Snowman - The Cocaine Trilogy - Book II

Snowman by Roger Busby
Snowman

Three detectives trapped in nightmares from the past.

The Englishman: Scotland Yard crime intelligence sergeant Tony Rowley sentenced to death by London gangsters.

The American: Federal narcotics agent Jack Monroe reliving flashback horrors of the Vietnam war.

The German: Kriminal Hauptkommissar Rainer Wolfe haunted by the Munich Olympics massacre.

When an undercover policewoman dies in a booby-trapped Devon farmhouse their paths cross on the trail of a shadowy international crime cartel bent on flooding Britain with the angel dust of crack, rock and freebase cocaine.

The hunt takes them to Hitlers Eagles Nest high in the Bavarian Alps as police chiefs of three nations scheme to grab the glory of the biggest drugs bust in the history of law enforcement. Ensnared in a web of top-level police intrigue, the trio plan to trap the drug-runners, but when they learn the secret of the Snow Man their nightmares suddenly explode into frightening reality.

Hitlers Eagles Nest - Bavarian Alps

Eagle's Nest - Bavarian Alps

The so-called "Eagle's Nest" was built as a teahouse for Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday. Perched on a mountain summit, its unusual position makes of the daring project a unique engineering feat. What few realize is that Hitler's home and headquarters - the second seat of 3rd Reich power - were located at Obersalzberg, at the foot of the Eagle's Nest mountain.

The Kehlsteinhaus is built in a chalet-style taking 13 months to construct. It was finished in the summer of 1938 before it was presented to Hitler a year later, but he only made a few visits to the chalet partly due to his fear of heights.

It is 1834m above sea level and is perched on a rock wall having cost 30m Reichsmarks to build - about £100m today

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Chapter 1

They sat in the car park of the Happy Eater on the top of Sunrise Hill, overlooking the silver swathe of the estuary, and watched the farmhouse in the valley below. It was October and the countryside was blurred with the gold and brown of autumn. Out on the distant river, sails of dinghies and sailboards added a sharper touch of colour, skittering over the water like the fins of multi-hued sharks. Through the insect-spattered windscreen of the unmarked blue Ford in which they had travelled down the motorway from London, the American and the red-haired girl took it in turns with the binoculars, keeping watch on the farmhouse nestling in a fold between the rolling hills. Magnified in the bright ring of the lens, the sixteenth-century Devonshire longhouse appeared both neglected and abandoned. Paint peeled from the cob walls and window-frames; threadbare thatch choked with moss. The door of the adjacent cow byre swung drunkenly from broken hinges.

There was no sign of life. "Make up your mind, kiddo," Jack Monroe needled the redhead. "Only way we're going to get this done is to go down there and have us a look-see. All we're going to do up here is grow old together.

From behind the wheel the girl looked at her companion, sizing him up for the hundredth time. She saw a scrub of cropped sandy hair in contrast to the heavy growth of drooping moustache which gave his face a melancholy air, his expression openly mocking. Frowning, Helen Linden reminded herself that she didn't have to be hustled by this pushy narc. Who did he think he was anyway? Charlie Bronson? Clint Eastwood?

"We don't move a muscle, Monroe," she replied, raising the field glasses to her eyes again and staring at the farmhouse. "Not until you tell me what's supposed to be going on here."

Jack Monroe ignored the question. "I thought your people told you to be nice to me."

"Being nice and being conned are two different things," Helen snapped back. "You're just a passenger here, Monroe, you want to remember that. You've got no jurisdiction, no authority, nothing. In my book you're just another civilian." Lounging in the passenger seat, Monroe chewed on the ends of his moustache and noted the touch of colour rise on the gir1's cheekbones. He was getting to her. "Ah, you Jane Fonda types," he deliberately needled her again, "you're all the same. You want to wear the pants but when it comes to the crunch you don't have the balls to go with them. All you've got is attitude."

