The Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2023 by Amor Towles EPUB & PDF – eBook Details Online
- Status: Available for Free Download
- Author: Amor Towles
- Language: English
- Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries
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The roadside bomb was a beauty. Neatly wired, compact. First-rate
workmanship. Good. Every tech’s nightmare is getting blown away by
some kid’s cobble job.
This unit was cached in a school-boy’s backpack, hidden under a
cardboard box by the roadside. Four bricks of Semtex wrapped with duct
tape, with its trigger—no, two triggers—in plain view. The wiring was laid
out in straight lines, the soldered joints sheathed in shrink tubes. Precise,
All good. And yet—
A snake of unease began uncoiling in my gut as the instincts honed by
two long tours in Iraq kicked in. Something felt off about this setup. The
triggers were obvious, a trip wire half- buried in the dust of the gravel road,
and a mercury switch parked on top of the Semtex bricks, both in plain
sight. I was supposed to find them, and assume that defusing the unit would
be easy-peasy, but . . .
It couldn’t be. Because the rest of the workmanship was too damn good.
So . . . There would be at least one more trigger, possibly two more. The
backpack was almost certainly resting on a contact switch held open by its
weight. Lift the bag, or even bump it?
Okay. Disarming a contact switch is tricky, but manageable. I’ve cleared
dozens of them. But if this bomber was crafty enough to wire up three
triggers . . . ? He rigged four. Or even five . . . ?
No. The fifth would be riskier for him than for me. Things can go south
in a build, a static spark, a stray wire. Each trigger increases the chances of
an accidental blast. So. Not five, but definitely four. Two I could see
already, which left two more to find. The real question was . . . How good is
this guy? Good enough to kill me?
He already had me sweating through my fatigues.
I leaned back to clear my head, shrugging my shoulders to loosen up.
Not so easy to do. I was in a bulky blast suit, rigged out like a deep-sea
diver, full body armor plus a Lexan face shield. The suit would absorb
much of the blast from a four-brick bomb, but not all. With luck, I’d only
lose my arms.
Personally, I’d rather lose my head.
I sucked in a deep breath, but it didn’t help. An oil refinery a few
kilometers up the road made the air as sour as a bus-station john.
Our platoon was halted on a turnoff just west of the Dover Road, thirty
kilometers north of Baghdad, roughly eight clicks out from the UN base at
Taji. The rutted gravel side road passes through a dozen sun-baked villages
like this one. If I’d ever known its name, I couldn’t recall it. A few dozen
dirt-poor Sunni families live in cinder-block apartments on the west side
while even poorer refugees squat on the far side, in cracker-box shacks
patched together out of crates, pallets, whatever scraps they can scavenge.
The clutter offers good cover for bombers, so we find IEDs here fairly
Hadn’t seen one here for a while, though. A few weeks? And that one
was a cobble job, not nearly as neat as—
The bomb before that.
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