New York City, Saturday, September 27, 1980 Cane Eliot knew he was being followed before he reached the shuttle to Lufthansa for his overnight flight to Germany. It was the same thing that made the skin on the back of his neck crawl during the war when something was wrong. Making a quick decision to try to lose who ever was tailing him, he called Lufthansa and cancelled his flight. Taking a taxi downtown, the shadow still with him, he got out at Rockefeller Center, slipped through the restaurant near the skating rink to the subway. Finding the small hotel he had known in the Village thirty years earlier and paying for the day, he carried the valise, and entered the elevator. At the fifth floor he left the elevator, ran down two flights and into the men s room at the end of the hall. He had to change his appearance and do it fast. The Stetson had to go. He stowed it deep in a swing-top garbage can, pulled off his boots and dropped them after the hat. Goddamn bloody shame to leave such old friends! For a minute he considered retrieving the rattle snake hat band, but thought better of it. It takes years for a hat and boots to conform to a man s own brand. Well, hell, I ll just have to start over in Colorado when this damn mess is finished. He opened the valise and pulled out his straight-edged razor. Peering intently at his reflection, and twisting his lips first one way and then another he shaved off his moustache. Name of the game. To lose your identity is part of it. He ran his finger across his smooth upper lip and down the scar across his cheek. That brought back memories of the war that he d just as soon forget. It is also as positive an identification as a set of fingerprints. Changing into the gray suit, white dress shirt, knotting the blue silk tie, putting on the black oxfords he d seldom worn except to funerals, he shook his head. The unfamiliar clothes made him feel awkward and uncomfortable. But a quick glance in the mirror, adjusting his tie and smoothing his vest Cane admitted that a suit made a hell of a difference in appearance. Securing the German skull with his jeans, jacket and cowboy shirt in the valise, he cursed under his breath. The satchel was a dead giveaway. But it couldn't be helped. How the devil had he been spotted so soon? Who was following? It must have been the man who passed him on the road to Cummings. Who was he? Well, for Christ sake, he had to be KGB and that meant the Russians knew they had the wrong skull. It meant too, that they could move pretty damn fast. He opened his billfold, cut up his credit cards with the Lapis knife and buried them in the trash. That was a big mistake using credit cards in Oklahoma City. He wracked his brain. Was there anything else to connect him with Cane Eliot? God, yes! The plane ticket from Denver to New York had been in his name! He had been out of it too long. Peter had made a goddamn poor choice for a Company man. Shape up, Cane! This isn t as simple as Peter had thought. He opened the door slowly, satisfied he was alone, walked briskly down the hall. The damn valise. It has to be gotten rid of. Taking the stairs again, this time to the basement he left through the alley door, walked several blocks, took a cab to a small residential hotel he remembered in the Bronx. The lobby was empty. He rang for the clerk and in a heavy German accent asked for a room and signed the register Wilhelm Swartz. Well, by God that ought to take care of any snoopers! He immediately called the number that would locate Peter and briefed him about the tail that had followed him from Oklahoma City. But not about his carelessness. He d rather Peter didn't know about his getting a plane ticket to New York from Colorado via Oklahoma City in his own name. And then to rent a car My God!
This is one of those books that by the 50th page, you're so hooked you aren't able to put it down. I love the story and the characters are memorable. I would give this book four out of five stars.
Mountain West Publishing
December 21, 2009
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free from The Cadence Group. All opinions expressed are 100% mine. If you purchase a book using my Amazon or Barnes and Noble link, I will receive a small portion of the purchase price.