For years, Jack Higgins's "battalions of loyal fans" (People) have thrilled to his "rip-roaring" (Associated Press) novels of honor, bravery and irresistible intrigue. Now, the master of suspense reunites the powerhouse team from his explosive bestseller The White House Connection to bring down an international crime boss-and this time, there's much more at stake than duty and honor…
A journalist is dead after making the mistake of getting too close to international crime boss Jack Fox-but Fox made a greater mistake in killing her. Because the murdered woman's ex-husband is Blake Johnson, head of the clandestine White House department known as The Basement. Now Johnson and his Irish compatriot Sean Dillon are going to bring Fox's empire down around him.
But Fox is not a man who backs down for anyone. So if Johnson and Dillon want to take him on, they will have to face his own brand of revenge-and it is a revenge every bit as deadly as their own…
About the Author
Jack Higgins lives on Jersey in the Channel Islands.
Read an Excerpt
It was the rat, in a way, which brought Blake Johnson not only awake but back to life. Sitting on the stone seat in the darkness, up to his waist in water, it was astonishing that he'd drifted into sleep at all, and then he'd come awake, aware of something on his neck, and had sat up.
The light in the grilled entrance behind him gave enough illumination for him to see what it was that slid from his left shoulder. It splashed into the water, surfaced, and turned to look at him, nose pointing, eyes unwinking.
It took Blake back more than twenty-five years to when he'd been a young Special Forces sergeant at the end of the Vietnam War, up to his neck in a tidal swamp in the Mekong Delta, trying to avoid sudden death at the hands of the Vietcong. There had been rats there, too, especially because of the bodies.
No bodies here. Just the grill entrance with the faint light showing through, the rough stone walls of the tunnel, the strong, dank sewer smell, and the grill forty yards the other way, the grill that meant there was nowhere to go as he'd found when they had first put him into this place.
The rat floated, watching him, strangely friendly. Blake said softly, "Now you behave yourself. Be off with you."
He stirred the water, and the rat fled. He leaned back, intensely cold, and tried to think straight. He remembered coming to a kind of half-life in the Range Rover, the effects of the drugs wearing off. They'd come over a hill, in heavy rain, some sort of storm, and then in the lightning, he'd seen cliffs below, a cruel sea, and above the cliffs a castle like something out of a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.
When Blake had groaned and tried to sit up, Falcone, the one sitting beside the driver, had turned and smiled.
"There you are. Back in the land of the living."
And Blake, trying hard to return to some kind of reality, had said, "Where am I?"
And Falcone had smiled. "The end of the world, my friend. There's nowhere else but the Atlantic Ocean all the way to America. Hellsmouth, that's what they call this place."
He'd started to laugh as Blake lapsed back into semiconsciousness.
Time really had no meaning. His bandaged right shoulder hurt as he sat on the seat, arms tightly folded to try to preserve some kind of body heat, and yet his senses were alert and strangely sharp so that when there was a clang behind him and the grill opened, he sat up.
"Hey, there you are, Dottore. Still with us," Falcone said.
"And fuck you, too," Blake managed.
"Excellent. Signs of life. I like that. Out you come."
Falcone got a hand on the collar of Blake's shirt and pulled. Blake went through the opening and landed on his hands and knees in the corridor. Russo was there, a smile on his ugly face.
"He don't look too good."
"Well, he sure as hell stinks. Wash him down."
There was a hose fastened to a brass tap in the wall. Russo turned it on and directed the spray all over Blake's body. It was ice cold and he fought for breath. Russo finally switched off and draped a blanket round Blake's shoulders.
"The boss wants to see you, so be good."
"Sure, he'll be good," Falcone said. "Just like that nice little wife of his in Brooklyn was good."
Blake pulled the blanket around him and looked up. "You did that?"
"Hey, business is business."
"I'll kill you for that."
"Don't be stupid. You're on borrowed time as it is. Let's move it, the man's waiting," and he pushed Blake along the corridor.
They climbed two sets of stone steps and finally reached a black oak door bound in iron. Russo opened it, and Falcone pushed Blake through into a baronial hall, stone-flagged, with a staircase to the left and a log fire burning on a stone hearth. Suits of armor and ancient banners hung from poles. There was a slightly unreal touch to things, like a bad film set.
"What happened to Dracula?" Blake asked.
Russo frowned. "Dracula? What is this?"
"Never mind." Two men were lounging by the fire, Rossi and Cameci; he'd seen their faces on the computer, more Solazzo family hoods.
Falcone pushed Blake forward. "Hey, I'm with you. Christopher Lee was the best. I loved those Hammer movies."
Russo opened another black oak door. Inside was a room with a high ceiling, another log fire on a stone hearth, candlelight and shadows, and behind a large desk shrouded in darkness, a shadowy figure.
"Bring Mr. Johnson in, Aldo. By the fire. He must be cold."
Falcone took Blake to the fire and pulled a chair forward. "Sit."
The man in the shadows said, "Brandy, I think. A large one would seem to be in order."
Blake sat there while Russo went to a side table and poured brandy from a decanter and brought it to him. It burned all the way down and Blake coughed.
"Now give him a cigarette, Aldo. Like all of us, Mr. Johnson is trying to stop, but life is short, art long, and experiment perilous. There's Latin for that, but I forget how it goes."
