The Puppet Master [NOOK Book]


Four seemingly disparate lives are beginning to unravel...and one person is holding the strings.

The Rocket Scientist--On the eve of a new satellite launch, the fiancé of NASA project manager Alanna Mendes is apparently killed in a fishing accident...only to be spotted six months later in Silicon Valley.

The Computer Genius--Four years after being caught by Homeland Security hacking into NASA's mainframe computer, Jay Alexei is still ...

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The Puppet Master

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Four seemingly disparate lives are beginning to unravel...and one person is holding the strings.

The Rocket Scientist--On the eve of a new satellite launch, the fiancé of NASA project manager Alanna Mendes is apparently killed in a fishing accident...only to be spotted six months later in Silicon Valley.

The Computer Genius--Four years after being caught by Homeland Security hacking into NASA's mainframe computer, Jay Alexei is still blacklisted from the top colleges and computer companies. Now a changed man, he is desperate for a second chance.

The Financial Wizard--Once a successful international banking CFO, today David Collier is a broken man who can't afford the expensive treatment for his daughter's rare kidney disorder.

The American Dream--When a terrorist group abducts the son of rags-to-riches Steven Galvin, the billionaire is trapped in a nightmare where no amount of money can help him.

One person ties them together: The Puppet Master.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460304808
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/15/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,076,342
  • File size: 977 KB

Meet the Author

Jan Coffey is a pseudonym for Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick. Nikoo, a mechanical engineer, and Jim, a professor of English with a Ph.D. in sixteenth-century British literature, are living the life of their dreams. Under the name of Jan Coffey, they write contemporary suspense thrillers for MIRA and Young Adult romantic thrillers for HarperCollins/Avon. Writing under the name May McGoldrick, they produce historical novels for Penguin Putnam, and Young Adult historical fiction for HarperCollins/Avon. Under their own names, they are the authors of the nonfiction work, Marriage of Minds: Collaborative Fiction Writing (Heinemann, June 2000).

Nikoo and Jim met in 1979. Nikoo was six, and Jim was 30-something. (Just kidding...Jim was in his early twenties.) One morning, after a wild storm had ravaged the New England shoreline, Nikoo was out walking along the seawall in Stonington, Connecticut, and came upon a young man (early twenties...honest!) who was trying to salvage a battered small boat that had washed up on the rocks. Jim needed help dragging the boat up over the seawall and across the salt marsh. Anyway, by the time the two had secured the boat on higher ground, a spark had ignited between them. It was instant electricity...and Jim's been chasing Nikoo ever since.

Now, 25 years later, they live in Litchfield County, CT, with their two sons and their golden retriever, Max. They love writing, they love Harlequin/MIRA, and they love the friends (both readers and writers) they've made through their writing.

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Read an Excerpt

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Kapali Carsi, the Grand Bazaar Istanbul, Turkey

Kapali Carsi, Istanbul’s largest covered market. A rabbit warren of over four thousand shops, restaurants, public or private rooms. Nothing existed under the sun that you couldn’t buy or sell under the gold, blue and white tiled arches and painted domes. Turkish carpets, tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, leather apparel, cotton and wool, meerschaum pipes, alabaster book-ends and ashtrays…along with opium harvests and shipments of semiautomatic weapons, if you knew who to talk to. Anything a buyer could want, so long as he had euros or dollars to offer as payment.

Though Kapali Carsi was becoming more of a tourist attraction than a local market, amongst the crowded stalls a person could still find Turks of every walk of life brushing shoulders with people of every nationality.

Everyone. And in the streets around the bazaar, the stalls and shops were as crowded.

In the daytime, that is.

Nathan Galvin was enjoying Istanbul. After twenty days in the city and many walking tours through it, he was feeling very at ease here. He was even using the Turkish he’d studied for the six months prior to coming here from the United States. He no longer took cabs, preferring to walk or take a tram to get around. He now haggled and never paid full price for anything. And that included food and even the price of his new hotel room.

Nathan looked out the tram window at the orange setting sun as it flashed between the buildings. He was dressed in jeans and old sneakers and a gray down jacket that kept out the cutting January wind. With his Mediterranean complexion, short hair and stubble of beard, he knew he didn’t look much different than most of the natives. He liked that. He preferred to move about freely. He liked to eat where the locals ate and live the way they did. He wanted to weave himself seamlessly into the tapestry of Istanbul. Simple as that.

Nathan picked up his backpack off the floor of the tram and got out at Carsikapi stop. One of the south entrances of the Grand Bazaar loomed ahead of him. It was near sundown. The air was growing colder. He zipped up the jacket to his chin. The smell of spices and kebabs from various restaurants permeated the air. His stomach began to protest in hunger, but he ignored it. The streets were already nearly empty of shoppers and tourists. The storekeepers he passed were beginning to close for the night, taking in the merchandise hanging out on poles for display.

