It’s my absolute pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for The Silver Wolf by Rob Sinclair today! Many thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for inviting me. I have an extract to share with you but first, here’s what the book is all about.
Author : Rob Sinclair
Title : The Silver Wolf
Series : James Ryker #3
Pages : 473
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : November 17, 2017
Still tormented by the disappearance of his wife, ex-intelligence agent James Ryker sets out on a personal mission of revenge, prepared to go to any lengths in search of the truth.
The trail takes him from the crystal waters of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, back to a place he thought he would never set foot again – his country of birth, England. But there he discovers more than even he bargained for. Stumbling across a terrorist attack targeted against his old employers – the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency -the faint clues to many events in his recent past are all seemingly linked to one mysterious character; The Silver Wolf.
But just who is the Silver Wolf, and why is he hell bent on punishing not just Ryker, but his closest allies at the JIA too?
Has Ryker finally met his match?
Lake Maggiore, Italy
Looking out over the edge of the pool to the serenity of the crystal lake below, he could almost believe he was in paradise. Thomas Maddison would defy anyone to spend just a few days at Villa Mariangela and not feel the same way. But underneath the glitz of the lavish setting, the place was far from idyllic, he knew. Scratch the blissful surface, and lies, deceit and blood would ooze from the many cracks and warts.
Maddison pushed the forbidding thoughts aside and swam across the infinity pool to the other side, turned, then went more slowly back the other way. The water seemed to suspend unnaturally in the air, as though conjoined with the glistening blue of the lake below. He grabbed the disguised edge at the far end where the water teasingly cascaded over and down into a small gully, and then he stopped and took a minute to look out across the view as the warm morning sun beat down on his face.
The villa behind him, on the southern tip of the long, winding lake, faced north. Although he couldn’t see from his high perch, around the twists and bends in front of him the lake wound its way between the spectacular hills of Lombardy, at the northernmost points of Italy, and on into the alpine scenery of southern Switzerland. Villa Mariangela was not just a beautiful and extravagant home; it was a location of strategic importance for Maddison’s employer.
Employer? Was that the right word? It was the simplest way to describe their relationship, Maddison reckoned, though it didn’t really explain much.
‘Maddison,’ came a man’s voice.
Maddison spun around in the water, still grasping the edge with one hand as his legs bobbed up and down below. He spotted Clyde approaching the pool. Clyde Montana. The name didn’t fit the man at all. To Maddison the name brought with it the image of a nineteenth-century cowboy in the American Old West. Chiselled jaw and stubble and a squint that Clint Eastwood would be proud of. This Clyde, however, was a product of some of England’s most expensive educational institutions, which was evident in his stiff manner and old world accent. He was tall, wiry, with closely cropped hair. Always clean-shaven. Always sporting designer and smart casual garb. He basically looked like a rich and weedy geek, inoffensive, and not in the least bit dangerous.
How looks can be deceptive.
‘He wants to see you,’ Clyde said.
He. Names weren’t needed. Not where he was concerned.
‘Okay, give me five minutes.’
‘He’s in the guest house.’
Clyde turned and walked off without further elaboration. Maddison let go of the edge and swam back across to the other side of the pool where he pulled himself out. The morning air sent a wave of goose pimples over his wet, tanned brown skin and he grabbed a towel from the pool edge and wrapped it around himself. In front of him was the main villa. The modern pool was a stark contrast to the classical structure which looked like a miniature Renaissance palace. The villa’s grounds, rising into the hills behind the lake, extended to over three acres. As well as the main villa, whose history stretched back over three hundred years, there were two other separate living spaces within the grounds: the building Clyde had referred to as the guest house – originally a boat house – and the more modern, glass-rich pool house, which Maddison headed into to get changed.
He slicked back his dark brown hair as he went to the downstairs bathroom then, as he stared at his pile of clothes, he ran his fingers through his speckled grey stubble. No, he’d shave tomorrow. He dressed in the pair of khaki trousers and cotton shirt. He slipped on his loafers then headed back out into the sunshine, across the deep green lawns, through the glorious floral gardens, and finally down the twisting stone steps that led to the lake edge and the guest house.
