"Donn Taylor takes the reader on an exciting ride all over the world. Sledge is a hurting mercenary who finds love in the jungles of Colombia.
He doesn't recognize his feelings for Kristin until danger and chemical weapons abound.
A unique plot and sympathetic characters make this a fast read."
--- BNB Writer
Also available on Nook, Kindle, KindleUnlimited and Audiobook.
By habit, Jeb Sledge disapproved of people who pointed weapons at him. The present offender's tuxedo did not qualify him for an exception, and the silencer on his pistol only aggravated the offense.
They stood in the living room of Sledge's drab one-bedroom apartment in north Houston. That morning his doctor had pronounced him fully recovered from last year's wounds by an assassin. In the afternoon he'd refused an offer of two hundred thousand dollars to rescue the daughter of billionaire Steve Spinner from her Colombian kidnappers.
Sledge needed money. But Spinner had a reputation for ruthlessness hidden under a veneer of philanthropy. And the setup made no sense at all. When Spinner's envoy grew insistent, Sledge threw him out.
Later that day he got a call from Roger Brinkman, the retired CIA officer who now ran an "information service" known among experts as the best source for data on international crime. Brinkman didn't say how he'd heard about Spinner's offer, but he chided Sledge for turning it down. He'd heard vague rumblings of something new among the Colombian guerrillas, and the Spinner problem might make a good takeoff point for the right operative.
Sledge said he'd think about it.
He did—for thirty seconds over dinner at a good Italian restaurant with reasonable prices and servers who didn't introduce themselves. The dinner celebrated his advent as the "New Sledge." The old one was a hard case with a bad habit—volunteering for dangerous jobs to support noble causes. The cantankerous Old Sledge also enjoyed throwing his weight around, all two hundred and fifty pounds of it. But that Sledge had not survived the assassin's bullets. The new one sprung from his ashes would be too smart to take risks where there was no tangible reward. He would live the quiet life—find a safe administrative job on the periphery of law enforcement. And avoid noble causes.
Savoring the thought, Sledge drank a toast to his new self.
Afterwards, he drove his used Toyota pickup north on I-45 through the usual montage of glaring headlights and careening chariots. What he needed to complete the celebration was a good book and a CD of soft music. They would push back the world's emptiness that closed in on him whenever the action stopped. Sooner or later, the New Sledge would have to solve that problem.
But not tonight. Tonight it was good just to be well again.
When he opened his apartment door, the security system gave no warning beep. Had he forgotten to set it?
Then the intruder switched on the lights, and the New Sledge found himself looking into the silencer on a .22 caliber automatic. He was caught. Too far in to dodge back outside and too far from his captor to attempt disarming him. Besides, the man weighed at least as much as Sledge and looked like he'd be hard to handle even without a gun. The ugly curl of his lip said he was itching for an excuse to pull the trigger.
Sledge's anger blazed, but he raised his hands and controlled his voice. "You're welcome to my fortune—thirty-three dollars and sixty-two cents. You'll find the silverware in the kitchen drawer, but it's actually stainless."
"Shut up and sit down." The gunman's left hand gestured toward the sofa. His right hand kept the pistol pointed at Sledge's chest.
"Wait a minute." A second gunman, as large as the first, emerged from the dark doorway of the kitchen and holstered a silenced pistol inside his tux jacket. Incongruously, his smile radiated good cheer. He spread-eagled Sledge and frisked him, then nodded to his companion and backed away.
Sledge eased himself onto the sofa, keeping his hands high. In a calm space somewhere behind his anger, he wondered how the New Sledge should respond to this situation. Not that he had much choice.
The first gunman pointed with his free hand at the bookshelves that lined Sledge's apartment walls. "We don't need two men to take this guy. He's a cream puff. A bookworm."
The second gunman did not reply but called out, "Okay, Mr. Spinner. He's clean."
A silver-haired man of medium build entered from the darkened bedroom and took a chair facing Sledge. The florid face above the man's tuxedo showed a perpetual scowl, and he moved with the arrogance of someone who'd spent his life giving orders. His cologne wafted the subtle elegance only big money can buy.
The newcomer wasted no time. "You're Jabez E. Sledge?"
Sledge nodded. He didn't yet trust his voice.
"I'm Steve Spinner." The visitor's manner implied he'd come down from Olympus. "My man who talked to you today described you perfectly. He said you looked like a turretless tank with the commander's head sticking out the top."
Sledge was used to that kind of talk. People always noticed the bulkiness first, his full two-fifty crammed into a mere six feet of height. Once accustomed to that, they found his face not unpleasing: broad, regular features, dark hair and complexion, with deep-set gray eyes that some found intimidating but others found intriguing.
So he dismissed Spinner's taunt with a grunt. "You didn't come here to praise my looks."
The billionaire refused to be diverted. "You've made quite a record. All-conference middle guard for three years at Southwestern—called in as a reservist—decorated for Special Forces work in Afghanistan. And that closet full of uniforms says you're still in the reserves."
Sledge gritted his teeth. "I hope you didn't steal any of them."
"Not even those pretty gold leaves, Major." Spinner made the word sound like an insult. "You could have played pro football, but instead you stayed for a full tour in the Army. Why?"
With danger apparently not imminent, Sledge played along. "Two hundred fifty was too light for a pro. And some things in this world are more important than playing games."
Spinner raised a mocking eyebrow. "Like going to Colombia as a soldier of fortune? Who were you working for?"
Sledge ignored the question. "Do you always dress for burglaries? If I'd known this was formal, I'd have rented a tux."
2012 © Donn Taylor
To soldier-of-fortune Jeb Sledge, the assignment seemed simple: Rescue an heiress and her journalist friend from Colombian guerrillas and collect a sizable paycheck for his troubles. But things rarely go as planned.
After stumbling upon a mass of dead bodies, Kristin Halvorsen isn't about to leave Colombia without the proof she needs for the story of a lifetime, and Sledge soon finds himself ensnared in a chemical weapons conspiracy that involves civilians, guerillas and high-ranking government officials.
But neutralizing the factory isn’t enough. Where are the weapons that have already been fabricated? Who are the intended targets? How potent and far-reaching are the effects?
A pursuit through South America, the U.S. and the Caribbean embroils Sledge and Kristin in a mission to prevent a catastrophic attack—and leaves Sledge fighting to save both their lives.
a division of
Pelican Book Group
Softcover 313 pages
September 7, 2012
Excerpt from Deadly Additive
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