Hemingway's Notebook


By Bill Granger

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Everyone is looking for it on St. Michel in the Caribbean. Here the president is a raving lunatic, the “Black Police” have the run of the capital, guerilla forces mass in the hills, an organized crime syndicate plans its own takeover, and U.S. agents brutally battle for a document filled with hot political secrets, the lost notebook of Ernest Hemingway. And here one of America’s toughest spies, the man they call November, will need all his courage and cunning if the coveted prize is to be his.


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Ernest Hemingway, tired of life at Key West, where friends of his second wife kept him from his work, retreated to Cuba in 1939. In April that year, at the insistence of a friend named Martha Gellhorn, he rented a house at Finca Vigía, which is in the hills of San Francisco de Paula south of Havana. He eventually bought the property and it was his principal residence until he killed himself in Idaho in July 1961. His house is preserved today as a museum by the government of Fidel Castro.

Castro apologists insist that Ernest Hemingway was a longtime "friend of the revolution." This is based on his affinity for the down-and-out waterfront characters he wrote about, drank with, and sailed with. However, Hemingway was a closet patrician and his associations with gangsters and revolutionaries, simple fishermen and smugglers, however genuine at the time, was a form of "slumming" for the doctor's son from Oak Park, Illinois. A number of the late writer's friends have said Hemingway's obvious distaste for Batista in the days before the Cuban revolution was matched only by his later distaste for Castro's people.

Despite his sympathy for the Loyalist cause in the Spanish civil war, Hemingway was a ferocious anticommunist.

Hemingway killed himself three months after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, in which Cuban troops, financed and directed by the Central Intelligence Agency, attempted an armed counterrevolt against the fledgling Castro government. It was proven later that Castro's intelligence service was superior to the Americans' in that time and place.

After the Bay of Pigs, American intelligence used members of organized crime to attempt the assassination of Castro. One scheme involved poisoning his cigars. The motives of the crime syndicate were obvious: They had flourished in Batista's Cuba with its prostitution, casinos, and drug trade. To this day, the American crime syndicate is deeply involved in gambling operations in the Caribbean, as well as in the drug trade.



The president of the United States, his face shining under the television lights, gripped the lectern and turned in a characteristic way toward the reporter on the panel, as though he had not heard the question. After a pause and a duck of his head, he began a long and rambling discourse.

Frank Collier was watching the president's image on the screen in the corner of his darkened office in Langley, Virginia. "Jesus." He exhaled the word. "Jesus," he said again as though trying to form a prayer. "What the hell is he doing, talking about that? Does he know what he's doing?"

The darkness did not answer. The television carried the condensed sound of the president as he explained in a rambling unpunctuated way about the Central Intelligence Agency in Latin America, in the Caribbean, about the existence of a manual for guerrilla fighters, about freedom fighters, and about the fact that the CIA had hired a writer for the guerrilla manual who may have overstepped his authority.…

"Does he know what he's saying? He should listen to what he's saying!" Frank Collier again addressed the darkness. His voice was rising.

The president was speaking of a manual whose existence had become the talk of the Washington press corps in the long, tedious week before the second presidential debate of the campaign. There had been little else to attract attention because the campaign, despite the presence of a woman in the second position on the Democratic ticket, was not remarkable.

The manual was a simplistic guide with cartoon illustrations distributed among anti-Sandinista guerrilla rebels in Nicaragua. It had allegedly been written by the CIA—and now the president was dropping the allegedly. The manual urged the "elimination" of people in the Sandinista government in the troubled country on the western rim of the Caribbean Sea.

The president rambled on, explaining that the word elimination did not necessarily mean killing.

Frank Collier squirmed in the heavy oak chair and picked up the green telephone receiver in the darkness. It triggered a ring at the other end of the line. "Why the hell is he explaining this—why is he doing this?" Frank Collier shouted into the telephone.

"Damage control," the voice at the end of the line said with a measure of calm. "We'll call D.C., get some PIO on this—"

"This is network television, this is the fucking presidential debate—"

"Take it easy, Frank," said the voice.

Outside Collier's second floor corner office in CIA headquarters, the summer night crackled with the sounds of insects and the cries of owls hunting in the moonlight. Beyond the leafy suburbs, beyond the Beltway, the lights of Washington winked orange and villainous.

"I meant to say—" corrected the president suddenly, backing away from the wreckage of words spilled in the past forty-five seconds, while the Democratic candidate blinked at him, while the panel of journalists pretended to listen, while Frank Collier tapped his fingers nervously on the green blotter on his desk, and suddenly pushed his swivel chair away from the desk and away from the television screen in the corner.