As he was descending, Maddison saw one of the housekeepers climbing the steps from the bottom, clutching a bundle of white bedsheets. Adriana. She was twenty-three and from one of the local villages. Maddison had taken quite a liking to her since she’d joined the villa’s extensive domestic crew some three months previously. He liked that she seemed disinterested in the money and the glamour of the host’s lifestyle. He’d seen her spurn advances from some of the men – champagne and rides in fast boats and faster cars didn’t seem to appeal to her. He was determined to find out what did.
‘Buon giorno,’ Adriana said as they reached each other and both of them stopped.
‘Buon giorno.’ Maddison gave her a warm smile.
‘Another early morning swim,’ Adriana said in her thickly accented English.
‘Best way to start the day,’ Maddison said. Adriana continued past him. ‘You should join me sometime.’
She glanced around then looked away coyly. ‘Maybe another time.’
‘I look forward to it. You have a good day, Adriana.’
‘You too. Ciao.’
She carried on up the steps and Maddison watched her for a moment before he turned his focus back to the guesthouse. The once-basic wooden structure, which hovered over the edge of the lake, had been converted some ten years earlier when it became too small for its original purpose. Which Maddison understood to mean it wasn’t big enough to house the gleaming yacht which was moored alongside it on the purpose built jetty.
The guesthouse was used frequently, but Maddison hadn’t realised anyone had been staying there the previous night. Or maybe Adriana was just getting it ready for someone to stay that night? Maddison felt a fleeting pinch of suspicion as he made his way to the front door, but it quickly disappeared. There was no reason to suspect his cover had been blown after all this time.
He stopped at the front door and reached out to knock, but before his knuckle could rap on the thick wood door, it was opened from the inside. Dean, a squat and heavily muscled man, would have looked out of place in any other job but security.
‘Morning,’ Maddison said.
‘He’s in the kitchen.’
Maddison carried on through into the expansive open-plan space. There was nothing much classical in the room. Everything was sleek, modern and pricey.
Sure enough his illustrious boss, Draper, was there, standing by the kitchen counter with his back to Maddison.
‘You wanted to see me?’ Maddison said.
Draper spun around and gave a half smile. He ran a hand through his long silvery slicked-back hair. Together with his sparkling blue eyes, wide toothy smile and prominent cheekbones, he had a face that drew people in. Perhaps a contrast to his plain and casual attire – a pair of scraggy deck shorts, sandals and blue V-neck jumper.
‘Damn thing’s broken.’ Draper turned his attention back to the pristine looking coffee machine and banged it hard on the top. It rattled and gurgled to life. He huffed. ‘Can you believe that? Five thousand Euros this thing cost me. It should be faultless, yet it still responds best to a heavy hand.’
Maddison swallowed hard at Draper’s offish tone, the first glimmer of doubt fighting to take hold in his mind. He pushed it away.
‘You want one?’ Draper asked.
‘Yeah. An espresso please.’
‘Here, you come over and do it.’
Draper grabbed his drink and moved past. Maddison took a small cup from the counter and placed a black capsule into the top of the machine. He looked around the room as the machine gurgled away. No sign of Clyde or anyone else. Maddison and Draper were alone.
‘Everything still on for this afternoon?’ Maddison asked.
‘What? Oh, yeah, that. It is. But I’m not sure I’ll need you to come with me.’
‘Really?’ Maddison pulled the small cup out from under the machine’s nozzle. He turned to face Draper who was leaning against a cabinet by the edge of the kitchen area, his head just a couple of inches from the wooden beam above him. At six feet four, he was several inches taller than Maddison.
‘That’s what I needed to speak to you about,’ Draper said. ‘Come and take a seat. There’s someone I need you to meet.’
Maddison raised an eyebrow but said nothing. He sipped the treacly liquid in his cup and enjoyed the moment as the strong vapour worked through his sinuses. He moved out of the kitchen and across to the oak dining table where he sat down on one of the eight chairs.
Moments later, he heard footsteps coming from the hallway and he turned to see an unfamiliar man walking into the room.
At least, Maddison’s first impression was that the man was unfamiliar, but as he stared into his uncaring, knowing eyes, a distant memory tugged away in his mind.
Or was it simple déjà vu?
‘So who’s this?’ Maddison asked, not bothering to hide his agitation. He kept his eyes on the new arrival as he placed his espresso cup down onto the table.
‘This is your replacement,’ Draper said, looking at the man, who simply smirked. The man came up to Draper’s side, both of them remaining a few feet away from Maddison. Maddison said nothing to the statement, despite all of the thoughts that suddenly ballooned in his mind. Draper didn’t need to explain further. Maddison understood what was happening. What his confused mind couldn’t understand was why.
