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Blood Pact (Kirk McGarvey Series #17)
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Blood Pact (Kirk McGarvey Series #17)

4.2 12
by David Hagberg

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David Hagberg's New York Times bestselling Kirk McGarvey series continues with a deadly mission to find a long-lost treasure map in Blood Pact.

A large portion of the fabulous treasure originally stolen by conquistadors of the eighteenth century was buried in the desert of southern New Mexico by Spanish monks. Jacob Ambli, a Catholic priest, was


David Hagberg's New York Times bestselling Kirk McGarvey series continues with a deadly mission to find a long-lost treasure map in Blood Pact.

A large portion of the fabulous treasure originally stolen by conquistadors of the eighteenth century was buried in the desert of southern New Mexico by Spanish monks. Jacob Ambli, a Catholic priest, was sent as a spy on a Spanish military mission to find seven caches left for the Church. He kept a diary showing the locations, but was murdered trying to get back to Rome, and the journal was lost.

Now, a century and a half later, the diary has come to light, and the Spanish government, Cuban intelligence agency, and the Catholic Church are racing to be the first to claim it. Kirk McGarvey is approached by a shadowy organization that wants to beat all of them to the book—the Voltaire Society, a mysterious group whose purpose is shrouded in the history of the United States.

The chase takes Mac from Washington to Malta and finally to Seville, where he comes up against a fifth foe—one of the most ruthless assassins he has ever confronted—who has made a blood pact with the agents of the devil to find the lost treasure no matter what the cost.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hagberg's fast-paced 17th Kirk McGarvey thriller (after 2012's Castro's Daughter) finds McGarvey, a former CIA director and longtime field operative, trying to find normalcy in his new, quieter life as a philosophy professor at the University of Florida, especially in the wake of his wife and daughter's deaths in a failed attempt on McGarvey's own life. However, as many of his former colleagues note, trouble always finds him. A subsequent visit from a representative of the mysterious Voltaire Society sets off a chain of violent events that leaves McGarvey on the run, pursued by members of the society, the Vatican, the Spanish government, and a Cuban intelligence operation. Everyone is after the long-lost diary of a Catholic priest, supposedly containing directions to the location of four hidden caches of gold in the New Mexico desert. Plenty of action and an intriguing cast of spies and hit men will keep readers turning the pages. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Plenty of action and an intriguing cast of spies and hit men will keep readers turning the pages."—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Kirk McGarvey Series , #17
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Blood Pact

By David Hagberg

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2014 David Hagberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2022-3


Sarasota was the center for the fine arts in all of Florida, with a bronze reproduction of Michelangelo's statue of David as its symbol. Kirk Collough McGarvey back at his desk at the University of Florida's New College, after too long an absence, stared out his window at the swimming pool–blue waters of Sarasota bay. Life had been easy here, but with an emptiness.

He wanted to be happy back teaching Voltaire to the bright kids in the semi-private liberal arts college, and yet he was without his wife who'd been assassinated, along with their daughter, when an IED meant for him went off right under the limo they were riding in.

And just this afternoon, his last class for the day finished, and his office hours over with, something else intruded on his thoughts. Some niggling worry at the back of his head; some red flag raised by his early warning system, which had been honed over twenty-five years working first as a field agent for the CIA, then rising to director of operations and for a brief stint director of the entire agency, and finally as a special operations officer, had been kicking into gear over the past several days.

At fifty, just under six feet, built like a rugby player he was in perfect condition in part because of the luck of the genetic draw, but also because of daily workouts in the gym, runs on the beach, and swims in the Gulf where he lived on Casey Key. He'd been one of the best field officers that the Company had ever known; a shooter in the parlance, which was well known in the business. What was not so well known, though it was rumored, was the number of people he had killed, or the heavy toll those ops had taken on him, physically as well as mentally.

That he'd been a killer and yet an academic fit him well for some odd reason. He was self-confident, intelligent, honest, and above all dependable. But he was a hard man in the right situation — made all the more decisive and deadly because of the manner of his wife's and daughter's deaths. In the old days he might have kneecapped an opponent to stop the man, but during the last few assignments he'd preferred the double tap to the head to make sure no one would be coming up on his six.

