Gridlock
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Gridlock

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by Byron L. Dorgan, David Hagberg
     
 

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Two Iranian agents hand over one million dollars to a Russian engineer for a thumbdrive. The drive contains a deadly computer virus that could shut down all electrical power in the United States at a keystroke.

In rural North Dakota, a lineman is electrocuted, and the local cop sent to investigate is shot to death. As rolling electrical blackouts begin to shut

Overview

Two Iranian agents hand over one million dollars to a Russian engineer for a thumbdrive. The drive contains a deadly computer virus that could shut down all electrical power in the United States at a keystroke.

In rural North Dakota, a lineman is electrocuted, and the local cop sent to investigate is shot to death. As rolling electrical blackouts begin to shut down major US cities, the war for energy domination begins.

Two nations are behind this deadly attack: Venezuela and Iran, intent on destroying the present world order and bringing an arrogant America to its knees. Their agent of terror is Yuri Makarov, a former Spetsnaz officer, the best of the best among the shadow world of killers for hire. When governments are powerless to stop such a man from sending the United States back to the horse-and-buggy era, North Dakota county sheriff Nate Osborne and brash journalist Ashley Borden once again step into the breach.

Gridlock is a harrowing near-future thriller from New York Times bestselling duo Senator Byron Dorgan and David Hagberg.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The nation’s energy grid remains a terrorist target in Dorgan and Hagberg’s action-packed follow-up to 2012’s Blowout. Several computer probes aimed at our electrical power system indicate that a major strike is on the way. The Iranian and Venezuelan secret services have hired Barend Dekker, a genius hacker operating out of Holland, to insert a Russian virus into the American grid. Dr. Whitney Lipton, the head of the Dakota Initiative power station, which survived a massive attack in the last book, is still herding her army of coal-eating, methane producing bacteria. Her friend Ashley Borden, a reporter for the Bismarck Tribune, and Ashley’s boyfriend, county sheriff Nate Osborne, are about all that stands in the way of ex-Spetsnaz Capt. Yuri Makarov, now working as a contract killer to aid in the virus’s implementation. Former Senator Dorgan’s energy policy expertise and bestseller Hagberg’s thriller-writing know-how bode well for a long series. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor. (July)
From the Publisher

“Here's the high-stakes, mile-a-minute, knock-your-socks-off, page-turning political thriller of the year. Senator Byron Dorgan and thriller-master David Hagberg make one helluva storytelling team. From the first scene to the last page, they're aiming high and hitting every bulls-eye.” —William Martin, New York Times bestselling author

“Senator Byron Dorgan and David Hagberg deliver a thriller crackling with realism and shocking authenticity. Right now, Gridlock is a hair-raising and fascinating fictional thrill ride. Right now. But what will the future bring?” —Whitley Strieber, New York Times bestselling author

“Oodles of action…now that's what I call a thriller. Sizzling hot!” —Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Disciple, on Blowout

“David Hagberg is a proven master of the thriller genre and Senator Byron Dorgan brings a unique, insider's view on politics and the world. Together they've woven a complicated tale, told deceptively simple, that will leave you wanting more. Plenty of sizzle in this page-turner.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Jefferson Key, on Blowout

“Combining masterly writing skills with deep knowledge of their subject, authors Dorgan and Hagberg serve up a unique, thought-provoking and, above all, ceaselessly exciting novel about today's hidden security threat: our willingness to overlook evil in our addiction to foreign energy supplies. The pace will make you sweat, the plot will make you think, and the peril is very real.” —Ralph Peters, New York Times bestselling author of Cain at Gettysburg, on Blowout

“Dorgan and Hagberg have written an edge-of-the-seat thriller about energy that will stretch your imagination and keep you guessing until the very last page.” —Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on Blowout

“This book hits the bull's-eye on our energy challenge. How to end our addiction to foreign oil by finding new ways to produce energy here at home while at the same time protecting our environment? Blowout combines a healthy imagination about an energy future with fast-paced action.” —Former Governor of New Mexico and U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on Blowout

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765327383
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
07/09/2013
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.34(d)

Read an Excerpt

Gridlock


By Byron L. Dorgan, David Hagberg

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2013 Byron L. Dorgan and David Hagberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-4942-2



CHAPTER 1

MINNEAPOLIS WAS COLD, snow still on the ground, the trees bare. Like Moscow, no spring buds here yet. Former Spetsnaz Captain Yuri Makarov, a nephew of Nikolai Makarov who designed the 9mm pistol that had been universally used in the Soviet military, got off the Delta flight from New York's LaGuardia a few minutes before eleven in the morning, nodding to the two first-class attendants, and headed down the Jetway into the Lindbergh Terminal. A man in no apparent hurry.

