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Authors: Jack-Higgins

The Keys of Hell

BOOK: The Keys of Hell
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Praise for
Jack Higgins and his bestselling novels…

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

As the tide of the war turns, Hitler orders a team of commandos to do the impossible—kidnap Winston Churchill or kill him—or die trying….

“First-rate…a fascinating adventure story.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

“What Frederick Forsythe did so well in
The Day of the Jackal
, Jack Higgins does even better in
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED
.”

—The Associated Press

FLIGHT OF EAGLES

In the early days of WWII, two brothers, separated as boys, meet as enemies in the deadly skies above Europe….

“A tightly wound, old-fashioned tale of brave men (and women) who fight with consummate honor and meet death, when it comes, with a rueful grin.”

—Publishers Weekly

“A finely wrought saga of honor and family in an era long gone—but not at all forgotten.”

—People

THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER

Three heroic agents race to stop a group of extremists before they can force the United States to launch a nuclear attack against the Middle East….

“All of Higgins’s skill in weaving together a tight story with plenty of action, appealing heroes, and dastardly villains is exhibited in
The President’s Daughter
, making it another worthy addition to his prolific repertoire.”

—Chattanooga News-Free Press

NIGHT JUDGEMENT AT SINOS

On the prison island of Sinos, one man holds the fate of thousands in his hands….

“This is one you won’t put down.”

—The New York Times

DRINK WITH THE DEVIL

The blockbuster
New York Times
bestseller—two adversaries search for stolen gold in a deadly treasure hunt with worldwide consequences….

“A most intoxicating thriller.”

—The Associated Press

“It is Dillon’s likeability and the author’s adroitness in giving his character the room he needs that make Higgins’s novels so readable.”

—The Washington Times

YEAR OF THE TIGER

Higgins’s novel of Cold War espionage and blistering suspense. A scientist building the key to the Space Race becomes the object of a worldwide manhunt….

“Higgins spins as mean a tale as Ludlum, Forsythe, or any of them.”

—Philadelphia Daily News

“A seasoned pro…Mr. Higgins knows how to tell a story.”

—The New York Times Book Review

ANGEL OF DEATH

Jack Higgins’s electrifying bestseller—a mysterious terrorist group plots an assassination that will plunge Ireland into civil war…

“Pulsing excitement…Higgins makes the pages fly.”

—New York Daily News

“Jack Higgins has a new thriller, and like its long list of predecessors, it’s a terrific read.”

—The Associated Press

MIDNIGHT MAN
(also published as
EYE OF THE STORM
)

A duel between two masters of espionage culminates in an attempted mortar attack on the British war cabinet—in this shocking thriller that blends fact and fiction….

“A heart-stopping cat-and-mouse game…spectacular and surprising.”

—Abilene Reporter-News

“Will leave readers happily breathless.”

—Kirkus Reviews

ON DANGEROUS GROUND

Jack Higgins’s explosive thriller—the desperate search for a secret document that could change the fate of Hong Kong, China, and the world…

“It’s a whirlwind of action, with a hero who can out-Bond old James with one hand tied behind his back…It’s told in the author’s best style, with never a pause for breath.”

—The New York Times Book Review

“A powerhouse tale of action and adventure.”

—Tampa Tribune-Times

SHEBA

His most powerful novel of Nazi intrigue—the shattering story of an archaeologist who discovers a legendary temple…and a Nazi plot to turn the landmark into Hitler’s secret stronghold…

“Jack Higgins is the master…”

—Tom Clancy

“When it comes to thriller writers, one name stands well above the crowd—Jack Higgins.”

—The Associated Press

THUNDER POINT

The shattering bestseller about the search for Martin Bormann’s missing files—in a sunken U-boat on the bottom of the Caribbean…

“Dramatic…authentic…one of the author’s best.”

—The New York Times

“A rollicking adventure that twists and turns.”

—The San Diego Union-Tribune

STORM WARNING

To return home, a group of German expatriates must brave the merciless Atlantic—and get by the might of the Allied fleet….

“A true saga of the sea—this is Higgins’s greatest accomplishment.”

