They've Killed Anna

They've Killed Anna

by Marc Olden

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Overview

Edgar Award Finalist: When his source is murdered, Harker knows he’s on the right track.

Finally, Harker has a break in the nuclear story. There is a vast conspiracy inside the government to keep the dangers of nuclear energy from the public, and now he has a source on the inside. Anna Alexander, an employee at a nuclear firm, has documents that will blow the industry wide open—if she can make it to her rendezvous with Harker alive. Her employers are poisoning her with plutonium, and when she calls Harker, she is nearly dead from radiation sickness. By the time he makes it to Nevada, she’s gone.

The car wreck looks like an accident, but the papers she was bringing him are nowhere to be found. They killed Anna to keep her from talking to the press—so just imagine what they’ll do to the reporter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453260586
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 06/26/2012
Series: The Harker Files , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 152
File size: 864 KB

About the Author

Marc Olden (1933–2003) was the author of forty mystery and suspense novels. Born in Baltimore, he began writing while working in New York as a Broadway publicist. His first book, Angela Davis (1973), was a nonfiction study of the controversial Black Panther. In 1973 he also published Narc, under the name Robert Hawke, beginning a hard-boiled nine-book series about a federal narcotics agent.  

A year later, Black Samurai introduced Robert Sand, a martial arts expert who becomes the first non-Japanese student of a samurai master. Based on Olden’s own interest in martial arts, which led him to the advanced ranks of karate and aikido, the novel spawned a successful eight-book series. Olden continued writing for the next three decades, often drawing on his fascination with Japanese culture and history. 


Marc Olden (1933–2003) was the author of forty mystery and suspense novels. Born in Baltimore, he began writing while working in New York as a Broadway publicist. His first book, Angela Davis (1973), was a nonfiction study of the controversial Black Panther. In 1973 he also published Narc, under the name Robert Hawke, beginning a hard-boiled nine-book series about a federal narcotics agent.

A year later, Black Samurai introduced Robert Sand, a martial arts expert who becomes the first non-Japanese student of a samurai master. Based on Olden’s own interest in martial arts, which led him to the advanced ranks of karate and aikido, the novel spawned a successful eight-book series. Olden continued writing for the next three decades, often drawing on his fascination with Japanese culture and history. 

Read an Excerpt

They've Killed Anna

The Harker File #3


By Marc Olden

MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media

Copyright © 1977 Marc Olden
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-6058-6


CHAPTER 1

Standing beside me was Roger Julian Roarke, British and polite, who as a mercenary had killed for money in Africa, Northern Ireland, and four Arab countries prior to signing a contract for $150,000 a year as head of security at the Dann-Starcher nuclear plant in Nevada.

"Forensics will have a complete report on her in three days, perhaps two," said Roarke. "State troopers have also promised me a report, and I think that should just about cover the matter quite nicely."

I turned up the collar of my suit jacket against the cold Nevada night. "You don't sound nervous about what the reports might say."

"Oh, dear boy, should I be nervous about something?"

"I'm asking you. This has to be an extremely convenient accident, wouldn't you say?"

Sun-bleached eyebrows slid up Roarke's tanned, wrinkled face as he considered an answer to my question. He was as lean as a stalk of celery, cleverer than six foxes in a sack, and, at fifty-two, in better physical shape than any twenty-five-year-old I knew. Roger Julian Roarke, well-tailored in brown gabardine, spoke English with regal precision and always presented a dust-free appearance befitting the man said to have once waltzed at Windsor Castle with Queen Elizabeth.

"Mr. Harker, I don't believe my opinion on Miss Alexander's death will carry as much weight in the state of Nevada as will that of local and state police. All indications point conclusively to an accident, and as even your inquisitive eye can see, Miss Alexander was alone in the car when she died."

