Read Black Horn Online

Authors: A. J. Quinnell

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Murder, #Thriller, #Thrillers

Black Horn

Black Horn
A. J. Quinnell

hunter had no interest in the animals. He rested on his haunches within a small
outcrop of rocks about five hundred metres from the Zambezi River. To his left,
a herd of impala moved down to drink before sunset, the young bounding and
leaping in circles around their elders. To his right, a pair of zebra moved in
the same direction and, beyond them, a single male kudu, statuesque beneath his
spiraling horns.

hunter's eyes were fixed on the large khaki tent nestling in the shade of a
giant baobab tree. The hunter glanced again to his right at the red sinking
sun, and offered up a hope that he would not have to wait another night. The
hunter was not a man to pray. He acknowledged no God.

rifle was propped against the rock beside him. It was an old Enfield Envoy
L4A1, much loved by World War Two snipers. It had the original number 32
telescopic sight. The hunter had grown up with it.

stiffened as he saw a movement at the entrance of the tent. One big white man
emerged. He had a shock of red hair. He wore only green shorts. He moved to the
curling smoke of the fire and kicked more logs on to it.

hunter reached for his rifle. Through the scope he could clearly identify the
man's face from the photograph in his back pocket. Identification was positive,
even though the red hair had been covered by a hat.

hunter positioned himself. He sat back against a rock and rested his elbows on
his knees, forming a natural tripod. Abruptly he stiffened again to the faint
sound of a voice. He took his eye away from the scope. A woman had emerged from
the tent. She was also wearing green shorts and nothing else. The hunter put
his eye against the scope and studied her. She had long blonde hair, accented by
a deeply tanned face, a narrow waist below high young breasts. She was smiling
at the man.

hunter cursed quietly. He had been told that the man would be alone. He glanced
again at the lowering sun. There was no time to trek to his hidden Land-rover
and radio for instructions.

hunter took his decision.

The man
was squatting by the fire, prodding life into it with a stick. The woman stood
beside him, watching the herd of impala with a gentle smile on her face. The
hunter shot her first, between the breasts. The second shot followed
immediately. The man had half-risen. The bullet took him in the pit of his
stomach. The woman lay still. The man was rolling around, clutching his belly.
The hunter shot him again through the back. He did not shoot the woman again.
The hunter was not a man to waste a bullet.


drove fast, her black hair blowing in the wind. It was as black as the MG
roadster which she loved as much as anything else in her life, even though it
was almost as old as she was. Like her, it had been well maintained. At
twenty-eight years old, her body was kept svelte by a good diet and plenty of
aerobics. Kwok Ling Fong, known to her friends as Lucy, was eager to get home.
The flight from Tokyo had been delayed and she did not want to be too late for
her father's birthday party. Not a big party, just her parents and brother.
Like most Chinese families, they were close and preferred to celebrate

sped through the Kowloon-Hong Kong tunnel, only slightly over the speed limit,
and then wound up the steep roads of the Peak. She was looking forward to
having a few days off. After three years, she still enjoyed being an air
hostess and liked to travel, but lately the days off had seemed more welcome.

parked next to her father's Honda, grabbed her overnight bag and ran into the

could smell smoke, and as she ran past her father's study, she saw it; curling
out from under the door. She ran on, shouting her father's name.

were in the sitting room. They were hanging in a row by their necks from a
ceiling beam. They were naked, their faces contorted in death. Blood dripped
from her father's chest. Before she passed out, Lucy Kwok Ling Fong
subconsciously noted that a symbol had been carved on it: 14K.

Book 01
Chapter 01

She was
old. Her once-beautiful face radiated pain and grief. Her talon-like fingers
gripped the arms of the wheelchair as she gazed up across the desk at Senator
James S. Grainger. They were in the study of his Denver home.

