The search for a legendary automobile threatens the careers and lives of husband-and-wife team Sam and Remi Fargo in this thrilling adventure in Clive Cussler's bestselling series. In 1906, a groundbreaking Rolls-Royce prototype known as the Gray Ghost vanishes from the streets of Manchester, England, and it is only the lucky intervention of an American detective named Isaac Bell that prevents it from being lost forever. Not even he can save the good name of Jonathan Payton, however, the man wrongly blamed for the theft, and more than a hundred years later, it is his grandson who turns to Sam and Remi Fargo to help prove his grandfather's innocence. But there is even more at stake than any of them know. For the car has vanished again, and in it is an object so rare that it has the capacity to change lives. Men with everything to gain and a great deal to lose have a desperate plan to find it--and if anybody gets in their way? They have a plan for that, too.
CLIVE CUSSLER is the author or coauthor of more than seventy previous books in five bestselling series, including Dirk Pitt, NUMA Files, Oregon Files, Isaac Bell, and Sam and Remi Fargo. He lives in Arizona. ROBIN BURCELL spent nearly three decades working in California law enforcement as a police officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and FBI-trained forensic artist. She is the author of ten novels, and co-author with Cussler of the Sam and Remi Fargo novel Pirate and The Romanov Ransom. She lives in Lodi, California.
Praise for The Gray Ghost " The Gray Ghost showcases why readers love the various series of books written by Cussler and his co-authors. Burcell does a wonderful job adding richness and depth to the already established characters of Sam and Remi while telling a rip-roaring story." --Associated Press "A fast-paced tale that reaches back to the early days of automotive glory...A complicated and clever plot...The Fargos are great series characters, whip-smart and altruistic...Thriller fans will delight in this latest escapade. Cussler and co-author Burcell have delivered a winner." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Refreshing...[The plot's] imaginative mix pumps new energy into [the] series."-- Publishers Weekly "The Fargo novels...deliver the goods for readers seeking action, adventure, and larger-than-life characters."-- Booklist
Manchester, England March 1906 Late for work, Reginald Oren raced across the street, the cobblestones slick from the night''s rain. Dodging a horse and carriage, he jumped over a puddle then ran toward a brick building that took up half the city block. He shrugged out of his overcoat, hung it on a hook just inside the door then quietly entered a large workroom filled with a half-dozen young men sitting at their desks, their attention focused on the office at the far side of the room. No one noticed that Reginald was late, and he took his seat, glancing toward the open door, where Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, both dressed in dark suits, were talking to a policeman. "That looks ominous," Reginald said, glancing over at his cousin, Jonathon Payton, who sat at the desk next to his. "What did I miss?" "It''s gone." "What''s gone?" "The forty-fifty prototype." "When?" "Last night. They went there this morning to finish up the coachwork and it was gone." Reginald leaned back in his chair as he looked around the room, then focused on the men in the office, imagining what this would do to the company. Rolls-Royce had put all their money and that of their investors into this improved six-cylinder engine. Every last penny had gone into the design of that, as well as a chassis meant to withstand the harsh country roads. When the world seemed to laugh at them, saying it couldn''t be done, they''d persevered. And now, when they were on the verge of accomplishing the impossible.... Jonathon leaned toward him, lowering his voice. "Was Elizabeth pleased?" "Pleased?" he said, unable to draw his gaze from the office. Reginald''s wife, Elizabeth, had taken their newborn son to visit her mother, and for the life of him, he couldn''t figure out why Jonathon would bring her up at a time like this. "About what?" "About the pianoforte." A shame he couldn''t hear what they were discussing in there, and he finally turned toward his cousin, belatedly recalling last night''s conversation when he''d solicited Jonathon''s assistance. "Undoubtedly, she will be. Meant to thank you for helping my friends and me move it, but you''d disappeared. One minute you were next to me, the next you were gone." "I guess I had a bit much. Not sure what happened." He was quiet a moment, then whispered, "You won''t mention that to my father, will you?" "Of course not." Jonathon''s father, Viscount Wellswick, had raised both boys after Reginald''s parents died, though Reginald always suspected he''d have ended up in an orphanage if not for the intervention of Jonathon''s mother. Ironic, considering that she was the reason their fathers had been the bitterest of enemies. Reginald''s father had been in love with her, but her fortune was needed to restore the viscountcy, so she was wedded to Jonathon''s father instead. He often wondered if she regretted the marriage. Her husband, the viscount, was frugal beyond belief, as well as a strict disciplinarian. He certainly wouldn''t have approved of either of them spending a night at one of the local taverns, drinking ale with the neighborhood residents. The viscount was all about propriety. How it would look to his friends if his son and nephew stepped out of line. Appearances were everything, which was why Reginald and Jonathon were expected to oversee the running of the orphanage that bore the viscount''s name. Jonathon, in line to be the next viscount and heir to the Payton estate, was expected to be there six days a week, usually stopping in after work. In Reginald''s mind, that was the one advantage of being the poor