—The Washington Post

Titles by Jack Higgins

EDGE OF DANGER

DAY OF RECKONING

THE WHITE HOUSE CONNECTION

IN THE HOUR BEFORE MIDNIGHT

EAST OF DESOLATION

THE PRESIDENT

S DAUGHTER

PAY THE DEVIL

FLIGHT OF EAGLES

YEAR OF THE TIGER

DRINK WITH THE DEVIL

NIGHT JUDGEMENT AT SINOS

ANGEL OF DEATH

SHEBA

ON DANGEROUS GROUND

THUNDER POINT

EYE OF THE STORM
(
also published as
MIDNIGHT MAN
)

THE EAGLE HAS FLOWN

COLD HARBOUR

MEMORIES OF A DANCE
-
HALL ROMEO

A SEASON IN HELL

NIGHT OF THE FOX

CONFESSIONAL

EXOCET

TOUCH THE DEVIL

LUCIANO

S LUCK

SOLO

DAY OF JUDGMENT

STORM WARNING

THE LAST PLACE GOD MADE

A PRAYER FOR THE DYING

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

THE RUN TO MORNING

DILLINGER

TO CATCH A KING

THE VALHALLA EXCHANGE

THE KEYS OF HELL
JACK HIGGINS

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

THE KEYS OF HELL

A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2001 by Harry Patterson.

Elements of this novel are taken from a novel of the same title published in 1965 under the pseudonym Martin Fallon, by Abelard-Schuman, London.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in
any form without permission.
For information address:
The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

Visit our website at
www.penguinputnam.com

ISBN: 0-7865-8509-9

BERKLEY
®
Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY and the “B” design
are trademarks belonging to Penguin Putnam Inc.

There are no Keys to Hell—
the doors are open to all men.

—Albanian proverb

MANHATTAN, 1995
ONE

T
HE DREAM WAS ALWAYS THE SAME
. Plunging into the marsh, forcing his way through the reeds and mist, pushing the punt hard, Guilio Orsini standing at the front finding the way through and then the engine close by breaking into life and a burst of machine-gun fire.

Guilio went over headfirst, always did, and Chavasse floundered through the reeds and the bitterly cold water and then, mysteriously, like a curtain, the reeds parted and there was the lagoon and the boat, the
Buona Esperanza
, and Orsini was at the rail leaning over, a hand outstretched.

“Now, Paul, now.”

And Chavasse reached and the mist seemed to increase and there was the roaring of the engine and the boat slapped away, vanished, and he was alone again.

 

C
HAVASSE WAS SUBJECT TO DREAMS OF THE
past, and had always suspected it was a legacy of his Breton father. An old race, the Bretons, an ancient people. But this dream he had not had for some years. Still…he got off the bed, went to the window of his suite and looked down at Manhattan. The lights sparkled in the evening dusk. He liked New York and always had. There was an excitement there, an infinite probability to things.

When the phone went he answered at once, “Chavasse.”

“Ah, Sir Paul. Tino Rossi.”

“Good evening, Mr Rossi.”

“Listen, I know we’re meeting later for dinner at the Saddle Room, but I wondered whether you’d mind coming round to my apartment at the Trump Tower first.”

“Is there a purpose to this?”

“Well, my lawyer, Mario Volpe, as you may know, is my nephew a couple of times removed. He seems to think there are a few things he could take care of before our meeting. You understand?”

“Perfectly,” Chavasse said.

“I’ll send a limousine. Say half an hour?”

“No need. As it’s only a couple of blocks, I’ll walk.”

“Fine. I’ll look forward to seeing you for dinner later.”

Chavasse put down the phone and thought about it, a slight frown on his face, then he went to the wardrobe, took out his rather old-fashioned carpetbag, pulled open a flap in the bottom and produced a short-barreled Colt, only a .22, but deadly with hollow-point rounds. He checked it out, went into the bathroom and turned on the shower.

 

I
N THE MAGNIFICENT SITTING ROOM OF HIS
Trump Tower apartment Don Tino Rossi replaced the telephone. He was seventy-six years of age and still in good shape, his silver hair almost shoulder-length, his linen suit the best that Savile Row in London could provide.

The large man in the black suit with the shaven head came forward as the Don nodded, opened a silver box, offered a cigarette and a light. He was Aldo Vinelli, the firm’s head of security. Don Tino’s nephew, Mario Volpe, stood by the terrace window smoking a cigarette, thirty years of age, medium height, good-looking and like Rossi, impeccably dressed.

“So he’s coming.”

“Why wouldn’t he?” his uncle asked. “He doesn’t want a car. He’s walking.”

“You trust this Chavasse?”

“As much as he trusts me. Our meeting in London made sense.”

“Good. I’ll make arrangements.” Volpe nodded to Vinelli. “I need you.” He went out.

The Don said quietly, “Aldo, I assigned you to protect my nephew because I trust you and you’ve done a good job.”

“Thank you, Don Tino.”

“And where does your loyalty lie?”

“With you always.”

“Good.”

The Don held out his hand. Aldo kissed it and went out. Rossi sighed. Strange that facility he’d always had that told him when someone was lying to him. A gift from God really.

