1979 Iran: Hours before the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty, eight American-trained SAVAK intelligence officers defect to the United States carrying with them a secret that could one day propel Iran to the rank of superpower.
2018 United States: When another series of peace talks over Iran’s nuclear program fails and a rogue Iranian general flees to Greece to meet with a high-ranking CIA officer, the Iranian Supreme Leader who’s determined to redraw the map of the Middle East orders the execution of an operation decades in the making. Within hours, key elements inside the American and Canadian governments are wiped out. With the stock market in turmoil and evidence showing that the attacks came from within, Mike Walton and his team all covert counterterrorism assets working for the International Market Stabilization Institute have seventy-two hours to find the traitors before the White House orders a massive retaliatory strike that would annihilate any chance of peace in the Middle East.
From the tourist-filled streets of Athens to the high-rises of New York City, Mike Walton will need to cross the line he swore he’d never go over in order to protect the ones he loves. Never have the stakes been higher or the odds against him been so great. With his sanity on the line,and the lives of thousands resting on his shoulders, Mike will do what he must . . . one bullet at a time.
RAVES FOR SIMON GERVAIS:
“When Simon Gervais writes about the world of high-stakes global security, he knows what he's talking about. His world-class security expertise shines through in THE THIN BLACK LINE, a high-speed, break-neck, turbo-charged thriller that takes readers behind the scenes of the war on terrorism." – David Morell, New York Times bestselling author
"THE THIN BLACK LINE is a refreshingly smart and blisteringly original tale that's equal parts financial thriller and cat-and-mouse game with the survival of the United States economy hanging in the balance. Simon Gervais puts his own law enforcement background to solid use in hitting a home run his first time at the plate. A major debut that places him on the level of Nelson DeMille and Brad Thor." – Jon Land, bestselling author of STRONG VENGEANCE
"A RED DOTTED LINE reminds us of what thrillers are supposed to be: thrilling. Gervais, a former anti-terrorist agent, knows the world that he writes about and illuminates the dark threats we all face on the global stage. A RED DOTTED LINE will entertain, educate, and engage even the most jaded reader of international thrillers." – Nelson DeMille, New York Times bestselling author
"A RED DOTTED LINE is a taut and intelligent thriller chock full of excitement and authenticity. Simon Gervais shows off an expansive range of knowledge and an equally remarkable ability to keep a complex story moving along at a breakneck pace. The plotting is first rate, and the wide cast of standout characters memorable. Readers will find A RED DOTTED LINE reminiscent of the very best of Vince Flynn and David Baldacci." – Mark Greaney, New York Times bestselling author
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
SIMON GERVAIS was born in Montréal, Québec. He joined the Canadian military as an infantry officer and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1997. Assigned to the Infantry School in Gagetown, New Brunswick, he received extensive training in advanced reconnaissance and small-unit tactics. In 2001, he became a federal agent. His first posting was in Toronto, where he served as a drug investigator. During this time, he worked on many international drug-related cases in close collaboration with his American colleagues from the DEA. However, in 2004, his career switched gears and he was placed with a federal anti-terrorism unit based in the Ottawa Region. During the following years, he was deployed in numerous European and Middle Eastern countries. In 2009, he became a close-protection specialist tasked with guarding foreign heads of state visiting Canada. Among many others, he served on the protection details of Queen Elizabeth II, US President Barack Obama, and Chinese President, Hu Jianto. In 2012, Simon was transferred to his organization’s counter-surveillance unit. During the next two years, he participated in a number of intelligence gathering operations. In May 2014, he returned to his former unit to serve as a bodyguard for the American ambassador to Canada until his retirement in September 2014. Simon is now a full-time writer and a member of the International Thriller Writers. Simon, his wife, and their two children divide their time between Ottawa and South Florida, which they consider their second home. He is the author of two previous Mike Walton novels, THE THINK BLACK LINE and A RED DOTTED LINE, as well as the Mike Walton novella, A LONG GRAY LINE.
Read an Excerpt
Newly promoted Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Khalid al-Fadhi came carefully down the stairs, hoping the creaking of the hardwood floor wouldn't wake his wife. He had kissed his eighteen-month-old twin boys goodbye but didn't feel the need to do the same to her.
His hand had barely touched the front door's knob when his wife's voice made him cringe. Almost.
"No kiss?" she asked, already halfway down the stairs.
"I didn't want to wake you," he lied.
She hugged him, and he had no choice but to embrace her back. He scratched the back of her neck and placed his lips next to her ear.
