The Spy (Isaac Bell Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview

One man wants to destroy the world.
One man can save it.
Isaac Bell is on the case.
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The Spy (Isaac Bell Series #3)

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Overview

One man wants to destroy the world.
One man can save it.
Isaac Bell is on the case.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1908, bestseller Cussler and Scott's action-packed third adventure featuring Isaac Bell, head operative of the Van Dorn Detective Agency, leaves behind the railroad theme of the first two books (The Chase and The Wrecker), focusing instead on the espionage-riddled world of warship and armament manufacturing in the buildup to WWI. Someone is murdering the leading lights of America's naval research and development. When the indefatigable Bell looks into the supposed suicide of chief gun designer Arthur Langner, he uncovers a succession of possible international suspects, all of whom are attempting to disrupt America's development of a fleet of dreadnought battleships. Bell clashes with old enemies and new until the climactic battle, where he must stop a massive submarine attempting to sink the navy's newest battleship. The expanded area of interest will attract new readers to this exciting series in the Cussler franchise. (June)
Library Journal
It is 1908, and the dark clouds of World War I are beginning to gather. A naval arms race of epic proportions is under way, and the world's powers will stop at nothing to develop the best warships and, simultaneously, use deadly force to halt the development of other nations' navies. When several of America's leaders in naval technology are murdered, Isaac Bell (The Chase; The Wrecker) and the Van Dorn Detective Agency are brought in to both solve the crimes and stop the killers. A consummate assassin simply named the Spy is behind it all, but whom does he serve and why? VERDICT As with the previous two Isaac Bell novels, this title is rich in period detail, features exciting chases and nasty villains, and is a great fun read. Since Cussler and Scott are dealing with history, the series cannot go over the top like so many of Cussler's futuristic novels. Better, Isaac Bell is a superb action hero who moves elegantly and lethally through the period. Highly recommended. [See LJ 2/1/10; for more summer thrillers, see Andrew Smith's "Short Takes: Summer Men's Fiction," p. 68.—Ed.]—Robert Conroy, Warren, MI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101188057
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Series: Isaac Bell Series, #3
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 13,641
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Clive  Cussler
Clive Cussler is the author of many New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Spy and Lost Empire. He lives in Arizona.
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    1. Hometown:
      Phoenix, Arizona
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 15, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Aurora, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Pasadena City College; Ph.D., Maritime College, State University of New York, 1997

Read an Excerpt

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

 

THE GUNNER’S DAUGHTER

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

 

ARMORED COFFINS

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

 

THE FLEET

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

 

A STREAK OF GOD

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

 

ON DISTANT SERVICE

DIRK PITT® ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER

Arctic Drift

(WITH DIRK CUSSLER)

 

Treasure of Khan

(WITH DIRK CUSSLER)

 

Black Wind

(WITH DIRK CUSSLER)

 

Trojan Odyssey

 

Valhalla Rising

 

Atlantis Found

 

Flood Tide

 

Shock Wave

 

Inca Gold

 

Sahara

 

Dragon

 

Treasure

 

Cyclops

 

Deep Six

 

Pacific Vortex!

 

Night Probe!

 

Vixen 03

 

Raise the Titanic!

 

Iceberg

 

The Mediterranean Caper

 

 

 

FARGO ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER
WITH GRANT BLACKWOOD

 

Spartan Gold

 

 

 

ISAAC BELL NOVELS BY CLIVE CUSSLER

 

The Wrecker

(WITH JUSTIN SCOTT)

 

The Chase

 

 

 

KURT AUSTIN ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER
WITH PAUL KEMPRECOS

 

Medusa

 

The Navigator

 

Polar Shift

 

Lost City

 

White Death

 

Fire Ice

 

Blue Gold

 

Serpent

 

 

 

OREGON FILES ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER
WITH JACK DU BRUL

 

The Silent Sea

 

Corsair

Plague Ship

 

Skeleton Coast

 

Dark Watch

 

 

 

WITH CRAIG DIRGO

 

Golden Buddha

Sacred Stone

 

 

 

NONFICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND CRAIG DIRGO

 

The Sea Hunters

 

The Sea Hunters II

 

Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed

CLIVE CUSSLER AND JUSTIN SCOTT

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

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(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

Copyright © 2010 by Sandecker, RLLLP

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

Published simultaneously in Canada

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Cussler, Clive.

The spy / Clive Cussler and Justin Scott.

p. cm.

ISBN: 9781101188057

1. Bell, Isaac (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Private investigators—Fiction. 3. Sabotage—Fiction. 4. Railroad trains—Fiction. 5. Washington (D.C.)—History—20th century—Fiction. I. Scott, Justin. II. Title.

PS3553.U75S79 2010

2010009053

813’.54—dc22

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

For Amber

THE GUNNER’S DAUGHTER

1

MARCH 17, 1908

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

 

THE WASHINGTON NAVY YARD SLEPT LIKE AN ANCIENT city guarded by thick walls and a river. Old men stood watch, plodding between electric time detectors to register their rounds of factories, magazines, shops, and barracks. Outside the perimeter rose a hill of darkened workers’ houses. The Capitol Dome and the Washington Monument crowned it, glittering under a full moon like polar ice. A whistle moaned. A train approached, bleeding steam and clanging its bell.