"He 'meant to say,' " Frank Collier shouted into the green telephone receiver.

"The Old Man can take care of him," said the voice at the end of the line.

"He's thirty points up in the polls, he'd be reelected if he was embalmed, what the hell is he telling them all this for?" said Frank Collier.

"We have ordered an investigation," the president said again.

"Oh, God," said Frank Collier. "Listen to him."

"Frank, I want you to relax, try to take it easy—"

"I put that goddamned rummy on the manual in the first place. You know what he knows? I mean, you know how much he knows about everything? Not just Nicaragua, not just Cuba, but everything?"

"Frank, I don't want to know all that—"

"Son-of-a-bitch has been sitting in the Caribe since Batista, now the president is going to investigate him? Son-of-a-bitch, I only used him on the little job because he could write, and you can't find writers anymore—"

"He's vetted, Frank, he's very clear, he's all right—"

"Nobody," said Frank Collier, his voice rising, "nobody is all right when they get their back to the wall and their tit caught in the wringer." The unexpected metaphors made a momentary silence in the room. Even the television president paused, as though puzzling out the words.

"So take care of him. He's been freelance for a while, hasn't he?"

"I can't." Pause. "Not right away. Two weeks ago, R Section sent a man down to talk to him. Try to get a line on him. Fucking R Section fucking in our business."

"I didn't know that, Frank," said the voice at the other end of the line, putting distance between them.

"Agent named Cohn. Our freelancer is playing both of us, it seems. I don't have to tell you—"

"Don't tell me, Frank," said the voice with meaning.

"And we're going to find those responsible," said the president.

Frank Collier felt physically sick then. "Put a gag in his mouth, please, somebody."

"Take it easy, Frank," said the voice on the line. "Nothing will happen. The Old Man will talk to him. Wait and see. Nothing is going to happen."

"You're not in the line of fire on this," Frank Collier said. He felt very alone in the dark office on the second floor of the Central Intelligence Agency complex in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. He held the receiver tightly.

"No," agreed the voice.

"Things are going to happen. On St. Michel. Very soon. The writer is on St. Michel."

"I don't want to know—"

"On fucking St. Michel. I use a guy once three years ago and he disappears and surfaces on St. Michel and I got an agent from R Section down there just when we are supposed to make things pop. You got to believe in Fate after a while, you know that?"

"It'll look better in the morning, Frank." A soothing voice. "I've been there before, babysitting an operation. But this is the Caribbean we're talking about, the whole basin from Venezuela up to Key West. Nobody cares, Frank. Take my word for it. We are not talking about nuclear with the Big Red Machine, we are talking about the Caribbean, Frank. Niggers and spics and white sand beaches. Believe me, nobody thinks a thing about the Caribe until it's cold in New York in January."

"An operation. My operation," Frank said, saying too much again. He stared at the screen. The president was finished. The camera was pointed at the Democrat. Frank Collier felt drawn and cold.

"Wait and see," said the soothing voice. "Nothing is going to happen."



Lausanne was caught in a bright September stillness on the edge of autumn, lingering a moment with the last of summer. The city sprawled on the hillside like a tired whore. It was cool in the shade, warm in the sun. The waters of Lac Léman below the city were still and glistening and there were boats sailing on childlike puffs of breeze.

Devereaux saw the other man from the corner of his eye. He noticed him because the other man moved too quickly. The other man stepped out of the McDonald's across from the train station just as Devereaux passed the entrance.

The other man bumped him, grabbed him.

Devereaux, acting on instinct, bent his knees in that moment and reached up with both hands to grab the other man, expecting a second, heavy blow or the nearly painless slash of a razor-edged knife.

He grasped the sleeve of the other man's dark jacket and pulled his weight back, tripping him in one movement and letting the other man's weight fall on him as he knelt and shifted. In a fraction of a second, Devereaux would lift suddenly and throw the other man over his shoulder.

Except the other man stepped back at the last moment and the weight shifted back and Devereaux was pulled upright. They faced each other, flushed, breathing hard, their hands on each other's sleeves.

Colonel Ready grinned.

Devereaux did not move. He had no expression in his gray eyes. He stared like a cat at an empty window.

"Nearly as fast as you used to be," Colonel Ready said. He smiled. Neither man let go of the other.

"And you're slower," Devereaux said, because Ready expected something to be said.

"We all get old. Besides, this wasn't an ambush in Nam, was it? Just a joke between friends."

"We're not friends," Devereaux said.

