Saturday, 6 October 2012

Excerpt from The Oligarch: A Thriller (by G W Eccles)

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In THE OLIGARCH: A THRILLER an American journalist is the whistleblower who alerts the Russian President to a terrorist plot connected with Tyndersk Metals, a massive Siberian mining concerned owned by Blok, the oligarch. In the excerpt that follows, the terrorists move to silence the journalist:

A couple came in, ordered a drink and sauntered over to watch the pool tables. For a few minutes they chatted amongst themselves, occasionally breaking off to applaud a good shot, then the man placed a coin on the edge of one of the tables to reserve his turn. His companion slipped away and speed-dialled a number on her mobile.
“Everything ready?” she asked, her voice barely audible over the music. “Good, then put her on the line. I’m going to pass him the phone now.”
Casually she sidled over to the journalist's driver and took a seat opposite. When he looked up quizzically, she raised a finger to her lips. “Don’t say anything,” she breathed. “Just listen.” She held out her mobile and watched his face contort as he listened.
“W-where are you?” he stuttered anxiously into the mouthpiece.
Before anyone could answer, Nadia snatched the phone away and fixed him in her hunter’s eyes. A thin veil of sweat was forming on his brow, and he wiped it with his sleeve. Then he gave her a frightened look that asked what was going on.
“Tell me what I want to know,” Nadia said, “and nothing happens to your wife.”
The driver’s eyes darted around the room, searching for help that wasn’t coming, then he shrank back limply into his seat, all resistance gone. “Anything. Just don’t hurt her,” he pleaded.
“What time are you picking up your boss?”
“Seven.”
“From his office?”
The man nodded.
“Alone?”
He shook his head. “The FSB’s guarding him.”
“How many?”
“Two.”
Nadia studied his face for a moment, assessing his veracity, then rested a hand reassuringly upon his. “Thank you,” she mouthed.
She looked up and gave a slight nod. A split second later, a thin blade pierced the driver’s skull just below the ear, passing into his brain. Murat eased him against the wall as Nadia slipped in next to him and rifled his pockets for the car key.
Outside, she pressed ‘Redial’. “OK, we’ve got it. Kill the woman and join us in the car park.”

***************

A red Daewoo pulled up by the curb near the main entrance of the Moskovskaya Pravda complex. An unprepossessing building of the Soviet era, it was now rather dilapidated with cracks in the masonry and paint peeling from its walls. A golden sign fixed by the door stated that these were the offices of Novaya Gazeta, Moscow’s bi-weekly newspaper. The driver turned off the engine and waited.
Murat was positioned inside the double doors, holding a copy of the latest edition, his eyes focussed over its top on the lobby. Outside, Nadia studied a weather-beaten poster protesting the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the anti-government journalist who had worked for the newspaper until she’d been gunned down in the lift of her apartment block.
A GAI, a Moscow traffic warden, tapped on the car window and told the driver to move on. Nadia moved closer as the driver slipped a note into his palm, explaining that he was waiting for his boss. The warden made a show of inspecting his identity papers, then handed them back and tapped the watch on his wrist. “Ten minutes, understand?” he said. “Then I want you gone.”
As he walked away, she caught the driver’s eye and nodded in acknowledgement before resuming her position.
Two men appeared in the lobby. Murat came out and dropped his newspaper into the bin. Nadia understood the sign and readied herself.
A moment later, the two FSB agents swept outside and surveyed the street, then one of them darted back inside. He re-emerged with another man whom she recognised immediately. As they escorted him to the car, Nadia and Murat moved in. Simultaneously they fired a bullet into the back of each agent’s head, shoved their target onto the rear seat and jumped in either side.
   
**************

The Mi-8 helicopter took off from Nazran airport, swept an arc over the Sunzha river and headed South-East across the outskirts of the former capital. Great plains of fertile land stretched ahead, the grid pattern of neat, ploughed fields punctuated here and there by isolated farming villages and dense clusters of beech woods. In the distance, the bleak snow-capped mountains of the Tsoreilam loomed uninvitingly. Nadia leant back against the hull and closed her eyes. Her whole body felt strung out from the adrenaline rush of the Moscow mission. She shivered and pulled the blanket tighter around her.
An hour later, the helicopter banked hard to the left. Steadying herself with the overhead rail, she made her way up to the cockpit. As they sliced low across the valley, she could just make out the outline of their training camp in the distance. On either side snow crowned the mountains, but the valley basin itself was still lush and green. All this, she knew, would change in less than a month when the heavy snows came, but by then they’d be gone.
Men clad in combat fatigues emerged from grey stone huts as they approached and swarmed around a helipad painted on the grass. A raucous cheer went up when the helicopter touched down. As Murat swung open the door and Nadia jumped down, Andrei, her deputy, made his way through the throng. A burly man with a short, thick beard, he touched the rim of his kufi cap. “Well done. Any problems?"
“Just one.” She thumbed behind her. “Tied up in there. Lock him away, we’ll deal with him in the morning.”


About the author
G W Eccles lived in Russia and Central Asia for ten years during the tumultuous period that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. Deeply immersed in Moscow's business world, his work brought him into regular contact with the murky world of real life oligarchs as they struggled to get to grips with the fallout of Yeltsin's controversial 'loans for shares' scheme. He now lives in the South of France.

Synopsis of The Oligarch: A thriller

Following his controversial election for a third term amid widespread protests and allegations of vote rigging, the Russian President is determined to destroy the oligarchs before they destroy him. When the global economic meltdown decimates their wealth, the President seizes this chance to demolish their power base. His greatest opponent - Anton Blok, owner of the mighty Tyndersk Kombinat - has a secret agenda and faces far more than just financial ruin as his empire threatens to fall apart, and the President knows that his old enemy will stop at nothing to avoid catastrophe.  With battlelines drawn, he turns to Alex Leksin, a British business troubleshooter of Russian descent, to thwart Blok's plans. Against the challenge of hostile Arctic conditions, Leksin must tread a dangerous path through a labyrinth of corruption, terrorism and obfuscation until the exciting and unexpected denouement takes place in Russia’s northernmost seaport. Set in Moscow, Ingushetia (Chechnya’s neighbour), and Tyndersk, a Siberian mining town inside the Arctic Circle and geographically cut off from the rest of Russia, the plot twists and turns within an authentic and disturbing background.

THE OLIGARCH: A THRILLER is available from Foyles, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all other major online book stores. The Amazon link is: Kindle . Links to other stores can be found on the Oligarch website.

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