We stood elbow to elbow in the harsh yellow glare of headlights from police cars, an ambulance, and two tow trucks, the two of us looking over a low wall of gray and pink stones and down the mountainside at the crushed metal that used to be a blue Datsun. The body of a dead woman had just been cut loose from the wreckage with acetylene torches, wrapped in a khaki blanket, tied with ropes, and hauled up. Her name was Anna Gayle Alexander, and she'd been on her way to meet me.

"Anna? Anna? What happened?"

"Dropped the phone. God, Harker, I'm sorry. I promised myself I wouldn't cry, but, well ... Know something? Crying is physically painful for me now. I keep scrubbing myself with that damn detergent and bleach, and now my skin's supersensitive and the salt in my tears burns me so, Harker, I ... I think they've poisoned me. Plutonium. It's in me, on me. Oh, God."

"Anna ... Oh, Jesus, baby, I'm sorry. You sure? I mean, are you absolutely sure?"

"Just about. I've had two 'whole body counts,' two complete checkups and I've pissed in more bottles than I want to remember. I'm contaminated, I'm sure of it. And I think somebody at the company did it to me. Oh, God ... oh, God, I wish I could stop crying, it hurts me so much."


Roger Julian Roarke looked up at the blue-black sky above us and inhaled deeply.

"All those stars. Look at them, will you? Like diamonds on dark velvet and the air. Ahhhh. Clean, dry desert air. Nothing like it in the world, and I've seen much of the world, believe me. Healthy climate, this."

"Depends. It's not healthy if you're inhaling plutonium."

Roarke sighed, a man forced to be tolerant with his inferiors. "Mr. Harker, I assume you are referring to the late Miss Alexander's allegations regarding safety at Dann-Starcher and her somewhat shrill way of calling attention to her complaints. If my employer were as lax as she charged, don't you think your government would have closed us down?"

"Roarke, anyone listening to your impeccable tones might think we're talking about no toilet paper in the john. We're talking about radiation, about poor safety conditions at your plant, about radioactive materials being transported through cities without authorities knowing or approving it—"

"Oh, Mr. Harker, please." Roarke smiled, leaning his head to one side and doing his best to make me feel out of place for not having worn white gloves and a dickey tonight. "You have the American talent for energetic posturing, along with an enthusiastic ignorance of specifics. There's no proof of any of this, now, is there?"

I looked down the mountainside and watched two men attach chains to the wreckage of Anna's car. Behind me, Kenneth Blank, an officer in Anna's union, leaned against the ambulance and wept, his thin shoulders shaking, and the cop who talked softly to him and took notes had a long wait between answers.

I said, "Anna was bringing me proof, Roarke. That's why I flew out here."

"Anna, I'll be on the first flight out of Washington just as soon as I hang up."

"God, that's the best news I've had in I don't know when. I've got it all here for you, stuffed in a fat brown envelope. Copies of everything—false safety reports, photographs that somebody touched up to make it look as if the company's safety inspectors are doing their job. Bastards. Know what these people out here care about? If the federal government shuts them down, they lose three hundred thousand dollars a day—that's what they care about."

"Sounds good. I'll call you when we land in Las Vegas. Kenneth's coming with me."

"Great. Oh, don't call home. Don't even come here. My line's bugged, I'm sure of it. I'm calling from outside. Just stay at the airport, at McCarran. Get a room somewhere. I know a good place. Sundance Motel. Get a room there, and I'll meet you and Kenneth. Oh, I've also got some stuff on how they transport radioactive materials, and ... Damn!"

"What's wrong?"

"Forgot to mail that dollhouse. Bought it for Lisa. She'll be four next week, and I want her to have it. She's just about the only person I trust. Well, I'm beginning to trust you, Harker, even though I know you're only out for yourself."

"I'm out for a good story, and in the long run you'll learn to love me as I am. Okay ... well, look. Let me get together with Kenneth, book our flight, and we ought to see you in a few hours, right?"

"Guess so. Harker, I'm scared. That plutonium thing ... God, I can't sleep, my hands won't stop shaking. Dann-Starcher only cares about money. We can all die, the country can all get cancer, just as long as they make money from atomic energy. You're really coming out here, huh?"