All in the past, he wanted to tell himself, though he'd thought about calling his old friend Otto Rencke who still worked at the CIA as its director of Special Projects to see if anything was in the wind. But rising from his desk and grabbing his briefcase he'd decided that he was being a little paranoid. In any event if something was coming his way it would show up when it showed up.

Later, he hoped, though over the past several months he'd become a little bit jumpy, even bored.

"Once a field agent, always a field agent," a former deputy director of operations had told him a number of years ago. It was the same guy who'd called him an anachronism, his skills no longer needed in the new order of things. Until 9/11 and the necessity to find and kill bin Laden.

He walked out of his tiny, book-lined second-floor office, the philosophy department all but deserted as usual on a Friday afternoon at the end of spring term and the start of summer break, and headed for the stairs. But he stopped, and glanced over his shoulder as one of the young teaching assistants came out of an office and went to the restrooms at the end of the hall.

He couldn't quite put his finger on what was bothering him. Maybe a car or a van parked in an unusual spot. Maybe a chance encounter with someone who shouldn't have been on campus. Maybe someone seated on a bench reading a paper who didn't look up as Mac passed. Maybe a motorcycle following him through the end of the green light, chancing running the red.

He went back to his office, laid his briefcase on the desk, and took a Walther PPK semiautomatic pistol, chambered for the small 7.65 cartridge, out of a locked drawer and put it in the front right pocket of his khaki slacks, along with an extra magazine of ammunition in his left. The pistol was lightweight, but compact and reliable. It was a spare, and a very old friend.

Locking up again, briefcase filled with notes for a new Voltaire book in hand, he went downstairs and headed for the faculty parking lot where he'd left his rebuilt 1956 Porsche 356 Speedster convertible in gunmetal gray with red leather. An indulgence since he'd come back to Florida, and one he knew that Katy would have loved.

His white Guayabera shirt was plastered to his back by the time he reached his car.

At that moment a very tall, whip-thin man, dressed in an obviously expensive European-cut charcoal gray suit, white shirt, tie knotted, shoes well shined, got out of a Lexus SUV and came over.

McGarvey looked up mildly and scanned the parking lot. No one else was out or about, nor had anyone followed him from his office. But he was alert, his senses humming.

"Dr. McGarvey," the man said as he approached. He spoke good English with a French accent. He was a head taller than McGarvey, his face narrow and pinched, his nose Gallic.

"Actually it's Mister," McGarvey said.

They shook hands. "Of course," the man said. "I am Giscarde Petain, and I have come from Paris to discuss the Voltaire Society with you. It is my understanding that you are something of an expert on the philosopher and his teachings."

"I've written a book, but I don't think I've run across any mention of a society."

"Not many have," Petain said. "Do you have a few minutes to talk, perhaps somewhere out of the sun?"

"Actually no. What do you want?"

"Your help. Before there are more killings, and before everything that we've worked for over the last two centuries is lost."

"I'm sorry, monsieur, but you've come to the wrong man," McGarvey said, and he reached for the Porsche's door handle, but Petain shot out a hand and stopped him.

"I need to make you understand the urgency of my being here."

McGarvey pulled his hand away and stepped back. "Turn around and spread your legs."

Petain didn't seem surprised. He did as he was told, and moved his arms away from his torso, understanding that he was going to be searched. "I am not armed."

McGarvey put down his briefcase and quickly frisked the man, finding no weapons. But he did find a French passport and when the man turned around he compared the photograph with Petain's face. They matched, and McGarvey returned it, but he was sure that he'd never seen the man before, or noticed the Lexus in the past few days.

"You have two minutes to tell me who you are, how you know me, and exactly why you're here."

"My name I've told you. I am a businessman — a stockbroker actually, with the Euronext Paris, which was the old Bourse before we merged with the markets in Amsterdam, Lisbon, and Brussels."

"I know the market."

"I learned of you by your reputation in certain intelligence circles. I have friends in the DGSE who when I made inquiries told me that you once lived in France, and had been of some service."

The DGSE was the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, France's external intelligence service. While the organization wasn't exactly in love with him, his sometimes presence in the country over the past few years had been tolerated.

"And specifically we need your help to locate a diary that was stolen from us ten days ago."

"You said killings."

"Yes, starting in eighteen thirty-eight, the latest three days ago in Zurich," Petain said. "And there is no reason for us to suspect they will stop now."

