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The Julian Secret

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Overview

The murder of a family friend leads Lang Reilly on a frantic search for answers from ancient caves in Germany to the secret catacombs beneath the Vatican.

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Overview

The murder of a family friend leads Lang Reilly on a frantic search for answers from ancient caves in Germany to the secret catacombs beneath the Vatican.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477831403
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • Publication date: 7/23/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 371
  • Sales rank: 1,429,235
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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The Julian Secret



By Gregg Loomis


Dorchester Publishing


Copyright © 2006

Gregg Loomis

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8439-5691-7



Chapter One


West Berlin, Germany
December, 1988

Now that he was actually in Berlin, Langford "Lang" Reily was
having trouble appearing composed. He felt the combined urges
to vomit, urinate and open the car door and run. What idiot
idea had compelled him to volunteer for this, anyway? When he
had been hired by the Agency right out of college, he had
envisioned lurking about romantic European cities, Budapest or
Prague, perhaps, with a silenced pistol in one hand and a
local beauty's arm in the other. As is most often the case,
mature reality trumped youthful fantasy. He had taken the
standard training at "the Farm," the Agency's facility south
of Washington, cryptography, marksmanship, martial arts,
psychology and a number of subjects that, as far as he could
see, bore no relationship to the courses' names.

Training complete, he had been assigned to the Third
Directorate, intelligence. He had been disappointed. The
Fourth Directorate, Operations, had been his and all his
classmates' choice. He had either been too good at the
intellectual side of spycraft or insufficient in killing,
maiming and the other activities ascribed to the Fourth
Directorate by the fiction industry if not the Agency itself.

Could have been worse, he consoled himself. He could have been
firstdirectorate, administration, spending his days reviewing
budgets, checking expenditures and generally being the spook
equivalent of an accountant. No, he couldn't have been. His
math stunk. And he had no engineering background, thereby
disqualifying him from the second Directorate, Material, the
Agency's own special version of James Bond's Q, the supplier
of poison needles in umbrellas, cameras fitted into belt
buckles and cigarette lighters that fired bullets.

He sat back in the car, staring into the snowy night. So, why
the hell had he left his Eastern European newspapers, TV
transcripts and comfortable if unglamorous office with the
view of the Bahnhof in Frankfurt? Worse, why the hell had he
volunteered?

Well, he told himself, this was likely to be one of the very
last real ops of the Cold War. The Russkies and their workers'
paradise in East Germany were collapsing fast. He had seen the
info himself. They were going to be defeated not by superior
arms, brighter generals or better ideology. They were going
broke, just plain bust, trying to do the military equivalent
of keeping up with the Joneses. Or, in this case, NATO and the
US.

Collapsing or not, he was doing something that could get
himself killed just for an adventure he could relate to his
grandchildren. If he survived to have any.

The car turned onto Friedreich Strasse and slowed to turn into
a street the name of which Lang could not see. Stopping in
front of a building indistinguishable from its neighbors, the
limo waited until a garage door swung open.

Inside was an ancient and battered Opal truck and two men in
suits. One stepped forward to open the door next to Lang and
extended a hand. "Welcome to Berlin, Lang."

Lang was uncomfortable because he was unable to exactly place
the vaguely familiar face as he climbed out. Being able to
instantly recall the circumstances and surroundings of someone
were essential to this sort of work. "Thanks."

"We were afraid the weather might scrub the mission," the
other man said.

Lang had never seen him before.

The first man handed Lang a suit on a hanger. "We're still
running late. See how quickly you can get these on."

In minutes, Lang was attired in a worn but neatly pressed dark
suit and highly starched shirt with frayed cuffs. The black
tie was a clip-on.

"These, too." The first man handed over a pair of shoes.

Lang noted they were highly polished but there were holes in
the soles.

The next item was a shabby over coat.

"The only thing that doesn't fit," Lang observed, rolling the
sleeves back from over his hands.

"Even in West Berlin," the second man said, "most people can't
afford to throw things away, wear hand-me-downs. You'd look
suspicious if everything looked tailor-made."

"OK," the first man said, "here's the plan: You go out of
here, turn right onto Friedreich Strasse. Go straight to
Checkpoint Charlie. You can't miss it ..."

The other man snickered, drawing a glare from his companion.