U.S. Marine sentries opened the North Railroad Gate.

No one saw Yamamoto Kenta hiding under the Baltimore and Ohio flatcar that the locomotive pushed into the yard. The flatcar’s wheels groaned under a load of fourteen-inch armor plate from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Brakemen uncoupled the car on a siding, and the engine backed away.

Yamamoto eased to the wooden crossties and stone ballast between the rails. He lay still until he was sure he was alone. Then he followed the tracks into the cluster of three-story brick-and-iron buildings that housed the Gun Factory.

Moonlight lancing down from high windows, and the ruby glow of banked furnaces illuminated an enormous cavern. Traveler cranes hulked in shadows overhead. Colossal fifty-ton dreadnought battleship guns crowded the floor as if a fiery hurricane had leveled a steel forest.

Yamamoto, a middle-aged Japanese with threads of gray in his shiny black hair and a confident, dignified manner, wove a purposeful route through the watchmen’s prescribed paths, examining gun lathes, machines for rifling, and furnaces. He paid special attention to deep wells in the floor, the brick-lined shrinking pits where the guns were assembled by squeezing steel jackets around fifty-foot tubes. His eye was sharp, refined by similar clandestine “tours” of Vickers and Krupp—the British and German naval gun factories—and the Czar of Russia’s ordnance plants at St. Petersburg.

An old-style Yale lock secured the door to the laboratory storeroom that dispensed supplies to the engineers and scientists. Yamamoto picked it open quickly. Inside, he searched cabinets for iodine. He poured six ounces of the shiny blue-black crystals into an envelope. Then he scrawled “crystal iodine, 6 ounces” on a requisition sheet with the initials “AL” for the Gun Factory’s legendary chief designer, Arthur Langner.

In a distant wing of the sprawling building, he located the test caisson where armor experts simulated torpedo attacks to measure the awesomely magnified impact of explosions underwater. He rummaged through their magazine. The sea powers locked in the international race to build modern dreadnought battleships were feverishly experimenting with arming torpedoes with TNT, but Yamamoto noted that the Americans were still testing formulations based on guncotton propellants. He stole a silk bag of Cordite MD smokeless powder.

As he opened a janitor’s closet to filch a bottle of ammonia water, he heard a watchman coming. He hid in the closet until the old fellow had shuffled past and disappeared among the guns.

Swift and silent, Yamamoto climbed the stairs.

Arthur Langner’s drawing loft, which was not locked, was the workshop of an eccentric whose genius spanned war and art. Blueprints for stepped-thread breeches and visionary sketches of shells with smashing effects as yet unheard of shared the workspace with a painter’s easel, a library of novels, a bass violin, and a grand piano.

Yamamoto left the Cordite, the iodine, and the ammonia on the piano and spent an hour studying the drafting tables. “Be Japan’s eyes,” he preached at the Black Ocean Society’s spy school on the rare occasions that duty allowed him home. “Take every opportunity to observe, whether your ultimate mission is deception, sabotage, or murder.”

What he saw frightened him. The 12-inch guns on the factory floor could throw shells seven miles to pierce ten inches of the newest face-hardened side armor. But up here in the drawing loft where new ideas were hatched, the Americans had preliminary sketches for 15-inch guns and even a 16-inch, seventy-foot-long monster that would hurl a ton of high explosives beyond the curve of the Earth. No one knew yet how to aim such a weapon when the distances were too great to gauge range by “spotting” the splashes of near misses. But the bold imagination that Yamamoto saw at work warned him it was only a matter of time before America’s “New Navy” invented novel concepts for fire control.

Yamamoto stuffed a wad of paper money in the gun designer’s desk—fifty twenty-dollar U.S. gold certificates—considerably more than what one of the arsenal’s skilled workmen earned in a year.

Already the U.S. Navy was third only to England’s and Germany’s. Its North Atlantic Fleet—brazenly rechristened the “Great White Fleet”—was showing the flag in a swaggering voyage around the world. But Britain, Germany, Russia, and France were not America’s enemies. The true mission of the Great White Fleet was to threaten the Empire of Japan with naked steel. America aimed to command the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Tokyo.

Japan would not allow it, Yamamoto thought with a prideful smile.

It was only three years since the Russo-Japanese War spawned in blood a new master of the Western Pacific. Mighty Russia had tried to strong-arm Japan. Today the Empire of Japan occupied Port Arthur. And Russia’s Baltic Fleet lay under three hundred feet of water at the bottom of the Tsushima Strait—thanks in no small part to Japanese spies who had infiltrated the Russian Navy.

As Yamamoto closed the drawer on the money, he had the eerie sensation of being watched. He looked across the desk into the bold gaze of a beautiful woman whose photographic portrait stood in a silver frame. He recognized Langner’s dark-haired daughter and admired how faithfully the photographer had captured her compelling eyes. She had inscribed it in a flowing hand “For Father, the ‘gunner’ who ‘dreads nought’!”