"Who is the they?"

"The Catholic Church, we think. More specifically a faction of the Knights Hospitaller."

This group, including the Sacred Military Order of Malta, which was supposedly the militant arm of the Knights, McGarvey had heard of, though he'd never had any dealings with them. But his interest was piqued. "A nearly two-centuries-old war between the Vatican and your Voltaire Society. Why me?"

"The Vatican knows your name as well as I do because of your involvement several months ago involving property they believe is rightfully theirs. With the diary missing, you're next."

"Someone wants to kill me?"

"That likelihood is very high, yes, monsieur."

"Who, specifically?"

"I have a story to tell you first, though you already know many of the details."


McGarvey brought the Frenchman back to his office in the Department of Philosophy building, the hallways deserted.

They sat across the desk from each other, Petain's coat still buttoned properly, and it didn't seem as if he was sweating. "I won't take much of your time," he said. "But we do need your help."


"I represent the Voltaire Society, which is prepared to pay whatever fee you may ask for. But time is of the essence and as I told you outside, my life is in danger as is yours."

"By your coming here."

"Yes, and by your involvement in an affair in Southern Texas involving a lost cache of gold that legend has was hidden by Spanish monks from Mexico City."

"It never existed," McGarvey said. But a lot of other people had believed it did, including María León, an officer in Cuba's intelligence service — who was one of Fidel Castro's illegitimate daughters — and had been willing to kidnap Otto Rencke's wife and commit murder to find it.

"Oh, but it does, as do four of the other seven," Petain said, and he let it hang for a long second or two, as if he'd expected McGarvey to argue the point.

The operation with Castro's daughter had led McGarvey on a bloody chase from Havana to Mexico City and Seville and eventually to a desert site just across the Mexican border in Texas where a huge crowd of Cubans and Mexicans — many of whom were involved with the drug cartels — had gathered in search of a fabulous treasure of Spanish gold and silver. If it had ever existed it had been moved by the U.S. government to a vault at Fort Knox. But when that vault had finally been opened it was empty.

"Let me give you a little more of the background so this will make some sense to you. In seventeen seventy-six, two years before Voltaire's death, the society was formed at his urging, by a group of businessmen — primarily bankers — in Paris, and eventually in London and even Rome. It was to be an insurance agency of sorts by which the major banks of every major European nation would safeguard each other's assets against coups, wars, inflations, market crashes, and even natural catastrophes. And fledgling democracies — such as your own."

"Never had anything to do with Voltaire," McGarvey said.

"It has more to do with him and his philosophies and his feelings about democracy than you might guess."

"To his way of thinking democracy did little more than support the idiocy of the masses."

"Consider his world — your revolution had just begun, and France would not be far behind. He actually thought that an ideal form of government was in fact a democracy tempered with a little assassination," Petain said. "Don't you agree?"


"But it has been your business for twenty-five years."

"If you've come to hire me as a shooter, you've wasted your time and mine," McGarvey said, and he started to rise, but Petain waved him back.

"The fund for our endeavors originally came from the four charter banks and from the personal wealth of the dozen founding men, but since the mid-eighteen hundreds the money has come from the seven caches of gold in your southwestern desert. Voltaire himself thought the idea to plunder the treasure that the Vatican believed was rightfully its was rich — which was his word — though it was many years after his death before we were able to find it."

"I'm still not understanding why you're here."

"Spain also believes the treasure belongs in Madrid. Catholic monks had been siphoning off gold and silver that had been bound back to Madrid through Havana, or to the far east via Manila. So two military expeditions were sent north from Mexico City to find what had already become a legend. The first disappeared, no trace of the men ever found. But the second in eighteen thirty-eight was stronger and better equipped. Even so only two soldiers managed to return with maps and a journal of their trip. The locations of the seven caches had been found and marked on the maps and in the journal, and even a few gold coins and silver bars were brought back."

"I was at the archives in Seville and nothing was mentioned about any journal or maps."

"That's because they never reached Madrid. Our agents killed the two soldiers and took all the evidence."

"And this is what has been stolen from your bank vault?" McGarvey asked. "You need a private detective, not me."

"The maps and journal were fakes, as we suspected they might before. But one of the members of the Spanish expedition was the surveyor and mapmaker. His name was Jacob Ambli, and he'd been sent by the Vatican as a spy. It was he who drew the false maps, while he kept the real journal, in which the actual locations were pinpointed.

