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Firewall: (Nick Stone Thriller 3) (Anglais) Broché – 1 octobre 2004


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1

HELSINKI, FINLAND
Monday, 6 December 1999

The Russians were serious players. If things didn't go as planned, Sergei said, I'd be lucky to be shot dead in the hotel lobby. If they captured me, I'd be taken to a remote bit of wasteland and have my stomach slit open. They'd pull my intestines out and leave me to watch them squirm around on my chest like a bucket of freshly caught eels for the thirty minutes it would take me to die. These things happen, he had explained, when you mess with the main men in ROC (Russian organized crime). But I didn't have a choice; I desperately needed the cash.

'What's it called again, Sergei?' I mimed the disembowelment.

Eyes staring straight ahead, he gave a brief, sombre smile and muttered, 'Vikings revenge.'

It was just before 7 p.m. and it had already been dark for three and a half-hours. The air temperature had been well below freezing all day; it hadn't snowed for a while, but there was still a lot of the stuff about, ploughed to the sides of the roads.

The two of us had been sitting very still for the best part of an hour. Until I'd just spoken, our breathing was the only sign of movement. We were parked two blocks away from the Intercontinental hotel, using the shadows between the street lights to conceal our presence in the dirty black Nissan 4x4. The rear seats were down flat to make it easier to bundle the target inside, complete with me wrapped round him like a wrestler to keep him there. The 4x4 was sterile: no prints and completely empty apart from the trauma pack lying on the folded seats. Our boy had to be delivered across the border alive, and a couple of litres of Ringer's Solution might come in handy if this job turned into a gangfuck. Right now, it certainly had all the ingredients of one. I found myself hoping it wouldn't be me needing the infusion.

It had been a while since I'd felt the need to pre-canulate, making it quicker for me to replace any fluid from gunshot wounds, but today had just that feel about it. I'd brought a catheter from the UK and it was already inserted into a vein under my left forearm, secured by tape and protected by Tubigrip. Anti-coagulant was preloaded inside the catheter's needle and chamber to stop the blood that filled it from clotting. Ringer's Solution isn't as good as plasma to replace blood loss - it's only a saline mix - but I didn't want anything plasma-based. Russian quality control was a contradiction in terms, and money was what I wanted to return to the UK with, not HIV. I'd spent enough time in Africa not treating anyone's gunshot wounds because of the risk of infection, and I wasn't about to let it happen now.

We sat facing Mannerheimintie, 200 metres down the hill from our position. The boulevard was the main drag into the city centre, just fifteen minutes' walk away to the right. It carried a constant stream of slow, obedient traffic each side of the tram lines. Up here it was like a different world. Low-level apartment blocks hugged each side of the quiet street and an inverted 'V' of white Christmas lights sparkled in almost every window.

People walked past, straining under the weight of their shopping, crammed into large carrier bags with pictures of holly and Santa. They didn't notice us as they headed home to their smart apartments; they were too busy keeping their footing on the icy pavements and their heads down against the wind that howled and buffeted the 4x4.

The engine had been off all the time we'd been here, and it was like sitting in a fridge. Our breath billowed like low cloud as we waited.

I kept visualizing how, when and where I was going to do my stuff, and more importantly, what I was going to do if things got fucked up. Once the target has been selected the basic sequence of a kidnap is nearly always the same. First comes reconnaissance; second, abduction; third, detention; fourth, negotiation; fifth, ransom payment, and finally, release - though sometimes that doesn't happen. My job was to plan and implement the first three phases; the rest of the task was out of my hands.

Three members of the loud-tie-and-braces brigade from a private bank had approached me in London. They'd been given my name by an ex-Regiment mate who now worked for one of the big security companies, and who'd been nice enough to recommend me when this particular commission had been declined.

'Britain', they said to me as we sat at a window table in the roof bar of the Hilton, looking down on to the gardens of Buckingham Palace, 'is facing an explosion in Russian mafia-organized crime. London is a money-laundering haven. The ROC are moving as much as £20 billion through the City each year, and up to 200 of their senior players either live in Britain or visit regularly.'

The executives went on to say they'd discovered that millions had been channelled through Valentin Lebed's accounts at their bank in just three years. They didn't like that, and were none too keen on the thought of the boys with the blue flashing lights paying him a visit and seeing the name on all his paying-in slips. Their solution was to have Val lifted and taken to St Petersburg, where, I presumed, they had either made arrangements to persuade him to move his account to a different bank, or to channel even more through them to make the risk more acceptable. Whichever, I didn't give a fuck so long as I got paid.

I looked over at Sergei. His eyes glinted as he stared at the traffic below us and his Adam's apple moved as he swallowed. There wasn't anything left to say; we'd done enough talking during the two-week build-up. It was now time to do.

The conference of European Council members was due to start in Helsinki in two days. Blue EU flags already lined the main roads, and large black convoys of Eurocrats drove around with motorcycle outriders, heading from pre-meeting to pre-meeting. The police had set up diversions to control the flow of traffic around the city, and orange reflective cones and barriers were springing up everywhere. I'd already had to change our escape route twice because of it.

