Synopses & Reviews
Chapter OneAs he opened the door the alarm went off.
The sort of mistake you would expect an amateur to make, which was surprising, since Connor Fitzgerald was considered by his peers to be the professional's professional.
Fitzgerald had anticipated that it would be several minutes before the local policia responded to a burglary in the San Victorina district.
There were still a couple of hours to go before the kickoff of the annual match against Brazil, but half the television sets in Colombia would already be switched on. If Fitzgerald had broken into the pawnshop after the gamehad started, the policia probably wouldn't have followed it up until the referee had blown the final whistle. It was well known that the local criminals regarded the match as a ninety-minute parole period. But his plans for that ninety minutes would have the policia chasing their own shadows for days. And it would be weeks, probably months, before anyone worked out the real significance of the break-in that Saturday afternoon.
The alarm was still sounding as Fitzgerald closed the back door and made his way quickly through the small storeroom toward the front of the shop. He ignored the rows of watches on their little stands, emeralds in their cellophane bags, and gold objects of every size and shape displayed behind a fine-mesh grille. All were carefully marked with a name and date, so theirimpoverished owners could return within six months and reclaim their familyheirlooms. Few ever did.
Fitzgerald swept aside the bead curtain that divided the storeroom fromthe shop, and paused behind the counter. His eyes rested on a battered leathercase on a stand in the center of the window. Printed on thelid in fadedgold letters were the initials DVR. He remained absolutely still until hewas certain that no one was looking in.
When Fitzgerald had sold the handcrafted masterpiece to the shopkeeper earlierthat day, he had explained that as he had no intention of returning to Bogota, it could go on sale immediately. Fitzgerald was not surprised that the piecehad already been placed in the window. There wouldn't be another one likeit in Colombia.
He was about to climb over the counter when a young man strolled past thewindow. Fitzgerald froze, but the man's attention was wholly occupied bya small radio he was pressing to his left ear. He took about as much noticeof Fitzgerald as he would of a dressmaker's dummy. Once he was out of sight, Fitzgerald straddled the counter and walked to the window. He glanced upand down the road to check for any casual observers, but there were none.With one movement he removed the leather case from its stand and walkedquickly back. He leapt over the counter and turned to look out of the windowagain to reassure himself that no inquisitive eyes had witnessed the burglary.
Fitzgerald swung around, pulled aside the bead curtain and strode on towardthe closed door. He checked his watch. The alarm had been blaring away forninety-eight seconds. He stepped into the alley and listened. Had he heardthe whine of a police siren, he would have turned left and disappeared intothe maze of streets that ran behind the pawnbroker's shop. But apart fromthe alarm, everything remained silent. He turned right and walked casuallyin the direction of Carrera Septima.
When Connor Fitzgerald reached the pavement he glanced left and then right, wove through the light trafficand, without looking back, crossed to thefar side of the street. He disappeared into a crowded restaurant, wherea group of noisy fans were seated around a large-screen television.
Nobody gave him a glance. Their only interest was in watching endless replaysof the three goals Colombia had scored the previous year. He took a seatat a corner table. Although he couldn't see the television screen clearly, he had a perfect view across the street. A battered sign with the wordsj. escobar. monte de piedad, establecido 1946, flapped in the afternoonbreeze above the pawnshop.
Several minutes passed before a police car screeched to a halt outside theshop. Once Fitzgerald had seen the two uniformed officers enter the building, he left his table and walked nonchalantly out of the back door onto anotherquiet Saturday-afternoon street. He hailed the first empty taxi and saidin a broad South African accent, "El Belvedere on the Plaza de Bolivar, por favor." The driver nodded curtly, as if to make it clear that hehad no wish to become involved in a prolonged conversation. As Fitzgeraldslumped into the back of the battered yellow cab, he turned up the radio.
Fitzgerald checked his watch again. Seventeen minutes past one. He was runninga couple of minutes behind schedule. The speech would have already begun, but as they always lasted for well over forty minutes, he still had morethan enough time to carry out his real reason for being in Bogota. He moveda few inches to his right, so as to be sure the driver could see him clearlyin the rearview mirror.
Once the policia began their investigations, Fitzgerald needed everyonewho had seen him that day to give roughly the same description: male,Caucasian, fiftyish, a shade over six feet, around 210 pounds, unshaven, dark unrulyhair, dressed like a foreigner, with a foreign accent, but not American.He hoped that at least one of them would be able to identify the South Africannasal twang. Fitzgerald had always been good at accents. In high schoolhe had regularly been in trouble for mimicking his teachers.
The taxi's radio continued to pump out the views of expert after experton the likely outcome of the annual fixture. Fitzgerald mentally switchedoff from a language he had little interest in mastering, although he hadrecently added falta, fuera, and gol to his limited vocabulary.
The Eleventh Commandment.
Connor Fitzgerald is a professional's professional. Holder of the Medal of Honor. Devoted family man. Servant of his country. CIA assassin. Days before his retirement from the Company, Fitzgerald comes face to face with an enemy who, for the first time, even he cannot handle--his own boss, Helen Dexter, Director of the CIA. Thou Shalt Not Be Caught.
But Dexter's stranglehold on the agency is threatened by a power greater than her own, and her only hope is to destroy Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a new threat to national security is emerging: a ruthless hardline Russian president who is determined to force a military confrontation between the two superpowers. It's up to the intrepid Fitzgerald to pull off his most daring mission yet--save the world.and his own life.
About the Author
Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University, where as a world-class sprinter he represented Great Britain in international competition. He became the youngest member of the House of Commons in 1969, was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1985, and was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992. All of his story collections and novels -- from 1974's Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less to 1993's Honor Among Thieves -- have been international bestsellers. Mr. Archer is married, has two children, and lives in Cambridge, England.