BY: PAUL HOWARD
Sarah Appleton has been kidnapped from her university campus in Cambridge, England. When she escapes, killing her abductor, she sets in motion a chain of events that has repercussions all across the world. Sarah and her father, Martin Appleton, flee the Russian mafia, from whom Martin stole twenty million dollars in bearer bonds, leaving authorities to unravel the threat of a terrorist plot using biological weapons of mass destruction stolen from a Russian lab and sold to Middle Eastern extremists. As the authorities scramble to unravel the scant clues left by people who make few mistakes, terrorists gear up for an attack that will leave millions of innocent people dead and the governments of several Middle Eastern nations in chaos.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Disciples of Death by Paul Howard, Sarah Appleton is kidnapped because her father stole twenty million from the Russian mafia. After Sarah escapes, she and her father flee under assumed names, with the mafia close on their heels. As the authorities investigate, they are left with a bunch of unanswered questions, such as what the mafia has done with a load of biological weapons they stole from a Russian lab. Now it is a race against time to track down the weapons before terrorists can attack and cause millions of innocent deaths.
The story is very fast paced and filled with surprises, both for the characters and the readers. It will grab your interest at the beginning and hang onto it right through the end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Disciples of Death by Paul Howard is the story of a group of Middle Eastern terrorists who plan an attack on other Middle Eastern countries, using biological weapons of mass destruction. The book takes us through the maneuverings of the Russian mafia, the subterfuge of the terrorist cell, and the desperate plight of a man and his daughter after the man stole $20,000,000 in bearer bonds from the Russian mafia. When the authorities get involved—after a mafia assassin finds the man and his daughter—the investigation goes international and the hunt for stolen biological weapons the mafia sold to some terrorists begins.
Disciples of Death is a cleverly told story, in the manner of Tom Clancy, with a strong plot that’s full of twists and turns. Its fast -paced, tension-filled action will have you turning pages well into the night.
Death was easy to find if you looked for it. Artie Grimshaw had found it on many occasions in his life. He wouldn’t kill the girl just yet. There were things he needed to know about her father first. She’d make a good bargaining tool. Girls always did. Fathers always had a soft spot for their daughters. He presumed Appleton was a good father. He was a shit in most things in life, but surely this fit young thing would nurture the fatherly instincts, even in him.
Murder didn’t bother Grimshaw. Murder had always been a constant bedfellow in his life. He looked at the terrified girl, lying bound and gagged on the bed, and wondered if she realized this was almost her moment to die? The victim never did, up until the end–they always believed there was hope.
Grimshaw stared out the grimy caravan window at the rain lashing in off the North Sea. How could a place be such a wonderful holiday haven in the summer and yet so bleak and depressing in winter? Grimshaw needed to bring Appleton to him, find out what the bastard had done with the stolen money.
Grimshaw watched the girl’s smooth shaven legs wriggling in her bonds and felt a perverted sexual attraction. Tasty bait. Was it bait enough to bring Appleton to him? He’d make the girl give him Appleton’s mobile number shortly. Maybe he’d have some fun first, show the girl that older men could be just as sexually demanding as the young ones.
“Fucking weather!” he grumbled.
He swigged some of his beer and then walked into the cramped toilet. Caravans were always so fucking cramped, the decaying world of sad, gray pensioners. He remembered awful memories of childhood when his drippy parents had caught the camping bug and, every holiday, had dragged him around the campsites of England. He shut the door behind him. The girl was secure, the caravan door locked. Even Grimshaw needed privacy for some moments in his life.
After the toilet door shut, the girl frantically struggled with her bonds. She could feel the left hand loosening. Twisting, writhing her body, somehow she found the strength to move her numb hands. The ropes had dug deeply, her blood circulation had been squeezed, so she could barely move her hands. If she could free just one of them…
Her senses were alive with fear and tension. Every creak and sound from the toilet was amplified in her head.
If she could just free a hand. One hand would give her hope. She could feel the rope slackening. In the toilet, the monster was singing some dreadful Chas and Dave song she remembered hearing an uncle play years ago. The knot finally wriggled loose, her hand was free.
