The New Girl - Daniel Silva.pdf - Dedication For the fifty-four journalists who were killed worldwide in 2018 And as always for my wife Jamie and my

The New Girl - Daniel Silva.pdf - Dedication For the...

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Unformatted text preview: Dedication For the fifty-four journalists who were killed worldwide in 2018. And, as always, for my wife, Jamie, and my children, Nicholas and Lily. Epigraph What’s done cannot be undone. —Macbeth (1606), act 5, scene 1 Contents Cover Title Page Dedication Epigraph Map of Europe Foreword Part One: Abduction 1: Geneva 2: New York 3: New York 4: New York 5: Ashtara, Azerbaijan 6: Tel Aviv 7: Tel Aviv–Netanya 8: Netanya 9: Nejd, Saudi Arabia 10: Nejd, Saudi Arabia 11: Nejd, Saudi Arabia 12: Jerusalem 13 14: Jerusalem–Paris 15: Paris 16: Paris 17: Paris–Annecy 18: Geneva 19: Geneva Part Two: Abdication 20: Geneva–Lyon 21 22: Paris–London 23: Kensington, London 24: Mayfair, London 25: Kensington, London 26: Haute-Savoie, France 27: Haute-Savoie, France 28: Auvergne–Rhône–Alpes 29: Areatza, Spain 30: Paris–Jerusalem 31: Tel Aviv–Paris 32: Paris 33: Mazamet, France 34: Carcassonne, France 35: Département du Tarn, France Part Three: Absolution 36: Southwest France–Jerusalem 37: Tel Aviv 38: Eilat, Israel 39: Jerusalem 40: Jerusalem 41: New York–Berlin 42: Berlin 43: Berlin 44: Berlin 45: Berlin 46: Gulf of Aqaba 47: Gulf of Aqaba 48: Notting Hill, London 49: Vauxhall Cross, London 50: Harrow, London 51: Epping Forest, Essex 52: Moscow 53: The Kremlin 54: Moscow–Washington–London Part Four: Assassination 55: Frinton-on-Sea, Essex 56: 10 Downing Street 57: Ouddorp, the Netherlands 58: Heathrow Airport, London 59: 10 Downing Street 60: Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex 61: Notting Hill, London 62: Eaton Square, Belgravia 63: Eaton Square, Belgravia 64: Eaton Square, Belgravia 65: Eaton Square, Belgravia 66: Eaton Square, Belgravia 67: 10 Downing Street 68: London City Airport 69: Frinton-on-Sea, Essex 70: Frinton-on-Sea, Essex 71: Essex–London City Airport 72: London City Airport 73: The North Sea 74: Rotterdam 75: Rotterdam 76: 10 Downing Street 77: Ouddorp, The Netherlands 78: Ouddorp, the Netherlands 79: Renesse, the Netherlands Part Five: Vengeance 80: London–Jerusalem 81: Langley–New York 82: Tiberias 83: Berlin Author’s Note Acknowledgments About the Author Also by Daniel Silva Copyright About the Publisher Map of Europe Foreword In August 2018, I commenced work on a novel about a crusading young Arab prince who wanted to modernize his religiously intolerant country and bring sweeping change to the Middle East and the broader Islamic world. I set aside that manuscript two months later, however, when the model for that character, Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, was implicated in the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and columnist for the Washington Post. Elements of The New Girl are quite obviously inspired by events surrounding Khashoggi’s death. The rest occur only in the imaginary world inhabited by Gabriel Allon, his associates, and his enemies. Part One Abduction 1 Geneva It was Beatrice Kenton who first questioned the identity of the new girl. She did so in the staff room, at a quarter past three, on a Friday in late November. The mood was festive and faintly rebellious, as was the case most Friday afternoons. It is a truism that no profession welcomes the end of the workweek with more anticipation than teachers —even teachers at elite institutions such as the International School of Geneva. The chatter was of plans for the weekend. Beatrice abstained, for she had none, a fact she did not wish to share with her colleagues. She was fiftytwo, unmarried, and with no family to speak of other than a rich old aunt who granted her refuge each summer at her estate in Norfolk. Her weekend routine consisted of a trip to the Migros and a walk along the lakeshore for the sake of her waistline, which, like the universe, was ever expanding. First period Monday was an oasis in an otherwise Empty Quarter of solitude. Founded by a long-dead organization of multilateralism, Geneva International catered to the children of the city’s diplomatic community. The middle school, where Beatrice taught reading and composition, educated students from more than a hundred different countries. The faculty was a similarly diverse lot. The head of personnel went to great effort to promote employee bonding—cocktail parties, potluck dinners, nature outings—but in the staff room the old tribalism tended to reassert itself. Germans kept with other Germans, French with French, Spanish with Spanish. On that Friday afternoon, Miss Kenton was the only British subject present other than Cecelia Halifax from the history department. Cecelia had wild black hair and predictable politics, which she insisted on sharing with Miss Kenton at every opportunity. Cecelia also divulged to Miss Kenton details of the torrid sexual affair she was having with Kurt Schröder, the Birkenstocked math genius from Hamburg who had given up a lucrative