Yamamoto turned his attention to Langner’s bookshelves. Bound volumes of patent applications vied with novels for the space. The applications filed recently had been written on a typewriter. Yamamoto pulled volume after volume, working his way back to the last year that applications were submitted in longhand. He spread one on the designer’s desk, then chose a sheet of paper from a side drawer and a Waterman fountain pen with a gold nib. Referring repeatedly to the sample of handwriting, he forged a brief, incoherent letter. Ending it with the words “Forgive me,” he scrawled Arthur Langner’s signature.

He took the iodine and the ammonia into the gun designer’s washroom. With the butt of his Nambu pocket pistol he crushed the iodine crystals on the marble washstand and brushed the resultant powder into a shaving mug. He wiped the gun clean with the washroom towel, leaving a purplish smear on the cloth. Then he poured ammonia onto the iodine powder, stirring with Langner’s toothbrush until he had a thick paste of nitrogen iodide.

He propped open the lid of the grand piano, reached into the narrow end farthest from the keyboard, and smeared the paste on the closely bunched strings. After it dried, the explosive concoction would become unstable and extremely sensitive to impact. A gentle vibration would set off a loud bang and a flash. Alone, the explosion would damage little beyond the piano. But as a detonator, it would be deadly.

He placed the silk sack on top of the cast-iron frame, immediately above the strings. The sack contained enough Cordite MD smokeless powder to propel a twelve-pound shell two miles.

YAMAMOTO KENTA LEFT the Gun Factory the way he had entered, his eyes still stinging from the ammonia. Suddenly, things went wrong. The North Railroad Gate was blocked by an unexpected burst of late-night activity. Switch engines were huffing gondola cars in and out, attended by a horde of brakemen. He retreated deeper into the arsenal, past the powerhouse, through a maze of roads, buildings, and storage yards. Orienting himself by the powerhouse smokestacks and a pair of experimental radio-antenna towers silhouetted against the moonlit sky, he crossed a park and gardens bordered by handsome brick houses in which slept the families of the commandant and officers of the yard.

The ground rose higher here. To the northwest he glimpsed the Capitol looming over the city. He saw it as yet another symbol of America’s fearsome might. What other nation could have erected the largest cast-iron dome in the world at the same time they were fighting a bloody Civil War? He was almost to a side gate when a sentry surprised him on a narrow path.

Yamamoto had just enough time to back into a hedgerow.

His capture would disgrace Japan. He was ostensibly in Washington, D.C., to help catalog the recent contribution of the Freer Collection of Asian art to the Smithsonian Institution. The front allowed him to mingle with the Diplomatic Corps and powerful politicians, thanks to their wives who fancied themselves artists and hung on his every word about Japanese art. Genuine experts at the Smithsonian had caught him off base twice already. He had blamed gaps in his hastily learned knowledge on a poor command of English. So far, the experts accepted the excuse. But there would be absolutely no plausible explanation for a Japanese curator of Asian art caught prowling the Washington Navy Yard at night.

The watchman came up the path, boots crunching on gravel. Yamamoto backed in deeper, drawing his pistol as a last resort. A gunshot would rouse Marine guards from their barracks at the main gate. Deeper he pushed, feeling for an opening in the branches that would lead out the other side.

The watchman had no reason to look into the hedgerow as he plodded by. But Yamamoto was still pushing backward against the springy branches, and one snapped. The watchman stopped. He peered in the direction of the sound. In that instant the moon bathed both their faces.

The Japanese spy saw him clearly—a retired sailor, an “old salt,” supplementing his meager pension with a night watchman’s job. His face was leathery, his eyes bleached by years of tropical sunlight, his back stooped. He straightened up at the sight of the slender figure hiding in the hedge. Suddenly galvanized, the pensioner was no longer an old man who should have called for help but was hurled back to his time as a long-limbed, broad-shouldered “blue jacket” in the full tide of life. A strong voice that once carried to the mast tops demanded, “What the devil are you doing in there?”

Yamamoto wormed out the back of the hedge and ran. The watchman pushed into the hedge and got tangled in it and roared like a bull. Yamamoto heard answering shouts in the distance. He changed course and raced along a high wall. It had been raised, he had learned while preparing for his “tour,” after looters invaded when the Potomac River flooded the yard. It was too high to scale.

Boots pounded on gravel. Old men shouted. Electric flashlights flickered. Suddenly he saw salvation, a tree standing near the wall. Digging his india-rubber crepe soles into the bark, he shinnied up the trunk to the lowest branch, climbed two higher, and jumped onto the wall. He heard shouts behind him. The city street below was empty. He jumped down and cushioned a hard landing with flexed knees.

AT BUZZARD POINT, near the foot of 1st Street, Yamamoto boarded an eighteen-foot motorboat powered by a two-horse Pierce “Noiseless.” The pilot steered into the current and down the Potomac River. A shroud of surface mist finally closed around the boat, and Yamamoto exhaled a sigh of relief.

Huddling from the cold in the cubby under the bow, he reflected upon his close call and concluded that his mission had suffered no damage. The garden path where the night watchman had almost caught him was at least a half mile from the Gun Factory. Nor did it matter that the old man had seen his face. Americans were contemptuous of Asians. Few could distinguish between Japanese and Chinese features. Since immigrants from China were far more numerous than those from Japan, the watchman would report an intrusion by a despised Chinese—an opium fiend, he thought with a relieved smile. Or, he chuckled silently, a nefarious white slaver lurking to prey on the commandant’s daughters.

