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“Lead character Salam Al Fayed—‘Fade’—is a first-ballot certainty for the Thriller Hall of Fame.” —Lee Child, author of The Enemy
Praise for Kyle Mills:
“Gripping and interesting to the last, Free Fall is bound to cement Mills’s place near the top of the suspense genre.”—The Denver Post on Free Fall
Fade pictured aiming a twelve-gauge at that closely shaved face and blowing the smug expression right off it. Of course Strand was unlikely to ever make a personal appearance. He'd undoubtedly send a team of former Special Forces guys more qualified to persuade Fade to see the error of his ways.
But he'd decided not to let that happen. Instead, he'd take out as many of Strand's men as he could before they finally put a bullet in him. A fittingly violent and futile end to a violent and futile life.
The sound didn't come again and Fade closed his eyes, concentrating on the image of Hillel Strand with a shotgun barrel a few inches from his nose. Maybe that was a dream world he could insert himself into. Something a little closer to reality.
He'd barely settled back on the mattress when he heard another quiet crunch, this time close enough to discern detail. The depth and length of it confirmed his suspicion that its source was heavy. The possibility of the soft pad of a bear's paw, though, was lost in the sound's crisp edge. Based on his considerable experience, that particular attack and decay was only caused by one thing. A boot.
Fade remained motionless on the bed, realizing suddenly that he wasn't in the mood for this tonight. He had undoubtedly just entered the last half hour of his life and all he could think about was how much trouble dying was going to be. A sure sign of having lived too long.
The man rather sloppily creeping up on him was getting close enough to force a decision. Fade had a pistol and the temptation to just shoot half-heartedly at whatever face appeared in his window was fairly strong. But then all that preparation and money would have been wasted. Seemed like a shame.
He quietly slid the blanket off his legs and crawled across the room. Keeping the fluttering curtains in his peripheral vision, he stood and stretched his arms overhead, unlatching a small door cut into the wall that led to his attic. It opened smoothly on brand new hinges and he swung himself up into it on a slightly creakier spine.
The "command center" he'd constructed didn't have the aesthetic grace he normally strived for, but time had been short and sacrifices had to be made. He lay down in something that looked disturbingly like a badly welded steel coffin with no lid and ran his finger along the edge of a bank of small monitors in front of him. Finally finding a switch, he flipped it and was immediately bathed in a dim green light that he'd made sure wouldn't be visible through the door.
He turned on the rest of the monitors, careful not to bump a series of switches he'd screwed to a piece of plywood or the heavily modified model airplane radio control lying next to him. After checking the neatly arranged M16, combat knife, and 9mm pistol, he refocused his attention on the small screens.
The images were surprisingly detailed. It was uncanny what you could get off the Internet these days. Most of the stuff was measurably better than the supposedly state-of-the-art stuff he'd worked with at the CIA only a few years before.
Honestly, he was surprised they worked at all. It had seemed likely that the team sent for him would be jamming the radio transmission from the cameras he'd set up. Using hard-wired ones had just seemed like too much trouble. Stranger yet, was that the generator he'd set up in the basement hadn't kicked on. His power hadn't been cut. Maybe he'd lost his touch. Maybe he was hiding from a squirrel.
The squirrel didn't materialize but a man in black fatigues holding a small assault rifle did, running up beneath the night vision enabled camera hidden above Fade's front door.
A few moments later, there was motion on nearly every screen and he silently scanned them, watching men settling into the obvious positions that he'd created by digging a few natural swales in his yard and breaking off a number of strategic tree branches. Once they were settled in, two more men appeared at his back door, taking positions on either side of it. Fade eased his nose a little closer to the far right monitor, trying to see if anyone was covering his workshop but lost interest when he realized that he'd forgotten one obvious item. Clothes. It looked like he was going to make his last stand in a pair of Bugs Bunny boxer shorts. At least they were reasonably new.
