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Authors: Anthony Grey

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The Chinese Assassin

BOOK: The Chinese Assassin
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When a Triden
t
airliner crashes in Mongolia, the Chinese government keeps suspiciously quiet about who and what was onboard. Yet a y
e
ar later they claim that one of the nine charred victims was Lin Piao,
C
hina’s Defence Minister, fleeing to Russia after an abortive attempt t
o
assassinate Mao Tse-tung and seize power.

Five years pass and a Chinese defector named Yang suddenly appears, claiming to be a survivor of the air disaster – and produces some astonishing new evidence.

How did Lin Piao really die – was it an accident or was he murdered? Who is Yang? And what is the truth behind one of the most mysterious plane crashes in modern times?

As the secret services of Russia, China, America and Britain clash in their attempts to seize Yang, the most destructive earthquake since the fifteenth century rocks China – and the dying Mao comes face to face with a deadly assassin.

Anthony Grey’s books and short stories have been translated into some fifteen languages worldwide. His enduring epics
Saigon
and
Peking
are critically acclaimed bestsellers in Europe, the Far East, South Africa, Australasia and the Americas. A former foreign correspondent with Reuters in Eastern Europe and China, he has written eight novels to date. His first book was an autobiographical account of the two years that he was held hostage by Red Guards during China’s Cultural Revolution. His most recent novel,
Tokyo Bay,
is the
fi
rst volume of a trilogy illuminating one hundred and fifty years of tortured rivalry between Japan and the
West.

Anthony Grey makes documentary
films
for British television, broadcasts internationally on the BBC World Service, and lives at present in London.

Also by Anthony Grey

Autobiography

HOSTAGE IN PEKING

Short Stories

A MAN ALONE

Non-Fiction

THE PRIME MINISTER WAS A SPY

Novels

THE GERMAN STRATAGEM

THE BULGARIAN EXCLUSIVE

SAIGON

PEKING

THE BANGKOK SECRET

THE NAKED ANGELS

TOKYO BAY

ANT
H
ONY GREY

T
H
E

CHINESE

ASSASSIN

PAN BOOKS

First
published 1978 by Michael Joseph

This
edition published 1985 by
Pan Books

an imp
rint
of Macmillan Publishers Ltd

25
Eccles
t
on
Place, London SW1W
9NP

and Basingstok
e

Associated
companies
throughout
the world

ISBN 0 330 28636 6

Copyright C Anthony
Grey Productions Ltd
1978

All rights
reserved. No part of
this
publication
may
be

reproduced, stored in or
introduced
into a retrieval system, or

trans
m
itted
,
in any fo
rm
, or by any
means
(electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior
written

permission of the publisher.
Any pe
rs
on who does
any unauthorized

act in relation
so this
publication
may
b
e liable to criminal

prosecution and
civil claims
for damages.

98

A
CIP catalogue record for this
hook is available from

the
British Library

Phototypese
t
by
Intype
London Ltd

Printed and bound in Great
Britain

by Macka
y
s of
Chatham
PLC, Chatham,
Kent

This hook
is sold su
b
ject
m
the condition that it shall nor,

by way of trade or otherwise, he
lent,
re-sold, hired nut,

or othe
rw
ise circulated without the
publisher’s
prior consent

in
an
y
fo
rm of binding or
cover
other
than
that in
which

it
is
published
and without a similar condition including
this

condition being imposed on the
su
bsequen
t
purchaser.

For
Clarissa
Jane and Shirley

the
inspiration and the reward

First in
China comes Mao Tse-tung.

Then comes Mao Tse-tung
again.

Next
comes Mao Tse-tung
once more.

Then
there is a lot of
nothing.

And
th
en, and
on
l
y
th
e
n
come
a
l
l
the
others

with
Li
n
Piao leading the
procession.

Peking colloquialism
1970

PART ONE

The Death of Lin Piao
folio number one

A train of fifty camels was passing that night, black shapes swaying through the wind, darker than the distant mountains. The pale northern light that glimmers all through the
sleeping
hours in summer and early autumn on those steppes was already brightening the bottom of the sky across the Soviet border to the north.

Old Tsereng Toktokho, wrapped against the cold lash of the night wind in his peaked hat of fur and the heavy sheepskin coat that was almost as old as he was, sat astride his restless horse watching the camels go. His eyes never scanned his herds directly as they shifted around him. His gaze, even in darkness, seemed always to sweep the deep distances of the harsh and endless tundra that he loved. His face was like the saddle
on
which he sat, creased and tanned almost black by years of merciless beating from wind and sun. But though old, he was stubborn and still brave. That’s how he came to be among the last arats in Mongolia living outside the communal co-operatives. And that’s how he came to save my life.

He had just tipped a long draught of
kumiss
into his great throat from the leather bottle that always hung at his belt, when he heard the first sound of our Trident far away down the sky to the south. There was nothing like
kumiss
for keeping out the chill Mongolian wind, he told me many times in the months he hid me and sheltered me from death. But although I helped him with the milking of the mares in June and drank
it
to please him, I never learned to love
kumiss
like old Tsereng. Although
it
resembled strong beer
,
it
was too fizzy for me. It had a sour caste that reminded me of burned almonds and to my
nostrils
it
always
reeked unpleasantly of the stables.

