“WHEN SHE WAS TAKEN FROM HIM HE WENT AFTER HER AND SEALED HER FATE – HIS TOO
Racked by guilt over his accidental killing of a young Italian girl, contract killer André Warner has effectively retired himself from his ‘profession’ and taken to drink and other palliatives, while sinking slowly into a mire of depression.
A contract in Tangier to assassinate an Arab drug trafficker lures him out of retirement and self-pity. Soon after his arrival he encounters attractive American widow, Clair Power, and her precocious sixteen year-old daughter, Lizzy, who bears such a striking resemblance to the girl Warner killed that his waning anguish is instantly rekindled. He attempts to assuage it by embarking on a fling with Clair which brings him into conflict with a mysterious Dutchman named Rik de Bruin, who also appears to have designs on her.
The contract on the drug merchant is cancelled with no explanation given, but Warner, now seriously involved with Clair, is more relieved than disappointed. Their budding romance is not destined to blossom however. Clair disappears and Warner is landed with the role of de facto guardian to Lizzy.
In tracking down Clair, Warner crosses a line that brings him into conflict with the local police and he is deported from Tangier with a distraught Lizzy in tow. Back at his Andorra villa she slowly recovers from her mother’s disappearance and launches an assault on Warner’s good intentions. Her increasingly provocative behavior disturbs yet excites him, and when Rik de Bruin pitches up in Andorra and begins to take an interest in Lizzy too, Warner gets possessive the only way he knows.
Too late, alas, to save Lizzy from an unspeakable fate.”
I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the I Kill blog tour. I Kill is book two in the Andre Warner, Manhunter series written by author Lex Lander. I read and reviewed the first book, End As An Assassin back in May 2016. If you would like to read my review then click here.
Today I have an extract from I Kill to share with you. I will be reviewing I Kill at a later date on the blog so keep an eye out for that.
The waiter deposited my espresso before me. I was tearing the top off a sachet of sugar when the tall woman emerged from the hotel interior and crossed the terrace. She had good carriage – shoulders well back, pelvis thrust forward, projecting a feline self-assurance that complemented her height.
Passing close to my table she glanced sideways, and I raised my coffee cup in homage.
Her jaw dropped slightly as she slowed.
‘I … beg your pardon?’ ‘
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interfere. You looked to be in difficulty.’
‘Oh, that.’ Her frown lasted only a moment or two before clearing. ‘Aah, I see. It was you who sent that hotel bouncer to my rescue, wasn’t it? I guess I should thank you.’ Only guessed? It sounded grudging.
‘Not unless I did the right thing.’ I smiled apologetically, hoping to put her at ease. ‘If I acted out of line, I’m sorry.’
‘No … it’s not that …’ She came closer, a diffident sidle. ‘May I sit down?’
‘Be my guest.’ I got to my feet, pulled out a chair. ‘Shall I order some coffee?’
‘Oh, er … yes, why not? And could you get a Pepsi or something for my daughter? She’ll be along in a sec.’ She sat cautiously, as if she expected the chair to be booby trapped. ‘I’ll pay, of course.’
‘My name’s Alan Melville,’ I said, as I resumed my seat. The pseudonym slid glibly enough off my tongue. So often did I travel under false identities that at times André Warner seemed to be another person altogether.
We shook hands across the table. Hers was cool in both senses. Her fingernails were painted silver, I noticed.
‘Clair Power,’ she said. The waiter cruised over, took our order without a break in his stride, and carried on to the far side of the terrace to serve some new arrivals.
‘Pretty efficient here, aren’t they?’ I said, making small talk the way you do with a stranger, marking time to see how the land lay.
‘Mmm,’ she said with a little nod. ‘I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Not that we spend much time in the hotel, we’re mostly out sightseeing. We may not get another chance for a long time.’
She fluffed up her short brown hair and leaned back, taking stock of our surroundings, while I took stock of her. She was worth the effort. Her age I put at mid-thirties. In her sexual prime and not bad in the looks department, with her deep-set, blue-green eyes, small soft mouth, and sophisticated veneer. There were some fine lines in the usual places, but these only served to augment her appeal. The impression was of a woman who experienced the pluses and minuses of life.
In a corner of the terrace was a grotto with a waterfall at which tiny birds came to bathe. She was looking that way now, and the dance and sparkle of the water lit up her solemn gaze.
‘Is there just you and your daughter, Mrs Power?’ I asked. It was another way of asking if a husband was in the vicinity, and is the sort of question that sets alarm bells jangling inside most unattached women. In this regard Clair Power was true to her sex. Her appraisal, before replying, was shrewd, penetrating, yet far from hostile. A weighing of motives perhaps.
‘If you mean is my husband with us,’ she said at last, ‘the answer is no. Actually, he’s … well, I’m a widow.’
I made commiserating noises.
‘It’s okay. It happened two years ago. I guess I’m over it.’
‘No other children?’ I asked, more to get onto another topic than out of curiosity about the extent of her brood.
‘No. Only Elizabeth.’
Coffee and a tall Pepsi with two bendy straws were set down on our table. I gave the waiter my room number and slipped him a twenty-dirham note that almost fell apart as he took it. Most of the local currency was in an advanced state of decay.
‘You’re a long way from home, Mrs Power.’ Keeping the conversation in motion was becoming a struggle.
‘Clair,’ she corrected distantly as she stirred her unsweetened coffee, worrying at her lower lip. As the silence lengthened and I was mentally seeking a suitable platitude with which to break it, she blurted, ‘Look, I’m sorry if I seem uncommunicative. I just wasn’t sure if I should say anything. Anyhow … here goes. That man you saw us with upstairs has been bothering me ever since we got here.’
‘Really?’ I didn’t ask her to elaborate, just left an opening in case she wanted to.
‘Yes. He … oh, you know … keeps asking me out. He even got my cell number from somewhere, and keeps calling me. He even suggested we move out of the hotel and be his house guests.’ She snorted nervously. ‘You can imagine what for, I suppose.’
A red-blooded male behaving like a red-blooded male, was my silent opinion. The opinion I diplomatically expressed was, ‘A visit sounds harmless enough. Especially if he’s invited both of you. He can hardly, er … misbehave while your daughter’s around.’
She sawed some more at her bottom lip. ‘But why won’t he take no for an answer? Why so persistent? Every day, without fail, he pounces on me from … from nowhere. It’s like being ambushed.’ She shuddered. ‘I’ve nothing against him as a person. I barely know him, only that his name’s Henrik de Bruin, though he calls himself Rik. Oh, and he lives in Holland, and he’s not short of money. I’m not off men altogether. It’s just him. I have a bad feeling about him.’ She shot me a hard look, as if wondering why she was exposing her soul to a stranger.
British-born thriller writer Lex Lander was raised in France, earned his degree in French and Italian in New Zealand and currently lives in Montreal. Lander is the author of political thriller ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER JACKAL, published by Kaybec in 2013. Vol III in the series, THE MAN WHO HUNTED HIMSELF, will be published by Kaybec in the autumn. The first two volumes in the André Warner series, END AS AN ASSASSIN and I KILL by Lex Lander (published by Kaybec 1st May 2016) are available to buy online from retailers including amazon.co.uk. and all good bookstores including WHSmiths.