Code Red is what thrillers are all about — scintillating action, a strong hero and villains you love to root against. All that, and a plot that engages remarkably well with the modern world.
Mitch Rapp hates owing anyone a favor—especially when it’s the world’s most powerful crime lord. But when Damian Losa calls, Mitch is honor-bound to answer.
The Syrian government appears to have created a highly addictive new narcotic that it plans to distribute throughout Europe. It’s a major threat to Losa’s business and he’s determined to send someone to keep him on top by any means necessary.
Rapp is the perfect choice for the mission. Not only does he have extensive experience operating in the Middle East, but he’s also entirely expendable.
As he crosses into war-torn Syria, Rapp quickly discovers a shocking truth. The new drug isn’t being produced by Damascus to prop up the government’s collapsing finances. Instead, it was created by Russia’s asymmetrical warfare unit, not for profit but as a weapon against the West.
With far more than Damian Losa’s interests at stake, Rapp devises a desperate plan that forces him and his team onto a battlefield where the United States is virtually powerless and allegiances shift almost hourly. Further, if Russia uncovers their plot, it will set off a confrontation between the two countries that could change the course of human history.
About the Author
Kyle Mills is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three political thrillers, including Code Red, Total Power, Lethal Agent, and Red War for Vince Flynn and The Patriot Attack for Robert Ludlum. He initially found inspiration from his father, the former director of Interpol, and still draws on his contacts in the intelligence community to give his books such realism. Avid outdoor athletes, he and his wife split their time between Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Granada, Spain. Visit his website at KyleMills.com or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @KyleMillsAuthor.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1 CHAPTER 1
HINDU KUSH MOUNTAINS
MITCH Rapp raised a fist before crouching next to a jumble of boulders. The men behind him would do the same, melting into the darkness and scanning for threats.
Sometimes, though, those threats were hard to see.
To the north, the Hindu Kush mountain range was outlined against the stars. A few of its taller peaks were still holding on to snow that shone dully in the celestial light. They dominated everything in this region, providing mortal dangers to the local inhabitants as well as the means for their survival. Even the shallow canyon Rapp found himself in was the result of ancient glaciers that had made their way across the valley floor.
Water was scarce, but the fact that the ditch to his left was lined with low grass and scrub hinted at its presence just beneath the surface. Not enough to sustain anything that most people would recognize as civilization, but sufficient for a few hearty souls to eke out an isolated existence. And for all their faults, no one could say that the Afghans weren’t hearty souls.
A broad agricultural plot ahead suggested that they were closing in on their target and that’s what had prompted the stop. Confirming what he’d seen on the reconnaissance photos, it appeared to have gone fallow some time ago. A few stone barriers and terraces were all that was left of what was once probably not much former glory. Most likely a family poppy operation with a few goats thrown in. Afghanistan the way it had been before and now was again.
The war was finally over, and it had ended pretty much how Rapp had always expected. To some extent, America was a ceaseless victim of its own success. Over the course of a couple hundred years, it had gone from a British colonial backwater to the most powerful country of the modern era. It had developed the ultimate secret sauce and was happy to pass out the recipe to anyone interested. Who wouldn’t want that? When the US military rolled across your border, it wasn’t to subjugate your country, it was to deliver you from oppression, provide education and health care, and build infrastructure. To create a pothole-free path to peace, freedom, and prosperity.
With all those rainbows and unicorns, what could possibly go wrong?
Same answer as always. Everything.
The Americans had never managed to assemble an Afghan government that wasn’t a combination of the Three Stooges and Dr. Evil. That had created an environment in which the US military had to take over the administration of the country’s affairs, while Afghan officials focused on stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down. Ironically, what had kept Afghanistan on a reasonably even keel during the occupation wasn’t their confidence in their own government, but rather their confidence in the American one. Much like the Romans of the distant past, the US could be more or less counted on to live up to their agreements, pay people on time, and generally get shit done.
When that abruptly ended, the locals had a choice to make, and they’d chosen the Taliban. It was something Rapp had warned Washington about more times than he could count. While the Taliban were brutal and repressive, they were also predictable. And in this part of the world, predictability was about the best facsimile of stability anyone could hope for.
Back in the US, the mess of a war was inevitably followed by the mess of a pullout and then a mess of finger-pointing. Generals at politicians, politicians at the intelligence community, officers at generals, enlisted men at officers. The truth was that it was a failure at every level. One that the exhausted American people now preferred to pretend never happened.
All of which had combined to bring him to this place at this moment.
There were still a little over twenty Americans trapped in-country under various circumstances. Unfortunately, that wasn’t a story anyone wanted to tell. It didn’t fit into the former president’s image of godlike master of the universe, and the media didn’t see any profit in giving airtime to a subject that made Americans reach for the remote. Fortunately, with a new occupant in the Oval Office and Irene Kennedy back in control of the CIA, the clandestine services were finally able to start tackling the issue.
Or at least that was the theory.
After two minutes of motionlessness, Rapp hadn’t heard anything that couldn’t be attributed to the air filtering through the mountains. He motioned for his men to follow and continued along the degraded trail.
They’d already managed to get eight hostages out the easy way—with money. Taliban rule had plunged much of the country into poverty so abject that even the tough-as-nails Afghans were having a hard time hanging on. Famine was on the horizon and reports of people being forced to sell their children just to survive were becoming increasingly common.
It was a level of desperation that made even the most hardened jihadist forget about revenge in favor of finding the means to feed their families. With one exception, every kidnapper they’d contacted had been happy to just take the cash. And now Rapp had returned to Afghanistan to deal with that exception.
Based on the Agency’s network of informants, the two American nationals in question were being held in a village not far from there. Negotiations carried out by a local intermediary had gone nowhere, and after an offer of a million US dollars hadn’t even rated a response, Kennedy decided it was time to extract the hostages by a more direct method.
The question was, why didn’t this group want the money? Why were they looking to start a fight they were destined to lose? Based on the best intel available, they weren’t even Taliban. Just an extended family group consisting of maybe forty individuals living in the middle of nowhere. They had no dog in this race. Hell, there was no race anymore.
In the end, Rapp suspected it had less to do with the Afghans than it did the former US president and his CIA chief. Anthony Cook had only managed to stay in the White House for a short time, but he still cast a long shadow—particularly at the Agency. His authoritarian views had found a surprising number of sympathetic ears in the organization, as had his plan to turn it into an apparatus with no purpose other than to consolidate his power. Kennedy was still trying to sort out who could be trusted and who needed to be shown the door, but it was a difficult and sometimes painful task. People they’d known and worked with for years had been seduced by Cook’s vision and were still working to undermine her.
With that hurricane blowing in Langley, it wasn’t particularly far-fetched to think that a faction still loyal to the former administration was trying to lure Rapp into an ambush. He’d been Kennedy’s operational right hand for decades and losing him would be a significant blow to her. Maybe even a fatal one given the current political environment.
A village perched on an east-facing hillside emerged from the darkness and Rapp signaled his column to stop again. He dropped to his stomach, slithering to the edge of the creek and descending into it. A trickle of water at the bottom shone black as he passed silently over it and climbed the other bank. Propping his HK416 rifle over the edge, he used its thermal scope to examine the settlement in more detail.
The scree-covered slope leading to it was steep, climbing maybe two hundred yards before reaching the lowest of nine visible buildings. All were constructed of stone—simple rectangular structures with flat roofs and one or two wood-framed windows. None appeared to contain glass and there was no sign of life at all.
“Looks good for our original incursion plan,” he said into his throat mike. “No contacts and the layout’s as expected. Advise when you’re in position.”