The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes . Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Feb 2006
From the book
Thursday, June 22, The Present
Cotton Malone spotted the knife at the same time he saw Stephanie Nelle. He was sitting at a table outside the Café Nikolaj, comfortable in a white lattice chair. The sunny afternoon was pleasant and Højbro Plads, the popular Danish square that spanned out before him, bristled with people. The café was doing its usual brisk business--the mood feverish--and for the past half hour he'd been waiting for Stephanie.
She was a petite woman, in her sixties, though she never confirmed her age and the Justice Department personnel records that Malone once saw contained only a winking n/a in the space reserved for date of birth. Her dark hair was streaked with waves of silver, and her brown eyes offered both the compassionate look of a liberal and the fiery glint of a prosecutor. Two presidents had tried to make her attorney general, but she'd turned both offers down. One attorney general had lobbied hard to fire her--especially after she was enlisted by the FBI to investigate him--but the White House nixed the idea since, among other things, Stephanie Nelle was scrupulously honest.
In contrast, the man with the knife was short and stout, with narrow features and brush-cut hair. Something haunted loomed on his East European face--a forlornness that worried Malone more than the glistening blade--and he was dressed casually in denim pants and a blood-red jacket.
Malone rose from his seat but kept his eyes trained on Stephanie.
He thought of shouting a warning, but she was too far away and there was too much noise between them. His view of her was mo- mentarily blocked by one of the modernistic sculptures that dotted Højbro Plads--this one of an obscenely obese woman, lying naked on her belly, her obtrusive buttocks rounded like windswept mountains. When Stephanie appeared from the other side of the cast bronze, the man with the knife had moved closer and Malone watched as he severed a strap that draped her left shoulder, jerked a leather bag free, then shoved Stephanie to the flagstones.
A woman screamed and commotion erupted at the sight of a purse snatcher brandishing a knife.
Red Jacket rushed ahead, Stephanie's bag in hand, and shouldered people out of his way. A few pushed back. The thief angled left, around another of the bronzed sculptures, and finally broke into a run. His route seemed aimed at Købmagergade, a pedestrian-only lane that twisted north, out of Højbro Plads, deeper into the city's shopping district.
Malone bounded from the table, determined to cut off the assailant before he could turn the corner, but a cluster of bicycles blocked his way. He circled the cycles and sprinted forward, partially orbiting a fountain before tackling his prey.
They slammed into hard stone, Red Jacket taking most of the impact, and Malone immediately noticed that his opponent was muscular. Red Jacket, undaunted by the attack, rolled once, then brought a knee into Malone's stomach.
The breath left him in a rush and his guts churned.
Red Jacket sprang to his feet and raced up Købmagergade.
Malone stood, but instantly crouched over and sucked a couple of shallow breaths.
Damn. He was out of practice.
He caught hold of himself and resumed pursuit, his quarry now possessing a fifty-foot head start. Malone had not seen the knife during their struggle, but as he plowed up the street between shops he saw that the man still grasped the leather bag. His chest burned, but he was closing the ...
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