Five miles downriver, he disembarked in Alexandria, Virginia.

He waited for the boat to depart the wooden pier. Then he hurried along the waterfront and entered a dark warehouse that was crammed with obsolete naval gear deep in dust and spiderwebs.

A younger man whom Yamamoto had labeled, scornfully, “The Spy” was waiting for him in a dimly lit back room that served as an office. He was twenty years Yamamoto’s junior and ordinary-looking to the point of being nondescript. His office, too, held the outdated paraphernalia of earlier wars: crossed cutlasses on the walls; a Civil War-era Dahlgren cast-iron, muzzle-loading cannon, which was causing the floor to sag; and an old 24-inch-diameter carbon arc battleship searchlight propped behind his desk. Yamamoto saw his own face mirrored in its dusty eye.

He reported that he had accomplished his mission. Then, while the spy took notes, he related in precise detail everything that he had seen at the Gun Factory. “Much of it,” he said in conclusion, “looks worn out.”

“Hardly a surprise.”

Overworked and underfunded, the Gun Factory had produced everything from ammunition hoists to torpedo tubes to send the Great White Fleet to sea. After the warships sailed, it forwarded train-loads of replacement parts, sights, firing locks, breech plugs, and gun mounts to San Francisco. In another month the fleet would recuperate there from its fourteen-thousand-mile voyage around South America’s Cape Horn and refit at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard to cross the Pacific.

“I would not underestimate them,” Yamamoto retorted gloomily. “Worn-out machines are replaceable.”

“If they have the nerve.”

“From what I saw, they have the nerve. And the imagination. They are merely catching their breath.”

The man behind the desk felt that Yamamoto Kenta was possessed—if not unhinged—by his fear of the American Navy. He had heard this rant before and knew how to change the subject by derailing the Jap with lavish praise.

“I have never doubted your acute powers of observation. But I am awed by the range and breadth of your skills: chemistry, engineering, forgery. In one fell swoop you have impeded the development of American gunnery and sent their Congress a message that the Navy is corrupt.”

He watched Yamamoto preen. Even the most capable operative had his Achilles’ heel. Yamamoto’s was a self-blinding vanity.

“I’ve played this game a long time,” Yamamoto agreed with false modesty.

In fact, thought the man behind the desk, the chemistry for the nitrogen iodide detonator was a simple formula found in The Young Folks Cyclopaedia of Games and Sports. Which was not to take away from Yamamoto’s other skills, nor his broad and deep knowledge of naval warfare.

Having softened him up, he prepared to put the Jap to the test. “Last week aboard the Lusitania,” he said, “I bumped into a British attaché. You know the sort. Thinks of himself as a ‘gentleman spy.’”

He had an astonishing gift for accents, and he mimicked, faultlessly, an English aristocratic drawl. “‘The Japanese,’ this Englishman proclaimed to all in the smoking room, ‘display a natural aptitude for espionage, and a cunning and self-control not found in the West.’”

Yamamoto laughed. “That sounds like Commander Abbington-Westlake of the Admiralty’s Naval Intelligence Department, Foreign Division, who was spotted last summer painting a watercolor of the Long Island Sound that just happened to contain America’s latest Viper Class submarine. Do you suppose the windbag meant it as a compliment?”

“The French Navy he penetrated so successfully last month would hardly call Abbington-Westlake a windbag. Did you keep the money?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The money you were supposed to put in Arthur Langner’s desk. Did you keep it for yourself?”

The Jap stiffened. “Of course not. I put it in his desk.”

“The Navy’s enemies in Congress must believe that their star designer, their so-called Gunner, was guilty of taking a bribe. That money was vital to our message to the Congress to make them wonder what else is rotten in the Navy. Did you keep the money?”

“I should not be surprised that you would ask such a degrading question of a loyal associate. With the heart of a thief you assume that everyone is a thief.”

“Did you keep the money?” the spy repeated. A physical habit of maintaining utter stillness masked the steely power of his compact frame.

“For the last time, I did not keep the money. Would you feel more secure if I swore on the memory of my old friend—your father?”

“Do it!”

Yamamoto looked him full in the face with undisguised hatred. “I swear on the memory of my old friend, your father.”

“I think I believe you.”

“Your father was a patriot,” Yamamoto replied coldly. “You are a mercenary.”

“You’re on my payroll,” came the even colder retort. “And when you report to your government the valuable information you picked up in the Washington Navy Yard’s Gun Factory—while working for me—your government will pay you again.”

“I do not spy for the money. I spy for the Empire of Japan.”

“And for me.”

“GOOD SUNDAY MORNING TO all who prefer their music minus the sermon,” Arthur Langner greeted his friends at the Gun Factory.

Rumpled in a baggy sack suit, his thick hair tousled and bright eyes inquisitive, the Naval Ordnance Bureau’s star designer grinned like a man who found interest in all he saw and liked the strange bits most of all. The Gunner was a vegetarian, an outspoken agnostic, and devoted to the theories of the unconscious mind put forth by the Viennese neurologist Sigmund Freud.