His horse had picked up the unfamiliar sound of the jet engines first. It was the twitching of the animal’s ears and his sudden stamping that alerted the old man. Immediately he loosened the ear flaps of his fur hat to hear better. I know all this because he told me every detail a thousand times
during the long
winter nigh
t
as
we
lay
on
the
pile
d
furs
in
hi
s
yurt
warmed
by
the
pungent
breath
and body heat of the sheep, goats and yaks crowded in all around us, some
pregnant,
some
already with their bleating young. I always concentrated
on
every
word he said, even when I’d heard
it
all before. I
had to,
to prevent my eyes wandering to the stocky
bodies
of his wife
and
daughter, who invariably threw off all
their
clothes
and
sprawled
naked
on
their
furs among the
animals
in the stifling heat.
Only
when
the wind really
howled
through
the seams in the felt
walls did they
wrap
themselves in their fur
coats for the night.

The Trident had been specially equipped with military radar when
it was in service ‘with
the
Pakistan Air Force and that enabled
us to fly at a very low level under the Soviet detection
scanners.
We roared over the Kerulen River,
flying
at
little more
than two
hundred f
e
et, heading north-west. The
border of
our beloved People’s
Republic of
China was 400 miles behind us and
we
had crossed
it
just before two o’clock in
the
morning,
at an even lower altitude.

It
was
almost three o’clock when Toktokho detected
the first sounds
of
our
approach. He
was
deeply
mystified, because
the few
scheduled air services
from Peking to Ulan Bator never
passed
that far to the east.
Our
track, although most of
us inside the
aircraft were
then
ignorant of the fact,
was taking us directly
from Peitaiho on the coast near Peking to
I
rkutsk on the far shore of
Lake Baikal
in the Soviet
Union.
Toktokho
strained his
eyes into the darkened
sky as
the
roar
of
our
jet
engines, grew louder, scattering his terrified herds
in
all
directions
around him. The
arats
of Khentiiaimat are simple
nomads,
little touched by
the
passage of
time.
They
are
deeply
fearful
of the
great extremes
of the elements in one of the remotest
regions
of
the
vast bowl of
Central Asia. Many
of the elderly among them
still even worship secretly
at
the
ancient shrine on
Delger Haan, in defiance
of the
principles
of
Marxism-Leninism under which
the
revisionist
puppet
state
of the People’s Republic of Mongolia is
supposedly
governed.

So the
terrible roar
of
our
low
passage
through the
silence
of that
night stampeded
not
only the
herds of sheep, yak
and
cattle beneath
our
track. The
arats,
blind with panic
too, were also put to headlong f
l
ight, the fear of an
unknown death riding
close at
their
backs.
Only old
Tsereng
Toktokho was
different
.
He
w
restled
hi
s
horse to a standstill and stood up
high in
his stirrups, staring into the black heavens as our Trident passed low overhead. The great din of its
engines faded
gradually
into
the night.
But it
was
not long
before
he heard them
beginning
to grow loud again. He
was
not to know then
that
we had
just
uncovered the treacherous plot
and
had forced the pilot at
gunpoint
to turn towards the south once more.

Until
then,
because
we were
flying
without navigation
lights,
h
e
had only heard,
not
seen, our coming.
But
then
an explosion from the
darkness
above his h
ead
suddenly produced a
mighty burgeoning
fist
of orange
flame.
It grew quickly bigger as we
swung
down
towards him through the black
sky. By
its
fierce light he saw for the
first time
the wings
and fuselage
of
our
crippled
Trident as
it
slid
helplessly
towards
the earth.
When
the
aircraft
struck the ground a half mile from
him, a second
and
more terrible explosion
sent
Toktokho’s terrified horse
bolting
into a headlong gallop that, great
horseman
in
the tradition
of his
ancestors
though he was, he
couldn’t
turn for
two miles.

By the
time
he had
pacified the fear-crazed animal and walked
it
back in
the
direction
of the
crash,
the flames were
burning with
great
intensity. Their
heat halted him a
hundred
yards from the blaze
and
he reined in his mount
and sat watching
the
terrible
infe
rn
o
that was
by then
lighting
up the whole plain. His horse shied
again and almost threw
him off when I crawled
blindly
out of the
scorched grass underneath its
very hooves.

But Toktokho stayed in the saddle long
enough
to soothe
the
horse.
Then
he leapt down to beat out my
smouldering
cl
othes
with his bare hands. Close to death,
I lapsed into
unconsciousness
while
still
on
the
ground
and
he
had
to pick me up bodily
and sling
me
across
the neck of his horse. I remembered nothing of the
jolting journey to his family yurt
that
was
pitched then
near
the spring
at
Jibhalantayn
Bulag.

BOOK: The Chinese Assassin
2.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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