In this riveting novel by two of Washington’s ultimate insiders, the chain of command is threatened when political power is bought in blood.
“At thirty-two minutes past eight this morning, in a clear act of terrorism, the president of the United States was assassinated.”
Secret Service Agent Michael Delaney has devoted his entire career to protecting America’s highest ranking elected officials. But when his gun is found next to the bloody corpse of the President of the United States, he becomes the prime suspect in a brutal assassination that stuns the nation. As the vice president assumes control of the shaken government, a series of violent terrorist attacks is launched in cities across America, causing the government to take ever more desperate steps to keep the population safe. Shockingly, the resourceful enemy they are fighting comes not from another country but from within America’s borders.
With each passing hour, the potential for catastrophe grows and the web of evidence implicating Delaney in the plot grows more convincing. It will take all his cunning and years of special training to find out who is framing him for the murder of a president. Not only are his reputation and liberty at stake but the liberty of all Americans.
Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and acclaimed writer Peter Schweizer take readers deep inside the US government’s secret halls of power. From the Pentagon to Camp David, from the White House Situation Room to the inner sanctums of the FBI, the authors share their intimate knowledge of Washington’s behind-the-scenes world to spin an explosive tale of intrigue that is chillingly real and breathtakingly suspenseful.
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About the Author
Caspar W. Weinberger was a politician and businessman who served in a variety of prominent roles, most notably as Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1987—the third longest tenure for a Secretary of Defense in US history. Later, Weinberger became publisher and chairman of Forbes, where over the next decade he wrote frequently on defense and national security issues. In 1990, he wrote Fighting for Peace, an account of his Pentagon years; in 1996, Weinberger coauthored a book entitled The Next War, which raised questions about the adequacy of US military capabilities following the end of the Cold War. Chain of Command is his first novel. Weinberger died in 2006.
Peter Schweizer is American investigative journalist, novelist, author, and political consultant. Previous works, including Friendly Spies and Victory, have been translated into multiple languages. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs and The New York Times. Chain of Command is his first novel.
Read an Excerpt
Friday, October 26, 9:08 A.M.
The Paymaster was opening his third pack of Marlboros when the phone rang. He dropped the cigarette pack on the desk. He'd been expecting the call, but still his fingers trembled nervously as he picked up the receiver.
"What!" he demanded.
The paymaster was sitting in a large, bare room in a slightly run-down industrial park outside Reston, Virginia. He was five feet six, bald, and soft-looking. He wore a pale blue short-sleeved polyester shirt and a dark blue polyester necktie. The sign above the door of the office read gilliland products. What kind of products, the sign didn't say. The paymaster had written a check in the amount of $936 to a graphic designer who wore too much hair gel to design the sign and another check in the amount of $458 to a painter to produce the sign itself. The paymaster remembered things like that numbers, figures, amounts. That's why he was good at his job. Gilliland Products had never had a customer or even a visitor during the entire year of its existence. In fact, when you got right down to it, there was no such thing as Gilliland Products at all. Just this seedy little office situated between a tae kwon do school and a nearly bankrupt caterer. The office contained one chair and one desk leased as a package from Staples ($27 a month), a low-end computer leased from Gateway ($48 a month), and one telephone equipped with the most sophisticated encryption available anywhere on the planet. The paymaster didn't know how much the phone cost and didn't care.
"It's done," the voice on the other end of the line said.
"We've been over thisbefore. Initiate the termination procedures and proceed to Location Alpha."
"Roger that, Roger," the paymaster said derisively, stealing a line from the movie Airplane.
"Look, you little weasel, how about I spell this out. You think you're gonna pull a fast one, walk off with that hard drive? Uh-uh. If you don't burn that hard drive along with everything else, I will bury you in a hole where they'll never find you."
Burn the hard drive. Yeah, right. The paymaster's mama didn't raise no fool. That hard drive was the paymaster's ticket.
"Excuse me," the paymaster said, "but I know the procedure. Okay? I wrote the procedure." Which was a lie, of course. But who cared?
The paymaster slammed down the phone, finished opening his cigarette pack, lit up his forty-first Marlboro since he had come into the office the previous night. Then he took a Leatherman multitool out of his pocket and unscrewed the casing of the computer. Wouldn't you know it: as usual, the hard drive was always buried in a completely inaccessible location. As a result the Leatherman was really not up to the job of getting the retaining screws out.
The paymaster was beginning to sweat, and the Marlboro had burned right down to his lip by the time he got the first two screws out of the mounting bracket. He tossed his cigarette butt on the floor, started working on the third screw. At which point, the Leatherman slipped, and he gashed his finger on the sheet metal. Blood started oozing from the wound. The paymaster didn't like blood, it made him queasy. Which made him rush. Which made him careless. He stripped the fourth screw.
The hard drive hadn't budged. He planted his foot against the side of the computer and yanked. The sheet metal mounting bracket gave way, and the hard drive popped right out in his hand.
He smiled, opened his briefcase, took the dummy hard drive out of its factory-sealed package, and slid it into the drive bay.
Only it didn't fit because he'd ruined the mounting bracket getting the other one out.
He stared angrily at the offending hard drive. What was he going to do now?
Oh, for goodness sake! he thought. He was being paranoid. It's not like they were going to check. He had been absurdly cautious as it was. He slid the dummy drive in as far as it would go, plugged in the wire harness, slid the case back onto the computer, tightened the screws, and walked out of the building with the hard drive bumping around in his otherwise empty briefcase.
He started the engine of his Lexus, dialed a number on his cell phone, punched in a code his mother's birthday as it happened then backed out of his parking space.
He was halfway out of the parking lot when the first wisp of smoke began creeping out of a small black box mounted along the baseboard next to the desk he'd rented from Staples. By the time the paymaster's Lexus reached I-66, the entire building was enveloped in flame.
Copyright © 2005 by Caspar Weinberger and Peter Schweizer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It's nice having the former Secretary of Defense write a book as you really get the accuracy of inside the government. I really liked this book and couldn't put it down. It's on the order of the Baldacci books.
A summer thriller requiring more than a usual dollop of suspended disbelief. The plot doesn't bear a lot of reflection before it begins to seem improbable but a number of sloppy errors do intrude: example, the authors have the hero drive east from Washington DC to get to the Shenandoha. The book hopes to trade on Cap Weinberger's name, and his familiarity with such as Camp David and other geography of the presidency does add some authority to the plot. The book is not soaked in Republican or conservative politics, so its sales will not be limited to red states and the language and activities of the book's characters are safely within PG ratings. In all, a summer diversion about the right length for the beach or a long flight.