No Way Backby Michael Crow
A rogue and ruthlessly effective weapon for justice and punishment, disgraced cop Luther Ewing could use something to occupy his time during his involuntary six-month "vacation" from the Baltimore P.D. narcotics squad. Luckily (or not), his reputation is well-known in wide, if covert, government circles -- and the CIA has a job that's right up Luther's alley:
A rogue and ruthlessly effective weapon for justice and punishment, disgraced cop Luther Ewing could use something to occupy his time during his involuntary six-month "vacation" from the Baltimore P.D. narcotics squad. Luckily (or not), his reputation is well-known in wide, if covert, government circles -- and the CIA has a job that's right up Luther's alley: protecting a South Korean businessman who's involved in some shady dealings in Russia.
To do so, Luther needs a new name. He must master a new arsenal, learn Korean and Tae Kwon Do. Most importantly, he must bring the "package" back alive -- a relatively easy assignment requiring a sharp eye, smooth talk, and, hopefully, no bang bang. But the devil is always in the details and things rarely go as planned. And what an exposed and very far from home half-black, half-Vietnamese urban soldier doesn't know could effectively get him dead.
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No Way Back
By Michael Crow
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Michael Crow
All right reserved.
"That Mistah Kim, he's a tiger, I shit you not," says the fat Buddha, smile wider than it needs to be, his eyes glittery obsidian slits. We're slouched in supple Italian leather chairs, face-to-face across a hand-oiled maple burl table. This Buddha, a serious heavy, knows very well his dark gaze unnerves most people, but he is not trying for that effect now with me. He's loose, he's relaxed, beer in hand, being about as sociable as he's able. He answers to Sonny. At least with those few he permits to reach a certain level of familiarity.
"I believe it, Sonny," I say.
"Good. So, you know that old Chinese proverb thing, the one talks about riding the tiger?" Sonny (official name Park Sung-hi) asks.
"More or less, yeah." Now I'm about to receive some scuffed plastic pearl of oriental wisdom. And I have to be polite about it. Though even a genuine one -- if any exist, and I've heard enough to deeply doubt that -- wouldn't engage my interest at the moment. It's deep night, we've been cruising seven miles above the Pacific for too many hours, there's an aggressive headache deployed in the back of my neck and moving up fast. The others on board have long since drifted into sleep, lulled by boredom and the steady dull hum of the plane's engines. But Sonny, on maybe his sixth bottle of Red Rock, apparently believes I'm in need of education.
"Everybody understand," he says, "you got to be some kinda goddamn fool, you jump on tiger's back. Everybody know this very, very well. Never mind. Lotta people, they trying it anyway. Total craziness, eh?"
"Absolutely," I say. "Completely."
"Not Sonny. No way. Never. Me, I'm completely happy as tiger's assistant only." He's shucked his suitcoat, but not the custom shoulder rig carrying twin mini-Uzis -- very old tech but absolutely reliable, absolutely devastating at close quarters. "You happy, Mistah Prentice?"
"Couldn't be more," I say. Prentice, Terence, is the name on the Canadian passport bearing my photo, the one I'm carrying in my breast pocket. Sonny knows it isn't genuine, knows the name's a ghost name. He may or may not be aware of other passports in other names, other nationalities. They're secured behind the lining of my attaché.
"That's fine. That's very good, Mistah Prentice. Damn straight. Mistah Kim, he love happy assistants. Makes him feel good. Makes him feel happy." The Buddha smile widens fractionally, broad cheeks narrowing those hard black slits from which Sonny looks out at the world.
"Does it? I've been wondering a little sometimes," I say, hoping my tone suggests this information is enlightening, a revelation of something I never saw or sensed during these weeks in the almost constant company of Sonny, and sufficient face time with Kim himself.
"For sure, for sure. So you knowing it's smart to help him stay that way, you bet."