"Better believe it. Want to see you again. And this stuff you've got sounds dynamite. We can draw blood, Anna, all because of your hard work. It's going to please me no end to kick Dann-Starcher in the head and maybe force them to put a lock on the front door until the federal government's satisfied they've cleaned up their act."

"God, would I love to see that. Harker?"

"Yes, Anna."

"Hurry. I'm frightened. The past week, someone's been following me, two men in a car, and I think they're on to me at the plant. This little black notebook I carry around with me—I think they know it's not just for doodling. Please hurry!"


The ugly, crashed metal of Anna's blue Datsun was now on the road, surrounded by state troopers in Smokey the Bear hats and cops in black leather jackets and gloves. What was left of the car reminded me of what life can do to you when you get out of line. Kenneth Blank squeezed tears from his eyes with his fingers and kept trying to answer questions put to him in a soft voice from a short cop who never looked up from the pad he was writing on.

Another cop stood a respectful distance from Roarke and me, allowing us to continue fencing with each other and proving to anyone who was interested that Roger Julian Roarke of England was now an important man in the state of Nevada because of who he worked for. The cop would keep quiet and out of earshot until Roarke had finished with me, and everyone would be so polite about it all.

I turned my back on Anna's car and looked down the hill, where men with flashlights were combing the area carefully. I said to Roarke, "You made good time. You always take such a personal interest in what happens to Dann-Starcher employees?"

"I do my job well, Mr. Harker. That's why I was hired. I manage to spend a part of each day or night, as it were, at our plant in Roamer, and that's where I happened to be when police telephoned me. A motorist telephoned them and requested a tow truck. Once the police established Miss Alexander's identity, they called the plant. It's as simple as that."

"Nothing is as simple as that."

"You sound, if I may say so, somewhat bitter. Do you feel responsible for what's happened here tonight?"

He had me there. I did feel guilty for having agreed to meet Anna, because if I hadn't agreed, maybe she'd still be alive. I felt a sickening sense of loss because I had liked her and she'd died only because she wanted to tell the truth. As an investigative reporter, the truth was the only thing that mattered to me, and if people got hurt in the process, too bad. Except that when someone like Anna got killed in the process, it was time for me to slow down and take a look at myself.

Everything about her death said accident. Nothing indicated she'd had help crashing through a low wall, then rolling down a mountainside to her death. But her dying just before she could hand me evidence that might close down a multimillion-dollar nuclear operation in the state of Nevada was one hell of a coincidence. I was depressed, and getting colder standing out here.

I said, "I'm not sure if I should be feeling guilty. I know one thing, though. I'm not going to feel comfortable until I know for sure that Anna Alexander died because she couldn't make the turn, until I know for sure she died accidentally."

Roarke placed both hands behind his back and rocked back and forth on his heels. Alec Guinness had done that in a couple of films, and I wondered if he'd learned it from Jolly Roger.

"The zeal of the crusader, the burning urgency of the true believer. Admirable when applied correctly, but I suggest, Mr. Harker, that you allow the police to handle this sordid business. They are professionals, you know. We here in the west are aware of your awesome journalistic reputation for uncovering misbehavior in high places, but it hardly seems as though that's the case here tonight. A simple accident, nothing more. A tragic loss of life, yes. A young woman—"

"Twenty-seven," I said. "Anna Alexander was twenty-seven years old."

"Quite. My point is that her death hardly, shall we say, justifies your continued presence in Nevada. If you must continue to work at becoming a legend in your own mind, why not do it elsewhere?"

He stopped rocking back and forth on his heels and stared up at the sky. His British accent was perfection and annoying, dismissing both Anna and me without using four letter words to do it. I wasn't being threatened, nor did Roarke come out and say he was glad Anna Alexander was dead.

All he had said, ever so politely, was that Anna was dead and there wasn't any reason for me to be hanging around. And who could argue with his logic? If I didn't like Roger Julian Roarke and the people who'd hired him to stand guard over their property, that was my problem.