Traveling under a British passport with the work name Thomas Parks, he'd brought only a small leather carry-on bag which he slung over his shoulder and turned left at the gate and headed to the main terminal. It was a weekday and the airport was busy mostly with business travelers, and no one paid any particular attention to him.

He was fairly short, under six feet, slender, with dark hair, wide dark eyes, glasses, a pleasant demeanor, and an easy almost shy smile, and at thirty-five he'd often been mistaken for a soccer player, or former soccer player for some British team. His accent was as impeccable as was his grooming and dress — lightweight tailored blue blazer, open collar shirt, and gray slacks. He carried a Burberry over his arm, and wore Italian handmade half boots.

Parks appeared to be a gentleman, perhaps in banking, probably old family credentials. In fact he was a contract killer, whose real name and actual background were known to only a few people inside Russia, and even they had no idea where he had disappeared to almost eight years ago. But he could be reached by the right people, mostly people working at fairly high levels for some government intelligence service, who had need of skills such as his. And who had access to a great deal of money. Makarov never failed and that expertise came at a hefty price.

He followed the signs to the car rental desks on the second level and stopped at the Hertz counter, the line fairly short. When it was his turn he presented his British driving license and American Express platinum card. "Thomas Parks."

"Good morning, Mr. Parks," the attractive young clerk said, smiling. "Good flight?"

"Yes."

She brought up his reservation on her computer screen. "I have you for a Chevrolet Impala, but I can upgrade you —"

"The Chevy will be just fine."

She nodded, ran his credit card and driver's license through the system, which spit out a rental agreement, which Makarov signed and five minutes later he was in the car and heading away from the airport.

For this assignment, which was almost ridiculously simple by his standards, he'd been contacted the usual way through a secure e-mail account that was routed through several remailers, ending with a large but discrete service in New Delhi. He'd met with his client at a booth in the back of a small pub just off Trafalgar Square at noon fifteen days ago. Both of them carried the day's edition of Le Figaro. And twenty-four hours earlier Makarov had gone around to the back of the building to make sure that it had a rear door in case something went wrong.

"Good afternoon," he said, laying his newspaper on the table and sitting down.

The man across from him was older, perhaps in his mid to late fifties, with steel-gray short cropped hair, a square almost Teutonic face, and broad shoulders and thick chest that strained against the light jacket he was wearing. He was not smiling, and Makarov got the impression that he never smiled.

"What do I call you?"

"For the moment, Mr. Schmidt will do," Makarov said, a slight German accent to his voice. "You contacted me and I'm here. What do you want?"

"Do you want to know who I am?"

"You're Colonel Luis Delgado, SEBIN. What does Venezuelan intelligence want with me?"

Delgado's left eyebrow rose. "A small job of work at first."

Makarov said nothing.

"In western North Dakota, it's in the upper Midwest of the United States."

"Continue."

Delgado told him what the job involved. "We'll book your air, hotel, and car reservations, as well as provide you the proper equipment —"

Makarov raised a hand to stop the man. "I'll make my own arrangements. But there must be a better way of striking back after Balboa." The operation shortly after Christmas had been a U.S. strike on five of Venezuela's forward air force bases — the most important to Chavez. And the remark got to the colonel, because he was suddenly curt.

"Do you want the job or not?"

Makarov handed him a business card that contained only two series of numbers, one with nine digits which was a bank router and the second of ten which was his account number. "Five hundred thousand euros now and an additional five hundred thousand when the job is completed to your satisfaction."

The colonel nodded. "Time is of the essence," he said, but Makarov had already gotten to his feet and was heading for the door.

