Rock, Paper, Scissorsby Steve Samuel
Three-year-old Sarah Peterson was the only witness to the brutal murder of her father, a CIA agent who was shot at point-blank range in a deserted schoolyard near his Virginia home. Thirty-five years later, that little girl has become a high-level agent for the Secret Service -- so tough and accomplished that she is tapped by the President for the plum job of head of security for Jack Montgomery, the Secretary of State.
When Sarah tapes the proceedings of a clandestine meeting involving her new boss and two businessmen with extensive -- and questionable -- ties to the Middle East, she accidentally uncovers their plot to kidnap the daughter of one of the world's wealthiest men. But why? The answer involves a plan to assassinate a Middle East despot, rogue agents, a $50 million ransom, and wrongdoing at the highest levels of government. It may also hold the key to the truth behind the death of Sarah's father.
Reluctantly, Sarah joins forces with the father of the kidnapped woman and finds herself in a dangerous game of high-stakes, high-tech espionage, and revenge where everyone is suspect and siding with the wrong player could prove fatal. Rock, Paper, Scissors will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last heart-pounding page.
- Simon & Schuster
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.36(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.09(d)
Read an Excerpt
Greenwich, Connecticut -- Sunday, October 25, 1998
Grizzwald removed the syringe from his briefcase, carefully measuring a nonlethal dosage. A dead hostage was a complication he didn't need to work around. When the needle was ready he steered his car between the stone pillars of Jessica Baldwin's unguarded Connecticut estate and up her long driveway. Once inside, he knew it would take exactly one minute to reach the third-floor master bedroom. Before encountering his prey, however, he paused to study his surroundings painstakingly. Seventeen years with Special Forces had taught him extreme caution. As always, he would leave nothing to chance.
Sixteen thousand square feet of imposing sticks and bricks stood before him. The century-old Colonial had been featured on the glossy pages of Town and Country in 1982, long before its present occupant was old enough to drive. Set on twenty-five lush acres, the mansion's closest neighbor was tucked a thousand yards away behind a thick row of sturdy maples. Grizzwald couldn't see the backyard from the driveway, but he knew the expanse of manicured lawn would provide privacy from Jessica's few neighbors. As for the rent-a-cop in an unmarked Dodge who patrolled this wealthy hamlet, he had passed by six minutes earlier. Although the patrol route was supposed to be varied continuously, for the past five Sundays it had remained constant and predictable. For the next thirty-eight minutes the ex-detective would not be a factor.
Grizzwald had studied his target meticulously; he expected little resistance. From all Grizzwald had observed, Jessica seemed as down-to-earth as one could be for someone who owned custom-built homes on several continents. Her tireless charity work was applauded in Manhattan's elite social circles, yet she was more likely to show up at a grungy watering hole than at any of the stuffy black tie affairs to which she received dozens of invitations. At twenty-six she was unmarried, but engaged to an architect, who, like today, was often out of town. Not a bit of this was of any interest to Grizzwald. All that mattered to him was the $8 billion net worth of Jessica's father, Sam Baldwin. That was an estimate, of course, but he had usually found the CIA's classified files to be accurate.
Grizzwald turned off the engine and stepped out of the car. Within seconds he felt the adrenaline surge that always accompanied this type of operation, the rush giving him a sense of invincibility that could never be duplicated. He savored every last ounce of the sensation, wishing he could bottle it. The capture and the kill had always made him feel alive.
A sudden movement registered and he flinched. He immediately took inventory, sensing he was being watched. Grizzwald scanned in all directions to search for danger and he locked onto the eyes of a squirrel up on a power line. His eyes flitted across the horizon, then moved from window to window of the nine-bedroom house. Nothing appeared unusual. No one else was watching him. Grizzwald smiled. Everything would soon fall into place.
Inside the mansion, Jessica Baldwin thought she heard a car door close. She was standing on the sliding wooden ladder in her second-floor library. Situated in the rear of the house, the thickly carpeted room had a panoramic view of the Long Island Sound.
Jessica glanced at the antique clock on the far wall. It was only 2:30.
"Hold on a second, Dad," she said into the cordless phone. "I think there's someone at the door." She descended the ladder and crossed the hardwood floors of the hallway to a bedroom window that looked toward the front lawn. A shiny black Cadillac sat in the driveway.
"Oh, shit!" she said, and ran down the swirling steps of the vaulted front hallway and opened the door. Warm October air filled the foyer.
"You're early!" she yelled from the top step of the wraparound porch. "The guy who called this morning said you'd be here at three-fifteen!"
The handsome crew-cut driver waved casually and smiled. "Take your time, ma'am." Grizzwald leaned against the front bumper. "Traffic won't be heavy until we hit the Van Wyck."
Having made eight separate dry runs to the secluded street, Grizzwald knew every possible escape route, as well as who could be expected to come and go. The Jamaican maid who unfailingly arrived at 8 A.M. each Sunday morning was always gone by noon. Today had been no exception. Only Jessica's cook and two housekeepers would be inside. The remainder of the domestic contingent invariably had Sunday off. He glanced at his watch. He still had plenty of time, although that would change in a hurry if things got messy. In thirty-four minutes the rent-a-cop would reappear.