He walked up the slight incline to the nearest arched doorway. A group of young men and women who looked to be university students stood at each side of the door, passing out flyers as people made their way out of the bazaar. Nathan noticed that he was one of the only ones going in. A dark-eyed beauty turned and handed him a flyer. He took it with a nod and looked down at the Turkish words as he entered the bazaar. His command of reading and writing hadn’t caught up to his conversational Turkish.

Inside, the air was much warmer, and Nathan dropped the paper into a nearby barrel. The place was nearly deserted. He hadn’t been here before at this time of day, but as he walked by the stalls, it occurred to him that he recognized the smells of the place. The scent of wool from rugs stacked up in the nearest shop. The smell of saffron and other spices from the next stall. Each store seemed to offer its own distinct scent. Since arriving in Turkey, he realized, he was so much more attuned to his senses. Smells, tastes, the bright colors. At twenty-three, he didn’t think he’d ever been so aware of these things.

The rug seller was pulling sheets of plastic over his inventory. He gave Nathan a cursory glance but found him unworthy of his time.

Nathan unzipped his jacket and took out a small notebook from his pocket. He stared down at the directions written on it: name, place, time. The shop mentioned wasn’t one that he’d visited before, nor did he remember going by it on his other visits to the bazaar. He had some walking to do to get there.

He adjusted the backpack on his shoulder and made his way straight into the belly of the building. Following a major concourse, he looked down shop-lined alleys bleeding off to the left and right. Most of the shops this far into the bazaar were already closed, their wooden shutters bolted and the owners gone to their suppers and their hookahs and their tea. Almost no one was going in the direction he was going now.

Unexpectedly, a cold sliver of fear slid upward along Nathan’s spine.

Shaking it off, he went over in his head what he was supposed to say. Digging his hand into the front pocket of his jeans, he touched the flash drive that he needed to exchange when he arrived at the shop. The instructions were simple. What he needed to say was brief. He’d practiced it enough times that he could do it in his sleep. Still, he could feel the anxiety building. He was still new at this, and he wanted to be done with the job. There were even fewer people when he took a left down a narrower alley. All the stores were closed, except one near the end. In the darkness beyond it, Nathan could see a closed wooden double door, just large enough for bringing in merchandise. It was barred, and on the other side, he decided, lay one of the alleyways surrounding the bazaar.

Two men were talking loudly about soccer as they refilled bins with dried fruit from burlap sacks.

Nathan saw someone materialize in the darkness by the door. The man was smoking a cigarette, his eyes intent on Nathan.

The cell phone in his pocket vibrated to life. He

reached for it. He knew it would be his parents. He’d been playing phone tag with them for the past few days. He knew he shouldn’t answer it now.

Part of his instructions had been to have no personal items on him today. No cell phone. No passport. Nathan had made an exception with the phone.

The phone vibrated again. He actually considered answering it. He glanced at his watch. It was around 8:00 a.m. back on the East Coast in the U.S. There would be no short conversation with them. He could call them after he was done with this job. He noticed that the man by the door had disappeared. Nathan’s parents made the decision for him. The cell phone stopped vibrating.

Nathan nodded to the two dried-fruit sellers as he passed them. When he reached the end of the row, he peered in the dim light at the notebook in his hand. He was to turn right and take the next left, where another concourse crossed. A woman wearing a black chador and dragging a toddler by the hand behind her was the only person in this stretch of shops. She steered a wide path around Nathan and hurried on.

Without the lights of the shops, it was now quite dark. He saw a shadow by the next archway. Nathan thought it must be the same man who’d been watching him before. Dark leather jacket. The glow of a cigarette cupped in his hand.

Nathan’s scalp prickled and he slowed down. He’d been told this would be a clean, in-and-out job. Simple. A chance for him to meet a local contact. He was sent here alone. It should be easy, but still, doubt nagged at Nathan as he reached the archway. He glanced down at

the directions again. He was close to the meeting place. The smell of cigarette smoke hung in the air. The alley ahead was one dark shadow. The man with the cigarette had certainly moved through here only seconds before. He had to be the contact.

An unexpected breeze touched his cheek. He looked up. A small window high in the archway was open, and Nathan could see a white moon in the dark sky. It was beautiful. Forcing himself to be calm, he made a mental note to walk by the river before going back to his hotel tonight. Istanbul had its dangers, but it was a civilized city. A city of beauty. Paris of the Middle East. He filled his lungs with the fresh air and made up his mind. He stepped through the arch into the darkness.

“Merhaba,” a voice whispered. The man was ahead and to the right.

The tip of the cigarette glowed, and Nathan zeroed in on him before stepping forward and repeating the greeting. “Merhaba.”

“Nasilsiniz?” the man asked. How are you?

“Iyiyim,” Nathan answered, suddenly uncomfortable with the small talk.

He knew this wasn’t the final destination. He’d been told he would meet his contact at a shop.