engineering career to teach multiplication and division to eleven-year-olds. The staff room was on the ground floor of the eighteenth-century château that served as the administration building. Its leaded windows gazed across the forecourt, where presently Geneva International’s privileged young students were clambering into the backs of German-made luxury sedans with diplomatic license plates. Loquacious Cecelia Halifax had planted herself next to Beatrice. She was prattling on about a scandal in London, something involving MI6 and a Russian spy. Beatrice was scarcely listening. She was watching the new girl. As usual, she was at the hindmost end of the daily exodus, a wispy child of twelve, already beautiful, with liquid brown eyes and hair the color of a raven’s wing. Much to Beatrice’s dismay, the school had no uniform, only a dress code, which several of the more freethinking students flouted with no official sanction. But not the new girl. She was covered from head to toe in expensive wool and plaid, the sort of stuff one saw at the Burberry boutique in Harrods. She carried a leather book bag rather than a nylon backpack. Her patent leather ballet slippers were glossy and bright. She was proper, the new girl, modest. But there was something else about her, thought Beatrice. She was cut from different cloth. She was regal. Yes, that was the word. Regal . . . She had arrived two weeks into the autumn term—not ideal but not unheard of at an institution like Geneva International, where the parent body came and went like the waters of the Rhône. David Millar, the headmaster, had crammed her into Beatrice’s third period, which was already two pupils on the heavy side. The copy of the admissions file he gave her was gossamer, even by the school’s standards. It stated that the new girl’s name was Jihan Tantawi, that she was of Egyptian nationality, and that her father was a businessman rather than a diplomat. Her academic record was unexceptional. She was deemed bright but in no way gifted. “A bird ready to take flight,” wrote David in a sanguine margin note. Indeed, the only noteworthy aspect of the file was the paragraph reserved for the student’s “special needs.” It seemed privacy was of grave concern to the Tantawi family. Security, wrote David, was a high priority. Hence the presence in the courtyard that afternoon—and every afternoon, for that matter—of Lucien Villard, the school’s capable head of security. Lucien was a French import, a veteran of the Service de la Protection, the National Police unit responsible for safeguarding visiting foreign dignitaries and senior French officials. His final posting had been at the Élysée Palace, where he had served on the personal detail of the president of the Republic. David Millar used Lucien’s impressive résumé as proof of the school’s commitment to safety. Jihan Tantawi was not the only student with security concerns. But no one arrived and departed Geneva International quite like the new girl. The black Mercedes limousine into which she slipped was fit for a head of state or potentate. Beatrice was no expert when it came to automobiles, but it looked to her as though the chassis was armor plated and the windows were bulletproof. Behind it was a second vehicle, a Range Rover, containing four unsmiling brutes in dark jackets. “Who do you suppose she is?” wondered Beatrice as she watched the two vehicles turn into the street. Cecelia Halifax was bewildered. “The Russian spy?” “The new girl,” drawled Beatrice. Then she added dubiously, “Jihan.” “They say her father owns half of Cairo.” “Who says that?” “Veronica.” Veronica Alvarez was a hot-tempered Spaniard from the art department and one of the least reliable sources of gossip on the faculty, second only to Cecelia herself. “She says the mother is related to the Egyptian president. His niece. Or maybe his cousin.” Beatrice watched Lucien Villard crossing the forecourt. “Do you know what I think?” “What?” “I think someone is lying.” And so it came to pass that Beatrice Kenton, a battle-scarred veteran of several lesser British public schools who had come to Geneva looking for romance and adventure and found neither, undertook a wholly private inquiry to determine the true identity of the new girl. She began by entering the name JIHAN TANTAWI in the little white box of her Internet browser’s default search engine. Several thousand results appeared on her screen, none corresponding to the beautiful twelve-year-old girl who came through her classroom door at the beginning of each third period, never so much as a minute late. Next Beatrice searched the various social media sites but again found no trace of her student. It seemed the new girl was the only twelve-year-old on God’s green earth who did not lead a parallel life in cyberspace. Beatrice found this commendable, for she had witnessed firsthand the destructive emotional and developmental consequences of incessant texting, tweeting, and sharing of photographs. Regrettably, such behavior was not limited to children. Cecelia Halifax could scarcely go to the loo without posting