Black Pearl (A Richard Mariner Adventure)
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An incalculable fortune in conflict minerals lies on the bed of a lost lake. The lake lies in the middle of a jungle hardly changed since the age of the dinosaurs, while the jungle stands on the slope of an active volcano which has destroyed the only civilisation nearby. The volcano serves as a border between two warring central African nations. And an uncontrolled, murderous guerrilla army claims the territory for its own, using a combination of modern terrorist techniques and timeless black magic to keep strangers out.
Richard Mariner is leading a team into the heart of it all, seeking the lake and the fortune it contains – his only clues a half-forgotten legend and a huge black pearl that is so much more than it seems . . .
kitten in a twinkling. ‘Please, Richard …’ ‘All right. But I know when I’m being ruthlessly manipulated …’ Richard arrived at Max’s cabin to find that Ivan had beaten him to it. The Russians were in the middle of a heated debate which under most social circumstances would have been private. But Ivan hadn’t closed the door and Max hadn’t told him to. Richard hesitated uncharacteristically for a moment, testing his Russian to the utmost both in terms of vocabulary and understanding. For although
slaughter four top-flight ex-Spetsnaz mercenaries. Especially as it’s probably Odem in the Ngoboi suit anyway – and he’s got a hell of a lot of anger to take out on her. Hence the sexual threat, I suppose – as well as the magic and the heart-eating.’ He hesitated. Reached for the light and snapped it off. ‘No. I’m not about to let her face that on her own – or with her scary-looking army of nuns and Amazons. And in the meantime …’ ‘In the meantime what?’ she asked, arching slightly as his hand
offered Richard grimly. ‘Aptly enough, all things considered …’ ‘Very witty, darling. Moreover, Max, the infrastructure between them hasn’t been touched for forty years. It’s all just jungle now. As far as I know the only way along your twelve-lane highway is by motorbike and on foot. God knows what’s happened to the railroad. Don’t fool yourselves, either of you. You’d need to start from scratch.’ ‘It’s as though we haven’t just come up the river,’ added Richard thoughtfully, ‘it’s as though
broccoli heads of the virgin rainforest opened out into a huge prairie of lighter green, but there was no water. ‘This is the place, Mr Asov,’ called the expert with the GPS, already nervous at having got the blame for the lava flow’s unexpected condition. ‘We are immediately above the position that the Japanese map makers recorded.’ ‘But there is no lake here!’ snarled Max. ‘It looks like a big meadow,’ said Felix. ‘Put us down here and we can explore,’ he called through to the pilot. The
yet.’ But, ‘There!’ she called, and Richard saw a movement in the cane forest ahead. The Amazons went after him, swinging out around him, racing to cut him off from the last strip of jungle that might allow him access to the makeshift highway. The frightened man saw their movement, for his course veered towards the shore of the lake itself. The pack of women swung west as well, driving him into the open even as Richard and Anastasia burst on to the lake shore. But the shoreline stretched out