The Brink

( 7 )

Overview

Charged with murder and hiding out in the Mexican wilderness, Texas Ranger Danny Cavanaugh contemplates eating a bullet in the exact spot his father did years ago. But when he sees something strange at the nearby converted monastery, the cop inside him takes over. As he investigates, he meets a nearly naked woman running for her life. A judge in the International Court of Justice, Sydney Dumas thought she was there to discuss a secret lawsuit Japan is bringing against the United...
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The Brink: A Novel

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Overview

Charged with murder and hiding out in the Mexican wilderness, Texas Ranger Danny Cavanaugh contemplates eating a bullet in the exact spot his father did years ago. But when he sees something strange at the nearby converted monastery, the cop inside him takes over. As he investigates, he meets a nearly naked woman running for her life. A judge in the International Court of Justice, Sydney Dumas thought she was there to discuss a secret lawsuit Japan is bringing against the United States.

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., a robbery attempt at the Library of Congress becomes an unimaginable test for newly elected President Jack Butcher. The nearly stolen document is a lost article of the U.S. Constitution which contains evidence the Founding Fathers foresaw certain collapse for their new country.

As Danny and Sydney race toward Washington, D.C., to reach President Butcher, they are hunted by a killer dispatched by an organization known as The Group; they have infinite resources and will stop at nothing to reach their goal.

Once Danny uncovers the link between the lawsuit, the lost Constitution article, and The Group, he discovers an unthinkable plot designed by a brilliant psychopath whose motive makes them question everything.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781450210485
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/12/2010
  • Pages: 415
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Fadden is the author of Five Days in Dallas. He lives with his family in a Dallas, Texas suburb where he continues to write. Visit him online at www.markfadden.com and become a fan on Facebook.
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Read an Excerpt

THE BRINK

A novel
By Mark Fadden

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Mark Fadden
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-1048-5


Chapter One

Joel Basher crashed through the front doors of the Library of Congress. The gnawing chill in the night air hit him like a raw slap. As he hit the stairs running, he tightened his grip on the stolen parcel inside his coat.

The door burst open behind him. Joel heard the cop shouting, but the voice in his head was louder: You're supposed to get caught.

He tore through the first landing, exploded down the next section of stairs, but then halted on the next landing. The cop did the same on the landing above him. Joel clenched the icy granite railing in front of him. He hurled himself over it. His shoes cracked the water's surface in the fountain below. He turned, saw the policeman with his gun raised, and knew it was time to dump the package.

"Freeze!" the cop barked as he raced down to the landing above the tank.

That's exactly what Joel was doing, standing here in the shin-deep water next to Neptune and his two fishy henchmen.

"Hands up!" the cop shouted as he braced himself against the railing, his outstretched pistol pointed at Joel's chest.

Joel nodded. He spread his jacket wide to show he had no weapon. As he did, the book inside tumbled down his body into the water.

The cop's eyes exploded. Joel knew what he was thinking. Water. Paper. A deadly combination.

The cop made the mistake of trying to keep his gun on Joel as he stiff-armed the railing. His hand slipped on the ice, and gravity took care of the rest. By the time the cop's flailing body crashed into the water, Joel was gone.

He sprinted across First Street into the awaiting darkness behind a cluster of spruce trees. As soon as he nestled in their shadows, he turned to watch the show. The shivering policeman sat down on the edge of the fountain and opened the book. He plucked out the leather pouch and studied it a moment before an older man dressed in an elegant suit, who showed incredible agility for his age, flew down the stairs. He ripped the pouch from the cop's hands. Even from his distance, Joel saw the concern consume the old man's face.

Chapter Two

Simon Shilling, the obsessive, overly protective chief of staff, shook President Jack Butcher awake.

"What the hell is it? The goddamn place on fire?" Butcher was disgusted, but he was also fully awake. "Simon? Christ, man, don't you ever sleep?"

"I'll sleep when I'm-"

"Don't," Jack interrupted. "You'll be working even harder without a body slowing you down."

"There's been an incident, Mr. President," Simon said.

Jack instinctively glanced at the other side of the bed, where the First Lady's spot was empty.

"It's not the First Lady," Simon said, reading the president's concern about his wife. She was in the middle of a goodwill trip to the Middle East. "She's fine."