Colonel Ready stood still and let the smile fade. He dropped his hands first. His classic redhead's face was freckled, which might have made him look absurdly young, even as Devereaux's prematurely gray hair and wintry face made him look older than he was. But Ready's youthful looks were mitigated by the cold cast to his eyes, cold blue to Devereaux's arctic gray. And there was a broad, white scar that ran from the right corner of his mouth to the disfigured remains of his right ear.

"Not friends then," Ready said in a metallic voice. "Old comrades in arms."

Devereaux dropped his hands.

The two men stood apart from each other in front of the McDonald's. It was noon and shoppers were crowding into the metro funicular. The trains ran down the long hill to Ouchy at the foot of Lausanne and the shore of Lac Léman. Other trains rose several hundred feet to the shopping district above. A woman in a black dress and orange sweater brushed between the two men, muttering in annoyed French, and pushed her way into the line at the ticket booth for the metro.

"Are you lost?" Devereaux said.

Ready grinned. "Never lost within eyeshot of the Golden Arches. A little bit of home, makes you nostalgic, doesn't it?" He paused, still grinning. "I just had me a burger now, waiting for you. I know it sounds odd. But I miss burgers. Where I am now, I mean."

"Where you are now is here," Devereaux said, waiting.

"Not the same as home, is it?"

Devereaux said nothing.

"I had a hard time finding you."

"Why did you look for me?"

"I need you, Devereaux. That's obvious isn't it?"

Devereaux said nothing.

"Thought I'd lost you for good. I mean, everyone thinks you're dead, did you know that? At Langley, even."

Devereaux waited with gray calm.

"I knew you had survived," Ready said, grinning again.

Devereaux knew the smile. It was never sincere. It worked very well for Colonel Ready.

Once, in the jungle, a file of Cong had surprised Ready while he squatted in the bushes, defecating. Ready had simply grinned at them. The Cong were surprised. For a moment, they had stared at the grinning red monkey of an American with his trousers bunched around his boots, his white behind hanging out of the fatigues. It was a moment of comic surprise in a farce. The hesitation lasted as long as a double take. It was one beat too long for the Cong. Ready rose in that moment and began to spray the six guerrillas with exploding rounds from his contraband Uzi submachine gun. As someone at G2 noted later, the fantastic part of the encounter was that after the shooting, Colonel Ready squatted down again in the blood-splattered bushes and finished his business.

"If everyone thinks I'm dead, perhaps you shouldn't have come looking to find me alive," Devereaux said.

"I have faith, Devereaux. I can move mountains. I knew you survived the business in Zurich when I heard the details. 'Killed in a hotel room.' Except your body was carelessly identified, don't you think? The only people who'd believe that crap are the kind of chumps you find at Langley. Or maybe on Dzerzhinsky Square."

"And you shared your faith?"

"No, Devereaux. Faith is a selfish thing with me. I like to be alone, you know that. I thought it was as simple as cherchez la femme—'look for the woman.' It's not your girl's fault, Devereaux, I wouldn't want you to be angry with her. But I'm very good at what I do, you know that."

"You went to so much trouble," Devereaux said. His voice was cold and somber.

"Yes. It was a lot of trouble. A year ago, right after you died in Zurich, she went to live in Spiez. Why did she do that? She had a job in Washington. I bet she wasn't ranging too far from someone. Switzerland is a nice little place to be dead in."

"I'm not in the old game," Devereaux said, in order to end the conversation that showed no sign of ending.

"Hell, man." Smile. "I know that." Pause. "You're dead, after all." Ready smiled with the sincerity of a dentist.

Devereaux had studied him in those moments. His clothes were too light, even for the wispy warmth of early September in the Swiss Alps. His shirt and trousers were tropical weight khakis with a military cut and Ready had attempted to disguise them with a dark civilian sports coat that left too much room in the gut. Colonel Ready was cut lean, as he had been in the long ago days when he shifted between the Defense Intelligence Agency and Langley in Vietnam. He had been liaison to R Section and Devereaux there. Devereaux had never trusted him. He had been a spy on the Section and on Devereaux. It had been a game between them. They had been good players because both had survived—the game and the war around them.

"Aren't you curious?" Ready said.


Devereaux turned then and started again for the zebra crossing at the corner. He had been heading for the red stone train station when Ready grabbed him. The train from Geneva was due in twenty minutes. He had told her he would meet her.

"Damn it," said Ready after him. "I'd be curious at least."

"I told you," Devereaux said. He stopped and turned. "I'm not in the old game." His voice was just above a whisper.

"You owe me, Devereaux. You have owed me for a long time." And this time, there was no smile and the voice was so quiet that it cut through the din of traffic along the Avenue.