The half million had shown up in his Channel Islands' account twenty-four hours later and he'd spent the last eight days arranging with the Russian Mafia in New York for his equipment to be purchased and put in place, his British documents and credit card secured, and the first-class flight reservations from Heathrow to New York and from there to Minneapolis arranged. He would fly to Paris under a different set of documents when he was finished here.

He picked up Interstate 494 west which was part of the ring highway system around the Twin Cities and seven miles later turned off at one of the exits for the suburb of Bloomington, where he pulled in at an E-Z Self Storage facility. He entered the four-digit code and the gate swung inward so he could drive back to a small unit in the last row.

No one was around at this hour, and Makarov unlocked the roll-up door with the key that had been left for him at LaGuardia taped under seat 2A aboard his Delta flight. Inside, a duffle bag was propped up against the rear wall of the unit. Making sure that no one was coming, he opened the bag and expertly checked the partially disassembled American-made model 90 Barrett sniper rifle, making certain that the firing pin was intact. Also included as per his orders were the Leupold & Stevens x10 scope, and one eleven-round detachable box magazine loaded with .50 in Browning ammunition. The 1,000-grain big-caliber bullet was 100 percent deadly from nearly a mile out, and could even penetrate the engine blocks of military vehicles, and aircraft.

Something blocked the sun and Makarov turned as one of the largest men he'd ever encountered stepped inside. At nearly seven feet the man had to weigh more than three hundred pounds and yet with tree trunk legs, an impossibly broad chest, huge neck, and massive shoulders, his baby face was disproportionately small. He was grinning like an idiot.

"Who are you?" Makarov asked mildly.

"Don Toivo. I own this place."

"Well, you scared the hell out of me, mate. Do you always go around sneaking up on people?"

"Only when I find something interesting in the units they rent from me," Toivo said and he glanced at the duffle bag. "And what's in there is definitely very interesting. Illegal."

"It's for sport. Target practice. I'm in a competition the day after tomorrow."

"Not with full-grain hollow points. That is a weapon for killing people."

"How would you know something like that?" Makarov asked, measuring distances and angles. The big man had been injured sometime in the past because he favored his left leg.

"I make it my business."

"Very well. What comes next?"

"You have two choices: leave the rifle, drive away, and never come back, or pay me what I think I can get for it on the open market. I know some guys."

Makarov smiled. "You weren't a footballer, too big. I suspect that you could never move fast enough. Weight lifter, shot putter?"

"WWF," Toivo said.

Makarov shook his head.

"World Wrestling Federation. Television."

"I see," Makarov said. "Actually neither choice will work. I can't leave my things here, nor am I willing to pay you anything."

Toivo's grin broadened. "I hoped you'd say something like that, because there is a third choice."

"Which is?"

"I fucking break you in two and take the gun anyway. How about that choice?"

CHAPTER 2

DR. WHITNEY LIPTON walked into the press tent at the Dakota Initiative power station a few minutes past noon and took her place at the podium. Only a half-dozen media people had bothered to drive all the way out here — in the serious boondocks, as a Minneapolis Tribune reporter had once quipped — and except for the cutting-edge microbial science, Whitney wouldn't be here herself.

Weekly press briefings were held on Fridays at the station just south of Medora in the western North Dakota Badlands, but Whitney, the project's director who was thirty-three and slender, with the dark good looks of the Hollywood movie star Lara Flynn Boyle, with a near-genius IQ had never gotten used to the things.

Talking to the scientists and technicians on her new team was a piece of cake, because they all came from the same place, they knew the project, and she didn't have to explain everything from scratch. Einstein had once told a newspaper reporter that you didn't really understand relativity unless you could explain it to a kindergartener.

These briefings about the current progress at the project amounted to just about the same thing. And a couple of weeks ago she'd asked her press officer, Army Lieutenant Rudy Doyle, if the reporters ever read each other's newspapers. Especially the New York Times and Washington Post science sections. If they had over the past six months, ever since the top-secret project had been thrown open to the public, they would have had at least a basic understanding not only of what was going on here, but some of the technical problems that had come up and that Whitney and her team had solved.

