Dead Run by Bill Pronzini

By Bill Pronzini

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Seven days hence. I gave up my flat in Punyang Street, in Singapore's Chinatown, and packed my few belongings into a large rattan suitcase. I had been working steadily if not too profitably for an Englishman named Harry Rutledge, who owned a waterfront godown, and I had sufficient funds for cabin passage on the Pangkor, with more than enough left over to buy a new bush jacket and jungle boots and some other items I would need in Selangor. I did each of those things the day of departure, a hot, windless Saturday in early October.

All he knows for sure is that the chances are they will find him and when they do he's as good as dead. "HERE PRONZINI HAS RETAINED HIS BASIC LOCALE AND CENTRAL CHARACTER USED SO SUCCESSFULLY IN THE JADE FIGURINE.... S. Pangkor, and she was one of the last single-stack steamers that carried passengers and minor cargoes to and from the smaller port towns scattered along both coasts of the Malay Peninsula. Transportation facilities in this part of Southeast Asia have improved vastly over the past twenty years-on land, on sea, and in the air-and there are half a dozen faster, more convenient ways to travel or ship merchandise; but the steamers operate on a shoestring, and people without much money or with a frugal or nostalgic nature use them enough to keep them operating.

They went into the ship's saloon, and I stood there and allowed myself a small wry smile. I looked like what I was and Phelps or Phillips looked like what he was: simple as that. Nobody gives anything away in Southeast Asia these days, and nobody sells anything cheap when they can sell it dear, particularly on a tired old lady like the Pangkor. I stayed on deck until we had passed through the outer corner of Keppel Harbor and into the Strait of Malacca. Then I decided I could use something for the heat, too, and entered the saloon.

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