"Both of you are in it now. I mean, I know you're not dead, don't I?"

"She's not part of this, Ready."

"I'm afraid that can't be avoided. I wouldn't wait for the train from Geneva. She might not be on it."

And then the cold filled Devereaux the way it did in the old days, in the Section. The cold found every empty place in him and settled into him until it became a comfort to him. Rita Macklin would not be on the train from Geneva.

Ready shrugged as though he might apologize. "I need leverage on you, Devereaux. It's nothing to do with her but it has to be her, you understand that. You know how it is."

"Where is she?"

"Let's just say she's not on the train from Geneva. Let's leave it at that for the moment and then we can talk about her and about other things," Ready said.

"Where is she?"

"In a little while, Devereaux," Ready said. "You know how it is. Everything in time."

And Devereaux did not speak. He could not answer that. He knew how it was. How it always had been in the old game.



Devereaux and Colonel Ready walked down a narrow cul-de-sac off the Rue St. Martin. They were in the old quarter of Lausanne, in a nest of streets that straggled down the hill from the cathedral and from the university building. They came to a five-story building of gray stucco with small balconies and tall, mournful windows, shuttered against September though the day was still calm and warm. In the summer there were concerts under the trees in the courtyard of the cathedral and the students from the university sold bratwurst and thick bread and plastic cups of beer. Children had played under the trees. Rita Macklin and Devereaux would listen to the music from their balcony window in the gray building all during that beautiful, lingering summer.

Devereaux turned the key in the lock of his apartment door and opened it. Ready said Rita would not be there and he knew she would not be there but still he expected her when he opened the door. He had bought her flowers and they stood in a bowl on the table near the French windows.

Ready had it all figured out. He'd given Devereaux orders:

"We're going to catch the two o'clock ferry to the French side. You'll need your passport."

Devereaux passed through the rooms of the small apartment. He opened the dresser drawer and took out his blue American passport. She was everywhere. He could hear her voice in the silent rooms.

He went into the bathroom, closed the door, and flushed the toilet. While the water ran out of the bowl, he lifted the lid from the water tank and removed a pistol from a holster that was glued to the underside of the lid. The pistol was black with a brown grip and was six inches long from front sight to firing chamber. It was a version of the Colt Python .357 Magnum which Devereaux had acquired years ago in R Section. He had not carried it all summer. But he had decided to keep the gun when he had been reported killed.

Devereaux spun the barrel slowly. The bullets were seated in their cylinders. He carried a revolver instead of an automatic because an automatic could always jam. Once a week, when she was not there, Devereaux would break down the parts of the pistol and rub the dark metal with oil and the oil would leave a sweet smell in the room. Rita never saw him clean the pistol or reseat the bullets in the revolving chamber because he did not want to remind her of the old life or what he had been. There was only the smell of oil that lingered after he had put the pistol away. She never mentioned it.

Devereaux put the pistol on a clip in his belt. They were going to take the ferry across Lac Léman to the town of Evian on the French shore. It was a quiet old spa town where old people came to cure themselves of age.

Devereaux would kill Colonel Ready in Evian after he found out about Rita Macklin and where she was. It was possible that Ready had already killed her. But then she would not be "leverage" for him anymore.

Devereaux would see that Rita was safe and then he would agree to whatever Colonel Ready wanted him to do. Then he would kill Ready near the Evian train station. It was not used much because summer was over and because most of the tourists who went to Evian drove cars or took the ferry across the lake from Lausanne.

There were two hotels on the square across from the train station but they were always empty at this time of year. There was a bar in one hotel but the owner was deaf. Besides, Devereaux would get very close to Ready and Ready would know what it meant. Ready would reach for his pistol and Devereaux would shoot him. It didn't matter very much where the bullets hit because they had exploding caps and the bullets blew apart when they hit their target.

Devereaux came out of the bathroom, turned off the light, and checked the street through the window. "I wasn't followed down here," Ready said.

Devereaux said nothing.

"They followed me as far as the airport at Zurich. I think they were from Langley. They're always watching me."

"You don't work for Langley anymore."

"In a sense, that's true," Ready said.

"Where is she?"

"We'll go down the metro to Ouchy and catch the two o'clock ferry. Don't worry, Devereaux."

The ferry had begun service on Lac Léman in 1915. It was wooden and the side-wheels churned the cold waters as the ship pulled away from the dock at Ouchy beneath the sprawl of Lausanne. The paddles bit into the smooth water and the steam engine amidships chugged and vibrated as the boat struck for open water.

