Dark Fathom

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Overview

'Morrisey may be the Clive Cussler of the Christian market. Beck Easton is the kind of hero readers love to love, and his well plotted, exciting adventures lack nothing.' Romantic Times Book Club Magazine

Software architect Beck Easton is a secret member of the National Security Agency. He is also ready to give up his double life when an unexpected assignment---and the captivating Angela Brower---change his plans.

Following the trail of an Al-Quaeda operative, Beck uncovers a ...

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Overview

'Morrisey may be the Clive Cussler of the Christian market. Beck Easton is the kind of hero readers love to love, and his well plotted, exciting adventures lack nothing.' Romantic Times Book Club Magazine

Software architect Beck Easton is a secret member of the National Security Agency. He is also ready to give up his double life when an unexpected assignment---and the captivating Angela Brower---change his plans.

Following the trail of an Al-Quaeda operative, Beck uncovers a plot that could kill thousands. Suddenly an already perilous assignment turns into a race against time, complicated by Angela's presence and Beck's growing attraction to her. Caught in a web of intrigue and danger, Angela and Beck must join forces to stop a deadly enemy before it is too late.

In this taut page-turner, Dark Fathom takes you deep into a world of espionage, ocean diving adventure, and faith lived out in the face of deadly high stakes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Morrisey's fans will be riveted by this fast-paced Christian thriller, a prequel to his novel Deep Blue. Beck Easton works as a software architect, but also serves undercover with the National Security Agency. When his NSA supervisors ask him to track Ahmed bin Saleen, a young man from Saudi Arabia whom they believe may play a key role in al-Qaeda, Beck traces the suspected terrorist to Germany, where he has been living disguised as an observant Jew. Clues in bin Saleen's recently abandoned apartment there lead Beck to Rochester, N.Y.-where he uncovers the corpse of a man bin Saleen has murdered-and then to Bermuda, where bin Saleen is busy trying to steal an underwater "dirty bomb." Meanwhile, Beck, a confirmed bachelor, finds himself smitten with the lovely Angela, a preacher's daughter from Wheaton, Ill. She's definitely taken with Beck, too, but knows she shouldn't get romantically involved with a non-Christian and is confused by the secrecy and deceit Beck's undercover work requires of him. The book's main flaw is Angela's paper-thin characterization; she is so utterly two-dimensional that it's hard to understand why Beck falls for her. Still, the brisk plot will keep readers engrossed. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310244080
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Series: Beck Easton Adventure, A
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Morrisey is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological society - Cave Diving Section. He has launched, edited or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both youth and prison ministry. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines. His previous novel, Yucatan Deep, was a 2003 finalist for the Christy Award. He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.
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Read an Excerpt

Dark Fathom


By Tom Morrisey

Zondervan

Copyright © 2005 Tom Morrisey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-24408-0


Chapter One

DECEMBER 24, 1999 OUTSIDE AQUADAS, COLOMBIA

Sprawled in rotting leaves and moss at the base of a banyan tree, camo greasepaint on his face and a ghillie suit covering his body, Beck Easton blinked the sweat from his eyes and marveled at the fact that even drug lords celebrated Christmas.

At least this drug lord did: Raul "Gato" Ortega, also known as "Gato Gordo," although never to his face, convicted in absentia on seventeen counts of murder, three of them Colombian judges. And those were just the marquee crimes, the ones a Colombian court had deemed serious enough to merit his departure from the land of the living. Easton had seen Ortega's full jacket: extortion, bribery, theft, kidnapping, fraud, assault, and enough instances of trafficking to fill up several pages of single-spaced type. It was an amazing list; one had to wonder how, in just thirty-five years of life, the man had found the time to break that many laws. Then again, with the single exception of Ortega's marriage, duly licensed and recorded in Columbian records, virtually nothing the man had ever done was legal. It made Easton wonder whom he'd killed to get the house.

The house, a sprawling, terraced Frank Lloyd Wright - style villa, was perfectly situated on a rapids-dotted bend of the Rio San Sebastian, 587 laser-range-findered yards upstream from where Easton and his partner lay. So still, so perfectly camouflaged that a man could walk within six feet of them and never suspect they were there, the two men had been watching the place since well before dawn. Every once in a while the glass patio doors on the house would open and someone - a servant or a couple of women or a pair of giggling teenagers - would step out, and the barest hint of "White Christmas" or "Feliz Navidad" would waft down the lush, green river valley. But other than that, there'd been nothing but birds and insects for eight hours. In two hours more, the light would be too low to see through a 20X spotting scope.