He gazed
back at her and said quietly, "I know how you feel, Gloria. It's been five
years since Harriet's death, but I know what you're feeling."

nodded her grey, bird-like face vigorously.

you do Jim. And you damned well did something about it ... if the rumours are

inclined his head to acknowledge a point, and then tapped the file in front of
him and said softly and persuasively, "Yes, I had my revenge... but I knew
where to look." He tapped the file again. "But Carole's case is a dead-end.
I used all my influence with State. I even spoke personally to our Ambassador
in Harare. He's a good guy ... a career officer. We give a lot of aid to
Zimbabwe and he was able to get co-operation from the very top, including
Mugabe himself. As you know, their police drew a complete blank. There was no
apparent motive. No robbery or rape. Carole and her friend had been camped at
that site by the Zambezi for three days, so they didn't just stumble across a
bunch of poachers. Unfortunately, there was a rain storm that night and all
tracks were washed away. As you know, Gloria, since the War of Independence
tens of thousands of guns have landed up in that country... I'm afraid it
really is a dead-end. I can't express how bad I feel. I watched Carole grow up.
She was a fine girl ... a credit to you." Jim Grainger was a hard man,
successful in both business and politics. His grey eyes softened as he looked
at the old woman. "You've had some hard knocks, Gloria. Harry, just a
couple of years ago, and now your only child."

fingers gripped the wheelchair more tightly. She spoke harshly. "I don't
give up, Jim. I'm sixty years old and I never give up on anything. If I wasn't
stuck in this goddamned chair with this useless body I'd be down there myself,
looking for the bastard or bastards that did it."

Senator shrugged sympathetically but said nothing.

woman drew a breath and said, "As you know, Harry left me more than
well-off... Not that all those millions do me any good, while I'm stuck in this
goddamned wheelchair."

shrugged and said, "Gloria, I'm helping you for two reasons. First,
because it's my duty to do so, as the senior Senator for Colorado... and you
are one of my constituents. Second, because although Harry and I often head-butted
each other over some business deals, I respected him and counted him as a
friend ... I count my friends on the fingers of one hand."

gave him a thin smile.

guess I'm not one of those fingers, Jim."

nodded and said, "You've always been a straight talker, Gloria, and so
have I. I'd be less than honest if I said that we've got on over the years. You
can be damned abrasive -- and don't pretend that you ever voted for me at any
election in these past twenty years."

shook her head. "I sure didn't, and I won't in future. I think you're too
far to the left for a republican, and always have been."

He shrugged. "I am what I am, Gloria, and thank God there are enough voters
out there who do believe in me." He waved a hand as though to dismiss the
subject. "Anyway, if Harry were alive, I know that he would leave no stone
unturned or no dollar unspent to find Carole's killer or killers, and I guess
you will do the same."

"You're right, Jim. When our Ambassador in Harare came up with a dead-end, I decided to
hire some people to go out there and find out who killed my girl."

Grainger leaned forward and asked, "What kind of people?"

She lifted her right hand and coughed into it. It was a sound like thick paper
being torn. She looked up at him and said, almost defiantly, "Tough
people, Jim. Harry's brother-in-law was a Green Beret in Vietnam. He knows some guys."

The Senator sighed. "Mercenaries, I guess?"

She shrugged. "I guess so ... For sure they don't come cheap."

He sighed again and his voice took on an edge of authority. "Listen to me,
Gloria and listen good because I know about these things. It cost me a lot of
money to learn the hard way. First of all, American mercenaries know very
little about Africa, especially that part of Africa. You'll be wasting your money."

Very coldly, the old woman answered, "So I do nothing? Is that your advice?"

Her eyes narrowed as she watched his face. He was slowly shaking his head. He was
deep in thought. She waited impatiently. Then she saw him nodding and, as
though to himself, he said, "There is a man. He is American. He is a mercenary."

"He knows Africa?" she asked.

He continued nodding. "Oh, yes. He knows Africa like you know your backyard."

"His name?"

A single word rolled pleasantly from the Senator's lips: "Creasy."

They went out to the garden and moved slowly around the large, oval pool, the
Senator pushing the wheelchair. A black Doberman bitch ambled alongside.

Grainger quietly explained. "I first met Creasy in this house. It was a couple of
months after Harriet had been killed in Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie. I came home
late one night from a government dinner. I was a bit drunk. I found this big
guy dressed in black sitting at the bar, drinking my best vodka."

The old woman twisted her head to look up at him. She asked, "How did he get past
the dog and the alarms and your manservant?"

Grainger chuckled quietly. "He put a tranquillising dart into Jess here and then
another one into my man-servant. Before he left, he advised me on how to make
my alarm system more efficient."

"What did he want?"

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