A few memorable dialogues/passages from thrillers III

Acquainting with some high points – for me anyway – from some examples of the thriller genre, I had given an example from Tom Clancy’s The Cardinal of the Kremlin and promised some more.  But I must confess the example I have cited in the last post came to my mind as I was recalling the text for the two examples I intended.

To get back to the topic. I will have to give some more background.

I had told you about how the family of Gerasimov (the KGB chairman in the book) is smuggled out from Riga by the enterprising John Clark (and their escape helped by the indomitable Marko Ramius – the star of The Hunt for Red October – who fortutiously happens to be on the scene) . Meanwhile, in Moscow, Gerasimov fetches Filitov from his confinement using his power and takes him to Sheremetyevo Airport, where they await the departure of the American delegation.

Unfortunately, two security officers – Klementi Vladimirovich Vatutin, a colonel of the KGB’s Second Chief Directorate (counter-espionage) and Sergey Nikolay´ch Golovko, an officer of the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (the “Foreign” Directorate) – figure out what is happening and pursue Gerasimov and Filitov.

By the time the two reach the airport, Gerasimov and Filitov are safely aboard but Ryan falls from the aircraft to the tarmac and orders the plane to depart without him, banking on his diplomatic status to protect him from harm.

He is taken into custody by an enraged Golovko, who points an gun at his head, though Ryan doesn’t know its unloaded..

It is a poignant moment when the two KGB officials realise the gravity of the situation. “Whom do we even call?” says one of them. It is Golovko who then takes charge, calling the KGB’s first assistant director, who then calls somone else and then calls back Golovko to relay his instructions. Ryan is then taken somewhere…. well, where to, we are not interested at this point in time.

Meanwhile, a pair of MiG fighters are scrambled in a desperate attempt to get down the American plane. It is here the two other moments come.

Despite everything – ever taking his jet perilously close to the American plane in an attempt to force it down, the lead pilot informs his ground controller he can shoot it down, but cannot make it land in Russian territory.

The ground controller (or possibly, a much senior officer overseeing the attempt asks him: “Do you want to get shot?” The pilot’s response is not given.

A couple of paragraphs(not to mention more risky manoeuvres) later, the pilot guesses he cannot he do anything – well, without risking a spectacular international incident – and informs the ground controller that he is pulling out of the intercept mission and returning to base.  He is told: “You will pay for this.”

Well, this in itself would not be much. But Clancy, with a rare wit, adds immediately after it: He was wrong.

I wouldn’t know much about you all but the passage had me in splits in how a moment of almost nail-biting climax is built up and later released in a way that is almost farcial.

Well, this is all from this particular book. More examples will follow as I recall them.

To be continued….

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