Devereaux and Ready stood on the empty open deck on the first-class level: No one bought first-class tickets for the thirty-minute crossing. Devereaux's face was chapped by the cold wind formed as the boat plowed into the long lake that threaded through the mountains. The French side was seven miles across from Lausanne.

"She's over there. Waiting. She's safe enough. I don't mean her any harm. Or you."

Devereaux stared at the sea and at the fog trailing down at the surface of the water. Fourteen months ago he had died in service in Zurich. He had been awarded a posthumous medal for valor. His 201 file in R Section had been consigned to the "Inactive Library." Three people inside R Section knew he was not dead. And now Colonel Ready knew it as well and Devereaux could not understand why he wanted to open the secret. Except for once, he had not crossed Ready's path since Vietnam, seventeen years ago.

Except for the favor he had asked six years ago. For Rita.

Devereaux winced. He had made himself vulnerable to Ready then.

"I remembered the girl, you know," Ready said at that moment, as though all of Devereaux's thoughts were naked to him. "From when I was still at DIA, when I still had access clearance. You wanted to know about Rita Macklin's brother, the missionary, whether he had been clean in Laos. And I told you. A little favor must have meant a lot to you."

Devereaux stared at Ready. "You shouldn't have looked for me."

"Sleeping dogs and dead agents, then? Maybe. But I cleared up the matter for you six years ago and for your girl, and I think I can ask you for a little favor."

"Ask me. You can't blackmail me with her. You know me better than that."

"I knew you. But you've changed, Devereaux." The blue eyes were hard. "You'd have cut your grandmother if she was in the way, but you've changed. It's made you softer, Devereaux, not that I blame you. She's a good-looking girl. A lot younger than you are."

Devereaux would shoot Ready at the train station in Evian. He would shoot him only once, in the belly, and back away from him while Ready fell, his belly spilled open like a broken pumpkin.

"You counted on your own survival and now I'm betting that isn't as important as her survival. That's what I'm betting on."

"Nobody changes as much as you make out," Devereaux said.

"Your girl was in Paris and she was coming home on the TGV train to Geneva, changing to the local up to Lausanne. Instead, she got rerouted at Geneva. We waited there for her and I had my aide take her to Evian. I wanted to get you used to the idea before you saw her. Used to the idea that I had something to talk to you about."

"Who do you work for, Ready?"

"Myself, you might say. Like you. Do you know why I knew it had to be the girl? I mean, when I went looking for you?" He smiled. "You left yourself open to me six years ago when you wanted to find out if her missionary brother was an agent. You never leave yourself open. It had to be the woman, I thought at the time. I put that away in my little file." He tapped his head with his forefinger. "Your Achilles heel, you might say."

Six years ago, he had met Rita Macklin. She had been a journalist. They both wanted the secret of an old priest who had come out of Laos after twenty years. She had wanted to clear her dead brother's name. She was closer to the secret than he, so Devereaux had used her, made love to her, conspired against her, all to get the secret from the old priest. But then he had fallen in love with Rita.

And because of that love he had exposed himself to Ready. Had he left other clues on his trail for others who might want to find him alive?

Devereaux frowned. The ferry was closing on the French shore and the sleepy buildings of Evian shining in the afternoon light. It was chilly on the deck. He shivered and felt the weight of the pistol at his belt. And he saw Ready shivered as well.

"You must work in a warm place," Devereaux said softly.

"My khakis? Had regular clothes I picked up in New York, but I wore the khakis on the plane and the fucking airline lost the bag. Those two from Langley, or maybe DIA, were on my tail so I said to hell with it. Gave them the slip at Zurich. Probably a couple of stiffs from surveillance division. They've been following me around ever since I resigned from Langley six years ago. Went on my own. They think I'm a soldier of fortune."

"Are you?"

"Maybe," said Ready.

"In a warm climate," Devereaux said.

"Hell is warm," Ready said.

"Is it hell, Ready?"

"Yes. But that's not to say it doesn't have its attractions. Like this."

"What is it?"


On Sale
Oct 28, 2014
Page Count
384 pages

Bill Granger

About the Author

An award-winning novelist and reporter, Bill Granger began his literary career in 1979 with Code Name November (first published as The November Man), the book that became an international sensation and introduced the cool American spy who later gave rise to a whole series. His second novel, Public Murders, a Chicago police procedural, won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1981.
In all, Bill Granger published twenty-two novels, including thirteen in the November Man series, and three nonfiction books. His books have been translated into ten languages. He also wrote for the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Newsday, Time, and The New Republic, contributing articles about crime, cops, politics, and covering such events as the race riots of the late 1960’s and the 1968 Democratic Convention. Bill Granger passed away in 2012.

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