Sweat trickled down Easton's temple, into the crease at the corner of his eye. He blinked but did not rub, did not take the chance of putting a flesh-colored streak into the jungle greasepaint.

"Maybe he's not home," said Alvarez, Easton's partner, the one with the rifle, an M40A1 hand-built by the Marine Corps Weapons Training Battalion in Quantico, Virginia. It was the same weapon issued to Marine Corps snipers, only Alvarez's rifle bore none of the WTB's markings, not even the Remington serial number on the original Model 700 action.

"He's home." Easton let his voice nod for him. "This is his chance to show off. Lord of the manor."

"Well then, maybe he's not coming out."

"He'll come out. We've got it from two sources that he's afraid the house is bugged. His people sweep it twice a day. But on a day like this, lots of people coming and going, he's worried that maybe somebody leaves a pair of ears behind. Not just the law; the man's got competitors. So if he wants to discuss business, he'll do it out on the patio, let the river noise mask the conversation. And he always discusses business at these parties. That's why everybody shows up. You don't show, you might miss a nice, fat deal."

Alvarez stretched, slowly, no quick movements. "So what's keeping him?"

His voice was low, hardly a whisper.

"It's Christmas Eve," Easton said. "He's drinking eggnog."

* * *

The sun was setting behind them when a glint of light showed at the back of the patio. A man walked out, followed by another, and Easton bent to his scope.

"Okay," he said. "Man leading is Number One, and man following is Number Two."

The distant figures paused, Number Two lighting Number One's cigar. Easton thumbed on a ruggedized iPAQ Pocket PC and checked a surveillance photo on its screen, comparing it to the first man on the patio.

Identical.

Easton's chest tightened. He said nothing.

Low light. Distance. Simplest thing in the world to claim no positive ID. No ID, and no shot, and no kids lose their father on Christmas Eve.

"Still checking," he whispered.

Then what happens? Another team has to infiltrate, run all that risk. And some other kid might lose a father - a kid who's not the child of a convicted murderer.

Off in the jungle, a tree frog trilled, signaling the coming evening. Easton shook his head just a touch, throwing the sweat from his eyes.

"Number One is our - our primary," he finally whispered. "Stand by. Checking Number Two."

He tapped through a series of head-and-shoulder photos, stopping on the fourth one. "Two is - a secondary. Cousin of Ortega. Okay - they're tight. He'll move toward him when he falls."

Alvarez didn't reply. Easton could hear him inhaling and exhaling in long, slow drafts, slowing his heartbeat, getting ready.

"Checking the range," Easton said, his voice steadier now. He bent to the scope again and looked at the telltales, two strips of brown nylon tape hanging from bamboo poles that he and Alvarez had placed at 250 and 500 yards the night before. The first tape was hanging slack, and the second was lifting and falling in a light southerly breeze.

"Wind's same as before," Easton told his shooter. "Range is hot. When you're ready."

Alvarez bent to the ten-power Unertl on his rifle, and Easton returned to his spotting scope.

Despite what the movies would lead one to believe, the man behind the rifle was almost always the more junior member of a sniper team, and this case was no exception. This was Alvarez's fifth mission, but Beck Easton's fourteenth. And because it was his fourteenth, he could hear the hundredth of a millisecond beat between the trigger break and the rifle report, and when he heard the report, he did not jump.

He stayed at the spotting scope instead, following the tiny, fleeting gray contrail of the .308 caliber bullet as it rose, fell, and drifted a full seventeen inches to the left on its journey downrange.

"One is down," Easton said, and Alvarez was working the action already, breathing in and holding it as the rifle cracked again. Sure enough, Number Two turned, moved toward his fallen cousin, and walked directly into the path of the second round.

"Two is down," Easton said, his voice still low. "Time to move."

Spotting scope and rifle in their arms, the two men slithered slowly backward, melting into the foliage behind them. They did this until the house was no longer visible. Only then did they rise to their feet and stow their ghillie suits in a rucksack on Easton's back.

They did not run. They took turns moving until they reached a trail. Then they moved swiftly, one after the other, Easton leading. They came to a faint rub mark on a tree and turned off into the undergrowth, following a compass heading to a second trail.

