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Authors: Adrian Magson

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BOOK: Deception
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A Selection of Recent Titles by Adrian Magson

The Harry Tate Thrillers




The Riley Gavin and Frank Palmer Series






available from Severn House


A Harry Tate Thriller

Adrian Magson
This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

First world edition published 2012

in Great Britain and in the USA by


9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

Copyright © 2012 by Adrian Magson.

All rights reserved.

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Magson, Adrian.

Deception. – (A Harry Tate thriller)

1. Tate, Harry (Fictitious character) – Fiction.

2. Intelligence officers – Fiction. 3. Great Britain. MI6 –

Fiction. 4. Great Britain. Army. Royal Logistic Corps –

Fiction. 5. Military deserters – Fiction. 6. Suspense


I. Title II. Series


ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-203-0 (ePub)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8130-4 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-409-7 (trade paper)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being

described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this

publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons

is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

For Ann, who, in the heat of battle, has to put up with the
thousand-yard stares and the questions not always receiving
immediate answers. I'm right here.


ith thanks as always to the wonderful Kate Lyall Grant, James, Michelle, Edwin and the whole team at Severn House, for turning my words into a complete book; to my agent, David Headley, for his help, energy and enthusiasm; to M, K, and W, who prefer to remain anonymous, and the team at Brackley Fire Station, for their kind advice.


hree minutes to landing.
' The pilot's Texan accent sounded terse through the comms unit. ‘
Three minutes.

Roger that. Three
,' echoed the crewman on the port side M60 door gun. He lifted his chin at former MI5 officer Harry Tate, who nodded to show he'd got the message. The crewman on the opposite gun flicked a hand in acknowledgement, busy scanning the gathering gloom below as the MH-60L Black Hawk, a sinister, sand-blasted war machine stripped of markings, clattered across the vast, darkening sprawl of Baghdad city.

Harry peered through the open doorway to where the snake's-head outline of an Apache AH64 attack helicopter was running parallel some 300 yards away and slightly to the rear. Another AH64 held the same position on their starboard side. None of the aircraft showed running lights.

It had been the same since he'd come aboard; no smiles, no welcome. If they had any curiosity about what Harry was doing here, or the man with him who was now handcuffed to his seat, they kept it in check. Just a few terse words of safety from the crew chief, and an agreement about what they were to do when they reached their destination. There was more chatter, this time between their pilot, Postal One, and the escorts – referred to as Shotgun One and Two – confirming direction and coordinates, the talk stripped to its essentials, almost unintelligible to an outsider.

Subhi Rafa'i, the reluctant cargo, showed no interest. The former Iraqi cleric was dressed in plain tan pants and a white shirt beneath a flak jacket. He looked listless and withdrawn, staring at the rooftops flashing by below and occasionally shaking his head. If ever a man looked like one going to meet his doom, Rafa'i was it.

Forty minutes earlier, two military policemen had hustled him out of a covered truck parked in the corner of a secure section of the US operations base – where they had been driven immediately on leaving the main airport – and straight up into the belly of the Black Hawk. Rafa'i had been in the open for no more than twelve seconds, watched by several armed guards.

It had been the longest twelve seconds of Harry's life.

‘He'd better be worth it,' US Army Colonel Seymour White, the Assistant Operations Officer, had muttered. He watched the transfer, the skin around his eyes pale with tension. ‘These guys got better things to be doing than playing cab driver.' He didn't add ‘for British spooks and their rag-head prisoners', but the meaning was there.

Harry ignored it. The colonel was flexing some psychological muscle, showing that he didn't have to like what he was being asked to risk men and equipment for, but he had his orders and would do whatever was required. In this case it was the unusual job of delivering an insurgent back to his people.

The two crewmen reached down and grabbed Rafa'i and hauled him aboard with little ceremony. They were in their late thirties, lean and tanned, forearms covered in exotic tattoos. Although dressed in combat fatigues, Kevlar helmets and flak jackets, and wearing side arms, little about them echoed regular US forces. They wore no badges or insignia, had shown no reaction to Colonel White's arrival, given none of the normal snappy US military response to an officer being within shouting range. It was as if White didn't exist.

‘Who are they?' Harry queried. He wasn't expecting an answer, but Colonel White surprised him.

‘PMCs,' the American replied. ‘Private military contractors. We use them when we can't spare our own crews or . . .' He left the sentence hanging and tilted his head slightly.

‘You don't want to?'

‘You said it, not me.' White shifted his weight and tugged at his waistband, eyes flicking around the base perimeter. ‘We use whoever we can get. And these boys are good and willing.' He glanced at Harry. ‘And they're expensive, so don't go getting them busted.'

