Appalled with US policy in the Middle-East,a billionaire defense contractor and a retired major general decide to mount their own Executive Action in the region. They build a small dirty bomb, and brutally brainwash a simple, garbage-truck driver, whose wife was mistakenly killed by terrorists, into exploding the device in the Grand Mosque in Mecca during the Hajj, with the intention of sparking a war between Shia and Sunni nations. As the time ticks away, can anybody stop them... Hugely pertinent and thoughtful, Executive Action asks about the world we live in and questions who really is pulling the strings on the global stage.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
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By Jac Simensen
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2015 Jac Simensen
All rights reserved.
The chauffeur pulled the black Lincoln Town Car to the front of a nondescript, office tower in Arlington, Virginia. The building was flanked on either side by identical gray, concrete towers; other than the street numbers above the entrances, the three buildings bore no identification, no company names or logos to suggest what activities might be taking place inside the sterile walls.
The afternoon sky was darkening and the smell of rain or possibly snow hung in the damp air.
A short, wiry man exited from the front passenger seat and opened the rear door for an older man with gold-rimmed glasses and snow-white hair, who unhurriedly swiveled his long legs to the pavement and stepped out of the car.
A third man emerged from the opposite side of the Lincoln; he was broad-shouldered with a thick neck, military-style brush cut, and an obviously muscular body. As he stood, he buttoned his blazer jacket to conceal the semi-automatic pistol that rode in a shoulder holster on his left rib cage. The two other men wore black trench coats over dark business suits with white shirts and conservative neckties.
The broad-shouldered man led the way to the entrance and held the door open for the others. They entered an antiseptic, high-ceilinged lobby where a security guard stood behind a granite counter. On the wall behind the counter hung a four-foot-high metallic sign with the letters DSC in blue, against a silver background. At the far end of the lobby were two elevators.
The uniformed guard deferentially nodded to the older man with the white hair. "Afternoon, Doctor Donner."
Doctor Donner smiled. "Tommy, how's your boy, still in Afghanistan?"
"He's stateside now, his mother's thrilled to have him home; enlistment's up in three more months. Thanks for asking, sir."
"If he's interested, call Jimmy the month before he gets out and we'll find a place for him."
The guard nodded again. "Thank you, sir, I'm sure he'll be very interested in joining DSC." He pushed a button below counter level and an opaque glass panel on the near wall slid open with a soft, pneumatic hiss.
The small man and the muscular man each signed the list of names that lay on the counter, then picked up a badge, and clipped it on their jacket pocket. Doctor Donner didn't bother; it was his company.
The three men walked through the open doorway and into a more comfortable lobby, one with leather furniture, artificial plants, and chrome-framed nature photos on the windowless walls. The opaque glass panel closed behind them. Next to the elevator on the far wall, an attractive, well-dressed woman was seated at a glass and chrome desk.
Doctor Donner removed his overcoat and handed it to the muscular man. "Kurt, have Tilman bring the car around in an hour for the airport." He gestured toward the third man. "Jimmy will be staying here."
Kurt nodded. "Yes, sir. Do I need to call aviation services?"
"Everything's arranged," Jimmy snapped, as he strode to the reception desk.
Doctor Donner turned and followed Jimmy; he extended his hand to the seated woman. "Matty, you're looking especially lovely today. I like the blouse, the pale green goes perfectly with your red hair."
Matty stood, smiled, and took his outstretched hand. Doctor Donner always behaved like a gentleman, but she knew from experience that one comment was his quota for small talk. "Everyone's arrived, Doctor D, they're in the third-floor conference room."
Jimmy had already pressed the call button for the elevator and held the open door.
Doctor Donner nodded to Matty and stepped into the elevator. "You've got the reports?" he asked as the doors closed.
Jimmy handed Donner a black folder sealed in the middle with a strip of silver tape. "Matty distributed the reports to the others when they arrived. I'll destroy the documents when the meeting's finished."
Matty picked up the handset from the desktop phone and pushed a button. "Doctor D's on the way," was all she said before replacing the phone in its cradle. For an office receptionist, Matilda Crane had the unusual qualifications of a security clearance and a concealed carry permit for the snub-nosed handgun tucked away in her handbag in a desk drawer.
The third-floor conference room was considerably more opulent than the surrounding Donner Systems Corporation offices. The walls were covered with light-brown padded leather and framed with honey-colored birchwood trim. The oval conference table was of Scandinavian design, in a richly figured birch veneer. The brown, ergonomic leather chairs had been custom designed to match the warm earth tones of the walls, carpet, and furniture and to support the often aching lower backs of the mostly older DSC executives and guests who met in the room. As was the practice before each scheduled meeting, the room had been "swept" that morning for microphones, transmitters, or other intrusive electronics.
Doctor Donner entered, closed the heavy door, and shuffled his six-foot-two frame toward the table. He looked at the three seated men and shook his head. "What a sorry lot of worn-out rogues," he said with a grin.
"Where in hell you been, Nick; we ran out of small talk an hour ago."
