Authors: Noel Hynd
Tags: #Mystery, #Fiction - Espionage, #Americans - Egypt, #Egypt, #Suspense, #Crime & Thriller, #Conspiracies, #Suspense Fiction, #United States - Officials and employees, #Fiction, #Thriller, #Americans, #Cairo (Egypt), #American Mystery & Suspense Fiction
Also in the Russian Trilogy Series
Conspiracy in Kiev
Midnight in Madrid
Countdown in Cairo
Copyright © 2009 by Noel Hynd
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ePub Edition November 2009 ISBN: 978-0-310-56101-9
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Countdown in Cairo / Noel Hynd.
p. cm.—(The Russian trilogy ; 3)
ISBN 978-0-310-27873-3 (softcover)
1. United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation—Officials and employees—Fiction. 2. Americans—Egypt—Fiction. 3. Cairo (Egypt)—Fiction. 4. Conspiracies—Fiction. I. Title.
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Cover design: Laura Maitner-Mason
Interior design: Christine Orejuela-Winkelman
For Andy Meisenheimer and Bob Hudson at Zondervan.
Thanks, guys. Let’s do three more.
Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.
Beware: Some liars tell the truth!
Ancient Arab proverb
On a scorching afternoon, a few kilometers south of Cairo, a black bullet-resistant Land Rover pulled to an abrupt halt in front of the wide glass doors that marked the entrance to the Islamic morgue in the “new city” of Bahjat al-Jaafari. The morgue was a loathsome place, filled with the messy ugly detritus of death: foul stench and raw misery, oppressive heat and the sounds of unvarnished mourning; the cries of relatives and friends echoing down the narrow fetid corridors. It was in a separate wing of the pale redbrick medical center where the local police and doctors kept their records. So many dead bodies arrived here daily that piles of human remains were stacked on top of each other, separated by canvas wrappings or stained linen sheets. The morgue was located next to the hospital emergency room. The distinction was vague.
The vehicle was a relatively recent model, though not without its share of dents, and had a license plate that said it was on official business. It began and ended with robust, combative bumpers and spiked hubs that looked like weapons from a Bond film. Its windows were made of thick tinted glass, three radio antennas pierced the air, and there were enough red and blue lights on the dashboard to mark the runway of an airport.
Three men jumped out, almost before the vehicle had stopped rolling. One was Gian Antonio Rizzo, an Italian in a suit, reflective sunglasses, and a grim face. He carried his jacket over his arm, revealing an automatic pistol on his belt. Rizzo was on a black assignment from the Americans, though he would never admit that he worked for them. He still carried the documents of the Italian intelligence service, the
Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare
, and actually did drop by their offices a few times a year.
The second man was a metropolitan Cairo policeman named Colonel Amjad, a pudgy but muscular man with a moustache and dark glasses. The third was an adjunct officer named Ghalid Nasri from the US Embassy in Cairo. Ghalid was acting as an intermediary—a diplomatic liaison and an interpreter for the haggard Rizzo—and was trying not to get shot while doing it. Both men carried pistols under their outer garments, as did their driver. They were all in that line of work.
The “new city” of Bahjat al-Jaafari had been built after the Six Day War of 1973, so it was now old enough to have fallen into decay. Gangs and death squads roamed its streets and the endless dunes of the desert beyond, areas that were supposed to be under the control of the central government in Cairo but were not. The area was in anarchy, and the anarchy went unnoticed until it touched upon Western visitors, who were frequent victims if they wandered off the tourist paths. Even then, however, as long as the bulk of the tourists kept coming, the dead did not count. An old Egyptian proverb has it that the dead have no voice, and this was never truer than here.