance.

He had first been spotted in Moscow in 1980 by a sharp-eyed attaché at the British Embassy. It was a diplomatic function—polite, banal conversation, then the sudden tart remark by the Russian about his own society. The diplomat had given no sign, said nothing. But he had noted and re­ported. A possible. Two months later a first tentative ap­proach had been made. Colonel Pankratin had been noncommital but had not rebuffed it. That ranked as positive. Then he had been posted to Potsdam, to the Group of Soviet Forces Germany, the GSFG, the 330,000-man, twenty-two-division army that kept the East Germans in thrall, the puppet Honecker in power, the West Berliners in fear, and NATO on the alert for a crushing break-out across the Central German Plain.

McCready had taken over; it was his patch. In 1981 he made his own approach, and Pankratin was recruited. No fuss, no outpourings of inner feelings to be listened to and agreed with—just a straight demand for money.

People betray the lands of their fathers for many reasons: resentment, ideology, lack of promotion, hatred of a single superior, shame for their bizarre sexual preferences, fear of being summoned home in disgrace. With Russians, it was usually a deep disillusionment with the corruption, the lies, and the nepotism they saw all around them. But Pankratin was the true mercenary—he just wanted money. One day he would come out, he said, but when he did, he intended to be rich. He had called the dawn meeting in East Berlin to raise the stakes.

Pankratin reached inside his trenchcoat and produced a bulky brown envelope, which he extended toward McCready. Without emotion he described what was inside the envelope as McCready secreted the package inside his duffle coat. Names, places, timings, divisional readiness, operational or­ders, movements, postings, weaponry upgrades. The key, of course, was what Pankratin had to say about the SS-20, the terrible Soviet mobile-launched medium-range missile, with each of its independently guided triple-nuke warheads tar­geted on a British or European city. According to Pankratin, they were moving into the forests of Saxony and Thuringia, closer to the border, able to range in an arc from Oslo through Dublin to Palermo. In the West huge columns of sincere, naive people were on the march behind socialist banners demanding that their own governments strip themselves of their defenses as a gesture of goodwill for peace.

“There is a price, of course,” said the Russian.

“Of course.”

“Two hundred thousand pounds sterling.”

“Agreed.” It had not been agreed, but McCready knew his government would find it somewhere.

“There is more. I understand I am being slated for promo­tion. To Major-General. And a transfer back to Moscow.”

“Congratulations. As what, Yevgeni?”

Pankratin paused to let it sink in. “Deputy Director, Joint Planning Staff, Defense Ministry.”

McCready was impressed. To have a man in the heart of 19 Frunze Street, Moscow, would be incomparable.

“And when I come out, I want an apartment block. In California. Deeds in my name. Santa Barbara, perhaps. I have heard it is beautiful there.”

“It is,” agreed McCready. “You wouldn’t like to settle in Britain? We would look after you.”

“No, I want the sun. Of California. And one million dollars, U.S., in my account there.”

“An apartment can be arranged,” said McCready. “And a million dollars—if the product is right.”

“Not an apartment, Sam. A block of apartments. To live off the rents.”

“Yevgeni, you are asking for between five and eight million American dollars. I don’t think my people have that kind of money, even for your product.”

The Russian’s teeth gleamed beneath his military mous­tache in a brief smile. “When I am in Moscow, the product I will bring you will be beyond your wildest expectations. You will find the money.”

“Let’s wait till you have your promotion first, Yevgeni. Then we will talk about an apartment block in California.”

They parted five minutes later, the Russian to return, in uniform, to his desk at Potsdam, the Englishman to slip back through the Wall to the stadium in West Berlin. He would be searched at Checkpoint Charlie. The package would cross the Wall by another safer but slower route. Only when it joined him in the West would he fly back to London.

October 1983

Bruno Morenz knocked on the door and entered in response to the jovial “Herein.” His superior was alone in the office, in his important revolving leather chair behind his important desk. He was delicately stirring his first cup of real coffee of the day in the bone china cup, deposited by the attentive Fräulein Keppel, the neat spinster who waited upon his every legitimate need.

Like Morenz, the Herr Direktor was of the generation that could recall the end of the war and the years thereafter, when Germans made do with chicory extract and only the American occupiers and occasionally the British could get hold of real coffee. No longer. Dieter Aust appreciated his Colombian coffee in the morning. He did not offer Morenz any.

Both men were nudging fifty, but there the similarity ended. Aust was short, plump, beautifully barbered and tailored, and the director of the entire Cologne Station. Morenz was taller, burly, gray-haired. But he stooped and appeared to shamble as he walked, chunky and untidy in his tweed suit. Moreover, he was a low-to-medium-rank civil servant who would never aspire to the title of Director, nor have his own important office with Fräulein Keppel to bring him Colombian coffee in bone china before he started the day’s work.

The scene of a senior man summoning a low-level staffer to his office for a talk was probably being enacted in many offices all over Germany that morning, but the area of employ­ment of these two men would not have been mirrored in many other places. Nor indeed would the conversation that fol­lowed. For Dieter Aust was the Director of the Cologne outstation of the West German Secret Intelligence Service, the BND.

The BND is actually headquartered in a substantial walled compound just outside the small village of Pullach, some six miles south of Munich, on the River Isar in the south of Bavaria. This might seem an odd choice bearing in mind that the national capital since 1949 has been in Bonn, hundreds of miles away on the Rhine. The reason is historical. It was the Americans who, just after the war, set up a West German spy service to counteract the efforts of the new enemy, the USSR. They chose for the head of the new service the former wartime German spy chief Reinhard Gehlen, and at first it was simply known as the Gehlen Organization. The Ameri­cans wanted Gehlen within their own zone of occupation, which happened to be Bavaria and the south.

The Mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, was then a fairly obscure politician. When the Allies founded the Federal Ger­man Republic in 1949, Adenauer, as its first Chancellor, established its unlikely capital in his hometown of Bonn, fifteen miles along the Rhine from Cologne. Almost every federal institution was encouraged to establish there, but Gehlen held out and the newly named BND remained at Pullach, where it sits to this day. But the BND maintains outstations in each of the Land or provincial capitals of the Federal Republic, and one of the most important of these is the Cologne Station. For although Cologne is not the capital city of North Rhine—Westphalia, which is Düsseldorf, it is the closest to Bonn, and as the capital of the republic, Bonn is the nerve center of government. It is also full of foreigners, and the BND is concerned with foreign intelligence.

Morenz accepted Aust’s invitation to sit, and he wondered what, if anything, he had done wrong. The answer was, nothing.

“My dear Morenz, I won’t beat about the bush.” Aust delicately wiped his lips on a fresh linen handkerchief. “Next week our colleague Dorn retires. You know, of course. His duties will be taken over by his successor. But he is a much younger man, going places—mark my words. There is, how­ever, one duty that requires a man of more mature years. I would like you to take it over.”

Morenz nodded as if he understood. He did not. Aust steepled his plump fingers and gazed out the window, folding his features into an expression of regret at the vagaries of his fellow man. He chose his words carefully.

“Now and again, this country has visitors, foreign dignitar­ies, who, at the end of a day of negotiations or official meetings, feel in need of distraction ... entertainment. Of course, our various ministries are happy to arrange visits to fine restaurants, the concert, the opera, the ballet. You under­stand?”

Morenz nodded again. It was as clear as mud.

“Unfortunately, there are some—usually from Arab coun­tries or Africa, occasionally Europe—who indicate quite strongly that they would prefer to enjoy female company. Paid-for female company.”

“Call girls,” said Morenz.

“In a word, yes. Well, rather than have important foreign visitors accosting hotel porters or taxi drivers, or haunting the red-lit windows of the Hornstrasse or getting into trouble in bars and nightclubs, the government prefers to suggest a certain telephone number. Believe me, my dear Morenz, this is done in every capital of the world. We are no exception.”

“We run call girls?” asked Morenz.

Aust was shocked. “Run? Certainly not. We do not run them. We do not pay them. The client does that. Nor, I must stress, do we use any material we might get concerning the habits of some of our visiting dignitaries. The so-called ‘honey trap.’ Our constitutional rules and regulations are quite clear and not to be infringed. We leave honey traps to the Russians and”—he sniffed—“the French.”

He took three slim folders from his desk and handed them to Morenz.

“There are three girls. Different physical types. I am asking you to take this over because you are a mature married man. Just keep an avuncular, supervisory eye on them. Make sure they have regular medicals, keep themselves presentable. See if they are away, or unwell, or on holiday. In short, if they are available.

“Now, finally. You may on occasion be rung by a Herr Jakobsen. Never mind if the voice on the phone changes—it will always be Herr Jakobsen. According to the visitor’s tastes, which Jakobsen will tell you, choose one of the three, establish the time for a visit, and ensure that she is available. Jakobsen will ring you back for the time and place, which he will then pass on to the visitor. After that, we leave it up to the call girl and her client. Not a burdensome task, really. It should not interfere with your other duties.”

Morenz lumbered to his feet with the files. Great, he thought as he left the office. Thirty years’ loyal work for the Service, five years to retirement, and I get to baby-sitting hookers for foreigners who want a night on the town.

Early the following month, Sam McCready sat in a darkened room deep in the subbasement of Century House in London, headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service, or SIS—usually miscalled by the press MI-6; referred to by insiders as “the Firm.” He was watching a flickering screen upon which the massed might (or a part of it) of the USSR rolled endlessly over Red Square. The Soviet Union likes to hold two vast parades each year in that square: one for May Day, and the other to celebrate the Great October Socialist Revolution. The latter is held on November 7, and today was the eighth. The camera left the vista of rumbling tanks and panned across the row effaces atop Lenin’s mausoleum.

“Slow down,” said McCready. The technician at his side moved a hand over the controls, and the pan-shot slowed. President Reagan’s “evil empire” (he would use the phrase later) looked more like a home for geriatrics. In the chill wind the sagging, aged faces had almost disappeared into the col­lars of their coats, whose upturned edges reached to meet the gray trilbies or fur shapkas above.

The General Secretary himself was not even there. Yuri V. Andropov, Chairman of the KGB from 1963 to 1978, who had taken the power in late 1982 following the too-long delayed death of Leonid Brezhnev, was himself dying by inches out at the Politburo Clinic at Kuntsevo. He had not been seen in public since the previous August, nor ever would he be again.

Chernenko (who would succeed Andropov in a few months) was up there, with Gromyko, Kirilenko, Tikhonov and the hatchet-faced Party theoretician Suslov. The Minister of De­fense, Ustinov, was muffled in his marshal’s greatcoat with enough medals to act as a windbreak from chin to waist. There were a few young enough to be competent—Grishin, the Moscow Party Chief, and Romanov, the boss of Lenin­grad. To one side was the youngest of them all, still an outsider, a chunky man called Gorbachev.

The camera lifted to bring into focus the group of officers behind Marshal Ustinov.

“Hold it,” said McCready. The picture froze. “That one, third from the left. Can you enhance? Bring it closer?”

The technician studied his console and fine-tuned carefully. The group of officers came closer and closer. Some passed out of eyeshot. The one McCready had indicated was moving too far to the right. The technician ran back three or four frames until he was full center, and kept closing. The officer was half hidden by a full general of the Strategic Rocket Forces, but it was the moustache, unusual among Soviet officers, that clinched it. The shoulder boards on the greatcoat said Major-General.

“Bloody hell,” whispered McCready, “he’s done it. He’s there.” He turned to the impassive technician. “Jimmy, how the hell do we get hold of an apartment block in California?”

“Well, the short answer, my dear Sam,” said Timothy Ed­wards two days later, “is that we don’t. We can’t. I know it’s tough, but I’ve run it past the Chief and the money boys, and the answer is he’s too rich for us.”

“But his product is priceless,” protested McCready. “This man’s beyond just gold. He’s a mother lode of pure plati­num.”

“No dispute,” Edwards said smoothly. He was younger than McCready by a decade, a high-flyer with a good degree and private wealth. Barely out of his thirties and already an Assistant Chief. Most men his age were happy to head up a foreign station, delighted to command a desk, yearning to rise to Controller rank. And Edwards was just under the top floor.

“Look,” he said, “the Chief’s been in Washington. He mentioned your man, just in case he got his promotion. Our Cousins have always had his product since you brought him in. They’ve always been delighted with it. Now it seems they’ll be happy to take him over, money and all.”

“He’s tetchy, prickly. He knows me. He might not work for anyone else.”

“Come now, Sam. You’re the first to agree he’s a merce­nary. He’ll go where the money is. And we’ll get the product. Please ensure there’s a smooth handover.”

He paused and flashed his most winning smile.

“By the way, the Chief wants to see you. Tomorrow morn­ing, ten A.M. I don’t think I’m out of order in telling you he has in mind a new assignment. A step up, Sam. Let’s face it—things sometimes work out for the best. Pankratin’s back in Moscow, which makes him harder for you to get at; you’ve covered East Germany for an awful long time. The Cousins are prepared to take over, and you get a well-deserved pro­motion. A desk, perhaps.”

“I’m a field man,” said McCready.

“Why don’t you listen to what the Chief has to say,” suggested Edwards.

Twenty-four hours later, Sam McCready was made Head of Dee-Dee and Psy Ops. The CIA took over the handling, running, and paying of General Yevgeni Pankratin.

It was hot in Cologne that August. Those who could had sent the wives and children away to the lakes, the mountains, the forests, or even their villas in the Mediterranean and would join them later. Bruno Morenz had no holiday home. He soldiered on at his job. His salary was not large and was not likely to increase, for with three years to retirement when he turned fifty-five, a further promotion was extremely unlikely.

He sat at an open-air terrace café and sipped a tall glass of keg beer, his tie undone and jacket draped over the back of his chair. No one gave him a passing glance. He had dispensed with his winter tweeds in favor of a seersucker suit that was, if anything, even more shapeless. He sat hunched over his beer and occasionally ran a hand through his thick gray hair until it was awry. He was a man who had no vanity in the area of personal appearances, or he would have put a comb through his hair, shaved a bit closer, used a decent cologne (after all, he was in the city that had invented it), and bought a well-tailored suit. He would have thrown out the shirt with the slightly frayed cuffs and straightened his shoulders. Then he would have appeared quite an authoritative figure. He had no personal vanity.

But he did have his dreams. Or rather, he had had his dreams, once, long ago. And they had not been fulfilled. At the age of fifty-two, married, the father of two grown-up children, Bruno Morenz stared gloomily at the passersby on the street. Had he known it, he was suffering from what the German call Torschlusspanik. It is a word that exists in no other language but means the panic of closing doors.

Behind the facade of the big amiable man who did his job, took his modest salary at the end of the month, and went home each night to the bosom of his family, Bruno Morenz was a deeply unhappy man.

He was locked into a loveless marriage to his wife Irmtraut, a woman of quite bovine stupidity and potatolike contours who had, as the years ebbed away, even stopped complaining of his lowly salary and lack of promotion. Of his job she knew only that he worked for one of the government agencies concerned with the civil service and couldn’t have cared less which one. If he was unkempt with frayed cuffs and a baggy suit, it was in part because Irmtraut had ceased to care about that, either. She kept their small apartment in a featureless street in the suburb of Porz more or less neat and tidy, and his evening meal would be on the table ten minutes after he arrived home, semicongealed if he was late.

His daughter Ute had turned her back on both parents almost as soon as she left school, espoused various left-wing causes (he had had to undergo a positive vetting at the office because of Ute’s politics), and was living in a squat in Düsseldorf with various guitar-strumming hippies—Bruno could never work out with which. His son Lutz was still at home, slumped forever in front of the television set. A pimply youth who had flunked every exam he had ever taken, he now resented education and the world that set store by it, prefer­ring to adopt a punk hairstyle and clothes as his personal protest against society but stopping well short of actually accepting any job that society might be prepared to offer him.

Bruno had tried; well, he reckoned he had tried. He had done his best, such as it was. Worked hard, paid his taxes, kept his family as best he could, and had little enough fun in life. In three years—just thirty-six-months—they would pen­sion him off. There would be a small party in the office, Aust would make a speech, they would clink glasses of sparkling wine, and he would be gone. To what? He would have his pension and the savings from his “other work” that he had carefully hoarded in a variety of medium-to-small accounts around Germany under a variety of pseudonyms. There would be enough there, more than anyone thought or suspected; enough to buy a retirement home and do what he really wanted. ...

Behind his amiable facade, Bruno Morenz was also a very secretive man. He had never told Aust or anyone else in the Service about his “other work”—in any case, it was strictly forbidden and would have led to instant dismissal. He had never told Irmtraut about any ofhis work, or his secret savings. But that was not his real problem—as he saw it.

His real problem was that he wanted to be free. He wanted to start again, and as if on cue he could see how. For Bruno Morenz, well into middle age, had fallen in love. Head over heels, deeply in love. And the good part was that Renate, the stunning, lovely, youthful Renate, was as much in love with him as he was with her.

There, in that café on that summer afternoon, Bruno finally made up his mind. He would do it; he would tell her. He would tell her he intended to leave Irmtraut well provided for, take early retirement, quit the job, and take her away to a new life with him in the dream home they would have up in his native north by the coast.

Bruno Morenz’s real problem, as he did not see it, was that he was not heading for, but was well into, a truly massive midlife crisis. Because he did not see it and because he was a professional dissimulator, no one else saw it, either.

Renate Heimendorf was twenty-six, at five feet seven inches a tall and handsomely proportioned brunette. At the age of eighteen she had become the mistress and plaything of a wealthy businessman three times her age, a relationship that had lasted five years. When the man dropped dead of a heart attack, probably brought on by a surfeit of food, drink, cigars, and Renate, he had inconsiderately failed to make provision for her in his will, something his vengeful widow was not about to rectify.

The girl had managed to pillage their expensively furnished love-nest of its contents, which, together with the jewelry and trinkets he had given her over the years, fetched at sale a tidy sum.

But not enough to retire on; not enough to permit her to continue the life-style to which she had become accustomed and had no intention of quitting for a secretarial job and a tiny salary. She decided to go into business. Skilled at coaxing a form of arousal from overweight, out-of-condition, middle-aged men, there was really only one business into which she could go.

She bought a long lease on an apartment in quiet and respectable Hahnwald, a leafy and staid suburb of Cologne. The houses there were of good solid brick or stone construc­tion, in some cases converted into apartments, like the one in which she lived and worked. It was a four-story stone building with one apartment on each floor. Hers was on the second. After moving in, she had carried out some structural refur­bishment.

The flat had a sitting room, kitchen, bathroom, two bed­rooms, and an entry hall and passageway. The sitting room was to the left of the entry hall, the kitchen next to it. Beyond them, to the left of the passage that turned to the right from the hall, were one bedroom and the bathroom. The larger bedroom was at the end of the passage, so that the bathroom was between the two sleeping rooms. Just before the door of the larger bedroom, built into the wall on the left, was a two-yard-wide coat-closet that borrowed space off the bathroom.

She slept in the smaller bedroom, using the larger one at the end of the passage as her working room. Apart from building the coat-closet, her refurbishment had included the soundproofing of the master bedroom, with cork blocks lining the inside walls, papered and decorated to hide their presence, double-glazed windows, and thick padding on the inside of the door. Few sounds from inside the room could penetrate outside to disturb or alarm the neighbors, which was just as well. The room, with its unusual decor and accoutrements, was always kept locked.

The closet in the passage contained only normal winter wear and raincoats. Other closets inside the working room provided an extensive array of exotic lingerie, a range of outfits running from schoolgirl, maid, bride, and waitress to nanny, nurse, governess, schoolmistress, air hostess, police­woman, Nazi Bund Mädchen, campguard,. and Scout leader, along with the usual leather and PVC gear, thigh boots, capes, and masks.

A chest of drawers yielded a smaller array of vestments for clients who had brought nothing with them, such as Boy Scout, schoolboy, and Roman slave apparel. Tucked in a corner were the punishment stool and stocks, while a trunk contained the chains, cuffs, straps, and riding crops needed for the bondage and discipline scene.

She was a good whore; successful, anyway. Many of her clients returned regularly. Part actress—all whores have to be part actress—she could enter into her client’s desired fantasy with complete conviction. Yet part of her mind would always remain detached—observing, noting, despising. Nothing of her job touched her—in any case, her personal tastes were quite different.

She had been in the game for three years and in two more intended to retire, clean up just once in a rather major way, and live on her investments in luxury somewhere far away.

That afternoon, there was a ring at her doorbell. She rose late and was still in a negligée and housecoat. She frowned; a client would only come by appointment. A glance through the peephole in her front door revealed, as in a goldfish bowl, the rumpled gray hair of Bruno Morenz, her minder from the Foreign Ministry. She sighed, put a radiant smile of ecstatic welcome on her beautiful face, and opened the door.

“Bruno, daaaaarling ...”

* * *

Two days later Timothy Edwards took Sam McCready out to lunch at Brooks’s Club in St. James, London. Of the several gentlemen’s clubs of which Edwards was a member, Brooks’s was his favorite for lunch. There was always a good chance one could bump into and have a few courteous words with Robert Armstrong, the Cabinet Secretary, deemed to be possibly the most influential man in England and certainly the chairman of the Five Wise Men who would one day select the new Chief of the SIS for the Prime Minister’s approval.

It was over coffee in the library, beneath the portraits of that group of Regency bucks, the Dilettantes, that Edwards broached specifics.

“As I said downstairs, Sam, everyone’s very pleased, very pleased indeed. But there is a new era coming, Sam. An era whose leitmotif may well have to be the phrase ‘by the book.’ A question of some of the old ways, the rule-bending, having to become, how shall I put it ... restrained?”

Restrainedis a very good word,” agreed Sam.

“Excellent. Now, a riffle through the records shows that you still retain, admittedly on an ad hoc basis, certain assets who really have passed their usefulness. Old friends, perhaps. No problem, unless they are in delicate positions ... unless their discovery by their own employers might cause the Firm real problems.”

“Such as?” asked McCready. That was the trouble with records—they were always there, on file. As soon as you paid someone to run an errand, a record of payment was created. Edwards dropped his vague manner.

“Poltergeist. Sam, I don’t know how it was overlooked so long. Poltergeist is a full-time staffer of the BND. There’d be all hell let loose if Pullach ever discovered he moonlighted for you. It’s absolutely against all the rules. We do not, repeat do not, ‘run’ employees of friendly agencies. It’s way out of court. Get rid of him, Sam. Stop the retainer. Forthwith.”

“He’s a mate,” said McCready. “We go back a long way. To the Berlin Wall going up. He did well then, ran dangerous jobs for us when we needed people like that. We were caught by surprise. We hadn’t got anyone, or not enough, who would and could go across like that.”

“It’s not negotiable, Sam.”

“I trust him. He trusts me. He wouldn’t let me down. You can’t buy that sort of thing. It takes years. A small retainer is a tiny price.”

Edwards rose, took his handkerchief from his sleeve and dabbed the port from his lips.

“Get rid of him, Sam. I’m afraid I have to make that an order. Poltergeist goes.”

At the end of that week, Major Ludmilla Vanavskaya sighed, stretched and leaned back in her chair. She was tired. It had been a long haul. She reached for her packet of Soviet-made Marlboros, noticed the full ashtray, and pressed a bell on her desk.

A young corporal entered from the outer office. She did not address him, just pointed to the ashtray with her fingertip. He quickly removed it, left the office, and returned it cleaned a few seconds later. She nodded. He left again and closed the door.

There had been no talk, no banter. Major Vanavskaya had that effect on people. In earlier years some of the young bucks had noticed the shining short-cropped blond hair above the crisp service shirt and slim green skirt and had tried their luck. No dice. At twenty-five she had married a colonel—a career move—and divorced him three years later. His career had stalled, hers taken off. At thirty-five she wore no more uniforms, just the severe tailored charcoal-gray suit over the white blouse with the floppy bow at the neck.

Some still thought she was beddable, until they caught a salvo from those freezing blue eyes. In the KGB, not an organization of liberals, Major Vanavskaya had a reputation as a fanatic. Fanatics intimidate.

The Major’s fanaticism was her work—and traitors. An utterly dedicated Communist, ideologically pure of any doubts, she had devoted herself to her self-arrogated pursuit of traitors. She hated them with a cold passion. She had wangled a transfer from the Second Chief Directorate, where the targets were the occasional seditious poet or complaining worker, to the independent Third Directorate, also called the Armed Forces Directorate. Here the traitors, if traitors there were, would be higher-ranking, more dangerous.

The move to the Third Directorate—arranged by her colonel-husband in the last days of their marriage, when he was still desperately trying to please her—had brought her to this anonymous office block just off the Sadovaya Spasskaya, Moscow’s ring road, and to this desk, and to the file that now lay open in front of her.

Two years of work had gone into that file, although she had had to squeeze that work in between other duties until people higher up began to believe her. Two years of checking and cross-checking, begging for cooperation from other depart­ments, always fighting the obfuscation of those bastards in the army who always sided with one another; two years of corre­lating tiny fragments of information until a picture began to emerge.

Major Ludmilla Vanavskaya’s job and vocation was track­ing down backsliders, subversives, or, occasionally, full­-blown traitors inside the army, navy, or air force. Loss of valuable state equipment through gross negligence was bad enough; lack of vigor in the pursuit of the Afghan war was worse; but the file on her desk told her a different story. She was convinced that somewhere in the army there was a deliberate leak. And he was high, damned high.

There was a list of eight names on the top sheet of the file before her. Five were crossed out. Two had question marks. But her eye always came back to the eighth. She lifted a phone and was put through to the male secretary of General Shaliapin, head of the Third Directorate.

“Yes, Major. A personal interview? No one else? I see. ... The problem is, the Comrade General is in the Far East. ... Not until next Tuesday. Very well then, next Tuesday.”

Major Vanavskaya put down the phone and scowled. Four days. Well, she had already waited two years—she could wait four more days.

“I think I’ve clinched it,” Bruno told Renate with childlike delight the following Sunday morning. “I’ve just got enough for the freehold purchase and some more left over for deco­rating and equipping it. It’s a wonderful little bar.”

They were in bed in her own bedroom—it was a favor she sometimes allowed him because he hated the “working” bedroom as much as he hated her job.

“Tell me again,” she cooed. “I love to hear about it.”

He grinned. He had seen it just once but fallen for it completely. It was what he had always wanted and right where he wanted it—by the open sea, where the brisk winds from the north would keep the air crisp and fresh. Cold in winter, of course, but there was central heating, which would need fixing.

“Okay. It’s called the Lantern Bar, and the sign is an old ship’s lantern. It stands on the open quay right on the Bremerhaven dock front. From the upper windows you can see as far as Mellum Island—we could get a sailboat if things go well and sail there in summer.

“There’s an old-fashioned brass-topped bar—we’ll be be­hind that serving the drinks—and a nice snug apartment upstairs. Not as large as this, but comfy once we’ve fixed it up. I’ve agreed on the price and paid the deposit. Completion is at the end of September. Then I can take you away from all this.”

She could hardly keep herself from laughing out loud. “I can’t wait, my darling. It will be a wonderful life. ... Do you want to try again? Perhaps it will work this time.”

If Renate had been a different person, she would have let the older man down gently, explaining that she had no inten­tion of being taken away from “all this,” least of all to a bleak and windswept quay in Bremerhaven. But it amused her to prolong his delusion so that his eventual misery would be all the greater.

An hour after Bruno and Renate’s conversation in Cologne, a black Jaguar sedan swept off the M3 motorway and sought the quieter lanes of Hampshire, not far from the village of Dummer. It was Timothy Edwards’s personal car, and his Service driver was at the wheel. In the back was Sam McCready, who had been summoned from his habitual Sunday pleasures at his apartment in Abingdon Villas, Kensington, by a telephoned appeal from the Assistant Chief.

“Without the option, I’m afraid, Sam. It’s urgent.”

He had been enjoying a long, deep, hot bath when the call came, with Vivaldi on the stereo and the Sunday newspapers strewn gloriously all over the sitting-room floor. He had had time to throw on a sports shirt, corduroy trousers, and jacket by the time John, who had picked up the Jaguar at the motor pool, was at the door.

The sedan swept into the graveled forecourt of a substantial Georgian country house and came to a halt. John came around the car to open the rear passenger door, but McCready beat him to it. He hated being fussed over.

“I was told to say they will be round the back, sir, on the terrace,” said John.

McCready surveyed the mansion. Timothy Edwards, ten years earlier, had married the daughter of a duke, who had been considerate enough to drop off his perch in early middle age and leave a substantial estate to his two offspring, the new duke and Lady Margaret. She had collected about three million pounds. McCready estimated that about half of that was now invested in a prime piece of Hampshire real estate. He wandered round the side of the house to the colonnaded patio at the back.

There were four easy cane chairs in a group. Three were occupied. Farther on, a white cast-iron table was set for lunch for three, Lady Margaret would doubtless be staying inside, not lunching. Neither would he. The two men in the rattan chairs rose.

“Ah, Sam,” said Edwards. “Glad you could make it.”

That’s a bit rich, thought McCready. No bloody option was what I was given.

Edwards looked at McCready and wondered, not for the first time, why his extremely talented colleague insisted on coming to a Hampshire country house party looking as if he had just been gardening, even if he was not staying long. Edwards himself was in brilliant brogues, razor-creased tan slacks, and a blazer over a silk shirt and neckerchief.

McCready stared back and wondered why Edwards always insisted on keeping his handkerchief up his left sleeve. It was an army habit, started in the cavalry regiments because on dining-in nights cavalry officers wore trousers so tight that a bunched handkerchief in the pocket might give the ladies the impression they had put on a touch too much perfume. But Edwards had never been in the cavalry, nor in any regiment. He had come to the Service directly from Oxford.

“I don’t think you know Chris Appleyard,” said Edwards, as the tall American held out his hand. He had the leathery look of a Texan cowhand. In fact, he was a Bostonian. The leathery look came from the Camels he chain-smoked. His face was not suntanned, just medium rare. That was why they were lunching outside, Sam mused. Edwards would not want the Canalettos covered in nicotine.

“Guess not,” said Appleyard. “Nice to meet you, Sam. Know your reputation.”

McCready knew who he was from the name and from photographs: Deputy Head, European Division, CIA. The woman in the third chair leaned forward and held out a hand.

“Hi, Sam, how’re you doing these days?”

Claudia Stuart, still at forty a great-looking woman. She held his gaze and his hand a mite longer than necessary.

“Fine, thanks, Claudia. Just fine.”

Her eyes said she did not believe him. No woman likes to think a man with whom she once offered to share her bed has ever completely recovered from the experience.

Years earlier, in Berlin, Claudia had had a serious crush on Sam McCready. It had puzzled and frustrated her that she had gotten nowhere. She had not then known about Sam’s wife, May.

Claudia had been with the CIA’s West Berlin Station; he had been visiting. He had never told her what he was doing there. Actually, he was recruiting the then Colonel Pankratin, she learned later. It was she who had taken him over.

Edwards had not missed the body language. He wondered what was behind it and guessed aright. It never ceased to amaze him that women seemed to like Sam. He was so ... rumpled. There was talk that several of the women at Century House would like to straighten his tie, sew on a button, or more. He found it inexplicable.

“Sorry to hear about May,” said Claudia.

“Thank you,” said McCready. May. Sweet, loving, and much-loved May, his wife. Three years since she had died. May, who had waited through all the long nights in the early days, always been there when he came home from across the Curtain, never asking, never complaining. Multiple sclerosis can act fast or slow. With May, it had been fast. In one year she was in a wheelchair and two years later gone. He had lived alone in the Kensington apartment since then. Thank God their son had been at college, just summoned home for the funeral. He had not seen the pain or his father’s despair.

A butler—there would have to be a butler, thought McCready—appeared with an extra flute of champagne on a salver. McCready raised an eyebrow. Edwards whispered in the butler’s ear, and he came back with a tankard of beer. McCready sipped. They watched him. Lager. Designer beer. Foreign label. He sighed. He would have preferred bitter ale, room temperature, redolent of Scottish malt and Kentish hops.

“We have a problem, Sam,” said Appleyard. “Claudia, you tell him.”

“Pankratin,” said Claudia. “Remember him?”

McCready studied his beer and nodded.

“In Moscow we’ve run him mainly through drops. Arm’s length. Very little contact. Fantastic product, and very pricey payments. But hardly any personal meets. Now he has sent a message. An urgent message.”

There was silence. McCready raised his eyes and stared at Claudia.

“He says he’s got hold of an unregistered copy of the Soviet Army War Book. The entire Order of Battle. For the whole of the Western front. We want it, Sam. We want it very badly.”

“So go get it,” said Sam.

“This time he won’t use a dead-letter box. Says it’s too bulky. Won’t fit. Too noticeable. He will only hand it over to someone he knows and trusts. He wants you.”

“In Moscow?”

“No, in East Germany. He begins a tour of inspection soon. Lasts a week. He wants to make the hand-over in the deep south of Thuringia, up near the Bavarian border. His swing will take him south and west through Cottbus, Dresden, Karl-Marx-Stadt, and on to Gera and Erfurt. Then back to Berlin on Wednesday night. He wants to make the pass Tuesday or Wednesday morning. He doesn’t know the area. He wants to use lay-bys—road pull-offs. Other than that, he has it all planned how he’ll get away and do it.”

Sam sipped his beer and glanced up at Edwards. “Have you explained, Timothy?”

“Touched on it,” said Edwards, then turned to his guests. “Look, I have to make it clear that Sam actually can’t go. I’ve mentioned it to the Chief, and he agrees. Sam’s been black-flagged by the SSD.”

Claudia raised an eyebrow.

“It means that if they catch me again over there, there’ll be no cozy exchange at the border.”

“They’ll interrogate him and shoot him,” added Edwards unnecessarily. Appleyard whistled.

“Boy, that’s against the rules. You must have really shaken them up.”

“One does one’s best,” said Sam sadly. “By the way, if I can’t go, there is one man who could. Timothy and I were discussing him last week at the club.”

Edwards nearly choked on his flute of Krug. “Poltergeist? Pankratin says he’ll only make the pass to someone he knows.”

“He knows Poltergeist. Remember I told you how he had helped me in the early days? Back in ’81, when I brought him in, Poltergeist had to baby-sit him till I could get there. Actually, he liked Poltergeist. He’d recognize him again and make the pass. He’s no fool.”

Edwards straightened the silk at his neck.

“Very well, Sam. One last time.”

“It’s dangerous, and the stakes are high. I want a reward for him. Ten thousand pounds.”

“Agreed,” said Appleyard without hesitation. He took a sheet of paper from his pocket. “Here are the details Pankra­tin has provided for the method of the pass. Two alternate venues are needed. A first and a back-up. Can you let us know in twenty-four hours the lay-bys you’ve picked? We’ll get it to him.”

“I can’t force Poltergeist to go,” McCready warned. “He’s a free-lance, not a staffer.”

“Try, Sam, please try,” said Claudia. Sam rose.

“By the way, this ‘Tuesday’—which one is it?”

“A week from the day after tomorrow,” said Appleyard. “ Eight days away.”

“Jesus Christ,” said McCready.

Chapter 2

Sam McCready spent most of the next day, Monday, poring over large-scale maps and photographs. He went back to his old friends still on the East German desk and asked a few favors. They were protective of their territory but complied—he had the authority—and they knew better than to ask the Head of Deception and Disinformation what he was up to.

By midafternoon he had two locations that would suit. One was a sheltered lay-by just off East Germany’s Highway Seven, which runs in an east-west line parallel to Autobahn E40. The smaller road links the industrial city of Jena to the more pastoral town of Weimar and thence to the sprawl of Erfurt. The first lay-by he chose was just west of Jena. The second was on the same road, but halfway between Weimar and Erfurt, not three miles from the Soviet base at Nohra.

If the Russian general was anywhere between Jena and Erfurt on his tour of inspection the following Tuesday and Wednesday, he would only have a short run to either rendez­vous. At five, McCready proposed his choices to Claudia Stuart at the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square. A coded message went to CIA headquarters, Langley, Virginia; they approved and passed the message to Pankratin’s designated controller in Moscow. The information went into a dead-letter box behind a loose brick in Novodevichi Cemetery in the early morning of the next day, and General Pankratin picked it up on his way to the Ministry four hours later.

Before sundown on Monday, McCready sent a coded mes­sage to the head of the SIS station in Bonn, who read it, destroyed it, picked up the telephone, and made a local call.

Bruno Morenz returned home at seven that evening. He was halfway through his supper when his wife remembered something.

“Your dentist called. Dr. Fischer.”

Morenz raised his head and stared at the congealed mess in front of him.

“Uh-uh.”

“Says he should look at that filling again. Tomorrow. Could you come to his office at six.”

She returned to her absorption in the evening game show on television. Bruno hoped she had gotten the message ex­actly right. His dentist was not Dr. Fischer, and there were two bars where McCready might want to meet him. One was called “office,” the other “clinic.” And “six” meant midday, during the lunch hour.

On Tuesday morning, McCready had Denis Gaunt drive him to Heathrow for the breakfast-hour flight to Cologne.

“I’ll be back tomorrow night,” he said. “Mind the shop for me.”

At Cologne, with only a briefcase, he moved swiftly through passport and customs controls, took a taxi, and was dropped off outside the opera house just after eleven. For forty minutes he wandered around the square, down the Kreuzgasse and into the busy pedestrian mall of Schildergasse. He paused at many shop windows, doubled suddenly back, and entered a store by the front and left by the back. At five to twelve, satisfied he had not grown a tail, he turned into the narrow Krebsgasse and headed for the old-style, half-timbered bar with the gold Gothic lettering. The small tinted windows made the interior dim. He sat in a booth in the far corner, ordered a stein of Rhine beer, and waited. The bulky figure of Bruno Morenz slid into the chair opposite him five minutes later.

“It’s been a long time, old friend,” said McCready.

Morenz nodded and sipped his beer.

“What do you want, Sam?”

Sam told him. It took ten minutes. Morenz shook his head.

“Sam, I’m fifty-two. Soon I retire. I have plans. In the old days it was different, exciting. Now, frankly, those guys over there frighten me.”

“They frighten me too, Bruno. But I’d go in spite of it, if I could. I’m black-flagged. You’re clean. It’s a quick one—go over in the morning, back by nightfall. Even if the first pass doesn’t work, you’ll be back the next day, midafternoon. They’re offering ten thousand pounds, cash.”

Morenz stared at him.

“That’s a lot. There must be others who would take it. Why me?”

“He knows you. He likes you. He’ll see it isn’t me, but he won’t back off. I hate to ask you this way, but this is really for me. The last time, I swear it. For old times’ sake.”

Bruno finished his beer and rose.

“I must get back. ... All right, Sam. For you. For old times’ sake. But then, I swear, I’m out. For good.”

“You have my word, Bruno—never again. Trust me. I won’t let you down.”

They agreed on the next rendezvous, for the following Monday at dawn. Bruno returned to his office. McCready waited ten minutes, strolled up to the taxi stand on Tunistrasse, and hailed a cab for Bonn. He spent the rest of the day and Wednesday discussing his needs with Bonn Station. There was a lot to do, and not much time to do it.

Across two time zones, in Moscow, Major Ludmilla Vanavskaya had her interview with General Shaliapin just after lunch. He sat behind his desk, a shaven-headed, brooding Siberian peasant who exuded power and cunning, and read her file carefully. When he had finished, he pushed it back toward her.

“Circumstantial,” he said. He liked to make his subordi­nates defend their assertions. In the old days—and General Shaliapin went right back to the old days—what he had in front of him would have sufficed. The Lubyanka always had room for one more. But times had changed and were still changing.

“So far, Comrade General,” Vanavskaya conceded. “But a lot of circumstances. Those SS-20 rockets in East Germany two years ago—the Yanks knew too quickly.”

“East Germany is crawling with spies and traitors. The Americans have satellites, RORSATS—”

“The movements of the Red Banner fleet out of the north­ern ports. Those bastards in NATO always seem to know.”

Shaliapin smiled at the young woman’s passion. He never disparaged vigilance in his staff—it was what they were there for. “There may be a leak,” he admitted, “or several. Negli­gence, loose talk, an array of small agents. But you think it’s one man ...”

“This man.” She leaned forward and tapped the photo on top of the file.

“Why? Why him?”

“Because he’s always there.”

“Nearby,” he corrected.

“Nearby. In the vicinity, in the same theater. Always available.”

General Shaliapin had survived a long time, and he intended to survive some more. Back in March, he had spotted that things were going to change. Mikhail Gorbachev had been rapidly and unanimously elected General Secretary on the death of yet another geriatric, Chernenko. He was young and vigorous. He could last a long time. He wanted reform. Already, he had started to purge the Party of its more obvious dead wood.

Shaliapin knew the rules. Even a General Secretary could antagonize only one of the three pillars of the Soviet state at a time. If he took on the Party old guard, he would have to keep the KGB and the Army sweet. He leaned over the desk and jabbed a stubby forefinger at the flushed major.

“I cannot order the arrest of a senior staff officer within the Ministry on the basis of this. Not yet. Something hard—I need something hard. Just one tiny thing.”

“Let me put him under surveillance,” urged Vanaskaya.

“Discreet surveillance.”

“All right, Comrade General. Discreet surveillance.”

“Then I agree, Major. I’ll make the staff available.”

* * *

“Just a few days, Heir Direktor. A short break in lieu of a full summer vacation. I would like to take my wife and son away for a few days. The weekend, plus Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.”

It was Wednesday morning, and Dieter Aust was in an expansive mood. Besides, as a good civil servant, he knew his staff were entitled to their summer vacations. He was always surprised that Morenz took so few holidays. Perhaps he could not afford many.

“My dear Morenz, our duties in the Service are onerous. The Service is always generous with its staff holidays. Five days is not a problem. Perhaps if you had given us a bit more forewarning—but yes, all right, I will ask Fräulein Keppel to rearrange the rosters.”

That evening, at home, Bruno Morenz told his wife he would have to leave on business for five days.

“Just the weekend, plus the next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday,” he said. “Herr Direktor Aust wants me to accompany him on a trip.”

“That’s nice,” she said, engrossed in the TV.

Morenz in fact planned to spend a long, self-indulgent, and romantic weekend with Renate, give Monday to Sam McCready and the day-long briefing, and make his run across the East German border on Tuesday. Even if he had to spend the night in East Germany for the second rendezvous, he would be back in the West by Wednesday evening and could drive through the night to be home in time for work on Thursday. Then he would hand in his notice, work it out through the month of September, make his break with his wife, and leave with Renate for Bremerhaven. He doubted if Irmtraut would care—she hardly noticed whether he was there or not.

On Thursday, Major Vanavskaya suffered her first serious setback, let out a very unladylike expletive, and slammed the phone down. She had her surveillance team in place, ready to begin shadowing her military target. But first she had needed to know roughly what his routines and usual daily movements were. To find this out, she had contacted one of the several KGB Third Directorate spies inside the military intelligence organization, the GRU.

Although the KGB and its military counterpart, the GRU, were often at daggers-drawn, there is little doubt which is the dog and which the tail. The KGB was far more powerful, with a supremacy that has been strengthened since the early six­ties, when a GRU colonel called Oleg Penkovsky had blown away so many Soviet secrets as to rank as the most damaging turncoat the USSR had ever had. Since then, the Politburo had permitted the KGB to infiltrate scores of its own people into the GRU. Although they wore military uniform and mingled day and night with the military, they were KGB through and through. The real GRU officers knew who they were and tried to keep them as ostracized as possible, which was not always an easy task.

“I’m sorry, Major,” the young KGB man inside the GRU had told her on the phone. “The movement order is here in front of me. Your man leaves tomorrow for a tour of our principal garrisons in Germany. Yes, I have his schedule here.”

He had dictated it to her before she put the phone down. She remained for a while deep in thought, then put in her own application for permission to visit the Third Directorate staff at the KGB headquarters in East Berlin. It took two days to ratify the paperwork. She would leave for the Potsdam mili­tary airfield on Saturday morning.

Bruno made a point of getting through his chores as fast as he could on Friday and escaping from the office early. As he knew he would be handing in his notice as soon as he returned in the middle of the following week, he even cleared out some of his drawers. His last chore was his small office safe. The paperwork he handled was of such low-level classification that he hardly used the safe. The drawers of his desk could be locked, his office door was always locked at night, and the building was securely guarded. Nevertheless, he sorted out the few papers in his safe. At the bottom, beneath them all, was his service-issue automatic.

The Walther PPK was filthy. He had never used it since the statutory test-firing on the range at Pullach years before. But it was so dusty, he thought he ought to clean it before handing it back next week. His cleaning kit was at home in Porz. At ten to five he put it in the side pocket of his seersucker suit and left.

In the elevator on the way down to the street level, it banged so badly against his hip that he stuck it into his waistband and buttoned his jacket over it. He grinned as he thought this would be the first time he had ever shown it to Renate. Perhaps then she would believe how important his job was. Not that it mattered. She loved him anyway.

He shopped in the center of town before driving out to Hahnwald—some good veal, fresh vegetables, a bottle of real French claret. He would make them a cozy supper at home; he enjoyed being in the kitchen. His final purchase was a large bunch of flowers.

He parked his Opel Kadett round the corner from her street—he always did—and walked the rest of the way. He had not used the car phone to tell her he was coming. He would surprise her. With the flowers. She would like that. There was a lady coming out of the building as he approached the door, so he did not even have to ring the front bell and alert Renate. Better and better—a real surprise. He had his own key to her apartment door.

He let himself in quietly to make the surprise even nicer. The hall was quiet. He opened his mouth to call “Renate, darling, it’s me,” when he heard a peal of her laughter. He smiled. She would be watching the cartoons on television. He peeked into the sitting room. It was empty. The laughter came again, from down the passage toward the bathroom. He real­ized with a start at his own foolishness that she might have a client. He had not called to check. Then he realized that with a client she would be in the “working” bedroom with the door closed, and that the door was soundproofed. He was about to call again when someone else laughed. It was a man. Morenz stepped from the hall into the passageway.

The master bedroom door was open a few inches, the gap partly obscured by the fact that the big closet doors were also open, with overcoats strewn on the floor.

“What an arsehole,” said the man’s voice. “He really thinks you’re going to marry him?”

“Head over heels, besotted. Stupid bastard! Just look at him.” Her voice.

Morenz put down the flowers and the groceries and moved down the passage to the bedroom door. He was puzzled. He eased the closet doors closed to get past them and nudged the bedroom door open with the tip of his shoe.

Renate was sitting on the edge of the king-sized bed with the black sheets, smoking a joint. The air was redolent of cannabis. Lounging on the bed was a man Morenz had never seen before—lean, young, tough, in jeans and a leather motor­cycle jacket. They both saw the movement of the door and jumped off the bed, the man in a single bound that brought him to his feet behind Renate. He had a mean face and dirty blond hair. In her private life Renate liked what is known as “rough trade,” and this one, her regular boyfriend, was as rough as they came.

Morenz’s eyes were still fixed on the video flickering on the TV set beyond the end of the bed. No middle-aged man looks very dignified when making love, even less so when it is not happening for him. Morenz watched his own image on the TV with a growing sense of shame and despair. Renate was with him in the film, occasionally looking over his back to make gestures of disdain at the camera. That was apparently what had caused all the laughter.

In front of him now, Renate was almost naked, but she recovered from her surprise quickly enough. Her face flushed with anger. When she spoke, it was not in the tones he knew, but the screech of a fishwife.

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

“I wanted to surprise you,” he mumbled.

“Yeah, well you’ve fucking surprised me. Now bug off. Go home to your stupid potato sack in Porz.”

Morenz took a deep breath.

“What really hurts,” he said, “is that you could have told me. You didn’t need to let me make such a fool of myself. Because I really did love you.”

Her face was quite contorted. She spat the words.

Let you? You don’t need any help. You are a fool. A fat old fool. In bed and out. Now bug off.”

That was when he hit her. Not a punch—an open-handed slap to the side of the face. Something snapped in him, and he hit her. It caught her off balance. He was a big man, and the blow knocked her to the floor.

What the blond man was thinking of, Morenz later could never decide. Morenz was about to leave when the pimp reached inside his jacket. It seemed he was armed. Morenz pulled his PPK from his waistband. He thought the safety catch was on. It should have been. He wanted to scare the pimp into raising his arms and letting him go. But the pimp went on pulling his pistol out. Morenz squeezed the trigger. Dusty it may have been, but the Walther went off.

On the shooting range Morenz could not have hit a barn door. And he hadn’t been on the range for years. Real marksmen practice almost daily. It was beginner’s luck. The single bullet hit the pimp right in the heart at fifteen feet. The man jerked, an expression of disbelief on his face. But ner­vous reaction or not, his right arm kept coming up, clutching his Beretta. Morenz fired again. Renate chose that moment to rise from the floor. The second slug caught her in the back of the head. The padded door had swung shut during the alter­cation; not a sound had left the room.

Morenz stood for several minutes looking at the two bodies. He felt numb, slightly dizzy. Eventually, he left the room and pulled the door closed behind him. He did not lock it. He was about to step over the winter clothes in the hall when it occurred to him, even in his bemused state, to wonder why they were there at this time of year. He looked into the coat closet and noticed that the rear panel of the closet appeared to be loose. He pulled the loose panel toward him. ...

Bruno Morenz spent another fifteen minutes in the apart­ment, then left. He took with him the videotape of himself, the groceries, the flowers, and a black canvas grip that did not belong to him. He could not later explain why he had done that. Two miles from Hahnwald he dropped the groceries, wine, and flowers into separate garbage cans by the roadside. Then he drove for almost an hour, threw the videotape of himself and his gun into the Rhine from the Severin Bridge, turned out of Cologne, deposited the canvas grip, and finally made his way home to Porz. When he entered the sitting room at half-past nine, his wife made no comment.

“My trip with the Herr Direktor has been postponed,” he said. “I’ll be leaving very early on Monday morning instead.”

“Oh, that’s nice.” she said.

He sometimes thought he could come in from the office of an evening and say, “Today I popped down to Bonn and shot Chancellor Kohl,” and she would still say, “Oh, that’s nice.”

She eventually prepared him a meal. It was uneatable, so he did not eat it.

“I’m going out for a drink,” he said. She took another chocolate, offered one to Lutz, and they both went on watch­ing television.

He got drunk that night. Drinking alone. He noticed that his hands were shaking and that he kept breaking out in sweat. He thought he had a summer cold coming on. Or the flu. He was not a psychiatrist, and there was none available to him. So no one told him he was heading for a complete nervous breakdown.

That Saturday, Major Vanavskaya arrived at Berlin-Schönefeld and was driven in an unmarked car to KGB headquarters, East Berlin. She checked at once on the whereabouts of the man she was stalking. He was in Cottbus, heading for Dres­den, surrounded by army men, moving in a military convoy and out of her reach. On Sunday he would reach Karl-Marx-Stadt, Monday Zwickau, and Tuesday Jena. Her surveillance mandate did not cover East Germany. It could be extended, but that would require paperwork. Always the damned paper­work, she thought angrily.

The following day, Sam McCready arrived back in Germany and spent the morning conferring with the head of Bonn Station. In the evening he took delivery of the BMW car and the paperwork and drove to Cologne. He lodged at the Holiday Inn out at the airport, where he took and prepaid a room for two nights.

Before dawn on Monday, Bruno Morenz rose, long before his family, and left quietly. He arrived at the Holiday Inn about seven on that bright, early September morning and joined McCready in his room. The Englishman ordered breakfast for both from room service, and when the waiter had gone, he spread out a huge motoring map of Germany, West and East.

“We’ll do the route first,” he said. “Tomorrow morning you leave here at four A.M. It’s a long drive, so take it easy, in stages. Take the E35 here past Bonn, Limburg, and Frank­furt. It links to the E41 and E45, past Würzburg and Nuremburg. North of Nuremburg, pull left on the E51 past Bayreuth and up to the border. That’s your crossing point, near Hof. The Saale Bridge border station. It’s no more than a six-hour drive. You want to be there about eleven. I’ll be there ahead of you, watching from cover. Are you feeling all right?”

Morenz was sweating, even with his jacket off.

“It’s hot in here,” he said. McCready turned up the air conditioning.

“After the border, drive straight north to the Hermsdorfer Kreuz. Turn left onto the E40 heading back toward the West. At Mellingen, leave the Autobahn and head into Weimar. Inside the town, find Highway Seven and head west again. Four miles west of the town, on the right of the road, is a lay-by.”

McCready produced a large blown-up photograph of that section of the road, taken from a high-flying aircraft, but at an angle, for the aircraft had been inside Bavarian airspace. Morenz could see the small lay-by—some cottages, even the trees that shaded the patch of gravel designated as his first rendezvous. Carefully and meticulously, McCready ran him through the procedure he should follow and, if the first pass aborted, how and where he should spend the night and where and when to attend the second, backup rendezvous with Pankratin. At midmorning they broke for coffee.

At nine that morning, Frau Popovic arrived for work at the apartment in Hahnwald. She was the cleaning lady, a Yugo­slav immigrant worker who came every day from nine until eleven. She had her own keys to the front door and the apartment door. She knew Fräulein Heimendorf liked to sleep late, so she always let herself in and started with the rooms other than the bedroom so that her employer could rise at half-past ten. Then she would tidy the lady’s bedroom. The locked room at the end of the passage, she never entered. She had been told—and had accepted—that it was a small room used for storing furniture. She had no idea what her employer did for a living.

That morning, she started with the kitchen, then did the hall and the passage. She was vacuum-cleaning the passage right up to the door at the end when she noticed what she thought was a brown silk slip lying on the floor at the base of the locked door. She tried to pick it up, but it was not a silk slip. It was a large brown stain, quite dry and hard, that seemed to have come from under the door. She tut-tutted at the extra work she would have to scrub it off, then went to get a bucket of water and a brush. She was working on her hands and knees when she kicked the door. To her surprise it moved. She tried the handle and found it was not locked.

The stain was still resisting her attempts to scrub it off, and she thought it might happen again, so she opened the door to see what might be leaking. Seconds later, she was running screaming down the stairs to hammer at the door of the ground-floor apartment and arouse the bewildered retired bookseller who lived there. He did not go upstairs, but he did call the 110 emergency number and ask for the police.

The call was logged in the Police Präsidium on the Waidmarkt at 9:51. The first to arrive, according to the unvarying routine of all German police forces, was a Streifenwagen, or patrol car, with two uniformed policemen. Their job was to establish whether an offense had indeed been committed, into which category it fell, and then to alert the appropriate departments. One of the men stayed downstairs with Frau Popovic, who was being comforted by the bookseller’s elderly wife, and the other went up. He touched nothing, just went down the passage and looked through the half-open door, gave a whistle of amazement, and came back down to use the bookseller’s phone. He did not have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out that this one was for Homicide.

According to procedure, he first called the emergency doc­tor—in Germany, always supplied by the fire brigade. Then he called the Police Präsidium and asked for the Leitstelle, the Violent Crime switchboard. He told the operator where he was and what he had found and asked for two more uniformed men. The message went up to the Mordkommission or Murder Squad, always known as “First K” on the tenth and eleventh floors of the ugly, functional, green-concrete building covering all of one side of the Waidmarkt square. The Director of First K assigned a commissar and two assis­tants. Records showed later that they arrived at the Hahnwald apartment at 10:40 A.M., just as the doctor was leaving.