“Isminiz nedir?” Nathan asked. It wouldn’t hurt to ask the other man’s name. He wanted to be sure he had the right person.


Nathan had to repeat the name a couple of times in his head before the meaning dawned on him. It wasn’t a name. The word meant “friend.” He was saying he was

a friend. Nathan stopped a few feet away from him. The man was leaning against the wall. He was wearing a black leather jacket over a dark shirt and black pants. In the darkness, his face was obscured. The cigarette in his hand hung at his side.

“Isminiz nedir?” Nathan repeated. He wanted a name.

The man dropped the cigarette, crushed it beneath his boot. He shifted against the wall, and his face came into view. Uncontrollably, Nathan took a half step back.

“It… is not… matter,” the man said in broken English.

Nathan stared. The man’s upper lip was marked with a scar that started on the right side of his nose and ran down on a diagonal through his thick mustache. A short white line from the same cut scarred his lower lip. His black eyes showed nothing.

The man’s hand slipped into his jacket pocket and Nathan’s body tensed.

“You here… want this,” the man said, taking his hand out of the pocket. Within the palm Nathan saw the small flash drive.

Nathan nodded, a head jerk intended to be friendly, and pulled the flash drive from his own pocket.

“Yes. Everything you need is here. This was easy.” He realized he was speaking too quickly. He never thought the job would go like this. He didn’t like it.

Nathan extended his hand, holding out the flash drive. He couldn’t wait to get out of here.

At that moment the cell phone came to life again in his pocket. Its soft buzz echoed in the silence of the dark.

“Here it is… I have to go.”

“Wait.” The man looked at Nathan’s pocket. “Not go.”

“It’s nothing. We’ve made our—” From behind, the hood snapped over his head even as a light flashed brilliantly behind his eyes. Voices murmured for only a moment in muffled Turkish as Nathan felt himself falling from a great height.

And the rest was silence…

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

The day the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area in October of 1989, Alanna Mendes had been working for nasa at Moffett Field for exactly one month. At the very moment the quake began, she was on her way home to Mountain View when the roadway suddenly shuddered and then buckled beneath the shuttle bus. She helped others out of the vehicle, waited with them for rescue vehicles to arrive and eventually made her way home on foot.

The next morning, Alanna was on time for work, as she would be every morning for the next nineteen years. Rain, wind, fog, good weather, bad weather, earthquakes…it made no difference. One thing that never changed was Alanna Mendes. She was punctual, precise, dedicated to her job. She was a creature of habit.

And after what had happened these past few months, she needed that in her life.

Each morning was the same. Leaving her apartment at 6:20, she would board the shuttle bus one block away at precisely 6:29. She sat in the second to last seat on the exit-door side of the bus. She said very little to others who got on the bus after her. The shuttle would make one more pickup stop in Mountain View and then four stops at various buildings once it entered the complex of facilities at Moffett Field. She would have between seventeen to nineteen minutes before reaching her destination at Building 23 of the nasa Research Park. Alanna would be at her desk between six forty-five and six-fifty.

She liked beginning the day this way. The precision and the predictability of it appealed to the engineer in her. The time on the bus was her prep time, her focus period, and her chance to immerse herself in work. She loved her job. She was good at it. But doing what she did required a clear head, a focused mind. The commute gave her a chance to shake out the cobwebs… and leave her personal life behind. Like every other morning, she spent the minutes going over her schedule for the day on her BlackBerry and reading e-mail that had been sent to her overnight and that she’d downloaded this morning while her coffee brewed. She took the indispensable electronic device from her bag now.

Other nasa workers who rode the bus kept their distance. Her seniority and rank gave her clout, and they all knew what she’d endured this past fall. Everyone respected her desire for privacy.

“Mind if I sit here, Dr. Mendes?”

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jan Coffey is at her suspenseful best with this intriguing deep allegorical thriller

    NASA scientist Alanna Mendes remains distraught by the death of her fiancé; in fact she feels getting up everyday overwhelming as she wants him back in her life. Computer guru Jay Alexei is a pariah who no one will touch because he hacked into a top secret data system. Financier David Collier would give up both his kidneys if one was a match for his daughter dying from a rare renal illness.<BR/><BR/>An unknown person contacts the trio. That individual offers each a deal they cannot refuse. They will receive their fondest wish in exchange for their services to right a wrong. Their benefactor claims nothing illegal is expected of them; just help on a top-secret project. However, the trio begins to question the intended consequences of their actions on innocent people.<BR/><BR/>This is a fast-paced action-packed morality play that grips the audience from the moment the offer is first made and never slows down. The reader and the lead trio contemplate ethics as no one except their employer and they will know what they did; no one will know who or what principles are violated except perhaps each one¿s personal values. Jan Coffey is at her suspenseful best with this intriguing deep allegorical thriller that asks whose ethics applies when the masses are kept in the dark as the threesome ponders to do or not to do knowing they will most likely not be caught.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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