"In the forties with the entire world at war, Roosevelt had created the Manhattan District Project to develop the atomic bomb which would put an early end to the killing," she'd explained to groups just like the one she was facing this morning. "And it worked. All-out global wars were a thing of the past."

"Yeah, MAD, mutually assured destruction, us versus the Russians with ten thousand nuclear weapons. Is that what you guys are really doing out here?"

"Stopping a war, you betcha," Whitney said. "That's what we're facing, only this time it's an energy war, because if we keep on going the way we're going — burning coal for nearly half our energy needs in this country alone — there is pretty strong evidence that we're facing a runaway greenhouse effect that could do irreparable damage to the entire planet. Irreversible damage."

"Don't lecture," Doyle had warned her early on. "They'll tune out. The TV folks need sound bites, and the print people want one-liners."

"I'm a scientist, goddamnit."

"It's your project, and that makes you the mouthpiece."

General Bob Forester, who ran the project through ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy, in Washington, had been directed by the president to open the Initiative's door.

"The project has proven itself," the president had said to a joint session of Congress six months ago. "Through the work of Dr. Whitney Lipton, formerly of the CDC, we have injected a colony of coal-eating bacterium that produces as a by-product relatively clean-burning methane gas to produce electricity."

The process was patentless — anyone could request the formula and method for controlling the bugs, and within ten years, even at worst-case scenario outputs, the level of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would begin to significantly drop.

"I want to talk to you this morning about a couple of problems, one of which cropped up five days ago," she began. "For first several days, actually until yesterday afternoon, we thought we might have such a serious issue that the entire project would have to be either shut down or completely rethought."

She had their complete attention now, and despite the electric heaters stationed in the tent the air was still cold, but none of them seemed to mind, not even Doris Sampson, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who raised her hand.

"Another accident like before Christmas when there were casualties?"

Whitney shook her head. "Nothing like that, except among the microbial colony in the coal seam."

The station had been attacked twice just before and just after Christmas by a Posse Comitatus group of fanatics who, as it turned out, had been hired by an American contracting firm that had done business in Iraq, and who had been directed by Venezuela's intelligence service. A lot of good people had lost their lives in the two incidents, among them most of her scientific staff, most of the power plant personnel, the press director, and Jim Cameron, who'd been chief of security. His death had been the hardest to bear because she had been falling in love with him. And he had given his life saving hers.

"Would you care to explain?"

Sound bites and one-liners, Doyle had warned. She glanced at him, standing at the back of the tent, and he shrugged. At the mention of possible casualties the reporters had looked up with interest, but just as quickly they were bored again.

"Six hundred microbes were injected into a coal seam one thousand feet below us. As long as we could talk to them they ate the coal and excreted pure methane, which we pumped out of the ground and burned to produce electricity. Five days ago they stopped listening and started dying."

"What'd you do, Doc, give them a pep talk?" one of the other reporters asked, which got a few laughs.

"Almost exactly that. They were doing pretty good for us, producing methane. But they were just kids. Five days ago they became rebellious teenagers who told us in effect to stuff it. They weren't interested."

"You solved the problem, how?" Sampson asked. At least she was interested.

"I took away their cell phones, and threatened to take their cars."

Someone else laughed, but she had their attention.

"We learned their language early on, and with the gadget that we lowered into the coal seam through the bore hole we could talk to them in a chemical and electrical lingua franca that all six hundred different colonies could understand. 'Work for us, and you get to eat all the free coal you want.'"

"What happened?"

"They grew up and lost interest in sex. They wanted to eat coal and party but they didn't want to reproduce. We finally hit on the notion that teenagers hooked up with each other — if you want to call it that — by texting. And they even spoke their own language. You know stuff like LOL for laugh out loud, or PRL, for parents are listening. This sort of chatter had a different chemical signature than what we were using, so we merely found another chemical that neutralized that sort of talk. And still another series of instructional units that told them in effect that it was okay to go ahead and have unsafe sex, and that if they refused we would send a third series of electrochemical messages that would have hobbled them — made it impossible to travel."

She glanced again at Doyle but this time the expression on his round Irish face was unreadable. One-liners indeed, but she still had the reporters' attention. Sex did sell, even bug sex.

"And it worked?" Sampson asked.

"Like Viagra."