"... Once through the checkpoint, take your second left. At
the corner, there'll be a man repairing the chain on a
bicycle. He'll get the job done as you arrive. Follow him. The
guy you're picking up will direct you back out."

Lang was finishing tying the shoes, noting that the laces had
been mended by being spliced. "How do I know I've got the
right man, some sort of password?"

The first man pulled a photograph out of his coat pocket.
"We've progressed a little further than that. This is your
man. Be sure you can recognize him."

This was a face Lang was going to be certain he remembered.

The Opal's single wiper only moved the accumulating snow from
one side of the windshield to the other. Every few minutes,
Lang had to crank down the window and reach outside to
maintain a hole of visibility. If the heater had ever worked,
it no longer did. Lang was thankful for the overcoat, too
large or not.

In two blocks, he saw the reason for the laugh. Checkpoint
Charlie's lights would have made an operating room's
illumination dim by comparison. A que of vehicles waited in
front of a billboard-sized sign announcing 'You are leaving
the American Sector.' as though the number of armed East
German military and Vopo didn't make the fact clear.

When Lang's turn came, a barrier lifted and a man in uniform
motioned him forward. A few feet in front of the truck was
another barrier behind which five or six more soldiers paced
up and down, trying to keep warm while holding onto AK47's.

An officer approached, drawing his hand across his throat, a
signal to kill the engine. Lang turned the key and shivered as
an icy blast of air rushed through the window as he cranked it
down.

"Ihre Papier, bitte."

Lang handed the man the several sheets of papers he had been
given along with a West German passport and the requisite
amount of Deutchmarks which would be exchanged for worthless
DDR currency. The East Germans forbade trading back the other
way.

The man retreated to the warmth of the guard hut while Lang
was left shivering. Two enlisted men circled the truck
suspiciously while another used a mirror mounted on a pole to
inspect the vehicle's underside. It was becoming increasingly
obvious the guards were intentionally delaying their
inspection, a form of harassment inflicted on all visitors
from the west.

At last, the papers were returned, the barrier lifted and Lang
was on his way. The Opal's meager headlights were as poorly
equipped to deal with the snow as the wiper. Even so, Lang
could make out the forms of buildings shattered and abandoned
in contrast to the shiny new quality of everything he had seen
on his brief drive through West Berlin. The DDR, German
Democratic Republic, apparently intended to keep ruins as a
reminder of WW II.

Lang almost drove by the man, a mere shadow in the car's pale
lights, pushing his bicycle erect and pedalling out into the
street. The cyclist never looked back until he turned into an
alley. About half way down, he turned into an open shed and
waited for Lang to drive the Opal inside. Then he pedaled
away.

The interior was lit by a single bulb hanging from the
ceiling. Two men in suits even tattier than Lang's waited
beside a spade-shaped coffin. One of the men was the one in
the photograph.

Gerhardt Fuchs, a ranking member of the East German
government. It had been a tribute to Herr Fuchs' durability
that he had retained his status even after his daughter, Gurt,
had defected to the West. He might not have been so lucky had
his comrades been aware she now worked for the Agency. Or
perhaps he saw a less than prosperous future and that was why
he had decided to join her on the other side of the Berlin
Wall. He might or might not be of value to the Agency, but it
was policy to assist any relative of a defector in departing
any soviet satellite. Policy and good business.

Not being a regular member of the Ops team in Germany, Lang
had no idea of Fuchs' value. He did know that Gurt had
specifically requested her father be brought out and that no
one be involved that could possibly be recognized by the other
side. That put the mission up for volunteers and Gurt had
turned the bluest eyes Lang had ever seen on him. He had taken
the opportunity more from testosterone than good sense.

The two men lifted the casket onto the bed of the truck
wordlessly. Lang understood the dead were the only ones freely
allowed to cross the dividing line between East and West. Even
the communist realized that families geographically separated
by politics should be united in death. Transportation of
bodies for burial was common.

But this wasn't going to work. What could be more obvious than
smuggling someone past the border in a coffin? Surely the Ops
guys had more sense than to ...

The man who was not Fuchs tapped on the window, motioning Lang
to open the door.

Fuchs climbed in. "Guten Abend, mein Herr. Lassen uns fahren."