Donner extended his hand. "You've been here only six minutes, Fidel; don't start by trying to make me feel guilty. Remember, I taught you negotiating tactics."
General Thornton grinned, dropped the Washington Post he'd been reading, stood, and shook Donner's hand. Major General Frank Thornton, USAF-retired, was a large man with a deep tan and a graying crew cut. He'd been called Fidel for so many years that no one alive could recall how he got the nickname, and Thornton wasn't about to help anyone remember.
Donner beckoned to the small, dark man at the far end of the table. "Avi, come on down to this end where we can see you better, and keep your hands out of your pockets."
Avi laughed. "I'm trying to stay upwind of Jasper; smells like a bloody whorehouse, he does."
Martin Jasper was slim with an angular nose, a receding hairline, and brilliant blue eyes. He was impeccably dressed in a hand-tailored suit, custom-made shirt, and colorful silk tie. Martin rose and shook Donner's hand. "Afternoon, Nicholas," he said in a clipped, British accent. "Can we get right to it? I've a tight schedule."
"Another little boy?" Avi teased as he moved behind Jasper, shook Donner's hand, and slid into the chair on Thornton's right.
Jasper made an obscene hand gesture toward Avi, then swiveled his chair to face Donner.
"Children, children." Donner shook his head while lowering his seventy-four-year-old arthritic body into the leather chair at the head of the table that had obviously been left open for him. He wiped his gold-rimmed glasses with a pocket handkerchief and then broke the silver seal on the black folder with a ballpoint pen. Identical folders sat on the table in front of each man. Following Donner's lead, they broke the seals and examined the pages within in silence.
Five minutes later, General Thornton pushed back in his chair and closed the black folder. "Good news. Looks like they've solved the weight problem; Avi, it's under thirty kilos?"
Avi placed his hands over the folder as if to hide its contents from view. "Assuming the fruit comes in at less than eight kilos, they can do it. That's without the shielding, of course; that comes away before the package is deployed."
Doctor Donner swiveled to his right. "Jasper, the fruit?"
"Too early to say; the radiologicals are still being sourced. At the moment, I'd put the probability of achieving eight kilos at ninety percent."
"I'd feel a lot more positive if we could test this thing, lots of untried crap in here," Thornton said, tapping the folder with his index finger.
Donner shook his head. "You know that's impossible, Fidel. Satellites would pick up gamma rays and neutrons no matter what precautions were taken. DSC primed the second-generation Vela Satellites, and the technology's moved several generations beyond Vela since then; radiation from an RDD, even a lightly packed device, would be instantly detected by a dozen satellites."
Avi was perched on the edge of his chair, his arms pulled close against his body like a compact, dark hawk about to take flight. "We're working out a plan for a 'dry' test with tracers instead of the fruit. The real bomb will be considerably dirtier than a conventional radiological dispersal device. The fruit's a multisource cocktail: Strontium-90 surrounded by Cesium-137 and Iodine-131. The iodine kills within days, the other two hang around for decades. The schematics of the antitank shell were the breakthrough we needed to solve the weight problem." He nodded in acknowledgement toward General Thornton. "Give the devil his due."
"Good job, Fidel," Donner added.
Thornton's expression remained unchanged.
Avi continued, "According to the information we have, the antitank shell was tested four times with a small radiological package, but never used in combat. That was in the nineties. The concept's elegant in its simplicity and with today's explosives and electronics it's smaller, lighter, and more deadly. We've tested and retested the electrical and mechanical components without a single unpredicted event — this is gonna work just fine."
"The damage assessment's still the same?" Donner asked.
Avi nodded. "Better; explosion will destroy all non-hardened structures in a radius of a hundred to a hundred-fifty meters; roughly, one hundred yards. The radiation will kill personnel within three hundred meters, with delayed, secondary kill up to half a kilometer."
"And the residual radioactivity?" Thornton asked.
"Depending on the success of their decontamination efforts, the space within two-hundred-fifty meters from the ignition point will be inaccessible for four to five years, possibly longer."
Fidel pointed at Donner. "How about the mule?"
"Early days," Donner replied. "I've got the psychological profiling underway; next meeting I'll have more specifics about the mule."
"You know the mule's the critical link; all this other sophisticated crap won't be worth spit unless we're able to deliver the device to the target."
"Thanks for reminding us of the critical nature of the delivery, Fidel," Donner coolly replied. "Next meeting. Now, unless other salient observations need to be made, let's begin the punch list. Jasper, since you're such a busy fellow, perhaps you could start?"CHAPTER 2
"Shannon didn't get no supper, Mrs. Samadi. Her ma's run out of food 'til she gets her card filled up on Saturday."
Mu looked into the third-grader's wide brown eyes. "How do you know that, Ramon; did Shannon tell you?"
"Uh-huh, on the bus this morning she said she was so hungry that her stomach hurt. She asked if I had anything ta eat in my backpack. I only had some gum, but I gave it her. My daddy says that when your empty stomach hurts, that means you're really poor. Daddy says that when he was a kid he was poor but now we're rich."