 

B
EFORE IT WAS FASHIONABLE
, T
INO
R
OSSI
alone amongst Mafia leaders had realized that life had to change, that the old days were long gone. He had turned the Rossi family to respectability. Real estate developments in New York, the same on the Thames in London. Investments in the electronics industry, shipping, banking. His early start meant that these days his only rivals were the Russian Mafia.

The young man he called nephew, Mario, was an important part of the organization. He’d never known his father, and his mother had also died at a young age. Her widowed sister, Signora Volpe, had brought the boy to New York, raised him in Little Italy. As Don Tino’s niece her Mafia connection had assured the success of her café. Mario had gone to Columbia, had taken a law degree. Later, he’d done the same thing at London University and was now indispensable to the family on both sides of the Atlantic for his legal expertise.

He returned to the room. The Don said, “Is everything in hand?”

“Sure. Look, I’ll go with Aldo and monitor him. So he’s crazy enough to want to walk alone on a wet night in Manhattan, but that could be asking for it. I mean, this is an older guy. Sixty-five.”

“So I’m ten years older.”

“Heh, Uncle, I didn’t mean…”

“Make this work, Mario, nothing is more important.”

“You trust this Chavasse?”

“As I told you, no more than he trusts me. Sir Paul Chavasse, knighted by the Queen of England, Mario.”

“So?”

“This man is what? Half English, half French. He speaks more languages than you’ve had hot dinners. University degrees coming out of his ears. In spite of all that, a killer by nature. For twenty years a field agent for the Bureau, the most secret of British intelligence units. You’ve seen his record. Shot three times, knifed twice.”

“So he was hot stuff.”

“More than that, Mario, for the past twenty years he’s been Belfast Bureau Chief and that’s no desk job, not with the IRA and all those other problems. Now he has Eastern Europe on his back. Bosnia, Serbia, Kosova, Albania, and we know who has the greatest input.”

“The Russian Mafia.”

“Exactly, and as they are not
our
friends we can help there. In return, Chavasse will help us.”

“When possible?”

“Of course. Look, I suspended all drug operations there years ago and not for moral reasons as you well know. If idiots want to kill themselves with heroin that’s their affair. We make more out of cigarette smuggling from Europe into Britain than we ever would have with drugs.”

“Still illegal.”

“Yes, but as you being an expert in English law know, a drug runner pulls ten or twelve years. Get done, as the English say, for cigarette smuggling and what would your client get?”

“Twelve months and out in six.” Marco Volpe smiled. “Still illegal, running cigarettes by the millions up the Thames, so where does that leave Sir Paul Chavasse?”

“Exactly as he is. A realist. We’re not destroying the lives of stupid teenagers. We aren’t harming the widows and orphans. He can live with that as long as we provide the expertise on Eastern Europe that he needs. You’ll see that we do.”

“Of course, Uncle.”

“Good boy.” The Don nodded. “You take care of things. Tell Sir Paul I’ll see him later for dinner at the Saddle Room. You’d better go now, you and Aldo, to make sure he gets here in one piece.”

“Uncle.”

Mario Volpe went out. Rain battering the window, Don Tino reached for his unfinished glass of champagne. Such a clever boy. All the virtues really and yet capable of such stupidity. He swallowed the champagne, got up and walked out leaning on his Malacca cane.

 

W
HEN
C
HAVASSE EMERGED FROM THE
P
LAZA
Hotel it was raining slightly. He wore a Burberry trenchcoat in dark blue and an old-fashioned rain hat slanted across his head. Inside, the Colt .22 rested in a special clip. Uncomfortable, but also comforting in its own way. Just a feeling, but that’s why he was still here after all these years. He declined the offer of a cab from the doorman, went down the steps and started along Fifth Avenue.

Waiting in a black Mercedes town car, Mario Volpe and Vinelli watched him.

“Let’s go, Aldo,” Volpe said, “and don’t lose him.” Not that there was much chance of that as they pulled away from the sidewalk. Not too many people as the rain increased.

Chavasse liked the rain. Somehow you could inhabit your own private world. It was what he called the cinema of the mind time. You considered the facts, tried to make sense, anticipate the other side’s next move, and there was certainly more to all this than met the eye. All his senses, the product of forty years of living on the edge, told him that.

Not that he distrusted Don Tino particularly. It was more that he didn’t trust anyone. His special kind of life had taught him that. The way Eastern Europe was, the Don could be useful, which was what his meeting with Rossi and Vinelli at the Dorchester Hotel in London had indicated. If a few favors in return was the price, it was worth it, always supposing the price wasn’t too high. So Rossi was a gangster. In essence, that was what Chavasse had been for years. You had to be a kind of gangster to be an intelligence agent. All that kept you alive really.