Jack felt the presence of others in the room. The hallway light dug into his eyes as he peered into the open doorway. Peter Devon, his spit-shined Secret Service chief, eclipsed much of the glow. He dwarfed the man standing next to him.

"What is it?" Jack uttered.

"There was an attempted robbery at the Library of Congress," Simon replied.

Jack blinked to clear his vision. "Attempted robbery? What's so important about-" He stopped as he finally recognized Julius Brennan. Brennan was the Library of Congress's head librarian. Jack rose, strapped on his bathrobe, and stepped into his slippers. He motioned for Pete to hit the lights. Jack waited for his eyes to adjust and then approached Brennan.

"Mr. President," the librarian said, outstretching his hand.

"Julius, what happened?" Jack asked, shaking hands.

"There was an attempt to steal documents from the Rare Book Reading Room, sir."

"You all keep saying it was an attempt. So was the thief caught?"

"One of our library police officers was able to retrieve the documents," Julius replied. "But the thief got away."

Jack turned to Simon. The two had long ago mastered the ability to read each other's faces.

"Let's not beat around the bush, Julius. Please show the president what's so important about these documents to wake him in the middle of the night."

Jack hadn't noticed the briefcase hanging at Julius's side until now. Julius crossed to Thomas Jefferson's coffee table. It usually provided visitors with a place to set their drinks inside the mayor's office at Philadelphia's city hall, but it was being loaned to the city's favorite son while he was a tenant here.

Julius placed the briefcase on the table as if there was a crystal bomb inside it. He clicked open the left latch. His nervous fingers barely touched the right one before Peter Devon's words made him stop.

"Mr. President."

Jack could tell he was simultaneously listening to a voice in his earpiece. "Yeah, Pete?"

"Sir, I'm being told that Howard Fielding is here to see you."

Chapter Three

The door that led into the Oval Office opened, and Director of National Intelligence Howard Fielding launched off the couch that flanked JFK's rattan rocker into a fully upright and locked stance. The two men sitting on the other couch across the coffee table followed Fielding's lead. Although it was the original coffee table from George Washington's sitting room at Mount Vernon, it was somewhat less impressive than the one upstairs in the president's bedroom.

Jack recognized Hunter Atkinson from his picture on the back of his book jackets. He had no clue as to the other man's identity. Even at nearly four in the morning, they were both dressed in what looked like their best suits and ties. Simon was also dressed in a suit. Jack felt a little underdressed, having thrown on a pair of dark slacks and a long sleeve polo shirt embroidered with the presidential seal in record time.

Jack addressed them as he crossed the room. "Gentlemen." No one shook hands. The shared concern in the room trumped any ritual of good manners for the moment.

"Mr. President," Fielding started, "approximately three hours ago, two armed suspects broke into Monticello. They shot and killed the two security guards on duty. They proceeded to the South Square Room, where they smashed a drawing table to pieces. This table had a secret compartment in it. We believe they took whatever was inside it."

Jack asked the most important question first. "Are the guards' families being attended to?"

"We have agents outside their homes as we speak, sir," Fielding replied. "I wanted to inform you first."

"Let's make the families as comfortable as possible, Howard."

"Of course, sir." Fielding whipped out his BlackBerry from his jacket pocket and began pecking away.

Jack looked at Simon. Simon nodded but not because he approved this show of sympathy from the White House. He knew why Jack's instinct was to put families first.

"So, what are we thinking was stolen?"

Fielding had already made the BlackBerry disappear. "Mr. President, this is Bubba Durant and Hunter Atkinson." Jack nodded at them as Fielding continued. "Bubba is the head of the American History department at GWU and Hunter is an author that-"

"Specializes in the history of the American presidency," Jack finished. "I'm a big fan."

Hunter beamed. "It's an honor to meet you, sir."

"Although I'm not yet certain why you're here, thank you both for coming in the middle of the night."

"They're here to help us figure out what exactly was stolen from Monticello, sir," Fielding replied.

Jack edged around to the rocker and motioned for all of them to sit. Simon took up his normal post at the far end of the couch from the president.

"Forgive me," Jack started, "I know this sounds heartless, but how does the murder of two Monticello guards involve the White House?"