an airbrushed photo of herself on Instagram. The father, one Adnan Tantawi, was similarly anonymous in the cyber realm. Beatrice found a few references to a Tantawi Construction and a Tantawi Holdings and a Tantawi Development but nothing at all about the man himself. Jihan’s admissions file listed a chic address on the route de Lausanne. Beatrice walked by it on a Saturday afternoon. It was a few doors down from the home of the famous Swiss industrialist Martin Landesmann. Like all properties on that part of Lake Geneva, it was surrounded by high walls and watched over by security cameras. Beatrice peered through the bars of the gate and glimpsed a manicured green lawn stretching toward the portico of a magnificent Italianate villa. At once, a man came pounding toward her down the drive, one of the brutes from the Range Rover, no doubt. He made no effort to conceal the fact he had a gun beneath his jacket. “Propriété privée!” he shouted in heavily accented French. “Excusez-moi,” murmured Beatrice, and walked quickly away. The next phase of her inquiry commenced the following Monday morning, when she embarked on three days of close observation of her mysterious new student. She noted that Jihan, when called upon in class, was sometimes slow in responding. She noted, too, that Jihan had formed no friendships since her arrival at the school, and had made no attempt to do so. Beatrice also established, while purporting to lavish praise on a lackluster essay, that Jihan had only a passing familiarity with Egypt. She knew that Cairo was a large city and that a river ran through it, but little else. Her father, she said, was very rich. He built high-rise apartment houses and office towers. Because he was a friend of the Egyptian president, the Muslim Brotherhood didn’t like him, which was why they were living in Geneva. “Sounds perfectly reasonable to me,” said Cecelia. “It sounds,” answered Beatrice, “like something someone made up. I doubt she’s ever set foot in Cairo. In fact, I’m not sure she’s even Egyptian.” Beatrice next focused her attention on the mother. She viewed her mainly through the tinted, bulletproof windows of the limousine, or on those rare occasions when she alighted from the car’s backseat to greet Jihan in the courtyard. She was fairer complected than Jihan and lighter haired—attractive, thought Beatrice, but not quite in Jihan’s league. Indeed, Beatrice was hard-pressed to find any familial resemblance whatsoever. There was a conspicuous coldness in their physical relationship. Not once did she witness a kiss or warm embrace. She also detected a distinct imbalance of power. It was Jihan, not the mother, who held the upper hand. As November turned to December, and the winter break loomed, Beatrice conspired to arrange a meeting with the aloof mother of her mysterious pupil. The pretext was Jihan’s performance on an English spelling and vocabulary test—the bottom third of the class but much better than young Callahan, the son of an American foreign service officer and, purportedly, a native speaker of the language. Beatrice drafted an e-mail requesting a consultation at Mrs. Tantawi’s convenience and dispatched it to the address she found in the admissions file. When several days passed with no reply, she sent it again. At which point she received a mild rebuke from David Millar, the headmaster. It seemed Mrs. Tantawi wished to have no direct contact with Jihan’s teachers. Beatrice was to state her concerns in an e-mail to David, and David would address the matter with Mrs. Tantawi. Beatrice suspected he was aware of Jihan’s real identity, but she knew better than to raise the subject, even obliquely. It was easier to pry secrets from a Swiss banker than Geneva International’s discreet headmaster. Which left only Lucien Villard, the school’s French-born head of security. Beatrice called on him on a Friday afternoon during her free period. His office was in the basement of the château, next door to the broom closet occupied by the shifty little Russian who made the computers work. Lucien was lean and sturdy and more youthfullooking than his forty-eight years. Half the female members of the staff lusted after him, including Cecelia Halifax, who had made an unsuccessful run at Lucien before bedding her sandaled Teutonic math genius. “I was wondering,” said Beatrice, leaning with feigned nonchalance against the frame of Lucien’s open door, “whether I might have a word with you about the new girl.” Lucien regarded her coolly over his desk. “Jihan? Why?” “Because I’m worried about her.” Lucien placed a stack of papers atop the mobile phone that lay on his blotter. Beatrice couldn’t be sure, but she thought it was a different model than the one he usually carried. “It’s my job to worry about Jihan, Miss Kenton. Not yours.” “It’s not her real name, is it?” “Wherever did you get an idea like that?” “I’m her teacher. Teachers see things.” “Perhaps you didn’t read the note in Jihan’s file regarding loose talk and gossip. I would advise you to follow those instructions. Otherwise, I will be obliged to bring this matter to the