He had taken a closer look than the uniformed officer, felt for signs of life, touched nothing else, and left to make his formal report. The commissar, whose name was Peter Schil­ler, met him on the steps. Schiller knew him.

“What have we got?” he asked. It was not the doctor’s job to do a post-mortem, simply to establish the fact of death.

“Two bodies. One male, one female. One clothed, one naked.”

“Cause of death?” asked Schiller.

“Gunshot wounds, I’d say. The paramedic will tell you.”

“Time?”

“I’m not the pathologist. Oh, one to three days, I would say. Rigor mortis is well established. That’s unofficial, by the way. I’ve done my job. I’m off.”

Schiller went upstairs with one assistant. The other stayed below to try and get statements from Frau Popovic and the bookseller. Neighbors began to gather up and down the street. There were now three official cars outside the apartment house.

Like his uniformed colleague, Schiller gave a low whistle when he saw the contents of the master bedroom. Renate Heimendorf and her pimp were still where they had fallen, the head of the near-naked woman lying close to the door, under whose sill the blood had leaked outside. The pimp was across the room, slumped with his back to the TV set, the expression of surprise still on his face. The TV set was off. The bed with the black silk sheets still bore the indentations of two bodies that had once lain there.

Treading carefully, Schiller flipped open a number of the closets and drawers.

“A hooker,” he said. “Call girl, whatever. Wonder if they knew downstairs. We’ll ask. In fact, we’ll need all the tenants. Start to get a list of names.”

The assistant commissar, Wiechert, was about to go when he said, “I’ve seen the man somewhere before. ... Hoppe. Bernhard Hoppe. Bank robbery, I think. A hard man.”

“Oh, good,” said Schiller ironically, “that’s all we need. A gangland killing.”

There were two telephone extensions in the flat, but Schil­ler, even with gloved hands, used neither. They might have prints. He went down and borrowed the bookseller’s phone. Before that, he posted two uniformed men at the door of the house, another in the hall, and the fourth outside the apart­ment door.

He called his superior, Rainer Hartwig, Director of the Murder Squad, and told him there might be gangland ramifications. Hartwig decided he had better tell his own superior, the president of the Crime Office, the Kriminalamt, known as the KA. If Wiechert was right and the body on the floor was a gangster, then experts from other divisions besides Murder Squad—robbery and racketeering, for example—would have to be consulted.

In the interim Hartwig sent down the Erkennungsdienst, the forensic team, one photographer and four fingerprint men. The apartment would be theirs and theirs alone for hours to come; until, in fact, every last print and scraping, every fiber and particle that could be of interest, had been removed for analysis. Hartwig also detached eight more men from their duties. There was a lot of door-knocking to be done, the search for witnesses who had seen a man or men come or go.

The log would later show that the forensic men arrived at 11:31 A.M. and stayed for almost eight hours.

At that hour Sam McCready put down his second cup of coffee and folded up the map. He had taken Morenz carefully through both rendezvous with Pankratin in the East, shown him the latest photograph of the Soviet general, and explained that the man would be in the baggy fatigues of a Russian army corporal with a forage cap shading his face and driving a GAZ jeep. That was the way the Russian had set it up.

“Unfortunately, he thinks he will be meeting me. We must just hope he recognizes you from Berlin and makes the pass anyway. Now, to the car. It’s down there in the parking lot. We’ll go for a drive after lunch, let you get used to it.

“It’s a BMW sedan, black, with Würzburg registration plates. That’s because you’re a Rhinelander by birth, but now live and work in Würzburg. I’ll give you your full cover story and backup papers later. The car with those number plates actually exists. It is a black BMW sedan.

“But this one is the Firm’s car. It has made several cross­ings of the Saale Bridge border point, so hopefully they’ll be accustomed to it. The drivers have always been different because it’s a Company car. It has always driven to Jena, apparently to visit the Zeiss works there. And it has always been clean. But this time there is a difference. Under the battery shelf there is a flat compartment, just about invisible unless you really look for it. It is big enough to take the book you will receive from Smolensk.”

(On a need-to-know basis, Morenz had never known Pankratin’s real name. He did not even know the man had risen to Major-General or was now based in Moscow. The last time he had seen him, Pankratin was a colonel in East Berlin, code-name Smolensk.)

“Let’s have lunch,” said McCready.

During the meal, from room service, Morenz drank wine greedily and his hands shook.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” asked McCready.

“Sure. This damned summer cold, you know? And a bit nervous. That’s natural.”

McCready nodded. Nerves were normal—with actors be­fore going onstage. With soldiers before combat. With agents before an illegal run into the Sovbloc. Still, he did not like the shape Morenz was in. He had seldom seen a case of nerves like this. But with Pankratin unreachable and twenty-four hours to the first contact, he had no choice.

“Let’s go down to the car,” he said.

Not much happens in Germany today that the press does not hear about, and it was the same in 1985, when Germany was West Germany. The veteran and ace crime reporter of Co­logne was and remains Guenther Braun of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. He was lunching with a police contact who men­tioned that there was a flap going on in Hahnwald. Braun arrived outside the house with his photographer, Walter Schiestel, just before three. He tried to get to Commissar Schiller, but he was upstairs, sent word he was busy, and referred Braun to the Präsidium press office. Fat chance. Braun would get the sanitized police communiqué later. He began to ask around. Then he made some phone calls. By early evening, well in time for the first editions, he had got his story. It was a good one, too. Of course, radio and TV would be ahead of him with the broad outlines, but he knew he had an inside track.

Upstairs, the forensic team had finished with the bodies. The photographer, Schiestel, had snapped the corpses from every conceivable angle, plus the decor of the room, the bed, the huge mirror behind the headboard, and the equipment in the closets and chests. Lines were drawn around the bodies, then the cadavers were bagged and removed to the city morgue, where the forensic pathologist went to work. The detectives needed the time of death and those bullets—urgently.

The entire apartment had yielded nineteen sets or partial sets of fingerprints. Three were eliminated; they belonged to the two deceased and to Frau Popovic, now down at the Präsidium with her prints carefully on file. That left sixteen.

“Probably clients,” muttered Schiller.

“But one set the killer’s?” suggested Wiechert.

“I doubt it. It looks pretty pro to me. He probably wore gloves.”

The major problem, mused Schiller, was not lack of motive but too many. Was the call girl the intended victim? Was the murderer an outraged client, a former husband, a vengeful wife, a business rival, an enraged former pimp? Or was she incidental, and her pimp the real target? He had been con­firmed as Bernhard Hoppe, ex-con, bank robber, gangster, very nasty, and a real low-life. A settling of accounts, a drug deal that went sour, rival protection-racketeers? Schiller sus­pected it was going to be a tough one.

The tenants’ statements and those of the neighbors indi­cated no one knew of Renate Heimendorf’s secret profession. There had been gentlemen callers, but always respectable. No late-night parties, blaring music.

As the forensic team finished with each area of the flat, Schiller could move around more and disturb things. He went to the bathroom. There was something odd about the bath­room, but he could not figure out what it was. Just after seven, the forensic team finished and called to him that they were off. He spent an hour puttering about the gutted flat while Wiechert complained that he wanted his dinner. At ten past eight, Schiller shrugged and called it a day. He would resume the case tomorrow up at headquarters. He sealed the flat, left one uniformed man in the hallway in case someone returned to the scene of the crime—it had happened—and went home. There was still something that bothered him about that flat. He was a very intelligent and perceptive young detective.

McCready spent the afternoon finalizing the briefing of Bruno Morenz.

“You are Hans Grauber, aged fifty-one, married, three children. Like all proud family men you carry pictures of your family. Here they are, on holiday: Heidi, your wife, along with Hans Junior, Lotte, and Ursula, known as Uschi. You work for BKI Optical Glassware in Würzburg—they exist, and the car is theirs. Fortunately, you once did work in optical glassware, so you can use the jargon if you have to.

“You have an appointment with the director of foreign sales at the Zeiss works in Jena. Here is his letter. The paper is real; so is the man. The signature looks like his, but it is ours. The appointment is for three P.M. tomorrow. If all goes well, you can agree to place an order for Zeiss precision lenses and return to the West the same evening. If you need further discussions, you may have to overnight. That’s just if the border guards ask you for such a mass of detail.

“It’s extremely unlikely the border guards would check with Zeiss. The SSD would, but there are enough Western businessmen dealing with Zeiss for one more not to be a cause for suspicion. So here are your passport, letters from your wife, a used ticket from the Würzburg Opera House, credit cards, driving license, a bunch of keys including the ignition key of the BMW. The baggy raincoat—the lot.

“You’ll only need the attaché case and the overnight bag. Study the attaché case and its contents. The security lock opens to the numbers of your fictional birthday, fifth April ’34, or 5434. The papers all concern your desire to purchase Zeiss products for your firm. Your signature is Hans Grauber in your own handwriting. The clothes and washkit are all genuine Würzburg purchases, laundered and used, with Würzburg laundry tags. Now, old friend, let’s have some dinner.”

Dieter Aust, Director of Cologne’s BND out-station, missed the evening TV news. He was out to dinner. He would regret it later.

* * *

At midnight, McCready was collected in a Range Rover by Kit Johnson, a communications man from the SIS Bonn Station. They drove off together to be at the Saale River in northern Bavaria before Morenz.

Bruno Morenz stayed in McCready’s room, ordered whis­key from room service, and drank too much. He slept badly for two hours and rose when the bedside alarm went off at three. At four that Tuesday morning, he left the Holiday Inn, started the BMW, and headed through the darkness toward the Autobahn south.

At the same hour Peter Schiller awakened in Cologne beside his sleeping wife and realized what it was about the Hahnwald apartment that had puzzled him. He telephoned and awoke an outraged Wiechert and told him to meet him at the Hahnwald house at seven. German police officers have to be accompa­nied on an investigation.

Bruno Morenz was slightly ahead of time. Just south of the border, he killed twenty-five minutes at the Frankenwald service area restaurant. He did not drink liquor; he drank coffee. But he filled his hip flask.

At five to eleven that Tuesday morning Sam McCready, with Kit Johnson beside him, was concealed amid pine trees on a hill south of the Saale River. The Range Rover was parked out of sight in the forest. From the treeline they could see the West German border post below and half a mile in front of them. Beyond it was a gap in the hills, and through the gap, the roofs of the East German border post, half a mile farther on.

Because the East Germans had built their controls well inside their own territory, a driver would be inside East Germany as soon as he left the West German post. Then came a two-lane highway between high chain-link fencing. Behind the fencing were the watchtowers. From the trees, using powerful binoculars, McCready could see the border guards behind the windows with their own field glasses, watching the West. He could also see the machine guns. The reason for the half-mile corridor inside East Germany was so that anyone bursting through the eastern border post could be cut to pieces between the chain-link fencing before reaching the West.

At two minutes to eleven, McCready picked out the black BMW moving sedately through the cursory West German controls. Then it purred forward into the corridor, heading for the land controlled by the East’s most professional and dreaded secret police, the Stasi.

Chapter 3

“It’s the bathroom, it has to be the bathroom,” said Commis­sar Schiller just after seven A.M. as he led a sleepy and reluctant Wiechert back into the flat.

“It looks all right to me,” grumbled Wiechert. “Anyway, the forensic boys cleaned it out.”

“They were looking for prints, not measurements,” said Schiller. “Look at this closet in the passage. It’s two yards wide, right?”

“About that.”

“The far end is flush with the door to the call girl’s bed­room. The door is flush with the wall and the mirror above the headboard. Now, as the bathroom door is beyond the built-in wall closet, what do you deduce?”

“That I’m hungry,” said Wiechert.

“Shut up. Look, when you enter the bathroom and turn to your right, there should be two yards to the bathroom wall. The width of the cupboard outside, right? Try it.”

Wiechert entered the bathroom and looked to his right. “One yard,” he said.

“Exactly. That’s what puzzled me. Between the mirror behind the washbasin and the mirror behind the headboard, there’s a yard of space missing.”

Poking around in the hall closet, it took Schiller thirty minutes to find the door catch, a cunningly concealed knot­hole in the pine planking. When the rear of the closet swung open, Schiller could dimly discern a light switch inside. He used a pencil to flick the switch, and the inner light came on, a single bulb hanging from the ceiling.

“I’ll be damned,” said Wiechert, looking over his shoulder. The secret compartment was ten feet long, the same length as the bathroom, but it was only three feet wide. But wide enough. To their right was the rear side of the mirror above the headboard next door, a one-way mirror that exposed the whole bedroom. On a tripod at the center of the mirror, facing into the bedroom, was a video camera, a state-of-the-art high-tech piece of equipment that would certainly provide clear-definition film despite shooting through the glass and into subdued lighting. The sound-recording equipment was also of the best. The entire far end of the narrow passageway was ceiling-to-floor shelving, and each shelf held a row of video-cassette cases. On the spine of each was a label, and each label had a number. Schiller backed out.

The phone was usable, since the forensic men had cleaned it of prints the previous day. He called the Präsidium and got straight through to Rainer Hartwig, Director of First K.

“Oh shit,” said Hartwig when he had the details. “Well done. Stay there. I’ll get two fingerprint men down to you.”

It was eight-fifteen. Dieter Aust was shaving. In the bedroom the morning show was on television. The news roundup. He could hear it from the bathroom. He thought little of the item about a double murder in Hahnwald until the newscaster said, “One of the victims, high-class call girl Renate Heimendorf.

That was when the Director of the Cologne BND cut himself quite badly on his pink cheek. In ten minutes he was in his car and driving fast to his office, where he arrived almost an hour early. This much disconcerted Fräulein Keppel, who was always in an hour ahead of him.

“That number,” said Aust, “the vacation contact number Morenz gave us. Let me have it, would you?”

When he tried it, he got the “disconnected” tone. He checked with the operator down in the Black Forest, a popular vacation area, but she told him it appeared to be out of order. He did not know that one of McCready’s men had rented a vacation chalet, then locked it after taking the phone off the hook. As a long shot Aust tried Morenz’s home number in Porz, and to his amazement he found himself speaking to Frau Morenz. They must have come home early.

“Could I speak to your husband please? This is Director Aust speaking, from the office.”

“But he’s with you, Herr Direktor,” she explained pa­tiently. “Out of town. On a trip. Back late tomorrow night.”

“Ah, yes, I see. Thank you, Frau Morenz.”

He put the phone down, worried. Morenz had lied. What was he up to? A weekend with a girlfriend in the Black Forest? Possible, but he did not like it. He put through a secure-line call to Pullach and spoke to the Deputy Director of the Operations Directorate, the division they both worked for. Dr. Lothar Herrmann was frosty. But he listened intently.

“The murdered call girl, and her pimp. How were they killed?” Herrmann asked.

Aust consulted the Stadt-Anzeiger lying on his desk.

“They were shot.”

“Does Morenz have a personal sidearm?” asked the voice from Pullach.

“I, er—believe so.”

“Where was it issued, by whom, and when?” asked Dr. Herrmann. Then he added, “No matter, it must have been here. Stay there, I will call you back.”

He was back on the phone in ten minutes.

“He has a Walther PPK, Service issue. From here. It was tested on the range and in the lab before we gave it to him. Ten years ago. Where is it now?”

“It should be in his personal safe,” said Aust.

“Is it?” asked Herrmann coldly.

“I will find out and call you back,” said the badly flustered Aust. He had the master key for all the safes in the depart­ment. Five minutes later, he was talking to Herrmann again.

“It’s gone,” he said. “He might have taken it home, of course.”

“That is strictly forbidden. So is lying to a superior officer, whatever the cause. I think I had better come to Cologne. Please meet me off the next plane from Munich. Whichever it is, I will be on it.”

Before leaving Pullach, Dr. Herrmann made three phone calls. As a result, Black Forest policemen would visit the designated vacation home, let themselves in with the land­lord’s key, and establish that the phone was off the hook but the bed had not been slept in. At all. That was what they would report. Dr. Herrmann landed at Cologne at five to twelve.

Bruno Morenz cruised the BMW into the complex of concrete buildings that made up the East German border control and was waved into an inspection bay. A green-uniformed guard appeared at the driver’s side window.

Aussteigen, bitte. Ihre Papiere.”

He climbed out and offered his passport. Other guards began to surround the car, all quite normal.

“Hood open, please, and trunk.”

He opened both; they began the search. A mirror on a trolley went under the car. A man pored over the engine bay. Morenz forced himself not to look as the guard studied the battery.

“The purpose of your journey to the German Democratic Republic?”

He brought his eyes back to the man in front of him. Blue eyes behind rimless glasses stared at him. He explained he was going to Jena, to discuss purchases of optical lenses from Zeiss; that if all went well, he might be able to return that same evening; if not he would have to have a second meeting with the foreign sales director in the morning. Impassive faces. They waved him into the Custom Hall.

It’s all just normal, he told himself. Let them find the papers themselves, McCready had said. Don’t offer too much. They went through his attaché case, studied the letters exchanged between Zeiss and BKI in Würzburg. Morenz prayed the stamps and postmarks were perfect. They were. His bags were closed. He took them back to the car. The inspection of the car was finished. A guard with a huge Alsatian stood nearby. Behind windows, two men in civilian clothes watched. Secret police.

“Enjoy your visit to the German Democratic Republic,” said the senior border guard. He did not look as if he meant it.

At that moment there was a scream and several shouts from the column of cars across the concrete dividing reservation, the column trying to get out. Everyone spun around to look. Morenz was back behind the wheel. He stared in horror.

There was a blue Combi minivan at the head of the column. West German plates. Two guards were dragging a young girl out of the back, where they had discovered her hiding under the floor in a recess built for the purpose. She was screaming. The girlfriend of the West German youth driving the van. He was hauled out in a circle of straining dogs’ muzzles and submachine gun barrels. He threw his hands up, bone white.

“Leave her alone, you assholes,” he shouted. Someone hit him in the stomach. He doubled over.

Los. Go,” snapped the guard beside Morenz. He let the clutch in, and the BMW surged forward. He cleared the barriers and stopped at the People’s Bank to change Deutschmarks into worthless Ostmarks at one-for-one and get his currency declaration stamped. The bank teller was subdued. Morenz’s hands were shaking. Back in his car he looked in the rearview mirror and saw the youth and the girl being hauled into a concrete building, still screaming.

He drove north, sweating profusely, his nerve completely gone, a burnt-out case. The only thing that held him together was his years of training—and his conviction that he would not let his friend McCready down.

Though he knew drinking and driving was utterly forbidden in the GDR, he reached for his hip flask and took a swig. Better. Much better. He drove on steadily. Not too fast, not too slow. He checked his watch. He had time. Midday. Rendezvous at four P.M. Two hours’ drive away. But the fear, the gnawing fear of an agent on a black mission facing ten years in a slave labor camp if caught, was still working on a nervous system already reduced to ruins.

McCready had watched him enter the corridor between the two border posts, then lost sight of him. He had not seen the incident of the girl and the youth. The curve of the hill meant he could see only the roofs on the East German side and the great flag with the hammer, compasses, and wheatsheaf fluttering above them. Just before twelve, far in the distance, he made out the black BMW driving away into Thuringia.

In the back of the Range Rover, Johnson had what looked like a suitcase. Inside was a portable telephone, with a differ­ence. The set could send out or receive messages in clear talk, but scrambled, from the British Government Communi­cation Headquarters, or GCHQ, near Cheltenham in England, or Century House in London, or SIS Bonn Station. The handset looked like an ordinary portable phone, with num­bered buttons for dialing. McCready had asked that it be brought along so he could stay in touch with his own base and inform them when Poltergeist came safely home.

“He’s through,” McCready remarked to Johnson. “Now we just wait.”

“Want to tell Bonn or London?” asked Johnson.

McCready shook his head. “There’s nothing they can do,” he said. “Nothing anyone can do now. It’s up to Poltergeist.”

At the flat in Hahnwald, the two fingerprint men had finished with the secret compartment and were on their way. They had lifted three sets of prints from inside the room.

“Are they among the ones you got yesterday?” asked Schiller.

“I don’t know,” said the senior print-man. “I’ll have to check back at the lab. Let you know. Anyway, you can go in there now.”

Schiller entered and surveyed the racks of cassette boxes at the back. There was nothing to indicate what was in them, just numbers on the spine. He took one at random, went into the master bedroom, and slotted it into the video. With the remote control he switched both TV and video on, then hit the “play” button. He sat on the edge of the stripped bed. Two minutes later, he stood up and switched the set off, a rather shaken young man.

Donnerwetter nochmal!” whispered Wiechert, standing in the doorway munching a pizza.

The senator from Baden-Württemberg may only have been a provincial politician, but he was well known nationally for his frequent appearances on national television, calling for a return to earlier moral values and a ban on pornography. His constituents had seen him photographed in many poses—patting children’s heads, kissing babies, opening church fêtes, addressing the conservative ladies. But they probably had not seen him crawling naked around a room in a spiked dog collar attached to a leash held by a young woman in stiletto heels brandishing a riding crop.

“Stay here,” said Schiller. “Don’t leave, don’t even move. I’m going back to the Präsidium.”

It was two o’clock.

Morenz checked his watch. He was well west of the Hermsdorfer Kreuz, the major crossroad where the north-south Autobahn from Berlin to the Saale River border crosses the east-west highway from Dresden to Erfurt. He was ahead of time. He wanted to be at the lay-by for the rendezvous with Smolensk at ten to four—no earlier or it would look suspi­cious, being parked there for so long in a West German car.

In fact, to stop at all would invite curiosity. West German businessmen tended to go straight to their destination, do their business, and drive back out again. Better to keep driving. He decided to go past Jena and Weimar to the Erfurt pull-off, go right around the roundabout, and come back toward Weimar. That would kill time. A green and white Wartburg People’s Police car came past him in the overtaking lane, adorned with two blue lights and an outsize bullhorn on the roof. The two uniformed highway patrolmen stared at him With expressionless faces.

He held the wheel steady, fighting down the rising panic. “They know,” a small treacherous voice inside him kept saying. “It’s all a trap. Smolensk has been blown. You’re going to be set up. They’ll be waiting for you. They’re just checking because you’ve overshot the turnoff.”

“Don’t be silly,” his cogent mind urged. Then he thought of Renate, and the black despair joined hands with the fear, and the fear was winning.

“Listen, you fool,” said his mind, “you did something stupid. But you didn’t mean to do it. Then you kept your head. The bodies won’t be discovered for weeks. By then, you’ll be out of the Service, out of the country, with your savings, in a land where they’ll leave you alone. In peace. That’s all you want now—peace. To be left alone. And they’ll leave you alone because of the tapes.”

The People’s Police, or VOPO, car slowed and studied him. He began to sweat. The fear was rising and still winning. He could not know that the young policemen were car buffs and had not seen the new BMW sedan before.

Commissar Schiller spent thirty minutes with the Director of First K, the Murder Squad, explaining what he had found. Hartwig bit his lip.

“It’s going to be a bastard,” he said. “Had she started blackmailing already, or was this to be her retirement fund? We don’t know.”

He lifted the phone and was put through to the forensic lab.

“I want the photographs of the recovered bullets and the prints—the nineteen of yesterday and the three of this morn­ing—in my office in one hour.” Then he rose and turned to Schiller.

“Come on. We’re going back. I want to see this place for myself.”

It was actually Director Hartwig who found the notebook. Why anyone should be so secretive as to hide a notebook in a room that was already so well hidden, he could not imagine. But it was taped under the lowest shelf where the videos were stored.

The list was, they would discover, in Renate Heimendorf’s handwriting. Clearly she had been a very clever woman, and this was her operation—from the skillful refurbishment of the original apartment to the harmless-looking remote control that could turn the camera behind the mirror on or off. The forensic boys had seen it in the bedroom but had thought it was a spare for the TV.

Hartwig ran through the names in the notebook, which corresponded with the numbers on the spines of the video-cassettes. Some he recognized, some not. The ones he did not know, he reckoned would be men from out of state, but important men. The ones he recognized included two sena­tors, a parliamentarian (government party), a financier, a banker (local), three industrialists, the heir to a major brew­ery, a judge, a famous surgeon, and a nationally known television personality. Eight names appeared to be Anglo-Saxon (British? American? Canadian?), and two French. He counted the rest.

“Eighty-one names,” he said. “Eighty-one tapes. Christ, if the names I do recognize are anything to go by, there must be enough here to bring down several state governments, maybe Bonn itself.”

“That’s odd,” said Schiller. “There are only sixty-one tapes.”

They both counted them. Sixty-one.

“You say there were three sets of prints lifted here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Assuming two were from Heimendorf and Hoppe, the third is probably the killer. And I have a horrible feeling he’s taken twenty tapes with him. Come on—I’m going to the President with this. It’s got beyond a murder, way beyond.”

Dr. Herrmann was finishing lunch with his subordinate, Aust.

“My dear Aust, we know nothing as yet. We simply have reason for concern. The police may quickly arrest and charge a gangster, and Morenz may return on schedule after a sinful weekend with a girlfriend at someplace other than the Black Forest. I have to say that his immediate retirement with loss of pension is beyond a doubt. But for the moment, I just want you to try and trace him. I want a female operative to move in with his wife in case he calls. Use any excuse you like. I will attempt to find out just what is the state of the police investigation. You know my hotel. Contact me if there is news of him.”

Sam McCready sat on the tailgate of the Range Rover in warm sunshine high above the Saale River and sipped coffee from a flask. Johnson put down his handset. He had been speaking to Cheltenham, the huge national listening station in the west of England.

“Nothing,” he said. “All normal. No extra radio traffic in any sector—Russian, SSD, or People’s Police. Just routine.”

McCready checked his watch. Ten to four. Bruno should be moving toward the lay-by west of Weimar about now. He had told him to be five minutes early and allow no more than twenty-five minutes if Smolensk failed to show up. That would count as an abort. He kept calm in front of Johnson, but he hated the waiting. It was always the worst part, waiting for an agent across the border. The imagination played tricks, creating a whole range of things that could have happened to him but probably had not. For the hundredth time, he calculated the schedule. Five minutes at the lay-by; the Russian hands it over; ten minutes to let the Russian get away. Four-fifteen departure. Five minutes to switch the manual from inside his jacket to the compartment under the battery; one hour and forty-five minutes of driving—he should be coming into view about six ... another cup of coffee.

The Police President of Cologne, Arnim von Starnberg, lis­tened gravely to the young commissar’s report. He was flanked by Hart wig of the Murder Squad and Horst Fraenkel, Director of the whole Kriminalamt. Both senior officers had felt it right to come straight to him. When he heard the details, he agreed they were correct. This thing was not only bigger than a murder; it was bigger than Cologne. He already in­tended to take it higher. The young Schiller finished.

“You will remain completely silent about this, Heir Schil­ler,” said von Starnberg. “You and your colleague, Assistant Commissar Wiechert. Your careers depend on it, you under­stand?” He turned to Hartwig. “The same applies to those two fingerprint men who saw the camera room.”

He dismissed Schiller and turned to the other detectives.

“How far exactly have you got?”

Fraenkel nodded to Hartwig, who produced a number of large high-definition photographs.

“Well, Herr President, we now have the bullets that killed the call girl and her friend. We need to find the gun that fired those bullets.” He tapped two photographs. “Just two bullets, one in each body. Second, the fingerprints. There were three sets in the camera room. Two came from the call girl and her pimp. We believe the third set must belong to the killer. We also believe it was he who stole the twenty missing cassettes.”

None of the three men could know there were actually twenty-one missing cassettes. Morenz had thrown the twenty-first, the one of himself, into the Rhine on Friday evening. He was not listed in the notebook because he had never been a major blackmail prospect—just fun.

“Where are the other sixty-one tapes?” asked von Starn­berg.

“In my personal safe,” said Fraenkel.

“Please have them brought straight up here. No one must view them.”

When he was alone, President von Starnberg began tele­phoning. That afternoon, the responsibility for the affair went up the official hierarchy faster than a monkey up a tree. Cologne passed the affair to the Provincial Kriminalamt in the provincial capital, Düsseldorf. That office passed it at once to the Federal Kriminalamt in Wiesbaden. Guarded limousines with the sixty-one tapes and the notebook sped from city to city. At Wiesbaden, it stopped for a while as senior civil servants worked out how to tell the Justice Minister in Bonn—he was the next up the ladder. By this time all sixty-one sexual athletes had been identified. Half were merely wealthy; the other half were both rich and firmly Establishment figures. Worse, six senators and parliamentarians of the ruling party were involved, plus two from the other parties, two senior civil servants, and an army general. That was only the Ger­mans. There were two foreign diplomats based in Bonn (one from a NATO ally), two foreign politicians who had been visiting, and a White House staffer close to Ronald Reagan.

But even worse was the now-identified list of the twenty whose recorded frolics were missing. They included a senior member of the West German ruling party parliamentary cau­cus, another parliamentarian (federal), a judge (appeals court), another senior armed forces officer (air force, this time), the beer magnate spotted by Hartwig, and a rising junior minister. That was apart from some of the proud cream of commerce and industry.

“Naughty businessmen can be laughed off,” commented a senior defective in the Federal Criminal Office in Wiesbaden. “If they are ruined, it’s their own fault. But this bitch special­ized in the Establishment.”

In the later afternoon, simply for procedural reasons, the country’s internal security service, the BfV, was informed. Not of all the names, just the history of the investigation and its state of progress. Ironically, the BfV is headquartered in Cologne, back where it all started. The interdepartmental memorandum on the case landed on the desk of a senior officer in counterintelligence called Johann Prinz.

* * *

Bruno Morenz rolled slowly west along Highway Seven. He was four miles west of Weimar and one mile from the big white-walled Soviet barracks at Nohra. He came to a curve, and there was the lay-by, just where McCready had said it would be. He checked his watch; eight minutes to four. The road was empty. He slowed and pulled into the lay-by.

According to instructions, he climbed out, released the trunk, and removed the toolkit. This he opened and laid beside the front offside wheel, where it would be visible to a passerby. Then he flicked the catch and raised the hood. His stomach began to churn. There were bushes and trees behind the lay-by and across the road. In his mind’s eye he saw crouching agents from the SSD waiting to make a double arrest. His mouth was dry, but the sweat ran in rivulets down his back. His fragile reserve was close to snapping like an overstretched rubber band.

He took a wrench, the right size for the job, and bent his head inside the engine bay. McCready had showed him how to loosen the nut connecting the water pipe to the radiator. A trickle of water escaped. He changed the wrench for one clearly the wrong size and tried vainly to tighten the nut again.

The minutes ticked by. Inside the engine bay he tinkered vainly away. He glanced at his watch. Six minutes past four. Where the hell are you? he asked. Almost at once there was a slight crunch of gravel under wheels as a vehicle came to a halt. He kept his head down. The Russian would come up to him and say in his accented German, “If you are having trouble, perhaps I have a better set of tools,” and offer him the flat wooden toolbox from the jeep. The Soviet Army War Book would be under the wrenches in a red plastic cover.

The dropping sun was blocked by the shadow of someone approaching. Boots crunched on gravel. The man was beside and behind him. He said nothing. Morenz straightened. An East German police car was parked five yards away. One green-uniformed policeman stood by the open driver’s door. The other was beside Morenz, gazing down into the BMW’s open engine bay.

Morenz wanted to vomit. His stomach pumped out acid. He felt his knees becoming weak. He tried to straighten up and nearly stumbled.

The policeman met his gaze. “Was ist los?” he asked.

Of course it was a ploy, a courtesy to mask the triumph. The inquiry if anything was wrong was to precede the screams and shouts and the arrest. Morenz’s tongue felt as if it were stuck to the roof of his mouth.

“I thought I was losing water,” he said. The policeman put his head into the engine bay and studied the radiator. He removed the wrench from Morenz’s hand, stooped, and came up with another one.

“This one will fit,” he said. Morenz used it and retightened the nut. The trickle stopped.

“Wrong wrench,” said the cop. He gazed at the BMW engine. He seemed to be staring straight at the battery. “Schöner Wagen,” he said. Nice car. “Where are you stay­ing?”

“In Jena,” said Morenz. “I have to see the foreign sales director at Zeiss tomorrow morning. To buy products for my company.”

The policeman nodded approvingly.

“We have many fine products in the GDR,” he said. It was not true. East Germany had one single factory that produced Western-standard equipment, the Zeiss works.

“What are you doing out here?”

“I wished to see Weimar ... the Goethe memorial.”

“You are heading in the wrong direction. Weimar is that way.”

The policeman pointed down the road behind Morenz. A gray-green Soviet GAZ jeep rolled past. The driver, eyes shaded by a forage cap, gazed at Morenz, met his eyes for a second, took in the parked VOPO car, and rolled on. An abort. Smolensk would not approach now.

“Yes. I took a wrong turn out of town. I was looking for a place to turn when I saw the water gauge misbehaving.”

The VOPOs supervised his U-turn and followed him back to Weimar. They peeled off at the entry to the town. Morenz drove on to Jena and checked into the Black Bear Hotel.

At eight, on his hill above the Saale River, Sam McCready put down his binoculars. The gathering dusk made it impossible to see the East German border post and the road behind it. He felt tired, drained. Something had gone wrong up there behind the minefields and the razor-wire. It might be nothing of importance, a blown-out tire, a traffic jam. ... Unlikely. Perhaps his man was even now motoring south toward the border. Perhaps Pankratin had not shown up at the first meet, unable to get a jeep, unable to get away. ... Waiting was always the worst, the waiting and the not knowing what had gone wrong.

“We’ll go back down to the road,” he told Johnson. “Can’t see anything here anyway.”

He installed Johnson in the parking area of the Frankenwald service station, on the southbound side but facing north toward the border. Johnson would sit there all night, watching for the BMW to appear. McCready found a truck driver heading south, explained that his car had broken down, and hitched a lift six miles south. He got off at the Münchberg junction, walked the mile into the small town, and checked into the Braunschweiger Hof. He had his portable phone in a totebag if Johnson wanted to call him. He ordered a cab for six A.M.

Dr. Herrmann had a contact in the BfV. The two men had met and collaborated years earlier, working on the Guenther Guillaume scandal, when the private secretary of Chancellor Willy Brandt had been revealed as an East German agent. That evening at six, Dr. Herrmann had rung the BfV in Cologne and asked to be put through.

“Johann? This is Lothar Herrmann. ... No, I’m not. I’m here in Cologne. ... Oh, routine, you know. I was hoping I could offer you dinner. ... Excellent. Well, look, I’m at the Dom Hotel. Why don’t you join me in the bar? About eight? I look forward to it.”

Johann Prinz put the phone down and wondered what had brought Herrmann to Cologne. Visiting the troops? Possibly. ...

Two hours later, they sat at the corner dining table and ordered. For a while, they fenced gently. How are things? Fine. ... Over the crab cocktail, Herrmann moved a little closer.

“I suppose they’ve told you about the call girl affair?” he asked.

Prinz was surprised. When had the BND learned of it? He had only seen the file at five. Herrmann had telephoned at six, and he was already in Cologne.

“Yes,” he said. “Got the file this afternoon.”

Now Herrmann was surprised. Why would a double murder in Cologne have been passed to counterintelligence? He had expected to have to explain it to Prinz before asking for his favor. “Nasty affair,” he murmured as the steak arrived.

“And getting worse,” agreed Prinz. “Bonn won’t like those sex tapes floating around.”

Herrmann kept his face impassive, but his stomach turned over. Sex tapes? Dear God, what sex tapes? He affected mild surprise and poured more wine.

“Got that far, has it? I must have been out of the office when the latest details arrived. Mind filling me in?”

Prinz did so. Herrmann lost all his appetite. The odor in his nostrils was not so much of the claret as of a scandal of cataclysmic proportions.

“And still no clues,” he murmured sorrowfully.

“Not a lot,” agreed Prinz. “First K have been told to pull every man off every case and put them onto this one. The search, of course, is for the gun and the owner of the finger­prints.”

Lothar Herrmann sighed. “I wonder if the culprit could be a foreigner?” he suggested.

Prinz scooped up the last of his ice cream and put down his spoon. He grinned. “Ah, now I see. Our external intelligence service has an interest?”

Herrmann shrugged dismissively. “My dear friend, we both accomplish much the same task. Protecting our political mas­ters.”

Like all senior civil servants, both of these men had a view of their political masters that wisely was seldom shared with the politicians themselves.

“We do, of course, have some records of our own,” said Herrmann. “Fingerprints of foreigners who have come to our attention. ... Alas, we haven’t got copies of the prints our friends in the KA are seeking.”

“You could ask officially,” Prinz pointed out.

“Yes, but then why start a hare that will probably lead nowhere? Now, unofficially—”

“I don’t like the word unofficial,” said Prinz.

“No more do I, my friend, but ... now and again—for old times’ sake. You have my word, if I turn anything up, it comes straight back to you. A joint effort by the two services. My word on it. If nothing turns up, then no harm done.” Prinz rose. “All right, for old times’ sake. Just this once.” As he left the hotel, he wondered what the hell Herrmann knew, or suspected, that he did not.

In the Braunschweiger Hof in Münchberg, Sam McCready sat at the bar. He drank alone and stared at the dark paneling. He was worried, deeply so. Again and again he wondered if he should have sent Morenz over.

There was something wrong about the man. A summer cold? More like the flu. But that doesn’t make you nervous. His old friend had seemed very nervous. Was his nerve gone? No, not old Bruno. He had done it many times before. And he was “clean”—as far as McCready knew.

McCready tried to justify sending Bruno. He had had no time to find a younger man. And Pankratin would not “show” for a strange face. It was Pankratin’s life on the line, too. If he’d refused to send Morenz, they’d have lost the Soviet War Book. He had had no choice ... but he could not stop worrying.

Seventy miles north, Bruno Morenz was in the bar of the Black Bear Hotel in Jena. He too drank, and alone, and too much.

Across the street he could see the main entrance to the centuries-old Schiller University. Outside was a bust of Karl Marx. A plaque revealed that Marx had taught in the philoso­phy faculty there in 1841. Morenz wished the bearded philos­opher had dropped dead while doing it. Then he would never have gone to London and written Das Kapital, and Morenz would not now be going through his misery so far from home.

At one A.M. Wednesday, a sealed brown envelope arrived at the Dom Hotel for Dr. Herrmann. He was still up. The envelope contained three large photographs: two of various 9mm slugs, one of a set of thumb, finger, and palm prints. He resolved not to wire them down to Pullach but to take them himself that morning. If the tiny scratches along the sides of the bullets, and the prints, matched up with his expectations, he was going to face a very major quandary. Whom to tell, and how much. If only that bastard Morenz would show up. ... At nine A.M. he caught the first flight back to Munich.

At ten Major Vanavskaya in Berlin checked again on the whereabouts of the man she was tracking. He was with the garrison outside Erfurt, she was told. He leaves at six tonight for Potsdam. Tomorrow he flies back to Moscow.

“And I’ll be with you, you bastard,” she thought.

At half past eleven, Morenz rose from the table in the coffee bar where he had been killing time and made for the car. He felt hung over. His tie was undone, and he could not face his razor that morning. Gray stubble covered his cheeks and chin. He did not look like a businessman about to discuss optical lenses in the boardroom at the Zeiss works. He drove care­fully out of town, heading west toward Weimar. The lay-by was three miles away.

It was bigger than the lay-by of yesterday, shaded by leafy beech trees that flanked the road on both sides. Set into the trees across from the lay-by was the Mühltalperle coffee house. No one seemed to be about. It was not seething with guests. He pulled into the lay-by at five to twelve, got out his toolkit, and opened the hood again. At two minutes after twelve, the GAZ jeep rolled onto the gravel and stopped. The man who got out wore baggy cotton fatigues and knee-boots. He had corporal’s insignia and a forage cap pulled over his eyes. He strolled toward the BMW.

“If you are having trouble, perhaps I have a better tool­box,” he said. He swung his wooden toolbox into the engine bay and laid it on the cylinder block. A grubby thumbnail flicked open the catch. There was a clutter of wrenches inside.

“So, Poltergeist, how are you these days?” he murmured.

Morenz’s mouth was dry again. “Fine,” he whispered back. He pulled the wrenches to one side. The red-plastic-covered manual lay underneath. The Russian took a wrench and tightened the loose nut. Morenz removed the book and stuffed it inside his light raincoat, jamming it with his left arm under his armpit. The Russian replaced his wrenches and closed the toolbox.

“I must go,” he muttered. “Give me ten minutes to get clear. And show gratitude. Someone might be watching.”

He straightened up, waved his right arm, and walked back to his jeep. The engine was still running. Morenz stood up and waved after him. “Danke,” he called. The jeep drove away, back toward Erfurt. Morenz felt weak. He wanted to get out of there. He needed a drink. He would pull over later and stash the manual in the compartment beneath the battery. Right now he needed a drink. Keeping the manual pinned beneath his armpit, he dropped the engine cover, tossed his tools into the trunk, closed it, and climbed into the car. The hip flask was in the glove compartment. He got it out and took a deep, satisfying pull. Five minutes later, his confidence restored, he turned the car back to Jena. He had spotted another lay-by, beyond Jena, just before the link road to the Autobahn back to the border. He would pause there to stash the manual.

The crash was not even his fault. South of Jena, in the suburb of Stadtroda, when he was driving between the huge and hideous apartment blocks of the housing estate, a Trabant came bucketing out of a side road. He nearly stopped in time, but his reflexes were poor. The much-stronger BMW crunched the rear of the East German mini.

Morenz began to panic almost at once. Was it a trap? Was the Trabant driver really the SSD? The man climbed out of his car, stared at his crushed rear, and stormed up to the BMW. He had a pinched, mean face and angry eyes.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he yelled. “Damned Westerners, think you can drive like maniacs!”

He had the small round badge of the Socialist Unity Party in his jacket lapel. The Communists. A Party member. Mor­enz jammed his left arm tight to his body to hold the manual in place, climbed out, and reached for a wad of Marks. Ostmarks, of course; he couldn’t offer Deutschmarks—that was another offense. People began to stroll toward the scene.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ll pay for the damage. This must be more than enough. But I really am very late.”

The angry East German looked at the money. It really was a very large wad.

“That’s not the point,” he said. “I had to wait four years for this car.”

“It’ll repair,” said another man standing nearby.

“No, it damn well won’t,” said the aggrieved one. “It’ll have to go back to the factory.”

The crowd now numbered twenty. Life was boring on an industrial housing estate, and a BMW was worth looking at. That was when the police car arrived. Routine patrol, but Morenz began to shake. The policemen got out. One looked at the damage.

“It can be fixed,” he said. “Do you want to prefer charges?”

The Trabant driver was backing off. “Well ...”

The other policeman approached Morenz. “Ausweis, bitte,” he said. Morenz used his right hand to bring out his passport. The hand was trembling. The cop looked at the hand, the bleary eyes, the unshaven chin.

“You’ve been drinking,” he said. He sniffed and confirmed it. “Right. Down to the station. Come on, into the car.”

He began to hustle Morenz toward the police car, whose engine was still running. The driver’s door was open. That was when Bruno Morenz finally disintegrated. He still had the manual under his arm. At the police station it would be found anyway. He swung his one free arm violently back, hit the policeman under his nose, breaking it, and knocked the man down. Then he leaped into the police car, slammed it into gear, and drove off. He was facing the wrong way, north toward Jena.

The other policeman, stunned, managed to fire off four shots from his sidearm. Three missed. The VOPO car, swerv­ing wildly, disappeared around a corner. It was leaking gaso­line from the fourth bullet, which had drilled a hole in the tank.

Chapter 4

The two VOPOs were so stunned by what had happened that they reacted slowly. Nothing in their training or previous experience as People’s Police had accustomed them to this kind of civil disobedience. They had been publicly assaulted and humiliated in front of a crowd of people, and they were beside themselves with rage. A fair amount of shouting took place before they worked out what to do.

The uninjured officer left his broken-nosed colleague on the scene while he headed back to the police station. They had no personal communicators because they were accustomed to using the car radio to report to HQ. Appeals to the crowd for a telephone had met with shrugs. Working-class people did not have telephones in the GDR.

The Party member with the battered Trabant asked if he could leave and was promptly arrested at gunpoint by Broken Nose, who was prepared to believe that anyone could have been part of the conspiracy.

His colleague, marching up the road toward Jena, saw a Wartburg coming toward him, flagged it down (also at gun­point), and ordered the driver to take him straight to the police station in central Jena. A mile farther on, they saw a police patrol car coming toward them. The VOPO in the civilian Wartburg frantically waved his colleagues to a stop and explained what had happened. Using the patrol car’s radio, they checked in, explained the nature of the several crimes that had been committed, and were told to report immediately to police HQ. Meanwhile, backup prowl cars were sent to the crash scene.

The call to Jena Central was logged at 12:35. It was also logged many miles away, high in the Harz Mountains on the other side of the border by a British listening post code-named Archimedes.

At one P.M. Dr. Lothar Herrmann, back at his desk in Pullach, lifted his phone and took the awaited call from the BND ballistics laboratory in a neighboring building. The lab was situated adjacent to the armory and firing range. It had the shrewd practice, when issuing a sidearm to an operative, not simply to note the serial number of the gun and get it signed for, but to fire two rounds into a sealed chamber, then to retrieve and keep the slugs.

In a perfect world, the technician would have preferred the actual bullets from the cadavers in Cologne, but he made do with the photographs. All rifle barrels are different from one another in minute respects, and when firing a bullet, each barrel leaves miniscule scratches, called lands, on the dis­charged slug. They are like fingerprints. The technician had compared the lands on the two sample slugs he still retained from a Walther PPK issued ten years ago with the photo­graphs he had been given and about whose origin he had no idea at all.

“A perfect match? I see. Thank you,” said Dr. Herrmann. He called the fingerprint section—the BND keeps a full set of prints of its own staffers, apart from others who come to its attention—and received the same reply. He exhaled deeply and reached for the phone again. There was nothing for it; this had to go to the Director General himself.

What followed was one of the most difficult interviews of Dr. Herrmann’s career. The DG was obsessive about the efficiency of his agency and its image, both in the corridors of power in Bonn and within the Western intelligence commu­nity. The news Herrmann brought was like a body blow to him. He toyed with the idea of “losing” the sample slugs and Morenz’s fingerprints but quickly dismissed the idea. Morenz would be caught by the police sooner or later, the lab techni­cians would be subpoenaed—it would only make the scandal worse.

The BND in Germany is answerable only to the Chancel­lor’s Office, and the DG knew that sooner or later, and probably sooner, he would have to take news of the scandal there. He did not relish the prospect.

“Find him,” he ordered Herrmann. “Find him quickly, and get those tapes back.” As Herrmann turned to leave, the DG, who spoke English fluently, added another remark.

“Dr. Herrmann, the English have a saying that I recom­mend to you. ‘Thou shall not kill, yet need not strive/offi­ciously to keep alive.’ ”

He had given the rhyming quotation in English. Dr. Herr­mann understood it but was puzzled by the word officiously. Back in his office, he consulted a dictionary and decided the word unnötig—unnecessarily—was probably the best transla­tion. In a lifetime’s career in the BND, it was the broadest hint he had ever been given. He rang the central registry in the Personnel Office.

“Send me the curriculum vitae of one of our staff officers, Bruno Morenz,” he ordered.

At two o’clock Sam McCready was still on the hillside where he and Johnson had been since seven. Though he suspected the first meet outside Weimar had aborted, one never knew; Morenz could have motored over at dawn. But he hadn’t. Again, McCready ran through his timings: rendezvous at twelve, departure twelve-ten, an hour and three-quarters driv­ing—Morenz should be appearing at almost any time. He raised his binoculars again to the distant road across the border.

Johnson was reading a local newspaper he had bought at the Frankenwald service station when his phone trilled dis­creetly. He picked it up, listened, and offered the handset to McCready.

“GCHQ,” he said. “They want to speak to you.”

It was a friend of McCready, speaking from Cheltenham.

“Look, Sam,” said the voice, “I think I know where you are. There’s been a lot of radio traffic suddenly broken out not far from you. Perhaps you should call Archimedes. They have more than we do.”

The line went dead.

“Get me Archimedes,” McCready said to Johnson. “Duty officer, East German Section.” Johnson began to punch in the numbers.

In the mid-1950s the British government, acting through the British Army of the Rhine, had bought a dilapidated old castle high in the Harz Mountains, not far from the pretty and historic little town of Goslar. The Harz are a range of densely wooded uplands through which the East German border ran in twisting curves, sometimes across the flank of a hill, sometimes along a rocky ravine. It was a favorite area for potential East German escapers to try their luck.

Schloss Löwenstein had been refurbished by the British, ostensibly as a retreat for military bands to practice their art. This ruse was maintained by the continuous sounds of band practice issuing from the castle with the aid of tape recorders and amplifiers. But in repairing the roof, engineers from Cheltenham had installed some very sophisticated antennae, upgraded with better technology through the years. Although local German dignitaries were occasionally invited to a real concert of chamber and military music by a band flown in for the occasion, Löwenstein was really an out-station of Chelten­ham, code-named Archimedes. Its job was to listen to the endless babble of East German and Russian radio chit-chat from across the border. Hence the value of the mountains; the height gave perfect reception.

“Yes, we’ve just passed it down the line to Cheltenham,” said the duty officer when McCready had established his credentials. “They said you might call direct.”

He talked for several minutes, and when McCready put the phone down, he was pale.

“The police in Jena District are going apeshit,” he told Johnson. “Apparently there’s been a crash outside Jena. Southern side. A West German car, make unknown, hit a Trabant. The West German slugged one of the VOPOs who attended the crash and drove off—in the VOPO car, of all things. Of course, it might not be our man.”

Johnson looked sympathetic, but he no more believed it than McCready.

“What do we do?” he asked.

McCready sat on the tailgate of the Range Rover, his head in his hands.

“We wait,” he said. “There’s nothing else we can do. Archimedes will call back if more comes through.”

At that hour the black BMW was being driven into the compound of the Jena police headquarters. No one was think­ing of fingerprints—they knew who they wanted to arrest. The VOPO with the damaged nose had been patched up and was making a long statement, his colleague likewise. The Trabant driver was being detained and questioned, as were a dozen onlookers. On the desk of the precinct commandant lay the passport in the name of Hans Grauber, picked up from the street where the broken-nosed VOPO had dropped it. Other detectives were going through every item in the attaché case and overnight bag. The foreign sales director of Zeiss was brought in, protesting that he had never heard of Hans Grauber, but yes, he had done business in the past with BKI of Würzburg. When confronted with his forged signature on the introduction letters, he claimed it looked like his signature but could not be. His nightmare was just beginning.

Because the passport was West German, the People’s Police Commandant made a routine call to the local SSD office. Ten minutes later they were back. We want that car taken on a low-loader to our main garage in Erfurt, they said. Stop putting fingerprints all over it. Also, deliver all items retrieved from the car to us. And copies of all statements from wit­nesses. Now.

The VOPO colonel knew who was really in charge. When the Stasi gave an order, you obeyed. The black BMW arrived at the SSD main garage in Erfurt on its trailer at four-thirty and the secret police mechanics went to work. The VOPO colonel had to admit the SSD was right. Nothing made sense. The West German would probably have faced a hefty fine for drunk-driving—East Germany always needed the hard cur­rency. Now he faced years in prison. Why had he run? Anyway, whatever the Stasi wanted with the car, his job was to find the man. He ordered every police car and foot patrol for miles around to keep an eye open for Grauber and the stolen police car. The description of both was passed by radio to all units—up to Apolda north of Jena and west to Weimar. No press appeals were made for assistance from the general public. Public help for the police in a police state is a rare luxury. But all the frantic radio traffic was heard by Archi­medes.

At four P.M., Dr. Herrmann called Dieter Aust in Cologne. He did not tell him the result of the lab tests, or even what he had received the previous night from Johann Prinz. Aust had no need to know.

“I want you to interview Frau Morenz personally,” he said. “You have a woman operative with her? Good, keep her there. If the police come to interview Frau Morenz, do not impede, but let me know. Try and get from her any clue as to where he might go, any vacation home, any girlfriend’s apart­ment, any relative’s house—anything at all. Use your entire staff to follow up any lead she gives you. Report back any­thing to me.”

“He hasn’t got any relatives in Germany,” said Aust, who had already been through Morenz’s past life as revealed in the personnel files, “other than his wife, son, and daughter. I believe his daughter is a hippie, lives in a squat in Düsseldorf. I’ll have it visited, just in case.”

“Do that,” said Herrmann, and he put down the phone. Based on something he had seen in Morenz’s file, he then sent a blitz-category-coded signal to Wolfgang Fietzau, the BND agent on the staff of the German Embassy, Belgrave Square, London.

At five o’clock, the phone set on the tailgate of the Range Rover trilled. McCready picked it up. He thought it would be London or Archimedes. The voice was thin, tinny, as if the speaker were choking.

“Sam? Is that you Sam?”

McCready stiffened. “Yes,” he snapped, “it’s me.”

“I’m sorry, Sam. I’m so sorry. I messed it up.”

“Are you okay?” said McCready urgently. Morenz was wasting vital seconds.

“ ’Kay. Yeah, k as in kaput. I’m finished, Sam. I didn’t mean to kill her. I loved her, Sam. I loved her.”

McCready slammed down the phone, severing the connec­tion. No one could make a phone call to the West from an East German phone booth. All contact was forbidden by the East Germans. But the SIS maintained a safe house in the Leipzig area, occupied by an East German agent-in-place who worked for London. A call to that number, dialed from inside East Germany, would run through pass-on equipment that would throw the call up to a satellite and back into the West.

But calls had to be four seconds long, no more, to prevent the East Germans triangulating onto the source of the call and locating the safe house. Morenz had babbled on for nine seconds. Although McCready could not know it, the SSD listening watch had already got as far as the Leipzig area when the connection was severed. Another six seconds, and they would have had the safe house and its occupant. Morenz had been told to use the number only in dire emergency and very briefly.

“He’s cracked up,” said Johnson. “Gone to pieces.”

“For Christ’s sake, he was crying like a child,” snapped McCready. “He’s had a complete nervous breakdown. Tell me something I don’t know. What the hell did he mean—‘I didn’t mean to kill her.’ ”

Johnson was pensive. “He comes from Cologne?”

“You know that.”

Actually, Johnson did not know that. He only knew he had picked up McCready from the Cologne airport Holiday Inn. He had never seen Poltergeist. No need to. He took the local newspaper and pointed out the second lead story on the front page. It was Guenther Braun’s story from his Cologne news­paper, picked up and reprinted by the Nordbayerischer Kurier, the north Bavarian paper printed in Bayreuth. The story was datelined Cologne and the headline read, CALL GIRL/PIMP SLAUGHTERED IN LOVE-NEST SHOOT-OUT. McCready read it, put it down, and stared across toward the north.

“Oh, Bruno, my poor friend. What the hell have you done?”

Five minutes later Archimedes phoned.

“We heard that,” said the duty officer. “So, I imagine, did everyone else. I’m sorry. He’s gone, hasn’t he?”

“What’s the latest?” asked Sam.

