"As always, the writing is exquisite: Connolly is a supremely talented storyteller, a genuine craftsman, and his books are a joy to read."
"[A]nother intelligent and haunting nail-biter."
"One of the best novels I have read in this series . . . The pacing is tense throughout, and the chess game between the two groups of assassins will keep your heart jumping from start to finish."
The Nameless Ones
Louis and Angel seek vengeance for the death of Louis's old ally, with Parker's help.
In Amsterdam, four people are butchered in a canal house, their remains arranged around the crucified form of their patriarch, De Jaager: fixer, go-between, and an old ally of the assassin named Louis. The men responsible for the murders are Serbian war criminals. They believe they can escape retribution by retreating to their homeland.
They are wrong.
For Louis has come to Europe to hunt them down: five killers to be found and punished before they can vanish into the east.
There is only one problem. The sixth.
The two figures were by now a familiar sight, if only to a select few, for even ones such as these, who guarded their privacy so assiduously, must inevitably become known to some of their neighbors. For a time, they had not been seen out together, and only the black man, generally believed to be the younger, was noticeable on the street and the surrounding blocks. It was rumored that the other, the older (marginally) and less elegant (by a more considerable degree), was ill, or perhaps recovering from illness, although questions directed, however discreetly, to Mrs. Evelyn Bondarchuk, the woman who occupied the first floor apartment in their building, were met with a stony silence from the lady herself, and the disapproving yaps of her assorted Pomeranians.
According to local lore, it was Mrs. Bondarchuk herself who owned the property, although she carefully concealed her interest through the use of shelf companies, a series of lawyers at least as tight-lipped as she, and a Dickensian amount of paperwork—not that anyone was unduly troubled by this minor act of deception, which had long ago mutated from suspicion into fact. After all, this was New York City, and more specifically Manhattan, where various levels of eccentricity, reinvention, and even downright criminality were, if not a given, then at least quotidian.
But the truth of the matter was that Mrs. Bondarchuk was merely a tenant, albeit one who functioned also as a watchdog, since her chair by the bay window of her apartment offered a clear view of the street in two directions. (Mrs. Bondarchuk’s bark, it might have been said, was probably worse than her Pomeranians’ bite, although it was a close-run thing, and none of the neighbors was in any hurry to test the hypothesis. The Pomeranians were nippy little beasts when the mood took them, but Mrs. Bondarchuk possessed an undeniable solidity, and all her own teeth.)
A few years earlier, there had been some unpleasantness at the property involving a man with a gun, but it, and he, had been taken care of. Since then, Mrs. Bondarchuk had committed with even greater acuity to her role as first line of defense. She now understood it was more than a sop from her landlords, a pointless task offered out of pity to an old woman, or a well-intended effort to endow her twilight years with a sense of purpose. No, Mrs. Bondarchuk was essential to them, and she loved them for making her so. She had even inquired about the possibility of being given a gun, although this suggestion was politely rebuffed. Mrs. Bondarchuk’s feelings were not hurt, though. She had asked more out of interest than actual desire. She did not wish to own a gun. In her youth, her father had retained a seven-shot Nagant M1895 revolver from his period of service in the Soviet military. He had kept it clean, well oiled, and concealed beneath a floorboard in the bedroom. Mrs. Bondarchuk had used it only once, when a vagrant entered the house and attempted to rape her mother. Mrs. Bondarchuk—or Elena Tikhonov as she was formerly known, before the changes to her name wrought by emigration, anglicization, and marriage—shot him in the chest, and later helped her father and mother to bury the remains in the forest. She was twelve years old.
Then, as now, she was untroubled by what she had done. The vagrant was bad, and had she not acted as she did, he would undoubtedly have hurt or murdered her mother, and possibly Elena, too, before going on to commit further degenerate acts. And, yes, the Sixth Commandment declared “Thou shalt not kill,” but Mrs. Bondarchuk had always believed that Moses, in returning from Mount Sinai, had neglected to bring with him a final table, the one containing all the fine print, possibly because his arms were already full.
Mrs. Bondarchuk had never shared with another soul outside her immediate family the details of the killing: not with her late husband, whom she had loved dearly, and not even with the two men who owned the building in which she lived, although she was certain that they, at least, would have understood. There was, she felt, no particular benefit to be gained from raising the subject. The vagrant, after all, was dead, and a confession was unlikely to alter that fact. Mrs. Bondarchuk was also in possession of a clear conscience on the matter, and while she might, in the years that followed, have occasionally contemplated shooting someone else—certain politicians, for example, or particularly patronizing shopgirls—she had managed to resist the temptation, helped in large part by not being in possession of a suitable weapon. All in all, it was probably for the best that her landlords had not agreed to provide her with a gun. Shooting someone in extremis might be forgivable, but one shouldn’t make a habit of it, regardless of provocation.