That did it. Helen lowered the binloculars and gave him her best frosty stare. "You know what; my people said?" she inquired, very calm, very cool. "they said keep the man out of mischief that's what they said, and that's exactly what I'm going to do."

"Hey, Sarge," Monroe drawled the rank to accentuate the sarcasm. "All I want to do is look the place over. Where's the big deal in that?" Sarge... there it was again. Funny, Helen thought, funny how the rank still sounded strange to her ears. She still had that impulse to turn around, see who was being addressed. Oh boy, she had been a detective-sergeant for exactly six days, the promotion coinciding with her transfer from the familiar ground of the division to the National Drugs Intelligence Unit at New Scotland Yard where she was still suffering from culture shock and had to admit grudgingly to herself that she was a little lost, a little out of her depth, but trying hard not to show it, particularly not in front of this pushy narcotics agent she'd been saddled with. Babysit the guy until we can find you a niche, that's what they'd told her. Wheel him around, give him the treatment, only hey, Helen, you're a DS now, so you've got to start taking some responsibility, start trusting your own judgement. Cut your teeth on the guy, OK? No sweat. just keep him on a tight rein, OK? OK... only this smart alec was beginning to get her down.

"I don't need your opinion, Monroe." She tried hard not to sound defensive. "I asked you what the hell was going on and until I get a straight answer we don't move a muscle. You know we're not even supposed to be here." Monroe chewed on the ends of his moustache. No style, the British, he told himself sourly. No get-up-and-go. That was their whole problem. Where was all that kick-ass bulldog stuff? What did you have to do to get them off their butts? Already he'd wasted best part of a month cooling his heels in London, everything a major debate, while time drifted by and he burned with frustration. Cooperation, they'd promised. Anything you want. Nothing too much trouble for our good friends in the US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Now just what can we do for you, Agent Monroe? But when he'd told them they'd smiled politely, told him to relax, see the sights. In short they'd given him the runaround. Now he was stuck with this prissy broad who was not only hard work but was fast becoming a royal pain.

Monroe changed tack, smiled sweetly. "Helen, listen, why fight? What's the problem? We take a nice drive in the countryside" "that's another thing," Helen interrupted him, "I'm supposed to keep the office informed of our movements. I should have called in..."

"...and your good old buddy here from the U.S. of A takes an interest in your quaint old English farms. So I'm a tourist, so humour me. Where's the harm?" Helen hesitated. "I don't know," she admitted, "I just get the feeling I'm walking into something here."

"Come on," Monroe cajoled her, "You don't have to do anything, so who's to know? just sit in the car. We go down there, you give me twenty minutes to have a look around and we're home free. Tell you what. We'll find a nice little country inn and I'll buy you a steak, all the trimmings. How's that for a deal?"

Despite her unease, Helen Linden felt her resistance weaken. What the hell, she told herself; so Monroe wanted to play his game close to his chest, well, two could dance to that number. Be pleasant to the man, they had told her, turn on the charm, find out what he's really up to. Well, she could manage that easily enough, the guy was practically transparent. Then why was she still so doubtful? She raised the binoculars to her eyes and swept the countryside again, seeking some clue to her unease. The old dilapidated farmhouse he had taken such an interest in looked harmless enough, surrounded by green fields, a birch copse on the ridge. A scene of rustic tranquillity. Yet still she was uncertain.

"Come on." Monroe pushed harder. "You don't want me to have to tell your people that you chickened out on me, do you, kiddo?" The jibe so casually delivered stung deep and Helen felt her cheeks burn. They'd told her to play it by ear, just get the feel for intelligence work, take it nice and easy. Yeah, well they'd reckoned without Jack Monroe's king-sized ego, Helen thought, and the feminist instinct behind her hazel eyes told her that she wouldn't take a slap in the face from any man.