Sonny drains his Red Rock. I watch him put the bottle on the table, shift his shoulder rig slightly so he can sink deeper into the cradling down cushions of his chair.
This Buddha's conscious I'm ex-military as positively as I am he served in the Republic of Korea Army. He understands I wouldn't be here if I didn't have the same skill set he acquired. Since we're both post-Vietnam generation, his experience had to be black ops. Scary midnight strikes through the DMZ. Nasty actions nobody admits happened afterward. Slitting throats, trading fire up in the evil hermit state of the DPRK. Democratic People's Republic of Korea, likely the world's final Stalinist theme park.
He knows I've played the same hard game, anywhere from the Mog, rocking skinnies in the Casbah, to Bosnia to Taliban-stan or Mindanao. Almost any point on the compass, in fact, since my primary employer has global interests beyond comprehension.
And we did have to give each other a short, sharp demonstration (body count: five) quite recently, though it wasn't our choice, we didn't feel like talking much at the time, and haven't said a word about it since.
But just because certain things are never said does not mean they aren't heard, loud and clear. Too loud for me, in my current condition. I only want to shut it all down, go deep into the pain that's wracking my head, kill it, and sleep.
That smile. "You and me, we stay happy, we get along fine," he says.
Oh, outstanding, Sonny. Until I look the wrong way or say the wrong thing out where we're headed, and you feel it's your duty to cap me to keep your Mistah Kim bright and content. But right now my Buddha pal lets himself settle even deeper into his chair, sighs once or twice. As the Master said, in serenity lies virtue. He's asleep in less than a minute ...
Excerpted from No Way Back by Michael Crow Copyright © 2005 by Michael Crow. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Michael Crow is a pseudonym. As a journalist he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting for a series on the New York Mafia. He has written two previous Luther Ewing novels -- Red Rain and The Bite -- and divides his time between New York City; Woodstock, New York; and Europe.
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Wish this author would consider going forward with this series, very enjoyable much the way Barry Eisler is with the John Rain character, if he reads this please let me know if i can look forward to any more books in this series
Someone has to take the fall when the media headlines a drug bust that went bad. Baltimore brass blames maverick police officer Luther Ewing; Captain Dugal suspends him for six-months. Luther is irate that his superiors made him the patsy when it was not really his fault and wonders how to pass time for a half a year for an adrenaline junkie like him.................... However, CIA bigwig Mr. Westley keeps an eye out for renegade cops in trouble for doing their job especially someone he knows first hand like he does Luther from their days in Sarajevo. Luther detests Westley, but not as much as the Baltimore Police Department brass and the torturous thought of being idle for a half year. He agrees to baby-sit in what Westley says is a walk in the park. Luther knows walking in parks can prove dangerous, but accepts the assignment to protect a South Korean businessman from being abducted or killed from those who want stop his $7.5 million deal with rogue Russian generals. Luther as Terrence Prentice, falls in love with the Russian spy Nadya and realizes that Westley has lied about the danger to him and his client......................... Once the police procedural aspects are over and Mr. Westley assigns Luther to his simple protection task, the story line goes into hyperspeed and never slows down until the whole truth is revealed. Luther, Westley, and Nadya are stereotypes borrowed from the Cold War, but the audience will not care as they pull off an action-packed thriller in which fans will follow the escapades in one sitting to figure out who¿s who. NO WAY BACK is a tremendous thriller that espionage suspense fans will crow about the rush....................... Harriet Klausner
At the start, Mr. Crow's narrative strives a little too hard to be literary amongst the dialogue. It's distracting at first, and you're unable to remember what the last line was. However, beyond the first chapter, the rest of the novel picks up significantly and quickly. We are thrown into the world of Luther Ewing, an undercover narcotics cop in Baltimore, who is dragged into the ugly world of the CIA. The characters, while at times cliched, are still engaging, and the story remained extremely intriuging. Most importantly, the suspense doesn't quit and keeps you hooked to the end.