‘I'll try not.'

White nodded. ‘This is the best time to fly. They'll take you in low once you're near the coordinates, then go down fast. You'd better hold on to your lunch.'

‘I understand.'

‘Hope so. You'll off-load your cargo and get straight back out of there. No chit-chat, no fond goodbyes and try not to start a firefight. Just in case of trouble, they're sending over two Apache six-fours to run interference; they'll join you as soon as you leave here. Do exactly what the crew tell you and you'll be back in time for dinner.' He nodded once and walked away, stiff-backed; the mention of dinner clearly not an invitation.

Now they were approaching the Al-Jamia district west of Baghdad, where Rafa'i had once had his heavily fortified base and centre of operations. Until he had blown it up, anyway. Part of a failed plot to gather support against the Western Coalition Forces, he had sacrificed a number of his closest followers in a bid to disappear, believed killed by the Coalition. Tonight he was being returned home to face those he had left behind. Nobody expected the outcome to be a good one.

But it solved a tricky problem the UK government had faced only a few days ago: what should they do with a former cleric-turned-insurgent who had tried to gather sufficient financial and terrorist support to throw out every westerner still in Iraq? Having him die on UK soil was unthinkable – although that had been the plan if a group of shadowy Coalition businessmen and others had had their way. Equally, imprisonment in a UK jail on terrorist charges would have turned any establishment holding him into a tinderbox. The solution was brutally simple: send him back home.

Harry felt the seat shift beneath him as the Black Hawk changed direction. The gunners focussed their attention on the ground. The escorting Apaches kept station with them and the houses below suddenly sprang into view as the nose dipped. They were coming in fast. Colonel White hadn't been joking.


eady for landing.
' The pilot again, his voice strangely calm. ‘
Postal One going straight in. Shotguns One and Two, hold course and check for unfriendlies. Over

The escorts responded, and Harry saw the port side craft pull away. He didn't envy them their task. They would be using night vision equipment to scout a confusing jumble of narrow streets, back alleys, open lots and rooftops, checking for any threat to the Black Hawk's safety and hoping to spot it before it happened. Only the most foolhardy of insurgents would stand out in the open to fire on them, but there were plenty of those. Most preferred the illusory safety of houses and walls, where the night vision ‘eyes' couldn't always reach. Any incoming fire from ground level would be on them before they saw it.

The helicopter dropped again, the engine note changing and the vibration increasing. The noise echoed back from the surrounding structures and the top of a tree flashed by at floor level, straggly and bare. Harry saw the flare of a paraffin lamp on a rooftop, the flames glinting off an array of aerials, wires and satellite dishes, and highlighting the upturned faces of a family gathered around it.

‘Postal One, we have three SUVs near the designated landing area. Three SUVs, over.'

Shotgun One, Roger that. Estimate eight, repeat eight people. No weapons in sight. No weapons.

Let's get down and do it.
' The pilot dropped them with stomach-churning speed and dust billowed around the open doors as the helicopter settled, sending up a whirlwind of scrap paper and other debris. The two crewmen were at their guns, flicking off the safeties and settling their feet, the senior man waving to Harry to get ready to disembark. They both looked on edge, their movements rehearsed and economical, but tight, and Harry could feel the tension between them.

He released his seat buckle and took out the keys to the handcuffs, then unplugged the helmet comms lead and swung across to Rafa'i's seat. The former cleric smelled of sweat and fear, and one of his legs was shaking uncontrollably, but he looked Harry in the eye and said nothing while the cuffs were being unlocked.

A loud whistle. The starboard crewman was pointing towards the opposite door, where his colleague had picked up an M4 assault rifle, ready to lead the way out. He slapped his hand against his side to indicate that Harry should draw the M9 pistol he'd been given before take-off.

Harry eased the gun from the grip of the holster clip, then pushed it back. The last time he'd drawn a gun was still raw, in a place about as far removed from this scenario as it was possible to get: St James's Park, central London. He could still smell the discharge, still hear the gunshots, still feel the recoil through his wrist.

Still see the body falling.

He cursed silently and urged Rafa'i out of his seat and across to the door, which was facing the open square where they had landed. The quicker the welcoming committee saw Rafa'i, he'd been advised, the better. If all they saw were two armed men piling out of the helicopter, things could get complicated.

He took a deep breath as the smell of dust, hot metal and engine oil swirled around him. He kept one hand on Rafa'i's arm just above the elbow and followed him through the door, dropping to the ground right behind him and going into a crouch while the crewman with the assault rifle took up a position ready to watch Harry's back. The noise was deafening, battering the air around them, sand particles stinging every square inch of exposed skin and defying concentration.

BOOK: Deception
2.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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