Authors: Nick Stephenson
WANTED (LEOPOLD BLAKE SERIES)
Copyright © 2013 Nick Stephenson
The right of Nick Stephenson to be identified as the author of the Work has been asserted him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published in Great Britain in 2013 by WJ Books Ltd.
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without written permission from the author.
From Wikimedia, the free encyclopedia
The Blake family (/
k/ blayk) is an American industrial, political and banking family that made one of the world's largest fortunes in the oil business during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with
George D. Blake
and his brother
James D. Blake
. The family is also known for its long association with and financial interest in the
New Manhattan Bank
, now part of
Blake Investments Inc
. They are generally seen as one of the most powerful families in the history of the United States.
Most recently, since
the death of Robert and Gisele Blake
, the sole heir to the family’s business interests,
Leopold R. Blake
, has taken the family’s investments in a different direction and has disappeared from the political landscape to concentrate on developing business interests in the fields of modern biotechnology, clean energy, and charitable causes.  Although the circumstances following the deaths of Robert and Gisele Blake are still unclear, many believe…
Table of Contents
A Leopold Blake Thriller
Nowhere to hide…
What should have been a relaxing vacation in Paris turns into another unwinnable situation for expert criminology consultant Leopold Blake. Caught in the cross hairs of a ruthless assassin and on the run from the police for a murder he didn’t commit, Blake and his team must fight to clear his name before it’s too late.
As enemies close in from all sides, Blake is about to learn who he can trust – and who is determined to destroy him – as The City of Light becomes a new hunting ground.
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Prologue: Two Weeks Ago
THE HAZMAT SUIT was stifling and Luca Ginelli could barely catch his breath as he studied the monitors. Thanks to the research laboratory's state-of-the-art microsphere nanoscope, the young lab technician could easily study particles as small as one nanometer in diameter – the equivalent of one billionth of a meter – with unprecedented clarity. The current specimen, a cluster of lung cells harvested from a pig, was no exception. He could easily make out the cell membranes, the nuclei, and even the tiny mitochondria that came together to form one of the most basic building blocks of animal life. But there was no time to stop and enjoy the view.
With a steady hand, Ginelli introduced a sample of nanoparticles to the viewing plate and increased the magnification. Despite being many times smaller than the pig cells, the nanoparticles moved much faster – making their way toward the membranes that protected the larger bodies with surprising speed. Within a few seconds they had reached their targets and set to work. Ginelli stared at the monitors in disbelief.
This isn’t supposed to happen.
After years of research, nearly half a decade of refining, he was still no closer to a breakthrough. Instead of developing a revolutionary technique for locating and destroying cell mutations, all Ginelli had to show for his efforts was something even worse than the cancers he was trying to cure. If that weren't enough, senior management was now demanding daily progress reports and the pressure was starting to build. His workload had increased to the point where sleeping at the labs and starting work at dawn had become the only way to keep up. But what could be done about it?
Company morale was at an all-time low and Ginelli had heard whispers of strike action among the other employees. He knew nothing would come of it, everyone was too afraid of what might happen, but it was always a popular topic of conversation. That, and the myriad of conspiracy theories surrounding their work – theories that seemed to get less farfetched as time passed.
What if the theories aren’t just theories?
Ginelli's head swam with a variety of scenarios, each leading him back to the same question:
What exactly are we trying to create here?
He took one last look at the monitor and shuddered. Shutting off the equipment, the young technician made his way through to the decontamination chamber and changed back into his lab clothes. As he pulled on his white lab coat, he took out his cell phone and took a long hard look at the screen. It would be easy enough to get in touch with someone, maybe talk to them about some of the concerns he and the others had. He didn’t have to give them his name. Management would never find out.
With a final glance around him, Ginelli turned out the lights and made his way toward his sleeping quarters, checking his watch and wondering whether it was too late to make a quick phone call.
Chapter 1: Today
DIETER REINIGER PICTURED the scene in his head and allowed himself a smile. Screaming through the air at nearly three thousand feet per second, the custom-made .338 bullet would punch through his target’s skull as though it were made of paper, ensuring an instant kill with minimum fuss. The mark would be dead before he even heard the gunshot.
Perched high above Paris’ Notre Dame square, the assassin had found it easy to slip away from his tour group unnoticed and had made his way to the very top of the ancient cathedral’s Gothic parapets, giving him the perfect vantage point to carry out his mission.
Thirty stories below, hundreds of people milled around the expansive plaza, completely unaware of the danger lurking so high above them. A good portion of the unsuspecting souls were dressed in business attire, probably waiting for a lunch table at any one of the overpriced restaurants nearby, while the rest were clearly tourists hoping to soak up some of the city’s famous landmarks. Dozens of Asian, American, and European holidaymakers huddled around the entrance to the famous cathedral waiting for their chance to see the impressive interior, while others took advantage of the public restrooms or chased their hyperactive children through the dense lunchtime hustle.
The summer season had truly begun in earnest, and the baking sun glistened enthusiastically over the surface of the River Seine, catching on the waves and reflecting off the brilliant white tour boats that cruised up and down the waterways. Reiniger took a deep breath through his nostrils and savored the clean air, glad for the chance to get away from the noise and pollution of street level.
The assassin knelt, unclasping the heavy Samsonite luggage he had carried up to the roof with him, and dug deep underneath a layer of carefully folded clothes to the hidden compartment installed at the bottom. Inside, the components of a modified AX338 sniper rifle were strapped tight to the case’s toughened frame, and he caught the faint smell of gun oil as he leaned in close to remove the parts. He checked each component carefully and assembled the high-powered weapon in less than thirty seconds, laying the rifle by his feet once he had finished. He turned his attention to the ammunition.
Reiniger fished out six low-drag rounds from a small holster disguised as a glasses case and inspected them for any defects. Satisfied, he slipped them into his shirt pocket and closed up the bulky suitcase, making his way over to the edge of the roof and the two hundred foot drop below. At this elevation, the German could see across most of Paris and he gave himself a moment to soak up the glorious view. Facing west, he could make out the looming gray silhouette of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, one of only a handful of structures in the center of the capital that were taller than the cathedral itself. A little further on, just about visible on the outskirts of the city, the skyscrapers of the La Defense financial district glittered in the sunshine.
Taking up a position flat on his belly next to a particularly grotesque gargoyle, Reiniger flipped open the lens cap on the rifle’s long range scope and peered through the glass. A little over a thousand feet away, he could clearly make out the steps leading up from the subterranean Notre Dame metro station as though he were standing just a few paces from it and he adjusted the lens to ensure the focus was perfect. The constant pour of commuters streaming out of the tunnels would make his target difficult to hit, but the assassin was prepared for that. All he had to do was breathe, focus, and take his time – and the rifle would do the rest.
Thankfully, the ambient conditions were perfect. The hot, humid air was the optimum density for working with a rifle and wind speed was minimal, meaning there was very little chance of a bullet veering off course. After the job was done, the suitcase would be left on the cathedral roof for the police to find, allowing the German a speedy getaway down the narrow staircase and onto the streets below with the rifle packed up in its carry case and slung over his shoulder.
Closing the lens cap to avoid giving away his position in the bright sun, Reiniger allowed himself to relax and thought back to his mission briefing. The client, some balding American, had been nervous, as most usually were, but he was very clear about one thing: it wasn’t enough for the assassin to simply kill the targets. The client had tossed a set of photographs across the table and explained the objectives. It all sounded simple enough, Reiniger had said, before immediately doubling his price. The American had agreed. Perhaps a little too easily.