The Expediter

The Expediter

3.7 9
by David Hagberg

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Late one balmy summer evening in Pyongyang, an important Chinese intelligence general on his way to a secret meeting with Kim Jon-Il is assassinated in plain sight of a surveillance camera. The two shooters are wearing the uniforms of North Korean police officers.

Kim Jong-Il denies any knowledge of the shooting, but the Chinese do not believe him. As they

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Late one balmy summer evening in Pyongyang, an important Chinese intelligence general on his way to a secret meeting with Kim Jon-Il is assassinated in plain sight of a surveillance camera. The two shooters are wearing the uniforms of North Korean police officers.

Kim Jong-Il denies any knowledge of the shooting, but the Chinese do not believe him. As they prepare to attack, Jong-Il promises to unleash his nuclear weapons on downtown Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo, plunging the entire region into nuclear war.

Kirk McGarvey, just off a difficult assignment that took him to Mexico City, has returned to his visiting professorship at the University of South Florida. A colonel in North Korea's intelligence service shows up in person, asking McGarvey to prove that North Korea did not authorize the hit.

It's the most extraordinary request McGarvey has ever received. He enters a dangerous international shadow world where almost nothing is as it seems. The puzzles lead him to a mysterious Russian ex-KGB multimillionaire whose specialty is expediting assassins for hire, to Pyongyang where he finds the wedge to open up a far-reaching plot so monstrous the entire world could go up into flames, and finally back to the one nation that potentially has the most to gain by such a war.

And the most to lose . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When two people in North Korean police uniform gun down Gen. Ho Chang Li, an important Chinese intelligence official, in Pyongyang, the prospect of nuclear war between China and North Korea becomes all too real in this routine political thriller from Hagberg (Soldier of God). North Korean intelligence officer Pak Hae, who must prove that his country's leader, Kim Jong Il, didn't order the hit on Ho, turns for help to former CIA director Kirk McGarvey, whose previous successes include killing Osama bin Laden. Pak has captured one of the two assassins, who under interrogation has revealed that he worked for a Russian paymaster. As McGarvey gets on the trail of those behind Ho's murder, the search follows predictable lines, including a hunt for a high-ranking traitor within the CIA. Readers looking for the insight into North Korean society offered by James Church's Inspector O novels (Bamboo and Blood, etc.) will be disappointed. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Tom Doherty Associates
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Kirk McGarvey Series , #13
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Chapter One

At precisely midnight Huk Kim pulled back the covers, got out of bed, and checked to make certain that the sleep agent she'd given her Japanese roommate hadn't worn off yet. But the girl was totally out of it, and in the morning she would remember very little of what had happened after their dinner in the hotel's dining room two, and absolutely nothing after her head had hit the pillow.

Kim was a thirty- one- year- old, short, slightly built South Korean woman, and her movements were quick, almost birdlike as she tied a folded plastic trash bag around her waist with shaking hands, then dressed in dark slacks, a lightweight dark pullover, and sneakers.

She was frightened to the core, as she had been on the previous kills, but she had no way out, short of leaving her husband, something she couldn't even conceive of doing.

Checking a second time to make certain her roommate was deep asleep, Kim slipped out of her twelfth- floor room and made her way to the end of the deserted corridor, then downstairs to a ser vice area at the rear of the hotel where deliveries were made each morning between four and seven. From there she was able to get outside without being seen, something that would have been impossible from the lobby.

The evening was pleasantly warm, and almost totally dark and silent. Other than the few lights around the hotel, and a few on the bridge across the river, North Korea's capital Pyongyang lay sleeping in darkness, only a pinprick of light here and there to hint that a city of more than two million people existed less than two hundred meters away.

She shivered. She loved her husband and the fabulous money they were making together, but she hated the work, doing it only for him. Assassinations were usually carried out at night so that the shooters could get away. After five hits in three years, Kim had learned to depend on the dark but she hated it.

Keeping to the deeper shadows, she moved across the driveway that led up to the single road circling the small island of Yanggak, then held up in the bushes and hedges to wait for her husband, and to watch for the policemen who traveled on foot in pairs.