“They are using the name Hans Grauber,” said Archimedes. “There’s an all-points watch out for him all over southern Thuringia. Drink, assault, and theft of a police car. The car he drove was a black BMW, right? They’ve taken it to the SSD main garage at Erfurt. Seems all the rest of his gear has been impounded and handed over to the Stasi.”

“What time exactly was the crash?” asked Sam.

The duty officer conferred with someone.

“The first call to the Jena police was from a passing patrol car. The speaker was apparently the VOPO who had not been punched. He used the phrase ‘five minutes ago.’ Logged at twelve thirty-five.”

“Thank you,” said McCready.

At eight o’clock in the Erfurt garage, one of the mechanics found the cavity beneath the battery. Around him three other mechanics labored over what remained of the BMW. Its seats and upholstery were all over the floor, its wheels off and its tires inside-out. Only the frame remained, and it was there that the cavity was discovered. The mechanic called over a man in civilian clothes, a major of the SSD. They both examined the cavity, and the major nodded.

Ein Spionwagen,” he said. A spy car. Work continued, though there was little more to do. The major went upstairs and called Lichtenberg, the East Berlin headquarters of the SSD. The major knew where to place the call; it went straight to Abteilung Ü, the Counterespionage Department of the service. There the matter was taken in hand by the Director of the Abteilung himself, Colonel Otto Voss. His first com­mand was for absolutely everything connected with the case to be brought to East Berlin; his second was for everyone who had even glimpsed the BMW or its occupant since it entered the country, starting with the border guards at the Saale River, to be brought in and questioned minutely. That would later include the staff of the Black Bear Hotel, the patrolmen who had studied the BMW as they cruised along­side it on the Autobahn—especially the two who had caused the first rendezvous to abort—and the ones who had had their patrol car stolen.

Voss’s third order was for an absolute end to any mention of the matter on radios or on nonsecure telephone lines. When he had done that, he picked up his internal phone and was connected with Abteilung VI, Crossing Points and Airports.

At ten P.M. Archimedes phoned McCready for the last time.

“I’m afraid it’s over,” said the duty officer. “No, they haven’t got him yet, but they will. They must have discovered something in the Erfurt garage. Heavy radio traffic, coded, between Erfurt and East Berlin. A total shutdown of loose chit-chat on the airwaves. Oh, and all border points are on full alert—guards doubled, searchlights on the border working overtime. The lot. Sorry.”

Even from where he stood on the hillside, McCready could see that over the past hour the headlights of cars coming out of East Germany were very few and far between. They must be holding them for hours under the arc lights a mile away as they searched every car and truck until a mouse could not escape detection.

At ten-thirty, Timothy Edwards came on the line.

“Look, we’re all very sorry, but it’s over,” he said. “Come back to London at once, Sam.”

“They haven’t got him yet. I should stay here. I may be able to help. It’s not over yet.”

“Bar the shouting, it is,” insisted Edwards.

“There are things here we have to discuss—the loss of the package being not the least of them. Our American Cousins are not a happy group, to say the least. Please be on the first plane out of Munich or Frankfurt, whichever is the first of the day.”

It turned out to be Frankfurt. Johnson drove him through the night to the airport, then took the Range Rover and its equipment back to Bonn, a very tired young man. McCready grabbed a few hours’ sleep at the airport’s Sheraton and was on the first flight for Heathrow the next day, landing, with the one-hour time difference, just after eight o’clock. Denis Gaunt met him and drove him straight to Century House. He read the file of radio intercepts in the car.

Major Ludmilla Vanavskaya rose early that Thursday, and for lack of a gymnasium did her sit-ups in her own room at the KGB barracks. Her flight was not till midday, but she in tended to pass by the KGB headquarters for a last check on the itinerary of the man she hunted.

She knew he had returned from Erfurt to Potsdam in convoy the previous evening and spent the night in the officers’ quarters there. They were both due to take the same flight back from Potsdam to Moscow at noon. He would sit up front in the seats reserved, even on military flights, for the vlasti, the privileged ones. She was posing as a humble stenographer from the huge Soviet Embassy on Unter den Linden, the real seat of power in East Germany. They would not meet—he would not even notice her; but as soon as they entered Soviet air space, he would be under surveillance.

At eight she walked into the KGB headquarters building half a mile from the embassy and made her way to the Communications Office. They would be able to call Potsdam and confirm that the flight schedule was unchanged. While waiting for her information, she took coffee and shared a table with a young lieutenant who was plainly very tired and yawned often.

“Up all night?” she asked.

“Yep. Night shift. The krauts have been in a flap the whole time.”

He did not use her title because she was in plain clothes, and the word he used for the East Germans was uncomplimen­tary. The Russians all did that.

“Why?” she asked.

“Oh, they intercepted a West German car and found a secret cavity in it. Reckon it was being used by one of their agents.”

“Here in Berlin?”

“No, down at Jena.”

“Where is Jena, exactly?”

“Look, love, my shift’s over. I’m off to get some sleep.”

She smiled sweetly, opened her purse, and flashed her red-covered ID card. The Lieutenant stopped yawning and went pale. A full major of the Third Directorate was very bad news indeed. He showed her—on the wall map at the end of the canteen. She let him go and stayed looking at the map. Zwickau, Gera, Jena, Weimar, Erfurt—all in a line, a line followed by the convoy of the man she hunted. Yesterday ... Erfurt. And Jena fourteen miles away. Close, too damned close.

Ten minutes later, a Soviet Major was briefing her on the way the East Germans worked.

“By now, it will be with their Abteilung II,” he said. “That’s Colonel Voss, Otto Voss. He’ll be in charge.”

She used his office phone, pulled some rank, and secured an interview at the Lichtenberg headquarters at the SSD with Colonel Voss. Ten o’clock.

At nine, London time, McCready took his seat at the table in the conference room one floor below the Chief’s office at Century House. Claudia Stuart was opposite, looking at him reproachfully. Chris Appleyard, who had flown to London to escort the Soviet War Book personally back to Langley, smoked and stared at the ceiling. His attitude seemed to be: This is a limey affair. You screwed it up, you sort it out. Timothy Edwards took the chair at the head, a sort of arbitra­tor. There was only one unspoken agenda: damage assess­ment. Damage limitation, if any was possible, would come later. No one needed to be briefed as to what had happened; they had all read the file of intercepts and the situation reports.

“All right,” said Edwards. “It appears your man Polter­geist has come apart at the seams and blown the mission away. Let’s see if there’s anything we can salvage from the mess.”

“Why the hell did you send him, Sam?” asked Claudia in exasperation.

“You know why. Because you wanted a job done,” said McCready. “Because you couldn’t do it yourselves. Because it was a rush job. Because I was stopped from going myself. Because Pankratin insisted on me personally. Because Polter­geist would be the only acceptable substitute. Because he agreed to go.”

“But now it appears,” drawled Appleyard, “that he had just killed his hooker girlfriend and was already at the end of his tether. You didn’t spot anything?”

“No. He appeared nervous but under control. Nerves are normal—up to a point. He didn’t tell me about his personal mess, and I’m not clairvoyant.”

“The damned thing is,” said Claudia, “he’s seen Pankratin. When the Stasi get him and go to work, he’ll talk. We’ve lost Pankratin as well, and God knows how much damage his interrogation in the Lubyanka will do.”

“Where is Pankratin now?” asked Edwards.

“According to his schedule, he’s boarding a military flight from Potsdam to Moscow right about now.”

“Can’t you get to him and warn him?”

“No, dammit. When he lands, he’s taking a week’s fur­lough. With army friends in the countryside. We can’t get our emergency warning code to him till he gets back to Moscow— if he ever does.”

“What about the War Book?” asked Edwards.

“I think Poltergeist’s got it on him,” said McCready.

He got their undivided attention. Appleyard stopped smok­ing.

“Why?”

“Timing,” said McCready. “The rendezvous was at twelve. Assume he quit the lay-by at about twelve-twenty. The crash was at twelve-thirty, ten minutes and five miles away, on the other side of Jena. I think if he had had the manual stashed in the compartment beneath the battery, even in his state he’d have taken the drunk-driving rap, spent the night in the cells, and paid his fine. Chances are the VOPOs would never have given the car a rigorous search.

“If the manual was lying in the BMW, I think some hint of the elation of the police would have come through on the intercepts. The SSD would have been called in within ten minutes, not two hours. I think he had it on him—under his jacket, maybe. That’s why he couldn’t go to the police station. For a blood test, they’d have taken his jacket off. So he ran for it.”

There was silence for several minutes.

“It all comes back to Poltergeist,” said Edwards. Even though everyone now knew the agent’s real name, they pre­ferred his operational code-name. “He must be somewhere. Where would he go? Has he friends near there? A safe house? Anything?”

McCready shook his head. “There’s a safe house in East Berlin. He knows it from the old days. I’ve tried it—no contact. In the south, he knows nobody. Never even been there.”

“Could he hide out in the forests?” asked Claudia.

“It’s not that kind of area. Not like the Harz with its dense forests. Open rolling farmland, towns, villages, hamlets, farms.”

“No place for a middle-aged fugitive who’s lost his mar­bles,” commented Appleyard.

“Then we’ve lost him,” said Claudia. “Him, the War Book, and Pankratin. The whole deal.”

“I’m afraid it looks so,” said Edwards. “The People’s Police will use saturation tactics. Roadblocks on every street and lane. Without sanctuary, I fear they’ll have him by midday.”

The meeting ended on that gloomy note. When the Ameri­cans had gone, Edwards detained McCready at the door.

“Sam, I know it’s hopeless, but stay with it, will you? I’ve asked Cheltenham, East German Section, to step up the listening watch and let you know the instant they hear any­thing. When they get Poltergeist—and they must—I want to know at once. We’re going to have to placate our Cousins somehow, though God knows how.”

Back in his office, McCready threw himself into his chair in deep dejection. He took the phone off the cradle and stared at the wall.

If he had been a drinker, he would have reached for the bottle. Had he not given up cigarettes years earlier, he would have reached for a pack. He had failed, and he knew it. Whatever he might tell Claudia of the pressures they had put on him, it had, finally, been his decision to send in Morenz. And it had been a wrong one.

He had lost the War Book and probably blown away Pank­ratin. It would have surprised him to know that he was the only man in the building to hold these losses as secondary to another failure.

For him, the worst was that he had sent a friend to certain capture, interrogation, and death because he had failed to note the warning signs that now—too late—were so blazingly clear. Morenz had been in no state to go. He had gone rather than let down his friend Sam McCready.

The Deceiver knew now—again, too late—that for the rest of his days, in the wee hours when sleep refuses to come, he would see the haggard face of Bruno Morenz in that hotel room. ...

He tried to drive his guilt away and turned his mind to wondering what happens inside a man’s head when he under­goes a complete nervous breakdown. Personally, he had never seen that phenomenon. What was Bruno Morenz like now? How would he react to his situation? Logically? Crazily? He put through a call to the Service’s consultant psychiatrist, an eminent doctor known irreverently as “the Shrink.” He traced Dr. Alan Carr to his office in Wimpole Street. Dr. Carr said he was busy through the morning but would be happy to join McCready for lunch and an ad hoc consultation. McCready made a date for the Montcalm Hotel at one o’clock.

Punctually at ten, Major Ludmilla Vanavskaya entered the main doors of the SSD headquarters building at 22 Normannenstrasse and was shown up to the fourth floor, the floor occupied by the Counterespionage Department. Colonel Voss was waiting for her. He conducted her into his private office and offered her the chair facing his desk. He took his seat and ordered coffee. When the steward left, he asked politely, “What can I do for you, Comrade Major?”

He was curious as to what had brought about this visit on what would for him undoubtedly be an extremely busy day. But the request had come from the commanding general at KGB headquarters, and Colonel Voss was well aware who really ruled the roost in the German Democratic Republic.

“You are handling a case in the Jena area,” said Vanav­skaya. “A West German agent who ran off after a crash and left his car behind. Could you let me have the details so far?”

Voss filled in the details not included in the situation report that the Russian had already seen.

“Let us assume,” said Vanavskaya when he was finished, “that this agent, Grauber, had come to collect or deliver something. ... Was anything found in the car or in the secret cavity that could be what he either brought in or was trying to take out?”

“No, nothing. All his private papers were merely his cover story. The cavity was empty. If he brought something in, he had already delivered. If he sought to take something out, he had not collected.”

“Or it was still on his person.”

“Possibly, yes. We will know when we interrogate him. May I ask the reason for your interest in the case?”

Vanavskaya chose her words carefully.

“There is a possibility, just a chance, that a case upon which I am working overlaps your own.”

Behind his impassive face, Otto Voss was amused. So this handsome Russian ferret suspected the West German might have been in the East to make contact with a Russian source, not an East German traitor. Interesting.

“Have you any reason to know, Colonel, whether Grauber was to make a personal contact or just administer a dead-letter box?”

“We believe he was here to make a personal meet,” said Voss. “Although the crash was at twelve-thirty yesterday, he actually came through the border at eleven on Tuesday. If he simply had to drop off a package or pick one up from a dead-letter box, it would not have taken over twenty-four hours. He could have done it by nightfall on Tuesday. As it was, he spent Tuesday night at the Black Bear in Jena. We believe it was a personal pass that he came for.”

Vanavskaya’s heart sang. A personal meet, somewhere in the Jena-Weimar area, along a road probably, a road traveled by the man she hunted at almost exactly the same time. It was you he came to meet, you bastard! she thought.

“Have you identified Grauber?” she asked. “That is cer­tainly not his real name.”

Concealing his triumph, Voss opened a file and passed her an artist’s impression. It had been drawn with help from two policemen at Jena, two patrolmen who had helped Grauber tighten a nut west of Weimar, and the staff of the Black Bear. It was very good. Without a word Voss then passed her a large photograph. The two were identical.

“His name is Morenz,” said Voss. “Bruno Morenz. A full-time career officer of the BND, based in Cologne.”

Vanavskaya was surprised. So it was a West German oper­ation. She had always suspected that her man was working for the CIA or the British.

“You haven’t got him yet?”

“No, Major. I confess I am surprised at the delay. But we will. The police car was found abandoned, late last night. The reports state its gasoline tank had a bullet hole through it. It would have run for only ten to fifteen minutes after being stolen. It was found here, near Apolda, just north of Jena. So our man is on foot. We have a perfect description—tall, burly, gray-haired, in a rumpled raincoat. He has no papers, a Rhineland accent, physically not in good shape. He will stick out like a sore thumb.”

“I want to be present at the interrogation,” said Vanavskaya. She was not squeamish. She had seen them before.

“If that is an official request from the KGB, I will of course comply.”

“It will be,” said Vanavskaya.

“Then don’t be far away, Major. We will have him, proba­bly by midday.”

Major Vanavskaya returned to the KGB building, cancelled her flight from Potsdam, and used a secure line to contact General Shaliapin. He agreed.

At twelve noon, an Antonov 32 transport of the Soviet Air Force lifted off from Potsdam for Moscow. General Pankratin and other senior Army and Air Force officers returning to Moscow were on board. Some junior officers were farther back, with the mail sacks. There was no dark-suited “secre­tary” from the embassy sharing the lift home.

“He will be,” said Dr. Carr over the melon and avocado hors d’oeuvre, “in what we call a dissociated, or twilight, or fugue state.”

He had listened carefully to McCready’s description of a nameless man who had apparently suffered a massive nervous breakdown. He had not learned, or asked, anything about the mission the man had been on, or where this breakdown had occurred, save that it was in hostile territory. The empty plates were removed and the sole prepared, off the bone.

“Dissociated from what?” asked McCready.

“From reality, of course,” said Dr. Carr. “It is one of the classic symptoms of this kind of syndrome. He may already have been showing signs of self-deception before the final crackup.”

And how, thought McCready, Morenz had been kidding himself that a stunning hooker had really fallen for him, that he could get away with a double murder.

“Fugue,” Dr. Carr pursued as he speared a forkful of tender sole meunière, “means flight. Flight from reality, especially harsh, unpleasant reality. I think your man will by now be in a really bad way.”

“What will he actually do?” asked McCready. “Where will he go?”

“He will go to a sanctuary, somewhere he feels safe, somewhere he can hide, where all the problems will go away and people will leave him alone. He may even return to a childlike state. I had a patient once who, overcome by prob­lems, retired to his bed, curled into the fetal position, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and stayed there. Wouldn’t come out. Childhood, you see. Safety, security. No problems. Excellent sole, by the way. Yes, a little more Meursault. ... Thank you.”

Which is all very fine, thought McCready, but Bruno Morenz has no sanctuaries to run to. Born and raised in Hamburg, stationed in Berlin, Munich, and Cologne, he could have no place to hide near Jena or Weimar. He poured more wine and asked, “Supposing he has no sanctuary to head for?”

“Then I’m afraid he will just wander about in a confused state, unable to help himself. In my experience, if he had a destination he could act logically to get there. Without one”— the doctor shrugged—“they will get him. Probably got him by now. At latest by nightfall.”

But they didn’t. Through the afternoon Colonel Voss’s rage and frustration rose. It had been over twenty-four hours, coming up on thirty hours; police and secret police were at every street corner and roadblock in the region of Apolda-Jena-Weimar; and the big, shambling, ill, confused, disori­ented West German had simply vaporized.

Voss paced his office at Normannenstrasse through the night; Vanavskaya sat on the edge of her cot in the female bachelors’ quarters of the KGB barracks; men sat hunched over radio sets at Schloss Löwenstein and Cheltenham; vehi­cles were waved to a halt by torchlight on every road and lane in southern Thuringia; McCready drank a steady stream of black coffees in his office at Century House. And ... nothing. Bruno Morenz had disappeared.

Chapter 5

Major Vanavskaya could not sleep. She tried, but she just lay awake in the darkness wondering how on earth the East Germans, reputedly so efficient in their control of their own population,, could lose a man like Morenz within an area twenty miles by twenty miles. Had he hitched a lift? Stolen a bicycle? Was he still crouched in a ditch? What on earth were the VOPOs doing down there?

By three in the morning, she had convinced herself there was something missing, some little part of the puzzle of how a half-crazed man on the run in a small area teeming with People’s Police could escape detection.

At four, she rose and returned to the KGB offices, per­turbing the night staff with her demand for a secure line to SSD headquarters. When she had it, she spoke to Colonel Voss. He had not left his office at all.

“That picture of Morenz,” she said. “Was it recent?”

“About a year ago,” said Voss, puzzled.

“Where did you get it?”

“The HVA,” said Voss. Vanavskaya thanked him and put down the phone.

Of course, the HVA, the Haupt Verwaltung Aufklärung, East Germany’s foreign intelligence arm, which for obvious linguistic reasons, specialized in running networks inside West Germany. Its Head was the legendary Colonel-General Marcus Wolf. Even the KGB, notoriously contemptuous of satellite intelligence services, held him in considerable re­spect. Marcus “Mischa” Wolf had perpetrated some brilliant coups against the West Germans, notably the “running” of Chancellor Brandt’s private secretary.

Vanavskaya called and awoke the local head of the Third Directorate and made her request, citing General Shaliapin’s name. That did the trick. The Colonel said he would see what he could do. He called back in half an hour. It seemed that General Wolf was an early bird, he said; she would have a meeting with him in his office at six.

At five that morning the cryptography department at GCHQ Cheltenham finished decoding the last of the mass of low-level paperwork that had built up in the previous twenty-four hours. In its in-clear form it would be transmitted down a series of very secure land lines to a variety of recipients—some for the SIS at Century House, some for MI-5 at Curzon Street, some for the Ministry of Defense in Whitehall. Much would be “copied” as of possible interest to two or even all three. Urgent intelligence was handled much more quickly, but the small hours of the morning was a good time to send the low-level stuff to London; the lines were not so busy.

Among the material was a signal on Wednesday evening from Pullach to the BND staffer at the West German Embassy in London. Germany, of course, was and remains a valued and respected ally of Britain. There was nothing personal in Cheltenham intercepting and decoding a confidential message from an ally to its own embassy. The code had been quietly broken sometime before. Nothing offensive, just routine. This particular message went to MI-5 and to the NATO desk in Century House, which handled all intelligence liaison with Britain’s allies except the CIA, which had its own designated liaison desk.

It was the head of the NATO desk who had first drawn Edwards’s attention to the embarrassment of McCready run­ning an officer of the allied BND as his personal agent. Still, the NATO desk chief remained a friend of McCready’s. When he saw the German cable at ten that morning, he resolved to bring it to his friend Sam’s attention. Just in case. ... But he did not have time until midday.

At six, Major Vanavskaya was shown into Marcus Wolf’s office, two floors above that of Colonel Voss. The East Ger­man spymaster disliked uniforms and was in a well-cut dark suit. He also preferred tea to coffee and had a particularly fine blend sent to him from Fortnum and Mason in London. He offered the Soviet major a cup.

“Comrade General, that recent picture of Bruno Morenz. It came from you.”

Mischa Wolf regarded her steadily over the rim of his cup. If he had sources, assets, inside the West German establish­ment, which he did, he was not going to confirm it to this stranger.

“Could you possibly get hold of a copy of Morenz’s curric­ulum vitae?” she asked.

Marcus Wolf considered the request. “Why would you want it?” he asked softly.

She explained. In detail. Breaking a few rules.

“I know it’s only a suspicion,” she said. “Nothing con­crete. A feeling there is a piece missing. Maybe something in his past.”

Wolf approved. He liked lateral thinking. Some of his best successes had stemmed from a gut feeling, a suspicion that the enemy had an Achilles’ heel somewhere, if only he could find it. He rose, went to a filing cabinet, and withdrew a sheaf of eight sheets without saying a word. It was Bruno Morenz’s life story. From Pullach, the same one Lothar Herrmann had studied on Wednesday afternoon. Vanavskaya exhaled in ad­miration. Wolf smiled.

If Marcus Wolf had a specialty in the espionage world, it was not so much in suborning and traducing high-ranking West Germans, though that could sometimes be done, as in placing prim spinster secretaries of impeccable life-style and security clearance at the elbows of such bigwigs. He knew that a confidential secretary saw everything her master saw and sometimes more.

Over the years, West Germany had been rocked by a series of scandals as private secretaries to ministers, civil servants, and defense contractors had either been arrested by the BfV or had slipped quietly away back to the East. One day, he knew, he would pull Fräulein Erdmute Keppel out of the Cologne BND and back to her beloved German Democratic Republic. Until then, she would continue to arrive at the office an hour ahead of Dieter Aust and copy anything of interest, including the personnel records of the entire staff. She would continue, in summer, to take her lunch in the quiet park eating her salad sandwiches with prim precision, feeding the pigeons with a few neat crumbs, and finally placing the empty sand­wich bag in a nearby trash can. There it would be retrieved a few moments later by the gentleman walking his dog. In winter she would lunch instead in the warm café and drop her newspaper into the garbage container near the door, whence it would be rescued by the street cleaner.

When she came east, Fräulein Keppel would arrive to a state reception, a personal greeting from Security Minister Erich Mielke or possibly Party boss Erich Honecker himself, a medal, a state pension, and a snug retirement home by the lakes of Fürstenwalde.

Of course, not even Marcus Wolf was clairvoyant. He could not know that by 1990 East Germany would have ceased to exist, that Mielke and Honecker would be ousted and dis­graced, that he would be retired and writing his memoirs for a fat fee, or that Erdmute Keppel would be spending her declining years in West Germany in a place of seclusion rather less comfortable than her designated flat at Fürstenwalde.

Major Vanavskaya looked up.

“He has a sister,” she said.

“Yes,” said Wolf. “You think she may know something?”

“It’s a long shot,” said the Russian. “If I could go and see her ...”

“If you can get permission from your superiors,” Wolf prompted her gently. “You do not, alas, work for me.”

“But if I could, I would need a cover. Not Russian, not East German.”

Wolf shrugged self-deprecatingly. “I have certain ‘legends,’ ready for use. Of course. It is part of our strange trade.”

There was a Polish Airline flight to London LOT 104, staged through Berlin-Schönefeld airport at ten A.M. It was held for ten minutes to enable Ludmilla Vanavskaya to board. As Wolf had pointed out, her German was adequate but not good enough to pass. Few people in London that she would meet spoke Polish. She had papers of a Polish schoolteacher visiting a relative. That would be plausible since Poland had a much more liberal regime.

The Polish airliner landed in London at eleven, gaining an hour due to time difference. Major Vanavskaya passed through passport and customs control inside thirty minutes, made two phone calls from a public booth in Terminal Two concourse, and took a taxi to a district of London called Primrose Hill.

The phone on Sam McCready’s desk trilled at midday. He had just put the phone down after talking again to Chelten­ham. The answer was—still nothing. Forty-eight hours, and Morenz was still on the run. The new caller was the man from the NATO desk downstairs.

“There’s a chit came through in the morning bag,” he said. “It may be nothing; if so, throw it away. Anyway, I’m sending it up by messenger.”

The chit arrived five minutes later. When he saw it, and the timing on it, McCready swore loudly.

Normally, the need-to-know rule in the covert world works admirably. Those who do not need to know something in order to fulfill their functions are not told about it. That way, if there is a leak—either deliberate or through sloppy talk—the damage is reasonably limited. But sometimes it works the other way around. Sometimes a piece of information that might have changed events is not passed on because no one thought it was necessary.

The Archimedes listening station in the Harz Mountains and the East Germany-listeners at Cheltenham had been told to pass to McCready without delay anything they got. The words Grauber or Morenz were particular triggers for an instant pass-on. But no one had thought to alert those who listen to Allied diplomatic and military traffic to pass what they picked up to McCready.

The message he held was timed at 4:22 P.M. on Wednesday evening. It said:

Ex-Herrmann

Pro-Fietzau.

Top urgent. Contact Mrs. A. Farquarson, nee Morenz, believed living London stop Ask if she has seen or heard of or from her brother in last four days endit.

He never told me he had a sister in London. Never told me he had a sister at all, thought McCready. He began to wonder what else his friend Bruno had not told him about his past. He dragged a telephone directory from a shelf and looked under the name of Farquarson.

Fortunately, it was not a terribly common name. Smith would have been a different matter entirely. There were fourteen Farquarsons, but no “Mrs. A.” He began to ring them in sequence. Of the first seven, five said there was no Mrs. A. Farquarson to their knowledge. Two failed to answer. He was lucky at the eighth; the listing was for Robert Far­quarson. A woman answered.

“Yes, this is Mrs. Farquarson.”

A hint of German accent?

“Would that be Mrs. A. Farquarson?”

“Yes.” She seemed defensive.

“Forgive my ringing you, Mrs. Farquarson. I am from the Immigration Department at Heathrow. Would you by chance have a brother named Bruno Morenz?”

A long pause.

“Is he there? At Heathrow?”

“I’m not at liberty to say, madam. Unless you are his sister.”

“Yes, I am Adelheid Farquarson. Bruno Morenz is my brother. Could I speak to him?”

“Not at the moment, I’m afraid. Will you be at that address in, say, fifteen minutes? It’s rather important.”

“Yes, I will be here.”

McCready called for a car and driver from the motor pool and raced downstairs.

It was a large studio apartment at the top of a solidly built Edwardian villa, tucked behind Regent’s Park Road. He walked up and rang the bell. Mrs. Farquarson greeted him in a painter’s smock and showed him into a cluttered studio with paintings on easels and sketches strewn on the floor.

She was a handsome woman, gray-haired like her brother. McCready put her in her late fifties, older than Bruno. She cleared a space, offered him a seat, and met his gaze levelly. McCready noticed two coffee mugs standing on a nearby table. Both were empty. He contrived to touch one while Mrs. Farquarson sat down. The mug was warm.

“What can I do for you, Mr. ...”

“Jones. I would like to ask you about your brother, Herr Bruno Morenz?”

“Why?”

“It’s an Immigration matter.”

“You are lying to me, Mr. Jones.”

“Am I?”

“Yes. My brother is not coming here. And if he wished to, he would not have problems with British Immigration. He is a West German citizen. You are a policeman?”

“No, Mrs. Farquarson. But I am a friend of Bruno. Over many years. We go back a long way together. I ask you to believe that because that is true.”

“He is in trouble, isn’t he?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. I’m trying to help him, if I can. It’s not easy.”

“What has he done?”

“It looks as if he has killed his mistress in Cologne. And he has run away. He got a message to me. He said he didn’t mean to do it. Then he disappeared.”

She rose and walked to the window, staring out at the late summer foliage of Primrose Hill Park.

“Oh, Bruno. You fool. Poor, frightened Bruno.”

She turned and faced him.

“There was a man from the German Embassy here yester­day morning. He had called before, on Wednesday evening while I was out. He did not tell me what you have—just asked if Bruno had been in touch. He hasn’t. I can’t help you, either, Mr. Jones. You probably know more than I do, if he got a message to you. Do you know where he has gone?”

“That’s the problem. I think he has crossed the border. Gone into East Germany. Somewhere in the Weimar area. Perhaps to stay with friends. But so far as I know, he’s never been near Weimar in his life.”

She looked puzzled. “What do you mean? He lived there for two years.”

McCready kept a straight face, but he was stunned. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. He never told me.”

“No, he wouldn’t. He hated it there. They were the unhappiest two years of his life. He never talked about it.”

“I thought your family was Hamburg, born and raised.”

“We were, until 1943. That was when Hamburg was de­stroyed by the RAF. The great Fire Storm bombing. You have heard of it?”

McCready nodded. The Royal Air Force had bombed the center of Hamburg with such intensity that raging fires started. The fires had sucked oxygen in from the outer sub­urbs until a raging inferno was created in which temperatures rose so high that steel ran like water and concrete exploded like bombs. The inferno had swept through the city, vaporiz­ing everything in its path.

“Bruno and I were orphaned that night.” She paused and stared, not at McCready but past him, seeing again the flames raging through the city where she had been born, consuming to cinders her parents, her friends, her schoolmates, the landmarks of her life. After several seconds she snapped out of her reverie and resumed talking in that quiet voice with the remaining hint of an original German accent.

“When it was over, the authorities took charge of us and we were evacuated. I was fifteen, Bruno was ten. We were split up. I was billeted with a family outside Göttingen. Bruno was sent to stay with a farmer near Weimar. After the war, I searched for him, and the Red Cross helped to reunite us. We returned to Hamburg. I looked after him. But he hardly ever talked about Weimar. I began to work in the British NAAFI canteen, to keep Bruno. Times were very hard, you know.”

McCready nodded. “Yes, I’m sorry.”

She shrugged. “It was the war. Anyway, in 1947 I met a British sergeant. Robert Farquarson. We married and came to live here. He died eight years ago. When Robert and I left Hamburg in 1948, Bruno secured a residential apprenticeship with a firm of optical lens makers. I have only seen him three or four times since then, and not in the past ten years.”

“You told that to the man from the embassy?”

“Herr Fietzau? No, he did not ask about Bruno’s child­hood. But I told the lady.”

“The lady?”

“She left only an hour ago. The one from the Pensions Department.”

“Pensions?”

“Yes. She said Bruno still worked in optical glassware, for a firm called BKI in Würzburg. But it seems BKI is owned by Pilkington Glass of Britain, and with Bruno’s retirement ap­proaching, she needed details of his life to assess his full entitlement. She was not from Bruno’s employers?”

“I doubt it. Probably West German police. I’m afraid they are looking for Bruno, too, but not to help him.”

“I’m sorry. I seem to have been very foolish.”

“You weren’t to know, Mrs. Farquarson. She spoke good English?”

“Yes, perfect. Slight accent—Polish, perhaps.”

McCready had little doubt where the lady had come from. There were other hunters out for Bruno Morenz, many of them, but only McCready and one other group knew about BKI of Würzburg. He rose.

“Try hard to think what little he said in those years after the war. Is there anyone, anyone at all, to whom he might go in his hour of need for sanctuary?”

She thought long and hard.

“There was one name he mentioned, someone who had been nice to him. His primary-school teacher. Fräulein ... dammit ... Fräulein Neuberg. No, I remember now, Fräulein Neumann. That was it. Neumann. Of course, she’s probably dead by now. It was forty years ago.”

“One last thing, Mrs. Farquarson. Did you tell this to the lady from the glass company?”

“No, I’ve only just remembered it. I just told her Bruno had once spent two years as an evacuee on a farm not ten miles from Weimar.”

Back at Century House, McCready borrowed a Weimar tele­phone directory from the East German desk. There were several Neumanns listed, but just one with Frl, short for Fräulein, in front of it. A spinster. A teenager would not have her own apartment and phone, not in East Germany. A mature spinster, a professional woman, might. It was a long shot, very long. He could have one of the East German desk’s agents-in-place across the Wall place a call. But the Stasi were everywhere, bugging everything. The mere question— “Were you once the schoolteacher of a small boy called Morenz and has he showed up?”—that could blow it all away.

His next visit was to the section inside Century House whose specialty is the preparation of very untrue identity cards.

He rang British Airways, who were unable to help. But Lufthansa was. They had a flight at five-fifteen to Hanover. He asked Denis Gaunt to drive him to Heathrow again.

The best-laid plans of mice and men, as the Scottish poet might have said, sometimes end up looking like a dog’s breakfast. The Polish Airlines flight from London back to Warsaw via East Berlin was due for takeoff at three-thirty. But when the pilot switched on his flight systems, a red warning light glowed. It turned out to be just a faulty solenoid, but it delayed the takeoff until six. In the departures lounge, Major Ludmilla Vanavskaya glanced at the televised departure information, noted the delay “for operational reasons,” cursed silently, and returned to her book.

McCready was leaving the office when the phone rang. He debated whether to answer it and decided he ought to. It could be important. It was Edwards.

“Sam, someone in Funny Paper has been on to me. Now look, Sam, you are not—as in absolutely not—getting my permission to go into East Germany. Is that clear?”

“Absolutely, Timothy. Couldn’t be clearer.”

“Good,” said the Assistant Chief, and put the phone down.

Gaunt had heard the voice at the other end of the phone and what it had said. McCready was beginning to like Gaunt. He had joined the desk only six months earlier, but he was showing he was bright, trustworthy, and could keep his mouth shut.

As he negotiated Hogarth Roundabout, cutting a lot of corners in the dense Friday-afternoon commuter traffic on the Heathrow road, Gaunt chose to open it.

“Sam, I know you’ve been in more tight places than a shepherd’s right arm, but you’ve been black-flagged in East Germany and the boss has forbidden you to go back.”

“Forbidding is one thing,” said McCready. “Preventing is another.”

As he strode through the departure lounge of Terminal Two to catch the Lufthansa flight to Hanover, he cast not a glance at the trim young woman with the shiny blond hair and piercing blue eyes who sat reading two yards from him. And she did not look up at the medium-built, rather rumpled man with thinning brown hair in a gray raincoat as he walked past.

McCready’s flight took off on time, and he landed at Hano­ver at eight, local time. Major Vanavskaya got away at six and landed at Berlin-Schönefeld at nine. McCready rented a car and drove past Hildesheim and Salzgitter to his destination in the forests outside Goslar. Vanavskaya was met by a KGB car and driven to Normannenstrasse 22. She had to wait an hour to see Colonel Otto Voss, who was closeted with State Security Minister Erich Mielke.

McCready had telephoned his host from London; he was expected. The man met him at the front door of his substantial home, a beautifully converted hunting lodge set on a sweep of hillside with a view, in daylight, far across a long valley clothed in conifers. Only five miles away, the lights of Goslar twinkled in the gloom. Had the day not already faded, Mc­Cready might have seen, far to the east on a distant peak of the Harz, the roof of a high tower. One might have mistaken it for a hunting tower, but it wasn’t. Its purpose was the hunting not of wild boar but of men and women. The man McCready had come to visit had chosen to spend his comfort­able retirement within sight of the very border that had once made his fortune.

His host had changed over the years, thought McCready as he was shown into a wood-paneled sitting room hung with the heads of boars and the antlers of stags. A bright fire crackled in a stone hearth; even in early September it was chilly at night in the high hills.

The man who greeted him had put on weight; the once-lean physique was now fleshed out. He was still short, of course, and the round pink face topped by white candy-floss hair made him look even more harmless than ever. Until you looked into his eyes. Cunning eyes, wily eyes that had seen too much and made many deals about life and death and that had lived in the sewers and survived. A malign child of the Cold War who had once been the uncrowned underworld king of Berlin.

For twenty years, from the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 until his retirement in 1981, Andre Kurzlinger had been a Grenzgänger, literally, a border-goer, a border-crosser. It was the Wall that had made his fortune. Prior to its construc­tion, East Germans wishing to escape to the West simply had to go to East Berlin and walk into West Berlin. But during the night of August 21, 1961, the great concrete blocks had been slammed into place, and Berlin became the divided city. Many tried to jump the Wall; some succeeded. Others were hauled back screaming and sent to long terms of jail. Others were machine-gunned on the wire and hung there like stoats until cut down. For most, crossing the Wall was a one-time exploit. For Kurzlinger, who until then had been just a Berlin black marketeer and gangster, it became a profession.

He brought people out—for money. He went across in a variety of disguises, or sent emissaries, and negotiated the price. Some paid in Ostmarks—a lot of Ostmarks. With these, Kurzlinger would buy the three products in East Berlin that were good: Hungarian pigskin luggage, Czech classical LPs, and Cuban corona coronas. They were so cheap that, even with the cost of smuggling them west, Kurzlinger could make a huge profit.

Other refugees agreed to pay him in Deutschmarks once they had reached the West and gotten a job. Few reneged. Kurzlinger was meticulous about collecting debts; he em­ployed several large associates to ensure he was not cheated.

There were rumors he worked for Western intelligence. They were not true, though he occasionally brought out someone on contract to the CIA or SIS. There were rumors he was hand-in-glove with the SSD or the KGB; that was unlikely, as he did East Germany too much damage. Certainly he had bribed more border guards and Communist officials than he could remember. It was said he could smell a bribable official at a hundred paces.

Although Berlin was his bailiwick, he also ran lines through the East German-West German border, which ran from the Baltic to Czechoslovakia. When he retired finally with a handsome fortune he chose to settle in West Germany, not in West Berlin. But he still could not drag himself away from that border. His manor was only five miles from it, high in the Harz Mountains.

“So, Herr McCready, Sam my friend, it has been a long time.”

He stood with his back to the fire, a retired gentleman in a velvet smoking jacket, a long way from the animal-eyed alley-kid who had crawled out of the rubble in 1945 to start selling girls to GIs for Lucky Strikes. “You are retired also now?” he asked.

“No, Andre, I still have to work for my crust. Not as clever as you, you see.”

Kurzlinger liked that. He pressed a bell, and a manservant brought crisp Mosel wine in crystal glasses.

“Then,” asked Kurzlinger as he surveyed the flames through the wine, “what can an old man do for the mighty Spionage service of Her Majesty?”

McCready told him. The older man continued staring at the fire, but he pursed his lips and shook his head.

“I am out of it, Sam. Retired. Now they leave me alone. Both sides. But you know, they have warned me, as I think they have warned you. If I start again, they will come for me. A quick operation, across the border, and back before dawn. They will have me, right here in my own home. They mean it. In my time I did them a lot of damage you know.”

“I know,” said McCready.”

“Also, things change. Once, in Berlin, yes, I could get you across. Even in the countryside I had my rabbit runs. But they were all discovered eventually. Closed down. The mines I had disconnected were replaced. The guards I had bribed were transferred. You know they never keep guards on this border for long. Constantly switch them around. My contacts have all gone cold. It is too late.”

“I have to go over,” said McCready slowly, “because we have a man over there. He is sick, very sick. But if I can bring him out, it will probably break the career of the one who now heads Abteilung II. Otto Voss.”

Kurzlinger did not move, but his eyes went very cold. Years ago, as McCready knew, he had had a friend. A very close friend indeed, probably the closest he had ever had. The man had been caught crossing the Wall. Talk was, later, that he had raised his hands. But Voss had shot him all the same. Through both kneecaps first, then both elbows and both shoulders. Finally in the stomach. Soft-nosed slugs.

“Come,” said Kurzlinger, “we will eat. I will introduce you to my son.”

The handsome young blond man of about thirty who joined them at table was not actually Kurzlinger’s son, of course. But he had formally adopted him. Occasionally, the older man would smile at him, and the adopted son would look back adoringly.

“I brought Siegfried out of the East,” said Kurzlinger, as if making conversation. “He had nowhere to go, so ... now he lives here with me.”

McCready continued eating. He suspected there was more.

“Have you ever heard,” said Kurzlinger over the grapes, “of the Arbeitsgruppe Grenzen?”

McCready had. The Borders Working Group. Deep within the SSD, apart from all the Abteilungen with their Roman-numeral designations, was a small unit with a most bizarre specialty.

Most times, if Marcus Wolf wanted to spirit an agent into the West, he could do it by passing through a neutral country, the agent adopting his new legend during the stopover. But sometimes the SSD or the HVA wanted to put a man across the border on a “black” operation. For this to happen, the East Germans would actually cut a rabbit run through their own defenses from East to West. Most rabbit runs were cut from West to East to bring out people who were not supposed to leave. When the SSD wanted a rabbit run cut for its own purposes, it used the experts of the Arbeitsgruppe Grenzen for the job. These engineers, working at dead of night (for the West German Frontier Service also watched the border), would burrow under the razor-wire, cut a thin line through the minefield, and leave no trace of where they had been.

That still left the two-hundred-yard-wide plowed strip, the shooting ground, where a real refugee would probably be caught in the searchlights and machine-gunned. Finally, on the Western side, there was the fence. The Arbeitsgruppe Grenzen would leave that intact, cut a hole for the agent as he went through, and lace it up again after him. The searchlights, on the nights they ran someone westward, would be facing the other way, and the plowed strip was usually thick with grass, especially in late summer. By morning, the grass would have straightened itself, obliterating all traces of the running feet.

When the East Germans did it, they had the cooperation of their own border guards. But breaking in was another matter; there would be no East German cooperation.

“Siegfried used to work for the ACG,” said Kurzlinger. “Until he used one of his own rabbit runs. Of course, the Stasi closed that one down immediately. Siegfried, our friend here needs to go across. Can you help?”

McCready thought that he had judged his man aright. Kurz­linger hated Voss for what he had done, and the man’s grief for his murdered love was not to be underestimated.

Siegfried thought for a while.

“There used to be one,” he said at length. “I cut it myself. I was going to use it, so I did not file the report. In the event, I came out a different way.”

“Where is it?” asked McCready.

“Not far from here,” said Siegfried. “Between Bad Sachsa and Ellrich.”

He fetched a map and pointed out the two small towns in the southern Harz, Bad Sachsa in West Germany and Ellrich in the East.

“May I see the papers you intend to use?” asked Kurzlin­ger. McCready passed them over. Siegfried studied them. “They are good,” he said.

“What is the best time to go?” asked McCready.

“Four o’clock. Before dawn. The light is darkest, and the guards are tired. They sweep the plowed strip less frequently. We will need camouflage smocks in case we are caught by the lights. The camouflage may save us.”

They discussed details for another hour.

“You understand, Heir McCready,” said Siegfried, “it has been five years. I may not be able to recall where it was. I left a fishing line on the ground where I cut the path through the minefield. I may not be able to find it. If I cannot, we will come back. To go into the minefield not knowing the path I cut is death. Or my former colleagues may have found it and closed it down. In that case we come back—if we still can.”

“I understand,” said McCready. “I’m very grateful.”

They left, Siegfried and McCready, at one o’clock for the slow two-hour drive through the mountains. Kurzlinger stood on the doorstep.

“Look after my boy,” he said. “I only do this for another boy Voss took from me long ago.”

“If you get through,” said Siegfried as they drove, “walk the six miles into Nordhausen. Avoid the village of Ellrich—there are guards there, and the dogs will bark. Take the train from Nordhausen south to Erfurt, and the bus to Weimar. There will be workers on both.”

They drove quietly through the sleeping town of Bad Sachsa and parked at the outskirts. Siegfried stood in the darkness with a compass and a penlight. When he had his bearing, he plunged into the pine forest, heading east. McCready followed him.

Four hours earlier, Major Vanavskaya had confronted Colonel Voss in his office.

“According to his sister, there is one place he could go to hide in the Weimar area.”

She explained about Bruno Morenz’s evacuation during the war.

“A farm?” said Voss. “Which farm? There are hundreds in that area.”

“She didn’t know the name. Just that it was not ten miles from Weimar itself. Draw your ring, Colonel. Bring in troops. Within the day you will have him.”

Colonel Voss called Abteilung XIII, the intelligence and security service of the National People’s Army, the NVA. Phones rang in the NVA headquarters out at Karlshorst, and before dawn trucks began to roll south toward Weimar.

“The ring is formed,” said Voss at midnight. “The troops will move outward from Weimar town, sweeping by sectors, outward toward the ring. They will search every farm, barn, store, cowshed, and pigsty until they reach the ten-miles ring. I only hope you are right, Major Vanavskaya. There are now a lot of men involved.”

In the small hours he left in his personal car for the south. Major Vanavskaya accompanied him. The sweep was due to start at dawn.

Chapter 6

Siegfried lay on his belly at the edge of the treeline and studied the dark contours of the forest three hundred yards away that marked East Germany. McCready lay beside him. It was three A.M. on Saturday.

Five years earlier, also in darkness, Siegfried had cut his rabbit run from the base of a particularly tall pine tree on the eastern side, in the direction of a gleaming white rock high on the hill slope on the Western side. His problem now was, he had always thought he would see the rock from the east, gleaming palely in the dim light before dawn. He had not foreseen that he would ever have to head the other way. Now the rock was high above him, screened by the trees. It would become visible only from a position far out in No Man’s Land. He judged the line as best he could, crawled forward the last ten yards of West Germany, and began to snip quietly at the chain-link fence.

When Siegfried had his hole, McCready saw his arm rise in a beckoning motion. He crawled out of cover toward the wire. He had spent the five minutes studying the watchtowers of the East German border guards and the sweep of their search­lights. Siegfried had chosen his spot well—halfway between two of the watchtowers. An added bonus was that the tree-growth of summer had caused some of the pine branches across the minefield to extend outward by several feet; one searchlight, at least, was being partially blocked by this extra growth. In autumn, tree surgeons would come to prune back the branches, but they had not done so yet.

The other searchlight had a clear view of their intended path, but the man behind it must have been tired or bored, for it sent off for minutes on end. When it came on again, it was always pointing the other way. Then it would make its sweep toward them, sweep back, and go out. If the operator kept up this pattern, they would have a few seconds’ warning.

Siegfried jerked his head and crawled through the hole. McCready followed, dragging his gunny sack. The German turned and pushed the cut mesh back into place. It would not be noticed except at close range, and the guards never crossed the strip to check the wire unless they had already noticed a break. They did not like minefields, either.

It was tempting to run across the hundred yards of plowed strip, now thickly grassed with extra-tall dock, thistle, and nettle growing at intervals in the grass. But there could be tripwires linked to sound-alarms. It was safer to crawl. They crawled. At the halfway point they were shaded by trees from the searchlight to their left, but then the one to their right came on. Both men froze in their green smocks and lay face down. They had blackened their faces and hands, Siegfried with boot polish, McCready with burnt cork that would wash off more easily on the other side.

The pale light splashed over them, hesitated, moved back, and went off again. Ten yards farther on, Siegfried found a tripwire and gestured McCready to crawl around it. Another forty yards, and they reached the minefield. Here the thistles and grasses were chest-high. No one tried to plow up the minefield.

The German looked back. High above the trees, McCready could see the white rock, a patch of paleness against the darkness of the pine forest. Siegfried swiveled his head and checked the giant tree against the rock. He was ten yards to the right of his line. He crawled again, down the edge of the minefield. When he stopped, he began to feel tenderly in the long grass. After two minutes McCready heard his breath hiss out in triumph. He held a fine strand of fishing line between finger and thumb. He pulled gently. If it was loose at the other end, the mission was over. It went tight and held.

“Follow the fishing line,” Siegfried whispered. “It will take you through the minefield to the tunnel under the wire. The path is only two feet wide. When do you come back?”

“Twenty-four hours,” said McCready. “Or forty-eight. Af­ter that, forget it. I will not be coming. I will use my pencil light from the base of the big tree just before I make the run. Hold the fence open for me.”

He disappeared on. his belly into the minefield, not quite hidden by the tall grass and weeds. Siegfried waited for the searchlight to wash over him one last time, then crawled back to the West.

McCready went forward through the mines, following the nylon line. Occasionally he tested it to make sure it was still straight. He knew he would not see any mines. These were not big plate-mines that could throw a truck in the air. They were small antipersonnel mines made of plastic, not respon­sive to metal detectors, which had been tried by escapers and had not worked. The mines were buried, pressure-operated. They would not explode for a rabbit or a fox, but they were sensitive enough for a human body. And vicious enough to blow away a leg or the entrails, or to tear out the chest cavity. Often they did not kill quickly but left the would-be escaper screaming through the night until the guards came after sun­rise, with guides, to retrieve the body.

McCready saw the rolling waves of razor-wire looming ahead of him, the end of the minefield. The fishing line led him to a shallow scrape under the wire. He rolled on his back, pushed the wire upward with his totebag, and kicked with his heels. Inch by inch, he slid beneath the entanglement. Above him he could see the glittering razors that made this kind of wire so much more painful than barbed wire.

There were ten yards of it, but piled eight feet high above him. When he came out on the Eastern side, he found the nylon strand attached to a small peg that was almost out of the ground. Another tug, and it would have come loose, aborting the whole crossing. He covered the peg with a mat of thick pine needles, noted its position directly in front of the outsize pine tree, held his compass in front of him, and crawled away.

He crawled on a heading of 90 degrees until he came to a track. There he stripped off his smock, bundled it around his compass, and hid them beneath more pine needles ten yards inside the forest. If any dogs came down the track, they would not be able to smell the buried clothing. At the edge of the track he broke off a branch above head height and left it hanging by a thread of bark. No one else would notice it, but he would.

On his return he would have to find the track and the broken branch and recover his smock and compass. A heading of 270 degrees would bring him back to the giant pine. He turned and walked away toward the east. As he walked, he noted every marker—fallen trees, piles of logs, twists and turns. After a mile, he came out on a road and saw the spire of the Lutheran church of Ellrich village ahead of him.

He skirted it, as briefed, walking through fields of cut wheat until he intercepted the road to Nordhausen, five miles farther on. It was just five o’clock. He stayed by the side of the road, prepared to dive into a ditch if a vehicle appeared from either direction. Farther south, he hoped his scuffed reefer jacket, corduroy trousers, boots, and forage cap, worn by so many German farm workers, would escape scrutiny. But here the community was so small that everyone would know everyone else. He did not need to be asked where he was going, even less where he had come from. Behind him, there was nowhere he could have come from but Ellrich village or the border.

Outside Nordhausen he had a lucky break. Over the picket fence of a darkened house, a bicycle was propped against a tree. It was rusty but usable. He weighed the risks of taking it against its usefulness in covering distance faster than a pair of legs. If its loss remained undiscovered for thirty minutes, it was worth it. He took it, walked for a hundred yards, then mounted it and rode to the railway station. It was five to six. The first train to Erfurt was due in fifteen minutes.

There were several dozen working men on the platform waiting to head south to work. He presented some money, was issued a ticket, and the train steamed in, an old-fashioned steam locomotive but on time. Accustomed to British Rail Commuter services, he was grateful for that. He consigned his bicycle to the luggage van and took his place on the wooden seats. The train stopped again at Sondershausen, Greussen, and Straussfurt before rolling into Erfurt at 6:41. He retrieved his bicycle and pedaled away through the streets toward the eastern outskirts of the city and the start of Highway Seven to Weimar.

Just after half past seven, a few miles east of the city, a tractor came up behind him. It had a flat trailer behind it, and an old man was at the wheel. It had been delivering sugar beet to Erfurt and was heading back to the farm. The old man slowed and stopped.

Steig mal rauf,” he called above the snarl of the dilapi­dated engine, which belched rich black smoke. McCready waved his gratitude, hurled the bicycle onto the flatbed, and climbed on. The noise of the tractor engine prevented conver­sation, which was just as well, for McCready, fluent in Ger­man, did not possess that strange accent of Lower Thuringia. Anyway, the old farmer was happy to suck on his empty pipe and drive.

Ten miles out of Weimar, McCready saw the wall of sol­diers.

They were on the road, several dozen, spread out across the fields to left and right. He could see their helmeted heads among the maize stalks. There was a farm track off to the right. He glanced down it. Soldiers lined it, ten yards apart, facing toward Weimar.

The tractor slowed for the roadblock and stopped. A ser­geant shouted up to the driver, telling him to switch off his engine.

The old man shouted back in German, “If I do I probably won’t start it again. Will your men give me a push?”

The sergeant considered, shrugged, and gestured for the old man’s papers. He looked at them, gave them back, and came down to where McCready sat.

Papiere,” he said. McCready handed over his ID card. It said he was Martin Hahn, farm worker, and had been issued by the Weimar administrative district. The sergeant, who was a townsman from Schwerin up in the north, sniffed.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Sugar beets,” said McCready. He did not volunteer that he was a hitchhiker on the tractor, and no one asked.

Nor did he point out that before carrying the sugar beets, the trailer had borne a much fruitier cargo. The sergeant wrinkled his nose, gave back the papers, and waved the tractor on. A more interesting truck was coming toward them out of Weimar, and he had been told to concentrate on people—or a man with gray hair and a Rhineland accent—trying to get out of the ring, not a smelly tractor trying to get in. The tractor went to a track three miles from the town and turned off. McCready jumped down, pulled his bicycle to the ground, waved his thanks at the old farmer, and pedaled into town.

From the outskirts on, he stayed close to the curb to avoid the trucks disgorging troops in the gray-green uniforms of the National People’s Army, the NVA. There was a fair sprinkling of the brighter-green uniforms of the People’s Police, the VOPOs. Knots of Weimar citizens stood on streetcorners staring in curiosity. Someone suggested it was a military exercise; no one disagreed. Maneuvers normally happened in the military, though not usually in the center of a town.

McCready would have liked a town map, but he could not afford to be seen studying one. He was not a tourist. He had memorized his route from the map he borrowed from the East German desk in London, which he had studied on the plane to Hanover. Coming into town on the Erfurterstrasse, he rode straight on toward the ancient town center and saw the Na­tional Theater looming up in front of him. The paved road became cobbles. He rode left into Heinrich Heinestrasse and on toward Karl Marx Platz. There he dismounted and began to push the bicycle, his head down, as the VOPO cars rushed by him in both directions.

At Rhathenau Platz he looked for Brennerstrasse and found it on the far side of the square. According to his recall, Bockstrasse should lie to the right. It did. Number fourteen was an old building, long in need of repair, like just about everything else in Herr Honecker’s paradise. The paint and plaster were peeling and the names on the eight bell-pushes were faded. But he could make out, against flat number three, the single name, Neumann. He pushed his bicycle through the large front door, left it in the stone-flagged hall, and walked up. There were two apartments on each floor. Number three was on the second floor. He took off his cap, straightened his jacket, and rang the bell. It was ten to nine.

