When CIA agent Michael Osbourne is sent to investigate the tragic bombing of an airliner, he notices the mark of a notorious assassin on one of the dead: three bullet holes to the face. Now it's up to Osbourne to seek out the killer's employer, as well as the savage man who has evaded Osbourne for years.
For his second thriller, Silva turns from World War II (The Unlikely Spy) to a modern intelligence milieu with corrupt government officials and wealthy special interests. The title character, October, is a contract master assassin released by the KGB 30 years ago. CIA agent Michael Osbourne, a terrorism expert, saw October kill his girlfriend and badly wants to capture him. Then the investigation of a missile-downed airliner off the coast of Long Island reveals a body with three shots to the faceOctober's signature. Osbourne's need to attend to his marriage while trying to stop October's completion of a multiple-hit contract and to uncover those financing it lead to a violent denouement. With concise, vivid character sketches, Silva weaves a swiftly paced, internationally tangled plot. Fans of Ludlum and Forsyth will look for this Literary Guild selection.-- Louise Saylor, formerly with Eastern Washington Univ,. Libs., Cheney
...[A] must-read for conspiracy buffs...
Silva, whose debut, The Unlikely Spy (1997), put the WWII thriller back on the map, brings the genre up to date with a vengeance in an exhilarating story that roots razzle-dazzle espionage heroics in contemporary political headlines. The Islamic fundamentalist group Sword of Gaza has apparently claimed responsibility for the Stinger missile attack that brought down TransAtlantic Flight 002, and the President, lagging in the polls a month before the next election, has responded by recommending a costly new antimissile defense system. But wiser heads at the CIA don't believe that Sword of Gaza shot down the plane. Michael Osbourne in particular has reason to remember the signature wounds in the face of the dead terrorist found near the Stinger launcher, since years ago his lover was killed in the same distinctive way. Now that Michael and his wife Elizabeth are trying for their last chance to have children, he's called away from her side to go after his bˆte noir, the freelance assassin dubbed October, who all but pointed the Stinger at Flight 002, and who's now agreed to execute all the accomplices to the deed. Michael would be even more worried if he knew about the troubles he had much closer to homeþfor example, the Society for International Development and Cooperation, those warmongers whose tentacles reach high up in the Agency and the White House itself. The closer Michael gets to October, who's now taken out a Society contract to liquidate Michael, the greater the danger to himself, his wife, andþthanks to a gleefully inventive series of plot twistsþthe American political system as we know it. TWA Flight 800, Star Wars, Whitewater, Vince Fosterþthey're allhere, together with enough soothingly familiar spy stuff (the beautiful killer, the triple-cross, the conspiratorial military-industrial complex) to wring a sigh of pleasure and recognition from the most rabid paranoiac.
From the Publisher
“A terrific thriller…one of the best-drawn fictional assassins since The Day of the Jackal.”—The San Francisco Examiner
“A must-read.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Split-second suspense by an inventive ace of the genre.”—Newsday
“[A] fast-moving, bang-bang thriller.”—Los Angeles Daily News
“Compulsively enjoyable…Silva keeps the double-crosses moving at [a] frenzied clip.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A taut spy thriller…Silva’s writing is clean, his characterizations pithy. And he keeps readers guessing.”—New York Post
“A strong, driving pace...Its two main characters cannot be denied.”—Chicago Tribune
Read an Excerpt
When he heard the approach of the Dauntless, the man called Yassim quickly flashed a powerful signal lamp three times. The smaller vessel came into view. Mahmoud reduced power, and the Dauntless glided toward the stern of the yacht.
Even in the weak light of the moon he could see it on the boy's face: the crazed excitement, the fear, the rush. He could see it in the shining deep-brown Palestinian eyes, see it in the jittery hands fumbling over the controls of the Dauntless. Left to his own devices, Mahmoud would be up all night and the next day too, reliving it, recounting every detail, explaining over and over how it felt the moment the plane burst into flames.
Yassim detested ideologues, detested the way they all wore their suffering like armor and disguised their fear as valor. He distrusted anyone who would willingly lead a life such as this. He trusted only professionals.
The Dauntless nudged against the stern of the yacht. The wind had picked up in the last few minutes. Gentle swells lapped against the sides of the boats. Yassim climbed down the ladder as Hassan Mahmoud shut down the engine and clambered into the forward seating area. He reached out a hand for Yassim to help him out of the boat, but Yassim simply drew a silenced 9mm Glock pistol from the waistband of his trousers and shot the Palestinian boy rapidly three times in the face.
That night he set the yacht on an easterly heading and engaged the automatic navigation systems. He lay awake in his stateroom. Even now, even after countless killings, he could not sleep the first night after an assassination. When he was making his escape, or still in public, healways managed to remain focused and operational cool. But at night the demons came. At night he saw the faces, one by one, like photographs in an album. First alive and vibrant; then contorted with the death mask or blown apart by his favorite method of killing, three bullets to the face. Then the guilt would come, and he would tell himself that he had not chosen this life; it had been chosen for him. At dawn, with the first gray light of morning leaking through his window, he finally slept.
He rose at midday and went about the routine of preparing for his departure. He shaved and showered, then dressed and packed the rest of his clothing into a small leather grip. He made coffee and drank it while watching CNN on the yacht's superb satellite television system. Such a pity: the grieving relatives at Kennedy and Heathrow, the vigil at a high school somewhere on Long Island, the reporters wildly speculating about the cause of the crash.
He walked through the yacht room by room one last time to make certain he had left no trace of his presence. He checked the explosive charges.
At 6 p.m., the precise time he had been ordered, he retrieved a small black object from a cabinet in the galley. It was no larger than a cigar box and looked vaguely like a radio. He carried it outside onto the aft deck and pressed a single button. There was no sound, but he knew the message had been sent in a coded microburst. Even if the American NSA intercepted it, it would be meaningless gibberish.
The yacht motored eastward for two more hours. It was now 8 p.m. He set each of the charges and then slipped on a canvas vest with a heavy metal clamp on the front.
There was more wind tonight. It was colder and there were high clouds. The Zodiac, cleated at the stern, rose and fell rhythmically with the three-foot swells. He climbed into the craft, untied it, and pulled the starter cord. The engine came to life on the third pull. He turned away from the yacht and opened the throttle.
He heard the helicopter twenty minutes later. He shut down the Zodiac's engine and shone a signal lamp into the sky. The helicopter hovered overhead, the night filled with the thump of its rotors. The cable fell from its belly. He attached it to his vest and pulled hard on it twice to signal that he was ready. A moment later he rose gently from the Zodiac.
He heard explosions in the distance. He turned his head in time to see the large motor yacht being lifted out of the water by the force of the blasts. Then it began its slow descent toward the bottom of the Atlantic.