Like all the high-class hotels, the Intercontinental was housing the exodus from Brussels. All the suits had been in the city since last week, wheeling and dealing so that when the heads of state hit town, all they'd have to do was politely refuse Tony Blair's invitation to eat British beef at some dinner for the media, then leave. All very good, but for me security around here was tighter than a duck's arse everything from sealed manholes to prevent bombs being planted to a heavy police presence on the streets. They would certainly have contingency plans for every possible event, especially armed attack.

Sergei had a folding-stock AK a Russian automatic, 7.62mm short assault rifle - under his feet. His cropped, thinning brown hair was covered by a dark-blue woollen hat, and the old Soviet Army body armour he wore under his duvet jacket made him look like the Michelin man. If Hollywood was looking for a Russian hard head, Sergei would win the screen test every time. Late forties, square jaw, high cheekbones and blue eyes that didn't just pierce, they chopped you into tiny pieces. The only reason he would never be a leading man was his badly pockmarked skin. Either he'd steered away from the Clearasil in his youth or he'd been burned; I couldn't tell, and I didn't want to ask. He was a hard, reliable man, and one I felt it was OK to do business with, but he wasn't going to be on my Christmas-card list.

I had read about Sergei Lysenkov's freelance activities in Intelligence Service reports. He had been a member of Spetnaz's Alpha Group, an elite of special-forces officers within the KGB, who used to be deployed wherever Moscow's power was under threat or there were wars of expansion. When hardline heads of the KGB led the 1991 coup in Moscow, they ordered Alpha Group to kill Yeltsin as he held out in the Russian White House, but Sergei and his mates decided that enough was enough and that the politicos were all as bad as each other. They disobeyed the order, the coup failed, and when Yeltsin learned what had nearly happened he took them under his direct command, cutting their power by turning them into his own bodyguards. Sergei decided to quit and make his experience and knowledge available to the highest bidder, and today that was me. It had been easy enough to make contact: I just went to Moscow and asked a few security companies where I could find him.

I needed Russians on the team because I needed to know how Russians think, how Russians do. And when I discovered that Valentin Lebed would be in Helsinki for twenty-four hours of R and R, and not in his fortress in St Petersburg, Sergei was the only one who could organize vehicles, weapons and the bribing of border guards in the time available.

The people who'd briefed me on the job had done their homework well. Valentin Lebed, they were able to tell me, had been smart during the fall of communism. Unlike some of his gaucher colleagues, he didn't keep the designer labels on the sleeves of his new suit to show how much it had cost. His rise was brutal and meteoric; within two years he was one of the dozen heads of the 'mafiocracy' who had made ROC so powerful around the world. Lebed's firm employed only ex-KGB agents overseas, using their skills and experience to run international crime like a military operation.

Coming from dirt-poor beginnings as a farmer's son in Chechnya, he'd fought against the Russians in the mid-Nineties war. His fame was sealed after rallying his men by making them watch Braveheart time and time again as the Russians bombed them day after day. He even painted his face half blue when attacking. After the war he'd had other ideas, all of them involving US dollars, and the place he'd chosen to realize them was St Petersburg.

Much of his money came from arms dealing, extortion and a string of nightclubs he owned in Moscow and elsewhere, which served as fronts for prostitution rackets. Jewellery businesses he had 'acquired' in Eastern Europe were used as a fron... --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Revue de presse

"'McNab is a terrific novelist. When it comes to thrills, he's Forsyth class'" (Mail on Sunday)

"'McNab's great asset is that the heart of his fiction is non-fiction: other thriller writers do their research, but he has actually been there'" (Sunday Times)


Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 576 pages
  • Editeur : Corgi; Édition : New edition (1 octobre 2004)
  • Collection : Nick Stone
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0552152374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552152372
  • Dimensions du produit: 10,6 x 3,4 x 17,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 225.372 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Latour07 1ER COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEURTOP 500 COMMENTATEURSVOIX VINE le 22 février 2007
Format: Broché
Excellent histoire où se combinent responsabilité parentale, nouvelle pour le héros, le combat du solitaire, les trahisons, un certain désespoir. Le héros a le sens tout britannique de l'humour qui l'aide à se sauver des situations inextricables dans lesquelles inévitablement, il tombe. De bons moments à passer.
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Amazon.com: 32 commentaires
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
If James Bond were a masochist... 30 juillet 2004
Par Rennie Petersen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
If James Bond were a masochist his name would be Nick Stone.

Nick Stone lives in an old dump of a house with a hole in the roof. He eats junk food and sleeps in seedy hotels and drives around in an old wreck of a car. He acts subservient to idiots and endures his boss who puts him on ice and insults him. He gets involved in one "mission impossible" after another, all of which end in fiasco. He gets beaten up repeatedly and eats aspirin like candy to keep the pain down. He trudges for hours through snowstorms and freezing weather and almost dies of exposure.

In other words, Nick Stone isn't just an anti-hero; he comes across as a total loser. And whenever he's given the choice he always chooses to do things the hardest way possible and suffer the consequences.