Nothing happened for a while. After two minutes there was a shuffling sound, and the door opened slowly. Fräulein Neumann was very old, in a black dress, white-haired, and she supported herself on two canes. McCready judged her to be in her late eighties. She looked up at him and said, “Ja?”

He smiled broadly as if in recognition.

“Yes, it is you, Fräulein. You have changed. But not more than me. You won’t remember me. Martin Kroll. You taught me at primary school forty years ago.”

She stared at him levelly, bright blue eyes behind gold-rimmed glasses.

“I happened to be in Weimar today. From Berlin, you know. I live there now. And I wondered if you were still here, The telephone directory listed you. I just came on the off chance. May I come in?”

She stood aside, and he entered. A dark hall, musty with age. She led the way, hobbling on arthritic knees and ankles, into her sitting room, whose windows looked down on the street. He waited for her to sit, then took a chair.

“So I taught you once, in the old primary school on Heinrich Heinestrasse. When was that?”

“Well, it must have been ’43 and ’44. We were bombed out. From Berlin. I was evacuated here with others. Must have been the summer of ’43. I was in a class with ... ach, the names—well, I recall Bruno Morenz. He was my buddy.”

She stared at him for a while, then pulled herself to her feet. He rose. She hobbled to the window and looked down. A truck full of VOPOs rumbled past. They all sat upright, their Hungarian AP9 pistols bolstered on their belts.

“Always the uniforms,” she said softly as if talking to herself. “First the Nazis, now the Communists. And always the uniforms and the guns. First the Gestapo, and now the SSD. Oh, Germany, what did we do to deserve you both?”

She turned from the window. “You are British, aren’t you? Please sit down.”

McCready was glad to do so. He realized that despite her age, she still had a mind like a razor.

“Why do you say such an extraordinary thing?” he asked indignantly. She was not fazed by his show of anger.

“Three reasons. I remember every boy I ever taught at that school during the war and afterward, and there was no Martin Kroll among them. And second, the school was not on Heinrich Heinestrasse. Heine was Jewish, and the Nazis had erased his name from all streets and monuments.”

McCready could have kicked himself. He should have known that the name of Heine, one of Germany’s greatest writers, was restored only after the war.

“If you scream or raise the alarm,” he said quietly, “I will not harm you. But they will come for me and take me away and shoot me. The choice is yours.”

She hobbled to her seat and sat down. In the manner of the very old, she began to reminisce.

“In 1934 I was a professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin. The youngest, and the only woman. The Nazis came to power. I despised them. I said so. I suppose I was lucky—I could have been sent to a camp. But they were lenient; I was sent here, to teach primary school to the children of farm laborers.

“After the war I did not go back to the Humboldt. Partly because I felt the children here had as much right to the teaching I could give them as the smart youth of Berlin; partly because I would not teach the Communist version of lies, either. So, Mr. Spy, I will not raise the alarm.”

“And if they capture me anyway, and I tell them about you?”

She smiled for the first time.

“Young man, when you are eighty-eight, there is nothing they can do to you that the good Lord is not going to do quite soon now. Why did you come?”

“Bruno Morenz. You do remember him?”

“Oh, yes, I remember him. Is he in trouble?”

“Yes, Fräulein, bad trouble. He is here, not far away. He came on a mission—for me. He fell ill, sick, in the head. A complete breakdown. He is hiding out there somewhere. He needs help.”

“The police, all those soldiers—they are for Bruno?”

“Yes. If I can get to him first, I may be able to help. Get him away in time.”

“Why did you come to me?”

“His sister in London, she said he had told her very little of his two years here during the war. Just that he had been very unhappy, and his only friend had been his schoolteacher, Fräulein Neumann.”

She rocked backward and forward for some time.

“Poor Bruno,” she said at length. “Poor, frightened Bruno. Always so frightened. Of the shouting and the pain.”

“Why was he frightened, Fräulein Neumann?”

“He came from a Social Democrat family in Hamburg. His father was dead, in the bombing, but he must have made some uncomplimentary remark about Hitler in his home before he died. Bruno was billeted with a farmer outside the town, a brutal man who drank much. Also, an ardent Nazi. One evening Bruno must have said something he learned from his father. The farmer took his belt to him and whipped him. Hard. After that, he did it many times. Bruno used to run away.”

“Where did he hide, Fräulein? Please, where?”

“In the barn. He showed me once. I had gone to the farm to remonstrate with the farmer. There was a barn at the far end of the hay meadow, away from the house and the other barns. He made a hole in the hay bales up in the loft. He used to crawl in there and wait until the farmer had fallen into his usual drunken sleep.”

“Where, exactly, was the farm?”

“The hamlet is called Marionhain. I think it is still there. Just four farms in a group. All collectivized now. It lies between the villages of Ober and Nieder Grünstedt. Take the road out toward Erfurt. Four miles out, turn left down a track. There is a signpost. The farm was called Müller’s Farm, but that will be changed now. It probably just has a number. But if it is still there, look for a barn set two hundred yards away from the group, at the end of the meadow. Do you think you can help him?”

McCready rose.

“If he is there, Fräulein, I will try. I swear I will try. Thank you for your help.”

He turned at the door.

“You said there were three reasons you thought I was English, but you gave me only two.”

“Oh, yes. You are dressed as a farm worker, but you said you came from Berlin. There are no farms in Berlin. So you are a spy. Either working for them”—she jerked her head toward the window, where another truck rumbled past—“or for the other side.”

“I could have been an agent for the SSD.”

She smiled again. “No, Mister Englander. I remember the British officers from 1945, for a short while before the Rus­sians came. You are much too polite to be SSD.”

The track off the main road was where she had said it would be, to the left, toward the tract of rich farmland that lies between Highway Seven and the Autobahn E40. A small sign said OBER GRÜNSTEDT. He cycled down the track to a junc­tion a mile farther on. The road split. To his left lay Nieder Grünstedt. He could see a wall of green uniforms surrounding it. On either side of him lay fields of uncut maize, five feet high. He crouched low over the handlebars and pedaled away to his right. He skirted Ober Grünstedt and saw an even narrower track. Half a mile down it, he could make out the roofs of a group of farmhouses and barns, built in the Thuringian style with steeply sloped tiles, towering peaks, and tall wide doors to admit the hay wains to the hollow square yards inside. Marionhain.

He did not want to pass through the hamlet. There might be farm workers there who would clearly spot him as a stranger. He hid his bicycle in the maize and climbed a gate to get a better view. To his right he saw a single tall barn, of brick and black-tarred timbers, set away from the main group. Crouching inside the maize, he began to work his way around the hamlet toward it. On the horizon the tide of green uniforms began to move out of Nieder Grünstedt.

Dr. Lothar Herrmann was also working that Saturday morn­ing. Since he sent the cable to Fietzau at the German Embassy in London that had elicited a reply which brought his investi­gation no further forward, the trail of the missing Bruno Morenz had gone cold. He did not usually work on Saturdays, but he needed something to take his mind off his predicament. The previous evening he had had dinner with the Director General. It had not been an easy meal.

No arrest had been made in the case of the Heimendorf slayings. The police had not even issued a wanted notice for a particular person whom they wished to interview. They seemed to be up against a brick wall on the issue of one set of fingerprints and two used pistol bullets.

A number of very respectable gentlemen in both the private and the public sector had been discreetly questioned and had finished the interviews puce with embarrassment. But each had cooperated to the limit. Fingerprints had been given, handguns turned in for testing, alibis checked. The result was ... nothing.

The Director General had been regretful but adamant. The Service’s lack of cooperation had gone on long enough. On Monday morning he, the DG, was going to go to the Chancel­lor’s office for an interview with the State Secretary who had responsibility, at the political level, for the BND. It would be a very difficult interview, and he, the DG, was not pleased. Not pleased at all.

Now Dr. Herrmann opened the thick file dealing with cross-border radio traffic covering the period of Wednesday to Friday. He noted that there seemed to be an awful lot of it. Some kind of flap among the VOPOs in the Jena area. Then his eye caught a phrase used in a conversation between a VOPO patrol car and Jena Central: “Big, gray-haired, Rhineland accent.” He became pensive. That rang a bell. ...

An aide entered and placed a message in front of his boss. If the Herr Doktor insisted on working on Saturday morning, he might as well get the traffic as it came in. The message was a complimentary pass-on from the internal security service, the BfV. It simply said that a sharp-eyed operative at Hanover airport had noted a face entering Germany on a London flight under the name of Maitland. Being an alert fellow, the BfV man had checked his files and passed his identification on to the Head Office in Cologne. Cologne had passed it on to Pullach. The man Maitland was Mr. Samuel McCready.

Dr. Herrmann was affronted. It was most discourteous of a senior officer in an allied NATO service to enter the country unannounced. And unusual. Unless ... He looked at the intercepts from Jena and the message from Hanover. He wouldn’t dare, he thought. Then another part of his mind said: Yes, he damned well would. Dr. Herrmann lifted a phone and began to make his dispositions.

* * *

McCready left the cover of the maize, glanced to the left and the right, and crossed the few yards of grass to the barn. The door creaked on rusty hinges as he let himself in. Light streaked into the gloom from a dozen splits in the woodwork, making motes of dust dance in the air and revealing the huddled shapes of old carts and barrels, horse-tackle and rusting troughs. He glanced up. The upper floor, reached by a vertical ladder, was piled with hay. He went up the ladder and called softly, “Bruno.”

There was no reply. He walked past the piled hay looking for recent signs of disturbance. At the end of the barn he saw a fragment of raincoat fabric between two bales. He gently lifted one of the bales away.

Bruno Morenz lay in his sanctuary on his side. His eyes were open, but he made no movement. As the light entered his hiding place, he winced.

“Bruno, it’s me. Sam. Your friend. Look at me, Bruno.”

Morenz swiveled his gaze toward McCready. He was gray-faced and unshaven. He had not eaten for three days and had drunk only stagnant water from a barrel. His eyes appeared unfocused. They tried to register as he looked at McCready.

“Sam?”

“Yes, Sam. Sam McCready.”

“Don’t tell them I’m here, Sam. They won’t find me if you don’t tell them.”

“I won’t tell them, Bruno. Never.”

Through a crack in the planking he saw the line of green uniforms moving across the maize fields toward Ober Grünstedt.

“Try and sit up, Bruno.”

He helped Morenz into a sitting position, his back against the hay bales.

“We must hurry, Bruno. I’m going to try to get you out of here.”

Morenz shook his head dully. “Stay here, Sam. It’s safe here. No one could ever find me here.”

No, thought McCready, a drunken farmer never could. But five hundred soldiers could and would. He tried to get Morenz to his feet, but it was hopeless. The weight of the man was too much. His legs would not work. He clutched his hands across his chest. There was something bulging under his left arm. McCready let him slump back into the hay. Morenz curled up again. McCready knew he would never get him back to the border near Ellrich, under the wire, and across the minefield. It was over.

Through the crack, across the maize cobs bright in the sun, the green uniforms were swarming over the farms and barns of Ober Grünstedt. Marionhain would be next.

“I’ve been to see Fräulein Neumann. You remember Fräulein Neumann? She’s nice.”

“Yes, nice. She might know I’m here, but she won’t tell them.”

“Never, Bruno. Never. She said you have your homework for her. She needs to mark it.”

Morenz unbuttoned his raincoat and eased out a fat red manual. Its cover bore a gold hammer and sickle. Morenz’s tie was off and his shirt open. A key hung on a piece of twine around his neck. McCready took the manual.

“I’m thirsty, Sam.”

McCready held out a small silver hip flask that he had taken from his back pocket. Morenz drank the whiskey greedily. McCready looked through the crack. The soldiers had finished with Ober Grünstedt. Some were coming down the track, while others fanned out through the fields.

“I’m going to stay here, Sam,” said Morenz.

“Yes,” said McCready, “so you are. Good-bye, old friend. Sleep well. No one will ever hurt you again.”

“Never again,” murmured the man, and slept.

McCready was about to rise when he saw the glint of the key against Morenz’s chest. He eased the twine from around his neck, stowed the manual in his totebag, slithered down the ladder, and slipped away into the maize. The ring closed two minutes later. It was midday.

It took him twelve hours to get back to the giant pine tree on the border near Ellrich village. He changed into his smock and waited beneath the trees until half-past three. Then he flashed his pencil light three times toward the white rock across the border and crawled under the wire, through the minefield, and across the plowed strip. Siegfried was waiting for him at the fence.

On the drive back to Goslar, he flicked over the key he had taken from Bruno Morenz. It was made of steel, and engraved on the back were the words Flughafen Köln. Cologne airport. Sam bade farewell to Kurzlinger and Siegfried after a sustain­ing breakfast and drove southwest instead of north to Hano­ver.

At one o’clock on that Saturday afternoon, the soldiers made contact with Colonel Voss, who arrived in a staff car with a woman in a civilian suit. They went up the ladder and exam­ined the body in the hay. A thorough search was made, the barn was almost torn apart, but no sign was found of any written material, least of all a thick manual. But then, they did not know what they were looking for anyway.

A soldier pried a small silver flask from the dead man’s hand and passed it to Colonel Voss. He sniffed it and mut­tered, “Cyanide.” Major Vanavskaya took it and turned it over. On the back was written HARRODS, LONDON. She used a very unladylike expression. Although his command of Rus­sian was basic, Colonel Voss thought it sounded like “You Motherfucker.”

At noon on Sunday, McCready entered Cologne airport, well in time for the one o’clock flight. He changed his Hanover-to-London ticket for a Cologne-London one, checked in, and wandered toward the steel luggage lockers to one side of the concourse. He took the steel key and inserted it into locker 47. Inside was a black canvas grip. He withdrew it.

“I think I will take the bag, thank you, Herr McCready.”

He turned. The Deputy Head of the Operations Directorate of the BND was standing ten feet away. Two large gentlemen hovered farther on. One studied his fingernails, the other the ceiling, as if looking for cracks.

“Why, Dr. Herrmann. How nice to see you again. And what brings you to Cologne?”

“The bag ... if you please, Mr. McCready.”

It was handed over. Herrmann passed it to one of his team. He could afford to be genial.

“Come, Mr. McCready, we Germans are a hospitable peo­ple. Let me escort you to your plane. You would not wish to miss it.”

They walked toward passport control.

“A certain colleague of mine ...” suggested Herrmann.

“He will not be coming back, Dr. Herrmann.”

“Ah, poor man. But just as well, perhaps.”

They arrived at passport control. Dr. Herrmann produced a card and flashed it at the immigration officers, and they were ushered through. When the flight boarded, McCready was escorted to the aircraft door.

“Mr. McCready.”

He turned in the doorway. Herrmann smiled at last.

“We also know how to listen to cross-border radio chit­chat. Good journey, Mr. McCready. My regards to London.”

The news came to Langley a week later. General Pankratin had been transferred. In future, he would command a military detention complex of prison camps in Kazakhstan.

Claudia Stuart learned the news from her man in the Mos­cow Embassy. At the time, she was still basking in the plaudits that rained down from on high as the military analysts studied the complete Soviet Order of Battle. She was prepared to be philosophical about her Soviet general. As she remarked to Chris Appleyard in the commissary, “He keeps his skin and his rank. Better than the lead mines of Yakutsia. As for us—well, it’s cheaper than an apartment block in Santa Bar­bara.”

 

The hearing resumed on the following morning, Tuesday. Timothy Edwards remained formal courtesy itself, while pri­vately hoping the entire affair could be wound up with the minimum delay. He, like the two Controllers who flanked him, had work to do.

“Thank you for reminding us of the events of 1985,” he said, “though I feel one might point out that in intelligence terms, that year now constitutes a different and even a van­ished age.”

Denis Gaunt was having none of it. He knew he was entitled to recall any episode he wished from the career of his desk chief in an attempt to persuade the board to recommend to the Chief a variation of decision. He also knew there was scant chance of Timothy Edwards making that recommenda­tion, but it would be a majority choice at the end of the hearing, and it was to the two Controllers that he wished to appeal. He rose and crossed to the clerk from Records to ask him for another file.

Sam McCready was hot and becoming bored. Unlike Gaunt, he knew his chances were as slim as a dipstick. He had insisted on the hearing mainly out of contrariness. He leaned back and allowed his attention to wander. Whatever Denis Gaunt would say, he knew it already.

It had been so long, thirty years, that he had lived in the small world of Century House and the Secret Intelligence Service—just about all his working life. If he was ousted now, he wondered where he would go. He even wondered, not for the first time, how he had gotten into that strange, shadowed world in the first place. Nothing about his working-class birth could ever have predicted that one day he would be a senior officer of the SIS.

He had been born in the spring of 1939, the same year the second World War broke out, the son of a milkman in south London. Only vaguely, in one or two frozen flashback mem­ories, could he recall his father.

As a baby, along with his mother, he had been evacuated from London after the fall of France in 1940, when the Luftwaffe began its long hot summer of raids on the British capital. He remembered none of it. His mother told him later that they had returned in the autumn of 1940 to the small terraced house in poor but neat Norbury Street, but by then his father had gone to the war.

There was a picture of his parents on their wedding day—he remembered that very clearly. She was in white, with a posy, and the big man beside her was very stiff and proper in a dark suit with a carnation in his buttonhole. It stood on the mantle shelf above the fireplace, in a silver frame, and she polished it every day. Later, another picture took its place at the other end of the shelf, of a big smiling man in uniform with a sergeant’s stripes on his sleeve.

His mother went out every day, leaving him in the care of Auntie Vi, who ran the sweet shop down the road. She caught the bus to Croydon, where she scrubbed the steps and hall­ways of the prosperous middle-class people who lived there. She took in washing, too; he could just recall how the tiny kitchen was always full of steam as she worked through the night to have it ready by morning.

Once—it must have been 1944—the big smiling man came home and picked him up and held him high in the air as he squealed. Then he went away again to join the forces landing on the Normandy beaches and to die in the assault on Caen. Sam remembered his mother crying a lot that summer, and that he tried to say something to her but did not know what to say, so he just cried as well, even though he did not really know why.

The next January, he started at a play school. He thought that was a pity because Auntie Vi used to let him lick his finger and dip it into the sherbet jar. It was the same spring that the German V-1 rockets, the doodlebugs, began to rain down on London, launched from their ramps in the Low Countries.

He remembered very clearly the day, just before his sixth birthday, when the man in the air raid warden’s uniform had come to the play school, his tin hat on his head and his gas mask swinging at his side.

There had been an air raid, and the children had spent the morning in the cellar, which was much more fun than lessons. After the all-clear sounded, they had gone back to class.

The man had a whispered conversation with the headmis­tress, and she took him out of class and led him by the hand to her own parlor behind the schoolroom, where she fed him seed cake. He waited there, very small and bewildered, until the nice man from Dr. Barnardo’s came to take him away to the orphanage. Later they told him there was no more silver-framed picture and no more photo of the big smiling man with the sergeant’s stripes.

He did well at Barnardo’s and passed all his exams, and he left to join the army as a boy soldier. When he was eighteen, they posted him to Malaya, where the undeclared war was going on between the British and the Communist terrorists in the jungle. He was seconded to the Intelligence Corps as a clerk.

One day he went to his Colonel and made a suggestion. The Colonel, a career officer, promptly said, “Put it in writing,” so he did.

The counterintelligence people had captured a leading ter­rorist with the help of some local Malay Chinese. McCready proposed that information be leaked through the Chinese community that the man was singing like a canary and was to be moved down from Ipoh to Singapore in a convoy on a certain day.

When the terrorists attacked the convoy, the van turned out to be armored inside and to contain slits hiding machine guns on tripods. When the ambush was over, there were sixteen Communist Chinese dead in the bush, twelve more badly injured, and the Malay Scouts cleaned up the rest. Sam McCready remained at his duties in Kuala Lumpur for another year, then left the army and returned to England. The pro­posal he had written for his Colonel was certainly filed away, but someone somewhere must have seen it.

He was waiting in line at the Labour Exchange—they did not call them Job Centers in those days—when he felt a tap on his arm, and a middle-aged man in a tweed jacket and brown trilby suggested he come to the nearby pub for a drink. Two weeks and three more interviews later, he was recruited into the Firm. Since then, for thirty years, the Firm had constituted the only family he had ever had.

He heard his name mentioned and snapped out of his reverie. Might as well pay attention, he reminded himself; it’s my career they’re talking about.

It was Denis Gaunt, with a bulky file in his hands.

“I think, gentlemen, we might with advantage consider a series of events in 1986 that alone might justify a reconsidera­tion in the case of the early retirement of Sam McCready. Events that started, at least as far as we are concerned, on a spring morning on Salisbury Plain. ...”

Chapter 1

There was still a hint of fog hanging, away to their right, over the stretch of woodland known as Fox Covert, presaging a warm clear day to come.

On the knoll that dominated the rolling stretch of ground known to generations of soldiers as Frog Hill, the group of mixed military officers took their station to observe the forth­coming army maneuvers that would simulate a battle at bat­talion strength between two matched sets of opponents. Both groups would be British soldiers, divided for the sake of diplomacy not into “the Brits” and “the enemy” but into the Blues and the Greens. Even the usual designation of one group as “the Reds” had been changed, in deference to the composition of the officers on the knoll.

Across the stretch of open country at the northern edge of Salisbury Plain, so beloved by the British Army as a perfect maneuver ground much resembling the Central German Plain, over which it had been assumed the Third World War might have to be fought, umpires were scattered who would award points that would eventually decide the outcome of the battle. Men would not die that day; they would just prepare to.

Behind the officer group were the vehicles that had brought them there: several staff cars and a greater number of less comfortable Land-Rovers in camouflage stripes or dull green. Orderlies from the Catering Corps set up field kitchens to provide the succession of mugs of steaming tea and coffee that would be demanded throughout the day and began to unpack a cold collation of snacks.

The officers milled about or stood stationary in the poses and activities of observing officers anywhere in the world. Some studied maps protected by plastic sheeting, on which notations in chinagraph pencils would later be made and erased. Others studied the distant terrain through powerful field glasses. Others conferred gravely among each other.

At the center of the group was the senior British general, the commanding officer of Southern Command. Beside him stood his personal guest, the senior ranking general of the visitors. Between and slightly behind them stood a bright young Subaltern fresh out of language school, who murmured a running translation into the ears of both men.

The British group of officers was the larger, just over thirty men. They all wore an air of gravity, as if well aware of both the unusualness and the importance of the occasion. They also seemed somewhat wary, as if unable quite to shake off the habit of years. For this was the first year of perestroika, and although Soviet officers had been invited to watch British maneuvers in Germany, this was the first time they had come to the heart of England as guests of the British Army. Old habits die hard.

The Russians were as grave as the British, or more so. There were seventeen of them, and each had been carefully picked and screened. Several spoke passable English and admitted it; five spoke perfect English and pretended not to.

The speaking of English had not, however, been the first priority in their selection. Expertise was the first considera­tion. Each Soviet officer was an expert in his field and well acquainted with British equipment, tactics, and structures. Their instructions were not simply to listen to what they were told, even less to accept it; but to study hard, miss nothing, and report back exactly how good the Brits were, what equipment they used, how they used it, and if at all, where their weak points lay.

They had arrived the previous evening after a day in London, much of it spent at their own embassy. The first dinner at the Officers’ Mess at Tidworth Army Base had been fairly formal, even a trifle strained, but without incident. The jokes and the songs would come later, perhaps on their second or third evening. The Russians were aware that among the sev­enteen of them, there had to be five at least who were watching the rest, and probably each other as well.

No one mentioned this to the British group, nor did the British see fit to point out that among their own thirty mem­bers there were four who were actually from Counterintelligence, the watchers. At least the British’ watchers were only there to watch the Russians and not their fellow countrymen.

The Russian group comprised two generals, one whose insignia showed him to be from Motorized Rifles, the other from the Armored Corps; a General Staff full colonel; from Military Intelligence one colonel, one major, and one captain, all “declared,” meaning they admitted they really were from Military Intelligence; a colonel of the Airborne Forces at whose open-necked combat blouse could be seen a triangle of blue-white-striped singlet, the insignia of Spetsnaz, or Special Forces; a colonel and a captain from Infantry and the same from Armored. In addition there was a half-colonel from Ops Staff, plus a major and two captains; and a colonel and major from Signals.

The Soviet Military Intelligence Corps is known as the GRU, and the three “declared” GRU men wore their proper insignia. They alone knew that the Signals major and one of the captains from Ops Staff were also GRU but undeclared. Neither the remainder of the Russians nor the British knew this.

The British, for their part, had not felt it necessary to tell the Russians that twenty operatives from the Security Service were posted around the officers’ mess at Tidworth and would remain until the Soviet delegation departed for London and the Moscow flight on the morning of the third day. These watchers were now tending the lawns and flower beds, waiting table, or polishing bits of brass. Through the night they would “spell” each other, taking turns to keep the mess building under observation from vantage points scattered in a wider ring. As the Chief of General Staff had mentioned to the OC Southern Command at a ministry briefing several days earlier, “One really would prefer not to lose one of the buggers.”

The war game began on schedule at nine o’clock and proceeded throughout the day. The paratroop drop by Second Battalion, Parachute Regiment, took place just after lunch. A major of Two Para found himself standing next to the Soviet Airborne Colonel, who was watching with the keenest inter­est.

“I see,” observed the Russian, “that you still favor the two-inch company mortar.”

“A useful tool,” agreed the Britisher. “Effective and still reliable.”

“I agree,” said the Russian in slow, accented English. “I used them in Afghanistan.”

“Indeed. I used them in the Falklands,” said the major from Two Para. He thought, but did not say, “And the difference is, we won in short order in the Falklands, and you are losing badly in Afghanistan.”

The Russian permitted himself a grim smile. The Britisher smiled back. “Bastard,” thought the Russian. “He’s thinking how badly we are doing in Afghanistan.”

Both men kept smiling. Neither could have known that in two years the remarkable new General Secretary in Moscow would order the entire Soviet Army to withdraw from the Afghan adventure. It was early days, and old habits die hard.

That evening the dinner at Tidworth barracks was more relaxed. The wine flowed; vodka, which the British Army rarely drinks, was in evidence. Across the language barrier an element of jocularity raised its head. The Russians took their cue from their senior general, the Motorized Rifles one. He seemed to be beaming at the translated conversation from the British general, so they relaxed. The major from Ops Staff listened to a British tank man tell a joke and nearly burst out laughing before realizing he was not supposed to understand any English and had to wait for the translation.

The major from Two Para found himself next to the declared major from Soviet Military Intelligence, the GRU. He thought he would practice his smattering of Russian.

Govoritya-vi pa-Angleeski?” he asked.

The Russian was delighted. “Ochen malinko,” he replied, then dropped into halting English. “Very little, I am afraid. I try with books at home, but it is not so good.”

“Better than my Russian, I’m sure,” said the paratrooper. “By the way, I’m Paul Sinclair.”

“Please, I am so sorry,” said the Russian. He reached around and held out his hand. “Pavel Kuchenko.”

It was a good dinner and ended with songs in the bar before the two groups of officers trooped off to their rooms at eleven o’clock. A number of them would appreciate that the follow­ing morning would permit a lie-in—the orderlies were in­structed to appear with cups of tea at seven o’clock.

In fact, Major Kuchenko was up at five and spent two hours seated quietly behind the lace curtains that covered the win­dows of his bachelor bedroom. He sat with all his lights out and studied the road that ran past the front of the officers’ mess toward the main gate leading to the Tidworth road. He spotted or thought he spotted three men in the half-gloom of very early morning who might be watchers.

He also spotted, precisely at six o’clock, Colonel Arbuthnot appear from the main doors of the mess almost beneath him and depart on what was apparently his regular morning jog­ging run. He had reason to believe it was a regular habit—he had seen the elderly colonel do exactly the same the previous morning.

Colonel Arbuthnot was not a difficult man to spot, for his left arm was missing. He had lost it years earlier while on patrol with his levies in that strange half-forgotten war in the hills of Dhofar, a campaign fought by British Special Forces and Omani levies to prevent a Communist revolution from toppling the Sultan of Oman and taking control of the Straits of Hormuz. A sentimental Army board had permitted him to stay on in the Army, and he was by then the catering officer at Tidworth officers’ mess. Every morning he kept in trim with a five-mile jog down the road and back, an accepted figure in white tracksuit with cowl hood and blue piping, the loose left sleeve neatly pinned to the fabric by his side. For the second morning, Major Kuchenko watched him thought­fully.

The second day of war games passed without incident, and finally all the officers of both nationalities agreed the umpires had done a good job in awarding a technical victory to the Greens, who had finally dislodged the Blues from their posi­tions on Frog Hill and secured Fox Covert from counterat­tack. The third dinner was very jolly, with copious toasts and later a much-applauded rendering of “Malinka” from the young Russian Ops Staff captain, who was not a spy but had a fine baritone voice. The Russian group was due to congre­gate in the main lobby after breakfast at nine A.M. the next morning to board the coach for Heathrow. The coach would come from London with two embassy staff on board to see them through the airport. During the singing of “Malinka,” no one noticed that Colonel Arbuthnot’s room, which was not locked, was entered by someone who left sixty seconds later as quietly as he had come and who later rejoined the group at the bar, coming from the direction of the men’s toilet.

At ten minutes to six the next morning a figure in white-cowled tracksuit with blue piping, the empty left sleeve pinned to the side, trotted down the steps of the mess and turned toward Main Gate. The figure was spotted by a watcher behind the glass of a window in an upper room of another building two hundred yards away. He made a note but took no action.

At the gate the Corporal of the Guard came out of the guardroom and threw up a salute to the figure as it ducked under the barrier. The runner, not wearing a cap, was unable to return the salute but raised a hand in salutation, then turned in the usual direction and jogged toward Tidworth.

At ten past six the corporal glanced up, stared, then turned to his sergeant.

“I’ve just seen Colonel Arbuthnot go past,” he said.

“So?” asked the sergeant.

“Twice,” said the corporal. The sergeant was tired. They would both be relieved in twenty minutes. Breakfast awaited. He shrugged.

“Must have forgotten something,” he said. He would regret that remark—later, at the disciplinary hearing.

Major Kuchenko ducked into some trees beside the road after half a mile and slipped out of the stolen white tracksuit and hid it in deep undergrowth. When he went back to the road he was in gray flannel slacks and tweed jacket over a shirt and tie. Only his Adidas running shoes were at odds with the outfit. He suspected but could not be sure that a mile behind him jogged an annoyed Colonel Arbuthnot, who had wasted ten fruitless minutes searching for his regular tracksuit before coming to the conclusion that his orderly must have taken it for laundering and not returned it. He was wearing his spare, and he had not yet noticed he was also missing a shirt, tie, jacket, slacks, and a pair of running shoes.

Kuchenko could easily have stayed ahead of the British colonel until Arbuthnot turned around to make his way back, but he was saved the trouble by a car that came from behind him and stopped at his wave. Kuchenko leaned toward the window on the passenger side.

“I’m awfully sorry,” he said, “but my car seems to have broken down. Back there. I was wondering whether I could get some help from a garage in North Tidworth?”

“Bit early,” said the driver, “but I can run you up there. Jump in.”

The paratroops major would have been amazed at Kuchenko’s sudden mastery of English. But the foreign accent was still there.

“Not from these parts, are you?” asked the driver by way of conversation. Kuchenko laughed.

“No. I am from Norway. Touring your British cathedrals.”

Kuchenko was dropped by the kindly driver in the center of the sleepy town of North Tidworth at ten minutes to seven. The driver drove on toward Marlborough. He would never see any reason to mention the incident again, nor would anyone ever ask him.

In the town center Kuchenko found a phone booth and at exactly one minute to seven dialed a London number, punch­ing in a fifty-pence piece to start the call. It was answered at the fifth ring.

“I’d like to speak to Mr. Roth, Mr. Joe Roth,” said Ku­chenko.

“Yeah, this is Joe Roth speaking,” said the voice at the other end.

“Pity,” said Kuchenko. “You see, I really hoped I might talk to Chris Hayes.”

In his small but elegant Mayfair apartment, Joe Roth stiff­ened, and all his professional antennae went onto red alert. He had only been awake for twenty minutes, still in pajamas, unshaven, running a bath, and preparing his first coffee of the day. He had been crossing the sitting room from the kitchen, juice in one hand, coffee in the other, when the phone rang. It was early, even for him, and he was not a late riser, even though his job as Assistant Public Affairs officer at the Amer­ican Embassy just a quarter of a mile away in Grosvenor Square did not require him to check in until ten.

Joe Roth was CIA, but he was not the Company’s Head of London Station. That honor went to William Carver, and Carver was with Western Hemisphere Division, as all station heads would be. As such, Carver was “declared,” which meant that just about everyone who mattered knew what he was and what job he did. Carver would sit, ex officio, on the British Joint Intelligence Committee, the official representa­tive of the Company in London.

Roth came from the Office of Special Projects, a bureau formed only six years ago to handle, as its name implied, projects and active measures that Langley regarded as suffi­ciently sensitive to merit the station Heads later being able to claim innocence, even to America’s allies.

All CIA officers, of whatever department they come from, have a real name and an operational or professional name. The real name, in friendly embassies, actually is real; Joe Roth really was Joe Roth and was listed as such in the Diplomatic List. But unlike Carver, Joe was undeclared, except to a tiny caucus of three or four British counterparts, in the Secret Intelligence Service. And his professional name was equally known to only that same few, plus some of his colleagues back in America. To have it thrown at him down a phone line at seven A.M., and in a voice with a non-British accent, was like a warning buzzer.

“I’m sorry,” he said carefully, “You’ve got Joe Roth here. Who is that speaking?”

“Listen carefully, Mr. Roth, or Mr. Hayes. My name is Pyotr Alexandrovitch Orlov. I am a full colonel of the KGB.”

“Look, if this is a joke—”

“Mr. Roth, my calling you by your operational name is no joke for you. My defection to the U.S.A. is no joke for me. And that is what I am offering to do. I want to get to America—fast. Very soon now, it will be impossible for me to go back to my own side. No excuse will be accepted. I have an enormous amount of information of great value to your Agency, Mr. Roth. You must make your decision quickly, or I go back while there is time.”

Roth was scribbling rapidly on a jotting pad he had clawed off his sitting-room coffee table. The pad still had the scores from the poker game he had concluded late the previous evening with Sam McCready. He recalled later thinking, “Je­sus, if Sam could hear this now, he’d go apeshit.” He cut in.

“Where exactly are you now, Colonel?”

“In a phone booth in a small town near Salisbury Plain,” said the voice. Grammatically, the English was near perfect. Only the accent was clearly foreign. Roth had been trained to discern accents, place them. This one was Slavic, probably Russian. He still wondered whether this would turn out to be one of Sam McCready’s crazy jokes, whether he would sud­denly hear peals of laughter coming down the phone at him. Dammit, it wasn’t even April Fool’s Day. It was the third.

“For three days,” said the voice, “I have been with a group of Soviet officers attending British military maneuvers on Salisbury Plain. Staying at Tidworth barracks. My cover there was as Major Pavel Kuchenko of the GRU. I walked out one hour ago. If I am not back within one hour, I cannot go back at all. It will take me half an hour to get back. You have thirty minutes to give me your decision, Mr. Roth.”

“Okay, Colonel. I’ll go with it—so far. I want you to call me back in fifteen minutes. The line will be clear. You will have your answer.”

“Fifteen minutes. Then I walk back,” said the voice, and the phone went down.

Roth’s mind was racing. He was thirty-nine, and he had spent twelve years in the Agency. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. But then, many men spent their entire working lives in the Agency and never smelted a Soviet defector. But he knew about them, they all knew about them; all field operatives were briefed and lectured and trained to be aware of the constant possibility of a Soviet defection.

Most, he knew, came after initial, tentative approaches. Usually, they came after long thought and some preparation by the defector. Messages were passed to the known Agency men in the area: “I want to meet, I want to discuss terms.” Usually the potential defector was asked to stay in place and provide a stream of information before finally “coming over.” If he refused, he was urged at least to come with a bagful of documents. The amount he could send out before coming over or bring with him would affect his standing, his rewards, his life-style. In the trade, it was called the bride-price.

Occasionally, just occasionally, you got what is called a “walk-in.” The defector simply appeared, having burned his boats behind him, unable to go back. That left little choice; you either accepted the man or cast him back into a refugee camp. The latter was rarely done, not even in the case of a rather useless, low-level defector like a merchant seaman or a private soldier with nothing to offer. It was usually done only if lie-detector tests at the point of defection proved the man was a disinformation agent. Then America would refuse to accept him. When that happened, the Russians just bit the bullet, got their agent out of the refugee camp, and took him home.

On one occasion, to Roth’s knowledge, the KGB had traced a turned-down defector to a refugee camp and liquidated him because he had failed the polygraph test, even though he had been telling the truth. The machine had interpreted his nerv­ousness as lies. Damned bad luck. Of course, that was in the old days; the lie detectors were better now.

And here was a man claiming to be a full colonel of the KGB who wanted just to walk in. No forewarning. No hag­gling. No suitcase full of documents fresh from the KGB Rezidentsia of his latest posting. And defecting right in the heart of England of all places, not the Middle East or Latin America. And to the Americans, not the Brits. Or had he already approached the Brits? Been turned down? Roth’s mind raced across the possibilities, and the minutes ticked away.

Five past seven—five past two in Washington. Everyone asleep. He ought to call Calvin Bailey, head of Special Pro­jects, his boss. Now no doubt fast asleep in Georgetown. But the time—there wasn’t time. He flipped open a wall cabinet to reveal his private computer. Swiftly, he tapped himself into the mainframe deep beneath the embassy in Grosvenor Square. He put the computer into encrypted mode and asked the mainframe to consider senior KGB officers known to the West. Then he asked: Who is Pyotr Alexandrovitch Orlov?

One of the strange things about the covert world is the almost clublike atmosphere that can exist within it. Pilots share the same sort of camaraderie, but they are allowed to. Paratroopers have it also, and Special Forces. Professionals tend to respect each other, even across the barriers of rivalry, opposition, or outright hostility. In the Second World War the fighter pilots of the Luftwaffe and the RAF seldom hated each other, leaving such sentiments to the zealots and civilians. Professionals serve their political masters and bureaucrats loyally, but would usually prefer to sink a pint of beer with others of their own arcane skills, even the opposition.

In the covert world, careful note is taken of just whom the opposition is putting up at bat this week. Promotions and transfers in allied, rival, or enemy agencies are carefully noted and filed. In any capital city the KGB Rezident will probably know who the British and American stations heads are, and vice versa. In Dar-es-Salaam once, the KGB chief at a cock­tail party came up to the British SIS station head with a whiskey and soda.

“Mr. Child,” he announced solemnly, “you know who I am, and I know who you are. Ours is a difficult profession. We should not ignore each other.” They drank to that.

The CIA mainframe computer in London is linked straight through to Langley, Virginia. In response to Roth’s question, little circuits began to run through lists of KGB officers known to the CIA. There were hundreds of “confirmed” and thou­sands of “suspected.” Mostly this knowledge came from defectors themselves, for one of the areas that debriefing officers are always keen to explore with a newly arrived defector is that of who is who these days, who has been transferred, who demoted or promoted. The knowledge grows with each new defector.

Roth knew that over the past four years, the British had been more than helpful in this regard, providing hundreds of names—many of them new, others confirmations of suspi­cions. The Brits attributed their knowledge in part to inter­cepts, in part to smart analysis, and in part to defectors like Vladimir Kuzichkin, the Illegals Directorate man they had spirited out of Beirut. Wherever Langley’s databank had got its original information, it did not waste time. Letters in green began to flash up on Roth’s small screen.

PYOTR ALEXANDROVITCH ORLOV. KGB. FULL COLO­NEL. PAST FOUR YEARS BELIEVED IN THIRD DIRECTOR­ATE. BELIEVED MASQUERADING AS GRU MAJOR IN­SIDE RED ARMY JOINT PLANNING STAFF MOSCOW. PREVIOUS POSTINGS KNOWN AS OPS PLANNING MOS­COW CENTER AND FIRST CHIEF DIRECTORATE (ILLE­GALS DIRECTORATE) YAZENEVO.

Roth whistled as the machine ended its knowledge of a man called Orlov, and he shut it down. What the voice on the phone had said made sense. The Third or Armed Forces Directorate of the KGB was that department tasked to keep a constant eye on the loyalty of the Armed Forces. As such, it was deeply resented but tolerated. AFD officers usually infil­trated the Armed Forces disguised as GRU or Military Intel­ligence officers. This would explain their being anywhere and everywhere, and asking questions, and keeping up surveil­lance. If Orlov had really been for four years posing as a GRU major on the Joint Planning Staff of the Soviet Defense Ministry, he would be a walking encyclopedia. It would also account for his being in the group of Soviet officers invited under the recent NATO-Warsaw Pact agreement to Salisbury Plain to watch the British war games.

He checked his watch. Seven-fourteen. No time to call Langley. He had sixty seconds to decide. Too risky—tell him to go back to the officers’ mess, slip into his room, and accept a nice cup of tea from a British steward. Then back to Heathrow and Moscow. Try and persuade him to do his run at Heathrow, give me time to contact Calvin Bailey in Wash­ington. The phone rang.

“Mr. Roth, there is a bus outside the phone booth. The first of the morning. I think it is taking civilian cleaning staff to Tidworth barracks. I can just get back in time, if I have to.”

Roth took a deep breath. Career on the line, boy, right on the line.

“Okay, Colonel Orlov, we’ll take you. I’ll contact my British colleagues—they’ll have you safe within thirty min­utes.”

“No.” The voice was harsh, brooking no opposition. “I come to the Americans only. I want out of here and into America fast. That is the deal, Mr. Roth. No other deal.”

“Now look, Colonel—”

“No, Mr. Roth, I want you to pick me up yourself. In two hours. The forecourt of the Andover railway station. Then to Upper Heyford USAF base. You get me on a transport to America. It’s the only deal I will take.”

“All right, Colonel. You got it. I’ll be there.”

It took Roth ten minutes to throw on street clothes, grab a passport, CIA identification, money, and car keys, and head downstairs for his car in the basement garage.

Fifteen minutes after putting down the phone, he eased his way into Park Lane and headed north for Marble Arch and the Bayswater Road, preferring that route to the scramble through Knightsbridge and Kensington.

By eight, he was past Heathrow and had turned south on the M25 then southwest along the M3, linking to the A303 to Andover. He entered the forecourt of the railway station at ten past nine. There was a stream of cars sweeping in to deposit travelers and leaving the forecourt within seconds. The travelers hurried into the station concourse. Only one man was not moving. He leaned against a wall in a tweed jacket, gray trousers, and running shoes and scanned a morn­ing paper. Roth approached him.

“I think you must be the man I have come to meet,” he said softly. The reader looked up, calm gray eyes, a hard face in its mid-forties.

“That depends if you have identification,” said the man. It was the same voice as the one on the phone. Roth tendered his CIA pass. Orlov studied it and nodded. Roth gestured to his car, engine still running, blocking several behind it. Orlov looked around as if saying good-bye for the last time to a world he had known. Without a word, he stepped into the car.

Roth had told the Embassy Duty Officer to alert Upper Heyford that he would be coming with a guest. It took nearly two hours more to cut across country to the Oxfordshire base of the USAF. Roth drove straight to the Base Commander’s office. There were two calls to Washington; then Langley cleared it with the Pentagon, who instructed the Base Com­mander. A communications flight out of Upper Heyford to Andrews Air Force Base, in Maryland, that afternoon at three P.M. had two extra passengers.

That was five hours after everything had hit the fan from Tidworth to London and back. Long before takeoff, there was a most imperial row going on among the British Army, the Defense Ministry, the Security Service, and the Russian Embassy.

The Soviet group had assembled for breakfast around eight o’clock in the officers’ mess dining hall, by now chatting relaxedly to their British counterparts. There were sixteen of them by eight-twenty. The absence of Major Kuchenko was noted, but not with any sense of alarm.

About ten minutes before nine, the sixteen Russians reas­sembled in the main lobby with their baggage, and again the absence of Major Kuchenko was noted. A steward was dis­patched to his room to ask him to hurry up. The coach stood outside the door.

The steward returned to say the major’s room was empty, but his gear was still there. A delegation of two British officers and two Russians went up to look for him. They established that the bed had been slept in, that the bath towel was damp, and that all Kuchenko’s clothes were apparently present, indicating he must be somewhere nearby. A search was made of the bathroom down the corridor (only the two Russian generals had been accorded private bathrooms), but the search drew a blank. Toilets were also checked, but they were empty. By now the faces of the two Russians, including the GRU colonel, had lost all trace of bonhomie.

The British were also becoming worried. A complete search of the mess building was made, but to no avail. A British Intelligence captain slipped out to talk to the invisible watch­ers from the Security Service. Their log showed that two officers in tracksuits had gone jogging that morning but only one had returned. A frantic call was made to Main Gate. The night log showed only that Colonel Arbuthnot had left and that he had returned.

To solve the problem, the Corporal of the Guard was summoned from his bed. He related the double departure of Colonel Arbuthnot, who was confronted and hotly denied he had ever left Main Gate, returned, and left again. A search of his room revealed that he was missing a white tracksuit, plus a jacket, shirt, tie, and slacks. The Intelligence captain had a hurried and whispered conversation with the senior British general, who became extremely grave and asked the senior Russian to accompany him to his office.

When the Russian general emerged, he was white with anger and demanded an immediate staff car to take him to his embassy in London. Word spread among the other fifteen Russians, who became frosty and unapproachable. It was ten o’clock. The telephoning began.

The British general raised the Chief of Staff in London and gave him a complete situation report. Another sitrep went from the senior watcher to his superiors in the Security Service headquarters at Curzon Street, London. There it went right up to the Deputy Director General, who at once sus­pected the hand of TSAR, the friendly acronym by which the Security Service sometimes refers to the Secret Intelligence Service. It stands for: Those Shits Across the River.

South of the Thames in Century House, Assistant Chief Timothy Edwards took a call from Curzon Street but was able to deny that the SIS had had anything to do with it. As he put the phone down he pressed a buzzer on his desk and barked: “Ask Sam McCready to step up here at once, would you?”

By noon, the Russian general, accompanied by the GRU colonel, was closeted in the Soviet Embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens with the Soviet Defense attaché, who was posing as a Major-General of Infantry but actually held the same rank in the GRU. None of the three knew that Major Kuchenko was actually Colonel Orlov of the KGB—a knowl­edge confined to a very few senior officers on the Joint Planning Staff in Moscow. In fact, all three men would have been deeply relieved to know—few things please Russian Army men as much as the KGB with egg all over its face. In London, they thought that they had lost a GRU major and were deeply unhappy at Moscow’s expected reaction.

At Cheltenham, the Government Communications Head­quarters, the nation’s listening post, noted and reported a sudden frantic increase in Soviet radio traffic between the embassy and Moscow, in both the diplomatic and the military codes.

During the lunch hour the Soviet Ambassador, Leonid Zamyatin, lodged a vigorous protest with the British Foreign Office, alleging kidnapping, and demanded immediate access to Major Kuchenko. The protest bounced straight back down from the Foreign Office to all the covert agencies, who in unison held up their lily-white hands and replied, “But we haven’t got him.”

Long before midday, the rage of the Russians was being matched by the puzzlement of the British. The manner in which Kuchenko (they were still calling him that) had made his escape was bizarre, to put it mildly. Defectors did not simply defect in order to go to a bar for a beer; they headed for sanctuary, usually one that had been prepared in advance. If Kuchenko had bolted into a police station—it had been known—the Wiltshire police would have notified London at once. With all the British agencies protesting their innocence, that left the possibility of other agencies based on British soil.

Bill Carver, the CIA station head in London, was in an impossible position. Roth had been forced to contact Langley from the air base to get clearance on the USAF flight, and Langley had informed Carver. Carver knew the rules of the Anglo-American agreement on such matters—it would be taken as deeply offensive for the Americans to spirit a Russian out of England under the nose of the Brits without telling them. But Carver was warned to delay until the military flight cleared British airspace. He took refuge in the ruse of being unavailable all morning, then asked for an urgent meeting with Timothy Edwards at three P.M., which was granted.

Carver was late—he had sat three blocks away in his car until he learned on the car phone that the flight was airborne. By the time he saw Edwards, it was ten past three and the American jet was clear of the Bristol Channel and south of Ireland, next stop Maryland.

By the time Edwards confronted him, Carver had already received a full report from Roth, brought by a USAF dispatch rider from the air base to London. Roth explained that he had been given no choice but to take Kuchenko/Orlov at zero notice or let him go back, and that Orlov would absolutely come only to the Americans.

Carver used this to try to take the sting out of the insult to the British. Edwards had long since checked with McCready and knew exactly who Orlov was—the American databank consulted by Roth just after seven A.M. had come from the SIS in the first place. Privately, Edwards knew that he too would have acted exactly as Roth had, given the opportunity of such a prize, but he remained cool and offended. Having formally received Carver’s report, he at once informed his own Defense Ministry, Foreign Office, and sister service, Security. Kuchenko (he saw no need to tell everyone that the man’s real name was Orlov—yet) was on American sovereign territory and out of any British control.

An hour later, Ambassador Zamyatin arrived at the Foreign Office in King Charles Street and was shown straight to the office of the Foreign Secretary himself. Though he purported to receive the explanation with skepticism, he was privately prepared to believe Sir Geoffrey Howe, whom he knew to be a very honorable man. With a show of continuing outrage, the Russian went back to the embassy and told Moscow. The Soviet military delegation flew home late that night, deeply dejected at the prospect of the endless interrogations that were in store for them.

In Moscow itself, a blazing row had been raging between the KGB, which accused the GRU of not exercising sufficient vigilance, and the GRU, which accused the KGB of having treasonous officers on its staff. Orlov’s wife, deeply distraught and protesting her innocence, was being interrogated, as were all Orlov’s colleagues, superiors, friends, and contacts.

In Washington, the Director of Central Intelligence took an angry phone call from the Secretary of State, who had re­ceived a deeply pained telegram from Sir Geoffrey Howe over the handling of the matter. As he put the phone down, the DCI looked across his desk at two men: the Deputy Director (Operations) and the Head of Special Projects, Calvin Bailey. It was to the latter that he spoke.

“Your young Mr. Roth. He certainly stirred up a hornets’ nest on this one. You say he acted on his own authority?”

“He did. As I understand it, the Russian gave him no time to go through channels. It was take it or leave it.”

Bailey was a thin, astringent man, not given to making close personal friendships in the Agency. People found him aloof, chilly. But he was good at his job.

“We’ve upset the Brits pretty badly. Would you have taken the same risk?” asked the DCI.

“I don’t know,” said Bailey. “We won’t know until we talk to Orlov. Really talk.”

The DCI nodded. In the covert world, as in all others, the rule was simple. If you took a gamble and it paid rich dividends, you were a smart fellow, destined for the highest office. If the gamble failed, there was always early retirement. The DCI wanted to pin it down.

“You taking responsibility for Roth? For better, for worse?”

“Yes,” said Bailey, “I will. It’s done now. We have to see what we’ve got.”

When the military flight landed at Andrews just after six P.M. Washington time, there were five Agency cars waiting on the tarmac. Before the service personnel could disembark, the two men whom none of them recognized or would ever see again were escorted off the plane and enveloped by the dark-windowed sedans waiting below. Bailey met Orlov, nod­ded coolly, and saw the Russian ensconced in the second car. He turned to Roth.

“I’m giving him to you, Joe. You brought him out, you debrief him.”

“I’m not an interrogator,” said Roth. “It’s not my spe­cialty.”

Bailey shrugged. “He asked for you. You brought him out. He owes you. Maybe he’ll be more relaxed with you. You’ll have all the backup—translators, analysts, specialists in every area he touches on. And the polygraph, of course. Start with the polygraph. Take him to the Ranch—they’re expecting you. And Joe—I want it all. As it comes, at once, my eyes only, by hand. Okay?”

Roth nodded.

Seventeen hours earlier, when he donned a white tracksuit in a bedroom in England, Pyotr Orlov, alias Pavel Kuchenko, had been a trusted Soviet officer with a home, a wife, a career, and a motherland. Now he was a bundle, a package, huddled in the back of a sedan in a strange land, destined to be squeezed for every last drop of juice, and certainly feeling, as they all do, the first pangs of doubt and maybe panic.

Roth turned to climb into the car beside the Russian.

“One last thing, Joe,” said Bailey. “If Orlov, who is now code-named Minstrel, turns out to be a no-no, the Director is going to have my ass. About thirty seconds after I have yours. Good luck.”

The Ranch was and remains a CIA safe house, a genuine farm in the horse-raising country of southern Virginia. Not too far from Washington, it is buried in deep woodland, railed and fenced, approached by a long driveway, and guarded by teams of very fit young men who have all passed the unarmed combat and weapons training courses at Quantico.

Orlov was shown to a comfortable two-room suite in restful colors and with the usual appurtenances of a good hotel—television, video, tape player, easy chairs, small dining table. Food was served—his first meal in America—and Joe Roth ate with him. On the flight over, the two men had agreed they would call each other Peter and Joe. Now it appeared their acquaintance was going to be extended.

“It won’t always be easy, Peter,” said Roth as he watched the Russian dealing with a large hamburger. He might have been thinking of the bulletproof windows that would not open, the one-way mirrors in all the rooms, the recording of every word spoken in the suite. And the rigorous debriefing to come.

The Russian nodded.

“Tomorrow we have to start, Peter. We have to talk, really talk. You have to take a polygraph test. If you pass that, you have to tell me ... many things. Everything, in fact. Every­thing you know or suspect. Over and over again.”

Orlov put down his fork and smiled.

“Joe, we are men who have lived our lives in this strange world. You do not have to”—he searched for the phrase—“mince the words. I have to justify the risk you have taken for me, to get me out. What you call the price of the bride, yes?”

Roth laughed.

“Yes, Peter, that’s what we need to have now. The price of the bride.”

In London, the Secret Intelligence Service had not been entirely inactive. Timothy Edwards had quickly learned the name of the missing man from the Ministry of Defense—Pavel Kuchenko. His own databank had quickly revealed that that was the cover-name of Colonel Pyotr Orlov of the KGB Third Directorate. That was when he summoned Sam McCready.

“I’ve screwed our American Cousins as hard as I can. Deep offense taken, outrage at all levels—that sort of thing. Bill Carver is deeply mortified—he sees his own position here as damaged. Anyway, he will press Langley to give us the lot, as and when it comes. I want to form a small group to have a look at the Orlov product when it reaches us. I’d like you to be in charge—under me.”

“Thank you,” said The Deceiver. “But I’d go for more. I’d ask for access. It could be that Orlov knows things that are specific to us. Those things won’t be high on Langley’s list. I’d like access, personal access.”

“That might be hard,” mused Edwards. “They’ve probably got him stashed in Virginia somewhere. But I can ask.”

“You’ve got the right,” insisted McCready. “We’ve been giving them a hell of a lot of product recently.”

The thought hung in the air. They both knew where most of the product had been coming from these past four years. And there was the Soviet Army War Book, handed over to Langley the previous year.

“Another thing,” said Sam. “I’d like to check on Orlov with Keepsake.”