Numb hands didn’t make for easy work. The blood was slowly pulsating through her veins. The circulation was coming back, as she frantically removed the rest of her bonds. The sound of violently flushing water–the chain had been pulled, the monster was almost upon her.
A matter of seconds. She stared at the gun on the table that had held her eyes in morbid fascination since her kidnapping. She reached, grabbed. Her shaking hands somehow managed to cling to it just as the monster arrived back in the room.
She removed the safety catch. All that reading of detective fiction in her formative years at last came in useful.
When Grimshaw entered the room and saw the gun pointing at him, his eyes were suddenly alert and attentive. The High Power Browning was shaking in the terrified girl’s hand. “Take it easy, darling, you could have a serious accident with that.”
“Don’t move!” the girl shouted.
Grimshaw nervously edged a step forward.
Grimshaw smiled confidently. “I work with killers every day, see what it takes to become one. I can take one look in your eyes and see that they’re not the eyes of a killer.” Grimshaw stopped and paused. “I know you won’t use it, darling. You probably don’t know how to.”
Grimshaw walked toward the gun. The girl fired twice into his torso. The bullets ripped into his heart ventricles. Grimshaw stared blankly, unable to comprehend his misjudgement. He fell and died on the floor. Blood seeped across the faded linoleum. The girl rushed to the toilet and was violently sick in the basin. She retched and remained there for several minutes. After rinsing her mouth and wiping it, she returned to the living room.
The room was silent when she returned, the sound of rain lashing against the window the only accompaniment to the bleak Orwellian scene. In a table drawer, she found her confiscated mobile phone. She frantically checked it, grateful it still had enough charge. She dialled her father. She’d killed a man. She’d killed a man, but he’d kidnapped her. Surely, killing in self-defence couldn’t count as murder.
Her father answered on the third ring.
“Dad, I’m in trouble!” she shouted.
“You’re not pregnant–”
“Of course I’m not pregnant. You have to listen to me. I’ve killed a man.”
“Killed a man–”
“He kidnapped me, gave me no choice,” she tried to explain. “He kidnapped me off of campus–it was horrible–”
“Keep calm, Sarah! If you stay calm, we can get you through this.”
“I need to call the police.”
“Don’t call the police, darling. You killed a man. We have to think about what we’re doing.”
“Think about? What’s there to think about?”
“Where are you?” Appleton asked nervously.
“I don’t know. The sign outside the caravan says Caister. It’s a caravan park.”
“Caister’s in Norfolk,” Appleton said. “I’ll be there in two hours. When I get there, I’ll ring you for further directions.”
Appleton hung up. Sarah stared blankly at the dead body. She’d killed a man. She’d killed a man, and she wasn’t sure if there were any other kidnappers around. She grabbed the gun, clutched it as if her life depended on it. Dad should’ve told her to call the police. Why hadn’t he told her to call the police?
The thought kept regurgitating through her head.
She stood by the window and stared at some nearby bushes being buffeted by the wind. There was no sign of a car. She’d been brought here in a car. She tried to focus, remember. An intruder had chloroformed her as she opened her car door.
Everything after that was blank until she’d woken, bound, on the bed.
She went outside to find out where she was. At the corner of the road, she found a sign with the campsite name. When her father rang, she had a brief directional conversation with him, and, shortly after, she could see darting headlights coming along the coast road toward her.
It was her father. His trademark erratic driving took him to the other side of the campsite. Sarah rushed out on the grass and waved him toward her. The Rover slid to a halt in the clawing mud close to the caravan. Appleton stepped out of the car, held his daughter a moment in a reassuring hug.
“It’s going to be okay, just stay calm, darling.” He patted his daughter on the back, attempting to reassure her. The shell-shocked look on her pale face told him she would take some reassuring.
A squally downpour battered them so they scurried inside. Appleton took in the grisly scene of Grimshaw lying in a pool of blood. Sarah shook Appleton from his reverie by bursting into tears. “I think he was going to kill me.”
Appleton held his daughter as she cried. “It’s okay, Sarah, I’m here now. We’ll sort this mess out.” Appleton gently brushed her hair with his hand. “I want you to go over everything that happened, give me some details.”
