View more books by Bruce Brown: A Long Way From Paradise, Violence of Action, If You Think Somebody's Out to Get You

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$29.95 / Hardcover (DJ)
ISBN: 9781457513855
172 pages
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Excerpt from the Book
CHAPTER I

THE BLACK LAVA ROCK WALL was set back 50 feet from the narrow lane that gave access to the three estates sharing it. To soften the visual effect of the high wall, the space between wall and lane was thickly planted with a riot of flowering gingers, birds of paradise, and low ornamental trees. None of the trees were allowed to overhang the rock wall.

The figure in black moved silently as a wraith through the lush plantings to the ten-foot wall. Pausing between a popcorn ginger with its cascade of small white flowers and a lobster claw with its inverted stems of large red blooms, the intruder glanced at the bright sliver sickle of moon that was about to dip behind Haleakala. She had allowed herself an hour for this phase in the infiltration and was 11 minutes ahead of schedule. No matter. The intruder smiled behind her black ski mask and eased herself down, taking a knee. She smelled the sweet scent of the large pink plumeria against the wall; it perfectly balanced the tang of the salt air.

When the moon finally slipped behind the extant crater, the intruder took an AN/PVS-4 starlight scope from a fanny pack on her utility belt. She raised the four-pound second-generation night vision scope, which was designed to fit an assault or sniper rifle, to her right eye. She scanned the top of the wall, then the driveway leading to the iron-bound wooden gates. The glass embedded atop the wall to stop less serious interlopers caught a glint of starlight in the green-washed world of the scope. A bird flicked out of a nearby angel’s trumpet tree, momentarily startling the intruder. She could hear a tree frog and the burbling of a fountain somewhere in the garden on the other side of the wall. Everything was delightfully peaceful. No wonder people referred to Hawaii as paradise.

Satisfied, the woman rose and eased the coiled rope off her shoulder. The horns of the grappling hook she had carried at her hip were covered with neoprene to muffle the sound of the impact of steel against rock. She twirled the hook, feeding more line into the circle, and then lobbed the hook up and over the wall. Pulling the rope back, she tested it against her weight. The hook held.

The woman easily reached the top of the wall, where she laid a piece of old carpet over the bird shit–encrusted glass shards. Straddling the wall, she reversed the hook so it was on the outside of the wall and retrieved the line, deploying it on the inside, and then slid swiftly down. She broke several branches off a white plumeria on the way down, but the green wood gave almost silently, certainly not a noise the fountain wouldn’t cover.

If anything, the garden on the inside of the wall was thicker than the one outside, and the woman took her time weaving through the plants as silently as a cat. The only evidence of her passing was the deep footprints her boots left in the soft red volcanic earth, but there was no way to avoid that. Besides, the boots, and everything else she was using, would be lost in the deep Pacific soon after first light.

The intruder emerged from the lush growth near the end of a shallow lap pool. The large house in front of her was nearly dark. She used the scope again and scanned the wide sliders into the family room, then all the other windows. Small nightlights shone thoughout the house. The occupants were apparently bedded down for the night. Crouching, the woman silently ran the length of the pool and disappeared under the awning of the patio to the family room. She paused, listened carefully, and then proceeded quietly across the patio, avoiding potted jade vines and bougainvillea.

The service box for the alarm system was on the side of the house near the sliding door. She knew from the blueprints she had studied that this led to the granite-and-tile kitchen. She used a slim pair of lock-picking tools to open the metal box, then fitted a pair of pre-made bypassing wires with alligator clips to the proper leads. The occupant had spent more than five million dollars on his house but had saved maybe two thousand on his security system. For a smart man, the occupant made some stupid mistakes. Ego. Of course, a better system would have just taken a few extra seconds to break.

With the security system bypassed, the figure in black bent to the kitchen door. There were two locks there: an expensive deadbolt and the simple lock in the doorknob. She was finished with the knob lock in five seconds. The deadbolt took 12, and she was a little irritated about that; it should have taken ten at the most.

The back door opened soundlessly to a small service area where the water filtration system and instant-on hot water heater were housed. From there it was just steps to the pantry, where varnished maple floor-to-ceiling doors concealed the house’s supplies. A brace of tiny nightlights provided some illumination in the fancy kitchen, which was so neat and clean, the occupant might never have used it. There was a hint of something in the air, and it took the intruder a moment to recognize it as the bitter aroma of burnt coffee. It seemed out of place in the immaculate house.