Edwards stared hard at McCready. Keepsake was a British “asset,” a Russian working for the SIS. He was so highly placed and so sensitive that only four men in Century House were aware who he was, and less than a dozen knew that he existed at all. Those who knew his identity were the Chief himself, Edwards, the Controller Sovbloc, and McCready, his case officer, the man who “ran” him.

“Is that wise?” asked Edwards.

“I think it is justified.”

“Be careful.”

The black car, the following morning, was clearly parked on a double yellow line, and the traffic warden had no hesitation in writing out a ticket. He had just finished and slipped the polythene envelope under the windshield wiper when a slim, well-dressed man in a gray suit emerged from a nearby shop, spotted the ticket, and began to protest. It was such an everyday scene that no one noticed, even on a London street. From afar, an onlooker would have seen the normal gestic­ulations from the driver and the impervious shrugs from the traffic warden. Tugging at the warden’s sleeve, the driver urged the official to come to the back of the car and look at the plates. When he did, the warden saw the telltale CO plate of the Diplomatic Corps next to the registration plate. He had clearly missed it, but was unimpressed. Foreign diplomatic staff might be immune from the fine, but not from the ticket. He began to move off.

The driver snatched the ticket off the windshield and waved it under the warden’s nose. The warden asked a question. To prove he really was a diplomat, the driver delved into his pocket and produced an identity card, which he forced the warden to look at. The warden glanced, shrugged again, and moved away. In a rage the driver screwed up the parking ticket and hurled it into the car before climbing in and driving off.

What the onlooker would not have seen was the paper stuck inside the ID card saying: “Reading Room, British Museum, tomorrow, two P.M.” Nor would he have noticed the driver a mile later smooth out the crumpled ticket and read on the reverse side: “Colonel Pyotr Alexandrovich Orlov has de­fected to the Americans. Do you know anything about him?”

The Deceiver had just contacted Keepsake.

Chapter 2

The treatment, or “handling,” of a defector varies widely from case to case, according to the emotional state of the defector or to the usages of the host agency undertaking the debriefing. The only common factor is that it is always a sensitive and complicated business.

The defector must first be housed in an environment that does not appear menacing but that precludes his escape, often for his own good. Two years before Orlov, the Americans had made a mistake with Vitali Urchenko, another walk-in. At­tempting to create an air of normality, they had taken him to dinner in a Georgetown, Washington, restaurant. The man changed his mind, escaped through the men’s room window, walked back to the Soviet Embassy, and gave himself up. It did him no good; he was flown back to Moscow, brutally interrogated, and shot.

Apart from the defector’s possible self-destructive tenden­cies, he must be protected from possible reprisals. The USSR—and notably the KGB—are notoriously unforgiving toward those they regard as traitors and have been wont to hunt them down and liquidate them if possible. The higher the defector’s rank, the worse the treason, and a senior KGB officer is regarded as the highest of all. For the KGB are the cream of the cream, afforded every privilege and luxury in a nation where most live hungry and cold. To reject this life­style, the most cosseted the USSR has to offer, is to show ingratitude worthy of death itself.

The Ranch offered, apparently, security against reprisals as well as self-destruction.

The principal complicating factor is the mental state of the defector himself. After the first, adrenaline-packed rush into the West, many develop rethink symptoms. The full enormity of the step they have taken sinks in, the realization of never again seeing wife, family, friends, or homeland. This can lead to depression, like the down after the high of a drug-taker.

To counteract this, many debriefings start with a leisurely survey of the defector’s past life, a complete curriculum vitae from birth and childhood onward. The narration of the early years—description of mother and father, schoolday friends, skating in the park in winter, walks in the country in sum­mer—instead of producing more nostalgia and depression, usually has a calming effect. And everything, every last detail and gesture, is noted.

One thing that debriefers are always keenly interested in is motivation. Why did you decide to come over? (The word defect is never used. It implies disloyalty rather than a reason­able decision to change one’s views.)

Sometimes the defector lies about his reasons. He may say he became utterly disillusioned by the corruption, cynicism, and nepotism of the system he served and left behind. For many, this is the genuine reason; in fact, it is by far the most common reason. But it is not always true. It may be that the defector had his hand in the cashbox and knew he faced harsh punishment from the KGB. Or he may have been on the threshold of recall to Moscow to face discipline for a tangled love life. A demotion, or a hatred of a certain superior, may have been the real reason. The host agency may be well aware of why the man really defected. The excuses are nonetheless listened to carefully and sympathetically, even though they are known to be false. And they are noted. The man may lie as to his motivations out of vanity, but he does not necessarily lie about real secret intelligence. Or does he ...?

Others tell untruths out of vainglory, seeking to embellish their own importance in their earlier life, to impress their hosts. Everything will be checked out; sooner or later, the hosts will know the real reason, the real status. For the moment, everything is listened to very sympathetically. The real cross-examination will come later, as in court.

When the area of secret intelligence is finally broached, pitfalls are set. Many, many questions are asked to which the debriefing officers already know the answers. Or if they do not, the analysts, working through the nights on the tapes, will soon find out by collating and cross-checking. There have, after all, been many defectors, and the Western agencies have a huge volume of knowledge of the KGB, the GRU, the Soviet Army, Navy, and Air Force, even of the Kremlin, on which to draw.

If the defector is seen to lie about things that, according to his declared postings, he ought to know the truth of, he immediately becomes suspect. He may be lying out of bra­vado, to impress; or because he was never privy to that information but seeks to claim he was; or because he has forgotten; or ...

It is not easy to lie to a host agency during a long and arduous debriefing. The questioning can take months, even years, depending on the amount of things the defector claims that do not seem to check out.

If something a new defector says is at variance with the believed truth, it could be that the believed truth was wrong. So the analysts check out the original source of their infor­mation again. It may be that they have been wrong all the time, and the new defector is right. The subject is dropped while checks are made, and returned to later. Again and again.

Often the defector does not realize the significance of some small piece of information he provides and to which he assigns no particular importance. But for his hosts, that seeming bagatelle may be the one missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle that has eluded them for a long time.

In among the questions to which the answers are already known are the questions to which true answers are really valuable. This is the pay dirt. Can this new defector tell the host agency anything it doesn’t already know, and if so, how important?

In the case of Colonel Pyotr Alexandrovitch Orlov, the CIA came to the view within four weeks that it had fortuitously tapped into a mother lode of pure gold. The man’s “product” was fantastic.

For one thing, he was very cool and calm from the start. He narrated to Joe Roth the story of his life from birth in a humble shack near Minsk just after the war to the day he decided, six months earlier in Moscow, that he could tolerate no more of a society and regime that he had come to despise. He never denied retaining a deep love for his motherland of Russia, and he showed the normal emotion at the knowledge he had left it behind forever.

He declared that his marriage to Gaia, a successful theater director in Moscow, had been over in all but name for three years, and he admitted with expectable anger her several affairs with handsome young actors.

He passed three separate lie-detector tests concerning his background, career, private life, and political change of heart. And he began to reveal information of the first order.

For one thing, his career had been very varied. From his four years with the Third or Armed Forces Directorate, working inside the Joint Planning Staff at Army headquarters while posing as GRU Major Kuchenko, he had a wide knowl­edge of the personalities of a range of senior military officers, of the dispositions of divisions of the Soviet Army and Air Force, and of the Navy’s ships at sea and in the yards.

He provided fascinating insights into the defeats suffered by the Red Army in Afghanistan, told of the unsuspected demoralization of the Soviet troops there and of Moscow’s growing disillusion with Afghan puppet dictator Babrak Kamal.

Prior to working in the Third Directorate, Orlov had been with the Illegals Directorate, that department inside the First Chief Directorate responsible for the running of “illegal” agents worldwide. The “illegals” are the most secret of all agents who spy against their own country (if they are nationals of it) or who live in the foreign country under deep cover. These are the agents who have no diplomatic cover, for whom exposure and capture does not entail the merely embarrassing penalty of being declared persona non grata and expelled, but the more painful therapy of arrest, harsh interrogation, and sometimes execution.

Although his knowledge was four years out of date, Orlov seemed to have an encyclopedic memory and began to blow away the very networks he had once helped establish and run, mainly in Central and South America, which had been his previous area.

When a defector arrives whose information turns out to be controversial, there usually appear among the officers of the host agency two camps: those who believe and support the new defector, and those who doubt and oppose him. In the history of the CIA the most notorious such case was that of Golytsin and Nosenko.

In 1960, Anatoli Golytsin defected and made it his business to warn the CIA that the KGB had been behind just about everything that had gone wrong in the world since the end of the Second World War. For Golytsin, there was no infamy to which the KGB would not stoop or was not even then prepar­ing. This was music to the ears of a hardline faction in the CIA headed by counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, who had been warning his superiors of much the same thing for years. Golytsin became a much-prized star.

In November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated, apparently by a left-winger, with a Russian wife, called Lee Harvey Oswald, who had once defected to the USSR and lived there for over a year. In January 1964, Yuri Nosenko defected. He declared he had been Oswald’s case officer in Russia and that the KGB had found Oswald to be a pain in the neck, had severed all contact with him, and had had nothing to do with the Kennedy slaying.

Golytsin, supported by Angleton, at once denounced his fellow Russian, who was interrogated extremely harshly but refused to change his story. The dispute tore the Agency into two camps for years and rumbled on for two decades. De­pending on the outcome of the question of who was right and who was wrong, careers were made and broken, for it is axiomatic that the careers of those behind a major success will start to rise.

In the case of Pyotr Orlov, there was no such hostile action to be found, and the glory fell upon Calvin Bailey, the head of Special Projects, the office that had brought him in.

The day after Joe Roth began to share his life with Colonel Orlov in Virginia, Sam McCready quietly entered the portals of the British Museum, which was located in the heart of Bloomsbury, and headed for the great circular reading room under its domed cupola.

There were two younger men with him, Denis Gaunt, on whom McCready was putting an increasing degree of trust and reliance, and another man called Patten. Neither of the backup team would see the face of Keepsake—they did not need to, and it might have been dangerous. Their job was simply to idle near the entrances while perusing the laid-out newspapers and ensure that their desk head would not be disturbed by interlopers.

McCready made for a reading table largely enclosed by bookshelves and courteously asked the man already seated there if he minded the intrusion. The man, his head bowed over a volume from which he took occasional notes, silently gestured to the chair opposite and went on reading. McCready waited quietly. He had selected a volume he wished to read, and in a few moments one of the reading room staff brought it to him and as quietly left. The man across the table kept his head bowed.

When they were alone McCready spoke. “How are you, Nikolai?”

“Well,” murmured the man, making a note on his pad.

“There is news?”

“We are to receive a visit next week. At the Rezidentsia.”

“From Moscow Center?”

“Yes. General Drozdov himself.”

McCready made no sign. He kept reading his book, and his lips hardly moved. No one outside the enclave of book-lined shelves could have heard the low murmur, and no one would enter the enclave. Gaunt and Patten would see to that. But he was amazed by the name. Drozdov, a short chunky man who bore a startling resemblance to the late President Eisenhower, was the head of the Illegals Directorate and rarely ventured outside the USSR. To come into the lion’s den of London was most unusual and could be very important.

“Is that good or bad?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” said Keepsake. “It’s certainly odd. He is not my direct superior, but he could not come unless he had cleared it with Kryuchkov.”

(General Vladimir Kryuchkov, since 1988 Chairman of the KGB, was then Head of the First Chief Directorate, the foreign intelligence arm.)

“Will he discuss with you his illegals planted in Britain?”

“I doubt it. He likes to run his illegals direct. It may be something to do with Orlov. There has been the most almighty stink over that. The two other GRU officers in the delegation are under interrogation already. The best they will get is a court martial for negligence. Or maybe ...”

“Is there another reason for his coming?”

Keepsake sighed and raised his eyes for the first time. McCready stared back. He had become a friend of the Russian over the years, trusted him, believed in him.

“It’s just a feeling,” said Keepsake. “He may be checking out the Rezidentsia over here. Nothing concrete, just an odor on the wind. Maybe they suspect something.”

“Nikolai, it cannot go on forever. We know that. Sooner or later, the pieces will add together. Too many leaks, too many coincidences. Do you want to come out now? I can arrange it. Say the word.”

“Not yet. Soon perhaps, but not yet. There is more I can send. If they really start to pull the London operation apart, I will know they have something. In time. In time to come out. But not yet. By the way, please do not intercept Drozdov. If there are suspicions, he would see it as another straw in the wind.”

“Better tell me what he is coming as, in case of a genuine accident at Heathrow,” said McCready.

“A Swiss businessman,” said the Russian. “From Zurich. British Airways, Tuesday.”

“I’ll ensure he is left completely alone,” said McCready. “Anything on Orlov?”

“Not yet,” said Keepsake. “I know of him, never met him. But I’m surprised at him defecting. He had the highest clear­ance.”

“So do you,” said McCready. The Russian smiled.

“Of course. No accounting for taste. I will find out what I can about him. Why does he interest you?”

“Nothing concrete,” said McCready. “As you said, an odor on the wind. The manner of his coming, giving Joe Roth no time to check. For a sailor jumping ship, it’s normal. For a colonel of the KGB, it’s odd. He could have done a better deal.”

“I agree,” said the Russian. “I’ll do what I can.”

The Russian’s position inside the embassy was so delicate that face-to-face meetings were hazardous, therefore infre­quent. The next was set up at a small and seedy café in Shoreditch, London’s East End. Early in the following month, May.

At the end of April, the Director of Central Intelligence had a meeting in the White House with the President. Nothing unusual in that; they met extremely regularly, either with others in the National Security Council or in private. But on this occasion the President was unusually flattering about the CIA. The gratitude that a number of agencies and depart­ments had directed toward the Agency as a result of informa­tion stemming from the Ranch in southern Virginia had reached as high as the Oval Office.

The DCI was a hard man whose career went back to the days of the OSS in the Second World War, and he was a devoted colleague of Ronald Reagan. He was also a fair man and saw no reason to withhold the general praise from the Head of Special Projects responsible for bringing in Colonel Orlov. When he returned to Langley, he summoned Calvin Bailey.

Bailey found the Director at the picture windows that occupy almost one side of the DCI’s office on top of the CIA headquarters building. He was staring out toward the valley, where the wash of green trees in spring leaf had finally obscured the winter view of the Potomac River. When Bailey entered, he turned with an expansive smile.

“What can I say? Congratulations are in order, Cal. The Navy Department loves it, says keep it coming. The Mexicans are delighted; they just wrapped up a network of seventeen agents, cameras, communication radios, the works.”

“Thank you,” said Calvin Bailey carefully. He was known as a cautious man, not given to overt displays of human warmth.

“Fact is,” said the DCI, “we all know Frank Wright is retiring at the end of the year. I’m going to need a new DDO. Maybe, Calvin, just maybe I think I know who it ought to be.”

Bailey’s morose shrouded gaze flashed into a rare smile. In the CIA the Director himself is always a political appointment and has been for three decades. Under him come the two main divisions of the Agency: Operations, headed by the Deputy Director Ops (DDO), and Intelligence (analysis), headed by the Deputy Director Intel (DDI). These two posts are the highest to which a professional can reasonably aspire. The DDO is in charge of the entire information gathering side of the Agency, while the DDI is in charge of analyzing the raw information into presentable and usable intelligence.

Having delivered his bouquet, the DCI turned to more mundane matters. “Look, it’s about the Brits. As you know, Margaret Thatcher was over.”

Calvin Bailey nodded. The close friendship between the British Prime Minister and the U.S. President was known to all.

“She brought with her Sir Christopher. ...” The DCI mentioned the name of the then chief of the British SIS. “We had several good sessions. He gave us some really good product. We owe them, Cal. Just a favor. I’d like to clean the slate. They have two beefs. They say they’re very grateful for all the Minstrel product we’ve been sending over, but they point out that as regards Soviet agents being run in England, so far it’s useful material but all code-names. Can Minstrel recall any actual names, or offices held—something to identify a hostile agent in their own pond?”

Bailey thought it over.

“He’s been asked before,” he said. “We’ve sent the Brits everything that remotely concerns them. I’ll ask him again, have Joe Roth see if he can remember a real name. Okay.”

“Fine, fine,” said the DCI. “One last thing. They keep asking for access. Over there. This time around, I’m prepared to indulge them. I think we can go that far.”

“I’d prefer to keep him over here. He’s safe here.”

“We can keep him safe over there. Look, we can put him on an American air base. Upper Heyford, Lakenheath, Alconbury. Whatever. They can see him, talk to him under super­vision, then we bring him back.”

“I don’t like it,” said Bailey.

“Cal—” there was a hint of steel in the DCI’s voice—“I’ve agreed to it. Just see to it.”

Calvin Bailey drove down to the Ranch for a personal talk with Joe Roth. They talked in Roth’s suite of rooms above the central portico of the Ranch house. Bailey found his subordi­nate tired and drawn. Debriefing a defector is a tiring busi­ness, involving long hours with the defector followed by long nights spent working through the next day’s line of question­ing. Relaxing is not usually on the menu, and when, as often happens, the defector has established a personal relationship with his chief debriefing officer, it is not easy to give that officer time off and replace him with a substitute.

“Washington is pleased,” Bailey told him. “More than pleased—delighted. Everything he says checks out. Soviet Army, Navy, and Air Force deployments, confirmed by other sources of satellite coverage. Weapons levels, readiness states, the Afghan mess—Pentagon loves it all. You’ve done well, Joe. Very well.”

“There’s still a long way to go,” said Roth. “Lots more still to come. There must be. The man’s an encyclopedia. Phenomenal memory. Sometimes stuck for a detail, but usu­ally recalls it sooner or later. But ...”

“But what? Look, Joe, he’s pulling apart years of patient KGB work in Central and South America. Our friends down there are closing down network after network. It’s okay. I know you’re tired. Just keep at it.”

He went on to tell Roth of the hint the DCI had given him about the forthcoming vacancy as Deputy Director Opera­tions. He was not usually a confiding man, but he saw no reason not to give his subordinate the same kind of boost the DCI had given him.

“If it goes through, Joe, there’ll be a second vacancy, head of Special Projects. My recommendation will count for a lot. It’ll be for you, Joe. I wanted you to know that.”

Roth was grateful but not ecstatic. He seemed more than tired. There was something else on his mind.

“Is he causing problems?” asked Bailey. “Has he got everything he wants? Does he need female company? Do you? It’s isolated down here. It’s been a month. These things can be arranged.”

He knew Roth was divorced and single. The Agency has a legendary divorce rate. As they say at Langley, it comes with the territory.

“No, I’ve offered him that. He just shook his head. We work out together. It helps. Run through the woods until we can hardly stand. I’ve never been in such good shape. He’s older, but he’s fitter. That’s one of the things that worries me, Calvin. He’s got no flaws, no weaknesses. If he got drunk, screwed around, got maudlin for thinking about his homeland, lost his temper—”

“You’ve tried to provoke him?” asked Bailey. Provoking a defector into a rage, an outburst of pent-up emotions, can sometimes work as a release, a therapy. According to the in-house psychiatrists, anyway.

“Yes. I’ve taunted him with being a rat, a turncoat. Noth­ing. He just ran me into the ground and laughed at me. Then he got on with what he calls “the job.” Blowing away KGB assets worldwide. He’s a total pro.”

“That’s why he’s the best we’ve ever had, Joe. Don’t knock it. Be grateful.”

“Calvin, that’s not the main reason he bugs me. As a guy, I like him. I even respect him. I never thought I would respect a defector. But there’s something else. He’s holding some­thing back.”

Calvin Bailey went very quiet and very still. “The poly­graph tests don’t say so.”

“No, they don’t. That’s why I can’t be sure I’m right. I just feel it. There’s something he’s not saying.”

Bailey leaned across and stared hard into Roth’s face. An awful lot hung on the question he was about to ask.

“Joe, could there be any chance, in your considered view, that despite all the tests, he might still be a phony, a KGB plant?”

Roth sighed. What had been troubling him had finally come out.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I don’t know. For me, there’s a ten-percent area of doubt. A gut feeling that he’s holding something back. And I can’t work out, if I’m right, why.”

“Then find out, Joe. Find out,” said Calvin Bailey. He did not need to point out that if there was anything phony about Colonel Pyotr Orlov, two careers in the CIA were likely to go straight into the trash can. He rose.

“Personally I think it’s nonsense, Joe. But do what you have to do.”

Roth found Orlov in his living room, lying on a settee, listening to his favorite music. Despite the fact that he was virtually a prisoner, the Ranch was equipped like a well-appointed country club. Apart from his daily runs in the forest, always flanked by four of the young athletes from Quantico, he had access to the gymnasium, the sauna and pool, an excellent chef, and a well-stocked bar that he used spar­ingly.

Soon after arriving, he had admitted to a taste for the ballad singers of the sixties and early seventies. Now, whenever he visited the Russian, Roth was accustomed to hearing Simon and Garfunkel, the Seekers, or the slow honeyed tones of Elvis Presley coming from the tape deck.

That evening when he walked in, the clear childlike voice of Mary Hopkin was filling the room. It was her one famous song. Orlov jackknifed himself off the settee with a grin of pleasure. He gestured at the tape deck.

“You like it? Listen.”

Roth listened. “ ‘Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end. ...’ ”

“Yeah, it’s nice,” said Roth, who preferred traditional and mainstream jazz.

“You know what it is?”

“That British girl, isn’t it?” said Roth.

“No, no—not the singer, the tune. You think it is British tune, yes? From the Beatles, perhaps.”

“Guess so,” said Roth, now also smiling.

“Wrong,” said Orlov triumphantly. “It is old Russian song. Dorogoy dlinnoyu da nochkoy lunayu. ‘By a long road on a moonlit night.’ You didn’t know that?”

“No, I certainly didn’t.”

The jaunty little tune ran to its end, and Orlov switched off the tape.

“You want we should talk some more?” asked Orlov.

“No,” said Roth. “I just stopped by to see if you were okay. I’m going to turn in. It’s been a long day. By the way, we are going back to England soon. Let the Limeys have a chance to talk to you for a little while. All right by you?”

Orlov frowned. “My deal was to come here. Only here.”

“It’s okay, Peter. We’ll be staying for a short while on an American Air Force base. To all intents and purposes, still in America. I’ll be there to protect you from the big bad Brits.”

Orlov did not smile at the joke.

Roth became serious. “Peter, is there a reason you don’t want to go back to England? Something I should know?”

Orlov shrugged. “Nothing specific, Joe. Just gut feeling. The farther I am away from the USSR, the safer I feel.”

“Nothing will happen to you in England. I give you my word. You going to turn in now?”

“I stay up for a while. Read, play music,” said the Russian.

In fact, the light burned in Orlov’s room until half-past one in the morning. When the KGB assassination team struck, it was a few minutes before three.

Orlov was told later that they had silenced two guards on the perimeter with powerful crossbows, traversed the lawn at the rear of the house undetected, and entered the house via the kitchens.

On the upper floor, the first Roth or Orlov heard was a burst of submachine-gun fire from the lower hall, followed by the rapid pounding of feet up the stairs. Orlov awoke like a cat, came out of his bed, and was across the living room in no more than three seconds. He opened the door to the landing and caught a brief glimpse of the night duty guard from Quantico swerving off the landing and down the main stairs. A figure in a black cat-suit and ski mask, halfway up the stairs, loosed a brief burst. The American took the blast in the chest. He sagged against the banister, his front a wash of blood. Orlov slammed his door and turned back toward the bedroom.

He knew his windows would not open; there was no escape that way. Nor was he armed. He entered the bedroom as the man in black ran through the door from the corridor, followed by an American. The last thing Orlov saw before he slammed his bedroom door shut was the KGB assassin turn and blast the American behind him. The killing gave Orlov time to throw the lock.

But it was only a respite. Seconds later, the lock was blasted away and the door kicked open. By the dim light shining in from the corridor beyond the living room, Orlov saw the KGB man throw down his empty machine-pistol and pull a Makarov 9mm automatic from his belt. He could not see the face behind the mask, but he understood the Russian word and the contempt with which it was uttered.

The figure in black gripped the Makarov two-handed, pointed it straight at Orlov’s face, and hissed, “Predatel!” Traitor.

There was a cut-glass ashtray on the bedside table. Orlov had never used it, since unlike most Russians, he did not smoke. But it was still there. In a last gesture of defiance, he swept it off the table and sent it spinning toward the Russian killer’s face. As he did so he yelled back, “Padla!” Scum.

The man in black side-stepped the heavy glassware that was scything toward his face. It cost him a fraction of a second. In that time the Quantico security-team leader stepped into the living room and fired twice with his heavy Colt .44 Magnum at the black-suited back in the bedroom doorway. The Russian was thrown forward as the front of his chest exploded in a welter of blood that sprayed the sheets and the coverlet on the bed. Orlov stepped forward to kick the Makarov from the falling man’s hand, but there was no need. No one stops two Magnum shells and keeps fighting.

Kroll, the man who had fired, crossed the sitting room to the bedroom door. He was white with rage and panting.

“You okay?” he snapped. Orlov nodded. “Someone fucked up,” said the American. “There were two of them. Two of my men are down, maybe more outside.”

A shaken Joe Roth came in, still in pajamas.

“Jesus, Peter, I’m sorry. We have to get out of here. Now. Fast.”

“Where do we go?” asked Orlov. “I thought you said this was a safe house.” He was pale but calm.

“Yeah, well, apparently not safe enough. Not anymore. We’ll try and find out why later. Get dressed. Pack your things. Kroll, stay with him.”

There was an army base only twenty miles from the Ranch. Langley fixed things with the army commander. Within two hours Roth, Orlov, and the remainder of the Quantico team had taken an entire floor of the bachelors’ quarters building. Military police ringed the block. Roth would not even drive there by road; they went by helicopter, setting down right on the lawn by the Officers’ Club and waking everyone up.

It was only temporary housing. Before nightfall, they had moved on to another CIA safe house, in Kentucky and much better protected.

While the Roth/Orlov group was in the army base, Calvin Bailey returned to the Ranch. He wanted a full report. He had already spoken to Roth by phone to hear his version of events. He listened to Kroll first, but the man whose evidence he really wanted was the Russian in the black ski mask who had confronted Orlov at point-blank range.

The young officer of the Green Berets was nursing a bruised wrist where Orlov had kicked the gun from his hand as he fell. The special-effects blood had long been wiped off him, and he had changed out of the black jumpsuit with the two holes in the front and removed the harness containing the tiny charges and sacs of realistic blood that had burst all over the bed.

“Verdict?” asked Bailey.

“He’s for real,” said the Russian-speaking officer. “Either that, or he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. That I doubt. Most men do.”

“He didn’t suspect you?” asked Bailey.

“No, sir. I saw it right in his eyes. He believed he was going to die. He just went right on fighting. Quite a guy.”

“Any other choices?” asked Bailey.

The officer shrugged. “Only one. If he’s a phony and thought he was being liquidated by his own side, he ought to have yelled something to that effect. Assuming he cares about living, that would make him about the bravest guy I ever met.”

“I think,” Bailey said to Roth by telephone later, “that we have our answer. He’s okay, and that’s official. Try and get him to recall a name—for the Brits. You’re flying over next Tuesday, military executive jet, to Alconbury.”

Roth spent two days with Orlov at their new home, going back over the sparse details the Russian had already provided from his days in the Illegals Directorate concerning Soviet agents planted in Britain. As he had specialized in Central and South America, Britain had not been his primary concern. But he racked his memory all the same. All he could recall were code-names. Then at the end of the second day, some­thing came back to him.

A civil servant in the Ministry of Defense in Whitehall. But the money was always paid into the man’s account at the Midland Bank in Croydon High Street.

“It’s not a lot,” said the man from the Security Service, MI-5, when he was given the news. He was sitting in the office of Timothy Edwards at the headquarters of his sister service, the SIS. “He might have moved long since. Might have banked under a false name. But we’ll try.”

He went back to Curzon Street in Mayfair and set the wheels in motion. British banks do not have the right of absolute confidentiality, but they decline to hand out details of private accounts to just anybody. One institution that always secures their cooperation, by law, is the Inland Reve­nue.

The Inland Revenue agreed to cooperate, and the manager of the Midland in Croydon High Street, an outer suburb of south London, was interviewed in confidence. He was new to the job, but his computer was not.

A Security Service man sitting with the real Inland Revenue inspector took over. He had a list of every civil servant employed by the Ministry of Defense and its many out-stations over the past decade. Surprisingly, the chase was very quick. Only one MOD civil servant banked at the Mid­land in Croydon High Street. The records of the accounts were sent for. The man had two, and still lived locally. He had a checking account and a higher-rate savings account.

Over the years a total of £20,000 had been paid into his deposit account, always by him and always in cash and fairly regularly. His name was Anthony Milton-Rice.

The Whitehall conference that evening involved the Direc­tor General and Deputy Director General of MI-5 and the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in charge of Special Branch. MI-5 in Britain cannot make arrests—only the police can do that. When the Security Service wants someone picked up, the Special Branch is called in to do the honors. The meeting was chaired by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. He started the questioning.

“Who exactly is Mr. Milton-Rice?”

The Deputy Director of MI-5 consulted his notes. “Grade-two civil servant on the staff of the Procurement Office.”

“Pretty low grade?”

“Sensitive work, though. Weapons systems, access to eval­uations of new armaments.”

“Mm,” mused the Chairman. “So what do you want?”

“The point is, Tony,” said the Director General, “we have very little to go on. Unexplained payments over a period of years into his account—not enough to hold him, let alone get a conviction. He could plead that he backs the horses, always on track, gets his cash that way. Of course, he might confess. Then again, he might not.”

The policeman nodded his agreement. Without a confes­sion, he would have a bad time trying to persuade the Crown Prosecution Office even to bring a case. He doubted the man who had denounced Milton-Rice, whoever he might be, would ever appear in court as a witness.

“We’d like to shadow him first,” said the Director General. “Around the clock. If he makes one contact with the Rus­sians, he’s in the bag, with or without a confession.”

It was agreed. The watchers, that elite team of MI-5 agents who—on their own turf, at least—are reckoned by all the Western services to be the best tailers in the world, were put on alert to envelop Anthony Milton-Rice the following morn­ing as he approached the Defense Ministry with an invisible surveillance for twenty-four hours in every day.

Anthony Milton-Rice, like so many people with a regular job, had regular habits. He was a man of routine. On workdays he left his house in Addiscombe precisely at ten to eight and walked the half-mile to East Croydon Station—unless it was raining heavily, in which case the bachelor civil servant took a bus. He boarded the same commuter train every day, flashed his season ticket, and rode into London, descending at Vic­toria Station. From there, it was a short bus ride down Victoria Street to Parliament Square. There he got off and crossed Whitehall to the ministry building.

The morning after the conference about him, he did exactly the same. He did not notice the group of youths who boarded at Norwood Junction. He noticed them when they entered his open-plan carriage, jammed with other commuters. There were screams from the women and shouts of alarm from the men as the teenagers, engaged in an orgy of casual robbery and assault called “steaming,” swept through the carriage snatching women’s handbags and jewelry, demanding men’s wallets at knifepoint, and threatening anyone who seemed to oppose, let alone resist, them.

As the train hissed into the next station up the line, the crowd of two dozen young thugs, still screaming their rage at the world, quit the train and scattered, jumping the barrier and disappearing into the streets of Crystal Palace, leaving behind them hysterical women, badly shaken men, and frus­trated Transport Police. No arrests were made—the outrage had been too fast and unforeseen.

The train was delayed, wreaking havoc on the commuter schedules as other trains backed up behind it, while Transport Police boarded to take statements. It was only when they tapped the commuter in the pale-gray raincoat dozing in the corner on his shoulder that the man toppled slowly forward onto the floor. There were further screams as the first blood from the thin stiletto wound to his heart began to seep from beneath the crumpled figure. Mr. Anthony Milton-Rice was very dead.

Ivan’s Café, appropriately named for a meeting with a Rus­sian, was situated in Crondall Street in Shoreditch, and Sam McCready, as always, arrived second, even though he had been the first in the street outside. The reason was that if anyone was being tailed, it would more likely be Keepsake than him. So he always sat for thirty minutes in his car, watched the Russian make the meet, then gave it another fifteen minutes to see if the asset from the Soviet Embassy had suddenly grown a tail.

When McCready entered Ivan’s, he took a cup of tea from the counter and wandered over to the wall where two tables were side by side. Keepsake occupied the one in the corner and was engrossed in Sporting Life. McCready unfolded his Evening Standard and proceeded to study it.

“How was the good General Drozdov?” he asked quietly, his voice lost in the babble of the café and the hissing of the tea urn.

“Amiable and enigmatic,” said the Russian, studying the form of the horses in the three-thirty at Sandown. “I fear he may have been checking us out. I will know more if K-Line decide to visit, or if my own K-Line man gets hyperactive.”

K-Line is the KGB’s internal counterintelligence and secur­ity branch, charged not so much with espionage as with keeping a check on other KGB men and looking for internal leaks.

“Have you ever heard of a man called Anthony Milton-Rice?” asked McCready.

“No. Never. Why?”

“You didn’t run him out of your Rezidentsia? A civil servant in the Ministry of Defense?”

“Never heard of him. Never handled his product.”

“Well, he’s dead now. Too late to ask him who did run him. If anyone did. Could he have been run directly from Moscow through the Illegals Directorate?”

“If he was working for us, that’s the only explanation,” muttered the Russian. “He never worked for us in PR-Line. Not out of the London Station. As I say, we never even handled such product. He must have communicated with Moscow via a case officer based here outside the embassy. Why did he die?”

McCready sighed. “I don’t know.”

But he did know that unless it was a remarkable coinci­dence, someone had to have set it up. Someone who knew the civil servant’s routines, could brief the thugs on his regular train, his appearance—and pay them off. Possibly Milton-Rice had not even worked for the Russians at all. Then why the denunciation? Why the unaccounted-for money? Or per­haps Milton-Rice had indeed spied for Moscow but via a cut­out, unknown to Keepsake, who in turn reported directly back to the Illegals Directorate in Moscow. And General Drozdov had just been in town. And he ran the Illegals. ...

“He was denounced,” said McCready. “To us. And then he was dead.”

“Who denounced him?” asked Keepsake. He stirred his tea, though he had no intention of drinking the sweet, milky mixture.

“Colonel Pyotr Orlov,” said McCready quietly.

“Ah,” said Keepsake in a low murmur. “I have something for you there. Pyotr Alexandrovitch Orlov is a loyal and dedicated KGB officer. His defection is as phony as a three-dollar bill. He is a plant, a disinformation agent. And he is well-prepared and very good.”

Now that, thought McCready, is going to cause problems.

Chapter 3

Timothy Edwards listened carefully. McCready’s narration and evaluation lasted thirty minutes. When he had finished, Edwards asked calmly, “And you are quite certain you be­lieve Keepsake?”

McCready had expected this question. Keepsake had worked for the British for four years since he had first ap­proached an SIS officer in Denmark and offered his services as an “agent-in-place,” but this was a world of shadows and suspicions. There was always the possibility, however remote, that Keepsake might be a “double,” his true loyalties still with Moscow. It was precisely the accusation he now made of Orlov.

“It’s been four years,” said McCready. “For four years Keepsake’s product has been tested against every known criterion. It’s pure.”

“Yes, of course,” said Edwards smoothly. “Unfortunately, if one word of this leaked to our Cousins, they would say exactly the opposite—that our man was lying and theirs was for real. The word is, Langley is deeply enamored of this Orlov.”

“I don’t think they should be told about Keepsake,” retorted McCready. He was very protective of the Russian in the embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens. “Besides, Keep­sake feels his time may be coming to an end. He has an instinct that suspicions are growing in Moscow that they have a leak somewhere. If they become convinced, it will only be a matter of time before they home in on their London Station. When Keepsake finally comes in from the cold, we can come clean with the Cousins. For the moment, it could be very dangerous to widen the circle who know.”

Edwards made his decision.

“Sam, I agree. But I’m going to see the Chief on this one. He’s up at the Cabinet Office this morning. I’ll catch him later. Stay in touch.”

During the lunch hour, which Edwards spent eating a sparse meal with the Chief in Sir Christopher’s top-floor suite of offices, a military version of the Grumman Gulf stream III landed at the USAF base at Alconbury, situated just north of the market town of Huntingdon in the county of Cambridge­shire. It had taken off at midnight from the Air National Guard base in Trenton, New Jersey, its passengers having arrived from Kentucky and boarded under the cover of dark­ness and away from the air-base buildings.

In picking Alconbury, Calvin Bailey had chosen well. The base was the home of the 527 “Aggressor” Squadron of the USAF, whose pilots fly F-5 fighters with a very specific role. They are called the Aggressors because the F-5 has a config­uration similar to the Russian MIG-29 and the Aggressors play the role of attacking Soviet fighters in midair combat practice with their fellow American and British jet-jockeys. They themselves study and are adept at all the Soviet air-battle tactics, and they so sink themselves into their role that they constantly talk Russian to each other when aloft. Their guns and rockets may be so adapted as to score only elec­tronic hits and misses, but the rest—insignia, flight suits, maneuvers, and jargon—is all pure Russian.

When Roth, Orlov, Kroll, and the rest descended from the Grumman, they were outfitted in the flight suits of the Aggres­sor Squadron. They passed through unnoticed and were soon ensconced in a single-story building, set aside from the rest, and equipped with living quarters and kitchen, conference rooms, and one electronically bugged room for the debriefing of Colonel Orlov. Roth had a talk with the base commander, and the British team was cleared to be allowed onto the base the following morning. Then somewhat jet-lagged, the Ameri­can party turned in to get some sleep.

McCready’s phone rang at three P.M. and Edwards asked to see him again.

“Proposals accepted and agreed,” said Edwards. “We back our judgment that Keepsake is telling the truth and that the Americans have themselves a disinformation agent. That said, the problem is that whatever Orlov is here for, we don’t know yet. It seems that for the moment he is producing good product, which makes it unlikely our Cousins would believe us—the more so as the Chief agrees that we cannot reveal the existence, let alone the identity, of Keepsake. So how do you suggest we handle it?”

“Let me have him,” said McCready. “We have right of access. We can ask questions. Joe Roth is in charge, and I know Joe. He’s no fool. Maybe I can push Orlov, push him hard, before Roth cries ‘Enough.’ Sow some seeds of doubt. Get the Cousins to begin to contemplate the notion that he may not be all he seems.”

“All right,” said Edwards. “You take it.”

He made it sound like his own decision, his own act of magnanimity. The reality of his lunch with the Chief, who would be retiring at the end of the year, had been quite different. The ambitious Assistant Chief, who prided himself on his excellent personal relationship with the CIA, had in mind that one day Langley’s approval of him could be a useful aid to his appointment as Chief.

During the lunch, Edwards had proposed a far less skilled but less abrasive debriefer than Sam McCready to handle the matter of Keepsake’s embarrassing denunciation of the CIA’s new treasure. He had been overruled. Sir Christopher, a former colleague in the field, had insisted that the Deceiver whom he had himself appointed be in charge of handling Orlov.

McCready set off for Alconbury by car early the following morning. Denis Gaunt drove. Edwards had cleared Mc­Cready’s request that Gaunt sit in on the interrogation of the Russian. In the back of the car sat a woman from MI-5. The Security Service had asked urgently that they too have some­one at the meetings with the Russian, since a specific line of questioning would cover the area of Soviet agents working in and against Britain. Alice Daltry was in her early thirties, pretty, and very bright. She still seemed rather overawed by McCready. In their tight, closed world, despite the need-to-know principle, word had leaked of the previous year’s Pankratin affair.

The car also contained a secure telephone. Looking like an ordinary car phone but larger, it could be switched to en­crypted mode to communicate with London. There might well be points emerging from the talk with Orlov that would need to be checked with London.

For much of the journey McCready sat silently, staring through the windshield at the unfolding countryside in the early morning, marveling again at the beauty of England in the spring.

He ran his mind back over what Keepsake had told him. In London, according to the Russian, he had been marginally associated years earlier with the first preparatory stages for a deception operation of which Orlov could only be the final fruition. It had been code-named Project Potemkin.

An ironic title, thought McCready, a hint of KGB gallows humor. It almost certainly had been named not after the battleship Potemkin—nor even after Marshal Potemkin, whose name had been bestowed on the battleship—but after the Potemkin Villages.

Years ago, the Empress Catherine the Great, as ruthless a dictator as long-suffering Russia had ever endured, visited the newly conquered Crimea. Fearful of letting her see the shiv­ering, huddled masses in their freezing shacks, her chief minister, Potemkin, had sent carpenters, plasterers, and pain­ters ahead of her route to construct and paint handsome facades of clean, sturdy cottages with smiling, waving peas­ants in the windows. The shortsighted old queen was de­lighted by the picture of rural bliss and returned to her palace. Later, laborers dismantled the facades to reveal again the miserable shantytowns behind them. These deceptions were called Potemkin Villages.

“The target is the CIA,” Keepsake had said. He did not know who the exact victim would be or how the sting would be accomplished. The project was not then being handled directly by his department, which had been asked only for peripheral assistance.

“But this has to be Potemkin coming into operation at last,” he had said. “The proof will be in two parts. No information provided by Orlov will ever actually produce massive and irreversible damage to Soviet interests. Second, you will see an enormous loss of morale taking place inside the CIA.”

At the moment, the latter was certainly not the case, mused McCready. Recovering from the undoubted embarrassment of the Urchenko affair, his American friends were riding high, largely due to their newfound asset. He determined to concen­trate on the other area.

At the main gate of the air base, McCready offered an identification card (not in his real name) and asked for Joe Roth on a certain phone extension. Minutes later, Roth ap­peared in an Air Force jeep.

“Sam, good to see you again.”

“Nice to see you back, Joe. That was quite a vacation you took.”

“Hey, I’m sorry. I was given no choice, no chance to explain. It was a question of take the guy and run, or throw him back.”

“That’s okay,” said McCready easily. “All has been ex­plained. All is smoothed over. Let me present my two col­leagues.”

Roth reached into the car and shook hands with Gaunt and Daltry. He was relaxed and effusive. He foresaw no problems and was glad the Brits would be sharing in the goodies. He cleared the whole party with the Guard Commander, and they drove in line across the base to the isolated block where the CIA team was housed.

Like many service buildings, it was no architectural gem, but it was functional. A single corridor divided its entire length, from which doors led off to sleeping rooms, an eating room, kitchens, toilets, and conference rooms. A dozen Air Force police ringed the building, guns visible.

McCready glanced around before entering. He noted that while he and his two colleagues had excited no attention, many of the USAF personnel passing by stared curiously at the circle of armed guards.

“All they’ve managed to do,” he muttered to Gaunt, “is identify the bloody place to any KGB team with a set of binoculars.”

Roth led them to a room in the center of the block. Its windows were closed and shuttered; the only illumination was electric. Easy chairs formed a comfortable group around a coffee table in the center of the room; straight chairs and tables ringed the walls, for the note-takers.

Roth genially gestured to the British party to take the easy chairs and ordered some coffee.

“I’ll go get Minstrel,” he said, “unless you guys want to shoot the breeze first.”

McCready shook his head. “Might as well get on with it, Joe.”

When Roth was out, McCready nodded to Gaunt and Daltry to take chairs by the wall. The message was: Watch and listen, miss nothing. Joe Roth had left the door open. From down the corridor, McCready heard the haunting melody of “Bridge over Troubled Waters.” The sound stopped as someone switched off the tape deck. Then Roth was back. He ushered into the room a chunky, tough-looking man in running shoes, slacks, and a polo sweater.

“Sam, let me present Colonel Pyotr Orlov. Peter, this is Sam McCready.”

The Russian stared at McCready with expressionless eyes. He had heard of him. Most high-ranking officers of the KGB had by then heard of Sam McCready. But he gave no sign. McCready crossed the central carpet, his hand outstretched.

“My dear Colonel Orlov. I am delighted to meet you,” he said with a warm smile.

Coffee was served, and they seated themselves, McCready facing Orlov, Roth to one side. On a side table a tape machine started to turn. There were no microphones on the coffee table. They would have been a distraction. As it was, the tape machine would miss nothing.

McCready began gently, flatteringly, and kept it up for the first hour. Orlov’s answers came fluently and easily. But after the first hour McCready became more and more perplexed, or so it seemed.

“It’s all very fine, wonderful stuff,” he said. “I just have this tiny problem—well, I’m sure we all do. Everything you have given us is code-names. We have Agent Wildfowl some­where in the Foreign Office; Agent Kestrel, who may be a serving officer in the Navy or a civilian working for the Navy. My problem, you see, Colonel, is that nothing could actually lead to a detection or an arrest.”

“Mr. McCready, as I have explained many times, here and in America, my period in the Illegals Directorate was over four years ago, and I specialized in Central and South Amer­ica. I did not have access to the files of agents in Western Europe, Britain, or America. These were heavily protected, as I am sure they are here.”

“Yes, of course, silly of me,” said McCready. “But I was thinking more of your time in Planning. As we understand it, that entails preparing cover stories, ‘legends’ for people about to be infiltrated or just recruited. Also, systems for making contact, passing information—paying off agents. It involves the banks they use, the sums paid, the periods payments are made, the running costs. All this you seem to have—forgot­ten.”

“My time in Planning was even before my time in Illegals Directorate,” retorted Orlov. “Eight years ago. Bank ac­counts are in eight-figure numbers, it is impossible to recall them all.”

There was an edge to his voice. He was getting annoyed. Roth had begun to frown.

“Or even one number,” mused McCready as if thinking aloud, “or even one bank.”

“Sam.” Roth leaned forward urgently. “What are you driving at?”

“I am simply trying to establish whether anything Colonel Orlov has given you or us over the past six weeks will really do massive and irreversible damage to Soviet interests.”

“What are you talking about?” It was Orlov, on his feet, plainly angry. “I have given hour after hour of details of Soviet military planning, deployments, weapons levels, readi­ness states, personalities. Details of the Afghan affair. Net­works in Central and South America that have now been dismantled. Now you treat me like ... like a criminal.”

Roth was on his feet, too.

“Sam, could I have a word with you? Privately. Outside.”

He made for the door. Orlov sat down again and stared disconsolately at the floor. McCready rose and followed Roth. Daltry and Gaunt remained at their tables, fixated. The young CIA man by the tape machine turned it off. Roth did not stop walking until he had reached the open grassland outside the building. Then he turned to McCready.

“Sam, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

McCready shrugged. “I’m trying to establish Orlov’s bona fides,” he said. “That’s what I’m here for.”

“Let’s get this absolutely straight,” said Roth tightly. “You are not, as in ‘not,’ here to establish Minstrel’s bona fides. That has already been done. By us. Over and over again. We are satisfied that he is genuine, doing his best to recall what he can. You are here, as a concession from the DCI, to share in Minstrel’s product. That’s all.”

McCready stared dreamily at the waving fields of young wheat beyond the perimeter fence.

“And what do you think that product is really worth, Joe?”

“A lot. Just what he said: Soviet military deployments, postings, weapons levels, plans—”

“Which can all be changed,” murmured Sam, “quite quickly and easily. Provided they know what he’s telling you.”

“And Afghanistan,” said Roth.

McCready was silent. He could not tell his CIA colleague what Keepsake had told him in the café twenty-four hours earlier, but he could hear in his mind’s ear the murmuring voice from beside him.

“Sam, this new man in Moscow, Gorbachev. You know little about him, as yet. But I know him. When he was here to visit Mrs. Thatcher, before he became General Secretary, when he was just a Politburo member, I handled his security arrangements. We talked. He is unusual, very open, very frank. This perestroika he talks about, this glasnost. You know what these will mean, my friend? In two years, by 1988, maybe 1989, all these military details won’t matter anymore. He is not going to attack across the Central German Plain. He is really going to try and restructure the whole Soviet economy and society. He will fail, of course, but he will try. He will pull out of Afghanistan, pull back from Europe. All that this Orlov is telling the Americans will be for the archives in two years. But the Big Lie, when it comesthat will be important. For a decade, my friend. Wait for the Big Lie. The rest is calculated minor sacrifice by the KGB. They play good chess, my former colleagues.”

“And the networks of agents in South America,” said Roth. “Dammit—Mexico, Chile, and Peru are delighted. They’ve rolled up scores of Soviet agents.”

“All locally recruited help,” said McCready. “Not an eth­nic Russian among them. Tired, clapped-out networks, greedy agents, low-level informants. Disposable.”

Roth was staring at him hard.

“My God,” he breathed, “you think he’s phony, don’t you? You think he’s a double. Where did you get that, Sam? Do you have a source, an asset, that we don’t know about?”

“Nope,” said McCready flatly. He did not like to lie to Roth, but orders were orders. In fact, the CIA always received Keepsake’s product, but disguised and attributed to seven different sources.

“I just want to push him hard. I think he’s holding some­thing back. You’re no fool, Joe. I believe that in your deepest heart, you have the same impression.”

That shaft went home. In his secret heart, that was exactly what Roth still thought. He nodded.

“All right. We’ll ride him hard. He hasn’t come here for a vacation, after all. And he’s tough. Let’s go back.”

They resumed at a quarter to twelve. McCready returned to the question of Soviet agents in Britain.

“One I have already given you,” said Orlov. “If you can detect him. The man they called Agent Juno. The one who banked in Croydon, at the Midland.”

“We have traced him,” said McCready evenly. “His name is, or rather was, Anthony Milton-Rice.”

“So there you are,” said Orlov.

“What do you mean, was?” queried Roth.

“He’s dead.”

“I didn’t know,” said Orlov. “It has been several years.”

“That’s another of my problems,” said McCready sadly. “He didn’t die several years ago. He died yesterday morning. Murdered, liquidated, just an hour before we could get the surveillance team around him.”

There was a stunned silence. Then Roth was on his feet again, absolutely outraged. They were back outside the build­ing again in two minutes.

“What the fuck do you think you’re playing at, Sam?” he shouted. “You could have told me.”

“I wanted to see Orlov’s reaction,” said Sam bluntly. “I thought if I told you, you might break the news yourself. Did you see his reaction?”

“No, I was watching you.”

“There wasn’t one,” said McCready. “I would have thought he’d be pretty stunned. Worried, even. Bearing in mind the implications.”

“He’s got nerves of steel,” said Roth. “He’s a total pro. If he doesn’t want to show anything, he doesn’t. Is it true, by the way? Is the man dead? Or was it a ploy?”

“Oh, he’s dead all right, Joe. Knifed by one of a gang of teenagers on his way to work. We call it ‘steaming’; you call it ‘wilding.’ Which gives us a problem, doesn’t it?”

“It could have leaked at the British end.”

McCready shook his head. “No time. It took time to set up a killing like that. We only had the man’s real identity the night before last, after twenty-four hours of detective work. They got him yesterday morning. No time. Tell me, what happens to Minstrel’s product?”

“First to Calvin Bailey, direct, by hand. Then the analysts. Then the customers.”

“When did Orlov produce the product about the spy in our Defense Ministry?”

Roth told him.

“Five days,” mused McCready. “Before it reached us. Time enough. ...”

“Now just hang in there a minute,” protested Roth.

“Which gives us three choices,” McCready continued. “Either it was a remarkable coincidence, and in our job we can’t afford to believe too many of them. Or someone between you and the teletype operator leaked. Or it was set up in advance. I mean, the killing was prepared for a specific hour on a specific day. A certain number of hours before that time, Orlov had a rush of memory. Before the good guys could get their act together, the denounced agent was dead.”

“I don’t believe we have a leak in the Agency,” said Roth tightly. “And I don’t believe Orlov is a phony.”

“Then why isn’t he coming clean? Let’s go back to him,” suggested Sam gently.

When they returned, Orlov was subdued. The news that the British spy he had denounced had been so conveniently liquidated had evidently shaken him. In a change of tone, McCready spoke very gently.

“Colonel Orlov, you are a stranger in a strange land. You have anxieties about your future. So you wish to keep certain things back, for insurance. We understand that. I would do the same if I were in Moscow. We all need insurance. But Joe here informs me that your standing with the Agency is now so high, you need no more insurance. Now, are there any other real names you can offer us?”

There was utter silence in the room. Slowly, Orlov nodded. There was a general exhalation of breath.

“Peter,” said Roth coaxingly, “this really is the time to bring them out.”

“Remyants,” said Pyotr Orlov, “Gennadi Remyants.”

Roth’s exasperation was almost visible. “We know about Remyants,” he said. He looked up at McCready. “Washing­ton-based representative of Aeroflot. That’s his cover. The FBI picked him up and turned him two years ago. Been working for us ever since.”

“No,” said Orlov and raised his gaze. “You are wrong. Remyants is not a double. His exposure was arranged by Moscow. His pickup was deliberate. His turning was phony. Everything he provides has been carefully doctored by Mos­cow. It will cost America millions to repair the damage one day. Remyants is a KGB major of the Illegals Directorate. He runs four separate Soviet networks in mainland U.S.A. and knows all the identities.”

Roth whistled. “If that is true, then it is real pay dirt. If itis true.”

“Only one way to find out,” suggested McCready. “Pick Remyants up, fill him full of Pentothal, and see what falls out. And I do believe it is the lunch hour.”

“That’s two good ideas in ten seconds,” admitted Roth. “Guys, I have to go down to London to talk with Langley. Let’s take a break for twenty-four hours.”

* * *

Joe Roth got his link direct to Calvin Bailey at eight P.M. London time, three o’clock in Washington. Roth was buried deep in the cipher room below the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square; Bailey was in his office in Langley. They were speaking in clear voices, their tones slightly tinny because of the encrypting cipher technology through which both voices had to pass to cross the Atlantic with security.

“I spent the morning with the Brits up at Alconbury,” said Roth. “Their first meet with Minstrel.”

“How did it go?”

“Badly.”

“You’re joking. Ungrateful bastards. What went wrong?”

“Calvin, the debriefer was Sam McCready. He’s not anti-American, and he’s no fool. He believes Minstrel is a phony, a plant.”

“Well, bullshit to that. Did you tell him how many tests Minstrel has passed? That we are satisfied he’s okay?”

“Yes, in detail. He sticks with his view.”

“He produce any hard evidence for this fantasy?”

“No. Said it was the result of the British analysis of Minstrel’s product.”

“Jesus, that’s crazy. Minstrel’s product over a mere six weeks has been great. What’s McCready’s beef?”

“We covered three areas. On Minstrel’s military product, he said Moscow could change it all, as long as they knew what Minstrel was telling us, which they would if they had sent him.”

“Crap. Go on.”

“On Afghanistan he was silent. But I know Sam. It was as if he knew something I didn’t but wouldn’t say what it was. All I could get out of him was a ‘suppose.’ He hinted the Brits thought Moscow might pull out of Afghanistan quite soon. That all Minstrel’s stuff on Afghanistan would be for the archives if that happened. Do we have any such analysis?”

“Joe, we have no evidence the Russkies intend to pull out of Kabul, soon or ever. What else didn’t satisfy Mr. Mc­Cready?”

“He said he thought the Soviet networks rolled up in Central and South America were tired networks—clapped-out was the word he used—and all locally recruited help with not an ethnic Russian among them.”

