Authors: David Morrell
“THE WORK IS SUCH AN INSPIRED AND ACCOMPLISHED ONE THAT IT EVEN EVOKES THE BEST WORKS OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY AND GRAHAM GREENE Looking for an explosive action thriller? Or a literary tome with emotional depth and perfect prose? David Morrells latest will satisfy both tastes and then some. The bestselling author has always combined literature with entertainment to create highly rewarding novels. But in EXTREME DENIAL he hones his special skill to dazzling perfection.”
PRAISE FOR DAVID MORRELL AND
“SEX, SPIES, AND TWISTY PLOT LINES . . . dazzlingly clever . . . expertly paced.”
“RAW EXUBERANCE . . . Morrell [is] in good form. . . . Those who want straight action will find their dreams answered.”
“A POWERHOUSE THRILLER . . . SHEER STORYTELLING EXCITEMENT . . . [Morrell] has not lost his touch.”
“THOSE WITH AN APPETITE FOR THRILLERS, INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE, AND MYSTERY SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR DAVID MORRELL’S NEWEST,
“EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. . . . Romance, sex, violence, deception, intrigue, and characters who are bigger than life. ... A step above the rest of the suspense genre.”
—Rocky Mountain News
“A SPIRITED THRILLER . . . Morrell deserves high marks in the espionage genre. Recommended.”
“LOVERS OF COMPLEX PLOTS AND SEAMLESS ACTION WILL APPRECIATE
. . . David Morrell, known to discriminating suspense readers as the author of
The Brotherhood of the Rose
. . . returns to form.”
“TAUT . . . RELENTLESS...Morrell’s talent for nail-biting thrillers moves up a notch with his latest offering . . . a solid thriller with plenty of surprises and plot twists.”
—Copley News Service
“MORRELL DELIVERS—AND DOES IT VERY, VERY WELL.” —
“MORRELL STANDS HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE MOST OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES.”
“THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR AGAIN BALANCES PULSE-POUNDING THRILLS AND SUSPENSE WITH EMOTIONAL COMPLEXITY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL INSIGHT TO CREATE A COMPELLING STORY.”
—Sullivan County Democrat
“FAST, FUN, AND MORE THAN A LITTLE SCARY. . . . MORRELL MAY HAVE TOPPED HIMSELF WITH
. . . Reads like a rollercoaster ride . . . the characters are multidimensional figures . . .
is as much a love story as it is a blood-and-guts adventure.”
“MORRELL IS A MASTER.”
“THE ABSOLUTE MASTER. . . . The craftsman so many of us look to for guidance.”
—Andrew Vachss, author of
Batman™ The Ultimate Evil
“DAVID MORRELL IS A MASTER OF SUSPENSE. He wields it like a stiletto—knows just where to stick it and how to turn it. If you’re reading Morrell, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat.”
—Michael Connelly, author of
The Concrete Blonde
The Hundred-Year Christmas
The Brotherhood of the Rose
Rambo (First Blood Part II)
The Fraternity of the Stone
The League of Night and Fog
The Fifth Profession
The Covenant of the Flame
The Totem (complete and unaltered)
John Bartb: An Introduction
*Limited edition with illustrations.
Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.
SCHOOLS AND CORPORATIONS
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If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher. In such case neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
WARNER BOOKS EDITION
Copyright © 1996 by Morrell Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Cover design and illustration by Tony Greco Author photograph by Karen Villanueva
Warner Books, Inc.
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A Time Warner Company
Printed in the United States of America
Originally published in hardcover by Warner Books. First International Paperback Printing: December, 19! First U.S. Paperback Printing: April, 1997
This book is for Richard Schoegler
and Elizabeth Gutierrez,
who introduced us to the City Different
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Denial is not a river in Egypt.
Decker told the Italian immigration official that he had come on business.
“Corporate real estate.”
“The length of your visit?”
The official stamped Decker’s passport.
He carried his suitcase from Leonardo da Vinci Airport, and although it would have been simple to make arrangements for someone to meet him, he preferred to travel the twenty-six kilometers into Rome by bus. When the bus became mired in predictably dense midcity traffic, he asked the driver to let him off, then waited for the bus to proceed, satisfying himself that no one had gotten off after him. He went into the underground, chose a train at random, rode to the next stop, returned to the streets, and hailed a taxi. Ten minutes later, he left the taxi and went back to the underground, took a train to the next stop, and hailed another taxi, this time telling the driver to take him to the Pantheon. His actual destination was a hotel five blocks from there. The precautions were possibly needless, but Decker was convinced that he had stayed alive as long as he had by virtue of being indirect The trouble was that the effort was wearing him down. Staying alive wasn’t the same as living, he had decided. Tomorrow, Saturday, would be his fortieth birthday, and of late, he had become uncomfortably aware of the passage of time. Wife, children, a home—he had none of these. He traveled a lot, but he always felt apart from wherever he was. He had few friends and seldom saw them. What his life came down to was his profession. That wasn’t good enough anymore.
As soon as he checked into his hotel, which had pillars and plush carpets, he fought jet lag by showering and putting on fresh clothes. Sneakers, jeans, a denim shirt, and a blue blazer were appropriate for a mild June day in Rome. They were also what a lot of other American male tourists his age were wearing and would keep him from attracting attention. He left the hotel, blended with pedestrians, and walked along busy streets for half an hour, doing his best to make certain that he wasn’t being followed. He reached the most congested area of Rome, the Piazza Venezia, where the main streets of the city came together. The din of a traffic jam provided background noise as he used a public telephone.
“Hello,” a male voice answered.
“Is this Anatole?” Decker asked in Italian.
“Never heard of him.”
“But he told me he’d be at this number.” Decker gave a number that was different from the one he had used.
“The last two digits are wrong. This is five seven.” The connection was broken.
Decker replaced the phone, checked that no one was watching him, and melded with the crowd. So far no problem. By mentioning specific numbers, the voice was telling Decker to come ahead. But if the voice had told him, “You’re wrong,” the message would have been to stay away because
The apartment, near Via Salaria, was three flights up, not too fancy, not too plain.
“How was the flight?” the occupant asked. His voice, with a slight New England accent, sounded the same as the one on the phone.
Decker shrugged and glanced around at the modest furniture. “You know the old joke, The best kind is the kind you walk away from.” He completed the recognition code. “I slept through most of it.”
“So you don’t feel jet lag.”
Decker shook his head.
“You don’t need a nap.”
Decker inwardly came to attention. Why is this guy making an issue of jet lag? A nap? Is there a reason he doesn’t want me with him for the rest of the day?