Really? he said, though he knew what she meant. Like theyre living in their own little compound, surrounded by barbed wire. They pretend theyre keeping everyone out, when in fact theyre locked in.
It was a nice way to put it, and it made him think of Tom Graingers delusions of empireRoman outposts in hostile lands. Once they hit the A1 heading southwest, Angela got back to business. Tom fill you in on everything?
Not much. Can I get one of those smokes?
Not in the car.
Tell me what you know, and Ill fill in the rest.
Thick forests passed them, pines flickering by as he outlined his brief conversation with Grainger. He says your Frank Dawdle was sent down here to deliver a briefcase full of money. He didnt say how much.
She nodded at the road.
Charles continued: He was last seen at the Hotel Metropolin Portoro by Slovenian intelligence. In his room. Then he disappeared. He waited for her to fill the numerous blank spots in that story line. All she did was drive in her steady, safe way. Want to tell me more? Like, who the money was for?
Angela tilted her head from side to side, but instead of answering she turned on the radio. It was preset to a station shed found during her long drive from Vienna. Slovenian pop. Terrible stuff. And maybe you can tell me why we had to learn his last whereabouts from the SOVA, and not from our own people.
As if hed said nothing, she cranked the volume, and boy-band harmonies filled the car. Finally, she started to speak, and Charles had to lean close, over the stick shift, to hear.
Im not sure who the orders started with, but they reached us through New York. Toms office. He chose Frank for obvious reasons. Old- timer with a spotless record. No signs of ambition. No drinking problems, nothing to be compromised. He was someone they could trust with three million. More importantly, hes familiar here. If the Slovenes saw him floating around the resort, thered be no suspicions. He vacations in Portoro every summer, speaks fluent Slovene. She grunted a half-laugh. He even stopped to chat with them. Did Tom tell you that? The day he arrived, he saw a SOVA agent in a gift shop and bought him a little toy sailboat. Franks like that.
I like his style.
Angelas look suggested he was being inappropriately ironic. It was supposed to be simple as pie. Frank takes the money down to the harbor on Saturdaytwo days agoand does a straight phrasecode pass- off. Just hands over the briefcase. In return, he gets an address. He goes to a pay phone, calls me in Vienna, and reads off the address. Then he drives back home.
The song ended, and a young DJ shouted in Slovenian about the hot- hot- hot band hed just played as he mixed in the intro to the next tune, a sugar- sweet ballad.
Why wasnt someone backing him up?
Someone was, she said, spying the rearview. Leo Bernard. You met him in Munich, remember? Couple of years ago.
Charles remembered a hulk of a man from Pennsylvania. In Munich, Leo had been their tough- guy backup during an operation with the German BND against an Egyptian heroin racket. Theyd never had to put Leos fighting skills to the test, but it had given Charles a mea sure of comfort knowing the big man was available. Yeah. Leo was funny.
Well, hes dead, said Angela, again glancing into the rearview. In his hotel room, a floor above Franks. Nine millimeter. She swallowed. From his own gun, we think, though we cant find the weapon itself.
Excerpted from The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer. Copyright © 2009 by Olen Steinhauer. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur, a division of Macmillan, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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