attention of Monsieur Millar.” “Forgive me, I meant no—” Lucien held up a hand. “Don’t worry, Miss Kenton. It is entre nous.” Two hours later, as the hatchlings of the global diplomatic elite waddled across the courtyard of the château, Beatrice was watching from the leaded window of the staff room. As usual, Jihan was among the last to leave. No, thought Beatrice, not Jihan. The new girl . . . She was skipping lightly across the cobbles and swinging her book bag, seemingly oblivious to the presence of Lucien Villard at her side. The woman was waiting next to the open door of the limousine. The new girl passed her with scarcely a glance and tumbled into the backseat. It was the last time Beatrice would ever see her. 2 New York Sarah Bancroft knew she had made a dreadful mistake the instant Brady Boswell ordered a second Belvedere martini. They were dining at Casa Lever, an upscale Italian restaurant on Park Avenue decorated with a small portion of the owner’s collection of Warhol prints. Brady Boswell had chosen it. The director of a modest but wellregarded museum in St. Louis, he came to New York twice each year to attend the major auctions and sample the city’s gastronomic delights, usually at the expense of others. Sarah was the perfect victim. Forty-three, blond, blue eyed, brilliant, and unmarried. More important, it was common knowledge in the incestuous New York art world that she had access to a bottomless pit of money. “Are you sure you won’t join me?” asked Boswell as he raised the fresh glass to his damp lips. He had the pallor of roasted salmon, medium well, and a meticulous gray comb-over. His bow tie was askew, as were his tortoiseshell spectacles. Behind them blinked a pair of rheumy eyes. “I really do hate to drink alone.” “It’s one in the afternoon.” “You don’t drink at lunch?” Not anymore, but she was sorely tempted to renounce her vow of daytime abstinence. “I’m going to London,” blurted Boswell. “Really? When?” “Tomorrow evening.” Not soon enough, thought Sarah. “You studied there, didn’t you?” “The Courtauld,” said Sarah with a defensive nod. She had no desire to spend lunch reviewing her curriculum vitae. It was, like the size of her expense account, well known within the New York art world. At least a portion of it. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Sarah Bancroft had studied art history at the famed Courtauld Institute of Art in London before earning her PhD from Harvard. Her costly education, funded exclusively by her father, an investment banker from Citigroup, won her a curator’s position at the Phillips Collection in Washington, for which she was paid next to nothing. She left the Phillips under ambiguous circumstances and, like a Picasso purchased at auction by a mysterious Japanese buyer, disappeared from public view. During this period she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and undertook a pair of dangerous undercover assignments on behalf of a legendary Israeli operative named Gabriel Allon. She was now nominally employed by the Museum of Modern Art, where she oversaw the museum’s primary attraction—an astonishing $5 billion collection of Modern and Impressionist works from the estate of the late Nadia al-Bakari, daughter of the fabulously wealthy Saudi investor Zizi al-Bakari. Which went some way to explaining why Sarah was having lunch with the likes of Brady Boswell in the first place. Sarah had recently agreed to lend several lesser works from the collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Brady Boswell wanted to be next in line. It wasn’t in the cards, and Boswell knew it. His museum lacked the necessary prominence and pedigree. And so, after finally placing their lunch orders, he postponed the inevitable rejection with small talk. Sarah was relieved. She didn’t like confrontation. She’d had enough of it to last a lifetime. Two, in fact. “I heard a naughty rumor about you the other day.” “Only one?” Boswell smiled. “And what was the topic of this rumor?” “That you’ve been doing a bit of moonlighting.” Trained in the art of deception, Sarah easily concealed her discomfort. “Really? What sort of moonlighting?” Boswell leaned forward and lowered his voice to a confiding whisper. “That you’re KBM’s secret art adviser.” KBM were the internationally recognized initials of Saudi Arabia’s future king. “That you were the one who let him spend a half billion dollars on that questionable Leonardo.” “It’s not a questionable Leonardo.” “So it’s true!” “Don’t be ridiculous, Brady.” “A non-denial denial,” he replied with justifiable suspicion. Sarah raised her right hand as though swearing a solemn oath. “I am not now, nor have I ever been, an art adviser to one Khalid bin Mohammed.” Boswell was clearly dubious. Over antipasti he finally broached the topic of the loan. Sarah feigned dispassion before informing Boswell that under no circumstances would she be lending him a single painting from the alBakari Collection. “What about a Mon...
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  • Fall '19
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