Let's go? Fuchs was going to ride up front? What about the
coffin? Then the cleverness of the plan dawned. The border
guards would be unlikely to think someone would openly try to
pass. Instead, they would suspect the body in the back, a
false bottom to the casket or a compartment beneath the
truck's bodywork.

Lang backed out into the alley and followed Fuchs' directions.

There was no traffic passing the checkpoint from east to west.
Lang handed the same papers to the same bored officer along
with those provided by Fuchs. The man retreated again to the
guard shack to study the documents as though he had not seen
most of them less than twenty minutes before. The enlisted men
were much more industrious than they had been previously.
Clearly the Communist were more concerned about what left than
what came in.

Two of the guards climbed into the truck's bed and, using a
crowbar, opened the casket. In the Opal's rear view mirror,
Lang watched them recoil in disgust. He guessed Fuchs had
managed to find a very ripe corpse. Not bothering to re-seal
the coffin, they jumped to the ground as the officer emerged
from the guard shack, Lang's and Fuchs' papers in his hand.

He extended them towards Lang, then lowered his hand, staring
intently at Fuchs. The man was making no effort to disguise
the scrutiny he was giving Lang's passenger. Lang's hand crept
to the door handle. He could slam it open into the East German
and make a dash for the border.

There was a yell from the area of the guard shack, accompanied
by orders shouted in German. Lang, Fuchs and the suspicious
officer looked as one. An American officer was struggling with
two Vopo's, bellowing curses. The man was clearly drunk. Lang
guessed he had been one of the military personnel who risked
crossing the border to visit the prostitutes that flourished
in the communist sector. Unwilling to admit such a thing
existed, the East German government tacitly allowed the trade
to exist as one of the few ways to bring hard currency across
the wall.

Two white-helmeted U.S. Army M.P.'s were making their way to
the barrier, pistol holsters empty and hands held up to show
they carried no weapons. From the lack of interest shown by
the East Germans, Lang guessed he was witnessing something
that wasn't exactly unknown. The Germans were dragging the
still cursing American officer to the westernmost barrier
where the M.P.'s waited patiently.

Suddenly the American jerked an arm free and took a swing at
one of his captors. The East German officer stepped back from
the Opal, snatching his pistol loose and shouting commands.
Lang prayed the Opal's starter worked better than the rest of
its equipment, turned the key and pressed the old-fashioned
starter button. The second the engine turned over, the
communist officer started to swing the hand with the gun in it
around. Too late. Lang had already smashed through the
westernmost barrier and was in West Berlin.

A half an hour later he was in a small apartment being
debriefed over a bottle of scotch by the same two men he had
met on arrival.

"That American at Checkpoint Charlie," Lang was saying. "if
he hadn't ..."

A knock on the door interrupted.

"Any luck at all, that's dinner," one of Lang's inquisitors
said.

The other opened the door.

In the hall stood a tall man in a dirty and torn U.S. Army
uniform. His right eye was swollen shut by what Lang guessed
would be a class A shiner by morning and his lower lip was
still bleeding. It was the guy from Checkpoint Charlie.

He walked into the room as if having drunk military personnel
interrupt Agency debriefings were the most normal thing in the
world.

"These guys treating you OK?" he asked Lang.

Lang didn't know what else to say. "I guess so."

The American officer eyed the scotch. "You got another glass
or do I have to drink out of the bottle?"

As one of the men got up to look in the kitchen, the new
arrival extended a hand. "My name's Don Huff."

* * *

Seville, Spain
Calle Colon 27
The Present

The patio seemed an odd place for what was happening. The
enclosure was murky, the morning's sun not having yet scaled
the enclosing stucco walls. Flashing lights from police cars
gave bright hues to water from the Thirteenth Century Moorish
fountain and words from crackling radios ricocheted off hand
made bricks. In fact, anything modern seemed anachronistic
along the narrow streets only a few blocks from the Moorish
Mudejar alcazar where a young sailor from Genoa, according to
legend, had convinced a queen to pawn her jewels to finance a
voyage. There was nothing merely legendary about the columned
and canopied sarcophagus that held the remains of that sailor
in the massive cathedral north across the cobble stone Piaza
de la Virgen los Reyes.

The huge bells of that cathedral had just chimed the hour as
they had done for centuries when the young woman had stopped
in front of the ornate ironwork of the gate, inserted a key
and entered to begin her day's work. Inside a wall impressive
only because of its height, she crossed a patio still cool
from the shadows of the pervious night. The fragrance of
orange blossoms came from trees lining the street outside,
leaves still wet with the morning's dew.