The two alternated between trails and cross-country. Behind them, they heard the shouts of men searching, but these faded quickly, and they covered the last twenty kilometers in silence, moving steadily, pacing themselves.

They got to the landing zone at midnight and slept in shifts until morning, when a Colombian Army Huey came clattering in from the south. Easton popped purple smoke as planned, the helicopter settled for the briefest of instants, and the two green-clad men swung themselves aboard. Moments later, they were skimming the jungle canopy, hurtling toward Bogota.

As the helicopter slowly gained altitude, Easton closed his eyes and settled back against the grimy web netting of the seat. There was a tap on his knee, and he looked up.

It was Alvarez, hands cupped around his mouth. "Hey! I just thought of something!"

"What's that?"

"It's the twenty-fifth," the sniper said, tapping his day-and-date watch. "Merry Christmas."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Dark Fathom by Tom Morrisey Copyright © 2005 by Tom Morrisey. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Dark Fathom Copyright 2005 by Tom Morrisey Maps 2005 by Tom Morrisey Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Morrisey, Tom, 1952 --
Dark fathom / Tom Morrisey.
p. cm. --- (A Beck Easton adventure)
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-24408-0 (softcover)
ISBN-10: 0-310-24408-0 (softcover)
1. Divers --- Fiction. I. Title.
PS3613.O776D37 2005
813'.6 --- dc22
2005015815
All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Excerpt from Wild by Nature: True Stories of Adventure and Faith, by Tom Morrisey.
Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2001. Used with permission; all rights reserved.
The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means --- electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, or any other --- except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Interior design by Beth Shagene Printed in the United States of America
05 06 07 08 09 10 11
• 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Prologue May 6, 1945
49,000 Feet above the Northwest Territories, Canada
'Captain, fuel pressure's dropping --- number-two drop tank.'
The flight deck, illuminated only by the red instrument lamps, was full of the sound of the engines, a background noise too loud to ignore and too monotonous to notice. Not even the leather flight helmets with their padded intercom headsets could cancel it out. It was like sitting under an avalanche with cotton stuffed in one's ears.
'Captain?'
Luftwaffe Captain Ernst Gruber glanced at the altimeter; his aircraft was nearly fifteen kilometers above the dark and frozen earth. He was cold, his feet nearly numb despite the rabbit-fur-
lined f light boots, his fingers thick and wooden within silk-lined, shearling-cuffed gloves. He switched on a red-lensed flashlight, checked the flow from his oxygen bottle, and turned it up. Almost immediately, his head became clearer and feeling crept into his limbs. He turned to the flight engineer.
'How long since we emptied number one?'
The engineer, a lieutenant, pushed up his jacket sleeve and glanced at his watch. 'Five minutes, sir.'
Gruber nodded. The designers from Horten had said that the wing tanks would run dry within seven minutes of one another.
That prediction was turning out to be accurate, just as all of their predictions had turned out to be accurate, beginning with the outrageous pronouncement that an aircraft such as this --- with no vertical stabilizer, no rudder, and no fuselage to speak of --- would fly at all.
'Watch the fuel pressure,' Gruber said. 'Tell me when it hits zero.'
He was tired. Dog-tired already and only six hours into what was scheduled to be a twenty-two-hour mission. Fatigue was edging the Dahlem accent back into his German, a guttural undertone that he tried to hide from the high-blooded Berliners on his aircrew. But if anyone noticed, they did not show it.
'Zero now, sir.'
'Very good.' Gruber put both hands on the control yoke. He'd logged a hundred hours in training on this aircraft, but it still felt strange to have no rudder pedals beneath his feet. 'Eject on my mark . . . now.'
The engineer pulled a pair of levers. There was a distant,
metallic thunk as the two huge, twenty-kiloliter, aluminum tanks dropped away into the night. The instruments registered the change --- the airspeed rising, the altimeter creeping higher.
Gruber allowed the aircraft to climb and seek its own equilibrium.
To give it the range required for this mission, the bomber had not been equipped with the belly guns, nose guns, or tailcannons that had been part of the original design. The ball turret behind the flight deck had been replaced with a simple Perspex dome from which the navigator, who was also the radio operator,
could make star-sightings every fifteen minutes, guiding them on their journey with the same technology used for centuries by ships under sail.
With no guns, no armor to speak of, no weapons other than the single bomb in its bomb bay, the bomber's sole means of defense was altitude. It could not outrun most Allied fighters,