The monitor set up in a tree that would offer a sniper a perfect view of the front and sides of the house was still empty, which seemed kind of strange. Did they have some new techie gizmo that made that vantage point unnecessary? One of those unmanned things that hovered over the battlefield like a blimp over a football game? Were those things armed now? Something didn't feel right.
He propped himself up on his elbows and managed to shrug. Based on the ultimate objective of this operation, it wasn't really worth getting in a twist over the details. Besides, he'd never been one to worry about technology. Sure, it had its place in large theaters, but in situations like these it just tended to split people's focus. Assuming, of course, that whatever gadget you were relying on hadn't gotten a little dirt in it and stopped working.
Truthfully, he'd bought the monitors he was using based completely on their fun factor. If he'd known they were actually going to work, he'd have bought more and put a few farther afield. Was Strand out there somewhere within reach? Probably not. But Matt Egan would be. He'd be directing this little pageant, which pretty much guaranteed that Fade's time on this earth was coming to an end. Egan possessed an unusual combination of creativity and anal-retentiveness that had been truly confidence inspiring when Fade was working for him. But now it would undoubtedly prove deadly.
He tried to imagine lining his sites up on Egan and pulling the trigger but found it a much harder image to conjure than the one starring Hillel Strand. He tried again, but couldn't get past centering the crosshairs. Faced with it for real, though, he told himself, he'd goddamn well take the shot.
One man in the front and one in the back slipped through their respective unlocked doors simultaneously. Fade switched to interior cameras and watched them do an initial sweep of the living room and kitchen before being followed by their two comrades. The remainder of the team stayed outside, one in front and the other in back, both lying in the comfy indentions provided for them.
Fade continued to toggle back and forth through his interior cameras as the four men moved cautiously through his house. After a complete sweep, they relaxed a bit and began to turn lights on. As promised in the glossy brochure that had accompanied them, the amazing little cameras adjusted automatically to the new light levels. And they'd even been on sale.
Two of the men had taken up positions in his living room and the other two in his bedroom. They seemed to be just standing at the foot of his bed while one of them chatted into his throat mike.
Fade had access to both rooms-the bedroom through the attic door and the living room through a panel he'd cut in the ceiling. The question was what should he do with that access. He assumed they'd looked up the architectural details of the house, so it seemed likely that they would suspect he was up there. Were they trying to draw him out? Of course. It was clearly a trap, but what kind of trap? They were just standing there with their guns hanging at their sides. What was that sneaky bastard Egan up to?
He watched one of the men in the living room walk over and examine a heavy piece of steel plate with a handle welded to it lying on the floor in front of a large fireplace. He didn't seem to know what to make of it. In the bedroom, one of the men had taken off his gloves and was moving toward the bed, likely to see if it was still warm. Another attempt to draw him out?
Fade smiled and shook his head. This was all ego-he just didn't want to be outsmarted. Best to keep in mind the end result he was after: Essentially lots of gunfire, a few cool explosions, and his own death. If he stayed up there much longer, the only thing he was going to die of was curiosity.
Grabbing the M16 next to him, he lifted himself out of his steel coffin and threw open the attic door.
Excerpted from Fade by Kyle Mills Excerpted by permission.
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Posted September 20, 2008
I have to say that it took some time for me to finish this book. The difficult part is to finish the first 200 pages. The story goes nowhere. It is the last 100 pages, which makes the story interesting. The author does a good job in getting our sympathy for the main character 'Fade'. However, you have to put the logic in the back burner. The whole of United states is searching the protaganist and he happily roams around everywhere. I felt this book was much much better than his other book 'Burn Factor'.
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Posted February 21, 2012
Posted July 23, 2011
Great story about the things that happen to keep our country what the way our public wants it without knowing the true relity of what it takes to do so, and waht the men who took the job have to go through and sacrafice. Grrat read s usual from Mills. Rising phoenix wasthe first novel i read and Mjlls got me hooked with Mark Beamon. I have read all of the Beamon series, great reads.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2009
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Posted October 27, 2012
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