Another key opened a modern dead bolt set into a massive and
ornately carved set of double doors. Her rubber soles squeaked
on ceramic tile as she made her way across a three story
entrance hall. To her right was a stone staircase that doubled
back on itself as it climbed to twin galleries of living
quarters. Ahead of her was a massive dining room, its table
separating twelve chairs on each side. It was at the end of
the table she stopped, scenting the air like a wary doe in an
open meadow.

She did not smell coffee.

Strange.

Every morning for nearly two years now the American had been
in the kitchen drinking freshly brewed coffee when she
arrived. Every morning he was in Seville, that is. Many times
she would come to work to be greeted only by a note that set
forth tasks to be preformed in his absence: Research some
phase of the Franco government, find the address of some aged
Falangist he wanted to interview, reduce whatever she had done
to a three by five card which went into an endless series of
filing boxes. It was as if the American did not trust the
computers on which they worked.

The American, Donald Huff, or Senior Don, as she called him,
had doubled the wage she had been making as an English teacher
when he hired her eighteen months ago. There had been other
things, too: Wonderful clothes that had arrived from America
with the name of the store only, no sender. Of course, had she
known her anonymous donor, custom and her reputation would
have demanded she return such expensive gifts, presents no
single woman could accept from someone not of her family. And
the huge American turkey that had crowned last Christmas
dinner. Her previously modest salary plus her mother's widow's
pension could never have produced such a bird, a monster-sized
creature that provided meals for a week. Nor could the two
incomes have purchased the train tickets and hotel rooms on
the Costa del Sol, a gift Senior Don made to her mother for
her birthday.

And now Senior Don would be leaving this magnificent dwelling
in a few months, his book all but finished. She would miss
him, both as friend and benefactor.

Why wasn't he making his morning coffee?

(Continues...)





Excerpted from The Julian Secret
by Gregg Loomis
Copyright © 2006 by Gregg Loomis .
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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2006

    Garbage full of racist remarks

    The book being compared to 'the Da Vinci Code' is an insult to Dan Brown and to the readers. Blatant ripoffs of the book jacket design to look like Da Vinci Code's, even the characters names (Lang = Langdon, coincidence?) are shameful. The book is a boring, mind-numbing read, I could not go on after about 100 pages (I read the da Vinci Code in 1 day). The racial slurrs this book is full of (which have NOTHING to do with the content) are insulting to any reader. The book talks demeaning and negatively about 'the Russkies', implies that all 'bearded middle easterners' should be searched at airports as they all come from terrorist countries, and slanders the French by calling them cowards for opting out of the Iraq war (keep in mind - this book is not about the war). The author must have forgotten who helped Americans gain our independence from the British in the first place... I do not recommend this book, I regret buying it, and this will be the first book heading straight for the recycle bin.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Ariveting and exciting thriller

    Former CIA agent Don Huff is in Seville, Spain writing a book about Sturmbahnfuher Skorzeny, an intimate member of Hitler¿s circle. One day when his housekeeper enters the house, she sees him shot to death. When lawyer Lang Reilly was asked by Ron¿s daughter to come to Spain to see if he can find any clues since the police aren¿t doing anything, he agrees because the deceased was his friend.------------------------ Lang and his lover Gurt who is a CIA agent on leave find out that all traces of his work on the hard drive are missing and the discs are missing. After asking lots of questions he notices they are being followed. When they return to the states Lang is shot and his car is blown up. Someone wants to make sure he and Gurt don¿t discover something that was in the manuscript, but if they want to stay alive that is something they must do. They travel across Europe, followed by assassins who keep trying to kill them and end up in Vatican City where secrets from the third century, World War II, and the present are revealed.------------- THE JULIAN SECRET is a riveting and exciting thriller that captures reader interest from the first page and keeps it throughout the entire book. Fans of Dan Brown will find this book just as riveting as the Da Vinci Code. Gregg Loomis is a talented storyteller who excels at creating characters that are heroic in an Indiana Jones sort of way. The protagonist performs tremendous feats so the audience feels he is an extraordinary person called to perform measures that would defeat a lesser person.--------------------- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted January 28, 2010

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