The Poppy Broker

The Poppy Broker

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A lucky hit by an obscure Italian geneticist produces a virus lethal to the opium poppy. It's like winning the lottery, thinks Noto, who takes his dangerous creation to Tommaso Scalzone, the Italian Interior Minister and head of the national police. Lucky they're fellow Sicilians, Noto muses. Lucky they know each other from childhood. Scalzone, brilliant and unassailable, will know where to sell the virus that will wipe out heroin, do it safely, and make them both rich beyond measure. He has no idea that Scalzone's immense power comes from the Mafia as well as the police, that Scalzone is one of the great criminal minds of our time and that Noto will lose his lottery ticket and his life. In possession of the virus, Scalzone develops a diabolical plan. He will wipe out the world's opium crop, an anti-terrorist coup for which the US will receive credit - but not before he has genetically engineered an opium poppy both immune to the virus and sterile. Seeds to the sterile hybrid, easily transportable to any corner of the globe, will give him an airtight monopoly over opium and its derivatives for years to come. Al Qaeda, the Taliban and others, threatened by the loss their cash crop, will pay his exorbitant price. Another defeat for the US; another triumph for terrorism. And behind it all, on a stage that spans half of Europe, is Scalzone and his cast of thousands. But wait. There is still an obstacle. Scalzone does not have an opium plant resistant to the virus, let alone a sterile hybrid. There is, however, one scientist who can give him what he needs: a genetic engineer at the University of Paris named Claude Armand. To carry out the necessary kidnapping, he relies on the Mafia pezzonovante with whom he is closest, Don Pippo Greco. The Don farms out the job to his hotshot nephew, Gianni (pronounced Johnny). Scalzone, in a fine expression of his shrewd criminal mind and brutal methods, enlists the support of a terrified Swiss German, the owner of a near-bankrupt genetics lab that has done secret military work in the past. Blossoming simultaneously in France is a passionate clandestine love affair between a Bordeaux aristocrat and a famous actress: Chantal Armand, the beautiful married daughter of Claude Armand. Chantal, on a visit to her ancestral home, is swept up in the kidnapping of her father and lands with him in the underground lab in Switzerland. After exhaustive investigations by the police, they are pronounced dead - thanks to the ingenious planning and execution of the crime. Jean-Francois Duret returns to his life in the countryside outside Bordeaux, hopelessly bereft after losing the only woman he has ever loved. By the time he discovers a clue that Chantal might still be alive, she has become the object of Scalzone's perverse lust. But she has not lost her passion for Jean-Francois. Indeed, she has been working tirelessly on an escape, spinning a web for Gianni and her other guards with the delicacy and determination that have made her a master of the theater. She deceives for Jean-Francois; Jean-Francois deceives for her; Scalzone deceives for power and money; Lichtheim, the Swiss German, deceives . . . himself. The search, then the chase, for Chantal begins. Everything is movement and color, from Paris to the stark beauty of the Alps, from Milan to the incongruously lovely Sicilian estate of Tommaso Scalzone. As layers of deception fall away, the air trembles with unpredictable and often gruesome change. But one constant remains - love. Jean-Francois finds Chantal at last, but must then face Scalzone in a conclusion that is as terrifying as it is unforgettable. And the all-important clue that puts Jean-Francois on Chantal's trail? No, no, not here. For that luscious tidbit, one must read THE POPPY BROKER"show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 380 pages
  • 133.35 x 203.2 x 29.72mm | 680.39g
  • Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
  • North Charleston SC, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1461141508
  • 9781461141501

About Thomas Kirkwood

Thomas Kirkwood is best known for his Cold War thrillers, "The Quiet Assassin" and "The Svalbard Passage." Before moving to Amazon, Kirkwood was published by Macmillan, Collier Macmillan (Europe), Donald I. Fine (an imprint of Penguin), Signet (an imprint of NAL), Brilliance (audio), and Stjerne-Spenning (Europe). After many years in the EU, he now makes his home in Denver, more

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4 ratings
4.75 out of 5 stars
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4 25% (1)
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