“Look, Joe, Minstrel has blown away a dozen networks run by Moscow in four countries down there. Sure the agents were locally recruited. They’ve been interrogated—not very pleasantly, I’ll admit. Naturally, they were all run out of the Soviet embassies. A dozen Russian diplomats are being sent home in disgrace. He’s smashed up years of KGB work down there. McCready’s talking crap.”

“He did have one point. All Minstrel has given the Brits concerning Soviet agents over here are code-names. Nothing to identify a single Russian asset here. Except one, and he’s dead. You heard about that?”

“Sure. Rotten luck. A miserable coincidence.”

“Sam thinks it’s no coincidence. Thinks either Minstrel knew it was slated for a certain day and released his identifi­cation too late for the Brits to get their man, or we have a leak.”

“Bullshit to both.”

“He favors the first option. Thinks Minstrel works for Moscow Center.”

“Mr. Sam Smartass McCready offer you any hard evidence for this?”

“No. I asked him specifically if he had an asset inside Moscow who had denounced Minstrel. He denied it. Said it was just his people’s analysis of the product.”

There was silence for a while, as if Bailey were deep in thought. Which he was. Then: “Did you believe his denial?”

“Frankly, no. I think he was lying. I suspect they’re run­ning someone we know nothing about.”

“Then why don’t the Brits come clean?”

“I don’t know, Calvin. If they have an asset who has denounced Minstrel, they’re denying it.”

“Okay, listen, Joe, You tell Sam McCready from me, he has to put up or shut up. We have a major success in Minstrel, and I’m not about to let a sniping campaign out of Century House wreck it all. Not without hard evidence, and I mean really hard. Understood, Joe?”

“Loud and clear.”

“One other thing: Even if they have been tipped off that Orlov is phony, that would be standard Moscow Center practice. Moscow lost him, we got him, the Brits’ noses were put out of joint. Of course Moscow would leak to the Brits that our triumph was hollow and useless. And the Brits would be susceptible to that scam because of their annoyance at not getting Minstrel to themselves. So far as I am concerned, the British tip-off is disinformation. If they have a man, it’s their man who is lying. Ours is on the level.”

“Right, Calvin. If it arises again, can I tell Sam that?”

“Absolutely. That is Langley’s official view, and we’ll defend it.”

Neither man bothered to recall that by now the vindication of Orlov was linked to both their rising careers.

“Sam had one success,” said Joe Roth. “He came at Minstrel hard and strong—I had to pull him out of there twice—but he got Minstrel to come up with a new name. Gennadi Remyants.”

“We run Remyants,” retorted Bailey. “I’ve had his product coming across my desk for two years.”

Roth went on to reveal what Orlov had said about Remyants’s true loyalties to Moscow and McCready’s suggestion that the simple way to clear the whole thing up would be to pick up Remyants and break him.

Bailey was silent. Finally he said, “Maybe. We’ll think it over. I’ll talk to the DDO and the Bureau. If we decide to go with that one, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, keep McCready away from Minstrel. Give them both a break.”

Joe Roth invited McCready to join him for breakfast the following morning at Roth’s apartment, an invitation Mc­Cready accepted.

“Don’t worry about it,” said Roth. “I know there are some fine hotels nearby, and Uncle Sam can afford breakfast for two, but I make a pretty mean breakfast myself. Juice, eggs over easy, waffles, coffee suit you?”

McCready laughed down the phone. “Juice and coffee will do fine.”

When he arrived, Roth was in the kitchen, an apron over his shirt, proudly demonstrating his talent with ham and eggs. McCready weakened and took some.

“Sam, I wish you’d revise your opinion about Minstrel,” said Roth over the coffee. “I spoke with Langley last night.”

“Calvin?”

“Yep.”

“His reaction?”

“He was saddened by your attitude.”

“Saddened, my butt,” said McCready. “I’ll bet he used some nice old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon language about me.”

“Okay, he did. Not pleased. Figures we gave you a gener­ous break on Minstrel. I have a message. Langley’s view is this: We got Minstrel. Moscow is mad as hell. Moscow tries to discredit Minstrel by feeding London a skillful line on how Minstrel is really a Moscow plant. That’s Langley’s view. Sorry, Sam, but on this one you’re wrong. Orlov is telling the truth.”

“Joe, we’re not complete fools over here. We are not going to fall for some Johnny-come-lately piece of disinformation like that, if we had some information, the source of which we could not divulge—which we do not—it would have to predate Orlov’s defection.”

Roth put down his coffee cup and stared at McCready open-mouthed. The distorted language had not fooled him for a minute.

“Jesus, Sam, you do have an asset somewhere in Moscow. For Christ’s sake, come clean!”

“Can’t,” said Sam. “And we don’t, anyway. Have some­one in Moscow we haven’t told you about.”

Strictly speaking, he was not even lying.

“Then I’m sorry, Sam, but Orlov stays. He’s good. Our view is that your man—the one who doesn’t exist—is lying. It’s you, not us, who’s been taken for an awful ride. And that’s official. Orlov has passed three polygraph tests, for God’s sake. That’s proof enough.”

For answer, McCready produced a slip of paper from his breast pocket and laid it in front of Roth. It read:

We discovered that there were some East Europeans who could defeat the polygraph at any time. Americans are not very good at it because we are raised to tell the truth, and when we lie, it is easy to tell we are lying. But we find a lot of Europeans ... can handle the polygraph without a blip. ... There is an occasional Individual who lives in that part of the world who has spent his life lying about one thing or another and therefore becomes so good at it that he can pass the polygraph test.”

Roth snorted and tossed the paper back. “Some half-assed academic with no experience of Langley,” he said.

“Actually,” said McCready mildly, “it was said by Richard Helms two years ago.”

Richard Helms had been a legendary Director of Central Intelligence. Roth looked shaken. McCready rose.

“Joe, one thing Moscow has always longed for is to have the Brits and the Yanks fighting like Kilkenny cats. That’s exactly what we’re heading for, and Orlov’s only been in the country forty-eight hours. Think about it.”

In Washington, the DCI and the FBI had agreed that to see if there was truth in Orlov’s statement about Remyants, the only way to prove it was to pick him up. The planning took place through the day that Roth and McCready had their breakfast, and the arrest was fixed for the same evening, when Remyants left the Aeroflot office in downtown Washington, about five P.M. local time, long after dark in London.

The Russian emerged from the building a little after five and walked down the street, then cut across a pedestrian mall to where he had left his car.

The Aeroflot offices had been under surveillance, and Rem­yants was unaware of the six FBI agents, all armed, who moved in behind him as he crossed the mall. The agents intended to make the arrest as the Russian got into his car. It would be done quickly and discreetly. No one would notice.

The mall contained a series of paths between ragged and litter-strewn lawns, and various benches that had been in­tended for the good citizens of Washington to sit on while taking the sun or eating their brown-bag lunches. The city fathers could not have known that the small park would become a meeting place for drug pushers and their customers to score. On one of the benches, as Remyants crossed the mall toward the parking lot, a black man and a Cuban were negotiating a deal. Each dealer had backup men close by.

The fight was triggered by a scream of rage from the Cuban, who rose and pulled a knife. One of the black man’s body­guards drew a handgun and shot him down. At least eight others from the two gangs pulled weapons and fired at their opponents. The few noninvolved civilians nearby screamed and scattered. The FBI agents, stunned for a second by the suddenness of it all, reacted with their Quantico training, dropped, rolled, and drew their guns.

Remyants took a single soft-nosed bullet in the back of the head and toppled forward. His killer was shot at once by an FBI agent. The two gangs—the blacks and the Cubans—scattered in different directions. The whole firefight took seven seconds and left two men dead, one Cuban and the Russian killed in the crossfire.

The American way of doing things is very technology-dependent, and it is sometimes criticized for this; but no one can deny the results when the technology is working at peak.

The two dead men were removed to the nearest morgue, where the FBI took control. The handgun used by the Cuban went for forensic analysis but offered no clues. It was an untraceable Czech Star, probably imported from Central or South America. The Cuban’s fingerprints gave better harvest. He was identified as Gonzalo Appio, and he was already on file with the FBI. Cross-checking by computer speedily re­vealed that he was also known to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Metro-Dade Police Department cov­ering Miami.

He was known as a drug dealer and contract hit man. Earlier in his miserable life he had been one of the Marielitos, those Cubans so generously “liberated” by Castro when he dispatched from the port of Mariel to Florida every criminal, psychopath, pederast, and low-life clogging up his prisons and asylums, and America was duped into taking them.

The only thing not proved about Appio, though suspected by the FBI, was that he was really a gunman for the DGI, Cuba’s KGB-dominated secret police. The evidence was based on Appio’s believed involvement in the slaying of two prominent and effective anti-Castro broadcasters who were working out of Miami.

The FBI passed the file to Langley, where it caused deep concern. It was the DDO, Frank Wright, who went over Bailey’s head and spoke to Joe Roth in London.

“We need to know, Joe. Now, fast. If there is any substance to the British reservations about Minstrel, we need to know. Gloves off, Joe. Lie-detector, the works. Get up there, Joe, and find out why things keep going wrong.”

Before he left for Alconbury, Roth saw Sam McCready again. It was not a happy meeting. He was bitter and angry.

“Sam, if you know something, really know something, you have got to come clean with me. I’m holding you responsible if we have made a bad mistake here, because you won’t level with us. We’ve leveled with you. Now come clean—what have you got?”

McCready stared at his friend blank-faced. He had played too much poker to give away anything that he did not want to. He was in a dilemma. Privately, he would have liked to tell Joe Roth about Keepsake, given him the hard evidence he needed to lose his faith in Orlov. But Keepsake was walking a very tight wire indeed, and strand by strand that wire was soon going to be cut away by Soviet counterintelligence, as soon as they got the bit between their teeth, convinced they had a leak somewhere in Western Europe. He could not, dare not, blow away Keepsake’s existence, let alone his rank and position.

“You have a problem, Joe,” he said. “Don’t blame me for it. I’ve gone as far as I can go. I think we both agree Milton-Rice might have been a coincidence, but not both.”

“There could have been a leak over here,” said Roth, and regretted it.

“No way,” said McCready calmly. “We’d have to have known time and place for the hit in Washington. We didn’t. It’s either Orlov setting them up by prearrangement, or it’s on your side. You know what I think; it’s Orlov. By the by, how many on your side have access to the Orlov product?”

“Sixteen,” said Roth.

“Jesus. You could have taken an ad in the New York Times.”

“Me, two assistants, tape-deck operators, analysts—it mounts up. The FBI knew about the Remyants pickup, but not Milton-Rice. Sixteen would have known about both—in time. I’m afraid we have a loose nut—probably low level, a clerk, cryptographer, secretary.”

“And I think you have a phony defector.”

“Whatever, I’m going to find out.”

“Can I come?” asked Sam.

“Sorry, buddy, not this time. This is CIA business now. In-house. See you, Sam.”

Colonel Pyotr Orlov noticed the change in the people around him as soon as Roth arrived back at Alconbury. Within minutes, the jocular familiarity had vanished. The CIA staff within the building became withdrawn and formal. Orlov waited patiently.

When Roth took his place opposite him in the debriefing room, two aides wheeled in a machine on a trolley. Orlov glanced at it. He had seen it before. The polygraph. His eyes went back to Roth.

“Something wrong, Joe?” he asked quietly.

“Yes, Peter, something very wrong.”

In a few brief sentences Roth informed the Russian of the fiasco in Washington. Something flickered in Orlov’s eyes. Fear? Guilt? The machine would find out.

Orlov made no protest as the technicians fitted the disks to his chest, wrists, and forehead. Roth did not operate the machine—there was a technician for that—but he knew the questions he wanted to ask.

The polygraph looks and performs something like an elec­trocardiograph found in any hospital. It records heart rate, pulse, sweating—any symptom normally produced by some­one telling lies while under pressure, and the mental pressure is exercised simply by the experience of being tested.

Roth began as always with simple questions designed to establish a response norm. The fine pen drifted lazily over the rolling paper in gentle rises and falls. Three times Orlov had been so tested, and three times he had produced no noticeable symptoms as of a man lying. Roth asked him about his background, his years in the KGB, his defection—the infor­mation he had given so far.

Then he went for the hard ones. “Are you a double agent working for the KGB?”

“No.”

The pen kept drifting slowly up and down.

“Is the information you have given so far truthful?”

“Yes.”

“Is there any last vital information you have not given us?”

Orlov was silent. Then he gripped the arms of his chair. “No.”

The fine pen swerved violently up and down several times before settling. Roth glanced at the operator and got a nod of confirmation. He rose, crossed to the machine, glanced at the paper, and told the operator to switch it off.

“I’m sorry, Peter, but that was a lie.”

There was silence in the room. Five people gazed at the Russian, who was looking at the floor. Finally, he raised his eyes.

“Joe, my friend, can I speak to you? Alone? Really alone? No microphones—just you and me?”

It was against the rules, and a risk. Roth thought it over. Why? What did this enigmatic man who had failed the lie-detector test for the first time want to say that even security-cleared staff were not to hear? He nodded abruptly.

When they were alone, all the technology disconnected, he said, “Well?”

The Russian gave a long, slow sigh.

“Joe, did you ever wonder at the manner of my defection? The speed? Not giving you a chance to check with Washing­ton?”

“Yes, I did. I asked you about it. Frankly, I was never completely satisfied with the explanations. Why did you de­fect that way?”

“Because I didn’t want to end like Volkov.”

Roth sat as if he had been punched in the belly. Everyone in the “business” knew of the disastrous Volkov case. In early September 1945, Konstantin Volkov, apparently Soviet Vice-Consul in Istanbul, Turkey, turned up at the British Consulate-General and told an astonished official that he was really the deputy head of the KGB in Turkey and wanted to defect. He offered to blow away 314 Soviet agents in Turkey and 250 in Britain. Most vital of all, he said, there were two British diplomats in the Foreign Office working for Russia and another man high in the British Secret Intelligence Service.

The news was sent to London while Volkov returned to his consulate. In London the matter was given to the head of the Russian Section. This agent took the necessary steps and flew out to Istanbul. The last that was seen of Volkov was a heavily bandaged figure being hustled aboard a Soviet transport plane bound for Moscow, where he died after hideous torture in the Lubyanka. The British Head of the Russian Section had arrived too late—not surprisingly, for he had informed Mos­cow from his London base. His name was Kim Philby, the very Soviet spy whom Volkov’s evidence would have ex­posed.

“What exactly are you saying to me, Peter?”

“I had to come over the way I came because I knew I could trust you. You were not high enough.”

“Not high enough for what?”

“Not high enough to be him.”

“I’m not following you, Peter,” said Roth, though he was.

The Russian spoke slowly and clearly, as if liberating him­self from a long-held burden.

“For seventeen years the KGB has had a man inside the CIA. I believe that by now he has risen very high.”

Chapter 4

Joe Roth lay on his cot in his bedroom in the isolated building on Alconbury field and wondered what to do. A task that six weeks earlier had appeared fascinating and likely to advance his career by leaps and bounds had just turned into a night­mare.

For forty years, since its creation in 1948, the CIA had had one obsessive concern: to keep itself pure from the infiltration of a Soviet “mole.” To this end billions of dollars had been spent in counterintelligence precautions. All staff had been checked and checked again, given lie-detector tests, ques­tioned, vetted, and vetted again.

And it had worked. While the British had been rocked in the early fifties by the treachery of Philby, Burgess, and Maclean, the Agency had remained pure. The Philby affair had rumbled on as the ousted British SIS man had eked out a living in Beirut until his final departure to Moscow in 1963, but the Agency had remained clean.

When France was shaken by the Georges Paques affair and Britain again by George Blake in the early sixties, the CIA stayed unpenetrated. Through all of that time, the counterintelligence arm of the Agency, the Office of Security, had been headed by a remarkable man, James Jesus Angleton, a lonely, secretive, and obsessive man who lived and breathed for one thing: to keep the Agency free from Soviet infiltration.

Finally, Angleton had fallen victim to his own innate suspi­cions. He began to believe that despite his efforts, there really was a mole loyal to Moscow inside the CIA. Despite all the tests and all the vetting, he became convinced that a traitor had somehow gotten in. His reasoning seemed to be, “If there isn’t a mole, there ought to be. So there must be; so there is.” The hunt for the suspected “Sasha” took up more and more time and effort.

The paranoid Russian defector Golytsin, who held the KGB responsible for everything bad on the planet, agreed.

This was music to Angleton’s ears. The hunt for Sasha was stepped up. Rumor began that his name started with K. Officers whose name started with K found their lives being pulled apart. One resigned in disgust; others were dismissed because they could not prove their innocence—a prudent move, perhaps, but not very good for morale, which slumped. For ten more years, from 1964 to 1974, the hunt went on. Finally, Director William Colby had had enough. He eased Angleton into retirement.

The Office of Security passed into other hands. Its duties to keep the Agency free of Soviet penetration continued, but at a lower and less aggressive tenor.

Ironically, the British, having gotten rid of their older-generation ideological traitors, suffered no more spy scandals from within their intelligence community. Then the pendulum seemed to swing. America, so free of traitors since the late forties, suddenly produced a rash of them—not ideologues, but wretches prepared to betray their country for money. Boyce, Lee, Harper, Walker, and finally Howard had been inside the CIA and betrayed American agents working in their native Russia. Denounced by Urchenko before his bizarre redefection, Howard had managed to slip away to Moscow before he could be arrested. The affairs of Howard’s treachery and Urchenko’s redefection, both the previous year, had left the Agency with a very red face.

But all this was as nothing compared with the potential effect of Orlov’s claim. If it was true, the manhunt alone could tear the Agency apart. If it was true, the damage assessment would take years—the realignment of thousands of agents, codes, foreign networks, and alliances would last for a decade and cost millions. The reputation of the Agency would be badly damaged for years to come.

The question that raged through Roth’s mind as he tossed the night away was, “Who the hell can I go to?”

Just before dawn, he made up his mind, rose, dressed, and packed a suitcase. Before leaving he looked in on Orlov, who was sound asleep, and said to Kroll, “Look after him for me. No one enters, no one leaves. That man has just become incredibly valuable.”

Kroll did not understand why, but he nodded. He was a man who followed orders and never questioned why.

Roth drove to London, avoided the embassy, went to his apartment, and took a passport in a name other than his own. He secured one of the last seats on a private British carrier to Boston and connected at Logan Airport into Washington National. Even with the five-hour time saving, it was dusk when he drove a rented car into Georgetown, parked, and walked down K Street to the far end, close to the campus of Georgetown University.

The house he sought was a fine building of red brick, distinguished from others near it only by extensive security systems that scanned the street and all approaches to it. He was intercepted as he crossed the road toward the portico, and he flashed his CIA pass. At the door he asked to see the man he had come for, was told he was at dinner, and asked that a message be passed. Minutes later, he was admitted and shown into a paneled library redolent of leather-bound books and a hint of cigar. He sat and waited. Then the door opened, and the Director of Central Intelligence entered.

Though he was not accustomed to receiving youthful and relatively junior CIA staffers at his home, except on a sum­mons, he seated himself in a leather club chair, gestured Roth to sit opposite him, and quietly asked for the meaning of the visit. Carefully, Roth told him.

The DCI was over seventy, an unusual age for the post, but he was an unusual man. He had served with the OSS in World War II running agents into Nazi-occupied France and the Low Countries. After the war, with the OSS disbanded, he had returned to private life, taking over a small factory from his father and building it to a huge conglomerate. When the CIA had been formed to succeed the OSS, he had been offered a chance to join by the first Director, Allen Dulles, but had declined.

Years later, a wealthy man and a major contributor to the Republican party, he had noticed and attached himself to a rising ex-actor who was running for the governorship of California. When Ronald Reagan won the White House, he had asked his trusted friend to take over the CIA.

The DCI was a Catholic, long widowed, and a strict moral puritan, and he was known in the corridors of Langley as a tough old bastard. He rewarded talent and intelligence, but his passion was loyalty. He had known good friends go to the torture chambers of the Gestapo because they had been betrayed, and betrayal was the one thing he would not tolerate under any circumstances. For traitors, he had only a visceral loathing. For them, in the mind of the DCI, there could be no mercy.

He listened carefully to Roth’s narration, staring at the gas log fire where no flame burned on such a warm night. He gave no sign of what he felt, save a tightening of the muscles around the dewlapped jaw.

“You came straight here?” he asked when Roth finished. “You spoke to no one else?”

Roth explained how he had come, like a thief in the night into his own country, on a false passport, by a circuitous route. The old man nodded; he had once slipped into Hitler’s Europe like that. He rose and went to fill a tumbler from the brandy decanter on the antique side-table, pausing to tap Roth reassuringly on the shoulder.

“You did well, my boy,” he said. He offered brandy to Roth, who shook his head. “Seventeen years, you say?”

“According to Orlov. All my own superior officers, right up to Frank Wright, have been with the Agency that long. I didn’t know who else to come to.”

“No, of course not.”

The DCI returned to his chair and sat lost in thought. Roth did not interrupt.

Finally the old man said, “It has to be the Office of Security. But not the Chief. No doubt he’s totally loyal, but he’s a twenty-five-year man. I’ll send him on vacation. There’s a very bright young man who works as his deputy. Ex-lawyer. I doubt if he’s been with us more than fifteen.”

The DCI summoned an aide and caused several phone calls to be made. It was confirmed the deputy Head of the Office of Security was forty-one and had joined the Agency from law school fifteen years earlier. He was summoned from his home in Alexandria. His name was Max Kellogg.

“Just as well he never worked under Angleton,” said the DCI. “His name begins with K.”

Max Kellogg, flustered and apprehensive, arrived just after midnight. He had been about to go to bed when the call came, and he was stunned to hear the DCI himself on the line.

“Tell him,” said the DCI. Roth repeated his story.

The lawyer took it all in without blinking, missed nothing, asked two supplementary questions, took no notes. Finally he asked the DCI: “Why me, sir? Harry’s in town?”

“You’ve only been with us fifteen years,” said the DCI.

“Ah.”

“I have decided to keep Orlov—Minstrel, whatever we call him—at Alconbury,” said the DCI. “He’s probably as safe there, even safer, than back over here. Stall the British, Joe. Tell them Minstrel has just come up with more information of only U.S. interest. Tell them their access will be resumed as soon as we’ve checked it out.

“You’ll fly in the morning”—he checked his watch—“this morning by designated flight straight to Alconbury. No holds barred now. Too late for that. The stakes are too high. Orlov will understand. Take him apart. I want it all. I want to know two things, fast. Is it true, and if so, who?

“As of now, you two work for me—only for me. Report direct. No cut-outs. No questions. Refer them to me. I’ll handle things at this end.”

The light of combat was in the old man’s eyes again.

Roth and Kellogg tried to get some sleep on the Grumman from Andrews back to Alconbury. They were still ragged and tired when they arrived. The west-east crossing is always the worst. Fortunately, both men avoided alcohol and drank only water. They hardly paused to wash and brush up before going to Colonel Orlov’s room.

As they entered Roth heard the familiar tones of Art Garfunkel coming from the tape deck.

Appropriate, thought Roth grimly. We have come to talk with you again. But this time there will be no sounds of silence.

But Orlov was cooperation itself. He seemed resigned to the fact that he had now divulged the last piece of his precious “insurance.” The price of the bride had been offered in full. The only question was whether it would be acceptable to the suitors.

“I never knew his name,” he said in the debriefing room. Kellogg had elected to have the microphones and tape record­ers switched off. He had his own portable recorder and backed it up with his own handwritten notes. He wanted no other tape to be copied, no other CIA staff present. The technicians had been sent away; Kroll and two others guarded the passage beyond the now-soundproofed door. The techni­cians’ last job had been to sweep the room for bugs and declare it clean. They were plainly puzzled by the new regi­men.

“I swear to that. He was known only as Agent Sparrowhawk, and he was run personally by General Drozdov.”

“Where and when was he recruited?”

“I believe in Vietnam in ’68 or ’69.”

“Believe?”

“No, I know it was Vietnam. I was with Planning, and we had a big operation down there, mainly in and around Saigon. Locally recruited help was Vietnamese, of course, Viet Cong; but we had our own people. One of them reported that the Viet Cong had brought him an American who was dissatisfied. Our local Rezident cultivated the man and turned him. In late 1969 General Drozdov personally went to Tokyo to talk with the American. That was when he was code-named Sparrowhawk.”

“How do you know this?”

“There were arrangements to be made, communication links set up, funds to be transferred. I was in charge.”

They talked for a full week. Orlov recalled banks into which sums had been paid over the years, and the months (if not the actual days) on which these transfers were made. The sums increased as the years passed, probably to account for pro­motion and better product.

“When I moved to the Illegals Directorate and came di­rectly under Drozdov, my association with Case Sparrowhawk continued. But I was not now concerned with bank transfers. It was more operational. If Sparrowhawk gave us an agent working against us, I would inform the appropriate department, usually Executive Action—known as ‘wet af­fairs’—and they would liquidate the hostile agent if he was out of our territory or pick him up if he was inside. We got four anti-Castro Cubans that way.”

Max Kellogg noted everything and reran his tapes through the night. Finally he said to Roth, “There is only one career that fits all these allegations. I don’t know whose it is, but the records will prove it. It’s a question of cross-checking now. Hours and hours of cross-checking. I can only do that in Washington, in the Central Registry. I have to go back.”

He flew the following day, spent five hours with the DCI in his Georgetown mansion, then closeted himself with the re­cords. He had carte blanche, on the personal orders of the DCI. No one dared deny Kellogg anything. Despite the se­crecy, word began to spread through Langley. Something was up. There was a flap going on, and it had to do with internal security. Morale began to flag. These things can never be kept truly quiet.

At Golders Hill in North London there is a small park, an adjunct to the much larger Hampstead Heath, that contains a menagerie of deer, goats, ducks, and other wildfowl. McCready met Keepsake there on the day Max Kellogg flew back to Washington.

“Things are not so good at the embassy,” said Keepsake. “The K-Line man, on orders from Moscow, has started asking for files that go back years. I think a security investi­gation, probably of all our embassies in Western Europe, has been started. Sooner or later, it will narrow to the London embassy.”

“Is there anything we can do to help?”

“Possibly.”

“Suggest it,” said McCready.

“It would help if I could give them something really use­ful—some good news about Orlov, for example.”

When a defector-in-place like Keepsake changes sides, it would be suspicious if he produced no information for the Russians year after year. So it is customary for his new masters to give him some genuine intelligence to send home to prove what a fine fellow he is.

Keepsake had already given McCready the name of every real Soviet agent in Britain that he knew about, which was most of them. The British had clearly not picked them all up—that would have given the game away. Some had been shifted away from classified material, not in an obvious man­ner but slowly, in the course of “administrative” changes. Some had been promoted in rank but been moved out of the handling of secret matters. Some had had the material cross­ing their desks doctored so that it would do more harm than good.

Keepsake had even been allowed to recruit a few new agents to prove his worth to Moscow. One of these was a clerk in the Central Registry of the SIS itself, a man utterly loyal to Britain but who would pass on what he was told. Moscow had been quite delighted by the recruitment of Agent Wolverine. It was agreed that two days later, Wolverine would pass to Keepsake a copy of a draft memorandum in Denis Gaunt’s hand to the effect that Orlov was now ensconced at Alconbury, where the Americans had fallen for him hook, line, and sinker—and so had the British.

“How are things with Orlov?” inquired Keepsake.

“Everything has gone quiet,” said McCready. “I had one half-day with him, got nowhere. I think I sowed some seeds of doubt in Joe Roth’s mind, there and in London. He went back to Alconbury, talked again with Orlov, then shot off back to the States on a different passport. He thought we hadn’t spotted him. Seemed in a hell of a hurry. Hasn’t reappeared—at least, not through a regular airport. May have flown direct into Alconbury on a military flight.”

Keepsake stopped tossing crumbs to the ducks and turned to McCready. “They have talked to you since, invited you back to resume?”

“No. It’s been a week. Total silence.”

“Then he has produced the Big Lie, the one he came to produce. That is why the CIA is involved within themselves.”

“Any idea what it could be?”

Keepsake sighed. “If I were General Drozdov, I would think like a KGB man. There are two things the KGB has always lusted after. One is to start a major war between the CIA and the SIS. Have they started fighting you?”

“No, they are being very polite. Just noncommunicative.”

“Then it is the other. The other dream is to tear the CIA apart from the inside. Destroy its morale. Set colleague against colleague. Orlov will denounce someone as a KGB agent inside the CIA. It will be an effective accusation. I warned you; Potemkin is a long-planned affair.”

“How will we spot him if they don’t tell us?”

Keepsake began to stroll back to his car. He turned and called over his shoulder, “Look for the man to whom the CIA suddenly grows cold. That will be the man, and he will be innocent.”

Edwards was aghast.

“Let Moscow know that Orlov is now based at Alconbury? If Langley ever finds out, there’ll be a war. Why in heaven’s name do that?”

“A test. I believe in Keepsake. I’m convinced he’s genuine. I trust him. So I think Orlov is phony. If Moscow does not react, makes no attempt to harm Orlov, that will be the proof. Even the Americans will believe that. They’ll be angry, of course, but they’ll see the logic.”

“And if by any chance they attack and kill Orlov? You’re going to be the one to tell Calvin Bailey?”

“They won’t,” said McCready. “As night follows day, they won’t.”

“By the way, he’s coming here. On vacation.”

“Who?”

“Calvin. With wife and daughter. There’s a file on your desk. I’d like the Firm to offer him some hospitality. A couple of dinners with people he’d like to meet. He’s been a good friend of Britain over the years. Least we can do.”

Glumly, McCready stumped downstairs and looked at the file. Denis Gaunt sat opposite him.

“He’s an opera buff,” said McCready, reading from the file. “I suppose we can get him tickets for Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, that sort of thing.”

“Jesus, I can’t get into Glyndebourne,” said Gaunt en­viously. “There’s a seven-year waiting list.”

The magnificent country mansion in the heart of Sussex, set amid rolling lawns and containing one of the country’s finest opera houses, was and remains a most sought-after treat for any opera lover on a summer’s evening.

“You like opera?” asked McCready.

“Sure.”

“Fine. You can mother-hen Calvin and Mrs. Bailey while they’re here. Get tickets for the Garden and Glyndebourne. Use Timothy’s name. Pull rank, swing it. This miserable job must have some perks, though I’m damned if I ever get any.”

He headed for lunch. Gaunt grabbed the file.

“When’s he due?” he asked.

“In a week,” called McCready from the door. “Call him up. Tell him what you’re fixing. Ask what his favorites are. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.”

Max Kellogg shut himself inside the archives and lived there for ten days. His wife in Alexandria was told he was out of town and believed it. Kellogg had his food sent in, but he mainly survived on a diet of coffee and too many filter kings.

Two archive clerks were at his personal disposal. They knew nothing of his investigation but simply brought him the files he wanted, one after the other. Photographs were dug out of files long buried as being of little further use or relevance. Like all covert agencies, the CIA never threw anything away, however obscure or outdated; one never knew whether someday that tiny detail, that fragment of newsprint or photograph, might be needed. Many were needed now.

Halfway through his investigation, two agents were dis­patched to Europe. One visited Vienna and Frankfurt; the other, Stockholm and Helsinki. Each carried identification as an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration and a personal letter from the Secretary of the Treasury asking for the cooperation of a major bank in each city. Aghast at the thought that it was being used to launder drug money, each bank conferred among its directors and opened its files.

Tellers were summoned from their desks and shown a photograph. Dates and bank accounts were quoted. One teller could not remember; the other three nodded. The agents took receipt of photocopies of accounts, sums deposited, transfers made. They took away samples of signatures in a variety of names for graphology analysis back at Langley. When they had what they came for, they returned to Washington and put their trophies on the desk of Max Kellogg.

From an original group of more than twenty CIA officers who had served in Vietnam in the relevant period—and Kel­logg had expanded the time frame to include a period of two years on either side of the dates quoted by Orlov—the first dozen were quickly eliminated. One by one, the others went out of the frame.

Either they were not in the right city at the right time, or they could not have divulged a certain piece of information because they never knew it, or they could not have made a certain rendezvous because they were on the other side of the world. Except one.

Before the agents arrived back from Europe, Kellogg knew he had his man. The evidence from the banks merely con­firmed it. When he was ready, when he had it all, he went back to the house of the DCI in Georgetown.

Three days before he went, Calvin and Mrs. Bailey with their daughter, Clara, flew from Washington to London. Bailey loved London; in fact, he was a staunch anglophile. It was the history of the place that enthused him.

He loved to visit the old castles and stately mansions built in a bygone era, to wander the cool cloisters of ancient abbeys and seats of learning. He installed himself in a Mayfair apart­ment that the CIA retained for the housing of visiting VIPs, rented a car, and went to Oxford, avoiding the motorway and meandering instead through the byways, taking lunch in the sun at The Bull at Bisham, whose oak beams were set before Queen Elizabeth I was born.

On his second evening, Joe Roth stopped by for a drink. For the first time he met the remarkably plain Mrs. Bailey and Clara, a gawky child of eight with straight plaits of ginger hair, eyeglasses, and buck teeth. He had never met the Bailey family before; his superior was not the sort of man one associated with bedtime stories and barbecues on the lawn. But the frostiness of Calvin Bailey seemed to have mellowed, though whether it was the fact of enjoying an extended vaca­tion among the operas, concerts, and art galleries that he so admired, or the prospect of promotion, Roth could not tell.

He wanted to tell Bailey of the strain caused by Orlov’s bombshell, but the DCI’s orders had been adamant. No one, not even Calvin Bailey, the Head of Special Projects, was to be allowed to know—yet. When the Orlov accusation had been either shown to be false, or had been justified with hard evidence, the top echelon of the officers who ran the CIA would be personally briefed by the DCI himself. Until then, silence. Questions were asked, but none answered, and cer­tainly nothing was volunteered. So Joe Roth lied.

He told Bailey the debriefing of Orlov was progressing well but at a slower pace. Naturally, the product Orlov remem­bered most clearly had already been divulged. Now it was a question of dragging smaller and smaller details from his memory. He was cooperating well, and the British were happy with him. Areas already covered were now being gone over again and again. It took time, but each recovering of an area of product brought a few more tiny details—tiny but valuable.

As Roth sipped his drink, Sam McCready turned up at the door. He had Denis Gaunt with him, and introductions were made again. Roth had to admire his British colleague’s per­formance. McCready was flawless, congratulating Bailey on a remarkable success with Orlov, and producing a menu of proposals the SIS had come up with to enhance Bailey’s visit to Britain.

Bailey was delighted with the tickets to the operas at Covent Garden and Glyndebourne. They would form the high point of the family’s twelve-day visit to London.

“And then back to the States?” asked McCready.

“No. A quick visit to Paris, Salzburg, and Vienna, then home,” said Bailey. McCready nodded. Salzburg and Vienna both had operas that were among the pinnacles of that art form anywhere in the world.

It turned into quite a jolly evening. The overweight Mrs. Bailey lumbered around dispensing drinks; Clara came to be presented before bed. She was introduced to Roth, Gaunt, and McCready, who gave her his lopsided grin. She smiled shyly. Within ten minutes he was delighting her with conjuring tricks. He took a coin from his pocket, flicked it in the air, and caught it, but when Clara forced open his clenched fist, it was gone. Then he produced the coin from her left ear. The child shrieked with delight. Mrs. Bailey beamed.

“Where did you learn that sort of thing?” asked Bailey.

“Just one of my more presentable talents,” said McCready.

Roth had watched in silence. Privately the troubled CIA agent wondered if McCready could make the allegations made by Orlov disappear with the same ease as the coin. He doubted it.

McCready caught his eye, reading his thoughts. Gently, he shook his head. Not now, Joe. Not yet. He turned his atten­tion back to the now-devoted little girl.

The three visitors left after nine o’clock. On the pavement McCready murmured to Roth, “How goes the investigation, Joe?”

“You’re full of crap,” said Roth.

“Do be careful,” said McCready. “You’re being led up the garden path. By the nose.”

“That’s what we believe of you, Sam.”

“Who’s he nailed, Joe?”

“Back off,” snapped Roth. “As of now, Minstrel is Com­pany business. Nothing to do with you.”

He turned and walked quickly away toward Grosvenor Square.

Max Kellogg sat with the DCI in the latter’s library two nights later with his files and his notes, copies of bank drafts, and photographs, and he talked.

He was tired unto death, exhausted by a workload that would and should normally have taken a team of men double the time. Dark smudges ringed his eyes.

The DCI sat on the other side of the old oak refectory table he had caused to be placed between them to carry the paper­work. The old man seemed hunched into his velvet smoking jacket. The lights shone on his bald and wrinkled head, and beneath his brows his eyes watched Kellogg and flicked over the proffered documents like those of an aged lizard.

When Kellogg had finally finished, he asked, “There can be no doubt?”

Kellogg shook his head. “Minstrel provided twenty-seven points of evidence. Twenty-six check out.”

“All circumstantial?”

“Inevitably. Except the testimony of the three bank tellers. They have made positive ID—from photographs, of course.”

“Can a man be convicted on circumstantial evidence alone?”

“Yes, sir. It is well precedented and amply documented. You do not always need a body to convict of murder.”

“No confession needed?”

“Not necessary. And almost certainly not forthcoming. This is one shrewd, skilled, tough, and very experienced operator.”

The DCI sighed. “Go home, Max. Go home to your wife. Stay silent. I’ll send for you when I need you again. Do not return to the office until I give the word. Take a break. Rest.”

He waved a hand toward the door. Max Kellogg rose and left. The old man summoned an aide and ordered a coded telegram on an “eyes only” basis to be sent to Joe Roth in London. It said simply: “Return at once. Same route. Report to me. Same place.” It was signed with the code word that would tell Roth it came directly from the DCI.

The shadows over Georgetown deepened that summer night, as did the shadows in an old man’s mind. The DCI sat alone and thought of the old days, of friends and colleagues, bright young men and women whom he had sent beyond the Atlantic wall and who had died under interrogation because of an informer, a traitor. There had been no excuses in those days, no Max Kelloggs to sift the evidence and produce an overwhelming case. And there had been no mercy in those days—not for an informer. He stared at the photo before him.

“You bastard,” he said softly, “you double-dyed traitorous bastard.”

The following day a messenger entered Sam McCready’s office at Century House and deposited a chit from the cipher room. McCready was busy; he gestured to Denis Gaunt to open it. Gaunt read it, whistled, and passed it over. It was a request from the CIA in Langley: During his vacation in Europe, Calvin Bailey was to be provided with access to no classified information.

“Orlov?” asked Gaunt.

“Gets my vote,” said McCready. “What the hell can I do to convince them?”

He made his own decision on that. He used a dead-letter drop to get a message to Keepsake, asking for a meeting without delay.

In the lunch hour McCready was informed in a routine note from Airport Watch, a division of MI-5, that Joe Roth had left London again for Boston, still using the same phony passport.

That same evening, having gained five hours crossing the Atlantic, Joe Roth sat at the refectory table at the DCI’s mansion. The Director sat opposite him, Max Kellogg to his right. The old man looked grim, Kellogg merely nervous. At his home in Alexandria he had slept for most of the twenty-four hours between his arrival there the previous evening and the telephoned summons to return to Georgetown. He had left all his documents with the Director, but they were again in front of him now.

“Begin again, Max. At the beginning. Just the way you told it to me.”

Kellogg glanced at Roth, adjusted his eyeglasses, and took a sheet from the top of the pile.

“In May 1967, Calvin Bailey was sent as a Provincial Officer, a G-12, to Vietnam. Here is the posting. He was assigned, as you see, to the Phoenix Program. You’ve heard of that, Joe.”

Roth nodded. At the height of the Vietnam war, the Ameri­cans had mounted an operation to attempt to counter the drastic effects being secured by the Viet Cong on the local population through selective, public, and sadistic assassina­tions. The notion was to use counterterror against the terror­ists, to identify and eliminate Viet Cong activists. It was the Phoenix Program. Just how many Viet Cong suspects were sent to their maker without benefit of evidence or trial has never been established. Some have put the figure at twenty thousand; the CIA put it at eight thousand.

How many of the suspects were really Viet Cong remains even more problematic, for it soon became the practice for Vietnamese to denounce any person against whom they had a grudge. People were denounced on the basis of family feuds, clan wars, land squabbles, even debts owed and never to be collected if the creditor was dead.

Usually the denounced person was handed over to the Vietnamese secret police or the army, the ARVN. The inter­rogations they underwent and the ways they died tested even oriental ingenuity.

“There were young Americans, fresh out of the States, who saw things down there that no man should be asked to watch. Some quit, some needed professional help. One turned, in his mind, to the very philosophy of the men he had been sent to fight. Calvin Bailey was that man, as George Blake had turned in Korea. We have no proof of that because it happened inside a human head, but the evidence that follows makes the supposition totally reasonable.

“In March 1968 came what we believe to be the climactic experience. Bailey was present at the village of My Lai just four hours after the massacre. You recall My Lai?”

Roth nodded again. It was all part of his youth. He recalled it all too well. On March 16, 1968, an American infantry company came across a small village called My Lai, where they suspected there might be Viet Cong or sympathizers hiding. Exactly why they lost control and went berserk was only inadequately established later. They started firing when they could get no response to their questions, and once it started, it did not stop until at least 450 unarmed civilians—men, women, and children—lay dead in mangled heaps. It took eighteen months for the news to leak out in America, and three years almost to the day for Lieutenant William Calley to be convicted by court-martial. But Calvin Bailey had reached the spot after four hours and seen it all.

“Here is his report at the time,” said Kellogg, passing over several sheets, “written in his own hand. As you can see, it was written by a badly shaken man. Unfortunately, it seems this experience turned Bailey into a Communist sympathizer.

“Six months later, Bailey reported he had recruited two Vietnamese cousins, Nguyen Van Troc and Vo Nguyen Can, and infiltrated them into the Viet Cong’s own intelligence setup. It was a major coup, the first of many. According to Bailey, he ran these men for two years. According to Orlov, it was the other way around. They ran him. Look at this.”

He passed Roth two photographs. One photograph showed two young Vietnamese males, taken against a background of the jungle. One man had a cross over his face, indicating he was now dead. The other photograph, taken much later and in a setting of verandah with rattan chairs, showed a group of Vietnamese officers at ease, being served tea. The steward was looking up at the camera and smiling.

“The tea-server ended up as a boat-person, a refugee, at a camp in Hong Kong. The photo was his prize possession, but the British were interested in the group of officers and took it from him. Look at the man to the steward’s left.”

Roth looked. It was Nguyen Van Troc, ten years older but the same man. He wore a senior officer’s shoulder boards.

“He’s now deputy head of Vietnamese counterintelligence,” said Kellogg. “Point made.

“Next, we have Minstrel’s assertion that Bailey was passed on to the KGB right there in Saigon. Minstrel named a now-dead Swedish businessman as the KGB Rezident for Saigon in 1970. We have known since 1980 that the businessman was not who he said he was, and Swedish counterintelligence long broke his cover story. He never came from Sweden, so he probably came from Moscow. Bailey could have seen him whenever he wanted.

“Next, Tokyo. Minstrel says Drozdov himself went there in the same year, 1970, and took over Bailey, giving him the name Sparrowhawk. We cannot prove Drozdov was there, but Minstrel is dead accurate on the dates. And Bailey was there on those dates. Here is his movement order by Air America, our own airline. It all fits. He returned to America in 1971 a dedicated KGB agent.”

After that, Calvin Bailey had served in two posts in Central and South America and three in Europe, a continent he had also visited many times as he rose in the hierarchy and undertook flying visits to inspect out-stations.

“Help yourself to a drink, Joe,” growled the DCI. “It gets worse.”

“Minstrel named four banks into which his department in Moscow had made transfers of cash to the traitor. He even got the dates of the transfers right. Here are the four accounts, one in each of the banks he named: in Frankfurt, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Vienna. Here are the deposit slips, large sums and in cash. Payments all made within a month of the accounts being opened. Four tellers were shown a photo­graph; three identified it as the man who opened the accounts. This photograph.”

Kellogg slipped a photograph of Calvin Bailey across to Roth. He stared at the face as if at the face of a stranger. He could not believe it. He had eaten with the man, drunk with him, met his family. The face in the photo stared back blankly.

“Minstrel gave us five pieces of information that were in the possession of the KGB that should never have entered its possession. And he gave the times those pieces entered their possession. Each piece was known to Calvin Bailey and only a few others.

“Even Bailey’s triumphs, the coups that secured him his promotions, were fed to him by Moscow—genuine sacrifices made by the KGB to enhance their man’s standing with us. Minstrel names four successful operations conducted by Bailey. And he’s right—except that he claims they were all permitted by Moscow, and I’m afraid he’s right, Joe.

“That makes in all twenty-four precise items extracted from Orlov, and twenty-one check out. That leaves three, much more recent. Joe, when Orlov called you that day in London, what name did he use?”

“Hayes,” said Roth.

“Your professional name. How did he know it?”

Roth shrugged.

“Finally we come to the two recent killings of the agents named by Orlov. Bailey told you to get the Orlov product to him first, by hand, right?”

“Yes. But that would be normal. It was a Special Opera­tions project, bound to be serious material. He would want to check it over first.”

“When Orlov fingered the Brit, Milton-Rice, Bailey got that first?”

Roth nodded.

“The Brits three days later?”

“Yes.”

“And Milton-Rice was dead before the Brits could get to him. Same with Remyants. I’m sorry, Joe. It’s watertight. There’s just too much evidence.”

Kellogg closed his last file and left Roth staring at the material in front of him: the photos, the bank statements, the airline tickets, the movement orders. It was like a jigsaw puzzle assembled, not a piece missing. Even the motive, those awful experiences in Vietnam, was logical.

Kellogg was thanked and dismissed. The DCI stared across the table.

“What do you think, Joe?”

“You know the British think Minstrel’s a phony,” said Roth. “I told you the first time I came what London’s view was.”

The DCI made an irritable gesture of dismissal. “Proof, Joe. You asked them for hard proof. Did they give you any?”

Roth shook his head.

“Did they say they had a high-placed asset in Moscow who had denounced Minstrel?”

“No, sir. Sam McCready denied that.”

“So they’re full of shit,” said the DCI. “They have no proof, Joe—just the loser’s resentment at not having gotten Minstrel to themselves. This is proof, Joe. Pages and pages of it.”

Roth stared dumbly at the papers. To know that he had worked closely with a man who was steadily and with delib­erate malice betraying his country over many years was like having a chunk blown out of his midriff. He felt sick. Quietly he said, “What do you want me to do, sir?”

The DCI rose and paced his elegant library. “I am the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Appointed by the President himself. As such, I am asked to protect this country as best I can and may, from all her enemies. Some within, some without. I cannot and will not go to the President and tell him we have yet another massive scandal that makes all previous treacheries right back to Benedict Arnold look like nickel-and-dime affairs. Not after the recent series of breaches of security.

“I will not expose him to the savaging of the media and the ridicule of foreign nations. There can be no arrest and trial, Joe. The trial has been here, the verdict has been reached, and the sentence must be from me, God help me.”

“What do you want me to do?” repeated Roth.

“In the last analysis, Joe, I could steel myself not to worry about the broken trusts, the traduced secrets, the loss of confidence, the wrecked morale, the scavenging media, the snickering foreign nations. But I cannot expel from my mind the images of the agents blown away, the widows and the orphans. For a traitor, there can be only one verdict, Joe.

“He does not return here, ever. He does not soil this land with his feet ever again. He is consigned to outer darkness. You will return to England, and before he can skip to Vienna and thence across the border into Hungary—which is as­suredly what he has been preparing to do ever since Minstrel came over—you will do what has to be done.”

“I’m not certain I can do that, sir.”

The DCI leaned over the table, and with his hand he raised Roth’s chin so that he stared into the younger man’s eyes. His own were as hard as obsidian.

“You will do it, Joe. Because it is my order as Director, because through our President I speak for this land, and because you will do it for your country. Go back to London and do what has to be done.”

“Yes, sir,” said Joe Roth.

Chapter 5

The steamer pulled away from Westminster Pier precisely at three and began its leisurely journey downriver toward Green­wich. A crowd of Japanese tourists lined the rail, cameras clicking like subdued machine-gun fire to record the images of the Houses of Parliament slipping away.

As the boat neared midriver, a man in a light gray suit quietly rose and walked to the stern, where he stood at the rail gazing down into the churning wake. Minutes later an­other man, in a light summer raincoat, rose from a different bench and went to join him.

“How are things at the embassy?” asked McCready quietly.

“Not so good,” said Keepsake. “The fact of a major counterintelligence operation is confirmed. So far, only the behavior of my junior staff is being gone over. But intensively. When they have been cleared, the focus of search will move higher—toward me. I am covering tracks as best I can, but there are some things, losing entire files, that would do more harm than good.”

“How long do you think you’ve got?”

“A few weeks at most.”

“Be careful, my friend. Err on the side of caution. We absolutely do not want another Penkovsky.”

In the early 1960s, Colonel Oleg Penkovsky of the GRU worked for the British for two and a half brilliant years. Until then and for many years afterward, he had been by far the most valuable Soviet agent ever recruited, and the most damaging to the USSR. In his brief span he passed over more than five thousand top-secret documents, culminating in vital intelligence on the Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962, informa­tion that enabled President Kennedy to play a masterly hand against Nikita Khrushchev. But he overstayed his time. When urged to come out, he insisted on staying for a few more weeks, was unmasked, interrogated, tried, and shot.

Keepsake smiled. “Don’t worry, no Penkovsky affair. Not again. And how are things with you?”

“Not good. We believe Orlov has denounced Calvin Bailey.”

Keepsake whistled. “That high. Well, well. Calvin Bailey himself. So he was the target of Project Potemkin. Sam, you must persuade them they are wrong, that Orlov is lying.”

“I can’t,” said McCready. “I’ve tried. They’ve got the bit between their teeth.”

“You must try again. There is a life at stake here.”

“You don’t really think—”

“Oh yes, old friend, I do,” said the Russian. “The DCI is a passionate man. I don’t think he can allow another major scandal, bigger than all the rest put together, at this stage in his President’s career. He will take the option of ensuring silence. Forever. But of course, it won’t work. He will think, if the act is done, that it will never get out. We know better, don’t we? The rumors will start quite soon because the KGB will ensure that they start. They are very good at that.

“Ironically, Orlov has already won. If Bailey is arrested and goes on trial, with hugely damaging publicity, he has won. If Bailey is silenced and the news gets out, CIA morale will hit an all-time low and he has won. If Bailey is expelled without pension, he will claim his innocence, and the contro­versy will roll for years. Again, Orlov will have won. You must dissuade them.”

“I have tried. They still think Orlov’s product is immensely valuable and pure. They believe him.”

The Russian stared at the foaming water beneath the stern as the Dockland Redevelopment Area, then still a mass of cranes and part-demolished derelict warehouses, slid past.

“Did I ever tell you of my ashtray theory?”

“No,” said McCready, “I don’t think you did.”

“When I taught at the KGB training school, I told my pupils that you take a cut-glass ashtray and smash it into three pieces. If you recover one piece, you know only that you have a piece of glass. If you recover two, you know you have two-thirds of an ashtray, but you cannot stub out your cigarette. To have the whole and usable article, you need all three pieces of the ashtray.”

“So?”

“So everything Orlov has provided only makes up one or two pieces of a whole range of ashtrays. He has never actually given the Americans a whole ashtray. Something really secret that the USSR has treasured for years and does not want to give away. Ask them to give Orlov an acid test. He will fail it. But when I come out, I will bring the whole ashtray. Then they will believe.”

McCready pondered. Finally he asked, “Would Orlov know the name of the Fifth Man?”

Keepsake thought it over. “Almost certainly, though I do not,” he said. “Orlov spent years in the Illegals Directorate. I never did. I was always PR-Line, operating out of embassies. We have both been in the Memory Room—it is a standard part of the training. But only he would have seen the Black Book. Yes, he will know the name.”

Deep in the heart of Number 2, Dzerzhinsky Square, head­quarters of the KGB, lies the Memory Room, a kind of shrine in a godless building to commemorate the great precursors of the present generation of KGB officers. Among the revered portraits hanging there are those of Arnold Deutsch, Teodor Maly, Anatoli Gorsky, and Yuri Modin, successive recruiters and controllers of the most damaging spy ring ever recruited by the KGB among the British.

The recruitings took place mainly among a group of young students at Cambridge University in the mid- and late thirties. All had flirted with Communism, as had many others who later abandoned it. But five did not, and they went on to serve Moscow so brilliantly that to this day they are known there as the Magnificent Five, or the Five Stars.

One was Donald Maclean, who left Cambridge to join the Foreign Office. In the late forties he was in the British Em­bassy in Washington and was instrumental in passing to Moscow hundreds of the secrets of the new atomic bomb, which America was sharing with Britain.

Another in the Foreign Office was Guy Burgess, a chain-­smoking drunk and rabid homosexual who somehow managed to avoid being dismissed for far too long. He acted as runner and go-between for Maclean and their Moscow masters. Both were finally blown in 1951, avoided arrest after a tip-off, and fled to Moscow.

A third was Anthony Blunt, also gay, a superb intellect and talent-spotter for Moscow. He moved on to exploit his other talent, for the history of art, and rose to become curator of the Queen’s personal art collection and a knight of the realm. It was he who tipped off Burgess and Maclean of their pending arrest in 1951. Having successfully brazened out a series of investigations, he was finally exposed, stripped of his title, and disgraced only in the 1980s.

The most successful of all was Kim Philby, who joined the SIS and rose to control the Soviet desk. The flight of Burgess and Maclean in 1951 pointed the finger at him, too; he was interrogated, admitted nothing, and was ousted from the Service, finally quitting for Moscow, from Beirut, only in 1963.

The portraits of all four hang in the Memory Room. But there was a fifth, and the fifth portrait is a black square. The real identity of the Fifth Man was to be found only in the Black Book. The reason was simple.

Confusing and demoralizing the opposition is one of the principal aims of covert war and was the reason behind the belated formation of the Deception, Disinformation, and Psy­chological Operations desk, which McCready now headed. Since the early fifties, the British had known that there was a Fifth Man in that ring recruited so long ago, but they could never prove just who it was. This was all grist for Moscow’s mill.

Over the years—thirty-five in all—and to Moscow’s delight, the enigma wracked British Intelligence, aided by a hungry press and a series of books.

Over a dozen loyal and long-serving officers came under suspicion and had their careers curbed and their lives torn apart. The principal suspect was the late Sir Roger Hollis, who rose to become Director General of MI-5. He became the target of another obsessive like James Angleton, Peter Wright, who went on to make a fortune from a book in which he trotted out his conviction that Roger Hollis was the Fifth Man.

Others were also suspected, including two of Hollis’s dep­uties and even the deeply patriotic Lord Victor Rothschild. It was all bunk, but the puzzle went on. Was the Fifth Man still alive—perhaps still in office, highly placed in the government, the civil service, or the intelligence community? If so, it would be disastrous. The matter could rest only when the Fifth Man, recruited all those years ago, was finally identified. The KGB, of course, had jealously guarded that secret for thirty-five years.

