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It was a bad sun. That's what the locals said. It wasn't customary to think of the sun as something capable of negative energy, but you couldn't convince the dark men of that. Periodically they would glance up at it fearfully while executing their harsh duties.
The men unloaded crates and stuffed boxes from a flatbed truck, carrying the items to transports, three big trucks -- one of which was being worked on by two mechanics. The boxes overflowed with packing materials, making the containers look bloated and sick. As the men traversed back and forth from the truck to the plane, they muttered in their native tongue, looking up at the sun as if it might detach from the heavens and roll over the land like a molten boulder.
The sun seemed to appear closer to the earth than usual. It filled the horizon, lurching above the low, rolling hills and bright green bush like a sniper who'd come too close to his prey.
The hot rays spilled beyond a low brownish green mountain range and into the thick jungle, landing finally on the cracked ground of the road in Laundi, a small village that wasn't even a speck on the map between the Rwandan border and Kisangani in Central Africa.
United States Secretary of Commerce Donald Howard felt a sense of dread as he stood on the side of the road near the beginnings of the bush. But it wasn't the sun that made him nervous.
What did fill the secretary with dread were the sights he'd seen in the last few weeks, the utter ruin and death he'd witnessed in Southern and Central Africa.
The AIDS virus had devastated the continent in the last two decades. Howard had been sent by the president to survey the condition of the area and determine the size of a package of economic aid.
As an African American, Howard had taken on the assignment with pride and determination. He'd hoped that his trip to the motherland would result in a cultural awakening for him, a longlost connection to his past. What he found in Africa was quite different: economic mayhem, corruption, intra-African racism, a crumbling infrastructure, and a dispirited people.
The epidemic had swept the land like a biblical plague, tearing life from the bosom of civilization. Villages were turned into ghost towns, streets were lined with the sick and dying, and rivers were clogged with corpses whose souls had been ripped from their bodies. It was hell on earth, he thought, devastation like none he'd ever witnessed. And for all his authority, he was powerless to help any of these people. A tiny organism had laid waste an entire civilization, and all he could do was watch.
"We're almost ready, sir," said George Gorman. He was one of Howard's Secret Service agents. "The mechanics have pretty much fixed the engine problem in your transport."
Howard was startled for a moment and then looked directly into the eyes of the man who'd just spoken.
Agent Gorman was a tall, lean man of forty or so. He had bright blue eyes and a jaw that was wider than it should have been. It made his head seem a little too big on his shoulders and gave him a look of menace that had served him well in his profession. Gorman was one of two Secret Service men assigned to Howard. Gorman and his partner in turn led a security team comprised of four soldiers, two marines, and two army officers. He stood next to Howard, waiting for him to respond.
"How much longer?" Howard asked impatiently.
"About a half hour, sir," said Gorman.
"Fine," said Howard. "I just want to get out of here as soon as possible. Go and sit on the mechanics."
Gorman nodded and ran off quickly. Howard took a deep breath, letting the strong odors of the land into his lungs. He looked out at the beauty of Africa and was struck by the irony of the wreckage that lay behind it. It was truly a dark continent, he thought.
He didn't like the thought of going to Rwanda by land, but the plane the army had provided for them had malfunctioned. And now the armored truck was down as well. It seemed fate was conspiring to keep him in this desolate area.
Howard would have a compelling story to tell the president, he thought, and he hoped the American government would not hesitate to come to the assistance of these afflicted people ...The Executioner's Game. Copyright © by Gary Hardwick. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted December 9, 2008
American Secretary of Commerce Donald Howard witnesses first hand the devastation of AIDS has had on Africans while visiting the continent. He also receives some intriguing but volatile information on the Kennedy assassination that paints quite a different picture than that of the official one. Not long afterward, Donald and his Secret Service agent Alex Deavers die when their vehicle is blown up.--- CIA Director Kilmer Gray assigns his top assassin rogue agent Luther Green to kill Deavers who apparently somehow survived the blast, probably set the bomb, and remarkably is not even Secret Service. Luther goes after his former mentor in the manner that Deavers trained him to be, professional at all times, though he has doubts that his teacher committed the act. He trails his prey through east coast cities, but seems to be always too late until they meet up in Luther¿s hometown of Detroit where the student¿s family and friends are pawns in a world of spies.--- This exciting espionage thriller stars two interesting rogues in a game of cat and mouse in which readers do not know which one is the feline and which one is the rodent. Neither Luther nor Alex generates reader empathy as both seem better suited for field work. The action-packed story line does not offer anything new within the literary world of spy vs. spy, but still grips the audience from start to finish as if a non-stop heavyweight championship between two real contenders is heading to the final round with the loser probably counted out for life.--- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 23, 2004
THE EXECUTIONER¿S GAME is a taut and suspenseful action adventure, at the heart of which is an insidious plot hatched by unscrupulous overseers of the military-industrial complex. Utilizing his considerable talent as a mystery writer, Gary Hardwick has crafted an intriguing, exhilarating, and provocative espionage tour-de-force that rivals the best offerings of Robert Ludlum, John le Carre, Tom Clancy, and Nelson DeMille. His concise, crisp narrative propels the reader briskly through this fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining political thriller for the 21st Century. Hardwick delivers the goods.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.