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The Death Trust (Vin Cooper Series #1)

The Death Trust (Vin Cooper Series #1)

4.2 27
by David Rollins

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As shocking as today's headlines… In this no-holds-barred thriller, David Rollins plunges readers deep into the heart of a terrifying conspiracy of absolute power at its absolute worst. Who can you trust when those you’re taught to trust are perpetrating the ultimate act of betrayal?

As evil as your worst fears...

For Special


As shocking as today's headlines… In this no-holds-barred thriller, David Rollins plunges readers deep into the heart of a terrifying conspiracy of absolute power at its absolute worst. Who can you trust when those you’re taught to trust are perpetrating the ultimate act of betrayal?

As evil as your worst fears...

For Special Investigator Major Vin Cooper, it begins with a sniper’s bullet that claims the life of a young G.I. on a routine patrol in Iraq. It’s an all-too-familiar tragedy, not a crime, until it’s linked to the bizarre death of a four-star general…who just happens to be the dead soldier’s father and the son-in-law of a powerful U.S. vice president. Cooper’s investigation will uncover a trail of “accidental” deaths that leads from the war-torn streets of Baghdad to sex slavery in Latvia to a celebrated political marriage that began in the White House Rose Garden. But as he pieces together the most shocking conspiracy in history, Cooper begins to wonder if his superiors really want him to uncover the truth…or become the next victim of the most murderous lie of all.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Aussie author Rollins's first novel is a fast-moving, funny thriller with a smart-aleck hero who faces death and worse with a quip on his lips. Military special investigator Maj. Vincent Cooper bounds around the world, dodging death while searching for the reason a four-star general and his son were murdered-a nifty bit of evil that goes all the way to the White House-and encounters grouchy Germans, ruthless and sexy Russians, world-weary Italians, stoned Canadians and, not surprisingly, heroic Australians. The accents, attitudes and genders pose no problem for Foster, who handles them with brisk efficiency. He understands that, with a yarn involving a protagonist who suffers beatings, bullets and broken bones, but keeps plugging away at a global conspiracy with more layers than an artichoke, to pause for an elaborate shift in accent is to risk close scrutiny of the story. Instead, with subtle vocal shifts he's able to set a breathless pace, keeping the listener on board the roller coaster until it comes to a complete, satisfying stop. Simultaneous release with the Bantam hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 13). (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Conspiracy aficionados are going to love Australian author Rollins's thriller, his third novel but the first to be released in the United States. It's a real page-turner pitting OSI investigator Maj. Vincent (Vin) Cooper against shadowy forces that kill anyone who gets in the way. Investigating the accidental death of Gen. Abraham Scott, the son-in-law of the Vice President of the United States, leads Vin to a bloody ambush in Baghdad, a sex club in Riga, Latvia, and ultimately the Vice President's parlor in Washington, DC. Sure, the book is a white-knuckle read on a par with anything that James Patterson or Nelson DeMille might offer, but the insights into what drives world politics (for example, the war in Iraq) are so plausible and well thought out that the reader may come away with a feeling that it's all real-only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ6/1/07.]
—Ken St. Andre

Kirkus Reviews
In this slick military thriller, an Air Force investigator probes the death of a four-star general who looked too deeply into the military-industrial complex. Special Agent Maj. Vin Cooper is nursing a bad toothache and the aftereffects of his divorce when the call comes from Maj. General Winifred Gruyere (she of the inevitable nickname Big Cheese). An order from higher-ups designates Cooper as the right man to find out why Gen. Abraham Scott's recreational glider lost a wing and dropped like a bag of bolts, splattering over the German countryside. Allowed no time to see the dentist, the heavily drugged (he's flight-phobic since crashing in Afghanistan) Cooper and his cratered molar whisk overseas to Ramstein Air Base, where he is met by the extraordinarily well-built and attractive Major Anna Masters, also an Air Force Special Agent. Masters, irritated not to have the investigation to herself, gives him about 15 minutes to clean up and start digging. The tooth will just have to wait. It becomes quickly evident that the late general had veered from his upwardly mobile career arc when his Marine sergeant son was killed in Iraq, and further evident that the general's marriage to the daughter of the very Cheney-esque U.S. vice president had gone on the rocks even before that. What is not evident is why the autopsy on the general's son was faked; why the general made several secret trips to Riga, Latvia; why the creepy German general in temporary command of Ramstein wants Cooper to get out of town immediately; or why Cooper was chosen for the job in the first place. Answering that will take Cooper to Chechnya and into the arms of a gorgeous Russian hooker. It seems there is this mysteriousgroup called The Establishment . . . The conspiracy is way over the top, but everything moves so fast and frighteningly, and Cooper is so likable, that it doesn't much matter.
From the Publisher
“With intelligence and wry humor, David A. Rollins crafts an all-too-believable story about power, corruption, and cover-up that has shocking international consequences.…Strong characters, nonstop action, and superb suspense…Vin Cooper has a powerful, true voice that never wavers.” —Nelson DeMille