To minimize the risk of his being recognized, Grizzwald had always traveled the neighborhood in a different car and wearing a different disguise. Each of those cars, like the Cadillac on which he was leaning, had been procured with a bogus California driver's license and a stolen credit card. Grizzwald had recoded the Visa card with a sophisticated device called an ATM Junior, which he had purchased for $5,800 in cash from the curtained-off back room of an electronics store in Manhattan. Once recoded, the magnetic strip could not alert even the computer wizards who manned Visa's fraud unit that the credit card belonged to someone who had died more than two years earlier.
Grizzwald had been accompanied during that last visit by his partner, Lieutenant McClarty. McClarty was a senior communications specialist with Special Forces who had also spent seventeen years in the marines. They had posed as telephone repairmen on the midnight-to-six shift, placing Day-Glo orange construction cones around the manhole located barely twenty yards from the lip of Jessica Baldwin's property line. Dressed in blue jumpsuits and Vibram-soled workboots, they had silently shimmied down the rusted steel rungs of the narrow manhole. Within five minutes they found the large SNET switchbox and PBX trunking system for Jessica's street. Quickly, McClarty identified the correct wire amid the twisted ganglia of colorful cables and spliced the fiber-optic filament controlling all of Jessica's calls. Once a call diverter and cellular transmitter were added, they were able to eavesdrop on every telephone conversation that took place inside the mansion.
Foiling the security system was slightly more complicated, though it took less time. McClarty used a clever little device known to professional burglars as the Mousetrap. Weighing less than eight ounces, the jumble of insulated wires and sterile silicon chips received its power from an attached six-volt alkaline dry cell battery that could be purchased in any local hardware store. When shunted to the proper cable, the Mousetrap forced the electrical impulses generated by the mansion's security system to enter its circuitry, then its switches closed. Instead of racing along the underground phone lines to the local police station, or to the alarm company that monitored Jessica's estate, the alarm signals remained trapped in a continuous loop until one of the house's eight indoor punch pads could be reset. As an extra precaution, Grizzwald had also disabled the generators that supplied power to the sound cannons on each corner of the house. For the past week, the $200,000 security system had been rendered completely useless.
Grizzwald stood on the driveway and waited, pleased with how events had unfolded thus far. He had intercepted Jessica's call to a Manhattan limousine service, and had considered lying in wait for the sedan to appear just down the road, then ambushing and murdering the driver. But in the interest of simplicity, he decided to call the limo service, cancel Jessica's order, then appear as scheduled. When McClarty called Jessica that morning to confirm her pickup, he knew they had chosen the cleanest option.
Jessica hurried up to the library.
"Dad, I've gotta go. My car's here."
"What time's your flight?"
"Six something. But I haven't finished packing yet."
Sam Baldwin smiled as he glanced at the lone picture on his desk: enclosed in a heavy crystal frame were the two women in his life. "You know you sound like your mother? She starts packing when we're ready to load the car."
She laughed. "Listen, I've gotta run. I'll call you guys in a few days if I can."
"Enjoy Paris, Jessie. And be careful."
Jessica sprinted to the master bedroom, the portable phone still in her hand. She looked quickly through the open suitcase spread on top of her king-sized canopied bed, then threw in another dozen pieces of clothing. As she struggled with the zipper, she and a housekeeper poked clothes back into the valise.
"Need help, ladies?" The unexpected sound of a deep voice startled Jessica. She turned to see the driver in her doorway.
"I didn't hear you come in."
"Sorry," he said, employing the boyish, aw-shucks smile that had seduced so many women over the years. "I thought you might need a hand with your bags."
"That would be great. Francine and I are having a problem with this thing."
Grizzwald slowly approached them, his clean-shaven face expressionless as he moved closer. Beside the bed was the red panic button. He knew his plan would succeed even if it was pressed. His eyes narrowed like hyphens as they fixed on Jessica. She appeared slightly younger without makeup, although there was no doubt she was the woman whom he had watched through binoculars last Sunday night as she undressed. He leaned across the mattress and grabbed the two flaps of the suitcase that were stretched a hand's length apart. With a forceful jerk he pulled the case closed, the network of veins in his forearms bulging under his skin as thick as telephone cord. Jessica slid the zipper easily around the valise.
"Thanks," she said.
"You going away for a month?"
Jessica smiled. "Just a week."
"You're still on the Air France 6:04 to Paris?"
The driver gripped the handle of the suitcase and lifted the heavy bag to his side. "I'll bring this down for you."
"Do you want Francine to help you?"
"I think I can manage."
"There's that one, too," she said sheepishly, pointing to the matching brown-on-beige garment bag outside her walk-in closet.
Grizzwald grabbed the garment bag by its hook before draping it over his left shoulder. "The next sound you'll probably hear is me falling down all those steps," he said. Between the stuffed suitcase and the length of the garment bag there was barely enough space to maneuver through the doorway.