He held patents for an invention he named the Electrical Vacuum Cleaning Machine, having hitched his fertile imagination to a heartfelt notion that science-based domestic engineering could free women from the isolation of housework. He also believed that women should have the right to vote, work outside the home, and even practice birth control. Gossips smirked that his beautiful daughter, who ran with the fast set in Washington and New York, would be a prime beneficiary.

“A one-man lunatic fringe,” complained the commandant of the navy yard.

But the chief of Naval Ordnance, having observed Langner’s latest 12-inch/.50 caliber gun shoot up his Sandy Hook Atlantic Test Range, retorted, “Thank God he works for us instead of the enemy.”

His Sunday-morning chamber musicians, a ragtag mix of Gun Factory employees, laughed appreciatively when Langner joked, “Just to assure any eavesdropping blue noses that we’re not complete heathens, let’s start with ‘Amazing Grace.’ In G.”

He sat at his grand piano.

“May we please have an A first, sir?” asked the cellist, an expert in armor-piercing warheads.

Langner lightly tapped middle A, to which note the strings could tune their instruments. He rolled his eyes in mock impatience as they fiddled with their tuning pegs. “Are you gentlemen cooking up one of those new atonal scales?”

“One more A, if you can spare it, Arthur. A little louder?”

Langner tapped middle A harder, again and again. At last the strings were satisfied.

The cellist began the opening notes of “Amazing Grace.”

At the tenth measure, the violins—a torpedo-propulsion man and a burly steamfitter—took up “once was lost.” They played through and began to repeat.

Langner raised his big hands over the keys, stepped on the sustain pedal, and lofted “a wretch like me” on a soaring G chord.

Inside the piano, Yamamoto Kenta’s paste of nitrogen iodide had hardened to a volatile dry crust. When Langner fingered the keys, felt hammers descended on G, B, and D strings, causing them to vibrate. Up and down the scale, six more octaves of G, B, and D strings vibrated sympathetically, jolting the nitrogen iodide.

It exploded with a sharp crack that sent a purple cloud pouring from the case and detonated the sack of Cordite. The Cordite blew the piano into a thousand slivers of wood and wire and ivory that riddled Arthur Langner’s head and chest, killing him instantly.

2

BY 1908, THE VAN DORN DETECTIVE AGENCY MAINTAINED a presence in all American cities of consequence, and its offices reflected the nature of each locality. Headquarters in Chicago had a suite in the palatial Palmer House. Dusty Ogden, Utah, a railroad junction, was served by a rented room decorated with wanted posters. New York’s offices were in the sumptuous Knickerbocker Hotel on 42nd Street. And in Washington, D.C., with its valuable proximity to the Department of Justice—a prime source of business—Van Dorn detectives operated from the second floor of the capital city’s finest hotel, the new Willard on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks from the White House.

Joseph Van Dorn himself kept an office there, a walnut-paneled den bristling with up-to-date devices for riding herd on the transcontinental outfit he commanded. In addition to the agency’s private telegraph, he had three candlestick telephones capable of long-distance connections as far west as Chicago, a DeVeau Dictaphone, a self-winding stock ticker, and an electric Kellogg Intercommunicating Telephone. A spy hole let him size up clients and informants in the reception room. Corner windows overlooked the Willard’s front and side entrances.

From those windows, a week after Arthur Langner’s tragic death at the Naval Gun Factory, Van Dorn watched apprehensively as two women stepped down from a streetcar, hurried across the bustling sidewalk, and disappeared inside the hotel.

The intercommunicating phone rang.

“Miss Langner is here,” reported the Willard’s house detective, a Van Dorn employee.

“So I see.” He was not looking forward to this visit.

The founder of the Van Dorn Detective Agency was a heavily built, bald-headed man in his forties. He had a strong Roman nose, framed by bristling red whiskers, and the affable manner of a lawyer or a businessman who had earned his fortune early and enjoyed it. Hooded eyes masked a ferocious intelligence; the nation’s penitentiaries held many criminals gulled into letting the big gent close enough to clamp on the handcuffs.

Downstairs, the two women riveted male attention as they glided through the Willard’s gilt-and-marble lobby. The younger, a petite girl of eighteen or nineteen, was a stylishly dressed redhead with a vivacious gleam in her eyes. Her companion was a tall, raven-haired beauty, somber in the dark cloth of mourning, her hat adorned with the feathers of black terns, her face partially veiled. The redhead was clutching her elbow as if to give her courage.

Once across the lobby, however, Dorothy Langner took charge, urging her companion to sit on a plush couch at the foot of the stairs.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?”

“No thank you, Katherine. I’ll be fine from here.”

Dorothy Langner gathered her long skirts and swept up the stairs.

Katherine Dee craned her neck to watch Dorothy pause on the landing, turn back her veil, and press her forehead against a cool, polished marble pillar. Then she straightened up, composed herself, and strode down the hall, out of Katherine’s sight and into the Van Dorn Detective Agency.

Joseph Van Dorn shot a look through the spy hole. The receptionist was a steady man—he would not command a Van Dorn front desk were he not—but he appeared thunderstruck by the beauty presenting her card, and Van Dorn noted grimly that the Wild Bunch could have stampeded in and left with the furniture without the fellow noticing.