“Sucked me right in… punchy, Chandleresque wit… take this one to the beach and you’ll leave with sunburn.” —Sydney Morning Herald

“An intelligent, full-blooded action thriller.” —Age, Australia

“A thumping good page-turner…great characters, nonstop action. It takes off from page one and never lets up. A rollicking ride and Rollins has made the action as authentic as possible. Essential reading for any plane flight. Highly recommended.”— Sun-Herald, Australia

“The Death Trust is a fast moving thriller with a likeable (if arrogant and flawed) main character and enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing. The conspiracy theory is believable enough to have the reader considering its feasibility. Rollins is a master storyteller who combines action, suspense, and humour with aplomb.”—aussiereviews.com

"From an explosive beginning, David Rollins' thriller The Death Trust rolls into action with impressive speed and precision."—Orlando Sentinel

“A white-knuckle read on a par with anything that James Patterson or Nelson DeMille might offer.... A real page-turner.”—Library Journal, starred review

“A tough wisecracking hero.”—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vin Cooper Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Death Trust

By David Rollins


Copyright © 2007 David Rollins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780553805345

Chapter One


I had no idea what woke me up early, until I caught a whiff of my own breath. Then my tooth began to ache and I thought it could be that. But it could also have been a premonition of sleepus interruptus, because no sooner did my eyes overcome the crust gluing them together than the doorbell chimed, and then chimed again. I got to it on the fourth intonation, when whoever was on the other side of the door decided a bar of "Greensleeves" didn't perhaps convey the proper desired authority and began underlining the urgency with their fist.

"Vin, c'mon, man. I know you're in there," said Major Arlen Wayne, solving the day's first mystery--namely, who was making all the goddamn noise assaulting my alcohol-poisoned gray matter. Arlen was practically my only friend left on the planet--when my ex-wife moved out, she took most of them with her. Arlen and I had been out on the town drinking, celebrating my divorce coming through as well as the conviction for murder handed down on a case I'd been working on. Arlen knew I was "in there" on account of him being the person who brought me home the previous night. I think.

I opened the door to a sliver of light and he pushed his way in. "Go away," I said as Arlen threw back the curtains and let in the day. I'm not a morning person. I've been known to punch people for waking me before a reasonable hour,which varies according to the time I went to sleep the night before and the condition I was in when my head hit the pillow.

My name is Vincent Cooper, Major Vin Cooper, Special Agent in the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations--the OSI. I work major crime. Homicides, mainly. I'm thirty-four, look twenty-eight, so I tell myself, and occasionally act eighteen, so my ex says.

I shuffled past Arlen, keeping to the protection of the shadows, and lay down on my bed, burying my head under the pillow.

"C'mon, Vin," he said.

"You already said that," I told him, my voice muffled by the pillow.

"The big cheese wants you in her office. ASAP. So get your shit together. And I'd bring my passport if I were you."

"Am I going somewhere?"

"Germany, I think."

I groaned.

The big cheese is the OSI's second-in-command. She's one tough old boot, a major general. Her name is Winifred Gruyere, which explains why we call her the big cheese. But not, of course, to her face. She's probably the most terrifying person I've ever met: short, built like a Buick, eyes that don't blink, and large pores that remind me of the way a pancake looks when it's cooking. She's fifty-five, I think (it's hard to tell--she could be a hundred and fifty), and is the real power running OSI rather than the four-star general who spends most of his time on the golf course getting his handicap below embarrassing. "What's it about?" I asked, taking the pillow off my head.