“Tell the Americans to ask Orlov for the name,” said Keepsake. “He will not give it to you. But I will find it out and bring it with me when I come over.”

“There is the question of time,” said McCready. “How long can you hang on?”

“Not more than a few more weeks—maybe less.”

“They may not wait, if you are right about the DCI’s reaction.”

“Is there no other way you can persuade them to stay their hand?” asked the Russian.

“There is. But I must have your permission.”

Keepsake listened for several minutes. Then he nodded.

“If this Roth will give his solemn, sworn word. And if you trust him to keep it. Then yes.”

When Joe Roth stepped out of the airport terminal the next morning, having flown through the night from Washington, he was jet-lagged and not in the best of moods.

This time he had drunk heavily on the plane, and as he reached the door, he was not amused that a caricature of an Irish voice spoke in his ear.

“Top of the morning to you, Mr. Casey, and welcome back again.”

He turned. It was Sam McCready at his elbow. The bastard had evidently known about his “Casey” passport all along and had checked passenger lists at the Washington end to be sure to meet the right plane.

“Jump in,” said McCready when they reached the pave­ment. “I’ll give you a lift to Mayfair.”

Roth shrugged. Why not? He wondered what else Mc­Cready knew, or had guessed. The British agent kept the conversation to small talk until they entered London’s out­skirts. When the serious stuff came, it was without warning.

“What was the DCI’s reaction?” he asked.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Come on, Joe. Orlov has denounced Calvin Bailey. It’s horseshit. You’re not taking it seriously, are you?”

“You’re way offline, Sam.”

“We’ve had a note at Century: “Keep Bailey away from all classified material.” So we know he’s under suspicion. You’re saying it’s not because Orlov has accused him of being a Soviet agent?”

“It’s just routine, for Christ’s sake. Something about his having too many girlfriends.”

“My arse,” said McCready. “Calvin may be many things, but a philanderer he ain’t. Try another one.”

“Don’t push me, Sam. Don’t push our friendship too far. I told you before—this is Company business now. Back off.”

“Joe, for God’s sake. It’s already gone too far. It’s got out of hand. Orlov’s lying to you, and I fear you are going to do something terrible.”

Joe Roth lost his temper. “Stop the car,” he shouted. “Stop the goddamned car!”

McCready swerved the Jaguar into the curb. Roth reached into the back for his suitcase and unlatched his door. Mc­Cready grabbed his arm.

“Joe, tomorrow, two-thirty. I have something to show you. Pick you up outside your apartment block at two-thirty.”

“Get lost,” said the American.

“A few minutes of your time. Is that too much to ask? For the old times, Joe—for all the old times.”

Roth stepped out of the car and swung away down the pavement looking for a cab.

But he was there, on the pavement outside his apartment block, at half-past two the next day. McCready waited in the Jaguar until Roth climbed in and drove without saying a word. His friend was still angry and suspicious. The journey was less than half a mile. Roth thought he was being driven to his own embassy, so close did they come to Grosvenor Square, but McCready stopped in Mount Street, a block away.

Halfway down Mount Street is one of London’s finest fish restaurants, Scott’s. At three precisely, a trim man in a pale gray suit stepped out of the doors and paused just clear of the portico. A black limousine from the Soviet Embassy eased down the street to pick him up.

“You asked me twice if we had an asset in the KGB in Moscow,” said McCready quietly. “I denied it. I was not entirely lying. He’s not in Moscow—he’s here in London. You’re looking at him.”

“I don’t believe what I’m seeing,” whispered Roth. “That’s Nikolai Gorodov. He’s the head of the whole goddam KGB Rezidentura in Britain.”

“In the flesh. And he works for us, has done for four years. You’ve had all his product, source disguised, but pure. And he says Orlov is lying.”

“Prove it,” said Roth. “You’re always telling Orlov to prove it. Now you prove it. Prove he’s really yours.”

“If Gorodov scratches his left ear with his right hand before he gets into the car, he’s our man,” said McCready.

The black limousine was abreast of the portico. Gorodov never glanced toward the Jaguar. He just raised his right hand, reached across his chest, tugged at his left earlobe, and climbed in. The embassy car purred away.

Roth leaned forward and buried his face in his hands. He breathed deeply several times, then raised his face.

“I have to tell the DCI,” he said. “Personally. I can fly back.”

“No deal,” said McCready. “I have given Gorodov my word, and ten minutes ago you gave me yours.”

“I have to tell the DCI. Otherwise, the die is cast. There’s no going back now.”

“Then delay. You can get other proof, or at least grounds for delay. I want to tell you about the ashtray theory.”

He told Roth what Keepsake had told him on the river steamer two days earlier.

“Ask Orlov for the name of the Fifth Man. He knows, but he will not tell you. But Keepsake will get it and bring it with him when he comes over.”

“When is that to be?”

“Soon now. A few weeks at most. Moscow is suspicious. The net is closing.”

“One week,” said Roth. “Bailey leaves for Salzburg and Vienna in one week. He must not reach Vienna. The DCI thinks he’s going to slip into Hungary.”

“Have him recalled as a matter of urgency. Have him recalled to Washington. If he obeys, that merits a further delay. If he refuses, I’ll throw in the towel.”

Roth considered the proposition. “I’ll try it,” he said. “First I’m going to Alconbury. Tomorrow, when I get back, if Orlov has refused to name the Fifth Man, I’ll send a cable to the DCI saying the Brits have produced fresh evidence that Orlov may be lying and asking for Bailey’s instant recall to Langley. As a test. I think the DCI will grant that, at least. It will cause a delay of several weeks.”

“Enough, old friend,” said McCready. “More than enough. Keepsake will have come across by then, and we can all level with the DCI. Trust me.”

Roth was at Alconbury just after sundown. He found Orlov in his room, lying on his bed, reading and listening to music. He had exhausted Simon and Garfunkel—Kroll said the body­guard team had memorized nearly every word of the twenty top hits—and had passed on to the Seekers. He switched off “Morningtown” as Roth entered and jackknifed off the bed with a grin.

“We go back to the States?” he asked. “I am bored here. The Ranch was better, despite the risks.”

He had put on weight from the lying around without a chance of exercise. His reference to the Ranch was a joke. For a while, after the dummy assassination attempt, Roth had kept up the pretense that it was a KGB project, and that Moscow must have learned details of the Ranch from Urchenko, who had been debriefed there before he foolishly went back to the KGB. Then he had admitted to Orlov that it had all been a CIA ploy to test the Russian’s reactions. Orlov had been angry at first—“You bastards, I thought I was going to die,” he had yelled—but later he had begun to laugh at the incident.

“Soon,” said Roth. “Soon we will be finished here.”

He dined with Orlov that night and put to him the notion of the Memory Room in Moscow.

Orlov nodded. “Sure, I have seen it. All inducted officers are taken there. To see the heroes and admire them.”

Roth steered the conversation to the portraits of the Mag­nificent Five.

Chewing on a mouthful of steak, Orlov shook his head. “Four,” he said. “Only four pictures. Burgess, Philby, Ma­clean, and Blunt. Four Stars.”

“But there’s a fifth frame, with just black paper in it?” suggested Roth.

Orlov was chewing much more slowly. “Yes,” he admitted as he swallowed. “A frame, but no picture.”

“So there was a Fifth Man?”

“Apparently.”

Roth’s conversational tone did not vary, but he watched Orlov over the top of his fork.

“But you were a full major in the Illegals Directorate. You must have seen the name in the Black Book.”

Something flickered in Orlov’s eyes. “They never showed me any Black Book,” he said evenly.

“Peter, who was the Fifth Man? His name, please.”

“I do not know, my friend. I swear that to you.” He smiled again, his wide and attractive grin. “You want me to take the lie detector on it?”

Roth smiled back, but he thought, No, Peter, I rather think you can beat the lie detector—when you want to. He resolved to return to London in the morning and send his cable asking for a delay and a recall of Bailey to Washington—as a test. If there was one tiny element of doubt—and despite Kellogg’s pulverizing case, he now entertained an element of doubt—Roth would not carry out the order, not even for the DCI and his own flowering career. Some prices were just too high.

* * *

The following morning, the cleaners came in to the Alconbury quarters. These were local Huntingdon ladies, the same as those used by the rest of the base. Each had been security-cleared and given a pass to enter the cordoned area. Roth was eating breakfast opposite Orlov in the mess hall, trying to talk above the noise of a rotary floor-buffer polishing the corridor outside. The insistent hum of the machine went up and down as the buffing head swirled around and around.

Orlov wiped the coffee from his lips, mentioned that he needed to go to the men’s room, and left. In later life, Roth would never again mock the notion of a sixth sense. Seconds after Orlov had left, Roth noticed a change in the tone of the buffing machine. He walked out into the corridor to look at it. The buffer stood alone, its brushes turning, its motor emitting a single, high whine.

He had seen the cleaner when he went in for breakfast—a thin lady in print overalls, curlers in her hair, and a scarf wrapped over them. She had stepped aside to let him pass, then continued with her drudgery without raising her eyes. Now she was gone. At the end of the corridor, the men’s room door was still swinging gently.

Roth yelled, “Kroll!” at the top of his voice and raced down the corridor. She was on her knees in the middle of the men’s room floor, her plastic bucket of cleaning fluids and dusters spilled around her. In her hand she had the silenced Sig Sauer that the dusters had hidden. From the far end of the room, a cubicle door opened, and Orlov stepped out. The kneeling assassin raised the gun.

Roth did not speak Russian, but he knew a few words. He yelled “Stoi!” at the top of his voice.

She turned on her knees, Roth threw himself to the floor, there was a low phut, and Roth felt the shock waves near his head. He was still on the tiles when there was a crashing boom from behind him, and he felt more waves of reverbera­tion beating around him. An enclosed toilet is no place to loose off a .44 Magnum.

Behind him, Kroll stood in the doorway, his Colt gripped two-handed. There was no need for a second shot. The woman lay on her back on the tiles, a blooming red stain vying with the roses on her overalls. Later, they would discover the real charlady bound and gagged at her home in Huntingdon.

Orlov still stood by the door of the cubicle, white-faced.

“More games!” he shouted. “It is enough of CIA games!”

“No games,” said Roth as he eased himself up. “This was no game. This was the KGB.”

Orlov looked again and saw that the dark red pool spreading across the tiles was not Hollywood makeup. Not this time.

It took Roth two hours to secure Orlov and the rest of the team a fast passage back to America and to secure their immediate transfer to the Ranch. Orlov left gladly, taking his precious collection of ballads with him. When the Air Force transport lifted off for the States, Roth took his car and headed back to London. He was deeply and bitterly angry.

In part, he blamed himself. He should have realized that after the exposure of Bailey, Alconbury could no longer be considered a safe haven for Orlov. But he had been so busy with McCready’s intervention, it had slipped his mind. Every­one is fallible. Had it been anyone but McCready, Roth would have been a hundred-percent convinced that the Brits were wrong and that Orlov was telling the truth, but because it was McCready, Roth was still prepared to concede to his friend a five-percent chance that he was right and that Bailey was straight.

But the ball now lay firmly in McCready’s court. He won­dered why Bailey had not tipped off Moscow to arrange the assassination of Orlov sooner, before the KGB colonel had had a chance to name him. Perhaps he had hoped Orlov would not name him, did not have that information. It was Bailey’s mistake. Everyone is fallible.

Roth drove to the American Embassy. There was only one thing to do to back the claim that Gorodov was a real defector and Orlov a phony, and therefore Bailey was in the clear, an innocent man wrongly but cunningly set up. McCready would have to pull Gorodov out now so that Langley could talk to the man directly and sort it out once and for all. He went to his desk to make the call to McCready in Century House.

His head of station passed him in the corridor before he reached his desk.

“Oh, by the way,” said Bill Carver. “Something just came in, courtesy of Century. Seems our friends in Kensington Palace Gardens are moving things around. Their Rezident, Gorodov, flew back to Moscow this morning. It’s on your desk.”

Roth did not make the call to McCready. He sat at his desk. He was stunned. He was also vindicated—he and his DCI and his Agency, He even found it in his heart to be sorry for McCready. To have been so wrong, to have been so thor­oughly duped for four years, must be a devastating blow. As for himself, he was relieved in a strange sort of way, despite what must now lie ahead. He had no more doubts now, not a shred. The two events of a single morning had swept his last doubts away. The DCI was right. What had to be done had to be done.

He was still sorry for McCready. Down at Century they must be pulling him apart, he thought.

They were—or rather, Timothy Edwards was.

“I’m sorry to have to say this, Sam, but it’s an utter bloody fiasco. I’ve just had a word with the Chief, and the received wisdom is that we may now seriously have to contemplate the notion that Keepsake was a Soviet plant all along.”

“He wasn’t,” said McCready flatly,

“So you say, but the present evidence points to the clear possibility that our American Cousins have got it right and we’ve been duped. Do you know what the perspectives of that are?”

“I can guess.”

“We’ll have to rethink, reevaluate every damned thing Keepsake gave us over four years. It’s a massive task. Worse, the Cousins shared it all, so we’ll have to tell them to rethink as well. The damage assessment will take years. Apart from that, it’s a major embarrassment. The Chief is not pleased.”

Sam sighed. It was ever thus. When Keepsake’s product was flavor-of-the-month, running him was a Service opera­tion. Now it was entirely the Deceiver’s fault.

“Did he give you any indication that he intended to return to Moscow?”

“No.”

“When was he due to quit and come across to us?”

“Two, three weeks,” said McCready. “He was going to let me know when his situation had become hopeless, then jump the fence.”

“Well, he hasn’t. He’s gone home. Presumably voluntarily. Port Watch report that he passed through Heathrow without any coercion. We have to assume now that Moscow is his real home.

“And then there’s this damned Alconbury business. What on earth could have possessed you? You said it was a test. Well, Orlov has passed it with flying colors. The bastards tried to kill him. We’re extremely lucky no one’s dead but the assassin. That’s one thing we cannot tell the Cousins, ever. Bury it.”

“I still don’t believe Keepsake was ‘bent.’ ”

“Why ever not? He’s gone back to Moscow.”

“Possibly to get one last suitcase of documents for us.”

“Damned dangerous. He must be crazy. In his position—”

“True. A mistake, perhaps. But he’s like that. He promised years ago to bring back one last big consignment before he came over. I think he’s gone back for it.”

“Any evidence for this remarkable leap of faith?”

“Gut feeling.”

“Gut feeling!” expostulated Edwards. “We can’t achieve anything on gut feeling.”

“Columbus did. Mind if I see the Chief?”

“Appeal to Caesar, eh? You’re welcome. I don’t think you’ll get any change.”

But McCready did. Sir Christopher listened to his proposal carefully, then asked, “And supposing he’s loyal to Moscow after all?”

“Then I’ll know within seconds.”

“They could pick you up,” said the Chief.

“I don’t think so. Mr. Gorbachev doesn’t seem to want a diplomatic war at the moment.”

“He won’t get one,” said the Chief flatly. “Sam, you and I go back a long way. Back to the Balkans, the Cuban missile crisis, the first days of the Berlin Wall. You were damned good then, and you still are. But Sam, I may have made a mistake in bringing you into the Head Office. This is a job for a field team.”

“Keepsake won’t trust anyone else. You know that.”

The Chief sighed. “True. If anyone goes, you go. Is that it?”

“ ’Fraid so.”

The Chief thought it over for a moment. To lose Keepsake would be a devastating blow. If there was a tenth of a chance that McCready was right and Gorodov was not a plant after all, the Service should try to pull him out of there. But the political fallout of a major scandal—the Deceiver caught red-handed in Moscow—would ruin him. He sighed and turned from the window.

“All right. Sam. You can go. But you go alone. As of now, I have never heard of you. You are on your own.”

McCready prepared to go on those terms. He just hoped Mr. Gorbachev did not know them. It took him three days to make his plans.

On the second day, Joe Roth rang Calvin Bailey.

“Calvin, I’ve just come back from Alconbury. I think we should talk.”

“Sure, Joe, come on over.”

“Actually, there’s no great hurry. Why don’t you let me offer you dinner tomorrow night?”

“Ah, well now, that’s a nice thought, Joe. But Gwen and I have a pretty full schedule. I had lunch at the House of Lords today.”

“Really?”

“Yep. With the Chief of Defense Staff.”

Roth was amazed. At Langley, Bailey was chilly, distant, and skeptical. Let him loose in London, and he was like a child in a candy store. Why not? In six days, he’d be safely across the border in Budapest.

“Calvin, I know this marvelous old inn up the Thames at Eton. Serves wonderful seafood. They say Henry VIII used to have Anne Boleyn rowed up the river for secret meetings with her there.”

“Really? That old? Okay, look, Joe, tomorrow night we’re at Covent Garden. Thursday is clear.”

“Right. Thursday, Calvin. You’ve got it. I’ll be outside your apartment at eight. Thursday it is.”

The following day, Sam McCready completed his arrangements and slept what might turn out to be his last night in London.

On Thursday, three men entered Moscow on different flights. The first in was Rabbi Birnbaum. He arrived from Zurich by Swissair. The passport control officer at Scheremetyevo was from the KGB’s Border Guards Directorate, a young man with corn-blond hair and chill blue eyes. He gazed at the rabbi at length, then turned his attention to the passport. It was American, denoting the holder to be one Norman Birnbaum, age fifty-six.

Had the passport officer been older, he would have recalled the days when Moscow and indeed all Russia had many Orthodox Jews who looked like Rabbi Birnbaum. The rabbi was a stout man in a black suit with a white shirt and black tie. He wore a full gray beard and moustache. On his face, topped by a black homburg, his eyes were masked by lenses so thick, the pupils blurred as the man peered to see. Twisted gray ringlets hung from beneath his hatband down each side of his face. The face in the passport was exactly the same, but without the hat.

The visa was in order, issued by the Soviet Consulate General in New York.

The officer looked up again. “The purpose of your visit to Moscow?”

“I want to visit my son for a short stay. He works at the American Embassy here.”

“Moment, please,” said the officer. He rose and retired. Behind a glass door he could be seen consulting with a senior officer who studied the passport. Orthodox rabbis were rare in a country where the last rabbinical school had been abol­ished decades earlier. The junior officer returned.

“Wait, please.” He gestured for the next in line to ap­proach.

Phone calls were made. Someone in Moscow consulted a diplomatic list. The senior officer returned with the passport and whispered to the junior. Apparently there was a Roger Birnbaum listed at the Economic Section of the U.S. Em­bassy. The diplomatic list did not record, however, that Roger Birnbaum’s real father had retired to Florida and had last been to synagogue for his son’s bar mitzvah twenty years earlier. The rabbi was waved through.

They still checked his suitcase at customs. It contained the usual changes of shirt, socks, and shorts, another black suit, a washkit, and a copy of the Talmud in Hebrew. The customs officer flicked through it uncomprehendingly. Then he let the rabbi go.

Rabbi Birnbaum took the Aeroflot coach into central Mos­cow, drawing several curious or amused glances all the way. From the terminus building, he walked to the National Hotel on Manezh Square, entered the men’s room, used the urinal until the only other occupant left, and slipped into a cubicle.

The spirit gum solvent was located in his cologne flask. When he emerged, he was still in a dark jacket, but the reversible trousers were now medium gray. The hat was inside the suitcase, along with the bushy eyebrows, the beard and moustache, and the shirt and tie. His hair, instead of gray, was chestnut brown, and his torso was covered by a canary yellow polo-neck sweater that had been under his shirt. He left the hotel unnoticed, took a cab, and was dropped at the gates of the British Embassy, on the embankment opposite the Kremlin.

Two militia from the MVD stood guard duty outside the gates, on Soviet territory, and asked for his identification. He showed them his British passport and simpered at the young guard as it was examined. The young militiaman was embar­rassed and handed it quickly back. Irritably, he gestured the gay Englishman into the grounds of his own embassy and raised his eyebrows expressively to his colleague as he did so. Seconds later, the Englishman disappeared through the doors.

In fact, Rabbi Birnbaum was neither a rabbi nor an Ameri­can nor gay. His real name was David Thornton, and he was one of the best makeup artists in British films. The difference between makeup for the stage and that needed for films is that on stage the lights are fierce and the distance from the audience considerable. In films there are also lights, but the camera may have to work in tight close-up, a few inches from the face. Film makeup therefore has to be more subtle, more realistic.

David Thornton had worked for years at Pinewood Studios, where he was always in demand. He was also one of that corps of experts that the British Secret Intelligence Service seems amazingly able to draw upon when it needs one.

The second man to arrive in Moscow came direct from London by British Airways. He was Denis Gaunt, looking exactly like himself, save that his hair was gray and he looked fifteen years older than his real age. He had a slim attaché case chained discreetly to his left wrist, and he wore the blue tie bearing the motif of the greyhound, the sign of one of the Corps of Queen’s Messengers.

All countries have diplomatic couriers who spend their lives ferrying documents from embassy to embassy and back home. They are covered by the usages of the Treaty of Vienna as diplomatic personnel, and their luggage is not searched. Gaunt’s passport was in another name, but it was British and completely valid. He presented it and was waved through the formalities.

A Jaguar from the embassy met him, and he was taken at once to the embassy building, arriving there an hour after Thornton. He was then able to give Thornton all the tools of the makeup artist’s trade, which he had brought in his own suitcase.

The third to arrive was Sam McCready, on a Finnair flight from Helsinki. He, too, had a valid British passport in a false name, and he, too, was disguised. But in the heat of the aircraft, something had gone wrong.

His ginger wig had come slightly askew, and a wisp of darker hair showed from beneath it. The spirit gum that retained one corner of his equally ginger moustache seemed to have melted so that a fragment of the moustache had detached itself from his upper lip.

The passport officer stared at the picture in the passport and back at the man in front of him. The faces were the same—hair, moustache and all. There is nothing illegal about wearing a wig, even in Russia; many bald men do. But a moustache that comes unstuck? The passport officer, not the same one who had seen Rabbi Birnbaum—for Scheremetyevo is a big airport—also consulted a senior officer, who peered through a one-way mirror.

From behind the same mirror, a camera clicked several times, orders were given, and a number of men went from standby to full operation status. When McCready emerged from the concourse, two unmarked Moskvitch cars were waiting. He too was collected by a British Embassy car, of lower standing than a Jaguar, and was driven to the embassy, followed all the way by the two KGB vehicles, who reported back to their superiors in the Second Chief Directorate.

In the late afternoon the photos of the strange visitor arrived at Yazenevo, the headquarters of the KGB’s foreign intelligence arm, the First Chief Directorate. They ended up on the desk of the Deputy Head, General Vadim V. Kirpichenko. He stared at them, read the attached report about the wig and the corner of the moustache, and took them down to the photographic lab.

“See if you can remove the wig and moustache,” he ordered. The technicians went to work with the airbrush.

When General Kirpichenko saw the finished result, he almost laughed out loud. “Well, I’ll be damned,” he mur­mured. “It’s Sam McCready.”

He informed the Second Chief Directorate that his own people would take over the tail forthwith. Then gave his orders: “Twenty-four hours in twenty-four. If he makes a contact, pick them both up. If he makes a collection from a drop, pick him up. If he farts in the direction of Lenin’s mausoleum, pick him up.”

He put down the phone and read again the details from McCready’s passport. He was supposed to be an electronics expert from London via Helsinki, come to sweep the embassy for listening devices, a regular chore.

“But what the hell are you really doing here?” he asked the picture staring up from his desk.

In the embassy on the embankment, McCready, Gaunt, and Thornton dined alone. The ambassador was not much pleased to have three such guests, but the request had come from the Cabinet Office, and he was assured that the disruption would last for only twenty-four hours. So far as His Excellency was concerned, the sooner these dreadful spooks were gone, the better.

“I hope it works,” said Gaunt over the coffee. “The Russians are extremely good at playing chess.”

“True,” said McCready soberly. “Tomorrow we’ll find out how good they are at the three-card trick.”

Chapter 6

At precisely five minutes to eight on a warm July morning, an unmarked Austin Montego sedan eased out of the gates of Britain’s Moscow embassy and drove across the bridge over the Moskva toward the center of the city.

According to the KGB report, Sam McCready was at the wheel, driving alone. Although his ginger wig and moustache were now impeccably in place, they were clearly visible to the watchers behind the windshields of their several cars. Telephoto-lens pictures were taken at the time, and several more were secured during the course of the day.

The British agent drove carefully through Moscow and out to the Park of Technological Achievement to the north of the city. On the way he made several attempts to shake any tail he may have had, but he failed. Nor did he even spot the tail. The KGB was using six cars, each intercutting with the other so that no single car was ever behind the Montego for more than a few hundred yards.

After entering the enormous park, the SIS man left his car and proceeded on foot. Two of the KGB vehicles remained on station close to the parked Montego. The crews of the other four descended and fanned out between the scientific exhibits until the Englishman was enveloped on all sides by an invisi­ble screen.

He bought an ice cream and sat for much of the morning on a bench pretending to read a newspaper, frequently glancing at his watch as if waiting for someone to show up. No one did, except an old lady who asked him for the time. He showed her his watch without a word, she read the time, thanked him, and walked on.

She was promptly taken into custody, searched, and ques­tioned. By the following morning, the KGB had satisfied themselves that she was an old lady who wanted to know the time. The ice cream seller was also detained.

Shortly after twelve, the agent from London took a packet of sandwiches from his pocket and slowly ate them. When he had finished he rose, dropped the wrapping paper into a waste basket, bought another ice cream, and sat down again.

The trash basket was kept under observation, but no one retrieved the wrappers until the park’s hygiene team arrived with their cart to empty the basket. The wrappers were taken by the KGB and subjected to intensive forensic analysis. Tests included those for invisible writing, microdots, and microfilm secreted between two layers of paper. Nothing was found. Traces were in evidence, however, of bread, butter, cucumber, and egg.

Long before this, just after one P.M., the London agent had risen and left the park in his car. His first rendezvous had clearly aborted. He went, apparently to keep a second or backup rendezvous, to a hard-currency beriozka shop. Two KGB agents entered the shop and loitered among the shelves to see if the Englishman would deposit a message among the exclusive goods on offer there or pick one up. Had he made a purchase, he would have been arrested, as per orders, on the grounds that his purchase probably contained a message and that the shop was being used as a dead-letter box. But he made no purchases and was left alone.

On leaving the shop, he drove back to the British Embassy. Ten minutes later, he left again, now seated in the back of a Jaguar being driven by an embassy chauffeur. As the Jaguar left the city heading for the airport, the leader of the watcher team was patched straight through to General Kirpichenko.

“He is approaching the concourse now, Comrade Gen­eral.”

“He has made no contact of any kind? Any kind at all?”

“No, Comrade General. Apart from the old lady and the ice cream seller—now both in custody—he has spoken to no one, nor has anyone spoken to him. His discarded newspaper and sandwich wrappers are in our possession. Otherwise, he has touched nothing.”

“It’s a mission-abort,” thought Kirpichenko. “He’ll be back. And we’ll be waiting.”

He knew that McCready, under the guise of a British Foreign Office technician, was carrying a diplomatic passport.

“Let him go,” he said. “Watch for a brush-pass inside the airport concourse. If there is none, see him through the departure lounge and into the aircraft.”

Later, the general would examine his team’s telephoto pictures of McCready in the Montego and at the park, call for a large microscope, look again, straighten up with a face pink with anger, and shout: “You stupid pricks, that’s not Mc­Cready.”

At ten past eight on the morning of the same day, a Jaguar driven by Barry Martins, the SIS Station Head in Moscow, left the embassy and drove sedately toward the old district of the Arbat where the streets are narrow and flanked by the elegant houses of long-gone prosperous merchants. A single Moskvitch took up the tail, but this was purely routine. The British referred to these KGB agents who followed them all over Moscow in one of life’s more boring chores as “the second eleven.” The Jaguar drove aimlessly around the Ar­bat. The man at the wheel occasionally pulled into the curb to consult a city map.

At twenty past eight a Mercedes sedan left the embassy. At the wheel, in a blue jacket and peaked cap, was an embassy chauffeur. No one looked in the rear, so no one saw another figure crouched low down near the floor and covered with a blanket. Another Moskvitch fell in behind.

Entering the Arbat district, the Mercedes passed the parked Jaguar. At this point Martins, still consulting his city map, made up his mind and swerved out from the curb, taking space between the Mercedes and the following Moskvitch. The convoy now constituted a Mercedes, a Jaguar, and two Moskvitches, all in line astern.

The Mercedes entered a narrow one-way street, followed by the Jaguar, which then developed engine trouble, coughed, spluttered, lurched, and came to a halt. The two Moskvitches piled up behind it, spilling out KGB agents. Martins flicked the hood release, climbed out, and raised the hood. He was at once surrounded by protesting men in leather jackets.

The Mercedes disappeared down the street and turned the corner. Amused Muscovites gathered on the narrow pave­ments to hear the Jaguar driver saying to the KGB team leader, “Now, look here, my good man. If you think you can make the bugger work, you go right ahead.”

Nothing entertains a Muscovite as much as the sight of the chekisti making a mess of things. One of the KGB men re-entered his car and got on the radio.

Clearing the Arbat, David Thornton, at the wheel of the Mercedes, took his guidance from Sam McCready, who emerged from his blanket and gave directions, without any disguise at all and looking precisely like himself.

Twenty minutes later, on a lonely road screened by trees in the middle of Gorki Park, the Mercedes halted. At the rear, McCready ripped off the CD plate, which was secured by a quick-release snaplock, and stuck a new license plate, pre­pared with strong adhesive on one side, over the British plate. Thornton did the same at the front. McCready retrieved Thornton’s makeup box from the trunk and climbed into the rear seat. Thornton swapped his hard blue peaked cap for a more Russian black leather cap and got back behind the wheel.

At eighteen minutes past nine, Colonel Nikolai Gorodov left his apartment in Shabolovsky Street on foot and began to walk toward Dzerdzinsky Square and the headquarters of the KGB. He looked haggard and pale; the reason soon appeared behind him. Two men emerged from a doorway and without a pretense of subtlety took station behind him.

He had gone two hundred yards when a black Mercedes drew to the curb beside him and kept pace. He heard the hiss of an electric window coming down, and a voice said in English, “Good morning, Colonel. Going my way?”

Gorodov stopped and stared. Framed in the window, shielded by the rear curtains from the two KGB men up the street, was Sam McCready. Gorodov was stunned, but not triumphant.

“That,” thought McCready, “is the look I wanted to see.”

Gorodov recovered and said loudly enough for the KGB ferrets to hear, “Thank you, Comrade. How kind.”

Then he entered the car, which sped away. The two KGB men paused for three seconds—and lost. The reason they paused was because the license plates of the Mercedes bore the letters MOC and then two figures.

The extremely exclusive MOC plates belong only to the members of the Central Committee, and it is a bold KGB footsoldier who dares stop or harass a Central Committee man. But they took the number and frantically used their hand communicators to tell the head office.

Martins had chosen well. The particular registration plates on that Mercedes belonged to a Politburo candidate member who happened to be in the Far East, somewhere near Khaba­rovsk. It took four hours to find him and learn that he had a Chaika, not a Mercedes, and that it was safely garaged in Moscow. By then it was too late; the Mercedes was back in its British Embassy livery, the Union Jack jauntily fluttering from its pennant-staff.

Gorodov leaned back in the seat, his bridges now com­pletely burned behind him.

“If you are a long-term Soviet mole, I am dead,” remarked McCready.

Gorodov considered this. “And if you are a long-term Soviet mole,” he replied, “then I am dead.”

“Why did you return?” asked McCready.

“As it turned out, a mistake,” said Gorodov. “I had promised you something, and I found I could not discover it in London. When I give my word, I like to keep it. Then Moscow summoned me back for urgent consultations. To disobey would have meant coming over to the West immedi­ately. No excuse would have been accepted for my not returning. I thought I could come for one week, find out what I needed, and be allowed to return to London. Only when I got here did I learn that it was too late. I was under deep suspicion, my apartment and office bugged, followed every­where, forbidden to go out to Yazenevo, confined to meaningless work in Moscow Center. By the way, I have something for you.”

He opened his attaché case and passed McCready a slim file. There were five sheets in the file, each with a photograph and a name. The first picture had beneath it Donald Maclean, and the second Guy Burgess. Both moles were by then dead and buried in their adopted Moscow. The third sheet showed the familiar face and name of Kim Philby, who was then still alive in Moscow. The fourth had the thin, ascetic features and the name of Anthony Blunt, who was then disgraced in England. McCready turned to the fifth page.

The photo was very old. It showed a thin young man with wild wavy hair and large, owlish glasses. Beneath the photo were two words. John Cairncross. McCready leaned back and sighed.

“Bloody hell, him all along.”

He knew the name. Cairncross had been a senior civil servant during and after the war, senior despite his youth. He had served in a variety of capacities—private secretary to War Cabinet Minister Lord Hankey; in signals intelligence at Bletchly Park, in the Treasury and the War Office. He had had access to nuclear secrets in the late forties. In the early fifties he had come under suspicion, conceded nothing, and been eased out. Nothing could be proved, so he was allowed to move on to the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. By 1986, he was in retirement in France.

The Fifth Man. Keepsake had made good on his promise. The thirty-five-year hunt was over, and no more innocent men need be accused.

“Sam,” asked Gorodov mildly, “where exactly are we going?”

“My horoscope,” replied McCready, “says I am to travel west today. Yours, too.”

Thornton parked again in the trees of Gorki Park, changed places with one of the men in the rear, and went to work. The other man sat in the front pretending to be the chauffeur. No one would care to interfere with a Central Committee mem­ber’s limousine, even if they saw it. Senior Party members always shrouded the rear of their cars with inner curtains, and these were now drawn. Thornton worked on his client—he always referred to those he made up as his clients—by the sunlight that filtered through the curtains.

On went the thin, inflatable undervest to give the slimmer man the sturdy bulk of Rabbi Birnbaum. Then the white shirt, black trousers, tie, and jacket. Thornton affixed the rich gray beard and moustache, dyed the client’s hair to the same color, and appended the curling gray ringlets of the orthodox rabbi to his temples. With the addition of the black homburg and single handgrip, Rabbi Birnbaum had been recreated exactly as he had arrived the previous day—except that he was a different man. Finally, the car was changed back to a British Embassy vehicle.

The rabbi was dropped off at the entrance to the National Hotel, where he had a sustaining lunch, paid in U.S. dollars, and took a cab to the airport after lunch. He was booked on the afternoon flight to London, his ticket showing that he was connecting to New York.

Thornton drove the car back into the British Embassy compound with his other client crouched under the rug in the back. He went to work again almost at once, with an identical ginger wig and moustache, foundation creams, colorants, tinted contact lenses, and tooth stain. Ten minutes after Denis Gaunt, hot and itchy under the ginger wig he had worn all day for the benefit of the KGB, drove back in his Montego, the other man left for the airport in the Jaguar, driven by a real chauffeur. Within an hour Thornton, transformed into the Queen’s Messenger, was himself driven to Scheremetyevo by Barry Martins.

The rabbi drew the usual curious glances, but his papers were in order, and he was passed through the formalities in fifteen minutes and into the departure lounge. He sat and read his Talmud, occasionally murmuring prayers in an unintelligi­ble mutter.

The man in the ginger wig and moustache was almost escorted to the door of the departure lounge, so numerous were the KGB team trying to ensure he neither passed nor received a message or package.

Last to arrive was the Queen’s Messenger, his attaché case chained to his left wrist. This time, Thornton’s precious workbox was in his own suitcase; he did not need anyone to carry it for him, as his case could not be searched.

Denis Gaunt remained inside the embassy. Three days later, he would be exfiltrated when another SIS man posing as a messenger would enter Moscow and pass Gaunt a passport in the same name as his own—Mason. At precisely the iden­tical moment, two Masons would pass out through the con­trols at different points in the concourse, and British Airways would be briefed to board two Masons for the price of one.

But that afternoon the passengers for London were boarded on time, and the British Airways flight cleared Soviet air space at five-fifteen. Shortly after that, the rabbi lumbered to his feet and walked down to the smoking section, and said to the man in the ginger wig and moustache: “Nikolai, my friend, you are now in the West.”

Then Sam McCready bought champagne for them both, and for the Queen’s Messenger. The scam had worked because McCready had noticed that he, Gaunt, and Gorodov were all of the same height and build.

With the gain in time caused by flying west, they landed at Heathrow just after seven. A team from Century House, alerted by Martins from Moscow, was there to meet them. They were enveloped as they left the aircraft and spirited away.

As a concession, Timothy Edwards allowed McCready to take Nikolai Gorodov to his own apartment in Abingdon Villas for the evening.

“I’m afraid, Colonel, the real debriefing must start in the morning. A very agreeable country house has been prepared. You will want for nothing, I assure you.”

“Thank you. I understand,” said Gorodov.

It was just after ten that evening when Joe Roth arrived, summoned by a phone call from McCready. He found two SIS heavies in the hallway and two more in the corridor outside McCready’s modest flat, which surprised him.

McCready answered his ring on the doorbell, appearing in slacks and sweater, a glass of whiskey in his hand.

“Thanks for coming, Joe. Come on in. There’s someone I have wanted you to meet for a long time. You’ll never know how much.”

He led the way into the sitting room. The man at the window turned and smiled.

“Good evening, Mr. Roth,” said Gorodov. “Good to meet you at last.”

Roth stood as if paralyzed. Then he slumped into a chair and took McCready’s proffered whiskey. Gorodov seated himself opposite Roth.

“You’d better tell it,” said McCready to the Russian. “You know it better than I.”

The Russian sipped his drink as he pondered where to begin.

“Project Potemkin started eight years ago,” he said. “The original idea came from a junior officer, but General Drozdov took it up personally. It became his personal baby. The aim was to denounce a senior CIA officer as a Soviet plant, but in a manner so convincing and with such a wealth of apparently fireproof evidence that no one could reasonably not be taken in.

“The long-term aim was to sow years of feuding inside the Agency and thus destroy morale among the staff for a decade and wreck the relationship with the SIS in Britain.

“At first, no particular officer was the target, but after half a dozen were considered, the choice fell on Calvin Bailey. There were two reasons for this. One was that we knew he was not a much-liked man inside the Agency because of his personal manner. The second was that he had served in Vietnam, a suitable place for a possible recruitment.

“Calvin Bailey was spotted as a CIA agent in Vietnam purely as routine. You know we all try to identify each other’s staffers, and when we do, their movements and progress up the promotions ladder are carefully noted. Sometimes a lack of promotion may sow resentment, which can be exploited by a cunning recruiter. Well, this you know—we all do it.

“Also like the CIA, the KGB throws nothing away. Every tiny scrap of information, every fragment, is carefully kept and stored. Drozdov’s breakthrough came when he was once again examining the material that came to us from the Viet­namese after the final fall of Saigon in 1975. Most of your papers were burned, but in the confusion some survived. One mentioned a certain Nguyen Van Troc, who had worked for the Americans.

“That paper was the end for Van Troc. He and his cousin were picked up—they had not managed to escape. The cousin was executed, but Van Troc, although brutally interrogated for many months, was finally sent to a North Vietnamese slave labor camp. That was where Drozdov found him, still alive in 1980. Under torture, he confessed he had worked for Calvin Bailey inside the Viet Cong.

“The Hanoi government agreed to cooperate, and the photo session was set up. Van Troc was taken from the camp, fattened on good food, and dressed in the uniform of a colonel of Hanoi’s intelligence arm. The photos were taken of him enjoying tea with other officers just after the invasion of Cambodia. Three separate tea-servers were used, all Hanoi agents, and then sent to the West with their photos. After that, Van Troc was liquidated.

“One of the stewards posed as a boat-person and showed his proud possession to any British officer in Hong Kong who would look at it. Finally, it was confiscated and sent to London—as planned.”

“We sent a copy to Langley,” said McCready, “just as a courtesy. It seemed to have no value.”

“Drozdov already knew Bailey had been involved in the Phoenix Program,” Gorodov resumed. “He had been spotted by our Rezident in Saigon, a man posing as a Swedish importer of liquor for the foreign community. And Drozdov learned that Bailey had been at My Lai when Bailey gave evidence at the court-martial of that young officer. You are very open with your public records in America. The KGB scours them avidly.

“Anyway, it seemed that a likely scenario for a change of allegiance in Bailey had been established. His 1970 visit to Tokyo had been noticed and noted—purely routine. Drozdov only had to brief Orlov to say that he, Drozdov himself, had been in Tokyo on a certain date to take over the running of an America CIA renegade, and when you checked—presto—the same dates. Of course, Drozdov was not there at all in 1970. That was added later.

“From that point on, the case against Bailey was built up, brick by brick. Pyotr Orlov was chosen as the disinformation agent about 1981; he has been in training and rehearsal ever since. Urchenko, when he foolishly came back and before he died, provided valuable information on exactly how you Americans treat defectors. Orlov could prepare himself to avoid the traps, beat the polygraph, and always tell you what you wanted to hear. Not too much, but enough that when you checked it out, it fit.

“After Drozdov picked Bailey as the victim, Bailey went under intensive scrutiny. Wherever he went, it was noted. After he rose in rank and began to travel to Europe and elsewhere to visit the out-stations, the bank accounts began. Bailey would be spotted in a European city, and immediately a bank account would be opened, always in a name he might choose, like that of his wife’s married sister or his maternal grandmother.

“Drozdov prepared an actor, a dead ringer for Bailey, to fly at a moment’s notice to open these accounts so that the bank teller would later recognize Bailey as the client. Later, large sums were deposited in these accounts, always in cash and always by a man with a strong Central European accent.

“Information learned from a variety of sources—loose talk, radio intercepts, phone taps, technical publications (and some of your American technical publications are incredibly open)—was attributed to Bailey. Even conversations in your own embassy in Moscow are tapped—did you know that? No? Well, more of that later.

“What Drozdov did was change the dates. Pieces of secret intelligence that we did not learn until the early eighties were, according to Orlov, acquired in the mid-seventies and attrib­uted to Calvin Bailey. All lies, but cunning. And of course, Orlov memorized it all.

“Triumphs secured by the KGB against the CIA were attributed to Bailey. CIA operations that went sour were attributed to Bailey. And always the dates were changed so that it looked as if we had found out earlier than we possibly could have—without a CIA traitor, that is.

“But two years ago, Drozdov still lacked something. He needed inside-Langley gossip, nicknames known only inside the building—your own professional name of Hayes, Mr. Roth. Then Edward Howard defected to Russia, and Drozdov had it all. He could even name hitherto unknown successes secured by Bailey and rehearse Orlov to say they had been permitted by the KGB to secure the promotion of their agent, Sparrowhawk. Of course, these successes were not permitted by Moscow—they were hard won by Bailey.

“Finally, Orlov was allowed to come over, in a manner so bizarre that he could later claim he feared he would be stopped and betrayed by Sparrowhawk if he did it any other way. For the same reason, he had to go to the Americans, not the British. The British would have questioned him about other things.

“Then he came and denounced two KGB agents just before they were liquidated. It was all pretimed. But it looked as if there were a leak in Washington, feeding his debriefing details back to Moscow. When the customer was ready for the bait, he finally came clean with news of a Soviet mole high in the CIA. No?”

Roth nodded. He looked haggard. “That assassination at­tempt against Orlov at Alconbury. Why?” he asked.

“That was Drozdov overinsuring. He did not know about me, of course. He just wanted to pile on a bit more evidence. The killer was one of the best—a very dangerous lady. She was briefed to wound, not kill, then make her escape.”

There was silence in the room. Joe Roth stared at his drink. Then he rose. “I must go,” he said shortly.

McCready accompanied him out into the passage and down the stairs. In the hall he clapped the American on the back.

“Cheer up, Joe. Hell, everyone in this game makes mis­takes. My Firm has made some real beauties in the past. Look on the bright side. You can go back to the embassy and cable the DCI that everything’s worked out. Bailey’s in the clear.”

“I think I’ll fly back and tell him myself,” muttered Roth, and left.

McCready escorted him to the door of the building, puzzled by his friend’s silence. When he returned to the door of his apartment, the two bodyguards parted to let him through and closed it after him. In the sitting room, he found Gorodov sitting staring at a copy of the Evening Standard that he had been glancing through while he waited. Without a word, he flicked it across the table and pointed to a series of paragraphs on page five.

Police divers today recovered the body of an American tourist from the Thames at Teddington Lock. According to an official spokesman, the body Is believed to have entered the water somewhere near Eton yesterday evening. The dead man has been identified as one Calvin Bailey, an American civil servant on holiday in London.

According to the U.S. Embassy, Mr. Bailey had been to dinner at Eton with a friend, a Second Secretary at the embassy. After dinner, Mr. Bailey felt faint and left to take a turn in the fresh air. His friend stayed to settle the bill. When he went out to rejoin Mr. Bailey, he could not find him. After waiting for an hour he assumed Mr. Bailey had decided to return to London alone. When a phone call proved this was not so, the friend consulted Eton police. A search was made of the town in the darkness, but without result.

This morning a police spokesman at Eton said it appeared Mr. Bailey had taken a stroll along the tow-path and, in the darkness, had slipped and fallen in. Mr. Bailey was a nonswimmer. Mrs. Owen Bailey was unavailable for comment. She remains under sedation at the couple’s rented apartment.

McCready put down the paper and stared toward the door.

“Oh, you bastard,” he whispered, “you poor bloody bas­tard.”

Joe Roth took the first morning flight to Washington and went to the Georgetown mansion. He handed in his resigna­tion, effective twenty-four hours later. He left the DCI a wiser and chastened man. Before he left, he had made one request. The DCI granted it.

Roth reached the Ranch very late that night.

Colonel Orlov was still awake, alone in his room, playing chess against a minicomputer. He was good, but the computer was better. The computer was playing the white pieces; Orlov had the others, which, instead of being black, were a dark red. The tape deck was playing a Seekers album from 1965.

Kroll came in first, stepped to one side, and took up position by the wall. Roth followed him and closed the door behind him. Orlov looked up, puzzled.

Kroll stared at him, eyes blank, face expressionless. There was a bulge under his left armpit. Orlov took it in and looked inquiringly at Roth. Neither spoke. Roth just stared at him with very cold eyes. Orlov’s puzzlement ebbed, and a re­signed awareness took its place. No one spoke.

The pure, clear voice of Judith Durham filled the room.

Fare thee well, my own true lover,

This will be our last good-bye. ...

Kroll’s hand moved sideways toward the tape deck.

For the carnival is over. ...

Kroll’s finger hit the “off” button, and silence returned. Orlov spoke one word, almost his first in Russian since he had arrived in America. He said: “Kto?” It means “Who?”

Roth said, “Gorodov.”

It was like a punch in the stomach. Orlov closed his eyes and shook his head as if in disbelief.

He looked at the board in front of him and placed the tip of one forefinger on top of the crown of his king. He pushed. The red king toppled sideways and fell, the chessplayer’s admission of capitulation. The price of the bride had been paid and accepted, but there would be no wedding. The red king rolled once and lay still.

Kroll pulled out his gun.

“Let’s go,” he said.

Then Colonel Pyotr Alexandrovich Orlov, a very brave man and a patriot, rose and went into the darkness to meet the mighty God who made him.

“Well, now, that’s all very fine, Denis, and most impressive,” said Timothy Edwards when the board reconvened on Wednesday morning. .”But we have to ask ourselves: Will these remarkable talents ever be needed in the future?”

“I don’t think I quite follow you, Timothy,” said Denis Gaunt.

Sam McCready sat back in his chair, as far as the upright chair would permit him, and allowed them to drone on. They were talking about him as if he had already become a piece of furniture, something from the past, a discussion point to muse upon during the serving of the port at the club.

He looked out at the bright blue sky of the summer day beyond the windows. There was a whole world out there, another world, one that he would soon have to join and in which he would have to make his way without the membership of his own small peer group, the intelligence officers among whom he had lived for most of his adult life.

He thought of his wife. If she had still been alive, he would have wanted to retire with her, find a small cottage by the sea in Devon or Cornwall. He had sometimes dreamed of his own small fishing boat, bobbing in a stone-walled harbor, safe from the winter gales, waiting to be taken out on a summer’s sea to bring home a supper of cod or plaice or slick, gleaming mackerel.

In his dream he would have been just Mr. McCready from the house above the harbor, or Sam, when taking his beer in the snug of the local inn with the fishermen and crabbers of the town. It was just a dream, of course, that had come to him sometimes in the dark, rain-swept alleys of Czechoslovakia or Poland as he waited for a “meet” or watched a dead-letter box to see if it had been staked out, before he moved close to reach for the message inside.

But May was gone, and he was alone in the world, cocooned only by the camaraderie of that smallest of small worlds, the other men who had chosen to serve their countries and spend their lives in the shadowed places where destruction came not in a blaze of glory but in the flash of a torch in the face and the rasp of soldiers’ boots on cobbles. He had survived them all, but he knew he would not survive the mandarins.

Besides, he would be lonely living all alone down in the southwest, far away from the other old war horses who drank their gins in the Special Forces Club at the end of Herbert Crescent. Like most men who had spent their lives in the Service, he was a loner at heart and made new friends uneasily, like an old dog fox preferring the coverts he knew to the open plain.

“I mean simply,” Timothy Edwards was saying, “that the days of slipping into and out of East Germany are a thing of the past. This October, East Germany will actually cease to exist—even today it exists only in name. Relations with the USSR have changed out of all recognition; there will be no more defectors, just honored guests—”

“Bloody hell,” thought McCready, “he really has fallen for that one. And what happens, dickbrain, when the famine strikes Moscow and the hard men close in on the embattled Mikhail Gorbachev? Never mind, you’ll see.”

He let his attention drift and thought of his son. He was a good boy, a fine lad, just out of college and wanting to be an architect. Good for him. He had a pretty blond girlfriend living with him—they all seemed to do that nowadays—no need for the pretty girl to have security clearance. And Dan came around to see him now and again. That was nice. But the boy had a life of his own, a career to head for, friendships to make, places to go and see, and he hoped they would be brighter, safer places than the ones he had seen.

He wished he had spent more time with his son when he was small, wished he had had the time to roll on the sitting-room carpet and read him bedtime stories. Too often, he had left that to May because he had been away on some godfor­saken border, staring at the barbed wire, waiting for his agent to come crawling through, or listening for the klaxons that would mean the man would never be seen again.

There was so much he had missed, and so many things he had done, and seen, and places he had been that he could not really discuss with the young man who still called him Dad.

“I am most grateful, Timothy, for your suggestion, which, in a way, preempted my own.”

Denis Gaunt was doing a good job, making the bastards listen, growing in confidence as he spoke. He was a good man, a Head Office man really, but good.

“Because,” Gaunt went on, “Sam here realizes just as well as any of us that we cannot dwell in the past, chewing over the Cold War all over again. The point is, there are other menaces that threaten our country and that are on the in­crease. Proliferation of high-tech weaponry to highly unstable tyrants in the Third World—we all know exactly what France has been selling Iraq—and of course terrorism.

“In that regard”—he took a buff folder from the Records clerk and opened it—“let me remind you of the affair that began in April 1986 and ended, if indeed the Irish question will ever end, in the late spring of 1987. Such affairs will probably happen again, and it will be the Finn’s task to head them off—again. Get rid of Sam McCready? Frankly, gentle­men, that could be very foolish.”

The Controllers for Western Hemisphere and Domestic Operations nodded, while Edwards glowered at them. This was the sort of agreement he did not need. But Gaunt was bland as he read out the events on April 1986 that had triggered the case that took up most of the spring of 1987.

“ ‘On April 16,1986, fighters from American carriers in the Gulf of Sirte and fighter-bombers flying from British bases blasted the private living quarters of Colonel Qaddafi outside Tripoli. The good Colonel’s sleeping area was hit by a fighter flying from the USS Exeter, call-sign Iceman Four.

“ ‘Qaddafi survived, but he had a nervous breakdown. When he recovered he vowed vengeance, just as much on Britain as upon America, because we had allowed the F-111 strike bombers to fly out of our bases at Upper Heyford and Lakenheath.

“ ‘In the early spring of 1987 we learned how Qaddafi intended to extract that revenge upon Britain, and the case was given to Sam McCready. ...’ ”

Chapter 1

Father Dermot O’Brien received the message from Libya by the normal route for such first communications—by mail.

It was a perfectly ordinary letter, and had anyone opened it—which they had not, because the Republic of Ireland does not intercept mail—they would have found nothing of interest in it. The postmark said that it came from Geneva, as indeed it had, and the return address indicated the writer worked for the World Council of Churches, which he did not.

Father O’Brien found it in his pigeonhole in the main hall beside the refectory one morning in the early spring of 1987 as he emerged from taking his breakfast. He glanced through the other four letters addressed to him, but his gaze returned to the one from Geneva. It bore the slight pencil mark on the rear flap that told him it should not be opened in public or left lying around.

The priest nodded amiably to two colleagues about to enter the refectory and went back to his bedroom on the first floor.

The letter had been typed on the usual onionskin airmail paper. The text was warm and friendly, beginning “My dear Dermot ... ,” and was written in the tone of one old friend involved in pastoral work to another. Even though the World Council of Churches is a Protestant organization, no casual observer would have seen anything strange in a Lutheran clergyman writing to a friend who happened to be a Catholic priest. These were the days of cautious ecumenism, especially in the international field.

The friend in Geneva wished him well, trusted he was in good health and chatted about the work of the WCC in the Third World. The meat was in the third paragraph of the script. The writer said that his bishop recalled with pleasure a previous meeting with Father O’Brien and would be delighted to meet him again. The signoff was simply, “Your good friend Harry.”

Father O’Brien laid the letter down thoughtfully and gazed from his window across the green fields of County Wicklow toward Bray and, beyond it, the gray waters of the Irish Sea. The waters were hidden by the roll of the hills, and even the spires of Bray were dim and distant from the old manor house at Sandymount that contained the headquarters of his Order. But the sun shone brightly on the green meadows that he loved so dearly, as dearly indeed as he hated the great enemy that lay beyond the sea.

The letter intrigued him. It had been so long, almost two years, since he had visited Tripoli for a personal audience with Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, the Great Leader of the Libyan Jamahariya, Keeper of Allah’s Word, the man referred to as “the bishop” in the letter.

It had been a rare and privileged occasion, but despite the flowery language, the soft voice, and the extravant promises, nothing had finally been forthcoming. No money, no arms for the Irish Cause. Finally, it had been a disappointment and the man who had arranged the meeting, Hakim al-Mansour, head of the foreign arm of the Libyan Secret Service, the Moukhabarat, who now signed himself “Harry,” had been apologetic.

And now this, a summons, for that was what it was. Though no time had been suggested for the meeting with the bishop, Father O’Brien knew none was necessary. Harry meant “without delay.” Although the Arabs can delay for years when they are so minded, when Qaddafi summoned in this manner, one went—if one wanted his largesse.

Father O’Brien knew that his trusted friends in the Cause did indeed want that largesse. Funds from America were down; the constant appeals from the Dublin government—men Father O’Brien regarded as traitors—not to send arms and money to Ireland had had their effect. It would not be wise to ignore the summons from Tripoli. The snag would be to find a good excuse to travel again so soon.