“It all happened so quickly. I went to my car. He jumped me. He thrust a chloroformed cloth over my mouth. I thought he was trying to smother me. I fought for breath–blacked out. When I awoke, I found myself tied up on the bed.”
Appleton looked at Grimshaw’s body. Grimshaw was a twisted motherfucker who had a catalogue of violent assaults and a couple of rapes on his rap sheet. Appleton’s head was filled with horror at the thought of Sarah at his mercy. He must’ve been acting independently. If he’d been acting with Winterburn’s blessing, then Winterburn would be here torturing information out of Sarah. “We’d better get rid of the body.”
Sarah angrily pulled away from her father. “Get rid of it? Why would we need to get rid of the body? We need to ring the police. I was kidnapped. Shooting him will just go down as self-defence.”
Appleton sighed. “We can’t ring the police, love.”
“The police have to be told! Nobody is going to blame me for killing him, under the circumstances.
“You can’t ring the police, love.”
Sarah glared at her father. “We need to ring the police. He might not have been working alone.”
Appleton walked to the window and stared into the night. “He was working alone.”
Sarah stormed over to her father and jerked him around so he was looking at her. “How do you know he was working alone?”
“Trust me on this, Sarah. He was working alone. He was working alone, trying to get an angle on his boss to use for financial gain.” Appleton paused. “These people work outside the law, and there are reasons why we can’t go to the police.”
“That man kidnapped me at gunpoint. In my escape, I shot him to survive. No court is ever going to look at me in anything other than a sympathetic light.”
“If you go to the police, we’re as good as dead.”
Sarah stared blankly at Appleton. She was starting to realize how little she knew him. “What have you been doing, Dad?”
“Isn’t it always?” she snapped.
“There are some people I work for. It’s not a case of what I’ve been doing. It’s more a case of what I haven’t been doing.”
She grabbed him. “It’s one of your fucking deals. I nearly got killed because of one of your fucking deals.”
She pulled away and started toward the door.
“Where are you going?” Appleton asked.
“I need some air.” She opened the door and stood there, looking out into the chilly rain-washed night.
Appleton slowly walked up to his daughter, leaned on her cold bare shoulders. “You can’t go anywhere now that you’ve killed Grimshaw. Artie has some powerful friends. He must’ve told someone he had you. They’ll find out you’ve killed him, and they’ll come after us.”
“And how would you know that?”
“I do the accounts for his boss, Winterburn. Grimshaw works for one of the London firms–”
“You told me you were out of all that shit!” Sarah rounded on him. “After Mum died, you promised me you’d get out of all that and go into legitimate business.”
“I’m sorry, Sarah, you don’t get out that easy.”
“Anyone can get out if they want to!” She shook her head. “You’ve never wanted to. You’ve always pretended you’re something you’re not, you think you’re big time when you’re just a plastic gangster.”
“And that’s what you think of me?”
“It’s what I know, Dad.”
Appleton went out to his car and returned with his briefcase. He put the briefcase on a table and clicked it open. From inside, he took out some bearer bonds and laid them on the table. “If I’m just small time, then what do you make of these?”
Sarah’s delicate fingers ran through the bearer bonds, the sapphire blue of her eyes more predominant in the darkness. “You stole these from the person this Grimshaw worked for.”
“Grimshaw was just a lackey. Now, Josh Winterburn, who Grimshaw worked for, Winterburn is the real deal.”
“You stole these from this Winterburn?”
“How could you? You’re messing with psychos. I’m your daughter.” She stared at Appleton, uncomprehending. “If you put your life in danger, you put mine in danger, too.”
“Don’t panic, love. I’ve got enough money here for us to make a new life together somewhere.”
“I don’t want a new life,” she protested, “I’m happy with my old one.”
“I’m sorry, love.”
He was always sorry, Sarah thought. Dad was always sorry, and other people had to clean up the mess. She didn’t know much about her life now. One thing she did know–from this moment on, she was on the run and it could last indefinitely.
© 2016 by Paul Howard