"I'm sorry, Julia. I should have spent the weekend with you and the kids," he whispered.
His wife of ten years gently pushed him back. "That's nonsense, baby. You deserve a break too. I'm glad you had fun fishing with your buddies."
"I don't deserve someone like you." He pulled his wife back toward him.
They had met twelve years ago at the RCMP training academy in Regina, Saskatchewan, when they were both newly hired police officers. It was love at first sight. At least, this is what he had repeated over and over to Julia for the last decade. The truth was that Julia's dad was a high-ranking member of the organization. This had meant much more to him than her blond hair and thick thighs.
"I'll see you tonight," he said before closing the door behind him.
He unlocked the door of his five-year-old Audi A4 sedan and waved one last time as he accelerated away.
At six in the morning, the traffic was light, and the drive to his office took less than ten minutes. He showed his credentials to the rent-a-cop manning the front gate of Canada's federal police service headquarters. He was waved in immediately. He could have shown a Costco card and they would have waved him through. It was a farce. With everything that had happened in the world in the last five years, it was beyond him why the RCMP didn't assign real police officers to man the entry points to its headquarters.
He parked his car in his designated spot and forced himself to relax. It was going to be a busy morning.
He had a sitting prime minister to take out.
Mike Walton looked through his spotting scope.
"Confirmed," he said to Zima Bernbaum who was standing next to him in their sixth-floor suite at the Grande-Bretagne Hotel. "Jupiter is walking westbound on Vasilissis Sofias toward the Danish embassy."
"Just like he did yesterday," Zima replied. "Maybe this time the intel is good."
"Maybe. But we've been in Athens for more than forty-eight hours. I don't want to push it."
Mike and Zima were members of the International Market Stabilization Institute, a privately funded covert organization whose sole purpose was to protect the North American financial markets from any direct or indirect terror attacks. That sometimes meant chasing terrorists after the fact. Following the latest attacks in Paris, Charles Mapother — the IMSI director — had tasked Mike and Zima to pursue those responsible. It hadn't been easy. With so many agencies after the same targets, the risk of being caught in crossfire was high. In the last two months alone, Mike and Zima had stumbled three times upon a Mossad kill team going after the same targets. This has prompted Mapother to ask his friend Meir Yatom — the head of the Special Operations Division of the Mossad — to send a liaison officer to his team. Yatom had chosen Eitan David. Mapother didn't usually work with outsiders, but Yatom's team — and Eitan in particular — had conducted operations with his crew in the past with extraordinary results. Mike was confident they'd get the job done again. Eitan was not only a world-class operator; he was also Zima's boyfriend. Mike wasn't sure how he felt about Eitan and Zima working together in the field. He had voiced his concerns to Mapother, who had wasted no time in pointing out to Mike his own success in the field working with his wife Lisa. Mike had to acquiesce.
Jupiter's real name was Zaid al-Menhali. He was ISIS's chief recruiter in Greece. He had personally drafted two of the Paris terrorists into the fold. Both Mapother and Yatom wanted him dead.
"He doesn't seem to watch his back too much," Mike observed. "You'd think he'd at least change his route. You see anything, Eitan?" he added into the microphone clipped to his collar.
"Negative," the Mossad operative replied. Eitan was positioned on his scooter two street corners east of the target. "It's too early to say for sure though."
"Copy that," Mike said. "Be ready."
Next to him, Zima was taking pictures of everyone and every car passing by al-Menhali as he continued his walk toward the embassy.
With his Schmidt & Bender scope glued to his eye, Mike continued to observe al-Menhali, while Zima and Eitan busied themselves looking for counter-surveillance. Mike remained focused on the target. His feed was being transmitted live to the IMSI headquarters where a bunch of analysts, including Lisa, were assessing al-Menhali's every move.
Three angry knocks at the door startled him.
What the hell? The Do Not Disturb sign should have kept all hotel employees out. Whatever it was, Zima would have to take care of it. He couldn't afford to lose sight of al-Menhali.
* * *
Zima had her Beretta in her hands before the third knock. She pulled her cellphone out of her jean's pocket and scrolled to the application linked to the sticky camera she had positioned across the hallway.
On the other side of the door was a slim woman, dressed in a summer dress under a white light jacket, her hair up on her head. She wore a scarf around her neck and appeared to be in her twenties.
"This ain't funny, damn it! Open the door!" the young woman yelled in English.
Can't she read the sign hanging on the doorknob?