In a perfect world, Father O’Brien could have done with a few weeks’ break. He had but three days earlier returned from Amsterdam, ostensibly from a seminar of the War on Want.

During his time in Europe he had been able to slip away from Amsterdam and, using funds he had earlier salted away in Utrecht, take two long-term leases in false names for one apartment in Roermond, Holland, and another in Münster, West Germany. These would later become safe houses for the young heroes who would go over there to carry the war to the enemy where they least expected it.

Traveling was, for Dermot O’Brien, a constant part of his life. His Order busied itself with missionary and ecumenical work, and he was its International Secretary. It was the perfect cover for the war. Not the War on Want, but the war against the English, which had been his calling and his life since he had held the broken head of the dying young man in Derry all those years ago and seen the British paratroopers running down the street, and spoken the last rites, and made his other, personal vow, of which his Order and his bishop knew nothing.

Since then, he had nurtured and honed his visceral loathing of the people across the water and had offered his services to the Cause. They had been welcomed, and for ten years he had been the principal international “fixer” for the Provi­sional IRA. He had raised the funds, moved the money from one deep-cover bank account to another, secured false pass­ports, and arranged for the safe arrival and storage of the Semtex and the detonators.

With his help, the bombs in Regent’s Park and Hyde Park had torn apart the young bandsmen and the horses; through his assistance, the sharpened coach bolts had scythed through the street outside Harrods, ripping out entrails and severing limbs. He regretted that it was necessary, but he knew it was just. He read the reports in the newspapers and watched beside his horrified colleagues in the television room at the manor; and he would go, when invited by a colleague in parish work, and take the Mass with a calm soul.

His problem that spring morning was fortuitously solved by a small announcement in the Dublin Press, a copy of which was still lying across his bed where he had read it while drinking his morning tea.

His room also served as his office, and he had his own telephone. He made two calls, and during the second he received a warm welcome to join the group whose forthcom­ing pilgrimage had been announced in the paper. Then he went to see his Superior.

“I need the experience, Frank,” he said. “If I stay in the office the phone never stops ringing. I need the peace, and the time to pray. If you can spare me, I would like to go.”

The Superior glanced at the itinerary and nodded.

“Go with my blessing, Dermot. Pray for us all while you are there.”

The pilgrimage was one week away. Father O’Brien knew he did not need to contact the Army Council to ask them also for permission. If he had news when he returned, so much the better. If not, no need to trouble the Army Council. He sent a letter to London, paying the extra to guarantee twenty-four-hour delivery, knowing it would reach the Libyan People’s Bureau—the Libyan government’s term for its embassies— within three days. That would give Tripoli time to make their arrangements.

A week later, the pilgrimage began with Mass and prayers at the Irish shrine of Knock. Thence it moved to Shannon Airport and a chartered jet to Lourdes, in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. There Father O’Brien slipped away from the crowd of lay men and women, nuns and priests, who made up the pilgrims, and boarded the small charter plane waiting for him at the Lourdes airport. It deposited him four hours later at Valletta, Malta, where the Libyans took him over. Their unmarked executive jet landed at a small military base outside Sirte just twenty-four hours after the Irish priest had departed from Shannon. Hakim al-Mansour, urbane and gra­cious as ever, was there to meet him.

Because of the urgency of getting back to Lourdes and rejoining the group of pilgrims, there was no meeting with Colonel Qaddafi. In fact, it had never even been envisaged. This was an operation al-Mansour had been charged to handle alone. The two men talked in a room at the base set aside for them and ringed by al-Mansour’s personal guards. When they had finished and the Irishman had snatched a few hours’ sleep, he left again for Malta and Lourdes. He was excited. What he had learned, if it came to fruition, would constitute a huge breakthrough for his Cause.

Hakim al-Mansour secured his personal interview with the Great Leader three days later. He was summoned, as always, at a moment’s notice to present himself at the place where Qaddafi was staying that day. Since the bombing of the previous year, the Libyan leader had taken more than ever to shifting his quarters from place to place, spending more and more time out in the desert, an hour’s drive from Tripoli.

He was in what al-Mansour privately called “the Bedouin mood” that day, lounging at ease on a pile of cushions in a large and ornate tent at his desert encampment, dressed in a white kaftan. He appeared as languid as ever as he listened to the reports of the two nervous ministers who sat cross-legged before him. The ministers, townsmen by birth, would clearly have preferred to be seated behind their desks. But if the Great Leader’s whim was that they squat on cushions on the carpet, they would squat on cushions.

Qaddafi acknowledged al-Mansour’s entry with a gesture of the hand to be seated to one side and await his turn. When the ministers had been dismissed, Qaddafi took a sip of water and asked for a report on progress.

The younger officer gave his report without frills or exag­gerations. Like all those around the Libyan leader, he was somewhat in awe of Muammar Qaddafi. The man was an enigma, and men are always in awe of an enigma, especially one who, with a wave of his hand, could require your imme­diate execution.

Al-Mansour knew that many foreigners, particularly the Americans, including those at the highest level, believed Qad­dafi to be mad. He, al-Mansour, knew there was nothing mad about Muammar Qaddafi. The man would not have survived eighteen years of supreme and unquestioned mastery of this turbulent, fragmented, and violent land if he had been de­ranged.

He was in fact a subtle and skilled political operator. He had made his mistakes, and he entertained his illusions—notably about the world outside his own country and his status in that world. He genuinely believed he was a lonely superstar, occupying the center of the world stage. He really believed that his long, rambling speeches were received with reverence by millions of “the masses” beyond his own bor­ders as he encouraged them to overthrow their own leaders and accept his inevitable supremacy in the cause of the purification of Islam according to the message he had person­ally received to accomplish this task. No one in his personal entourage dared to contradict this.

But within Libya he was unchallenged and virtually unchal­lengeable. He relied for advice upon a small circle of trusted intimates. Ministers would come and go, but his personal inner circle, unless he suspected one of them of treachery, had his ear and wielded the real power. Few of them knew anything about that strange place “abroad.” On this, Hakim al-Mansour, raised in a British public school, was the expert. Al-Mansour knew Qaddafi had a soft spot for him. It was justified—the head of the foreign arm of the Mukhabarat had, in younger days, proved his loyalty by personally executing three of Qaddafi’s political opponents in their European bolt-holes.

Still, the Bedouin dictator needed careful handling. Some did this with flowery flattery. Al-Mansour suspected Qaddafi accepted the flattery but took it with a pinch of salt. Al-Mansour’s own approach was respectful, but he did not varnish the truth. Rather, he phrased the truth carefully and certainly did not offer all of it—that would have been suicidal. But he suspected that behind the dreamy smile and the almost effeminate gestures, Muammar Qaddafi wanted to be told the truth.

That day, in April 1987, Hakim al-Mansour told his leader of the visit of the Irish priest and of their discussions. As he talked, one of Qaddafi’s personal team of doctors, who had been mixing a potion at a table in the corner, approached and offered the small cup to Qaddafi. The Libyan leader swal­lowed the draught and waved the doctor away. The man packed up his medicaments and a few minutes later left the tent.

Although a year had passed since the American bombers had devastated his personal living quarters, Muammar Qaddafi had not completely recovered. He still suffered occa­sional nightmares and the effects of hypertension. The doctor had given him a mild sedative.

“The fifty-fifty split of the material—it is accepted?” he asked now.

“The priest will report that condition,” said al-Mansour. “I am confident the Army Council will agree.”

“And the matter of the American ambassador?”

“That, too.”

Qaddafi sighed, in the manner of one on whose shoulders too many of the world’s burdens are placed. “Not enough,” he said dreamily. “There must be more. On mainland Amer­ica.”

“The search goes on, Excellency. The problem remains the same. In Britain, the Provisional IRA will exact your just revenge for you. The infidels will destroy the infidels at your behest. It was a brilliant idea.”

The idea of using the Provisional IRA as the conduit and tool of Qaddafi’s revenge on Britain had actually come from the brain of al-Mansour, but Qaddafi now believed the notion had been his, inspired by Allah.

Al-Mansour went on: “In America there is, alas, no in-place partisan network that can be used in the same way. The search goes on. The tools of your vengeance will be found.”

Qaddafi nodded several times, then gestured that the inter­view was over. “See to it,” he murmured softly.

The gathering of intelligence is a strange business. Rarely does one single coup provide all the answers, let alone solve all the problems. The search for the single, wonderful solution is a particularly American trait. Mostly, the picture appears as if a jigsaw puzzle is being carefully assembled, piece by piece. Usually, the last dozen pieces never appear at all; a good intelligence analyst will discern the picture from a col­lection of fragments.

Sometimes the pieces themselves do not come from the jigsaw picture under study at all, but from another one. Sometimes the pieces are themselves untrue. And they never lock together quite as neatly as in a real jigsaw puzzle, with the fretted edges of each and every piece matched.

There are men at Century House, home of the British Secret Intelligence Service, who are experts at jigsaw puz­zles. They seldom leave their desks; the gatherers—the field agents—are the ones who bring in the pieces. The analysts try to assemble them. Before the end of April, two pieces of a new puzzle had arrived at Century House.

One came from the Libyan doctor who had given Qaddafi his medicine in the tent. The man had once had a son whom he dearly loved. The student had been in England trying to become an engineer when the Mukhabarat had approached him and suggested that if he loved his father, he should carry out a task for the Great Leader. The bomb they had given him to plant had gone off prematurely. The father had hidden his grief well and had accepted the condolences, but his heart had turned to hatred, and he passed what information he could glean from his position at the court of Muammar Qad­dafi to the British.

His report of half a conversation, which he had heard in the tent before he was dismissed, was not sent via the British Embassy in Tripoli, for this was watched night and day. Instead, it went to Cairo, arriving a week later. From Cairo it was flashed to London, where it was considered important enough to go straight to the top.

“He’s going to do what?” asked the Chief, when he was told.

“It seems he has offered a gift of explosives and weaponry to the IRA,” said Timothy Edwards, who had that month been promoted from Assistant Chief to Deputy Chief. “That, at least, seems to be the only interpretation of the overheard conversation.”

“How was the offer made?”

“Apparently via an Irish priest flown in to Libya.”

“Do we know which one?”

“No, sir. Might not be a real priest at all. Could be a cover for an Army Council man. But the offer seems to have originated with Qaddafi.”

“Right. Well, we must find out who this mysterious cleric is. I’ll tell the Box and see if they have anything. If he’s in the North, he’s theirs. If he’s in the South or elsewhere, we take him.”

“Box Five Hundred” is the in-house slang term for MI-5, the British Security Service, the internal counterintelligence arm that has the task of counterterrorism in Northern Ireland, as British territory. The SIS had the mandate for intelligence and offensive counterintelligence operations outside Britain, including the Republic of Ireland, the “South.”

The Chief lunched with his colleague, the Director General of MI-5 that same day. The third man at the table was the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee; it would be his job to alert the Cabinet Office.

Two days later, an MI-5 operation came up with the second piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

There was nothing foreseen about it; it was just one of those flukes that occasionally make life easier. A young IRA man, driving a car with an Armalite in the trunk, came up against an unexpected roadblock manned by the Royal Ulster Con­stabulary. The teenager hesitated, thought of the rifle in his car—which would guarantee him several years imprisonment in the Maze jail—and tried to crash the roadblock.

He almost made it. Had he been more experienced, he might have. The sergeant and two constables at the roadblock had to throw themselves to one side as the stolen car suddenly surged ahead. But a third officer, standing well back, brought up his rifle and fired four shots into the accelerating car. One of them took off the top of the teenager’s head.

He was only a messenger boy, but the IRA decided he merited a full funeral with military honors. It took place in Bollycrane, the dead youth’s native village, a small place in South Armagh. The grieving family was comforted by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and asked for a favor. Would they allow a visiting priest, presented as a longtime friend of the family, to conduct the funeral service in place of the parish priest? The family, hardline Republicans all, with an­other son serving life for murder, agreed without hesitation. The service was duly conducted by Father Dermot O’Brien.

A little-known fact about the funerals of IRA men buried in Northern Ireland is that they provide a constant and useful venue for IRA leaders to get together and confer. The cere­monies are extremely tightly controlled by IRA “hard men.”

* * *

Usually, every single person among the mourners—men, women, and children—is a staunch supporter of the IRA. In some of the small villages of South Armagh and Fermanagh and South Tyrone, entire villages down to the last inhabitant are fanatic supporters.

The TV cameras are often fixed upon the ceremony, and the IRA chiefs, shielded by the crowd even from lip-reading, can hold muttered conferences, plan, decide, relay informa­tion, or set up future operations—not always an easy task for men under constant surveillance. For a British soldier or a Royal Ulster Constabulary man even to approach a funeral party would be a signal for a riot or even the murder of the soldier, as has been proved.

So a watch is kept with Long Tom cameras, but these usually cannot detect a muttered conversation from the side of the mouth. Thus, the IRA uses the supposed sanctity of death to plan further slaughter.

When the British first learned of this, they were not slow to catch up. It was once said that the most important thing an English gentleman ever learns is precisely when to stop being one.

So the British bug the coffins.

On the night before the funeral at Ballycrane, two Special Air Service soldiers, acting under cover in civilian clothes, broke into the funeral parlor where the empty coffin stood waiting for the morrow. The body, in Irish tradition, was still laid out in the family’s front parlor down the street. One of the soldiers was an electronics expert, the other a skilled French polisher and carpenter. Within an hour they implanted the bug in the woodwork of the coffin. It would have a short life, since before noon the next day it would be under six feet of earth.

From their deep cover on a hillside above the village the next day, the SAS soldiers kept watch on the funeral, photo­graphing every face present with a camera whose lens resem­bled a bazooka tube. Another man monitored the sounds emanating from the device in the wood of the coffin as it came through the village street and into the church. The device recorded the entire funeral service, and the soldiers watched the coffin re-emerge and move toward the open grave.

The priest, his cassock billowing in the morning breeze, intoned the last words and scattered a little earth on the coffin as it went down. The sound of the earth hitting the woodwork caused the listening soldier to wince, it was so loud. Above the open grave, Father Dermot O’Brien stood beside a man known by the British to be the deputy Chief of Staff of the IRA Army Council. Heads down, lips hidden, they began to mutter.

What they said went onto the tape on the hillside. From there it went to Lurgan, thence to Aldergrove airport, and thence to London. It had been only a routine operation, but it had come up with pure gold. Father O’Brien had reported to the Army Council the full details of Colonel Qaddafi’s offer.

How much?” asked Sir Anthony, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, two days later in London.

“Twenty tons, Tony. That’s the offer.”

The Director General of MI-5 closed the file that his col­leagues had just finished reading and returned it to his brief­case. The actual tape was not present. Sir Anthony was a busy man; a written synopsis was all he needed.

The tape had been with MI-5 in London for over a day, and they had been working fast. The sound quality, inevitably, had not been good. For one thing, the bugging device had been straining to hear the words through half a centimeter of wood, and it was being lowered downward into the grave as the conversation began. For another, there were extraneous sounds: the wailing of the young terrorist’s mother nearby, the rustle of the brisk wind across the open grave and through the priest’s flowing robes, the crack of the IRA honor guard in black balaclava woolen masks firing three rounds of blanks into the air.

A radio producer would have thought the tape a mess. But this tape was never intended for broadcast. Moreover, the technology of electronic sound-enhancement is very ad­vanced. Carefully, sound engineers had phased out the back­ground noises, “lifting” the spoken words into a different frequency mode and separating them from everything else. The voices of the officiating priest and the Army Council man beside him would never win prizes for elocution, but what they had said was clear enough.

“And the conditions?” asked Sir Anthony. “No doubt about them?”

“None,” said the DG. “Within the twenty tons will be the usual machine guns, rifles, grenades, launchers, mortars, pistols, timers, and bazookas—probably the Czech RPG-7. Plus two metric tons of Semtex-H. Of this, half must be used for a bombing campaign on mainland Britain, to include selective assassinations, including that of the American am­bassador. Apparently the Libyans were very insistent on that.”

“Bobby, I want you to take it all to the SIS,” said Sir Anthony at last. “No interservice rivalry, if you please. Total cooperation, all the way. It looks as if this will be an overseas operation—their pigeon. From Libya right up to some godfor­saken bay on the coast of Ireland, it’ll be a foreign operation. I want you to give them your absolute cooperation, from you downward.”

“No question,” said the DG. “They’ll have it.”

Before nightfall, the Chief of the SIS and his Deputy Timothy Edwards attended a full and lengthy briefing at the Curzon Street headquarters of their sister service. Exceptionally, the Chief was prepared to admit that he could, in part, corrobo­rate the Ulster information from the report of the Libyan doctor. Normally, wild horses would not drag from him the slightest admission concerning SIS assets abroad, but this was not a normal situation.

He asked for, and was given, the cooperation he wanted. MI-5 would increase surveillance, both physical and elec­tronic, on the IRA Army Council man. So long as Father O’Brien remained in the North, the same would apply to him. When he returned to the Irish Republic, the SIS would take over. Surveillance would also be doubled on the one other man mentioned in the graveside conversation, a man well known to British security forces but who had never yet been charged or imprisoned.

The Chief ordered his own networks in the Irish Republic to keep watch for the return of Father O’Brien, to tail him, and above all else, to alert London if he left by air or sea for foreign parts. A pickup would be much easier on the continent of Europe.

When he returned to Century House, the Chief summoned Sam McCready.

“Stop it, Sam,” he said finally. “Stop it at its source in Libya or in transit. Those twenty tons must not get through.”

Sam McCready sat for hours in a darkened viewing room watching the film of the funeral. As the tape played through the entire service inside the church, the camera roamed over the graveyard outside, picking up the handful of IRA guards placed there to ensure no one came near. They were all unrecognizable in black balaclava woolen masks.

When the cortege reemerged from the portico of the church to proceed to the open grave, with six masked pall-bearers carrying the coffin, McCready asked the technicians to syn­chronize sound and vision. Nothing remotely suspicious was said until the priest stood, his head bowed, by the grave with the IRA Army Council man beside him. The priest raised his head once to offer words of comfort to the teenager’s weeping mother.

“Freeze frame. Close-up. Enhance.”

When the face of Father O’Brien filled the screen, Mc­Cready stared at it for twenty minutes, memorizing every feature until he would know the face anywhere.

He read the transcript of the section of the tape in which the priest reported on his Libyan visit, over and over again. Later he sat alone and stared at photographs in his office.

One of the photographs was of Muammar Qaddafi, his bouffant black hair bulging from beneath his army cap, mouth half open as he spoke. Another was of Hakim al-Mansour, stepping out of a car in Paris, exquisitely tailored by Savile Row, smooth, urbane, bilingual in English, fluent in French, educated, charming, cosmopolitan, and utterly lethal. A third was the Chief of Staff, IRA Army Council, addressing a public meeting in Belfast in his other role as a law-abiding and responsible local government councilor of the Sinn Fein polit­ical party. There was a fourth picture: that of the man men­tioned by the graveside as the one the Army Council would probably choose to take over and run the operation, the one Father O’Brien would have to introduce and recommend by letter to Hakim al-Mansour. The British knew he was a former commander of the IRA’s South Armagh Brigade, now re­moved from local tasks to head up Special Projects, a very intelligent, highly experienced, and ruthless killer. His name was Kevin Mahoney.

McCready stared at the photographs for hours, trying to glean some knowledge of the brains behind the faces. If he was to win, he would have to match his mind with theirs. So far, they had the edge. They knew, presumably, not only what they were going to do, but how they were going to do it. And when. He knew the first, but not the second or the third.

He had two advantages. One, he knew what they had in mind, but they did not know he knew. And two, he could recognize them, but they did not know him. Or did al-Mansour know his face? The Libyan had worked with the KGB; the Russians knew McCready. Had they briefed the Libyan on the face of the Deceiver?

The Chief was not prepared to take the risk.

“I’m sorry, Sam. You are absolutely not going in yourself. I don’t care if there’s only a one-percent chance they have your face on file, the answer is no. Nothing personal. But you are not, under any circumstances, being taken alive. I will not contemplate another Buckley affair.”

William Buckley, the CIA chief of station in Beirut, had been taken alive by the Hezbollah. He had died slowly and hideously. The zealots had finally sent the CIA a videotape, complete with soundtrack, as they skinned him alive. And of course he had talked, told it all.

“You’ll have to find someone else,” said the Chief. “And may the Lord look after him.”

So McCready went through the files, day after day, back­ward and forward, sifting and sorting, considering and reject­ing. Eventually he came up with a name, a “possible.” And he took it to Timothy Edwards.

“You’re crazy, Sam,” said Edwards. “You know he’s absolutely unacceptable. MI-5 hate his guts. We’re trying to cooperate with them, and you produce this—turncoat. Dam­mit, he’s a literary renegade, a biter of the hand that fed him. We’d never employ him.”

“That’s the point,” said Sam quietly. Edwards shifted his ground.

“Anyway, he’d never work for us.”

“He might.”

“Give me one good reason why.”

McCready gave it.

“Well,” said Edwards, “as far as the record goes, the man’s an outsider. Use of him is forbidden. Absolutely forbid­den. Is that clear?”

“Completely,” said McCready.

“On the other hand,” added Edwards, “you’ll probably follow your own instincts anyway.”

As McCready left the office, Edwards reached under the desk to flick off the hidden tape deck. Without the last sentence, he was covered. Thus are long and glittering careers created.

McCready, who had been tipped off about the tape machine by an old friend, the engineer who had installed it, muttered as he walked down the corridor, “All right, arsehole, you can start editing now.”

McCready had no illusions about the Provisional IRA. The journalists in the tabloid press who designated the Irish terror­ist group as a bunch of dense idiots who occasionally got it right simply did not know what they were talking about.

It might have been like that in the old days, the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the IRA leadership was composed of a bunch of middle-aged ideologues in trenchcoats, carrying small-caliber handguns and making bombs in back-street ga­rages from garden fertilizer. Those were the days when they could have been “taken out” and stopped in their tracks. But as usual, the politicians had got it wrong, underestimated the danger, accepted that the bombers were just an extension of the civil rights movement. Now, those days were long gone. By the mid-1980s, the IRA had graduated, becoming arguably the most efficient terrorist group in the world.

They had four qualities without which no terrorist group can survive for twenty years, as they had. First, they had a pool of tribal support, from whose youth a constant stream of new recruits could step in to fill the shoes of the dead and the “gone away”—those in prison. Although they had never had more than 150 active terrorists deployed at once and probably no more than twice that number of “active” supporters ready to offer safe houses, locations for arms caches, and technical backup, and although they had lost well over one hundred dead and several hundred gone away, the new young recruits constantly came forward from the die-hard Republican com­munity in the North and the South to take their places. The recruit pool would never dry up.

Second, they had the safe refuge of the South, the Irish Republic, from which to mount operations into the British-ruled North. Though many lived permanently in the North, the South was always available, and into it a wanted terrorist could slip away and disappear. Had the six counties of North­ern Ireland been an island, the IRA would have been coped with years ago.

Third, they had dedication and ruthlessness; there was no threshold of atrocity beyond which they would not go. Over the years, the old men of the late 1960s had been eased out, still nursing their idealistic fervor for the reunification of their island into a single United Ireland under democratic rule. In their place had come hard-nosed zealots of skill and cunning, whose education and good brains masked their cruelty. The new breed were dedicated to a United Ireland all right—but under their rule, and according to the principles of Marx, a dedication that still had to be kept hidden from their American cash-donors.

Last, they had established a constant supply of money, the real lifeblood of a terrorist or revolutionary campaign. In the early days, it had been a question of donations from the bars of Boston or the occasional local bank raid. By the mid-1980s, the Provisionals controlled a nationwide network of drinking clubs, protection rackets, and “normal” criminal enterprises that yielded a huge annual income with which to underpin the terror campaign. As they had learned about money, they had learned too about internal security, the need-to-know rule, and strict compartmentalization. The old days when they talked too much and drank too much had long gone.

Their Achilles’ heel was in the area of arms. Having the money to buy weapons was one thing. Parlaying money into M-60 machine guns, mortars, bazookas, or ground-to-air mis­siles was another. They had had their successes—and their failures. They had tried many operations to bring the arms from America, but usually the FBI got them first. They had had weapons from the Communist bloc, via Czechoslovakia, with a nod from the KGB. But since the arrival of Mr. Gorbachev, the Soviet preparedness to sanction terror in the West had waned and was finally disappearing.

The IRA needed arms, McCready knew; and if these were an offer, they would send in the best and the brightest to get them. Such were his thoughts as he steered his car out of the small town of Cricklade and across the unmarked county line into Gloucestershire.

The converted barn was where he had been told it would be, tucked down a side road, an old Cotswold stone affair that had once housed cattle and hay. Whoever had done the conversion to a quiet country house had worked hard and well. It was surrounded by a stone wall set with wagon wheels, and the garden was bright with late spring flowers. McCready drove through the gate and drew up outside the timber door. A pretty young woman, weeding a flowered border, put down her trowel and stood up.

“Hello,” she said. “Have you come about a rug?”

So, he thought, he’s selling rugs as a sideline. Perhaps the information about the books not selling too well was true.

“No, ’fraid not,” he said. “Actually, I’ve come to see Tom.”

Her smile faded, and an element of suspicion entered her eyes, as if she had seen men like him enter her husband’s life before and knew they meant trouble.

“He’s writing. In his shed at the bottom of the garden. He finishes in about an hour. Can you wait?”

“Certainly.”

She gave him coffee in the bright, chintz-curtained sitting room, and they waited. Conversation wilted. At last they heard the tramp of feet coming through the kitchen. She jumped up.

“Nikki—”

Tom Rowse appeared in the door and stopped. His smile did not flicker, but his eyes took in McCready and became very watchful.

“Darling, this gentleman has come to see you. We’ve been waiting. Would you like a coffee?”

He did not look at her, just kept his eyes on his visitor. “Sure, love a coffee.”

She left. McCready introduced himself. Rowse sat down. The records had said he was thirty-three. They did not say that he looked extremely fit. They did not need to.

Tom Rowse had been a captain in the Special Air Service regiment. Three years earlier, he had left the army, married Nikki, and bought a decrepit barn west of Cricklade. He had done the conversion himself, working out his rage through the long days of bricks and mortar, beams and rafters, windows and water pipes. He had hacked the rough meadow into smooth lawn, laid the flower beds, built the wall. That was by day; by night, he had written.

It had to be a novel, of course; a nonfiction work would have been banned under the Official Secrets Act. But even as a novel, his first book had caused outrage in the Curzon Street headquarters of MI-5. The book was about Northern Ireland, seen from the point of view of an undercover soldier, and it had mocked the counterintelligence efforts of MI-5.

The British Establishment can be very vindictive toward those it sees to have turned against it. Tom Rowse’s novel eventually found a publisher and came out to a modest suc­cess for a first novel by an unknown writer. The publishers had since commissioned a second book, on which he was now working. But the word had gone out from Curzon Street that Tom Rowse, former captain in the SAS, was an outsider, beyond the pale—not to be touched, approached, or helped in any way. He knew it, and he did not give a damn. He had built himself a new world with his new house and his new wife.

Nikki served coffee, absorbed the atmosphere, and left. She was Rowse’s first wife, but Rowse was not her first husband.

Four years earlier, Rowse, crouched behind a van in a mean street in West Belfast, had watched his friend Nigel Quaid move slowly forward like a giant armored crab toward a red Ford Sierra a hundred yards down the road.

Rowse and Quaid suspected there was a bomb in the trunk of the car. A controlled explosion would have disposed of it. The senior brass wanted the bomb defused if possible. The British know the identity of just about every IRA bomb-maker in Ireland. Each one of them leaves a personal signature in the way the bomb is assembled. That signature is blown apart if the bomb goes off, but if the bomb can be defused and retrieved, it provides a harvest of information: where the explosive came from, the source of the primer, the detonator, maybe even fingerprints. And even without fingerprints, usu­ally the identity of the hands that put it together.

So Quaid, his friend since school days, had gone forward, swathed in body armor till he could hardly walk, to open the trunk and try to dismantle the antihandling devices. He had failed. The trunk lid had come open, but the device was taped on the underside of the lid. Quaid was looking downward, half a second too long. When daylight hit the photosensitive cell, the bomb went off. Despite Quaid’s armor, it removed his head.

Rowse had comforted the young widow, Nikki Quaid. The comfort had turned to affection, and affection to love. When he asked her to marry him, she had one condition: Leave Ireland, leave the Army. When she saw McCready today, she had suspected something, for she had seen men like him before. They were the quiet ones, always the quiet ones. It had been a quiet one who had come to Nigel that day and asked him to go to the mean street in West Belfast. Outside in the garden she dug angrily into the weeds while her man talked with the quiet one.

McCready spoke for ten minutes. Rowse listened. When the older man had finished, the ex-soldier said, “Look out­side.”

McCready did so. The rich farming land stretched away to the horizon. A bird sang.

“I have made a new life here. Far away from that filth, from those scum. I’m out, McCready. Right out. Didn’t Curzon Street tell you that? I’ve made myself untouchable. A new life, a wife, a home that isn’t a soaking scrape in an Irish bog, even a modest living from the books. Why the hell should I go back?”

“I need a man, Tom. A man in on the ground. Inside. Able to move through the Middle East with a good cover. A face they don’t know.”

“Find another.”

“If that metric ton of Semtex-H goes off here in England, divided into five hundred two-kilo packages, there’ll be an­other hundred Nigel Quaids. Another thousand Mary Feeneys. I’m trying to stop it arriving, Tom.”

“No, McCready. Not me. Why the hell should I?”

“They’re putting a man in charge, from their side. Someone I think you know. Kevin Mahoney.”

Rowse stiffened as if he had been hit.

“He will be there?” he asked.

“We believe he will be in charge. If he fails, it will destroy him.”

Rowse stared out at the landscape for a long time. But now he saw a different countryside, one that was a deeper green but less well tended; and a garage forecourt; and a small body by the roadside that had once been a little girl called Mary Feeney.

He rose and went outside. McCready heard low voices and the sound of Nikki crying. Rowse came back and went to pack a suitcase.

Chapter 2

Rowse’s briefing took a week, and McCready handled it personally. There was no question of bringing Rowse to the environs of Century House, let alone to Curzon Street. Mc­Cready borrowed one of the three quiet country houses not an hour’s drive from London that the SIS keeps for such purposes, and he had the briefing materials sent from Century House.

There was written material and movie film, much of the latter rather indistinct, having been shot from great distance or through a hole in the side of a van, or from between the branches of a bush at long range. But the faces were clear enough.

Rowse saw the film and heard the tape from the graveyard scene at Ballycrane a week earlier. He studied the face of the Irish priest who had acted as messenger, and that of the Army Council man beside him. But when the still photographs were laid side by side, his gaze always came back to the cold, handsome features of Kevin Mahoney.

Four years earlier, Rowse had almost killed the IRA gun­man. Mahoney was on the run, and the operation to track him down had taken weeks of patient undercover work. Finally, he had been suckered by a deception operation into venturing into Northern Ireland from his hideout near Dundalk in the South. He was being driven by another IRA man, and they stopped for petrol at a filling station near Moira. Rowse had been driving behind him, well back, receiving radio briefings from the watchers along the route and in the sky. When he heard that Mahoney had stopped for fuel, he decided to close in.

By the time he reached the forecourt of the filling station, the IRA driver had filled his tank and was back in the car. No one was with him yet. For a moment Rowse thought he had lost the quarry. He told his partner to cover the IRA driver and got out. It was while he was busying himself with the petrol pump that the door of the men’s room opened and Mahoney came out.

Rowse was carrying his SAS-issue Browning 13-shot in his waistband at the back, under his blue duffle jacket. A scruffy woolen cap covered most of his head, and several days of stubble obscured his face. He looked like an Irish workman, which was his cover.

As Mahoney emerged, Rowse dropped into a crouch beside the petrol pump, pulled his gun, took up the double-handed aim position, and yelled, “Mahoney—freeze!”

Mahoney was fast. Even as Rowse was drawing, he was reaching for his own gun. By law, Rowse could have finished him there and then. Later, he wished he had. But he shouted again, “Drop it, or you’re dead!”

Mahoney had his gun out, but it was still by his side. He looked at the man half-hidden by the pump, saw the Brown­ing, and knew he could not win. He dropped his Colt.

At that moment, two old ladies in a Volkswagen pulled onto the concrete apron of the filling station. They had no idea what was going on, but they drove straight between Rowse by the petrol pump and Mahoney by the wall. That was enough for the IRA man. He dropped like a stone and retrieved his gun. His partner tried to drive to his rescue, but Rowse’s backup man was beside him, a gun stuck straight through the car window into the man’s temple.

Rowse could not fire because of the two women, who had now stalled their engine and were sitting in their Volkswagen screaming. Mahoney came out from behind the Volkswagen, dodged around the back of a parked lorry, and ran out into the road. By the time Rowse cleared the lorry, Mahoney was in the middle of the highway.

At that moment, a Morris Minor drove by. The elderly driver of the Morris jammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the running man. Mahoney kept the Morris between himself and Rowse, hauled the old man out by the jacket, clubbed him to the ground with the Colt, jumped into the driving seat, and was off.

There was a passenger in the car. The old man had been taking his granddaughter to the circus in the Morris. Rowse, in the road, watched as the passenger door flew open and the child was thrown out. He heard her thin scream from down the road, saw her small body hit the road, then saw her body struck by an oncoming van.

“Yes,” said McCready softly, “we know it was him. De­spite the eighteen witnesses who said he was at a bar in Dundalk at that hour.”

“I still write to her mother,” said Rowse.

“The Army Council wrote, too,” said McCready. “They expressed regret. Said she fell accidentally.”

“She was thrown,” said Rowse. “I saw his arm. He’s really going to be in charge of this?”

“We think so. We don’t know whether the transshipment will be by land, sea, or air, or where he’ll show up. But we think he’ll command the operation. You heard the tape.”

McCready briefed Rowse on his cover stories. He would have two, not one. The first would be reasonably transparent. With luck, those investigating it would penetrate the lie and discover the second story. With luck (again), they would be satisfied with the second cover.

“Where do I start?” asked Rowse as the week neared its end.

“Where would you like to start?” asked McCready.

“Anyone researching international arms traffic for his next novel would soon find out that the two European bases for that traffic are Antwerp and Hamburg,” said Rowse.

“True,” said McCready. “Do you have any contacts in either city?”

“There’s a man I know in Hamburg,” said Rowse. “He’s dangerous, crazy, but he may have contacts in the interna­tional underworld.”

“His name?”

“Kleist. Ulrich Kleist.”

“Jesus, you know some strange bastards, Tom.”

“I saved his butt once,” said Rowse. “At Mogadishu. He wasn’t crazy then. That came later, when someone turned his son into a druggie. The boy died.”

“Ah, yes,” said McCready, “that can have an effect. Right, Hamburg it is. I’ll be with you all the time. You won’t see me, and neither will the bad guys. But I’ll be there, somewhere nearby. If things turn sour, I’ll be close, with two of your former colleagues from the SAS Regiment. You’ll be okay— we’ll come for you if things get rough. I’ll need to contact you now and again for regular updates on progress.”

Rowse nodded. He knew it was a lie, but it was a nice one. McCready would need his regular updates so that if Rowse abruptly departed this planet, the SIS would know how far he had got. For Rowse possessed that quality so beloved of spymasters: He was quite dispensable.

Rowse arrived in Hamburg in the middle of May. He was unannounced, and he came alone. He knew McCready and the two “minders” had gone ahead of him. He did not see them, and he did not look. He realized he would probably know the two SAS men with McCready, but he did not have their names. It did not matter; they knew him, and their job was to stay close but invisible. It was their specialty. Both would be fluent German speakers. They would be at Hamburg Airport, in the streets, near his hotel, just watching and reporting to McCready, who would be farther back.

Rowse avoided the luxury hotels like the Vier Jahrzeiten and the Atlantik, choosing a more unpretentious hotel near the railway station. He had hired a small car from Avis and stuck to his modest budget, in keeping with the limitations of a moderately successful novelist trying to research his next book. After two days he found Ulrich Kleist, who was work­ing as a forklift driver on the docks.

The big German had switched off his machine and was climbing down from the cab when Rowse called to him. For a second Kleist spun around, prepared to defend himself, then recognized Rowse. His craggy face broke into a grin.

“Tom. Tom, my old friend.”

Rowse was embraced in a crushing bear hug. When he was released, he stood back and looked at the former Special Forces soldier whom he had first met in a baking Somali airport in 1977 and had last seen four years ago. Rowse had been twenty-four then, and Kleist was six years his senior. But he looked as if he were older than forty now, much older.

On October 13, 1977, four Palestinian terrorists had hi­jacked a Lufthansa flight from Mallorca to Frankfurt, with eighty-six passengers and a crew of five. Tracked by the authorities, the captive jet had landed in succession at Rome, Larnaca, Bahrain, Dubai, and Aden before finally coming to rest, out of fuel, at Mogadishu, the bleak capital of Somalia.

Here, a few minutes after midnight on the night of October 17, the jet had been stormed by the West German special force, the GSG 9, which modeled itself on, and had been largely trained by, the British SAS. It had been the first foreign “outing” for Colonel Ulrich Wegener’s crack troops. They were good, very good, but two SAS sergeants had come along anyway. One was Tom Rowse—that was before he was commissioned.

The reason for the presence of the British was twofold. One, they were very experienced at taking off sealed airliner doors in a fraction of a second; two, they knew how to handle the British-developed stun grenades. These grenades pro­duced three things designed to paralyze a terrorist for two vital seconds. One was the flash, which blinded the naked eye; one was the shock wave, which caused disorientation; the third was the bang, which rattled the brain through the eardrums and paralyzed reaction.

After the successful liberation of the Lufthansa airline, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt lined up the warriors and gave them all medals on behalf of a grateful nation. The two Britishers had vaporized before the politicians and the press could appear.

Although the two SAS sergeants had been there only as technical advisers—the British Labour government had been adamant on that—what had really happened was this: The British had gone up the ladder first in order to take off the rear passenger door. They had approached the airliner from behind and beneath to avoid detection by the terrorists.

Because it was impossible to change position at the top of an aluminium ladder in pitch darkness, the SAS men had gone through the gaping hole before the Germans and had thrown their stun grenades. Then they stepped aside to let the GSG 9 team pass them and finish the job. The first two Germans were Uli Kleist and another trooper. They entered the center aisle and dropped flat as ordered, their guns trained forward toward where they had been told the terrorists would be.

And they were there, up by the forward bulkhead, recover­ing from the blast. Zohair Yussef Akache, alias Captain Mahmoud, who had already murdered the Lufthansa captain, Jürgen Schumann, was rising with a submachine gun in his hands. Beside him, one of the two women, Nadia Hind Alameh, was climbing to her feet with a grenade in one hand, her other hand reaching for the pin. Uli Kleist had never done it at point-blank range before, so Rowse stepped into the aisle from the lavatory bay and did it for him. Then the GSG 9 team finished the job, blowing away the second male terrorist, Nabi Ibrahim Harb, and wounding the other female, Suheila Saleh. In all, it had taken eight seconds.

Ten years later, Uli Kleist now stood in the sun on a Hamburg quayside and grinned at the slim young man who had fired those two shots over his head in the cramped airliner cabin so long ago.

“What brings you to Hamburg, Tom?”

“Let me buy you dinner, and I’ll tell you.”

They ate spicy Hungarian food at a csarda in one of the back streets of Sankt Pauli, well away from the bright lights and high prices of the Reeperbahn, and washed it down with Bull’s Blood. Rowse talked, Kleist listened.

Ja, sounds like a good plot,” he said eventually. “I didn’t read your books yet. They are translated into German?”

“Not yet,” said Rowse. “My agent’s hoping to get a German contract. It would help—Germany’s a big market.”

“So, there is a living to be made from writing this thriller fiction?”

Rowse shrugged. “It pays the rent.”

“And this new one, the one about terrorists and arms dealers and the White House—you have a title for it?”

“Not yet.”

The German considered. “I will try and get you some information—research purposes only, yes?” He laughed and tapped his nose, as if to say, Of course, there’s more to it than that, but we all have to make a living.

“Give me twenty-four hours. I’ll talk with some friends, see if they know where you could get this sort of stuff. So, you have done well since leaving the Army. I—not so well.”

“I heard about your troubles,” said Rowse.

Ach, two years in Hamburg jail. A piece of cake. Another two, and I could have been running the place. Anyway, it was worth it.”

Kleist, although divorced, had had a son. He had been only sixteen when someone turned him on to cocaine, then crack. The boy overdosed and died. Rage had made Uli Kleist rather unsubtle. He had found out the names of the Colombian wholesaler and the German distributor of the consignment that had killed his son, walked into a restaurant where they were dining, and blown both their heads off. When the police came, Kleist did not even resist. An old-school judge who shared his personal views about drug traffickers listened to the defense plea of provocation and gave Kleist four years. He served two, and had come out six months before. Word was, there was a contract on him. Kleist did not give a damn. Some said he was crazy.

They parted at midnight, and Rowse took a cab back to his hotel. A single man on a motorcycle followed all the way. The motorcyclist spoke twice into a hand-communicator. When Rowse paid off the taxi, McCready emerged from the shad­ows.

“You haven’t got a tail,” he said. “Not yet, anyway. Feel like a nightcap?”

They drank beer in an all-night bar near the station, and Rowse filled him in.

“He believes your tale of researching a novel is poppy­cock?” McCready asked.

“He suspects it.”

“Good—let’s hope he puts it about. I doubt if you’ll get to the real bad guys in this scenario. I’m rather hoping they’ll come to you.”

Rowse made a remark about feeling like the cheese in a mousetrap and climbed off his bar stool.

“In a successful mousetrap,” remarked McCready as he followed Rowse out of the bar, “the cheese does not get touched.”

“I know it, and you know it, but tell that to the cheese,” said Rowse, and retired to bed.

Rowse met Kleist the following evening. The German shook his head.

“I have asked around,” he said, “but what you mentioned is too sophisticated for Hamburg. That kind of material is made in government-owned laboratories and arms factories. It is not on the black market. But there is a man, or so is the whisper.”

“Here in Hamburg?”

“No, Vienna. The Russian military attaché there is a cer­tain Major Vitali Kariagin. As you no doubt know, Vienna is the main outlet for the Czech manufacturer Omnipol. The broad mass of their exports they are allowed to make on their own account, but some stuff and some buyers have to be cleared out of Moscow. The channeling agent for these per­missions is Kariagin.”

“Why should he help?”

“Word is, he has a taste for the good things of life. He’s GRU, of course, but even Soviet military intelligence officers have private tastes. It appears he likes girls—expensive girls, the sort to whom you have to give expensive presents. So he himself takes presents, cash presents, in envelopes.”

Rowse thought it over. He knew that corruption was more the rule than the exception in Soviet society, but a GRU major on the take? The arms world is very bizarre; anything is possible.

“By the way,” said Kleist, “in this ... novel of yours. Would there be any IRA in it?”

“Why do you ask?” said Rowse. He had not mentioned the IRA.

Kleist shrugged. “They have a unit here. Based in a bar run by Palestinians. They do liaison with other terror groups in the international community, and arms-buying. You want to see them?”

“In God’s name, why?”

Kleist laughed, a mite too loud. “Might be fun,” he said.

“These Palestinians—they know you once blew away four of their number?” asked Rowse.

“Probably. In our world everyone knows everyone. Espe­cially their enemies. But I still go to drink in their bar.”

“Why?”

“Fun. Pulling the tiger’s tail.”

“You really are crazy,” thought Rowse.

“I think you should go,” said McCready later that night. “You might learn something, see something. Or they might see you and wonder why you are here. If they inquire, they’ll come up with the novel-researching story. They won’t believe it, and they’ll deduce you really are out buying weapons for use in America. Word gets around. We want it to get around. Just have a few beers, and stay cool. Then distance yourself from that mad German.”

McCready did not feel it necessary to mention that he knew of the bar in question. It was called the Mausehöhle, or Mousehole, and the rumor persisted that a German under­cover agent, working for the British, had been unmasked and shot in an upstairs room there a year earlier. Certainly the man had disappeared without a trace. But there was not enough for the German police to raid the place, and German counterintelligence preferred to leave the Palestinians and the Irish where they were. Smashing up their headquarters would simply mean they would reestablish somewhere else. Still, the rumors persisted.

The following evening Uli Kleist paid off their cab on the Reeperbahn. He led Rowse up the Davidstrasse, past the steel-gated entrance to Herbertstrasse, where the whores sat night and day in their windows; past the brewery gates; and down to the far end where the Elbe glittered under the moon. He turned right into Bernhard Nochtstrasse and after two hundred yards stopped at a studded timber door.

He rang the discreet bell by its side, and a small grill slid back. An eye looked at him, there was a whispered conference inside, and the door opened. The doorman and the dinner-jacketed man beside him were both Arabs.

“Evening, Mr. Abdallah,” Kleist said cheerfully in Ger­man. “I’m thirsty, and I’d like a drink.”

Abdallah glanced at Rowse.

“Oh, he’s all right, he’s a friend,” said Kleist. The Arab nodded at the doorman, who opened the door wide to let them in. Kleist was big, but the doorman was massive, shaven-headed, and not to be trifled with. Years earlier, back in the camps in Lebanon, he had been an enforcer for the PLO. In a way, he still was.

Abdallah led them both to a table, summoned a waiter with a flick of the hand, and ordered in Arabic that his guests be looked after. Two busty bar-girls, both German, left the bar and sat at their table.

Kleist grinned. “I told you. No problem.”

They sat and drank. Now and then, Kleist danced with one of the girls. Rowse toyed with his drink and surveyed the room. Despite the sleazy street in which it was situated, the Mousehole was lushly decorated, the music was live, and the drink was unwatered. Even the girls were pretty and well dressed.

Some of the clientele were Arabs from abroad, others Germans. They seemed prosperous and concerned only with having a good time. Rowse had put on a suit; only Kleist remained in his brown leather bomber jacket over an open-neck shirt. Had he not been who he was, with the reputation he had, Mr. Abdallah might well have excluded him on grounds of dress.

Apart from the redoubtable doorman, Rowse could see no sign that this was a hangout for anything other than business­men who were prepared to be parted from a lot of money in the hope, almost certainly to be dashed, of taking one of the bar-girls home. Most drank champagne; Kleist had ordered beer.

Above the bar, a large mirror dominated the seating area. It was a one-way mirror; behind it was the manager’s office. Two men stood and looked down,

“Who’s your man?” one asked softly in the harsh burr of Belfast.

“German called Kleist. Comes in occasionally. Once GSG 9. Not anymore—he’s on the outside. Did two years for mur­der.”

“Not him,” said the first man, “the other, the one with him. The Brit.”

“No idea, Seamus. Just came in.”

“Find out,” said the first man. “I think I’ve seen him somewhere before.”

They came in when Rowse was visiting the men’s room. He had used the urinal and was washing his hands when the two men entered. One approached the urinal, stood in front of it, and jiggled with his fly. He was the big one. The slimmer, good-looking Irishman stayed by the door. He slipped a small wooden wedge out of his jacket pocket, dropped it to the floor, and with the side of one foot eased it under the rest-room’s entrance door. There would be no distractions.

Rowse caught sight of the gesture in the mirror but pre­tended not to notice. When the big man turned away from the urinal, he was ready. He turned, ducked the first hammer blow from the big fist that came at his head, and lashed a toe-kick into the sensitive tendon beneath the man’s left knee­cap.

The big man was taken by surprise and grunted in pain. His left leg buckled, bringing his head down to waist-level. Rowse’s knee came up hard, finding the point of the jaw. There was a crunch of breaking teeth and a spray of fine blood from the broken mouth in front of him. He felt pain running up his thigh from his bruised knee. The fight was stopped by his third blow—four rigid knuckles into the base of the big man’s throat. Then he turned to the man by the door.

“Easy now, friend,” said the man called Seamus. “He only wanted to talk to you.”

He had a wide, broth-of-a-boy smile that must have worked wonders with the girls. The eyes stayed cold and watchful.

Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” asked Rowse. On entering the club, he had passed himself as a visiting Swiss.

“Drop it, Mr. Rowse,” said Seamus. “For one thing, you have Brit written all over you. For another, your picture was on the back of your book, which I read with great interest. For a third, you were an SAS man in Belfast years ago. Now I remember where I’ve seen you before.”

“So what?” said Rowse. “I’m out, well out. I write novels for a living now. That’s all.”

Seamus O’Keefe thought it over. “Could be,” he admitted. “If the Brits were sending undercover men into my pub, they’d hardly use a man with his face plastered all over so many books. Or would they?”

“They might,” said Rowse, “but not me. ‘Cause I wouldn’t work for them anymore. We had quite a parting of the ways.”

“So I heard, to be sure. Well then, SAS man, come and have a drink. A real drink. For old times’ sake.”

He kicked the wedge away from the door and held it open. On the tiles, the big man hauled himself to his hands and knees. Rowse passed through the door. O’Keefe paused to whisper in the big man’s ear.

In the bar Uli Kleist was still at his table. The girls had gone. The manager and the enormous doorman stood by his table. As Rowse passed, he raised an eyebrow. If Rowse had said so, he would have fought, even though the odds were impossible.

Rowse shook his head. “It’s all right, Uli,” he said. “Stay cool. Go home. I’ll see you.”

O’Keefe took Rowse to his own apartment. They drank Jame­sons with water.

“Tell me about this ‘research,’ SAS man,” said O’Keefe quietly.

Rowse knew there were two others in the passage within call. No need for any more violence. He told O’Keefe the outline of the plot of his intended next novel.

“Not about the lads in Belfast, then?” said O’Keefe.

“Can’t use the same plot twice,” said Rowse. “The pub­lishers wouldn’t have it. This one’s about America.”

They talked through the night. And drank. Rowse had a rock-hard head for whiskey, which was just as well. O’Keefe let him go at dawn. He walked back to his hotel to blow away the whiskey fumes.

The others worked on Kleist in the abandoned warehouse to which they had taken him after Rowse left the club. The big doorman held him down, and another Palestinian used the instruments.

Uli Kleist was very tough, but the Palestinians had learned about pain in South Beirut. Kleist took all he could, but he talked before dawn. They let him die as the sun rose. It was a welcome release.

The big Irishman from the men’s room watched and listened, occasionally dabbing his bleeding mouth. His orders from O’Keefe were to find out what the German knew about Rowse’s presence in Hamburg. When it was over, he reported what he had learned. The IRA station head nodded.

“I thought there was more to it than a novel,” he said. Later, he sent a cable to a man in Vienna. It was carefully worded.

When Rowse left O’Keefe’s flat and walked back through the waking city to the railway station hotel, one of his minders moved quietly in behind him. The other kept watch on the abandoned warehouse but did not interfere.

In the lunch hour, Rowse ate a large bratwürst, heavily laced with sweet German mustard. He bought it from a Schnellimbiss, one of those stands on streetcorners that pre­pare the delicious sausages as snacks for those in a hurry. As he ate, he talked out of the side of his mouth to the man beside him.

“Do you think O’Keefe believed you?” asked McCready.

“He may have done. It’s a plausible enough explanation. Thriller writers, after all, have to research some odd things in some strange places. But he may have had doubts. He’s no fool.”

“Do you think Kleist believed you?”

Rowse laughed. “No, not Uli. He’s convinced I’m some sort of renegade turned mercenary, looking for arms on behalf of a client. He was too polite to say so, but the novel-research story didn’t fool him.”

“Ah,” said McCready. “Well, perhaps last night was an added bonus. You’re certainly getting yourself noticed. Let’s see if Vienna gets you farther down the trail. By the way, you booked yourself on a flight tomorrow morning. Pay cash at the airport.”

The Vienna flight was via Frankfurt and took off on time. Rowse was in business class. After takeoff, the stewardess distributed newspapers. As it was an internal flight, there were no English ones. Rowse could speak halting German and decipher headlines. The one covering much of the lower half of the front page of the Morgenpost did not need deciphering.

The face in the picture had its eyes closed and was sur­rounded by garbage. The headline read, SLAYER OF DRUG BARONS FOUND DEAD. The text below said two garbage col­lectors had found the body near a rubbish bin close to the docks. The police were treating the case as a gangland revenge killing.

Rowse, however, knew better. He suspected that an inter­vention by his SAS minders could have saved his German friend. He rose and walked through the curtains down the aisle to the economy-class toilets. Near the rear of the plane, he dropped the newspaper into the lap of a rumpled-looking man reading the in-flight magazine.

“You bastard,” he hissed.

Somewhat to Rowse’s surprise, Major Kariagin took his call at the Soviet Embassy at his first attempt. Rowse spoke in Russian.

SAS soldiers—most especially the officers—have to be multitalented creatures. As the basic SAS fighting unit has only four men, a wide spectrum of proficiencies is necessary. Within the four-man group, all will have advanced medical training, and all will be able to handle a radio. They will have several languages among them, apart from their varied fighting skills. As the SAS has operated in Malaya, Indonesia, Oman, and Central and South America, apart from its NATO role, the favored languages have always been Malay, Arabic, and Spanish. For the NATO role, the preferred proficiencies have been Russian (of course) and one or two Allied languages. Rowse spoke French, Russian, and Irish Gaelic.

For a complete stranger to telephone Major Kariagin at the embassy was not so odd, bearing in mind the major’s second­ary task of keeping an eye on the stream of applications made to the Czech arms outlet, Omnipol.

Intergovernmental applications were made to the Husak government in Prague. They did not concern him. Others, from more dubious sources, came to the external office of Omnipol, based in neutral Vienna. Kariagin saw them all. Some he approved, some he referred to Moscow for a deci­sion, others he vetoed out of hand. What he did not tell Moscow was that his judgment could be influenced by a generous tip. He agreed to meet Rowse that evening at Sacher’s.

Kariagin did not look like a caricature Russian. He was smooth, groomed, barbered, and well tailored. He was known at the famous restaurant. The headwaiter showed him to a corner table away from the orchestra and the babble of the voices of the other diners. The two men sat and ordered Schnitzel with a dry, light Austrian red wine.

Rowse explained his need for information for his next novel.

Kariagin listened politely. “These American terrorists ...” he said when Rowse had finished.

“Fictional terrorists,” said Rowse.

“Of course. These fictional American terrorists—what would they be looking for?”

Rowse passed over a typed sheet that he took from his breast pocket. The Russian read the list, raised an eyebrow, and passed it back.

“Impossible,” he said. “You are talking to the wrong man. Why did you come to see me?”

“A friend in Hamburg said you were extremely well in­formed.”

“Let me change the question: Why come to see anyone? Why not make it up? It is for a novel, after all.”

“Authenticity,” said Rowse. “The modern novelist cannot get things hopelessly wrong. Too many readers today are not fooled by schoolboy howlers in the text.”

“I’m afraid you are still in the wrong place, Mr. Rowse. That list contains some items that simply do not come under the heading of conventional weaponry. Booby-trapped brief­cases, Claymore mines—these are simply not provided by the Socialist bloc. Why not use simpler weaponry in your ... novel?”

“Because the terrorists—”