COLONEL GEOFFREY SHAFER loved his new life in Salvador, Brazil's third-largest city and some would say its most intriguing. It was definitely the most fun.
He had rented a plush six-bedroom villa directly across from Guarajuba Beach, where he spent his days drinking sweet caipirinhas and ice-cold Brahma beers, or sometimes playing tennis at the club. At night, Colonel Shafer-the psychopathic killer better known as the Weasel-was up to his old tricks, hunting on the dark, narrow, winding streets of the Old City. He had lost count of his kills in Brazil, and nobody in Salvador seemed to care, or even keep count. There hadn't been a single newspaper story about the disappearance of young prostitutes. Not one. Maybe it was true what they said of the people here-when they weren't actually partying, they were already rehearsing for the next one.
At a few ticks past two in the morning, Shafer returned to the villa with a young and beautiful streetwalker who called herself Maria. What a gorgeous face the girl had, and a stunning brown body, especially for someone so young. Maria said she was only thirteen.
The Weasel picked a fat banana from one of several plants in his yard. At this time of year he had his choice of coconut, guava, mango, and pinha, which was sugar apple. As he plucked the fresh fruit he had the thought that there was always something ripe for the taking in Salvador. It was paradise. Or maybe it's hell and I'm the Devil, Shafer thought, and chuckled to himself.
"For you, Maria," he said, handing her the banana. "We'll put it to good use."
The girl smiled knowingly, and the Weasel noticed her eyes-what perfect brown eyes. And all mine now-eyes, lips, breasts.
Just then, he spotted a small Brazilian monkey called a mico trying to work its way through a window screen and into his house. "Get out of here, you thieving little bastard!" he yelled. "G'wan! Beat it!"
There came a quick movement from out of the bushes, then three men jumped him. The police, he was certain, probably Americans. Alex Cross?
The cops were all over him, powerful arms and legs everywhere. He was struck down by a bat, or a lead pipe, yanked back up by his full head of hair, then beaten unconscious.
"We caught him. We caught the Weasel, first try. That wasn't very hard," said one of the men. "Bring him inside."
Then he looked at the beautiful young girl, who was clearly afraid, rightly so. "You did a good job, Maria. You brought him to us." He turned to one of his men. "Kill her."
A single gunshot ruptured the silence in the front yard. No one seemed to notice or care in Salvador.