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By Tim Powers

As a tender double agent infiltrating the Soviet secret agent community in Nazi-occupied Paris, Andrew Hale unearths himself stuck up in a mystery, much more ruthless conflict. 20 years later, in 1963, he'll be compelled to confront back the nightmarethat has haunted his grownup existence: a deadly unfinished operation code-named claim. From the corridors of Whitehall to the Arabian desolate tract, from post-war Berlin to the streets of chilly struggle Moscow, Hale's determined quest attracts him into foreign politics and gritty espionage tradecraft -- and inexorably drives Hale, the fiery and gorgeous Communist agent Elena Teresa Ceniza-Bendiga, and Kim Philby, mysterious traitor to the British reason, to a dangerous disagreement at the excessive glaciers of Mount Ararat, within the very shadow of the wonderful and threatening Ark.

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In ways unfathomable, my dear patient. Come on, now. Lamouche wants you down at the dock so you can familiarize yourself with his equipment. You’ll be starting out at four o’clock tomorrow morning. Consider how beneficial a week at sea will be. ” There had never been a cruise like it. The skipper of the filthy, oil-soaked fishing boat was a foul-mouthed rendering of an insignificant Captain Bligh; the crew a quartet of misfits who were undoubtedly the only men in Port Noir willing to put up with Claude Lamouche.

Money. He had to get money. He had to think about that. He shook out the clothes he had taken from the knapsack, put them on, and shoved his feet into the boots. Then he lay down on the sand, staring at the sky, which progressively grew brighter. The day was being born, and so was he. He walked the narrow stone streets of La Ciotat, going into the shops as much to converse with the clerks as anything else. It was an odd sensation to be part of the human traffic, not an unknown derelict, dragged from the sea.

He stood bracing himself in the cabin door; he raised a gun and fired again. And again. The man at the railing whipped both his hands up to his head, arching backward under the impact of the fourth bullet. The trawler’s bow dipped suddenly into the valley of two giant waves, lifting the wounded man off his feet; he twisted to his left unable to take his hands away from his head. The boat surged upward, bow and midships more out of the water than in it, sweeping the figure in the doorway back into the cabin, a fifth gunshot fired wildly.

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