The Garden of Betrayal (39 page)

Regardless, I didn’t plan to ask any more questions. It was time to move on: The Alex I wanted to remember was the friend I’d had before the pride and greed of his father’s milieu had destroyed him, not the shattered wreck who might have betrayed me. Amy had captured my feelings when I told her that Claire, Kate, and I were moving to California to start over: “That’s good,” she whispered, hugging me tight. “Let the dead bury the dead. Matthew eight: twenty-two.”

“Amen,” I’d murmured back. “Amen.”

I was setting one of the corner posts when I glanced up and noticed a distant dust trail moving toward me. It was late afternoon; the wind had risen, but it was still hot. I put away my tools, wiped sweat from my brow, and squatted down in the shade of the barn to wait. A white Toyota
Land Cruiser pulled up a few minutes later. Ari was driving, Shimon in the front passenger seat. They both got out and looked around, their eyes masked by sunglasses. My muscles protested as I stood up.

“What do you do for water?” Shimon asked.

“You’re a farmer?”

“More than you.” He snorted. “I grew up on a kibbutz.”

“There’s a big lake a mile east that feeds an aquifer directly under our property. I had a study done before I bought the place. Water’s never been a problem here, even in drought years.”

“It’s lovely,” Ari said approvingly. “Mazel tov.”

“Thanks. You want something to drink?”

Shimon shook his head, arms folded.

“What we’d like is to know why we’re here.”

“Unfinished business,” I said easily, not having expected any pleasantries. “You disappeared without telling me how you fixed Senator Simpson.”

The senator had held a press conference the week after White died, to announce his withdrawal from the presidential race for personal reasons. One of his reasons had been distress at the untimely passing of his closest aide. He’d closed with an impassioned appeal for donations to the American Heart Association.

“A quiet word here and there about the senator’s libido,” Shimon said. “The Republicans don’t want a Bill Clinton.”

“And relations between America and the Persian Gulf States?”

“Fluid,” Ari suggested.

I smiled, but Shimon looked annoyed.

“Unchanged. The French withdrew their security proposal to the Saudis. They seem quite put out with the Russians these days.” He took his sunglasses off and rubbed his eyes. “There is some reason other than your curiosity for me to have traveled seven thousand miles to see you, isn’t there?”

I nodded, gesturing toward an old windmill a few hundred yards away. The blades were spinning slowly, the iron shaft creaking on ancient bearings.

“The windmill drives the pump that lifts water from the aquifer. I had an engineer out here the other day, to talk about replacing it with a more modern windmill so I could do a little cogeneration at the same time. I mentioned that I planned to install a solar array as well, so I
could get myself off the grid. He laughed. Oil’s cheap, he explained, because of the financial crisis. It would take forever to get any kind of payback on my investment. His advice was to do nothing.”

Shimon shrugged.

“We made another round of the Western governments, identifying Rashid as the source of our Saudi estimates. No one wants to talk about an energy problem twenty years from now. They’re all preoccupied with unemployment and stimulus plans and budget deficits.”

“They’d focus if they really understood the consequences. We’re running out of time.”

“So, what do you want us to do?” Ari asked.

“Send me Rashid’s information. The real information. I still have an audience.”

“Possible,” Shimon said, frowning, “but this is a political problem—”

“I read the news accounts of Narimanov’s plane crash,” I said, deliberately interrupting him. “And I made a few phone calls. It’s interesting. The plane dropped off radar almost a hundred miles away from the crash site, and the search-and-rescue team never found Narimanov’s body. There’s a German air base nearby. I’m not usually a big conspiracy theorist, but it made me wonder: What if the crash was staged, so the Germans—or their friends—could secretly grab Narimanov?”

Shimon stared at me, his eyes hooded.

“Mohler was feeding money to dozens of bank accounts,” I continued. “White told us that Narimanov controlled business and political leaders all over the world. If Narimanov was secretly in custody, whoever held him would have leverage over everyone he’d been bribing.”

“Tread lightly here,” Ari advised softly. “Very, very lightly.”

“Let me be very clear,” I said. “I’m not threatening anybody with anything. Nothing I know or suspect goes any further, ever. But I want you to know that I’ve established a nonprofit organization to promote awareness of impending energy shortages and to lobby for more action on alternative energy strategies. Walter Coleman gifted us an endowment. It would be nice if the business and political leaders who were on Narimanov’s payroll were encouraged to be supportive as well.”

