When Marianne’s husband Greg is knocked off his bike and killed on the way to work, she must unpick the life he left behind. Numb with grief, Marianne consoles herself by scouring Greg’s laptop, finding comfort in reading his old emails and tracing his footsteps across the web. Until one day, she discovers that he had been accessing the dark web. Why was Greg, a principled charity worker and dedicated husband, logging on to a website that showcases the worst of humanity’s cruel impulses and where anything is available for a price? Marianne steels herself and logs on. After tentative searching, she discovers her name on a hit list.
In this fast-paced, powerful and exceptionally plotted novel, Marianne must figure out whether Greg was trying to protect her or whether he was complicit in the conspiracy for her murder. As she is pulled deeper into the depths of the underworld that Greg was seemingly hostage to, she gets closer and closer to coming face to face with Sam – the assassin hired to kill her. The dark truths that Marianne uncovers speak volumes about the dark underbelly of our society and forces us to question how far we would go to protect those we care most about.
Marianne was widowed a year ago, still grieving the loss of husband Greg, on a whim she checks his laptop. She discovers he had accessed the dark web.
At first she believes this must have been for his job, he helped trafficked women, but then she finds the hit list. Here you can enter your name to find out if anyone has hired an assassin to kill you. She puts in Greg’s name…..nothing.
But when she enters her own name…….there it is…..someone wants her dead.
I can’t say much more for fear of spoiling the plot. But what I will say is that this is a clever, tension filled and twisty psychological thriller. It is very well narrated by Tuppence Middleton, Stephanie Racine, Damian Lynch, Chris Reilly and Perdita Weeks.
Thank you to Alex at Orion/Trapeze for the opportunity to be part of this audiobook blog tour and for an audiobook copy of The Hit List. This is my honest and unbiased review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Holly Seddon is the international bestselling author of TRY NOT TO BREATHE, DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES and LOVE WILL TEAR US APART. THE HIT LIST will be published in August 2020 in ebook, and April 2021 in paperback.
After growing up in the English countryside obsessed with music and books, Holly worked in London as a journalist and editor. She now lives in Amsterdam with her family and writes full time.
Alongside fellow author Gillian McAllister, Holly co-hosts the popular Honest Authors Podcast.
Welcome to the Bookwormery and an extract from Son Of Escobar. But first a little about the book…..
THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUE STORY
Rescued as a baby from a fatal shoot out at which his mother dies and his father escapes, adopted by an MI6 agent working out of Colombia, kept in the dark about his true identity until the age of 24, sent to boarding school in the UK to avoid escalating kidnapping attempts, and finally given the location of Escobar’s hidden millions, this is the unbelievable true story of Pablo Escobar’s first born son, Roberto Sendoya Escobar.
In 1965, a secret mission by Colombian Special Forces, led by an MI6 agent to recover a cash hoard from a safe house used by a young Pablo Escobar, culminates in a shoot-out leaving many dead. Escobar and several of his men escape. Only a baby survives the bloody shoot out, Roberto Sendoya Escobar. In a bizarre twist of fate, the MI6 agent takes pity on the child, brings him home and adopts him.
Over the years, Pablo Escobar tries, repeatedly, to kidnap his first born son. Flanked by his trusty bodyguards, the child, unaware of his true identity, is allowed regular meetings with Escobar and it becomes apparent that Roberto’s adopted father and the British government are working covertly with the Escobar in an attempt to control the money laundering and drug trades.
Many years later in England, as Roberto’s adoptive father lies dying in hospital, he hands his son a coded piece of paper which, he says, reveals the secret hiding place of Escobar’s ‘missing millions’. The code is published in this book for the first time.
The most notorious drug lord the world has ever seen, and now the subject of the hugely popular Netflix series Narcos, Pablo Escobar was one of the ten richest men on the planet and controlled 80 per cent of the global cocaine trade before he was shot dead in 1993. Each copy of the book offers readers a chance to crack the code and find Escobar’s hidden millions
And now the
EXTRACT FROM Son Of Escobar…
I had two fathers. The one I called Dad – and loved dearly – was my adoptive father, Patrick Witcomb. I knew him as an English businessman who had made a successful life for his family in Colombia. That was only half the story. It wasn’t until years later that I found out he was also an MI6 agent working undercover for British intelligence. But hearing that still wasn’t my biggest shock.
I learned that my biological father was Pablo Escobar, the most notorious gangster in the history of the world. I had met him only fleetingly, unaware of our connection – or that there were times he was prepared to kill to win me back.
This is the story of how the lives of my two fathers became inextricably intertwined. Good and evil. Light and darkness. This story has it all.
When I was a child I knew nothing of all this. I just thought Patrick – Pat to everyone who
knew him – was a regular dad. There were an awful lot of guns and strangeness going on around our beautiful mansion in Colombia but my dad worked for a firm that printed bank notes for governments and ran an armoured car business and as an employee he was subject to attack from criminal gangs. It was just part of our life, although sometimes it felt like violence followed us around and I was grateful for my round-the-clock armed protection.