“I am Dorothy Langner,” she said in a strong, musical voice. “I have an appointment with Mr. Joseph Van Dorn.”

Van Dorn hurried into the reception room and greeted her solicitously.

“Miss Langner,” he said, the faintest lilt of Irish in his voice softening the harder tones of Chicago. “May I offer my deepest sympathy?”

“Thank you, Mr. Van Dorn. I appreciate your seeing me.”

Van Dorn guided her into his inner sanctum.

Dorothy Langner refused his offer of tea or water and got straight to the point.

“The Navy has let out a story that my father killed himself. I want to hire your detective agency to clear his name.”

Van Dorn had prepared as much as possible for this difficult interview. There was ample reason to doubt her father’s sanity. But his wife-to-be had known Dorothy at Smith College, so he was obliged to hear the poor woman out.

“I am of course at your service, but—”

“The Navy says that he caused the explosion that killed him, but they won’t tell me how they know.”

“I wouldn’t read too much into that,” said Van Dorn. “The Navy is habitually secretive. What does surprise me is they tend usually to look after their own.”

“My father deliberately established the Gun Factory to be more civilian than naval,” Dorothy Langner replied. “It is a businesslike operation.”

“And yet,” Van Dorn ventured cautiously, “as I understand it, civilian factories have recently taken over many of its duties.”

“Certainly not! Fours and 6s, perhaps. But not the dreadnought guns.”

“I wonder whether that shift troubled your father.”

“Father was accustomed to such shifts,” she answered drily, adding with a faint smile, “He would say, ‘The slings and arrows of my misfortunes are the tugs and pulls of Congress and local interests.’ He had a sense of humor, Mr. Van Dorn. He knew how to laugh. Such men don’t kill themselves.”

“Of course,” Van Dorn said gravely.

The Kellogg rang again.

Saved by my Bell, Van Dorn thought to himself. He stepped to the wall where the instrument was mounted, picked up the earpiece, and listened.

“Send him in.”

To Dorothy Langner he said, “I asked Isaac Bell, my best operative, to step down from an important bank robbery case in order to look into the circumstances of your father’s death. He is ready to report.”

The door opened. A man in a white suit entered with an economy of motion unexpected in one so tall. He was well over six feet, leanly built—not more than one hundred seventy-five pounds—and looked to be about thirty years old. The full mustache that covered his upper lip was gold, as was his thick, neatly trimmed hair. His face had the robust appearance of an outdoorsman who was no stranger to sun and wind.

His large hands hung still at his sides. His fingers were long and precisely manicured, although an observer keener than the grieving Dorothy Langner might have noticed that the knuckles of his right hand were red and swollen.

“Miss Langner, may I present chief investigator Isaac Bell?” Isaac Bell assessed the beautiful young woman with a swift, penetrating glance. Mid-twenties, he estimated her age. Intelligent and self-possessed. Desolated by grief yet extraordinarily attractive. She turned to him beseechingly.

Bell’s sharp blue eyes softened in an instant. Now they were tinged violet, his inquiring gaze veiled with tenderness. He took off his broad-brimmed hat in deference to her, saying, “I am so sorry for your loss, Miss Langner,” and swept a drop of blood from his hand with a pure white handkerchief in a motion so graceful as to be invisible.

“Mr. Bell,” she asked. “What have you learned that will clear my father’s name?”

Bell answered in a voice pitched low with sympathy. He was kindly yet direct. “Forgive me, but I must report that your father did indeed sign out a quantity of iodine from the laboratory store.”

“He was an engineer,” she protested. “He was a scientist. He signed for chemicals from the laboratory every day.”

“Powdered iodine was an essential ingredient of the explosive that detonated the smokeless powder in his piano. The other was ammonia water. The porter noticed a bottle missing from his cleaning closet.”

“Anyone could have taken it.”

“Yes, of course. But there are indications that he mixed the chemicals in his private washroom. Stains on a towel, a volatile powder on his toothbrush, residue in his shaving mug.”

“How can you know all this?” she asked, blinking away angry tears. “The Navy won’t let me near his office. They turned away my lawyer. They even barred the police from the Gun Factory.”

“I gained admittance,” said Bell.

A male secretary wearing a vest, bow tie, banded shirtsleeves, and a double-action Colt in a shoulder holster entered urgently. “Beg your pardon, Mr. Van Dorn. The commandant of the Washington Navy Yard is calling on the telephone, and he’s hopping mad.”

“Tell the operator to switch the line to this telephone. Excuse me, Miss Langner . . . Van Dorn here. Good afternoon, Commandant Dillon. How are you today? . . . You don’t say?”

Van Dorn listened, casting Miss Langner a reassuring smile.

“. . . Well, if you’ll forgive me, sir, such a general description could fit half the tall men in Washington . . . It could even describe a gentleman right here in my office as we speak. But I assure you that he does not look like he’s been at fisticuffs with the United States Marines—unless the Corps turns out a lesser breed of Leatherneck than in my day.”

Isaac Bell put his hand in his pocket.