In the same instant movement caught her eye and she twisted around in time to see a red and white police patrol car with a blue aerofoil ripple-light across the roof and the crest of the local force on the door cruise slowly into the car park, its forest of radio aerials swaying.

"Christ, that tears it!" Helen muttered under her breath as the police car passed by with just a touch of the brakes and the driver's face turned towards her before it rolled on. "Now they're going to PNC us!" She knew it for certain. She'd have done the same thing herself Pick up the radio and make a quick computer check on the registration, just routine. "When they find out we're a Met job motor they"ll want to know what we're doing on their turf and that's when the phones are going to buzz." She bit her thumbnail. They weren't supposed to be here. Shit! All those smart people with their friendly advice. They'd be pulling rank and roasting her newly minted DS hide.

Helen's jaw set as she reached forward and started the engine, her mind made up for her. "All right, we're going down," she told Monroe. "And just for the record, that was my decision. But you put one foot wrong, Monroe, and I'll personally throw the book at you."

"Yes, Sergeant, ma'am," Monroe flipped her a salute. "Whatever you say, just as long as you've got that burr in your breeches at last."

The unmarked police car wound down the Devon lanes towards the farmhouse, turning finally on to a track which ran between high hedgerows. The crumbling tarmac was eaten with moss and spiky with tufts of grass. Wheels drummed over a rusty cattle grid and almost immediately the track ended and they were confronted by a five bar gate on which hung a hand-lettered sign: LOWER COOMBE BARTON. PRIVATE. KEEP OUT.

Helen stopped the car facing the gate. With her hands resting on the steering-wheel she surveyed the weed-strewn farmyard and the farmhouse beyond. Up close, the place looked even more forlorn. She glanced across at Monroe, noticed the intent expression in his eyes and asked, "Well? Now are you satisfied? Now are you going to tell me what's supposed to be going on here?"

The American shrugged. just curious," he replied for he had no intention of sharing the information which had led him to this spot on the map. just looks like a dump, huh," he added, wondering at the same time: Is this the place?

"Look, Monroe," Helen told him, "I don't know what you're up to. I don't know how you do these things in your country, but I've got to warn you, you go in there, you're breaking the law."

Monroe chuckled. "the law? You want to give me a lecture on the law?" He reached for the door-handle. "stay here," he told her, "I'm going to take a look around. Anyone comes along, give me two quick touches on the horn, OK?" Helen felt a further twinge of apprehension. Despite herself, she laid a hand on his arm, recalling her instructions and said, "Look, Monroe, if you've got something definite we ought to make this official. Get a warrant. Call on the local police, tell "em what we're up to. They're going to be pretty peeved if they ever find out we're treading on their toes."

Monroe laughed. "Come on! I'm just a tourist, remember?" He patted her hand. "sit tight, babe. Anything happens here, you don't know a thing about it. Blame it on the crazy Yank."

Before she could protest further, Monroe got out of the car and walked over to the gate, noticing the new padlock and chain which held it secure. Well now, somebody was mighty keen on security. He vaulted the gate more out of bravado than necessity, knowing she was watching him. Forty-six years old, he rebuked himself as he landed heavily on the far side, and still showing off for the ladies. You're an old phoney, Jack Monroe. He walked towards the farmhouse, picking his way through the weeds, still conscious of the girl's eyes on his back, wondering if he could second guessjher. Ice maiden Helen Linden, the original bra burner. He wondered idly if he should make a move on her once this little excursion was over. just out of masculine pride. He imagined her nails digging into his back as he brought her to ecstasy and ust as quickly pushed the fantasy aside. There was work to do.

Monroe followed one rough cob flank of the longhouse, confirming its neglected condition. Some dump! But maybe it was deliberate, maybe it was supposed to look like that. Stepping carefully in the knee-high weeds, Monroe reached the front door and saw that it was ajar an inch or so. In the shadow of the thatched canopy which had all but collapsed, he examined the rotten timber of the door itself wondering: Now why would someone want to padlock the gate, yet leave the door open, unless... As he peered closer faint chisel gouges on the wooden frame made him freeze instinctively and the hairs on his neck began to rise. Had he glimpsed something through the crack, or had it been a trick of the light?