Simon cleared his throat. "Mr. President, it looks as if this event is tied to the robbery attempt at the LOC."

"There was a robbery at the Library of Congress?" Bubba blurted out. Silence crashed into the room as Bubba realized his faux pas. He sunk back into the couch cushions. His reaction only intensified Jack's glares at Simon and Fielding.

Reading Jack's reaction to his spilling the news, Simon said, "These men are here to help us figure out the connection between these two events, Mr. President." The president nodded and Simon continued. "I called Admiral Fielding shortly after I received news of the robbery attempt at the LOC. I told him if anything else should surface that could be tied to the robbery to please notify us immediately."

"And that's what he's doing here now?" Jack asked.

"Yes, sir," Simon replied. "He called me approximately ninety minutes ago with the report of the Monticello break-in. I wanted to verify everything before getting you involved."

"And Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Durant just happened to be here taking the tour in the middle of the night?"

"They're on a short list of consultants we use, Mr. President," Fielding replied.

"Wonderful. The United States government pays for on-call history detectives. Imagine if the press got a hold of that one." As they tended to do wherever Jack went, all eyes were glued on the president. It allowed Simon to begin a silent conversation with him. He only needed to arch one of his thin, silver eyebrows.

Jack sighed. "Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Durant ... may we have the room for a few minutes please?"

Chapter Four

So as not to arouse the suspicions of a college professor and a writer, Simon Shilling had Julius Brennan enter the Oval from the side door that led directly to his office. They met for fifty-five minutes before the decision was made to let Bubba and Hunter back in.

Jack allowed them to get comfortable on the couch before he issued his warning. "Gentlemen, what we are about to discuss has been verified by Director of National Intelligence Howard Fielding as pertinent to our national security and is therefore classified information. You are forbidden by law to disclose any part of this conversation to any persons." Jack paused to let the words soak in. Then he stared at Hunter Atkinson. "Or include it in the pages of your next best seller."

"Yes, sir," both men said simultaneously. Jack nodded at Julius. He retrieved the briefcase from his feet and set it on the coffee table. His hands trembled again as he fumbled with both locks. He opened the briefcase and scooped out the plastic bag containing the brown, legal size file folder. Jack noticed the words "Acid-free" and "Buffered" that ran along the bottom of the folder's spine.

Julius extracted the folder from the bag. He set it down on the table and then dove back into his briefcase again. He retrieved three pairs of white cotton gloves and slipped one pair on his hands. Hunter and Bubba looked at the gloves and then at the president.

"Be my guest," Jack said. He motioned toward Simon. "We've already seen it."

Julius waited until the two wriggled on their gloves before continuing. He moved to open the folder when Howard Fielding leaned forward.

"Gentlemen." With that one word, Fielding stole the attention away from the documents waiting for them inside the folder. "May I remind you that breaking laws pertaining to national security can, and in this case will, be punishable by life sentences in prison. Not even the highest-paid attorney or the loudest protests from the ACLU will change that fact."

Hunter nodded first. Then Bubba. Again, all eyes focused on Jack, and he nodded at Julius to open the folder. As he did, the faint letters at the top blazed with impossibility.

Article VIII.

After both men read through both documents, Julius closed the folder. He eased it back into the plastic bag and then shucked his gloves. As his actions punctured the crescendo of silence, all eyes were not on the president. Instead, they were firmly focused on the two pieces of parchment that were now safe from the dangers of both theft and exposure.

"A lost article of the Constitution." The words fell out of Atkinson's mouth. "I can't believe it." He gazed at the president. "Mr. President, you will have it tested to ensure its authenticity?"

"We have a Constitution expert from the National Archives on standby," Simon Shilling answered.

"This is," Atkinson muttered, his eyes back on the folder. "It's unthinkable."

"But here it is all the same," Bubba said. Over the next few minutes, Bubba regaled his audience with exactly why there would be an Eighth Article in existence and, more important, why it had been separated from the rest of the Constitution. He concluded by stating that there had to be copies. Copies no doubt hidden by Thomas Jefferson in his hallowed Virginia residence. Other pieces of parchment. Words for which people had just killed.

The room once again fell silent for well over a minute, an eternity in the Oval Office. Simon gazed at the president and pierced the hush. "You look like you're considering a new theory, Mr. President."