but it could outclimb them; its service ceiling and range were a full two kilometers higher and 10,000 kilometers farther than any other aircraft in the world. That was the beauty of it.
That was the horror of it, as well.
The Horten Ho-18 Amerikabomber was unlike any other aircraft.
It was a true flying-wing design, powered by six BMW 109-003
jet engines, capable of reaching well in excess of five hundred miles per hour in level flight. Sixty meters wide from wingtip to wingtip, the airplane was beautiful, a design seemingly snatched from some future time. With no nose and no tail, it was a shallow, batlike chevron in the evening sky. There was nothing about it that did not seek the heavens.
But that was also its principal flaw: one that Ernst Gruber had spotted within moments of first seeing a scale model of the aircraft.
'It has no vertical stabilizer,' Gruber had told the Horten representative who'd first briefed him.
'The side-to-side motion of the airplane, the yaw; it is controlled by the thrust of the engines, yes?' The Horten man had smiled as if what he'd just said was supposed to be obvious.
The thrust of the engines. The jet engines. And Gruber knew about jet engines. They were more powerful than piston engines,
and much more efficient at altitude, but they could also be amazingly fragile. He'd been standing on the flight line in Cologne a year earlier when one of the new Me-262 jet fighters was being run up. A line mechanic's glove had been sucked into one of the intakes; that was all it had taken to disintegrate the engine in rather spectacular fashion.
Which was why Gruber had asked his next question:
'And what happens when the thrust falls out of balance?'
That had gotten Gruber a look. 'Then you must rebalance it,
of course. We used this design on a fighter prototype last year. If the thrust goes out of balance and is not corrected immediately?
Then the aircraft will spin. Quite violently, in fact. You would not be able to recover.'
That had gotten the Horten engineer a look. 'I'm flying this aircraft into combat,' Gruber had told him. 'It sounds a bit delicate,
does it not?'
The engineer had shrugged. 'For a fighter, yes. But for a bomber?'
He'd shrugged again. 'Just stay high, so they don't shoot you.'
'Let us remember Dresden,' Hockheim, the bombardier, said from his ready seat.
Gruber did not answer. There were five Germans on the Amerika this late spring evening; none of them had been home for the better part of a year. They had shipped out on June first of
1944, five days prior to the Normandy invasion, leaving Norway on three U-boats loaded with aircraft components, plans, and machine tools, as well as a cadre of Horten Aircraft Company designers, engineers, and skilled tradesmen.
Since then, they had been living in Japan, initially in the port city of Nagasaki, and more recently in the tiny town of Okha, on the country's northernmost island, the optimal takeoff point for a Great Circle route east over the Arctic.
They had been in the eighth month of their deployment when news had reached them of the fire-bombing of Dresden.
Unprotected by antiaircraft batteries and swollen with refugees fleeing from the advancing Red Army, Dresden had been attacked by the Allies with enough phosphorous bombs to turn the medieval city's center into a veritable tornado of white-hot flame.
Newsreels flown in from Germany had shown the aircrew the carpet of ash and rubble
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2006

    Fast-past political thriller with an ending that will stick with you for days

    Beck Easton is a software architect and owner of Blue Corner Technologies, a highly profitable encryption company. At least that's what the government wants everyone to think. Beck is actually a cover operative for the government and has traveled the world over on classified missions. And he's had it with both jobs. His last mission left him questioning what he does in the government's employ, not a good sign. His co-owners of Blue Corner are, against his wishes, taking the company public. When that happens, he's cashing out his shares of stock and retiring to Florida to run a diving business. But his retirement plans are put on hold when two things happen. The first is when he meets Angel Brower, an interior designer hired to work on the future offices of Blue Corner. Corporate expansion never looked so good. The second is Ahmed bin Saleen. He is a Saudi terrorist and he has struck pay dirt. Years of searching for an elusive weapon from World War II is about to give his fellow terrorists their long-dreamed of weapon. The stakes in Beck's cover ops career have never been higher. Failure will kill millions. Success will give him a future he had, up until now, only dreamed of. Tom Morrisey incorporates little known facts from World War II to write a fast-paced thriller. Dark Fathom is an intense read with an ending that haunted me for several days after I finished it.

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