Yanggakdo International Hotel was the city's only accommodation for unapproved foreigners, such as South Koreans or Japanese, and for everyone who came into North Korea in a tour group. No one was allowed out of the hotel or off the island after dark, and the road and two bridges leading across the river to the mainland were patrolled 24/7 by special police armed with short stock versions of the AK- 47 assault rifle.

A dark figure darted up from the ser vice driveway, and Kim eased farther into the hedges until she was certain it was her husband Soon, then she showed herself and he came across to her.

"Any signs of the cops?" he asked, keeping his voice low.

"Not yet," she said.

They pulled on black balaclavas.

Soon was slender, but well- muscled with a square face and dark almond eyes that Kim had always found devastatingly attractive. They'd met six years ago when she'd been assigned as a brand- new second lieutenant to his South Korean Special Forces Sniper Unit outside Seoul. She always smiled when she thought about the exact moment she'd first laid eyes on him, handsome in his captain's uniform, self-assured, even cocky. She'd fallen instantly in love with him, and had told him so on the spot.

They began sleeping together that weekend, but regulations would not permit them to be married or to even have an affair. Two years later they resigned their commissions, got married in Chinhae, the small town on the south coast where she was born, and started to look for work, finding it almost immediately as assassins for hire by South Korea's Mafia.

She had been trained for urban warfare assassinations, but killing enemies of South Korea was a completely different thing than killing rival businessmen or gang leaders, or lately, important politicians. She hated every minute of it, but loved her husband more.

Soon pointed two fingers at his eyes and then through the hedges at a pair of figures slowly approaching along the path on the other side of the road, and Kim's stomach did a slow roll.

There had been no possible way for them to bring weapons here, so before Soon had agreed to take the hit he and Kim had spent the better part of a week cooped up in their apartment doing research online, finally coming up with a plan that could work if they ran into no snags. She'd tried to talk him out of it, arguing that if anything went wrong, if they made even one mistake, they would pay with their lives.

"I don't want to lose you," she'd pleaded, but he'd laughed and took her in his arms.

"Not a chance," he'd whispered in her ear.

When the police reached a spot directly across the road, they suddenly stopped. Kim and Soon remained absolutely motionless. One of the cops lit a cigarette, the odor of cheap tobacco wafting on the slight breeze, then they continued down the path.

Kim and Soon crawled through the hedges, careful to make no noise. Keeping low, they raced across the road and onto the path directly behind the cops.

She'd been trained in the Army for this part too, though in practice she'd never had to use her skills for real. This time was different and she thought that she might be sick to her stomach at any moment.

One of the cops, sensing something, started to turn when Soon reached him, jammed a knee in the man's back, and reached for his head.

Kim hit her target a split instant later, jumping up, slamming her knee into his back, and yanking his head back, breaking his spine and his neck. He collapsed without a sound.

Soon was dragging his target into the brush between the path and the river, as Kim rolled off her target and looked at his face. He was just a kid, probably a teenager, and he was still alive, but paralyzed from the neck down, making it impossible for him to breathe. She reared back, turned away, and threw up, a buzzing inside her head, the path and the road spinning out of control.

When she looked back, the kid's eyes were still open but he was dead, and she was able to get a grip on herself.

Soon came back to her. "What are you doing?" he demanded.

"He wasn't dead."

Soon glanced at the boy's face. "He is now." He grabbed the cop's arms and dragged his slight body into the brush where it could not be spotted from the path or the road, or even from one of the windows in the top story of the hotel. No boats were on the river at this time of the night so it was unlikely that the bodies would be spotted from that direction.

Soon started getting undressed, and Kim pulled the balaclava off her head then took off her sneakers, her slacks, and dark pullover. She untied the plastic bag from around her waist, opened it and stuffed her clothing inside. Soon was already stripping the cop he'd killed of everything but the man's underwear. The uniform, belts, cap, shoes, and the AK- 47 all went into the bag. He gathered the edges and blew air into the bag, inflating it like a balloon and sealed it with one of his shoelaces.

When he was finished he helped Kim with hers.

