Toll For the Brave
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From the first name in heart pounding thriller fiction. Ellis Jackson woke up hugging a twelve-bore shotgun. In the next room, his mistress and his best friend lay naked on the bed, their heads blown to pulp. Back in England at last, Ellis Jackson had finally cracked. Active combat, a Viet Cong prison camp and the callous treachery of his lover and interrogator, Madam Ny, had taken their toll. Ellis Jackson was out of his mind. Or was he? Maybe it would all have been easier to take if he really had been mad.
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influence of the drug as I came to the end. ‘Cuckolding me with my own grandson,’ a voice was saying. ‘Cuckolding me with my own grandson.’ Madame Ny seemed excited. She leaned close and shook me by the chin. ‘This is the first time you’ve remembered that bit, am I right?’ I nodded and said dully, ‘What does it mean?’ ‘That she was your grandfather’s mistress. It explains everything. Her age, for example. As you said, she was no ordinary au pair girl, but a mature woman in her prime. He must
shots into the reeds on the other side of the road. I didn’t wait for an answer, wasn’t even sure if one came. I crawled across to the Alfa and wormed my way behind the wheel, dumping the shot-gun on the rear seat. I shouted to St Claire, starting the engine and moving into gear at the same moment. He loosed off a long burst into the reeds and was into the passenger seat, head-down as I moved off, accelerating so sharply that the rear wheels kicked up a great curtain of mud and filth. I went
ten miles from here so let’s get going.’ We moved on through the quiet hills, reaching Sidbury just after ten, a couple of narrow streets flanked by fifteenth century houses, deserted in the heavy rain. We slowed as an inn loomed out of the shadows on our left, a dozen or so cars parked outside and then I noticed a garage on the corner opposite and the lights were still on above the pumps. ‘Try there.’ I said and she nodded and pulled over. A middle-aged man in an old raincoat and tweed cap
up to see three or four monks riding down from the house, mounted on what looked like sturdy Welsh mountain ponies. The most interesting thing was that Chen-Kuen was in the lead. As the crowd parted on the breakwater to let him through, the men working over Pendlebury hauled him into a sitting position and one of them started to thump him vigorously in the back. Chen-Kuen dismounted and crouched beside him. None of this, of course, made the future any too bright as far as I was concerned, for
soldiers the world over get every few months. That didn’t make it any easier to take, especially with Madame Ny standing at her shoulder and following every move. I squirmed, mainly at the old girl’s rough handling and Madame Ny said softly, ‘You find this disturbing, is it not so, Mr Jackson? A basic, clinical examination carried out by a woman old enough to be your mother and yet you find it shameful.’ ‘Why don’t you jump off?’ I told her. Her eyes widened as if gaining sudden insight. ‘Ah,