Table of Contents
The Mann’s Back,
playing it low and deadly in a last-chance game of international espionage.
America’s superspy, outwits an ace Soviet agent, foils a plot to kill a king, and takes the ruby from the navel of a restless Arabian dancer. All for the good of his country. No one but Mann and his ultrasecret organization could handle such a hazardous mission. No one but Spillane could write such a roaring hell-raiser of a thriller.
“Trench-coated Tiger Mann, easily America’s hardest-boiled security agent
—The Saturday Review
“Machine gun pace ... good writing ... fascinating tale.”
“It is unfair to apply rules to Spillane, who observes only one: that the story must keep you reading.”
—New York Times
“There’s a kind of power about Mickey Spillane that no other writer can imitate.”
Copyright © 1965 by Mickey Spillane
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast. For information address E. P. Dutton, Inc., 2 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10016.
Published by arrangement with E. P. Dutton, Inc.
SIGNET TRADEMARK_REG. U.S. BAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA-REGISTRADA HECHO EN CHICAGO. U.S.A.
SIGNET, SIGNET CLASSIC, MENTOR, PLUME, MERIDIAN AND NAL BOOKS
are published by New American Library, 1633 Broadway, New York, New York 10019
FIRST SIGNET PRINTING, MARCH, 1966
eISBN : 978-1-101-17454-8
Jack McKenna and Dorrie
WHO WERE THERE AT THE BEGINNING.
Someplace along the midway of New York they call Broadway I had picked up a tail. I felt it when I crossed Forty-ninth Street and was sure of it by the time I reached Forty-sixth. It wasn’t that I had spotted anyone. All you could call it was a feeling, but I knew. There had been too many years with too many tails and too many times when I had been behind the other one not to appreciate the crawling sensation that felt like your back was bare to a cold wind.
But why? I had no destination, no assignment. It was just a walk through the city at night. And I wasn’t alone. A few hundred people went in either direction between each city block ... and one of them wanted me.
Without turning around I tried to spot the shadow in the angular store windows and the glass plates over the ads in the theater fronts. Whoever was there had to know I was just drifting so I was able to stop and look over the displays without seeming out of line, at the same time trying to tag the right one.
It wasn’t any use. Either I was wrong or there was a pro on the other end. Pedestrian traffic stayed fluid and everyone else pausing at other windows seemed legitimate enough. I eased on down the street, turned right at Forty-fourth until I reached Shubert Alley, then cut over into the areaway between the buildings at a slow walk until I knew I was out of sight, then sprinted past the couples in front of me, ducked into one of the outside phone booths and hugged the phone with the door open so the light would be off, and waited.
I spotted the tail then.
She came into the alley at a normal pace, apparently headed toward the theater, seemed to frown when she didn’t see me, and involuntarily quickened her steps to get to the other end before I was out of sight. When I reached out of the phone booth and flipped her in beside me her face seemed to crack with fright and she almost got a scream started. Then she felt the gun in her ribs and closed her mouth.
We looked real cozy in there—just two people making a joint conversation, one beat-up retread who was a hotshot when the war was on and one beautiful little blonde who looked like she had just stepped out of a chorus line and the gun in her handbag was only to keep the wolves from the stage door. I grinned at her, my mouth tight and dry across my teeth, snapped open the top of her bag and took the flat little Beretta out and dropped it in my pocket.
“Okay, honey,” I said, “let’s have it.”
She only had a second to make it good because I could read any lie she told me and there were too damn many people looking for a piece of my hide to give me any compunctions about crippling somebody if I had to, even if it was a pretty little doll like this one.
There was a strange lilting to her voice when she said, “You are Tiger ... Tiger Mann?”
“You know that already, kitten. Now who are you?”
I squeezed her arm and saw her eyes go wet with the pain. “Do better.”
“Must we ... talk here?”
“It’s as good as anyplace. I don’t like being a target.”
“Please ...” The word came out with a sob.
“Okay, where?” I said.
She looked up at me with big, dark eyes strangely unafraid now. “Wherever you wish.”
“How well do you know me?”
“I have been told about you,” she said.
