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Irish stud farm manager and bloodstock expert, Oliver McMahon, is tired of his life, and a boss who neither rewards, satisfies, or recognises his abilities. He turns to his very wealthy brother, Richard, for help in setting up his own venture, only to be rejected and, in the process, discovers a family secret.
On the brink of despair, Oliver remembers and calls in a favour owed to him by a man who has risen to become one of America’s most powerful mafioso. Oliver gets back on track with a rich client, a large budget, top class horses, and an old flame rekindled.
As the Thoroughbreds start winning, Oliver reconnects with his college sweetheart and all his dreams are being realized. Soon, he’s pulled into a tangled web of narcotics, murder, deceit, and sinister threats.
When Richard is murdered, Oliver has to face the awful truth that a decade-old act started the chain of events which led to his brother’s killing.
Oliver has no choice but to become as ruthless as Richard if he’s to extricate himself from a lose-lose situation. Death or a lifetime in prison – the stakes have never been higher.
• • •
Dublin - November 25th, 2005
Richard McMahon swung his white Mercedes off Clontarf Road and wound slowly through the streets. He took an indirect route to his luxury apartment block, checking the mirror every time he turned. He was fairly sure he was not being followed, but in the grey half-light of a drizzly evening, all the cars looked similar in the mirror. He pulled into the parking lot and stared at the bushes and shrubs that shielded it from the road.
The streetlight was not working. A bead of sweat formed at his hairline. He lit a cigarette and devoured it. Richard’s skin was grey, almost translucent, his brow was furrowed and his crow’s feet were craggier than usual. An all-day meeting with his lawyer had robbed him of energy and any sense of security that he had had a few days ago.
His company was still reeling from the drugs find, and he stood to lose a fortune. Then there was the matter of the suddenly silent Italian flight steward. Still, he was glad he had left the letter for his brother, even if it was too late to make amends – he should have treated Oliver better and helped him out when he came looking for Richard’s backing and support.
Slightly calmed by the nicotine, he scanned the car park, picked up his briefcase and the long, heavy torch he kept on the passenger seat. He locked the car and hurried toward the sanctuary of the building. There was a sound from the bushes. He shone the torch, but could only make out leaves and shadows.
“Come out! I, I know you’re there,” he called, with a quiver in his voice. Breaking into a trot, he made for the lobby door.
Swearing, he dropped his briefcase trying to pull the passkey from his pocket. He never got to turn the lock.
* * *
The hooded man checked the photograph in his hand and satisfied himself that it was Richard McMahon approaching the lobby door. Looking left and right, he silently crossed the road and came up behind his target. As he moved, the iron bar slid down the anorak’s sleeve into his hand. The blow dropped Richard to the ground. He was out before he hit the floor.
The man glanced down the street, then took his victim’s watch, ripped the shoes from his feet, and searched for a wallet. Pocketing the banknotes, he tossed it aside. Then he stabbed a used syringe into his victim’s neck.
Richard groaned. “Please, please . . .”
The man rose to his feet and bent over Richard. “You should’ve kept your mouth shut,” he said. Then he swung the iron bar in a long slow arc. There was a dull crack and blood spilled onto the stone tiles.
The man walked briskly down the street, turned the corner and continued through four or five cross streets. He reversed his anorak and dropped the bar down a storm drain by the kerb on an empty street. The shoes he stuffed into a bin behind a convenience store. He fondled the Rolex and considered keeping it, but reluctantly tossed it into the waters of Dublin Bay.
As he walked along the coast road, he smiled, pushed the hood off his head and made a call.
“You tell our friends, it’s done.”
• • •
E.H. Ward grew up around horses in Limerick, Ireland. After a brief stint in the British Army, he worked in Australia breaking-in wild horses, set up a stud farm in Inner Mongolia, and trained racehorses outside Beijing. He worked for ten years at Coolmore Stud in Ireland, Kentucky, Australia, and China, set up a stud in Mongolia, and trained racehorses in Beijing in the late 90s. Then he upgraded the Turkish National Stud. Today, he manages a racing and breeding operation along the Aegean coast. He writes analytical articles, horseracing and sales reviews for The Irish Field newspaper and James Underwood's Digest in the UK, as well as fiction.
He currently divides his time between the stud farm near Izmir, and southern France, where his wife has a vineyard.
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