"Not a new theory but a new question," Jack replied.

"Which is?" Simon asked.

"What in God's name were the Founding Fathers thinking?"

Chapter Five

Lake Guerrero, Mexico 165 miles south of the Texas border Three weeks later

The private resort nestled atop the tallest of the rolling hills in this quiet section of northern Mexico seemed an ironic place to Stefan Taber. It had been a monastery before an American corporation, Phoenix Oil, bought it from the struggling Iglesia Católica Mejicana, the Catholic Church of Mexico. What was once a humble dwelling to a handful of pious men who had devoted their lives and their passion to Jesus Christ had been transformed into a plush bird-hunting outpost for American executives.

Hunting season was still months away. Nathan Broederlam, head of the finance chamber for the International Court of Justice, had promised the other two chamber members who accompanied him to this place that they could meet in complete privacy.

But Taber was fully aware that privacy was Broederlam's secondary concern. His first concern was to gauge the other judges' reactions to the lawsuit he had presented this morning. It was all part of the plan set in motion by Broederlam's and Taber's other employer, a faction only referred to as The Group.

The meeting was not even an hour old before Sydney Dumas, the only female judge on the ICJ, urged them to table their discussions and consider the case independently before reconvening that afternoon. Joseph Ambrose, the third judge who made up the chamber, had agreed.

Now, as Taber stared at the elaborate stained-glass window depicting Christ's crucifixion that accented the end of the hallway near Joseph Ambrose's quarters, he couldn't help thinking about trust. Like Jesus Christ, both Joseph Ambrose and Sydney Dumas had trusted their fellow man. They trusted Nathan Broederlam had picked this desolate location because of the unnerving sensitivity this lawsuit demanded. Instead, Broederlam wanted an isolated place where the deaths of his colleagues could be explained. Death here in a monastery, a place originally built to celebrate the Giver of Life. Ironic indeed.

Trust was also the reason why Taber was waiting out here in the hallway. He glanced at his watch. The stopwatch function was engaged. It had now passed the one-minute mark. He's taking too much time, Taber thought. Too much time meant problems, the least of which was the fact that Declan Drake, Taber's new protégé, might be having second thoughts.

Taber reminded himself about the target. Joseph Ambrose was a German civil rights lawyer before serving on the ICJ. He had made a name for himself in his home country, winning several landmark civil rights cases, including one that made international headlines. He had led a group of German lawyers that sued the U.S. government to turn over a half dozen CIA agents sought in the alleged kidnapping of a German citizen with suspected ties to a terrorist cell. The case strained relations between the two countries for many months until a deal was brokered behind closed doors and the German citizen was returned.

Since meeting him almost thirty-two hours ago at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Taber had immediately liked Ambrose. His fondness only grew as the hours passed. Taber could tell Ambrose was a quiet island in a sea of surging noise. That quality shouted volumes about his confidence. He didn't need to plug himself to the world. Men only became like Ambrose after ascertaining a lifetime of knowledge, which they usually parlayed into positions of power.

But after listening to Ambrose's initial criticisms of the lawsuit, which had been transmitted to The Group over a secure satellite connection, they felt Ambrose would continue to be a vocal critic of it. While his critique was exactly what Broederlam and The Group wanted in order to make sure the lawsuit was credible, his nonstop ranting could rip holes in their clandestine plan, exposing it to the light of unwanted scrutiny. The Group also realized that ultimately, as a civil rights lawyer who lived a modest lifestyle, Joseph Ambrose could not be bought.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from THE BRINK by Mark Fadden Copyright © 2010 by Mark Fadden. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2011

    Political Intrigue

    If you like politics, conspiracy theories, and complicated, fast-moving plots, you will like The Brink. Hang on through the first few chapters as Fadden sets up his story. I thought it really started moving in Chapter Six where we finally meet Danny - love this character - great action throughout, sprinkled with wonderful humor.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2010

    The Brink - keeps you hooked!

    Mark Fadden has a true gift for story telling. The Brink is an action packed read that encompasses multiple plots resulting in an action packed page turning experience.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2010

    What movies are made of!

    Full of conspiracy...a page turner full of unpredictable twists and turns!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    Only if you like this type

    Fun book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted December 5, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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