Chewing thoughtfully on his moustache, a puzzled frown creased the DEA agent's forehead. Some sixth sense was sending danger signals. Leaving the door untouched, he continued his progress along the wall even more cautiously, his senses keyed. Skirting the longhouse itself, he came to the cow byre which abutted on the main building. Again a broken door sagged open invitingly and peering inside he could make out a few pieces of farm machinery standing on the dirt Hoor. Squinting into the gloom, he could see a partition wall towards the rear ofthe barn, a wall of concrete blocks, roughly constructed. Again his senses counselled caution and he continued carefully around the outside of the barn, running a hand lightly over the cob wall. At the rear he found an aluminium Hue protruding from the cob, patched in with new mortar. The Hue cowl was soot-blackened and when he ran a finger around the inside the soot came away easily. The frown deepened.

Monroe went back around the farmhouse which no longer looked so innocent. Nowhe was looking for small signs which would give the lie to this carefully created impression of rural neglect. At a ground-Hoor window he stopped and began a minute examination of the structure. Four panes of dusty glass in a rotting wooden easement, putty crumbling away. He reached into the pocket of his windbreaker, took out a thin-bladed penknife and began to scrape at what was left of the putty.

When he had the glass completely exposed he stepped back and contemplated his handiwork. Something else was wrong. It took him a moment to realize what it was. There were no cobwebs! Everything else had been carefully faked, but the spiders hadn't had time to do their work. Monroe whistled softly between his teeth. Suddenly it was looking very suspicious indeed.

Inserting the tip of the knife blade, he prised the glass free and gingerly removed the pane. A dank musty odour wafted out from the interior and he wrinkled his nose at the cloying smell of decay. Now totally engrossed, Monroe eased his head in through the opening and immediately spotted the wiring tacked out of sight behind the window. He followed it with his eye. At the opening point, near the catch, there was a micro-switch and, twisting his head to follow the wire, he found a matchbox-sized plug of plastic explosive taped above. The window where it would do the most damage.

Breathing shallowly, Monroe reached in with his arm and explored the explosive with his fingertips. His light touch revealed a stick detonator which experience told him could easily be withdrawn without triggering the plastic. Gingerly he gripped it between thumb and forefinger, held his breath and plucked it free. Nothing happened and he allowed the now harmless detonator to dangle inside the window as he breathed out his relief Carefully he reached in again, slipped the catch, raised the casement and heaved himself inside. A brooding silence filled the farmhouse as he carried out a perfunctory search, the film of dust which lay undisturbed on floors and furniture telling him that the place had been undisturbed for some time. The front door had been booby- trapped in the same crude fashion, but Monroe left the device alone, knowing that the farmhouse itself would stand closer inspection but for the moment he hadn't the time for detail. He had seen enough and his intuition was already pointing him towards the barn.

He retraced his steps and left by the same window, walked around to the byre, and steering clear of the broken door, paced out the distances, working out rough dimensions in his mind. The possibility which had occurred to him seemed entirely credible and giving the walls his full attention, he circled around until he came upon an air vent set into the wall with the same rough trowel strokes which had fixed the flue. He scraped at it with his knife until the grille came loose and he eased it free an inch or two so that he could run his fingers around the interior, feeling for wires. It seemed clean and when he gave the grille a tug it came away in his hands, exposing an opening just wide enough to squeeze through.

Monroe looked around him. Beyond the buildings the hillside rose to the copse of silver birch. High in the sky a pair of buzzards were wheeling over the tree-line. Jack Monroe sniffed the country air, flexed his muscles one last time and heaved himself up into the opening, wiggling his shoulders through the tight space and slithering headlong into the blockhouse, landing on all fours. Inside, he got to his feet and followed the shaft of light slanting in through the opening.