When Joseph Van Dorn next replied to the caller, it was with a benign chuckle, though if the commandant had seen the chill in his eyes he might have retreated hastily.

“No, sir. I will not ‘produce’ an employee of mine on your sentries’ assertion that they caught a private detective red-handed. Clearly the man in my office was not ‘caught’ as he is standing here in front of me . . . I will register your complaint with the Navy Secretary when we lunch tomorrow at the Cosmos Club. Please convey my warmest regards to Mrs. Dillon.”

Van Dorn replaced the earpiece on its hook, and said, “Apparently, a tall, yellow-haired gent with a mustache knocked down some navy yard sentries who attempted to detain him.”

Bell displayed a row of even white teeth. “I imagine he’d have surrendered quietly if they hadn’t tried to beat him up.” He turned back to Dorothy Langner, his expression gentler. “Now, Miss Langner. There is something I must show you.”

He produced a photographic print, still damp from the developing process. It was an enlarged photograph of Langner’s suicide note. He had snapped it with a 3A Folding Pocket Kodak camera that his fiancée—a woman in the moving-picture line—had given him. Bell shielded most of the photograph with his hand to spare Miss Langner the deranged raving.

“Is this your father’s handwriting?”

She hesitated, peered closely, then reluctantly nodded. “It looks like his handwriting.”

Bell watched her closely. “You seem unsure.”

“It just looks a little . . . I don’t know! Yes, it is his handwriting.”

“I understand that your father was working under great strain to speed up production. Colleagues who greatly admired him admit he was being driven hard, perhaps beyond endurance.”

“Nonsense!” she snapped back. “My father wasn’t casting church bells. He ran a gun factory. He demanded speed. And if it were too much for him he would have told me. We’ve been thick as thieves since my mother died.”

“But the tragedy of suicide,” Van Dorn interrupted, “is that the victim can see no other escape from the unbearable. It is the loneliest death.”

“He would not have killed himself in that manner.”

“Why not?” asked Isaac Bell.

Dorothy Langner paused before she answered, noting despite her grief that the tall detective was unusually handsome, with an air of elegance tempered by rugged strength. That combination was a quality she looked for in men but found rarely.

I bought him that piano so he could take up music again. To relax him. He loved me too much to use my gift as the instrument of his death.”

Isaac Bell watched her compelling silvery blue eyes as she pleaded her case. “Father was too happy in his work to kill himself. Twenty years ago he started out replicating British 4-inch guns. Today his gun factory builds the finest 12s in the world. Imagine learning to build naval guns accurate at twenty thousand yards. Ten miles, Mr. Bell!”

Bell cocked his ear for a change of tone that might express doubt. He watched her face for telltale signs of uncertainty in her lyrical description of the dead man’s work.

“The bigger the gun, the more violent the force it has to tame. There is no room for error. You must bore the tube straight as a ray of light. Its diameter can’t vary a thousandth of an inch. Rifling demands the artistry of Michelangelo; shrinking the jacket, the precision of a watchmaker. My father loved his guns—all the great dreadnought men love their work. A steam-propulsion wizard like Alasdair MacDonald loves his turbines. Ronnie Wheeler up in Newport loves his torpedoes. Farley Kent his faster and faster hulls. It is joyous to be devoted, Mr. Bell. Such men do not kill themselves!”

Joseph Van Dorn intervened again. “I can assure you that Isaac Bell’s investigation has been as thorough as—”

“But,” Bell interrupted. “What if Miss Langner is right?”

His boss looked at him, surprised.

Bell said, “With Mr. Van Dorn’s permission, I will look further.”

Dorothy Langner’s lovely face bloomed with hope. She turned to the founder of the detective agency. Van Dorn spread his hands wide. “Of course. Isaac Bell will get right on it with the full support of the agency.”

Her expression of gratitude sounded more like a challenge. “That is all I can ask, Mr. Bell, Mr. Van Dorn. An informed appraisal of all the facts.” A sudden smile lit her face like a sunbeam, suggesting what a lively, carefree woman she had been before tragedy struck. “Isn’t that the least I can expect of a detective agency whose motto is ‘We never give up. Never!’ ”

“Apparently you’ve investigated us, too,” Bell smiled back.

Van Dorn walked her out to the reception room, repeating his condolences.

Isaac Bell went to the window that faced Pennsylvania Avenue. He watched Dorothy Langner emerge from the hotel with a slender redhead he had noticed earlier in the lobby. In any other company the redhead would be rated beautiful, but beside the gunner’s daughter she was merely pretty.

Van Dorn returned. “What changed your mind, Isaac? How she loved her father?”

“No. How she loved his work.”

He watched them hurry to the stop as a streetcar approached, pick up their long skirts, and climb aboard. Dorothy Langner did not look back. The redhead did, casting an appraising glance up at the Van Dorn windows as if she knew where to look.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 361 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Ripping Good Novel from Clive Cussler and Justin Scott

    The newest entry in Clive Cussler's Isaac Bell series is, in my humble opinion, the best so far. Cussler and Scott depart from the railroad venue prominent in the first two novels and venture into the spy world of 1908. The subjects of naval architecture and warfare are subtly used to enhance an exciting story that ranges from New York's Hell's Kitchen all the way to Mare Island near Vallejo, California. The action is well paced and supports the story without overpowering it. The identity of the spy was a well kept secret and revealed so casually that I had to read the page twice to make sure I had actually read it correctly. Cussler's recent novels just seem to get better and better and this one is no exception. I can't wait for the next entry!

