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Dirty Little Secret

Overview

The final book in an espionage trilogy that has been called "as elegant as le Carré and as cynical as the twenty-first century" (Lee Child)

The “special relationship” between London and Washington is in tatters. Salim Dhar, the world's most wanted terrorist, has disappeared after an audacious attack on an American target in the United Kingdom. The CIA believes Daniel Marchant, renegade MI6 officer, was involved. But Marchant has a bigger secret: Dhar has agreed to work for MI6, ...

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Dirty Little Secret

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Overview

The final book in an espionage trilogy that has been called "as elegant as le Carré and as cynical as the twenty-first century" (Lee Child)

The “special relationship” between London and Washington is in tatters. Salim Dhar, the world's most wanted terrorist, has disappeared after an audacious attack on an American target in the United Kingdom. The CIA believes Daniel Marchant, renegade MI6 officer, was involved. But Marchant has a bigger secret: Dhar has agreed to work for MI6, promising to protect Britain from future terrorist atrocities. He has also asked for something in return: Marchant must help him with a final strike against America. Will the UK sign up to this Faustian pact or hunt them both down?

In Dirty Little Secret, a high-octane finale to a trilogy that will appeal to fans of Alex Berenson and Olen Steinhauer, Marchant wrestles with his conscience and the question: Does loyalty to one's country come above all else, whatever the price?

"Twisty and relentless. Stock has brought the literary spy novel into the twenty-first century." —Portsmouth Herald

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A confusing, bloated plot mars Stock’s third and final thriller featuring renegade MI6 agent Daniel Marchant (after 2012’s Games Traitors Play). In a quest that jumps around Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, Marchant leads the hunt for Salim Dhar, his half-brother, who is the engineer of several recent deadly bombings in Britain, including one that severed the undersea data cable that links MI6 with the CIA. Finally, Marchant confronts Dhar just as the terrorist is attempting to take down, with Iranian help, a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Readers may be disappointed to find that the characters, including Marchant, adhere closely to their genre roles. Unlike the first two entries, this volume speaks more with the voice of a loud action drama than in the hushed, nuanced tones of the best of fictional spycraft. A clichéd ending detail leaves the door open to further adventures. Agent: Claire Conrad, Janklow & Nesbit (U.K.). (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Dirty Little Secret:

"A stunning espionage novelist."

The Australian

 

“Dirty Little Secret is an exciting, fast-paced spy thriller that extrapolates from history to present a plausible, intelligent, and some might say cynical view of where the modern realities of terrorism and warfare may take us.” —Criminal Element

 

PRAISE FOR GAMES TRAITORS PLAY:

"This is a 21st Century spy story that pulls no punches, is laced with treachery and deceit and allies high adventure with high technology in a seamless way."

Northern Echo (UK)

"Dead Spy Running launched Marchant with a brilliant contest between sweaty and cerebral thriller styles. Round two is more tense as Stock ramps up his cynical relish for the complexity with which 'allies' in the war on terror wage war on each other."

The Telegraph (UK)

"This absorbing thriller combines tense gritty action, including some gruesome torture scenes, with an intricate plot that keeps the reader guessing as to who is working for whom. The story moves at a brisk pace and is enriched by Stock's seemingly detailed knowledge of exotic locations and his cynical view of international politics."

Canberra Times (India)