"Well I'll be dipped in shit!" He voiced his own astonishment, despite his expectations. His information had been right! The shaft of light was falling on the paraphernalia of a precious metal smelter. Gas bottles were still in place, connected to a small furnace with a grooved channel running to the smelting bed where metal clips held the mould in position. Stooping to examine the smelter more closely, Monroe could see that it had been carelessly abandoned, for one of the moulds was still in place and minute droplets clung to the crucible. Brushing them into his handkerchief and rocking back on to his haunches, Monroe massaged his ego imagining the eulogy in the Law Enforcement Bulletin: Under the noses of the British police DEA agent Jack Monroe single handedly uncovered a major crime organisation which dwarfed the legendary French Connection. For his services to law enforcement, Jack Monroe...

Jack Monroe!" The girl's shout shattered his daydream. "Monroe! Where the hell are you?" Surprised, he glanced at his watch and realized that he had become so engrossed that he had lost all track. of time. Forty-five minutes had elapsed. Jack Monroe! Can you hear me?" Helen Linden, her voice anxious, looking for him. Monroe dusted his knees, located the door in the blockwork partition leading back into the` barn, checked it quickly, freed the live-lever deadlock and pushed the door open. Light streamed into the barn, flooding around the leaning wreck of a door, slanting across the bare earth floor. Overhead a latticework of rafters sagged under the weight of the rotting thatch.

Jack! For God's sake, where are you?" The girl came into sight in the opening, walking towards the barn, turning, looking around her as she crossed the farmyard. A self-satislied smirk formed on Monroe's face. Her quick, strutting, impatient stride, that jerky swing of her hips in her fawn whipcord jeans; the swell of her breasts under her sweater, halo of flaming auburn curls framing the oval of her face. Feeling pleased with himself Monroe thought: Yeah, all of a sudden little Miss Prissy looks easy on the eye. A nice intimate steak dinner, bottle of good wine and maybe he would make that play for her after all.

"Jack! Jack Monroe? She was shading her eyes, peering around anxiously. Monroe's smirk widened into a grin as he leaned casually against the door-jamb and stroked his moustache, recapturing his amorous fantasy.

"Hey kiddo, over here!" he called out teasingly and she turned, looking at first puzzled and then angry as she began to stride towards the barn, walking quickly. As he watched her approach, the lazy self-satisfied grin still on his face, a trick of the light gave Monroe a glimpse of the tripwire strung across the dirt doorway ofthe barn. His eyes snapped wide.

"Don't!" But the cry formed only in his mind as his memory Hashed back twenty years to the jungles of Vietnam, the badlands on the banks of the Song Tra Bong, deep in Charlie country. They'd set out the claymores in a defensive perimeter when the kid soldier with the thousand-yard stare came down the trail.

"Don't!" Monroe had yelled the same word of warning which had jammed in his mind as the kid walked into the tripwire.

The teenage soldier snagged the wire and detonated the claymore anti-personnel mine. Helen Linden stepped into the barn, caught her foot in the command wire.

The grunt took the blast in his midriff and was flung backwards, throwing up his arms, his helmet flying. The nail bomb buried in the earth floor of the barn exploded, hurling the girl detective-sergeant into the air. The images blurred into one as the cry of warning stuck in Monroe's throat; a rag doll ripped apart by a booby-trap. Split between the two images, Monroe flung himself forward, grabbed the soldier, saw the shocked astonishment in his eyes; scooped up Helen Linden and saw the same expression of panic and disbelief The eyes merged, dulled, faded as they both died in his arms.

Smothered in the swirl of dust in the entrance to the barn, DEA agent Jack Monroe cradled the dead girl in his arms and like an animal in anguish threw his head back to the sky. Kneeling in the spreading puddle of blood, he produced one long strangled curse: "Fat Man!"