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another winner

    Cussler is another author I read regardless of the topic. I was there for Vixen, and when he sent President Lincoln and the Confederate Treasury to the Sahara, and I have to say that as much as I love Dirk Pitt and NUMA, Isaac Bell is my new favorite fictional hero. In the Bell novels, Cussler showcases his research of the arcane tidbits of American trivia - railroad history, architectural trends, theater and fashion - no detail to small to add depth to the scene. In The Spy, as in the other Bell novels, the action is fast, the characters are interesting, the settings are detailed and the plot sucks you in! These are a must-read, as far as I am concerned! Love them, Mr. Cussler, but more Marion next time, please!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    The Spy by Clive Cussler

    It is difficult to write a review of a book that hasn't yet been shipped. Here it is May 6th and the book isn't scheduled to ship until June.
    Clive Cussler is my favorite author and his books never disappoint. I cannot comment on THE SPY in that I haven't read it, but I'm sure that I will enjoy it.
    P.S.: Why do you Always ask for reviews of books that you haven't even sent?

    4 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2010

    Not a cookie cutter Cussler

    Having read most of Cussler's works, I was favorably surprised by "The Spy". The main character is not stuck in a locked cavern or hanging from a suspension bridge and the reader is brought back to a time in our history before cell phones and modern detective tactics. Isaac Bell is a bit like Dirk Pitt without the divewatch. His skills make him appear destruct-proof and his recognizing clues and human tendencies have touches of Robert Ludlum's writings. At one point, I felt I was literally in the book and riding the train cross-country in the parlor car. I read this book on my ereader and put the page turner button to good use!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

    Great Series

    The Issac Bell series is a great addition created by Clive Cussler and his co-writer Justin Scott. I really like that it takes back in the early 20th century with all its ruggedness.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 15, 2010

    The Spy

    Excellent reading. Keeps you coming back.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2010

    To Anonymous

    There are books called ARC's - Advance Reader Copy. These books are available to select reader's who get them ahead of the official release date.

    1 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2014

    Highly recommended

    Classic Cussler! A fun read with engaging plot twists and nonstop action. The Issac Bell series with its turn of the century (20th) time frame is very enjoyable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2014

    End of the story

    Love the NUMA and Oregon series and was beginning to love the Isaac Bell series. However, in this one the end of the story (not meaning the last chapter) seemed incomplete somehow.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2014

    Fourth Cussler in 3 weeks!

    Fun predictable plot. I enjoyed it but what is with the missing pages? The last 3 books have had atleast 3 sections of missing pages. I want to start another Pitt or Bell book soon but afraid of missing something

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Must read

    Love clive cussler and WW2

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Hignly Recommended

    Clice Cussler at his BEST !!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 30, 2013

    I have read at least a dozen Clive Cussler books, including thr

    I have read at least a dozen Clive Cussler books, including three isaac Bells. I obviously enjoyed the, or I wouldn't have rad so many. But this is one of the worst books ihave ever read, or any author. For one thing, it was much too technical. But the main reason I hated it, was the violence. Violence that was gruesome. Since I read #4 before this (#3), I'm hoping that the authors will tone it down in the future.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    another good one

    Another intersting book with Isaac Bell - Cussler blends so much "real" history and people - great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    If you follow Isaac Bell, then this one won't disappoint you

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Another great read from Clive Cussler-Highly recommended

    I enjoy Cussler's books, and this is an example why. I'm a Dirk Pitt, Kurt Austin, and now an Isaac Bell fan. If you enjoy reading about early 1900 America, this one is for you.
    BillinSC

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  • Posted May 3, 2013

    3rd in a series, that is so far, ok at best.

    The main character, Isaac Bell, is to much of a superman in my opinion. He's a blue blood that decided to be a detective, handsome as the devil, has connections galore, is in outstanding physical shape, a tolerance to pain that's nearly unworldly, hoardes of luck and a master of many things. He's a master of hand to hand combat, a sharpshooter, master race car driver, master boat pilot, master poker player, master of general knowledge and master of who knows what else in the up and coming books. And if all that doesn't get him what he needs he's also wealthy, thanks to his father who happens to be the wealthiest banker on the east coast.I do enjoy the era descriptions but the actual stories are pretty much the same. They envolve Bell running all over the country on the railroad, getting in a couple fights, collecting a little information and eventually ending with Bell getting his man in the end. Rarely does he have a real problem that he doesn't solve on his own. No real help needed, just some people to admire and praise him along the way and in the end. I wish the actual stories were more intellectual. I also don't know how many more of this series I will read but they need to put some limitations on this character. Anyway this is just my opinion and maybe I'm to partial to Agatha Christie and Rex Stout.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    Kacie to spy

    Wait no its the 1st because no1 is there

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    Ygygt

    Ggygyvyv

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Spy to Kacie

    I think its : cia res.1 or 3.~~~Spy

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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