"I said I was sorry, okay? Please open the door," the woman continued, loud enough that Zima recognized an American accent.
Wrong room, lady. C'mon, go away.
Zima's hopes of a quick resolution evaporated when the woman started banging on the door with both fists.
"I know you're there, you piece of shit! Open the goddamn door!"
The woman gave Zima no choice. Another minute of this and someone would notify hotel security.
If it's not already done.
Zima unlocked the door but kept the security chain in place. She opened the door, just a crack, but it was enough. The foul odor of liquor reached her.
The woman was drunk.
"I think you knocked on the wrong room," Zima started. "I'm with my husband."
"You're with my husband? I knew it! You slut!" The woman took two steps back, clenched her fists, and rushed the door.
Zima, guessing what was about to happen, had already removed the security chain. She opened the door wide. The drunk woman, expecting to encounter a solid door, almost flew into the room. Zima dropped to the floor and scissored the woman's legs, bringing her down with a sickening thud as her head hit the floor. Zima kicked the door close and bent next to the limp woman, worry lines wrinkling her forehead.
She checked her pulse. Strong.
Keeping a close eye on the unconscious woman, Zima fished a pair of heavy-duty plastic zip ties out of Mike's backpack. Mike hadn't moved one inch during the incident. He was still immobile behind his rifle.
Zima tied the woman's hands behind her back before doing the same with her ankles. She then grabbed the woman by her feet and dragged her into the bathroom. She searched the woman for clues to her identity. Inside the jacket, she found a California driver's license, an American Express card, a two-euro coin, but no weapons.
* * *
Mike sensed Zima next to him. "What happened?" "Someone drank too much. I'm calling headquarters to check her out."
It had taken Zima less than two minutes to handle the situation. During that time, al-Menhali stayed in the same spot and burn through half a cigarette. In the background, Mike heard Zima talking to someone at headquarters. This incident changed their timing. What were the chances someone had heard the commotion and called security?
"Her name's Jane Fonseca. She's an American, and she and her husband are indeed checked in at this hotel. She had the right room, but one floor too high."
"Last processed payment was for a one hundred and ninety euros at a bar nearby."
So this was a fluke? How long could they stay in position?
"Call back Mapother and put him on speaker," he asked Zima.
Either Mapother gave them the green light to take down al-Menhali now, or Mike's next order to his team would be to pack up and leave.
New York, New York
Lisa Walton stood up from behind her desk and grimaced as pain shot up her left leg. She sat back down, out of breath. Three months had passed since the shootout in Koltsovo, Russia. Since then, she'd had good days and bad days. Today was one of the latter. Nevertheless, she was grateful to be alive. She shivered as thoughts of the Sheik played with her mind. She tried to block them out, but the smell and taste of his urine always seemed to barge through her defenses. It was a vivid reminder of how close she had come to dying at his hands. She took consolation in knowing that Mike had kicked his ass back in Mykonos, and that the Sheik was now in an underground prison without any chance of seeing the light of day again.
"You okay, Lisa?" Mapother asked, placing his hand gently on her shoulder.
"I will be," she replied. A medical doctor herself, Lisa appreciated how long the human body needed to recuperate from injuries. Wounds from bullets that tore through muscles and ligaments wouldn't heal overnight. The psychological wounds took even longer.
It was her third day back in the office. She had jumped at the opportunity to get back to work the moment the doctors cleared her. She had had enough of staying home. And she was worried about Mike. A lot. She had gotten used to being in the field with him. From Africa to Europe to Russia, they had made a great team chasing down the terrorists responsible not only for the death of their unborn child and their two-year-old daughter Melissa, but also for the worst terror attacks since 9/11. Sheik al-Assad — the man who had orchestrated these attacks — had killed their entire family during the first phase of his assault on the North American financial markets two and a half years ago. If it had not been for Mike and a few other heroes, the economic consequences would have been even worse.
She pushed the unpleasant memories of her time in the Sheik's captivity out of her mind and focused on the video feed Mike was sending to the main flat screen of the control room.
"Start cross-referencing today's feed with yesterday's," Mapother said.
