- Published: 4 June 2024
- ISBN: 9781804992159
- Imprint: Penguin
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 672
- RRP: $22.99
The Year of the Locust
The ground-breaking second novel from the internationally bestselling author of I AM PILGRIM
I once went to kill a man. At other times, in younger days, I had followed my work through the neon-lit alleys of Tokyo, watched the sun rise over the Mosque of the Nine Cupolas and waited on the waterfront in Old Istanbul as a woman’s tears fell like rain.
This time, it was way out east where the Aegean Sea runs into theMediterranean and the Turkish sun beats down on a chain of tinyislands. The smallest of them was also the most remote – waves broke over the wreck of a freighter lying on a reef, dangerous currents swirled through hidden coves, and a fishing village, its wooden boats long gone, was nothing but ruins now.
I landed in late spring, put ashore by the Egyptian skipper of a tramp steamer who was wise enough not to ask many questions. I can still recall the breeze on my face and the heady scent of pine needles as I moved through a silent forest; as I have done for most of my working life, I stuck close to the shadows.
My target that day was a brave man, no doubt of it, supposedly a German out of Nuremberg – that beautiful old city steeped in so much dark history – and when I surprised him in the kitchen of his lonely villa, we both knew I had travelled a long distance, both in miles and in years, to arrive at such a deadly rendezvous.
I was a member of the agency back then and for many years had gone under the codename Kane. Five years earlier, the German had been a trusted asset of US intelligence in Tehran. What nobody knew, but found out soon enough, was that he was secretly working as a contractor for the Russians. It seems like everything is being outsourced these days, even espionage.
On a quiet Monday night he had gone for a late meal in the bistro at Tehran’s gilded Espinas Palace Hotel and in the men’s room had delivered the names of ten of our most valuable Iranian sources to a representative of Moscow Central. It is well known in the secret world that the spy agencies of Russia and Iran have worked hand in glove for years, so it was inevitable that the list of names would end up with PAVA, the brutal Iranian secret police. As a result, our network – built over many years at a huge cost in lives and treasure and, more importantly, a vital back door into the Iranian nuclear programme – was destroyed within hours. Even for the CIA, an organization that had known its fair share of failure, it ranked as an unqualified disaster.
The consequences for the eight men and two women who were unmasked as a result of our asset’s betrayal were far more catastrophic. They appeared before a judge in a late-night trial and the next day workmen started to assemble ten towering construction cranes in one of Tehran’s largest squares.
Suzanne Liu lived for days like this, days when her world seemed like a great game and the sweet smell of opportunity and cash hung in the air like lavender and sage.
That’s his third course correction, sir,” Santos said. “There’s no doubt he’s chasing us.”
Starbursts blink from streetlights like they’re sharing a secret as I wake to find myself slumped in the back of a cab, without any recollection of how I got here, or where I’m going.
It’s a brisk autumn day in June in one of South Africa’s largest cities, and thirty-year-old Benjamin Lucas is enjoying an off day from his South African Diamond Tour.
I stare down at the young man who stands below me ankle-deep in the mud of the banks of the Thames.
‘Jason Mott?’ ‘Yes. Here. That’s me.’ I stare down at the young man who stands below me ankle deep in the mud of the banks of the Thames.
I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee.