With charismatic billionaire Samuel Jackson Dodd at its head, a shadowy cabal of conservatives uses its power to try to win the U.S. presidency and gain complete control of the United States government.
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About the Author
JON LAND is the acclaimed author of numerous bestsellers, including Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, and The Seven Sins. Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
JON LAND is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 37 novels, including Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), and Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller). He's a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Read an Excerpt
Day of the Delphi
By Jon Land
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 1993 Jon Land
All rights reserved.
Clifton Jardine, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, looked up from the final page of the report before him.
"How many copies of this are there, Mr. Daniels?"
"You're reading the only one," Tom Daniels replied, his voice high and slightly strained. "I typed it myself."
"By Olivetti. Sorry for the typos."
Daniels was forty and had joined the Company straight out of college. Since then he had served effectively in a number of foreign bureaus before returning home to assume the mundane role of assistant deputy director of intelligence. It was a token promotion and one that would allow the Company to bury him in the bureaucracy he seemed best suited for. Nothing about him bode well for future advancement, especially his appearance. Tall and lanky, his plain suits were invariably ill-fitting. He wore his hair slicked down against its natural wave; his glasses were the photosensitive variety, but they never seemed to lighten sufficiently indoors, cloaking any expression his eyes might have shown. His voice was high and squeaky. Clifton Jardine could never recall meeting a man of less charisma. Daniels inspired no degree of confidence whatsoever, but the report the director was shuffling through again now spoke for itself.
"You'll note that the appendix details the specific travel itineraries of the subjects, sir."
Jardine looked up from the pages. "Subjects or suspects, Mr. Daniels?"
"The latter, by my interpretation."
Jardine found the proper page in the appendix and spoke as he studied it. "For men like this, extensive travel is hardly unusual."
"Again, sir, you should note that each of them visited the same eight countries over a six-month period. And the people they met with there ..."
"By your own admission, you're not certain of that. No hard data."
"I wouldn't expect there would be. The point is, we can place them together in this country five times over the past six months." Daniels paused. "My report includes their backgrounds, their dossiers, what they had been a part of."
"Emphasis on had, Mr. Daniels. Tense becomes crucial here."
"It never stopped, sir. It redefined itself and kept pursuing its agenda underground."
"And suddenly it resurfaces. Why now, Mr. Daniels?"
"Dodd, sir. He was the missing variable and the most important one."
"An assertion totally lacking in hard evidence."
"No, only indications. But they're strong, irrefutable." Daniels took a deep breath. "Dodd's the one who will finally allow them to bring this off."
"Bring what off exactly?" the director charged without giving him a chance to answer. "Your report seems to skirt that issue."
Tom Daniels took a deep breath. "The overthrow of the United States government."
The room became heavy with silence. Clifton Jardine's eyes blazed across his desk, all at once uncertain.
"Then those foreign meetings —"
"The same agenda, by all indications, is being pursued across the globe. Maybe the United States isn't enough for them anymore. Maybe watching events unfold dramatically in other countries is what finally brought them back." Daniels paused and removed his glasses to let his eyes meet the director's. "Maybe, in fact, they caused those events."
"And you're confident the timetable you suggest is accurate?"
"Yes, sir, I am."
Jardine digested this information, then rose, a clear signal for Daniels to take his leave. "You were right to bring this to me, Mr. Daniels. When the response team is in place, I'll make sure you liase."
Daniels stood up, but made no move for the door. "Sir, if I may ..."
"The fact is that the individuals mentioned in my report have been around longer than we have, longer than anyone in government has. We have no idea of how far or deep their sphere of influence extends."
Jardine's features flared. The notion that an underling with a token title could intimate such a thing was unthinkable. "Mr. Daniels, are you suggesting that my own people are not to be trusted?"
"I'm suggesting only that an operation of this scale involves too many people to be certain of them all, and under the circumstances, I'm sure you agree we must be certain."
"You have something to propose as an alternative, I assume," Jardine responded grudgingly.
"The smaller we keep the scale of our response, the better our chances of finding out how the subjects of my report intend to accomplish their goal."
"How small, Mr. Daniels?"
Jardine fanned the report's pages. "I see no inclusion of names of possible candidates in this."
"Because there's only one who is suitable, and I didn't want to be logged pulling his file from the flagged pile."
"Who are we talking about, Mr. Daniels?"
"Blaine McCracken, sir."
Jardine's response was to sit back in his chair and squeeze its arms. "A strange choice, considering your past history with him."
"Not when you consider McCracken is expendable, denounceable, and highly mobile."
"You know his background. Nobody's fought for this country harder than McCracken. No one's proven himself more often in situations comparable to the one we're facing now."
"Your analysis, Mr. Daniels, would seem to indicate there is nothing comparable."
"Granted, sir. McCracken has faced his share of madmen and psychopaths, but never anything like this. We could be talking about the end of government as we have come to know it in the United States. And it's already begun. The indications are there."
"You really believe they can pull this off, don't you?"
"They think they can."
"That's not what I asked you."
"But that's the answer that matters. Because by all rights, what they're planning to do is impossible. The mechanisms, the levels, the built-in protections of our government — they know about them as clearly as we do, clearer even. That can only mean they've found a way to transcend all of that."
"An awful lot to transcend."
"They're planning something that makes it all possible, sir, something that we aren't considering because we can't. And unless we find out what it is, how they intend to pull this off, we won't be able to stop them."
"But McCracken will ..."
"It's what he does, sir."
"... because he's highly mobile."
"If he uncovers the how, that might be enough."
Jardine tapped his fingers atop the lone copy of Daniels's report.
"Given your past dealings with him, what makes you think he'll listen to you?"
"He won't be able to pass up the meeting, sir, for that very reason."
"You'll want to run him yourself, then."
"No one runs Blaine McCracken, sir. But if you mean liase, yes. As I said, the fewer people involved in this, the better."
"He won't trust you, Mr. Daniels."
"That's what I'm counting on, sir. I don't want him to trust me or anyone else totally. It'll be enough if he believes."
Jardine lifted the report from his desk uneasily, as if portions of it were hot. "I'll want to be kept informed of every step," he said finally.
"Of course, sir."
"When you reach McCracken, I'll want to know."
"When the meet is set, I'll want to know."
"I understand, sir."
"And one more thing, Tom. Knock off the sir business. It's Cliff from now on." Jardine tried for a smile and failed. "With the secret the two of us are sharing, we should at least be on a first-name basis."CHAPTER 2
"Throw him the fuck out the window!" Vincente Ventanna ordered.
The ferret-faced man in the baggy floral shirt sank to his knees pleadingly. "Please, Mr. Ventanna, it won't happen again. I promise!"
Ventanna snorted a line of coke right off his fingertip. "You're right, Hector. It won't happen again because you're gonna go splat eight stories down." His glassy eyes climbed to the muscle-bound shapes looming over the drug dealer who had tried to cheat him. "Luis, Jesus."
"Please," Hector moaned, stinking of sweat and yesterday's cologne. "Please!"
By then, though, Jesus and Luis had already dragged him out onto the balcony overlooking the ocean. Worst thing about tonight, Ventanna figured, was that he'd never be able to return to this, his favorite residence. Located off the Rickenbacker Causeway in the heart of Key Biscayne, Key Colony was one of Miami's most fashionable condominium developments. Ventanna had owned this penthouse in the Tidemark building for a couple years now. Threw lots of good parties and did lots of good shit. Place brought him luck. But everything comes to an end, and shit, the Key hadn't been the same since Hurricane Andrew gobbled up all the trees.
He reached the balcony just as Jesus finished prying Hector's right hand off the railing. "Have a safe flight, amigo."
Ventanna blew the remnants of the white powder off his fingertip. It caught in the wind and swirled about.
Jesus and Luis hurled Hector out into the night air.
Hector's scream tailed off as he dropped. Ventanna reached the railing after he had landed with a thud on the cement between the building and the pool.
Ventanna began laughing hysterically. "Throw 'im the fuck out the window," he wheezed between guffaws, an arm slapped around the shoulder of each of his henchmen. "Throw 'im the fuck out the window!"
His eyes had teared up from the laughing fit and he dabbed them with his sleeve as he stumbled back into the living room. "Okay, Marco, who we got next?"
A man in a peach-colored suit moved away from a door leading into one of the condo's bedrooms. "Dude that's been asking about you around South Beach. We picked him up at Strumpet's."
The smile vanished from Ventanna's face. "A fag joint?"
"You're telling me this dude was looking for Vincente Ventanna. at a fag joint?"
Ventanna started laughing again. "I'm gonna throw him the fuck out the window, too."
Hysterical, Ventanna dropped back into his chair and waved for the man to be brought out into the living room. He emerged between a pair of hulks who might have been twins of Jesus and Luis, Uzi submachine guns slung from their shoulders. Dude was a big man himself, upper body layered in a muscular V. He had a scruffy close-trimmed beard, curly hair, and the darkest eyes Ventanna had ever seen. His arms were tied in front of him, the sleeves pulled up to reveal a pair of thick, sinewy forearms. Dude had a hard face that didn't waste an expression, angular with thin furrows cut out of his brow and lots of shadows to hide his secrets. Ventanna had the man dead to rights, but look at him and it seemed like he was in charge.
Ventanna settled himself down and took a sip from his hefty glass of iced vodka on the rocks. "Hey, amigo, what you doing looking for me in a fag joint?"
Those black eyes didn't blink. "Seemed the best place to find the biggest asshole in Miami."
Ventanna spit out a mouthful of vodka. "Hey, you got a sense of humor. You a funny dude." He pulled himself to his feet and noticed a jagged scar that ran through the big man's left eyebrow. "I like that. So you know what I'm gonna do?"
"Can't wait to hear."
"I'm gonna throw you the fuck out the window."
Ventanna had barely got the sentence finished before collapsing in another fit of laughter. He looked up to see that, surprisingly, the bearded man had joined in.
"You think that's funny, amigo?"
"No, I think you are."
Jesus and Luis touched the Glock nine-millimeter pistols wedged uncomfortably in their belts. Ventanna shook them off.
"You got balls, eh? You a reaaaaaaal tough guy."
"A couple questions, then I leave." The man's dark eyes drifted to the balcony, empty like glass. Maybe the muscles in his forearms flexed a little. The shadows on his face seemed to spread outward, threatening to swallow it. "I'll even forget about unscheduled Flight Hector."
Ventanna climbed back to his feet. "Hey, thanks ever so much, maahn. I guess I owe you big time."
"Your choice, Ventanna. Easy or hard."
Ventanna tapped his finger against the air. "You know I mighta let you go if you hadn't looked for me in a fag joint. I could overlook everything else except that. Now you know what I gotta do?"
"Throw me the fuck out the window?"
"You catch on fast, amigo." His drug-glazed stare struggled to stay fixed on the black eyes of the big man. "Jesus, Luis!"
The two monsters came forward and grabbed the captive at either arm. The two who had been holding him backed off submissively.
"Throw him the fuck out the window!"
Jesus smashed the big man in the stomach, doubling him over. Luis followed with an elbow to the back of his head, which sent him to the marble floor.
"Hard, maahn," Ventanna taunted. "I choose hard."
They dragged the big man onto the balcony. Ventanna reached the sliding glass door just as they hoisted him back to his feet. His head had slumped over the rail.
Ventanna flapped his hand childishly, laughing as his monsters started pulling the big man forward.
Then something happened.
Because of the mind-dulling drugs he'd been downing all night, Ventanna saw it unfold in slow, surreal motion. First the big man's arms, suddenly not bound at all, came up behind the monsters' heads. Then his whole frame was behind them, yanking the hulks brutally backwards by the collars and then shoving with equal force forward.
The monsters flew over the balcony screaming. The Glocks that had been wedged through their belts were now in the big man's hands. They came up as Ventanna stood there, his feet melting into the marble.
The two other hulks back in the living room fought to get their Uzis unslung, and Blaine McCracken shot them both before either had touched his trigger. The man in the peach-colored suit had managed to free his pistol and aim it. But McCracken ducked behind the cover provided by the rigid Ventanna. When the man hesitated, McCracken put two nine-millimeter bullets in his chest. His peach suit turned red.
Blaine grabbed the still-stunned Ventanna and slammed him against the balcony. "You should have chosen easy."
"Wh-wh-who are you?"
"The man who's gonna throw you the fuck out the window."
"No, maahn! Please! Just tell me what you want."
"Might be too late for that," Blaine said and shoved Ventanna's head farther over the top rail.
Blaine pulled him back. "One chance, Ventanna."
"Yes! Anything! Anything!"
Cassas stood on the corner of Florida Avenue and Mayfair Boulevard in Miami's Coconut Grove, hating what he saw around him and loving what was about to become of it. Any night of the week will find Miami's Coconut Grove cluttered with people into the early hours of the morning. Sidewalk and bar space is staked out and held fast to. Moving anywhere without jostling or being jostled becomes impossible. Salsa and rock music from jam-packed bars pour into the streets, lyrics warring to form little more than babble. Teenagers cluster by the doors eyeing the mostly college-age patrons enviously, waiting for the proper moment to duck through. It all makes for an experiment in chaos.
No one in the Grove paid any attention to Cassas. He had spent a good part of his life blending in, and it was especially easy to blend in here among those who cared nothing for those they did not recognize. For all intents and purposes, he was invisible.
The cellular phone made a slight bulge in his inside jacket pocket, and Cassas kept his eyes directed toward the Cocowalk mall diagonally across the street. Pounding chords of rock music drifted from within it, courtesy of a live concert that had begun at midnight. A new song had begun; "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones, Cassas noted. How fitting.
In the sky above him, a helicopter swooped lower to better direct its spotlight upon this cluttered mass of decadent humanity. To Cassas it seemed like one of those old war movies where the searchlight cuts back and forth across the prison camp through the long night in search of potential escapees. Well, this, too, was a prison, except no one was going to escape.
Cassas turned his gaze upward again. The chopper continued its sweep, cutting neat patterns out of the sky.
Not long now, he thought as he nearly collided with a big, bearded man in a white suit. Not long at all.
McCracken had first thought the man was drunk, then realized he was just staring up at the helicopter that was carving up the darkness with its spotlight. Blaine turned off Florida Avenue onto Mayfair Boulevard toward the centerpiece of Coconut Grove: Cocowalk, a four-story indoor/ outdoor mall complex formed of retail stores squeezed amidst sprawling nightclubs. He had left Vincente Ventanna bound and gagged in a garage storeroom of the Tidemark back at Key Colony just two hours before. It was closing on one A.M. now, and the night in the Grove was still heating up. Blistering guitar riffs battled a Mick Jagger wanna-be for control of the air as "Sympathy for the Devil" continued.
"I'm looking for a gunrunner," McCracken had said to Ventanna back on the penthouse balcony, the sound of approaching sirens drifting through the night. "Calls himself Manuel Alvarez. I believe you've made his acquaintance."
"Yes, but he is little more than a strang —"
Excerpted from Day of the Delphi by Jon Land. Copyright © 1993 Jon Land. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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.
Table of Contents
PART ONE - COCOWALK,
PART TWO - OPERATION YELLOW ROSE,
PART THREE - WHITE SANDS,
PART FOUR - THE DELPHI,
PART FIVE - THE BATTLE OF WASHINGTON,
Also by Jon Land,
DEMOCRACY UNDER SEIGE!,
THE KINGDOM OF THE SEVEN - A Blaine McCracken Novel,
About the Author,