“Then you know what will happen if you get cute”
“Don’t break away. Walk nice and slow and stay beside me. Get funny and what I do to you will make it look like you fainted and when I have you alone you’ll talk up a storm.”
She nodded, saying nothing. I edged her out of the booth, shoved my .45 back in the holster and let her feel my fingers bite into her arm above her elbow. Not too far away my friends from the circus were packed into a hotel by the Garden. The show was on now and we could use Phil’s room for a couple of hours or whatever it took to see what the little lady had bottled up inside her.
Phil met me on the street under the marquee, handed me his key with a grin and a few words of wisdom in rapid Mexican and went back to work. Lily Tornay and I took the elevator upstairs to the sixth floor, walked inside and I locked the door behind me.
Then I took the gun out and stood there watching her with it cocked in my hand. I had seen man traps before.
Very deliberately, with the tips of her fingers, she opened her bag, pulled out a wallet and laid it open in her palm.
“Throw it to me,” I said.
She tossed it, then sat down with her hands folded in her lap. I snapped it open and looked at the two cards under their plastic covers. One had been issued by our State Department. The other by Interpol. And the names and identification matched.
“You can check my handwriting or thumbprints if you care to,” she told me.
I tossed the wallet back on the bed beside her. “Those things can be forged.”
“I’m glad you’re careful.”
“That’s why I’m still alive.”
Lily Tornay looked at the phone on the nightstand meaningfully. “You know where to call. An agent can be here to identify me in ten minutes.”
“I don’t need any help, sugar. Where did you pick me up?”
“Outside your hotel.”
“Why didn’t you make contact there?”
“I wanted to be sure we wouldn’t be seen. I followed you. I was going to make the contact in a different manner.” She paused a moment, looking at me carefully. “How did you know I was there?”
“I could feel you.”
She nodded then. “Yes. I know what you mean.”
“Okay, Lily, you’ve made the contact. What are you after?”
“You. I was told to find you.”
I brought the gun up and leveled it at her head. “You’re lying, kid. Teddy’s dead. He caught it over a month ago.”
“That’s what he wanted everyone to think. The dead man carried his ID and the body was too mangled to make an identification positive. They accepted what they saw and he was free to continue with his work.”
I let my words out very slowly. “What work?”
Lily shook her head, a frown darkening her eyes. “He didn’t say. He told me you would know what to do.”
“Knock it off, baby.” “I’m
“Tiger ...” She stood up defiantly, staring me down. “I’m an authorized agent for Interpol cleared by your own State Department. We know of you and your association with Martin Grady and his ... business associates. These men may be big enough and wealthy enough to operate an efficient civilian spy system that can buy or create political coups or life or death or whatever they want in the guise of patriotism, but too often they have interfered with the machinery of proper governments. There are things happening in this world that are bigger than any wealthy idealists or whatever they are and the outcome is not going to be according to their direction. They have men like you working for them, wild, intelligent, ruthless men who carry out their orders who are sometimes capable of wrecking the whole system with one reckless act.”
“Maybe it needs wrecking.”
“Not ... by you people.”
“Lily ... you’re getting away from your point,” I said. “Teddy Tedesco.”
I caught her with that. She sucked in her breath impatiently, tightened her mouth, and let her eyes roam over me before she spoke again. “He is in a position to cause an incident that can lead to nuclear war.”
“How about that,” I said.
Her mouth dropped open in surprise. “You ... don’t care?”
“Baby, I don’t give a hoot in hell. Where is he?”
“Selachin. It’s a small kingdom in the Saudi Arabian area.”
“Who sent you here?”
“That isn’t a political organization.”
“Death is their business. Your friend was responsible for several.”
“Then nail him.”
“We can’t. He has disappeared.”
“Tough,” I said.
She wouldn’t buy my tone. There was a hard, fanatical set to her face as she fought to control herself. “Unfortunately, we must make the best of the situation. Tedesco is on what you people call an assignment that can cause war.”
“That’s his business, not mine.”
“But it is your business now, Tiger Mann. It was your friend Tedesco who managed things so we had no choice. He took me at gunpoint and told me I was to find you and say one word. We knew enough about his intentions so that when he carried them out to a certain extent we were past the point of no return and our hand was forced. So I found you.”