There were also a few occasions on which my father took me to a place called Medellín where I met a younger man who took a keen interest in me – this was Escobar. And there was the day I saw huge bags of money being loaded on to a plane. Little did I know of the murky dealings that linked these two powerful figures in Colombia’s turbulent history – and the millions of dollars that passed between them.
Only when I was twenty-four did my father – Pat – sit me down to tell me the true story of my extraordinary life. It was 1989 and by then I had left home and was living in Sotogrande on the Costa Del Sol of Spain, near Gibraltar. Until that day I had always been Phillip Witcomb, although I did know that I was adopted. It hadn’t worried me. I always looked upon Pat and his wife, Joan, as my dad and mum. They had told me I had been born in Colombia, which explained my darker hair and features, but until this point both had said that nothing was known about my real parents and I had always accepted it. Now Pat prepared to turn my world upside down.
‘What we told you wasn’t the whole story,’ Dad said. ‘It’s time you knew the whole truth.’
He revealed I had started life as Roberto Sendoya Escobar. They had adopted me from a Catholic orphanage. My mother was dead and they believed my father had given up any claim for me. It was then that he explained how he had come to cross paths with Pablo Escobar.
Dad had been tasked with setting up the Colombian arm of the banknote printing company De La Rue and, as part of his work, he needed to infiltrate the criminal gangs then gaining a foothold in the country’s fledgling economy and pass back intelligence. Some of this information made its way back to UK secret services, but the main beneficiaries for the elaborate, sophisticated and devastatingly effective operation were their US counterparts in the CIA.
Dad explained that the armoured car division often came under attack and their consignments of newly printed Colombian banknotes would be stolen. After one such robbery, Dad received intelligence to the whereabouts of the missing money. With the backing of his bosses in London and his employers in UK intelligence he mounted a daring and heavily armoured mission to recover the cash.
It was in the course of this most bloody of expeditions that I was discovered as a helpless baby in the gang’s hideout and the link with my biological father, Escobar, was established. At the time Pablo Escobar was a teenager and nothing more than a low-level criminal, but as he rose through the criminal ranks he would go on to be a useful asset for the intelligence services who sought to influence the growing gang networks in Colombia.
It was the 1960s and the cocaine trade was in its infancy. There was no way of predicting the way that its cultivation and supply would become one of the biggest industries in the world – or of
knowing that the secret services would play a key role in allowing the gangs to flourish, creating the cocaine cartels that brought so much misery to so many people.
At the time Pat’s goal was simply to safeguard his company interests and provide intelligence for the services back home. Enter one more figure who would much later become notorious on the world stage. An ambitious Panamanian, then just an officer, named Manuel Noriega, did not only assist Dad on the fateful mission that led him to Escobar but would also go on to help him in his dealings with the criminal gangs. Noriega and Escobar were quite the pair, between them overseeing the rise of narcotic trafficking to a global level.
What had begun as a low-level operation in aid of securely transporting government-issued banknotes exploded into a dangerous game: trying in vain to control drug gangs that nobody could have known would become so big that their resources started to outstrip those of many entire nations. Yet for years, US intelligence’s attitude to the amount of cocaine flooding the USA verged on the relaxed. It was only when the amount of dollars for drugs pouring out of the USA – then the largest economy in the world – reached dangerously high levels, that action was at last taken.
The once primitive criminal gangs had by then morphed into huge drug cartels that made more money than they knew how to spend. By the time that I began to find out the truth of my life, Escobar was fearing his grip on power was slipping and had hidden millions of dollars in secret locations. When Dad told me all of this, and hinted that he knew where some of the money was, it was at first too much to take in.
It was only slowly that this incredible story began to make sense to me.
For years I had been plagued by vague dreams of what I thought were explosions and a woman’s screams. Were these somehow related to real events, to that armed mission that Dad had mounted and that had led to my rescue?
I remembered our trips to Medellín. Suddenly, conversations I’d had with a mysterious man with a magnetic presence took on a new significance. Was this Escobar? My biological father?
Over the course of a number of conversations, I listened intently as Dad slowly revealed hidden details about my life. One part of the story was particularly hard for him to recount – the aspect I was most desperate to hear.
How had he known my biological mother was dead?
In explaining my birth mother’s death, Dad shook me to my core, forcing me to question everything I’d ever thought I knew about myself, my legal guardians and the people who brought me into this world.
That wasn’t all.
Many years later, as he lay dying, my father imparted perhaps his most sensational secret – clues to the location of Escobar’s legendary missing millions.
What follows is based on the information given by my adoptive father, Pat, and blended with my own extensive research. This is at last the true story of my life. All the events are factual, although I have inevitably had to dramatise scenes and conversations as I believe they would have happened.
The story begins on the day that I was discovered by Pat. It was an accidental rescue that set the fates of Patrick Witcomb and Pablo Escobar on a collision course, bonding us together for ever.