"When you turn on your cell phone, you're going to hear a few heated messages. You know it's against the rules to turn it off."

I shrugged. "Battery ran low." That wasn't true. The real reason was that I hate the damn things.

"What about your pager?"

"It got wet."

Arlen shook his head and changed the subject. "You heard of a General Scott?"

"No. Should I have?"

"He was the CO of Ramstein Air Base. A four-star heavy hitter, married to the daughter of the Vice President of our fair land."

Like most people, I'm a bit slow on the uptake after a night on the suds, but I'm not stupid. "I'm assuming the past tense you're using is significant."

"Yeah. Did you get who he was married to?"

"I got it." Ramstein AB is a vast NATO facility in Germany, shared by a bunch of other air forces. But U.S. forces have by far the biggest presence there. Pretty much everything going to Europe and to the Middle East transits through Ramstein. It's a giant military hub. "Do you know how he was killed?" I asked as I shuffled into the bathroom for a shower.

"The wings fell off his glider."

A shiver running the full length of my spine and into my legs. I am not good with flying.

I had moved here to the town of Brandywine, Maryland, when Brenda and I decided life would be better all round if we no longer shared each other's. We'd hit the wall. My issues revolved around the fact that I didn't see the wall coming. And just maybe that was a big part of our problem: Even when I was home, I wasn't. The reality of our marriage was staring me in the face, only I never took the time to open my eyes.

Anyway, where was I? Yeah, Brandywine, somewhere south of D.C. It sounded like my kind of town before I moved here, given my situation, and indeed they do have one or two good bars. The reality is that it's more of a family town stuck in the middle of five-acre lots with developers licking their chops at the prospect of making the place completely faceless. A lot of air force people live here, renting. On the weekends, dads throw balls to their kids in the parks while moms lay out blankets, setting up picnics. I felt like the place was rubbing my marital failure in my face and I was thinking I might have to move.

Those Disney scenes were in full swing as Arlen and I drove past, this being a Saturday morning. Winter was fast becoming a memory. It was mid-May, and warm. The sun was out and the sky was a pale blue, softened by haze floating down from D.C. But I wasn't really there, "in the moment," as my ex-wife would have said. My brain was trying to pick through the information passed on by Arlen, though not with much success. It's hard to concentrate when you have a headache that'd knock down a buffalo fighting it out with a toothache for supremacy.

Arlen piloted the Chrysler onto Route 5 and accelerated into the traffic heading generally north toward Andrews Air Force Base, where OSI is headquartered. We drove through the rural landscape. People used to grow tobacco here until the government persuaded them it would be far better if they just accepted a handout. These days a lot of folks still left on the land farm old car wrecks and broken-down washing machines, herds of which collect in their front yards. I was thinking about this as I either dozed off or suffered a mild brain seizure, because the fifteen miles to the base seemed to pass in a matter of seconds. The brief sleep did me some good, though, and the handful of Tylenols I had swallowed before leaving home were well and truly on top of things at last, having corralled the buffalo and knocked the barbs off the toothache. I was almost feeling positive, "seizing the day," as my ex would have said. A meaty case would be good for me, take my mind off said ex, and I silently thanked General Scott for going and getting himself killed.

OSI, or AFOSI if you want to be anal about it, has a command structure which sits outside the usual operational framework of the USAF. That is to say, we're autonomous. Our buck stops at the desk of the Inspector General, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, rather than the commanding officer of a particular base or region, or even the Secretary of Defense. The OSI exists because, like any large organization, the USAF has its share of rotten apples, people who murder, rape, embezzle, rob, traffic in drugs and/or sex, commit fraud or arson, and so on. To say OSI is a busy little outfit is an understatement. And, just like any internal-affairs unit operating within an organization, we're not particularly popular with the arms we oversee. We're a negative force, as Brenda used to tell me, always looking for the bad in people rather than the good. Well, duh is just about all you can say to that pearl of wisdom. We don't exist to hand out gold stars to hall monitors. According to Brenda, the OSI is high on destructive energy. Or something. Brenda went off the deep end, lost her marbles, call it what you will, the minute she began to walk down the endless path of personal development. I wouldn't have been surprised if she believed any and all evil could be expunged if it could just be seated in a room with an aromatherapy burner heating up the right combination of oils.
Okay, I'm getting myself worked up again. The truth is, I'm not sure whether it was entirely thoughts of my former spouse that were to blame for my foul mood, or the toothache that had managed to find a way back through the Tylenol barrier.