They laughed. "Couldn't have been easy," one of them said.

"It wasn't," Whitney said. "None of us got much sleep this last week. But you'll be given a briefing package before you leave which will explain our work both in technical and layman's terms."

"You said two problems, what's the other?" Sampson asked.

"What to do with the power we generate here."

"High power lines lead out of here heading east, presumably they connect with the electrical transmission grid."

"That's the problem. Because unlike just about any other energy resource, electricity cannot be stored. It has to be used the moment it's produced. And it turns out that we're talking about a very delicate and very precise balancing act. If a station like ours produces too little energy during a hot summer day when everyone's air conditioners are running then that extra power has to be routed from somewhere else. Immediately. But if we produce too much power, that nobody needs, we have to shut down."

"There always has to be a need somewhere," Sampson said, but Whitney could see that the woman had a fair idea what was coming. "Hell, Los Angeles is always running short."

"You're right, but we cannot export our electricity to California. There are simply not enough transmission lines from here to there. In fact there are three distinct power regions in the continental U.S. The Western Interconnect, which it's called, that includes everything west of a line between the middle of Montana all the way down to a section of New Mexico. The Texas Interconnect, which is pretty much the state of Texas. And the Eastern Interconnect, which is us here all the way out to the eastern seaboard."

"That's a big chunk of the country," Sampson said. "So why does the East Coast have so many brownouts and rolling blackouts? There should be plenty of power to go around."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Gridlock by Byron L. Dorgan, David Hagberg. Copyright © 2013 Byron L. Dorgan and David Hagberg. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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

BYRON L. DORGAN served as a congressman and senator for North Dakota for thirty years. He was chairman of Senate committees and subcommittees on the issues of energy, aviation, appropriations, water policy, and Indian affairs.

DAVID HAGBERG is a former Air Force cryptographer who has traveled extensively in Europe, the Arctic, and the Caribbean. He has published more than seventy novels of suspense, including the bestselling Allah's Scorpion, The Expediter, and Abyss.

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Gridlock 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
adamis More than 1 year ago
This book truly surprised me in that I would not have expected such an easy and enjoyable read to come from the pen of a politician. David Hagberg, no doubt, added the flourishes. Simple put, this is about as good a thriller as you will read anywhere, and better than most. It is a fast, easy read, enjoyable to the hilt, and utterly realistic. The prose is effortless and from the very first page, I was hooked. The fact that can happen is frightening and lead me throughout, hoping that our national security and counter terrorist cyber experts are smarter than the bad guys. Without dwelling on minutia, Dorgan and Hagberg give us real characters, real life situations and crisp dialogue that never lets the reader down, at least not me. I felt for every one of them (the good guys) and rooted for the demise of the terrorists and their ilk. The phony NSA scandal that occupies so much of the press dialogue these days looks petty and foolish when weighed against what our national is up against and just how serious a threat to our way of life cyber terrorists are. I read a lot of thrillers, but this one is at the very top of my list of recommends. I will give away no details nor will I spill the beans on how this story ends. Buy it yourself and see what good writing can do for the imagination.
AnneM217 More than 1 year ago
I like this book. dragged in a few areas but overall the action kept going throughout the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pjlay More than 1 year ago
I had to download and install NOOK for PC to read the book GridLock. This special download and install process requires special software that also install the conduit virus and other products if you are not very careful. I had to get SpyHunter to get rid of the Conduit virus. I can't believe that Barne & Noble would allow such things to happen. After I finally got back to normal with Nook to PC installed I discovered that there were serious deficiencies with the NOOK for PC application. For example I could not set the text size or change the font in any way. The NOOK PC help facility was worthless in this regard. It is definitely not an APP ready for prime time. I would rather have a pdf file than have anything to do with NOOK for PC. Paul J Lay
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
enjoyed both books in this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Walks in, looking for any more guards. He makes a .45 materialize in his hand.* Hey, buddies. This mutant says come out and play.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her nails seem to sharpen, and her eyes turn a sharper gold. She gasps out and goes limp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes sir(ps im changing my nameback to RM-7)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A girl is thrown in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hits blaze on the left wrist
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But join the SCAM CLUB search pizzer and go to result 1