Lisa's fingers danced over her keyboard. It was difficult not to marvel at the capabilities of the IMSI. Even though the IMSI's existence was known only to a select few, Mapother's organization had grown into a redoubtable counter-terrorism force. But the IMSI's many achievements had been overshadowed by some monumental failures, and Lisa wasn't sure what would happen after the next presidential election. Mapother had assured her that everything would remain the same, but she wasn't convinced. Director of National Intelligence Richard Phillips, who had previously been a staunch supporter of the IMSI, was now an unknown player. Lisa could hardly fault him for it. DNI Phillips's main job after protecting the country was to shield the president from any repercussions caused by the possible implosion of the IMSI. If the IMSI's true purpose was brought to light, the president's involvement with the IMSI would be more than enough to get him impeached. Operating under the cover of a foreign-market analysis center working for nine of the biggest corporations in the United States, the IMSI's cover was solid but had come under pressure recently when it was discovered that Steve Shamrock — one of the IMSI's founding members and the CEO of Oil Denatek — had been a traitor and the financier behind the Sheik's terror network. Charles Mapother had cleaned up the mess, but DNI Phillips had never fully regained his confidence in the organization. But he still called on the IMSI to execute the missions he felt should stay at arm's length from the United States government.
"I got something here," Jonathan Sanchez said, walking into the control room. Sanchez was a close friend of Mike and Lisa and had played a major role in bringing them to the IMSI. A former member of the 1 Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, he had fought alongside Mike in Serbia during Operation Picnic. A round had shattered his knee and forced him out of the field.
"What?" Mapother asked.
Sanchez took a picture out of a blue folder and showed it to Lisa and Mapother.
"That's Anja Skov," he said. "She's the lady Zaid al-Menhali had lunch with yesterday."
Lisa looked at the picture. Anja Skov was strikingly hot. Tall, blond hair, big blue eyes. She could have been a Victoria's Secret model.
"What do we know about her?" Lisa asked.
"She's the personal secretary of the Danish ambassador."
Lisa scratched her head. "Why would he go after her? She seems of little value. Unless she has the ambassador's ear ..."
"You're right," Sanchez said. "I doubt her security clearance alone is enough to warrant al-Menhali's attention. But she's an activist, and her boss's brother is an influential member of the Danish parliament."
"What do you mean by 'activist'?" Mapother asked, taking a closer look at the picture.
"She's very active on social media," Sanchez replied. "Mostly on Facebook. She believes the Danish government should do much more to accommodate the Muslim community and she wants it to repeal the 2002 law that made it harder for immigrants to bring their families over."
"The Danish Aliens Act," Mapother said. "I remember when this was voted in. It raised an uproar within the United Nations Human Rights Council — "
"Really?" Lisa interrupted her boss. "What doesn't raise an uproar these days?" She wasn't a big fan of the United Nations. In her opinion, the United Nations had been hijacked by political self-interest and had become a global talkfest. It was too big, consisted of too many endless bodies and committees and was good only at producing thousands of reports that nobody cared about.
"I don't disagree with you, Lisa, but that's not the point, is it?" Mapother said.
"Didn't the UN actually come up with a report condoning the Aliens Act just last May?" Sanchez asked.
Mapother nodded. "So you think she's in love with him?"
"He represents everything she's fighting for," Sanchez said.
"And we shouldn't forget that al-Menhali is a local celebrity within the Muslim community," Lisa added. "It's because of his thinly veiled threats of violence that the Greek parliament voted to speed up the taxpayer-funded mosque they'll build in Athens."
"So where does that leave us?" Sanchez asked, looking at Mapother.
"It doesn't change anything. At best, she doesn't know anything about his involvement in the Paris attacks, and, at worst, she's a minor player."
Lisa agreed with this assessment. "If al-Menhali were to die in Athens, I don't think the Greek authorities would launch an international investigation, but even if they do, we'll make sure it doesn't gain any traction."
"But if an employee of the Danish embassy is killed, that's another story. So we stick to the plan and let Mike and Zima take him out at their discretion. She lives," concluded Mapother.
That's it? Did we just decide who lives and who dies? The feeling was frightening and empowering at the same time. In the field, Lisa never had an issue taking down a target. In fact, Mike had recently told her he thought she was a bit too eager to pull the trigger on some occasions.
She had to.
Telling him the truth would have ruined her chance of getting back in the field.
"Sir?" This was from Anna Caprini. She was holding a phone against her ear. "Mike says you either give him the green light on al-Menhali now or he pulls the plug."
"Why? Did I miss something?" Mapother asked.
Lisa wondered the same.
Caprini continued, "A drunk crashed their party at the Grande Bretagne."
Lisa swore under her breath. She looked at Mapother. He was the one calling the shots, and he didn't delay in making his decision known.
Excerpted from "A Thick Crimson Line Digital"
Copyright © 2018 Simon Gervais.
Excerpted by permission of Studio Digital CT, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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