Arlen stopped at the guard post at the southern entrance to the base as a pair of F-16s in close formation ripped past low overhead. He got our credentials inspected by a bored noncom armed with a loaded M16, while I tried to get in touch with Mr. Happy hiding somewhere deep within. You're a single guy again, I said to myself. That's got to be worth a smile, don't it?

Chapter Two

Come in," said Major General Winifred Gruyere when I appeared in the doorway. I did as I was asked. I stood at attention in front of her desk for some time, waiting for a further sign that she acknowledged my presence. In fairness, I don't think this was some kind of tactic. She was sifting through files on her desk, like a seagull pecking among food scraps it suddenly realizes are cigarette butts--with initial interest followed by distaste.

I saw my name and number on one of those cigarette butts. Eventually the general picked it out and opened it. I gathered she had been going over the service records of a number of fellow special agents. Without looking up, she ran through a summary. "Special Agent Vin Cooper, rank of major. You studied history at NYU, graduated, and entered the service as a second lieutenant. You put in for the CCTs, the combat air-controller squadron, where you trained with SEALS, Marine Force Recon, et cetera. You saw action in Kosovo and received the Purple Heart."

At this point, and for the first time, Gruyere lifted her eyes above the half-moons of her spectacles and locked them on to mine. She was trying to imagine whether the soldier standing in front of her was the same person she was reading about.

"I've read the citation your CO put in," she said. "You should have received the Bronze Star."

I felt like saying thank you, but didn't, and continued to keep my eyes leveled on the bookshelf behind her.

"You then transferred to OSI. In Afghanistan you took down a drug gang. A local senior politician had been killed by a car bomb and it looked like a strike by the Taliban. You proved otherwise, that it was an operation mounted by a group of U.S. soldiers set on eliminating the competition. You were shot and wounded and received a second Purple Heart. I see you also survived a helo crash on that one. Seems you're a hard man to kill, Major."

"Yes, ma'am," I said, giving her the response I thought she was looking for.

"Next came the episode of the brigadier general." Gruyere shook her head. "Now, that was a sorry shit piece of business."

I agreed. The asshole beat his gay lover's head to jam because he caught him in an embrace with someone who turned out to be the young man's half brother.

"So what the fuck's gone wrong, Major? Seems to me you're not the man you were."

Swearing just sounds plain odd when it comes from the mouth of a woman old enough to be your grandma. "I don't know, ma'am," I said.

"That much is obvious, Special Agent."

The general was possibly referring to the charge of assault against me. The man on whose face my knuckles played the anvil chorus happened to be a full bird colonel, which never goes down well on one's record, even if the charges are eventually dropped because there are, as they say, extenuating circumstances. I'd caught the colonel in question in fellatio delicto with my wife, and I'm sorry, but rank does not extend to those privileges.

"Separation and divorce are never easy, soldier," Gruyere remarked, breaking in on my trip down memory lane. She shook her head and continued. "Aside from the assault, says here you've been arrested three times in the past year for drunk and disorderly behavior."

I'd forgotten about those items, possibly because, as the record said, I was drunk at the time. And I was sure it was only twice, but I kept that to myself.

"I'll let you in on my problem, Major. I need an investigator, a very good investigator. A year ago I'd have said you were that man, but, going through this," she motioned at the file on the desk in front of her as if it were kitchen trash, "I've got serious doubts. The trouble is, someone upstairs likes you. But I've got a feeling that, with you, we're scraping the bottom of the barrel." She glared at me over her glasses. "Yeah, that's what it feels like to me."

I continued to study the bookshelf behind her. What friends upstairs? I wondered. As far as I knew, Arlen was it in the friends department, and he wasn't so much upstairs as sideways in the room down the hall.

"At ease, Special Agent, and take a seat. Give me a reason to believe. Talk to me."