"Oh, didn't they teach you that at Harvard Law School?" Blake took the cigarette and light from Falcone.
"As a matter of fact, no. But clever of you. You obviously know who I am."
"Hell, why carry on like this? Of course I know who you are. Jack Fox, pride of the Solazzo family. So why don't you turn up the light?"
A moment passed, and it did go up and Fox sat there; the dark hair, the devil's wedge of a face, the mocking smile. He took a cigarette from a silver case and lit it.
"And I know you, Blake Johnson. You came out of Vietnam with a chestful of medals, joined the FBI, and saved President Jake Cazalet from assassination when he was still a Senator. Shot two bad guys and took a bullet. Now you run the Basement, downstairs at the White House, as a kind of private hit force for the President. But unfortunately, Blake"- he paused to take a puff -"I don't think Cazalet can save you now."
Blake snapped two fingers at Falcone. "Another brandy." He turned to Fox.
"There's an old Sicilian saying, which you might appreciate, since I know you have a Sicilian mother. When you have sinned grievously, the devil is waiting."
Fox laughed. "Would your devil be you or Sean Dillon?"
"Take your pick. But God help you if it's Dillon," Blake told him.
Fox leaned closer. "Let me tell you something, Johnson. I hope it's Dillon. I've been waiting a long time to put a bullet in his brain. And in yours."
Blake said, "You killed my wife."
"Your ex-wife," Fox said. "But it wasn't personal. She got too close, that's all. I wish you could have understood that." Fox shook his head. "You've caused me a lot of grief. Now you'll have to pay for it." Fox smiled. "I hope Dillon is stupid enough to come. Then I'll have you both."
"Or we'll have you."
Fox said to Falcone, "Take him back."
He turned down the light, and Russo punched Blake in the belly. Blake doubled over and they took him out between them, feet dragging.
From "Day of Reckoning" by Jack Higgins. (c) December, 1999, Jack Higgins used by permission.
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
"The action is sleek and intensely absorbing, but the supreme pleasure is in those Higgins celebrates-tarnished warriors who value honor over life and who get the job done no matter what the cost."
"Won't disappoint Higgins fans."
-Birmingham Evening Mail
"This is vintage Higgins, and heralds the long-awaited return of his most popular creation, the enigmatic Sean Dillon, former IRA gunman turned British government enforcer."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have read a few of his books before, but this is the best ones that I have read from him. I normally finish one of his books in 4 days or so, but this one I finished in about a day. I literally couldn't put it down. A real great read for anyone who likes to read. I believe that Jack Higgins is one of the best authors around.
I work the night shift as a yard manager at a trucking company. It gets pretty boring but I have a really hard time finding a book that I can really get into and not fall asleep. A co-worker happened to leave this book behind, so I took a look at it. Right from the start I couldn't put it down. I plan to buy a lot of his books now.
Once upon a time, Mr. Higgins wrote deftly plotted, fast-moving pot-boilers. More recently, he appears to be resting, if not napping, on his laurels. In this most recent novel, the plot is predictable and the characters continue to be stereotypical. Most distressing, however, is the dialogue, which is sufficiently stilted as to be teetering on the brink of Ludlumian disaster. As much as you might enjoy stories in which 'the free world is at stake,' pass on this one.
Day of reckoning, is as good as any Jack has written. We all love the illripressible Sean Dillion. A movie could be made on all of his novels, they would be great. I always like to think what actors woulkd be best suited for the roles( characters)
I am buying 'Day of Reckoning' today 8Apr00 for my brother Jay for his birthday. I will advise him that the condition of his acceptace is subject to writing a compelling review for bn.com and its esteemed audience. Stay tuned.
I am a female college professor and an avid,eclectic reader who has read most of Higgins' books and found them to be informative as well as entertaining. This one was a disappointment. Character development was nil and suspense virtually absent as outcomes were completely predictable. I realize that most of the characters are recycled and had been previously developed, but they should be 'human' enough so that readers actually care about what happens to them in this outing. Jack Higgins can, and has, produced better work.
Way to go Jack. What a book to keep Sean Dillon fans happy and yearning more and more. An unstopping suspense that keeps you up at night not wanting to put it down. Even bringing out the old fox Liam Devlin to play a part in the intrigue was masterful. Can't wait to see another.
Don Marco Salazzo is the CEO of the Mafia. His organization conducts business in gambling and prostitution as well as many legal enterprises. His nephew Jack Fox manages those companies that are above board. On the surface Jack seems like the All-American success story, but that serves as a façade for his international criminal activities that the Family would never sanction. Reporter Katherine Johnson has gathered information that will expose Jack as a brilliant psychopathic criminal, but he knows she is closing in on him. He orders a hit that successfully kills Katherine. However, Katherine¿s former husband, Blake Johnson, heads a top secret White House agency, The Basement. He obtains Katherine¿s tape that explains what she learned. Blake vows vengeance by tearing apart the empire until the emperor is left naked. However, Jack¿s connections warn him that Blake is coming for him. Jack Higgins¿ latest action-packed thriller triumphantly blends Puzo with Clancy. The excellent cast and mouse story line stars two powerful individuals working outside the law towards an inevitable collision. Though Blake and Jack follow the same path, Mr. Higgins leaves no doubt of who the hero is and who the villain is. Genre fans will gain much pleasure from DAY OF RECKONING. Harriet Klausner