He paused, produced a silver case from an inside pocket, took out a cigarette and lit it in cupped hands. He was standing at the entrance of a darkened mall at the time and for the moment, the sidewalk was clear. As he started forward, a young man darted out of the mall and blocked his way.

“Heh, buddy, you got some change?”

At that moment, another one emerged, his twin, hard-faced in bomber jacket and jeans, only he was holding a Browning pistol.

“This one’s got more than change. Let’s get him in here.”

He rammed the barrel of the Browning against Chavasse’s spine and drove him into the darkness.

All this was seen from the Mercedes.

Volpe said, “Those bastards. Why the gun?”

There was the sound of a shot. Vinelli braked to a halt and got the door open.

 

I
N THE MALL THE ONE WITH THE
B
ROWNING
rammed it even harder into Chavasse.

“A nice fat wallet here I’d say, so let’s stay friendly. You can call me Tommy.”

Chavasse raised his right elbow, struck backwards into the face, turned sideways, pushing the Browning away, grabbed for the barrel, twisted it free and had the gun in his hand.

“You should never get that close to anyone.”

He pivoted, rammed the barrel of the Browning into the back of Tommy’s right knee and pulled the trigger. Tommy staggered into the wall and fell down with a cry.

The other one backed away, hands raised.

“Heh, man, don’t do it.”

Vinelli arrived, a gun in his hand, Volpe behind him.

They looked at Tommy lying on the ground and Chavasse tendered the Browning to Vinelli.

“Not mine, his.” He looked down at the boy. “Terrible class of muggers these days. Not too competent.”

Volpe held out his hand. “Mario Volpe, Sir Paul. We were worried about you so I figured we’d check the hotel. Aldo recognized you from London, so we were following. I mean, scum like this, what can I say?”

“Not much, I expect. Can we go now?”

“Sure.” Volpe turned to Vinelli. “Take care of this, Aldo. I’ll drive Sir Paul to the Trump, you follow on foot.”

He took Chavasse by the arm and led him away. Aldo turned, reached for the youth who was standing and pulled him close.

“You were supposed to jump him and wait for us to come to the rescue and what do we get? A gun, for Christ’s sake.”

“It was Tommy. He’s on crack.”

“Really?” Vinelli headbutted him, breaking his nose, sending him staggering.

The youth started to weep, blood everywhere. “I’m sorry, Mr. Vinelli, but what do I do with Tommy?”

“You get an ambulance. Three very large black guys beat up on you, and no fairy stories for the cops or the Rossi family will see to you on a more permanent basis.” He opened his wallet and took out ten hundred-dollar bills. “I said a grand and I’m a man of my word.” He dropped the money on Tommy.

“I’ll do what you say, Mr Vinelli.”

“You better had, kid.”

Vinelli patted his face, turned his collar up against the rain and walked away.

 

I
N THE SITTING ROOM OF THE
T
RUMP
Tower apartment, Volpe helped Chavasse off with his Burberry and placed it on a chair. Chavasse removed the rain hat and put it on the coat carefully.

“Drink, Sir Paul? Martini? Champagne?”

“Irish whisky,” Chavasse told him, “Bushmills for preference.”

“Anything. We’ve got it all.”

“Good.” Chavasse took a cigarette from his silver case. “And then you can tell me exactly what it is you want.”

Vinelli came in and stood by the door, face impassive. Volpe got the whisky from the bar by the window and brought it over.

“I don’t really want anything, Sir Paul. My uncle and you laid it out pretty clear at your meeting in London at the Dorchester. I mean, even Aldo here met you but I didn’t, so I figured it was time. I handle all the family’s legal business on both sides of the Atlantic. This whole deal is very important. I wanted to familiarize myself with you.”

“And why would you want to do that?”

“Well, on occasions, we’ll be working together, but hell, no problem there. Your record in the intelligence business is amazing.”

“And how would you know that?”

“Bureau records are on file at the Public Records Office in London. Sure, maybe they’re on a fifty-year hold, but there are always ways round that. The clerks aren’t very well paid. Give them ‘a few bob’ as you Brits say, and it’s amazing what you can get a copy of.”

Chavasse finished his whisky. He said calmly, “What you appear to be saying is that you’ve been checking up on my past record quite illegally.”

“Yes, but we’ve got to be careful with the London operation.”

“Does the Don know about this?”

“Of course.”

Chavasse nodded. “So—where are we at?”

“One case of yours really got to me.” Volpe went to a side table and returned with a file. “This was so amazing I had it copied. Read it. It’s good stuff. I suppose you wrote it originally. I’ve got phone calls to make to all four quarters of the globe. I’ll be about an hour then I’ll take you to Don Tino at the Saddle Room. Anything you want, Aldo will get for you.”

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