So why read a book starring Nick Stone? Because Nick Stone, despite everything I've just said about him, is the ultimate survivor. When the going gets tough (and this happens regularly) Nick Stone comes out of the confrontation alive and the bad guys are either dead or incapacitated.

Furthermore, you have the feeling that it's all real. Andy McNab was in the British SAS, and when he writes about Nick Stone you feel that everything is completely authentic. Everything that happens is described in detail and with a down-to-earth grittiness. The weapons and the explosives and the fights and the agent tradecraft are being written about by a man who really has the experience necessary to write about these things with authority.

Another plus factor is that Nick Stone, who tells the story in the first person, is not just taciturn, stoic and self-effacing; he's also sarcastic and good at poking fun at the world around him. It's a kind of black humor, but it suits the tone of the story and makes the book more enjoyable.

For non-British readers I feel the need to point out that this book is written in British English with a lot of British slang. This is something that I find appealing but that can result in difficulties occasionally. For example, "Winning the fight isn't important, it's having the bottle to get stuck in that is." (page 281) I had to query a message board frequented by British people to get a translation to ordinary English, which is roughly, "It's more important to have the right attitude, the toughness, when going into a fight than whether or not you win the fight."

This is the first Andy McNab novel that I've read, and I'll conclude this review by admitting that I have ambivalent feelings about the book. I love the authenticity of the story telling and the belief in himself that Nick Stone shows no matter what happens. But why the heck does a man with his abilities and talents always have to choose to do things the hard way and end up living like a bum and getting involved in jobs that always go terribly wrong?

Rennie Petersen
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Another huge McNab success 18 janvier 2002
Par grahamer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
What makes Andy McNab a terrific suspense thriller writer (easily on a par with Alistair Maclean) is not just his spare, hungry sentences that fire the action like bullets from a gun; not just his understanding of 'how things work' in the covert world of government spying, and not just his ability to draw in empathetic readers within just a few paragraphs. What sets McNab aside is the fact that he writes from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
No matter how much chill factor Alistair Maclean could write into Ice Station Zebra, there was no way he could ever match Andy McNab's descriptions of one night in the sub-zero temperatures of Estonia. Why? Because McNab has clearly been there - done that -got the T shirt! You just KNOW from his descriptions that he's describing the depravation and emotions that he, himself, has suffered during his years in Britain's SAS.
Following Andy McNab's hugely successful `Crisis Four', Nick Stone, now a `K' working for British Intelligence on deniable operations is desperately in need of cash. Offered the lucrative freelance job of kidnapping a mafia warlord and delivering him to St. Petersburgh, it seems to Stone that his problems are over. In fact, they are only just beginning.
Stone enters the bleak and brutal underworld of the former Soviet republic of Estonia, where unknown aggressors stalk the bitter landscape, and he soon finds himself caught between implacable enemies. And who is the secretive Liv?
Another runaway McNab success. Wake up Hollywood !
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Outstanding 15 novembre 2001
Par Kevin M Turner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is a must read for any fan of the genre. McNab's writing has gotten better and better, and his realism and 'been there done that' aura is unmatched.
I became a fan after reading Bravo Two Zero and Immediate Action. I greatly anticipated his foray into the fictional world, and have not been disappointed. I find myself wishing he would hurry up with the next installment! I want to find out how Kelly is doing, and if Nick becomes Permanent Cadre, and, well, you get the idea.
The realism of McNab's writing is what sets it apart. No gadgets, no satellites, no giant technological leaps. His characters are believable, they do believable things, and they use common tools. His Leatherman is his best friend.
If you've never read McNab, then I highly recommend him to you. Do yourself a favor and read his books in order. You'll realize just how far short the rest of the pack has fallen.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
He's done it again! 29 juin 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Andy McNab's done it again !! Firewall, the latest in the Nick Stone saga is the best yet. McNab delivers in a no-nonsense style, his gritty realism brings home the endurance of the deniable ops personel, giving the reader little gems of knowledge along the way. I doubt, for example, whether i'll ever need to soften up plastic explosive in a tub of hot water but at least I now know how it's done. Such insights together with the vivid accounts of location, conditions, treatment from and of captors expertly draw the reader into the world of covert op's to the extent that it's extremely difficult to put the books down once started. I would suggest you buy Firewall (but the others first if you haven't already) and begin to read it early in the day. Or you could buy in lots of caffeine. I can't imagine it'll take Hollywood too long before they turn Nick Stone into a celluloid hero. . .  
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
IMMENSE! 24 juillet 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I just finished reading Firewall - bougt it at the airport before I left the States but did'nt start reading till a couple of hours before landing in Paris. Could'nt wait to get to my hotel, read it in the metro, every available moment. Went straight to bed and carried on reading... and reading... WHY have'nt I found this writer before?? WHY are'nt his books side by side with Grisham in every book store back home? I have'nt been so gripped by a book since... well, I do'nt think I was ever so gripped!! The action scenes make you almost scream along with Nick Stone (I ADORE Nick Stone!) and in every other place you care, you really CARE, what happens to this guy. Hey, I'm taking time out from seeing Paris to tell everyone back home - GO READ THIS BOOK!
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