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Berlin

Luke Richardson

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Epilogue

What happened in Koh Tao?

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New York - Chapter 1

New York - Chapter 2

New York - Chapter 3

1

Keal knew there was nothing like the kiss of a pistol in the night. The cold pressure of the exterminating snout against your forehead. He recognised it instantly, even before opening his eyes.

What joker is this? He thought. Probably some hoodlums from Marzhan who’ve seen the Porsche outside and decided to try their luck. Fair enough. Keal smiled to himself. It was a nice car. Let them try. They wouldn’t get far once they realised who he was.

With his eyes closed, Keal listened to the room around him. How many of these ukolovs were there? More than one, surely.

Footsteps shuffled and squeaked across the wooden floor by the door. So, there must be two men at least. That was sensible of them. If this pridurok was alone, then holding the gun to Keal’s face would be his last act on this earth.

Keal heard the fridge click and begin to rumble. They must have left the door through to the kitchen open. The thudding engine of a motorbike passed in the street and then faded back into the city. It sounded distant, which meant the apartment door was shut. That was the right thing for them to do; they wouldn’t want a show like this to get interrupted before the interval. Ten out of ten so far.

Keal could tell quite a lot about a man by the way he held his gun. Inexperienced wide-boys tended to jab the weapon at their opponents as though it was some kind of bayonet. As though the tip itself was going to cause them damage. Keal knew that wasn’t the way to do it. A gun in a play for power was like a delicate spice. You used it carefully to bring the dish alive. This guy, Keal realised, knew that too. The cold ring of the snout was pressed lightly against his head. Just enough to let him know it was there. Not enough to put pressure on the holder’s forearm. The hand was steady and firm too. That was good, for his opponent at least.

And if Keal wasn’t mistaken — he concentrated now — the business end of the gun was thicker than usual. This man was using a silencer. The Cold War had finished a long time ago. Nowadays, gunshots drew attention. Keal knew this more than most.

Keal exhaled slowly. They were doing well but had made one fatal error. Their choice of target. Did they not know who Keal was? Were they that yeblya stupid they thought they could rob one of Olezka Ivankov’s men and get away with it?

Just a small-time crook as the wall fell, Olezka used the country’s reunification to set himself up. While others were celebrating their newfound unity, Olezka was establishing trade lines with the Russian Bratva, South American Cartels and organised criminals all across Europe. It was fair to say, now thirty years on, very little criminal activity happened in Berlin that he didn’t know something about. And the Vor v Zakone — the kingpin — was ruthless. Anyone who got in his way was found floating in the Spree. Keal had dumped more bodies than he could count beneath its murky water over the last fifteen years. He and Olezka were close. These little idiots could have their fun now, but it wouldn’t last long.

The woman beside Keal exhaled and rolled over, dragging her hand from where it had rested on his stomach. Her dark hair fanned out on the pillow behind her. Keal quelled a fleeting shard of worry — she didn’t matter. He wasn’t sure he could remember her name anyway.

It had been a fun night. Women enjoyed a man with a lot of money and recreational drugs — and Keal enjoyed the women. Sure, he’d paid this one, but that was all part of the fun.

He thought about the bottle of whiskey on the bedside table. He would have a swig as soon as he’d dealt with these idiots.

Right, Keal thought, preparing to open his eyes. Let’s see what these priduroks have got to say.

“After all these years you thought you could rob from me?” came the voice, as though answering his thoughts. Keal’s breath caught in his throat, and his eyes shot open. The room was gloomy. Shards of orange light streamed through the blind and cast horizontal bars on the floor. By this light, Keal’s worst suspicions were confirmed.

“Olezka,” Keal said, his mouth suddenly dry. “What are you —”

“Shut up,” Olezka replied, his voice gravelly. “Get up. We’re going for a drive.”

2

“The night is always darker in the East.”

The usual cigarette-fuelled Russian accent was closer than he expected. Its warmth grazed his cheek.

“But you’ve never seen rain like we get in the West.”

He gave the planned reply. The expected reply. It sounded futile against the techno beat from the nightclub’s dancefloor. The thud rattled and groaned through the thick curtain that kept the light at bay. In a way, it was all futile. He knew that. But this was his last chance. His last and only chance.

He could smell the other man in the darkness. He was sure of it. The thick, pungent scent of tobacco and the sweet tang of vodka. Had his sense of smell become more defined after just a few minutes in complete darkness? Or

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