"Five days after the two Spanish soldiers were eliminated, Ambli made it back to Mexico City and from there to Veracruz where he took a ship to Havana and another to Boston. He was met there by another man sent from the Vatican to protect him, and save the journal."


"Oui," Petain said. "They boarded the paddle wheel steamship Britannia, bound for Liverpool. But both men disappeared overboard."

"Your agents?"

"Oui. We couldn't allow the journal to reach the Vatican. If the Church — or Spain for that matter — had known where the treasure was buried all of it would have disappeared, and either been squandered to prop up the corrupt government in Madrid or used to build dozens of gold-encrusted cathedrals around the world. A useless waste, then as well as now."

"The Voltaire Society got the diary, and over the past hundred and eighty years or so, you've dug up at least three of the caches and used the money for what?"

"For good, I can tell you that much."

"Spare me," McGarvey said, getting to his feet. "Now if you don't mind, monsieur, get the hell out of my office."

Petain jumped up. He was distressed. "Please, you don't understand."

"Your society committed murder to grab this journal, and now someone has stolen it, and you want me to get it back for you. As I said, you need a private detective."

"Jacob's diary, and it was in a very secure vault in Bern. We need you to find it because both the Vatican and the Spanish government have been searching for years, and the point is they're still searching."

McGarvey opened the door. "You've come to the wrong place. I'm not in the business of hunting for treasure."

Petain handed him a business card. "You cannot imagine how important this is. If you change your mind call me anytime night or day." He stepped out into the hallway but then turned back. "My life is in danger, as are the lives of the other members of the Society."

"Send your own people to search for it."

"There aren't many of us left," Petain said. "In any event we are businessmen, not professionals." He hesitated. "My life is in danger, and so is yours. Not because I came here to talk to you, but because you came so close on the Jornada del Muerto. Be careful with your movements, Mr. McGarvey. Trust no one."

Petain turned and left.

McGarvey waited a couple of minutes before he got his briefcase and headed out. He didn't want to catch up with the Frenchman. Even if the fantastical story were true McGarvey wanted no further part of it. Otto's wife had been kidnapped by Cuban intelligence agents and held at gunpoint to force her husband to cooperate in a wild-goose chase that had ended badly, with a trail of bodies.


He took his time walking the fifty yards or so back to his car, and when he reached it Petain had just gotten into his Lexus. Two students, a boy and a girl, were unlocking a couple of bikes from the rack nearby, and out of the corner of his eye McGarvey noticed a black Mercedes S550 with deeply tinted windows at the exit from the parking lot ready to turn toward the Ringling Administration Building and past it North Tamiami Trail — Sarasota's main north-south thoroughfare.

But the Mercedes was just sitting there not moving, not leaving the parking lot.

Everything was wrong.


Excerpted from Blood Pact by David Hagberg. Copyright © 2014 David Hagberg. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

DAVID HAGBERG is a former Air Force cryptographer who has traveled extensively in Europe, the Arctic, and the Caribbean, and has spoken at CIA functions. He has published more than twenty novels of suspense, including the bestselling Allah's Scorpion, Dance with the Dragon, and The Expediter. He makes his home in Sarasota, Florida.

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Blood Pact 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is really good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hmm... I think it needs to maybe a lttle bit more mysterious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who would ine be? Because i used to rp a cat cled Pinepaw but i stoped because i couldnt find horseclan again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bravo! I vote we do that. Masterful! I love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who is the spirit from ashclan?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think Dawn's at da dh res one or three (the book with the bridge on it) was better. Better poetry and it just felt more...complete. Not like someone reciting it was going "um....um....eh..." i like dawn's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fawn, Fox, Moose, and Minnow will journey far away <br> But evil will cloud stranger's mind, and trick them all to stay <br> Two of five will unite, and travel night and day <br> To find what is lost, no matter the cost <p> Pine and Roses together shall go, far from the field of Horses <br> While the Oak and Willow wallow past Rain <br> A storm of Petals, her lover beside, shall leave North <br> And Moss will go with the Dancing river through Sand <br> Lastly though, soon they will join, the Willow at dusk, and a lone Eagle's talon, that rise from the Ash