relation living under his uncle''s roof. He was only expected to volunteer his time at the orphanage twice a week. Of course, that was in addition to the six days a week both men spent working for Rolls-Royce. There were no free rides in the Payton home, the old man thinking that working at a job each day built character. Had the viscount discovered Reginald had led Payton astray, he''d likely toss Reginald, his wife and son out to the streets. "Not to worry," Reginald said, turning his attention back to the office. "Your secret of drunken debauchery is safe with me." Reginald watched the men talking in the office, the faces of the two owners, Rolls and Royce, looking drawn, the loss weighing on them. The stolen car, named the Grey Ghost for the color of the body and the quietness of the forty-fifty engine, had been kept a secret from all but their investors, for fear that someone might try to steal their ideas. Apparently, it had never occurred to them that someone might steal the entire car. Payton''s father, the viscount, had offered the family warehouse to store the car while they were fitting it with its custom coachwork, hoping to enter it into the Olympia car show in just a few months. Reginald and Jonathon had discussed the idea that the vehicle would be more secure there, less likely to fall prey to anyone skulking around the factory, stealing plans. Jonathon, however, was the one who''d presented it. "Tough break this happening on your watch, don''t you think?" Reginald said. "Quite. I expect they''ll sack me for it." "Have they said anything to you?" "No," Payton whispered, his face paling as Mr. Rolls shook the officer''s hand then escorted him out the door. Mr. Royce stepped out after them then looked right at Jonathon. "Do you have a moment?" "Right away, sir." Jonathon Payton rose, not looking at his cousin as he walked toward the office. "Close the door." "Yes, sir." He shut the door behind him. Reginald eyed the journals on a cabinet against the wall near the office, casually walking over, picking up the topmost one, pretending to read it. The walls were thin enough to hear what was being said. "You''ve no doubt heard what happened?" Mr. Royce asked Jonathon. "I have." "You realize what dire straits we''re in?" Reginald leaned in closer. In charge of the books, he knew every penny the company spent and what would happen to their investors if they didn''t recover that car and start turning a profit. They''d go bankrupt, his uncle, the viscount--who''d invested everything--right along with them. Jonathon''s response, though, was covered by the return of Mr. Rolls, who nearly ran into Reginald as he came back from seeing the officer out. "Pardon," Mr. Rolls said, stepping past him. He started to open the door, then paused, looking over at Reginald, and then the other young men sitting at their desks, their attention on what was happening in the office. "I daresay we''re all frightfully worried over this setback. But we''ll get past it. In the meantime, let''s all get back to our tasks, shall we?" The young men nodded, as did Reginald, and their employer gave a worried smile then entered the office. "This is disastrous," he said, pushing the door closed. It didn''t latch tight. "We have to find that engine." "Why would anyone bother?" Mr. Royce asked. "The blasted coachwork wasn''t even finished." "Why do you think?" Rolls replied. "Sending spies sniffing around, trying to best us. Whoever it was, they stole it because they couldn''t build anything close to what we have." "Problem is, it''s still in the prototype stage. If they get it out there before we do, we lose it all. Every investor we have will pull out." "Good point. What if we lose the patent?" Rolls said. "We have to get that car back before the Olympia car show." "The policeman suggested we hire a detective." Mr. Rolls made a scoffing noise. "Not sure we want that to get out to our investors. Can''t even keep track of our own products before they find their way into the hands of our competitors." Jonathon Payton started to speak, his voice cracking. He cleared his throat and started again, saying, "What about those parts we sent out to be machined? If we could get them back in time, we might have a chance to finish that other forty-fifty." "Brilliant idea," Royce said. "They''ve got to be ready by now. Give them a ring, Payton. If they''re ready, see if they can''t get them on the next train. We might just save this company after all." ### One week later... Just before sunrise, ten-year-old Toby Edwards and his nine-year-old brother, Chip, picked their way down the street, avoiding the low spots where the rain flowed down from the previous day''s storm. They stopped at the entrance to the alley. "Wait here," Toby said, moving his brother into the shadow. "I''ll be back soon." "Why can''t I go? I''ll be quiet as a mouse." "Just wait. If anything happens, run back." The boy nodded and Toby moved off. The last time he''d stolen something from the bakery, he''d nearly gotten caught after stepping in a deep puddle. The water had soaked through his worn soles, his boots squeaking with every step he took. A customer was the one who''d heard, calling out to the baker that a thief had broken in, then chased after him. He wasn''t about to make that mistake again. Worried the baker might catch him again, he''d stayed away for several days, until hunger drove him out once more. This time, when he reached the back of the shop, he wiggled his toes, grateful that they seemed relatively dry. He glanced back, could just make out his brother in the dark. Satisfied he was waiting as he should, Toby moved in. The waiting was the hardest part. He breathed in the scent of fresh-baked bread drifting into the alley. Every morning, the baker opened the back door a crack, just enough to let his grey tabby in and out. The door was locked tight, and Toby wondered if, after h
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