Kirkus Reviews
In the third installment of a superb series, renegade MI6 operative Daniel Marchant and his half brother, most-wanted terrorist Salim Dhar, again prove the most dangerous of odd couples. In Stock's previous novel, Games Traitors Play (2012), Marchant used his sibling influence to get Dhar to scale down an attack that did destroy an American F-22 Raptor but inflicted far less damage than it would have if a radioactive dirty bomb had been deployed as planned. Marchant's actions saved the U.S. Defense Secretary, but the U.S. still wants him prosecuted for being with Dhar in the plane that launched the attack and not killing the terrorist when he had the chance. With Dhar now on the loose and jihadist bombings he may or may not have something to do with rocking London, the power struggles between the CIA and MI6 and within those agencies have gotten nasty. Marchant's CIA girlfriend has turned on him, and his mentor at MI6 has been pushed out as chief--before he can do anything about the Russian mole in position to take his place. The Americans are so desperate to lay their hands on Marchant, they torture a colleague of his. (The new era of torture is in full force: Dhar's susceptibility to insect bites is exploited to gruesome effect; Marchant was waterboarded in 2010's Dead Spy Running.) Abducted by Iranian collaborators of Dhar's, Marchant must thwart an attack on the USS Truman in the Strait of Hormuz by his brother (whose Indian mother had a brief affair with their father, former MI6 head Stephen Marchant) and get Dhar to expose a newly activated terror cell in London. Though some readers may be bothered by the novel's anti-Americanisms and others will find Dhar too sympathetically drawn, such strokes are part of Stock's deft contemporization of the spy genre.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312644789
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/26/2013
  • Series: A Daniel Marchant Thriller Series , #3
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 988,358
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JON STOCK, a former Delhi correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph, writes a column for The Week magazine in India, and has contributed to BBC Radio 4. He is the author of Dead Spy Running as well as two previous novels. He lives in Wiltshire, UK.

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Read an Excerpt

Dirty Little Secret

1

Salim Dhar looked over the limestone cliff and tried to imagine where he would fall. For a moment, he saw himself laid out on the flat rocks eighty feet below, the incoming sea lapping at his broken body. He stepped back, recoiling, as if he had caught the stench of his own death on the breeze blowing up from the foreshore.

He glanced around him and then out to sea. The moon was full, illuminating the fluorescence in the crests of the waves. Far to the west, the lights of reconnaissance planes winked as they criss-crossed the night sky, searching in vain for him. Somewhere out there a solitary trawler was drifting on the tide, crewed by men who would never see the dawn.

Dhar limped along the cliff edge to the point where he had climbed up. His flying suit was waterlogged, his left leg searing with pain. He knew he shouldn't be here, standing on Britain's Jurassic coastline, but the pull had proved too much. And he knew it was his only chance. After what had happened, the West would be hunting him down with renewed intensity. The American kuffar would increase their reward for him. $30 million? How about $155 million - the price of the US jet he had shot down a few hours earlier?

But would anyone think to search for him so close to home? In another life, Britain could have been his home. He pressed a foot against the rocky ground. Tonight was the first time he had stepped on British soil, and he was surprised by how good it felt: ancient, reassuring. The air was pure, too, caressing his tired limbs with its gentle sea gusts.

He looked down at the foreshore again, rocks latticed like paving stones, and imagined his body somersaulting towards it. Would he survive? His descent might be broken by one of the ledges - if he was lucky. In the training camps of Kashmir and Kandahar, luck had been a forbidden fruit, on a par with alcohol. You who believe, intoxicants and games of chance are repugnant acts - Satan's doing. Instead, Dhar had been instilled with the discipline of planning. 'Trust in Allah, but tie your camel to a tree,' as his explosives instructor had joked (he was mixing hair bleach with chapatti flour at the time).

Now Dhar was rolling the dice. His plan was uncharacteristically reckless, possibly suicidal, but there was no choice. At least, that's how it felt. He needed to see where his late father, Stephen Marchant, had lived, where his half-brother, Daniel, had grown up. Tarlton, the family home, was not so far from here. He had seen it on the aeronautical charts. If he was to follow in his father's footsteps, he had to be sure, root himself deep within the English turf.

Dhar stumbled as he picked his way down the steep path, pain shooting through his leg. His knee had been cut when he had ejected. Instinctively he checked for the mobile phone in his pocket. It was still there, sealed in a watertight bag with the handgun. He had taken both from the trawler that had rescued him earlier in the Bristol Channel. If everything had gone to plan, he would now be being debriefed by jubilant Russians back in the Archangel Oblansk. But everything hadn't gone to plan. Dhar had blinked, and listened to the other man in his cockpit: Daniel Marchant.

