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Authors: Margaret Truman

Murder in Havana

BOOK: Murder in Havana
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More praise for Margaret Truman and her Capital Crimes mysteries

“Truman has settled firmly into a career of writing murder mysteries, all evoking brilliantly the Washington she knows so well.”


The Houston Post

“She’s up-to-the-minute. And she’s good.”

—Associated Press

“Truman ‘knows the forks’ in the nation’s capital and how to pitchfork her readers into a web of murder and detection.”


The Christian Science Monitor

“An author whose inside knowledge of Washington is matched by her ability to spin a compelling mystery plot.”


Crime Times

While set in a real place, this book is a work of fiction. The characters and events are products of the author’s imagination and should not be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual people is unintended. In the few instances where well-known or real names are used, the related characters, incidents, or dialogues are entirely fictional and are not intended to depict any actual people or events.

A Fawcett Book
Published by The Random House Publishing Group
Copyright © 2001 by Margaret Truman
Excerpt from
Murder at Ford’s Theatre
by Margaret Truman copyright © 2002 by Margaret Truman

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Fawcett Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

F
AWCETT
is a registered trademark and the Fawcett colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

www.ballantinebooks.com

eISBN: 978-1-58836-019-9

This edition published by arrangement with Random House, Inc.

v3.1

Contents

“How did you feel when you killed him?”

“How did I
feel
?”

“Yes.”

“I—I didn’t especially feel anything.”

“Nothing? Not a moment of doubt? Of guilt?”

“No.”

“Did you know him?”

“I knew
of
him.”

“Meaning?”

“I knew who he was. I knew
what
he was.”

“What was his reaction?”

A bemused raised eyebrow preceded, “He didn’t have time to react. It’s best that way.”

“I see.” He added to notes he’d been making. “How do you feel now?”

“Fine.”

“Trouble sleeping? Nightmares?”

“Of course not.”

The sound of a window air conditioner gently bridged the lull.

“You’ll be gone for two months,” he said.

“I know.”

“Where will you go?” he asked, knowing it was a question that would not be answered. His was not a need-to-know.

Silence.

He made another note and closed the black leather portfolio resting on his lap. “Thank you for coming in.”

The opening of the door allowed the sound of office equipment to enter the room. The door’s closing abruptly restored the hush. He opened the portfolio and wrote
CLEARED
, which reflected his psychiatric judgment, closed it, went to a safe in a corner of the austere room, opened it, placed the folio inside, closed the door, spun the wheel, checked the door, then returned to his desk and dialed a number.

“I’m leaving,” he said. “See you at home.”

In a moment, he would exit the building and get behind the wheel of his Cherokee. If the traffic cooperated, he’d be in time to catch the final few innings of the game.

Max Pauling left the private airport outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, at six in the morning and flew to a small airstrip in Arizona, near the town of Maverick, on the southern rim of the White Mountains. There, his single-engine, fixed-landing-gear Cessna 182S was loaded with God knows what. The dozen pea-green canvas bags were wrapped with duct tape, low-tech security. He didn’t care what was in them. He’d made the point when signing on to transport materials from Maverick that drugs were off-limits, and was assured none were involved. None, that is, if you could believe what they said, “they” being agents of his former employer, who had a reputation for many things. Consistent truth telling was not one of them.

The man who’d pulled the green pickup truck to the side of the aircraft and unloaded the bags from its bed had small lumps all over his face, some obscure disease, Pauling figured, that made him look strange but probably wouldn’t kill him, though it didn’t do much for Max’s morale. Other than that, the man seemed average in all ways.

“Nice plane,” he said.

“I like it,” Pauling said.

He’d bought it used two years ago from a Maryland flying club after returning from a seven-year stint in
Moscow, ostensibly as a member of the Trade and Commerce Division of the U.S. embassy, but more accurately on assignment for the CIA. There were more up-to-date single-engine aircraft, and more expensive ones, but this one suited Pauling just fine. He’d loaded it with modern avionics; he was instrument rated, which allowed him to fly in IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions, while private pilots rated VFR (Visual Flight Rules) sat on the ground until they could see where they were going. His recently earned multiengine rating turned out to be more frustrating than pleasing. He was now licensed to pilot twin-engine aircraft, but couldn’t afford one. Whoever said life was fair?

The man with the knobby face told Pauling to have a nice trip and drove off, his pickup kicking up yellow dust from the dirt strip. Pauling looked around. There wasn’t another person to be seen. Because Maverick did not have a refueling facility, he’d topped off the tanks back in Albuquerque. He knew there would be fuel at his next stop because he’d taken on some there on previous trips.

He did a walk-around of the plane to check for obvious external problems, climbed into the left seat, strapped the clipboard holding the aeronautical chart to the top of his right thigh, started the engine, checked gauges, ran over the preflight checklist, taxied to the downwind end of the runway, pushed down on the brakes with his toes, advanced the throttle to the firewall, waited a moment for the engine to reach maximum power, released the brakes, and bounced down the strip until pulling back on the yoke and lifting off. The lifeless, unrelieved sameness of Maverick, Arizona, fell away below.

He glanced at some of the green bags piled on the right-hand seat; the bulk of the cargo had been loaded in the back. He looked on the floor to make sure his survival
kit was there, felt beneath the instrument panel where an Austrian Glock nine-millimeter semiautomatic pistol was securely strapped, and pulled a slip of paper from one of twenty-six pockets in the tan photojournalist’s vest he wore, the many pockets his answer to a woman’s purse. Written on the paper were instructions for crossing the Mexican border. Pauling had committed them to memory, but like any good pilot he depended upon lists to back up his brain. He was to be at precisely three thousand feet when he crossed the border two miles east of Douglas, Arizona, then bank hard right and pass over the Mexican town of Agua Prieta, set a course of 210 degrees, and fly to an airstrip just east of Hermosillo, where the mountains give way to greener lowlands.

It was important, he knew, to follow the flight plan with precision. Stray from it and you’d attract the attention of DEA pilots assigned to intercept private aircraft flying in and out of Mexico on the assumption that what they were carrying would ultimately go up somebody’s nose or into someone’s arm. The prescribed route he would fly this day had been worked out with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the CIA, and Mexican authorities. It was hands-off provided he stayed within the approved corridor.

BOOK: Murder in Havana
2.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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