Had Draper found out?
As Maddison continued to stare at Draper and the man, almost not daring to look away, he heard a creak somewhere behind him. Another person, coming out of the lounge?
So this was how it was going to end. A stab in the back.
Maddison knew in that moment that, for whatever reason, the game was finally over. There was no need to play along anymore. The best course of action was for him to leap up, tackle the man behind him – was it Clyde? – and take whatever weapon he was carrying. Then Maddison would launch himself at Draper and the new arrival. After that, he would attack any other man, woman or beast that got in his way as he made his escape from the secured compound.
He knew the best exit route. Which vehicle to take. Which direction to head. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t planned for this moment.
But Maddison did none of those things. He couldn’t. No matter how much his brain willed him to jump up from the seat and begin the counter-assault, his body felt disconnected. The room was swirling in front of him. Sweat droplets were quickly forming on his head. He felt nauseous and plonked his elbow down onto the table to try to keep from falling off the chair. He stole his eyes from Draper and glanced down to the small cup on the table.
A second later, a leather-gloved hand whipped in front of him from behind, and thrust a metal tent peg into Maddison’s hand. He shouted out in pain as a spatter of blood squirted out onto his face. Another gloved hand came forward, clutching a hammer. The head of the tool was slammed down onto the hooked top of the peg, over and over, purposeful strikes that drove the metal further and further through Maddison’s hand and securing it firmly to the oak table below. Maddison’s hand, arm, his whole body was now shaking in agony.
‘It’s a muscle relaxant,’ Draper said, coming forward toward Maddison, sounding unmoved. ‘Clever, isn’t it? You can’t move a thing right now. But the pain? The pain is still there, raw and strong.’
‘What is this?’ Maddison tried to shout out, but his words were slurred, his tongue and his jaw barely moving.
‘What is this!’ the man standing by Draper mocked, deliberately slurring his speech to the point of incomprehension.
Draper gave the man a heartless look before turning his attention back to Maddison.
‘Sorry about him,’ Draper said. ‘He’s not like you and me. A bit rough around the edges, you could say. I have to admit, there’s a lot about him that I’m not so in tune with. Me and you… we were similar. I think that’s why we got along so easily.’
The man grated his teeth, and Maddison could see he’d taken real offence at Draper’s words. Not that it helped Maddison’s position.
The same sense of déjà vu flashed in Maddison’s mind again.
‘I know you,’ Maddison tried his best to say.
The man narrowed his eyes. Then he moved forward, anger on his face, though Maddison wasn’t sure why. He headed past Maddison, then a second later, came back to his side clutching the hammer and another metal rod.
The two gloved hands from the unseen attacker came around Maddison and grabbed at his free arm, pinning his hand to the table. The man at his side, eyes full of menace, held Maddison’s stare as he put the metal in position.
‘No,’ he said. ‘You don’t know me.’
He brought the hammer down and the metal crunched through flesh and the delicate bones on Maddison’s hand. His body spasmed as pain consumed him, but he let out nothing more than a moan. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.
‘You don’t know anything about me,’ the man spat. He brought his snarling face closer to Maddison’s. ‘The problem though is that I know you.’
‘Which, I’m sure by now you realise, means that I know everything you’ve told me about you is a lie,’ Draper said, folding his arms. ‘Whoever you really are, you won’t leave my villa alive. It’s up to you how many pieces we take before you talk.’
Draper moved forward and grabbed hold of one of the metal rods sticking out from Maddison’s hands. He yanked it back and forth, a squelching sound coming from the stricken hand as the flesh was pushed, pulled and torn. Maddison grimaced and shook in his chair, trying all the tricks he’d been taught many years earlier for channelling away and ignoring the pain.
They didn’t work. Not when faced with agony like this.
Draper crouched down. His face was placid, no hint of anger, and when he spoke it was with warmth and comfort that made Maddison, for all his strength and determination, seriously question just what this man was capable of.
‘It’s time for you talk now, my friend,’ Draper said. ‘And, one way or another, you can be damn sure you’re going to tell me everything.’
😲 Well, I don’t know about you but I need a minute to recover here. Yowza!
If this extract has left you wanting more, you’re in luck as The Silver Wolf is available for purchase right now!
Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.
Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.
Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.