It was just past 12:30 A.M. when they slipped into the river and started swimming toward the city, the current weak, but the water cold.


Copyright © 2009 by David Hagberg

Published in March 2009 by Torn Doherty Associates, LLC

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.


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The Expediter (Kirk McGarvey Series #13) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Pyongyang, top Chinese intelligence official General Ho Chang Li heads to a meeting with Kim Jong Il when two people wearing North Korean police officer uniforms assassinate him. The surveillance camera tapes catch the entire incident. The Chinese leaders are furious while the North Korean President strongly denies any ties to the deadly snipers. China prepares for war while Jong II threatens to nuke Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo if the Chinese army takes one step into North Korea. Meanwhile leveler heads hope to prevent a disaster. North Korean intelligence Colonel Pak Hae knows his nation did not kill Li, as he has captured one of the snipers who under a torturous interrogation confessed to working for the Russians. Still Hae needs help to fully prove no North Korean involvement so he travels to the Florida where former CIA Director Kirk McGarvey is a visiting professor. Stunned by the request to assist the enemy, McGarvey agrees to investigate. Exciting and fast-paced from the opening assassination until the final confrontation, THE EXPEDITER is still a straight forward by the numbers espionage thriller. The action-packed story line grips the reader throughout, but offers few glimpses into North Korea (see James Church's Inspector O police procedurals) or China (Qiu Xialong's Inspector Chen police procedurals) for instance how leaders perceive their relationship. Nonetheless readers who appreciate action to the nth degree will enjoy David Hagberg's latest McGarvey's retirement adventure (see DANCE WITH THE DRAGON). Harriet Klausner
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KenCady More than 1 year ago
It's not often we get on the inside of a murder investigation in North Korea, so right away this novel scores some points. Not many, since there isn't a whole lot known about crime-solving there. But it made for a nice change of pace. The rest of the story is almost amateurish in its efforts to come up with some thrills before the world blows up. The US Government can't do it, so this retired CIA Director takes it upon himself to solve the crimes and save the world. Yeah, right. The entire government stood down to let him do his thing, and even with the Chinese and the Koreans toe to toe with nukes, they waited for this American to fix things for them. Oh well.
GiovanniG More than 1 year ago
I think I have read almost every novel that Hagberg has penned. I am a big fan, so watch out. I read a few reviews of this novel back when it came out and I felt they were way off base, especially Publishers Weekly. Their big beef was that Hagberg didn't offer enough insight into the North Korean society ala James Church's Inspector O series. No disrespect to Mr. O, but I really didn't care when I read The Expediter if it gave me a deep and thorough insight. I like being sightless, but entertained. That's what David Hagberg delivered here in The Expediter, pure adrenaline, suspense and action. Insight for me can be left behind. Besides how much insight can be gained into Kim Jung Il? The Expediter has the forces that be, interrupting McGarvey's peace and pseudoretirement to help them solve the World's newest crisis du jour. Basically they need his unique skill set and attitude to unravel yet another plot that the alleged masterminds cannot solve. McGarvey packs a toothbrush, says goodbye to his loved ones and goes about his business. Hagberg puts together a great plot, executes it well and keeps the action going from the beginning to end; one cannot ask for more in a novel of this type. The character is hard hitting and in your face and that is when he is at his best. The narrative of the places McGarvey visits and the speed in which he is changing time zones doesn't really lend itself to learning the history and culture of a Nation State. I am not going out on a limb here when I say that David Hagberg can pen a really good suspense/action novel. If you haven't had a chance to get a dose of Kirk McGarvey there are plenty of other novels in the Hagberg library to check out, grab one; they are just as good. The Cabel is his newest to date and that should be available now ( hint, click the tab ). I look forward to reading it. What are you reading today? Check us out and become our friend on Facebook. Go to Goodreads and become our friend there and suggest books for us to read and post on. You can also follow us on Twitter, Book Blogs, and also look for our posts on Amazon. Did you know you can shop directly on Amazon by clicking the Gelati's Store Tab on our blog? Thanks for stopping by today; we will see you tomorrow. Have a great day.