A short bit from chapter 22. Moon is the owner of a bar just off the American military base; a bar frequented by many members of HILL 170. The 'He' is Han, Moon's Chinese controller. They both have pivotal roles to play in HILL 170. This excerpt gives a taste of their characters. Hyunli is a young bar girl who meets her end early in the novel.
Why should I be frightened? He is nothing to fear.
The thought rang hollow and false in her mind. Moon knew that ice ran in his veins and he could end her life with no more fuss than finishing a cup of tea.
She arrived at the coffee shop he had chosen for their rendezvous. She kept her distance as she scanned the small lunch time crowd.
He forces me to meet him in the open, to pass secrets in the open! And he uses those difficult terms, so abruptly that sometimes I stumble in my report...I'm sure he does it intentionally so he can punish me! He is such a bastard! I wish I could kill him!
At that thought he appeared at her side, wearing an ice cold smile, and made her heart jump into her throat. She gasped.
"Ah, what a pleasant surprise to see you here, Dear Sister. Do you have time to join me for tea?" Without waiting for a reply he directed her to his small table in the most open spot he could possibly have chosen. On the table was a teapot, two cups and a Korean language newspaper. He purposefully led her around the table so that she could see the section he was reading. The newspaper was folded to the story of a recent murder.
He pretended to accidentally notice the article as they sat down. "Oh, such shocking news. It appears there was some horrible mishap in the capital. A woman was murdered. The article mentions she had a cut so severe that the poor woman's head was nearly detached from her body." He smiled as if telling her he had won the lottery.
Moon's right hand strayed to her throat, her fingers brushing the long scar on her own neck.
"Such a terribly ghastly way to die," he continued casually. "Do you think the police will be able to find the killer?"
Moon could not respond. He was fastidious; he expected things neat and tidy, except when he was making a point to someone else. She wondered what failure brought such a brutal death to the woman. A quick look into his eyes and she saw that he knew what she was thinking.
"The article mentions her hands were tied. Her killer must have taken some time to finish that cut." He pursed his lips in thought. "I imagine she must have died very slowly. Don't you find that horrible?"
Try as she might Moon could not tear her eyes away from his cold, black stare.
"Well, enough of that." He poured two cups of tea and leaned back into his chair. “It has been only a week, yet it seems so long since we have had a chat. The last two days have been dreadfully busy. How is your family, Dear Sister?"
Moon’s dry mouth made it hard to speak. "One of my sisters has had two new babies." [note - earlier dialogue clarifies this to mean two new recruits to Moon's spy network]
"Oh is that not wonderful?"
Moon did not smile. "One of my nieces caught a flu."
He crossed his legs and sipped his tea. "I am sorry to hear that; is she very sick?"
A quick flash of Hyunli’s dead body appeared at the forefront of Moon’s mind. "Very."