"I wonder, Mr. Roarke. If somebody woke you up in the middle of the night, would you talk just like the rest of us?"

He turned from the stars to me with an exaggerated slowness that made me edgy, standing there in the darkness, and the thought sped across my mind that this man made his living killing people and that at fifty-two he was no slower at his trade than if he'd been twenty-one. He started to say something, but a state trooper gripping a hand radio walked up to us. The trooper's eyes went quickly to me, then to Roarke, whom he spoke to with the respect our nation's leaders tell us has all but disappeared from American life.

The trooper, young, clear-skinned, and tense, didn't drop to his knees and touch the road with his forehead, but it was clear he had total awareness of Roarke's power. Roarke had Dann-Starcher behind him, and in Nevada that was enough. "Nothing, sir," said the trooper nervously. "No papers, no envelope. Nothing. Just personal effects—purse, wallet, cosmetics, stuff like that."

Roger Julian Roarke kept his tanned, wrinkled face to me. The lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth would have been defects in lesser men, but in him they were an adornment. His clear green eyes never blinked and my pride could barely tolerate the idea that this fifty-two-year-old man standing in front of me could easily stomp my thirty-three-year-old ass anytime he wanted to, thin and as well-dressed as he was.

Roarke said, "Sergeant?"

"Sir?"

"Have your men continue searching the area for the envelope Mr. Harker claims Miss Alexander was bringing to him. Have them search carefully at least twice more. Mr. Harker is a believer in justice and in free inquiry, as we all are."

Roarke narrowed his eyes at me, sending ice sliding into my stomach and making me lean back and think about turning and running. But he turned instead, sharply, miraculously getting no dust on his shiny brown shoes and striding away like a man on parade. He was as slick as spit on glass, but he'd left me with the feeling he'd do anything for money, and people like that have given the world sleepless nights for six thousand years.

The man seemed extraordinarily efficient. But I wouldn't have trusted him with dirty underwear, and I certainly wouldn't want him coming after me with a broken bottle.

He worked for the people who had wanted Anna silenced, who had ordered men to follow her. He worked for the people Anna had said poisoned her. Plutonium. Plutonium caused cancer. Roger Julian Roarke and I were definitely not praying in the same pew.

I stood shivering on the road, watching the ambulance pull out, with Ken Blank sitting in the back with Anna's body. The ambulance was returning to Roamer, the town not far from Las Vegas where Anna had lived and worked as a laboratory technician for Dann-Starcher. Kenneth would call her family in California, and someone would then call east to New Jersey, where Anna's four-year-old daughter, Lisa Dana, lived with Anna's ex-husband and his second wife.

Two cops asked me questions for a while, and I answered.

"That's it, Mr. Harker," said Roarke. He sat in a red Ford beside a driver with an eighteen-inch neck, no smile, and dark glasses. "They've found nothing. No envelope, no photographs, no evidence promising sensational exposés of big business. Are you sure that—?"

"I'm sure."

"God, man, what will it take to satisfy you?"

I shrugged, rigid with the cold. "I'm not sure. You'll be among the first to know."

"Looking forward to it. You and Miss Alexander had that in common—a tendency toward perennial inquiry." He paused, tapping his thin lips with a bony finger. "And look where it got her. Can we give you a lift to the airport?"

The thought of my leaving seemed to perk him up, and that bothered me too, like everything else that had happened tonight.

"No, thanks. I have a car."

"Fine. Well, cheery bye, and have a safe journey. Drive carefully, will you? We don't want any further accidents."

"No, we don't. We didn't even want this one, but we've got it anyway, haven't we?"

"Yes, well, these things happen, I suppose." He nodded to me, then tapped his mooselike driver on the arm, and the red Ford pulled out, leaving me among prowling police and state troopers.

It looked like an accident, it goddamn looked as if Anna Alexander had died accidentally. It just didn't feel like an accident. Not to me it didn't.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from They've Killed Anna by Marc Olden. Copyright © 1977 Marc Olden. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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