I did as I was told and sat in the chair beside me. "General, I'll be straight with you. I've had a hell of a year. Sounds like you've got the broad sweep of it there in front of you, but maybe not the details. My divorce came through yesterday and that closes the book on a few chapters I'd like to forget were ever written."

"Major, cut the folksy shit and just reassure me you're the man for the job."

General officers, it seems to me, can occasionally be capricious, uncaring of the fates of mere mortals, and, although I knew why I'd been summoned, I thought it best to play dumb. I can be good at that. "What job, ma'am?" I asked innocently.

"If you don't know why you're here, Cooper, then you're not half the investigator your record says you are. Or were." The general tilted her head and looked at me as if I were a puzzle with several pieces squeezed into the wrong holes. "Dismissed."

Gruyere then began shuffling papers. I'd played it badly. If getting me on the case was Plan A, I'd just managed to convince her to go with Plan B.


Excerpted from The Death Trust by David Rollins Copyright © 2007 by David Rollins. 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.

Meet the Author

David Rollins is a former advertising creative director who lives in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of The Death Trust and Knife Edge, both international bestsellers. Bantam Books will publish Knife Edge in 2008.

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Death Trust 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
JDubWB More than 1 year ago
There's too much crap out there nowadays but Death Trust has a way of grabbing you and surprising you. Set in today's military and amid the current conflicts this novel is an outstanding "whodunnit" with multiple characters leading you in some directions that your mind just doesn't want to go. It touches on the political elements of the U.S. military and even takes a trip to Baghdad to ferret out the truth and a surprising additional layer to the conspiracy. The book starts with the death of a military commander in Europe, brings in an Army investigator with a checkered past (what else is new), asks the question of whether the combat death of the dead commander's son was from combat or was a murder and goes on from there. This book reminded me a bit of some of Brian Haig's novels all of which I enjoyed. There are no big heroes just a really good plot leaving the reading with more than a few mental "harumphs" as ideas sprout,the plot twists and we see a skewed mirror of our world. This is a good one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, easy reading, couldn't put it down. Plot was excellent, characters strong and story line was excellent. Just went out and bought author's latest release.
crankyasianman More than 1 year ago
The book is a nice Amercian debut for David Rollins. The book is quick paced and keeps you guessing. The author even leaves a major plot point until the 2nd to last page of the book. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frankly, I am always suspicious when I buy a book from an author I've never read before, particularly since I lose interest if I can poke too many holes in the story. Thankfully, David Rollins has produced an excellent, fast-moving story with plenty of action and conspiracy to satisfy anyone. I am looking forward to the next installment. I only hope that the main character manages to avoid a debilitating brain injury, considering the number of scrapes he gets into.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just picked-up a copy of The Death Trust last week and it rivals anything by Clive Cussler or Robert Ludlum -- I think it's even better, but I guess that's a matter of taste. Not only is the story interesting and compelling, but the main character, Air Force OSI Special Agent Vin Cooper, is hilarious. I laughed out loud throughout the book. The good thing is that the humor enhances the story and doesn't distract. There are a couple of plot points that get a little confusing, but overall, a really great book to take on the plane or read on a rainy Saturday. I read this in one sitting. Couldn't put it down. Can't wait until the next book comes out!
RNichols More than 1 year ago
This book was a pleasant surprise. Many twists and turns and a great ending. I now will read the whole series, Vin Cooper is a hard hitting main character that will carry many more novels in the future. If you like series as I do you could do far worse. I urge you to give David Rollins a chance to win your loyalty as a reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding read. An international thriller with a slightly flawed but delightful leading character. The Aussie author is new to the US but will be a household word before long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like his books so far. Smooth seamless readinh
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for anyone who enjoys military novels. The plot is a real mind bender. The assigned investigator is Special Agent Vin Cooper who certainly appears to have more than a bit of trouble with authority figures. If you enjoy Jack Reacher novel, think you will enjoy this. J M LYDON
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Lots of interesting plot twists & turns with well developed characters and modern settings. by ajwest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first Rollins read and I must say I was impressed. Sort of started like a Jack Reacher novel but then Vin developed quickly into a greater character. If you like twists and turns with humor and a good dose of suspense you will love this book.
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