Jessica laughed. There was something appealing about this guy's self-effacing humor. From his chiseled upper body, and the graceful manner in which he carried himself, it looked as though he could have hauled her baby grand down the spiral staircase without stumbling. What Jessica found most attractive about him, though, was how polite he was.
Grizzwald checked his watch. He still had twenty-seven minutes until the next pass of the security cop.
Jessica slid out of her rumpled T-shirt and went into her bathroom. She brushed her teeth and splashed cold water over her eyes, freshening up for the ten hours of traveling that lay ahead. After she had put on a clean blouse Grizzwald reappeared in her doorway.
"No, that's it."
Grizzwald fiddled with the syringe in his pocket. He could neutralize the housekeeper and inject Jessica in almost no time at all. The two others downstairs were the wild cards; if they were within earshot he would have to turn the mansion into a slaughterhouse. Everything had gone smoothly to this point. He decided to stick to his original plan.
"I'll be in the car whenever you're ready," he said with a smile.
"Great. I'll be downstairs in a couple of minutes."
Copyright © 2000 by Steven A. Samuel
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Nowhere is this adage more true than in Steven Samuel's first political thriller, 'Rock Paper Scissors'. Beginning with the chilling opening scene, in which a three-year-old witnesses her father's brutal murder and racing along to the very last page, 'RPS' is an adrenaline rush of a book! Utilizing the precarious political theater of the Middle East, and more specifically, the uncertain future of Saddam Hussein, Samuel has woven an incredible first novel. Painting his characters in broad strokes, he allows the reader to enjoy the thrilling spectacle of politicians with more than the public eye on their minds. Years after she's seen her father gunned down, Sarah Peterson, now a top Secret Service agent, is horrified to accidently uncover a plot that could, feasibly, destroy life on Earth. This knowledge puts her in the cross-hairs of some of the most powerful people in the world...and it's a nail-biting ride to find out if she will win out over the deciet of those she's put in charge of protecting. 'Rock Paper Scissors' is well-written and almost perfectly executed. Although a bit clumsy in its imagery at times, overall, a fantastic escape!
Seems that Samuel is trying hard to be what Clancy used to be. He doesn't even come close. The plot lacked believability -- The president giving missiles to a wealthy industrialist to kill Sadaam Hussein (from Turkey) but the wicked Sec State trying to stop him by kidnapping his daughter, then his head of security finding out, etc., etc. So many unlikely events contained in so few pages. The many technology errors in the book were distracting. The author obviously didn't know much about computers, the U.S. telephone system, the Global Positioning System or electronics in general and presumable neither did his editor. What¿s worse is that the plot depends on these errors. If you care about your time, don't waste it reading this Sadaam Hussein book.
Steve Samuel has hit the political thriller novel scene with a terrific first novel that was nearly impossible to put down. I read it within a matter of few days because I needed to know what was going to happen next. This was an action-packed, suspense-laden book that included political intrigue, international espionage and domestic security concerns. And at the same time, Steve Samuel has created a female lead character that readers will long to see portrayed in what will undoubtedly be a terrific movie. I strongly recommend Steve Samuel's first novel.
This is the first Political Thriller I have read, and what a choice for a first book to try! And what a wonderful first book for Steve Samuel! This book was fabulous, well-written, suspenseful, and very entertaining. Congratulations Mr Samuel on a fabulous first book!!!!! Keep them coming, especially with Sarah Petersen as a main character.
Sarah Peterson knows the source of her obsession to continue her father¿s government security work occurred as a preschooler. She observed as assailants killed him. Years later, Sarah joins the Secret Service and now feels she has reached the pinnacle when she is assigned to head up security for Secretary of State Jack Montgomery. To her chagrin, Jack keeps her out of anything important even if it places him at risk. Initially, thinking it might be her gender; Sarah changes her mind after secretly taping clandestine meetings Jack hosts. That informs her that Jack plans to kidnap the daughter of billionaire Sam Baldwin, which links to a major planned political assassination in the Middle East, and ultimately ties back to the death of her father three decades ago. Though warned to stay out, Sarah plunges deeper into a dangerous game of espionage that probably will result in her joining her father sooner than her life expectancy would predict. ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS is an exciting, action-packed espionage thriller that never eases up the pace of the tale. The story line succeeds due to the fully developed cast propelling it forward. Sarah is a wonderful lead protagonist who cannot quit due to her ¿legacy¿. Although the supposedly clever villains make stupid errors that a novice would never commit, Steven A. Samuel furnishes an enjoyable thriller that fans of spy conspiracy stories will find quite captivating. Harriet Klausner
The first chapter of this book left me with a pit in my stomach, and I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen. The characters were well developed and the author's use of technology (is it really available?) was most fascinating. I couldn't figure out whodunit as I usually can, so had to finish it in short order. I like this writer's style and will look forward to more from him.
Blew through this book very quickly. A great read that keeps you guessing. Unlike most spy novels, it doesn't get bogged down in technological mumbo jumbo but focuses on humanizing its characters and making the plot relevant to the current geopolitcial landscape. It really kept me gripped and I'm looking forward to hearing more about the very likable main character Sarah Petersen in a sequel.