He thought again about the trawler. First the captain's phone had rung, then he had drawn his gun, but Dhar had been ready. Thinking quickly, he had disarmed him before turning on the remaining crew members. It was after nightfall when he had finally abandoned the trawler, making his way ashore in its tender with the captain. He was below him now, propped up against a rock beside the tender, hands tied, drunk on vodka.

After reaching the bottom of the path, Dhar checked on the Russian. It was important that he was sober enough to speak. He dragged the tender further up into the shadows of the cliff and tore at some long grass to use as crude camouflage. The blades cut into his soft hands and a thin line of blood blossomed across his finger joints. He cursed, sucking at a hand, and went back to the Russian. He couldn't afford to be careless.

'Walk,' Dhar said. After the captain had risen unsteadily to his feet, Dhar pushed him in the direction of the cliffs. He meandered across the flat, stratified rocks, head bowed like a man approaching the gallows. There was no need for Dhar to threaten him with the gun. He had seen what had happened to his crew.

Dhar looked up at the cliffs ahead: layer upon layer of limestone and shale, crushed over millions of years. The compressed stripes reminded him of the creamy millefeuille his Indian mother used to smuggle out of the French Embassy in Delhi when she was working there as an ayah. She was here somewhere, too, he hoped. In Britain, the land of the man she had once loved. Daniel Marchant had promised he would look after her.

When they reached the foot of the cliff, Dhar signalled for the Russian to sit. He circled like an exhausted dog before slumping onto the rocks, trying in vain to break his fall with his tied hands. Dhar stood over him and pulled out a bottle of Stolichnaya, his actions tracked by the man's aqueous, frightened eyes. Squatting down beside him, he unscrewed the lid and poured vodka intothe Russian's mouth, watching it trickle in rivulets through the stubble of his unshaven chin. His swollen lips were dry and cracked. Small flecks of white, sea salt perhaps, had collected in the corners of his mouth.

Dhar had thought about what lay ahead many times in the last few hours, trying to banish the notion that he had nothing to lose. He could have stayed on the trawler, made his way south to France and on past Portugal to Africa, Morocco and the Atlas Mountains, where he had hidden once before. But he knew he was deluding himself. Without Russia's protection he would have been caught by now, picked up by one of the search planes. So here he was, in Britain, a country he had never quite been able to wage jihad against.

'You've been to the pub, a nice English pub,' Dhar said, his face close to the Russian's. He could smell the vodka on his breath, mixed with what might have been stale fish. 'And you fell down the cliffs on your walk home. Too much to drink.'

He waved the Stolichnaya in front of the man's eyes like a censorious parent.

'Are you going to kill me?' the man asked. Dhar had chosen him because his English was good, better than his crew's. He had heard him talk to the coastguard on the ship-to-shore radio.

'Not if you do as I say,' Dhar lied. He was certain that the man was an officer with the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service. It would make his killing more straightforward, despite the company he had provided during the long row ashore, the talk of his young family, twin sons.

Dhar tucked the bottle in his flying suit and pulled out the sealed bag containing the mobile phone and the gun. Don't rush, he told himself. There was no hurry. According to a map he had found on the trawler, the stretch of shoreline they were on was near a place called East Quantoxhead. The signpost at the top ofthe cliff, on the West Somerset Coastal Path, had said they were one mile from Kilve, where there was a public house. They would find him easily enough. The Quantocks were not exactly the Waziristan hills.

Taking the phone out of the bag, Dhar dialled 999 and held the receiver up to the Russian's mouth. With his other hand, he pressed the barrel of the gun hard against the man's temple. Afterwards, he would drag his body back to the boat and hide it in the shadows.

'Talk,' he ordered, cocking the gun. Dhar's head was clear, purged of twins. 'You've had a fall, hurt your left leg.' He pointed the gun at the man's thigh and fired. 'And now you need help.'

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET. Copyright © 2012 by Jon Stock. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

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