“That’s it?” Ari asked.

“That’s it.”

He glanced at Shimon and then back at me.

“You have information on this organization?”

I fished one of my new business cards from my hip pocket.

“Sorry,” I said. “It’s a little damp.”

Shimon put his sunglasses on again and nodded curtly.

“I’ll tell my superiors about your organization,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll approve. I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a number of calls in the near future, offering donations or help. And I’ll have a word with Rashid’s executor in Jerusalem. My recollection is that he left some papers for you. I’ll see that they’re sent along.”

“Thanks.”

Shimon turned and began walking back toward his car, Ari trailing behind. He glanced at the fence posts I’d set and came to a halt.

“You’re planning to keep livestock?” he asked.

“Goats,” I replied. “A mutual friend suggested they might be a good idea.”

Acknowledgments

After finishing
Restitution
, my first novel, I sat down with my editors—Peter Gethers and Claudia Herr—to discuss my ideas for a second. For a quick moment they locked eyes, and then Peter asked quietly: “You are aware that the second book is the hard one, aren’t you?”

His question brought to mind
Holes
, a book I’d read to my children years ago. Stanley, the teenaged protagonist, is sent to a youth labor camp, where every day he’s forced to dig a large hole in a dry lake bed. At the end of his first day, one of the characters tells him that the second hole is the hardest. At the end of his second day, the same character informs Stanley that the third hole is the hardest. And so on.

Garden of Betrayal
wasn’t more difficult to write than
Restitution
, but it also wasn’t any easier. Which is worrisome, because my long-term plan had been to emulate Winston Churchill, who allegedly dictated his books from the bath, or to become like John Grisham, who—according to an interview I once read—composes each of his tautly constructed legal thrillers in an economical nine months, leaving him the rest of the year to vacation with his family. The truth is that I missed the deadline for
Garden
by a good six months and seem destined to the work habits of Dorothy Parker, who once remarked that she didn’t write five words but that she changed seven.

The good news this time around was that I had a terrific team in place to lean on. Peter and Claudia continued as my excellent editors at Knopf and were hugely influential in shaping the initial outline and in persuading me to tweak the final manuscript to reflect the cataclysmic financial events of the last two years. Kathy Robbins, my agent, along
with David Halpern and Rachelle Bergstein, both of her office, once again provided invaluable advice and criticism throughout every phase of the project. And, as before, Jennie Yabroff was there to read every word, and she was both ruthless enough to let me know in no uncertain terms when those words weren’t good enough and encouraging enough to make me want to keep going. I’m enormously grateful to all of them.

I also particularly want to thank my erstwhile former colleague Steven Strongin, head of research at Goldman Sachs, who took time to explain his views on the energy markets when I was trying to work out the original outline. I’m grateful for the education and hope I put it to good use. Lest anyone think this book reflects his views, however, let me simply say that to the best of my knowledge, Steven has yet to install solar panels.

Else I benefited from the support of any number of friends, and particularly that of my family—Cynthia, Zoe, Nikki, and Matt. Cynthia, my wife, was particularly good about sympathizing when I muttered darkly about uncooperative characters and nice enough never to point out that my problems were definitely of my own making. And the kids have been enthusiastic about my midlife change of career—evidently being a writer has more cachet in teenage circles than being a banker. Go figure.

Finally, I want to thank everyone at Knopf for their superb work in packaging, promoting, and distributing both
Restitution
and
Garden:
in particular, Sonny Mehta, Chairman of Knopf; Anne Messitte, Publisher of Vintage Anchor; Jason Booher, who designed the jacket of this book; and Maria Massey, who acted as production editor. Knopf is a terrific place, and I’m lucky to have been picked up by them.

A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Vance is the author of the novel
Restitution
. He was a trader at Goldman Sachs for more than twenty years before retiring as a partner in 2000 to write full-time. He lives in New York with his wife and three children.

THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF

Copyright © 2010 by Peter Tyler Enterprises LLC

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
www.aaknopf.com
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Scripture taken from
The Message
by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Reprinted by permission of Nav Press Publishing Group.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Vance, Lee.
The garden of betrayal / by Lee Vance.—1st ed.
p. cm.
eISBN: 978-0-307-59380-1
1. Kidnapping—Fiction. 2. Life change events—Fiction. 3. Energy consultants—Fiction. I. Title.
PS
3622.
A
58595
G
37 2010
813′.6—dc22       2010000370

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

v3.0

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