Mu stroked Ramon's curly, black hair. "Thanks, Ramon; I'll see that Shannon gets somethin' to take home."
"Don't say I told she wouldn't like that much. Shannon's my friend and I don't want her stomach ta hurt."
Mu smiled. "Your secret's safe with me."
"Thanks, Mrs. Samadi."
Mu walked the few steps to the school cafeteria kitchen where a round, black woman wearing a patterned apron was scrubbing a very large pot in the concrete sink. "Shannon Sharp's mom's run out of food-stamp money 'til the weekend," she said. "We'll need another supper bag. You know how many kids in Shannon's family?"
Gladys frowned and nodded. "I surely do. Her mama's a longtime member of our congregation. Jus' little Shannon now; oldest boy got his-self killed in Iraq; got blowed up." Gladys pronounced Iraq as if it were spelled Eye-Rock. "Middle daughter got a government job in Tallahassee; then she got herself a fancy boyfriend and don't send money home no more, spends it all in the bars and clubs, so I hear."
"We have much food?"
"There's lotsa white bread, a couple pounds a bologna, and plenty a peanut butter; more oranges too. Milk's all gone 'til the morning." Gladys lifted the heavy pot onto the drain board. "I got lotsa eggs, but we need those for the kids' breakfast tomorrow."
"How many breakfasts are we making now, Gladys?"
"Officially forty-seven, but then there's always another dozen hungry kids who ain't been signed up yet. I was gonna do French toast with all them eggs an' bread we got, but there's no syrup. Don't think kids would like French toast without the syrup, I know I don't. Think I'll just do scrambled eggs and toast; got lots of ketchup, kids like ketchup on eggs. Sound alright?"
Mu nodded. "That's good — if you make up a few sandwiches for Shannon and her mom that should keep her stomach from hurtin' 'til breakfast; put in some oranges too, okay?"
Gladys sighed loudly. "Feels like we're jes stickin' our fingers in the dike like that kid in the story. Every school year there's more hungry kids to feed. I don't know how much longer I can do this."
Mu wrapped her arms around Gladys's broad girth and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "These are our kids, Gladys, yours and mine. We'll look after 'em like we always have, as long as the Lord allows and the state sends the money."
Gladys returned Mu's embrace and smiled a broad smile that pushed the dimples in her full cheeks up and outward. "You and me, honey, you and me," she whispered in Mu's ear.
Three generations of former Lisson Grove Elementary School students knew Muriel Samadi as the Lunch Lady. Everywhere she went in the community, she was warmly welcomed. "Hey, Mrs. Samadi, what's for lunch?" was a frequent greeting.
Since childhood, Muriel had always been called Mu. Except for Miss Caldwell who taught Home Economics at Baron County High School, everyone called her Mu. Although her performance in the more academic high-school courses was, at best, average, Mu was Miss Caldwell's star pupil. Before she graduated, Miss Caldwell had Mu baking and decorating fancy cakes, even wedding cakes, on weekends at the Caldwell Family Bakery in town. After graduation, Mu joined the bakery full time, working side by side with Miss Caldwell's elderly father in the early-morning hours, before the bakery opened, learning the baker's fragrant trade.
Mu's post-high-school social life had consisted exclusively of family and church events and occasional birthday parties or wedding showers with her female school friends. She hadn't been asked out on a regular date since eleventh grade. Mu was a big woman. She stood six foot tall, weighed in at about one-sixty-five, and had rather large hands and feet. She had perfect white teeth, a pretty smile, mousey-brown hair that she kept short, and bright brown eyes. Mu's clothing choices leaned toward extreme casual; most of the time she wore tee shirts, sweats, jeans, or knee-length shorts. She wasn't shy, but neither was she particularly outgoing.
When Miss Caldwell's father had a debilitating stroke that ended his life-long love affair with flour, sugar, yeast, and water, Miss Caldwell and Mu tried to keep the bakery afloat, but neither had any experience running a retail operation. When the new Winn-Dixie opened a few miles from the old downtown, the little bakery's fate was sealed.
The thought that she might want to live somewhere other than Lisson Grove never occurred to Mu, so she took the only culinary job in town, replacing the retiring cook at Lisson Grove Elementary. A few years later, Mu moved up to supervisor of the school's food service operation, hired Gladys, and became affectionately and permanently known as the Lunch Lady.
* * *
Rustam Kas Samadi was born and raised in Lisson Grove; no one except his mother ever called him anything but Rusty. Rusty's father was an eccentric who owned the only gas station in town. In his late twenties, Rusty's father had been resettled from Iran to Lisson Grove by the U.S. Government in return for some undefined services he'd provided to one of the U.S. intelligence agencies. Mr. Samadi, Mr. Sam, as the locals promptly named him, chose to remain mysterious, never discussing his Iranian past with his three children or his friends. He was so tight-lipped that Mr. Sam's wife died at age fifty-six without ever learning why she and Ali, her infant son, had been spirited out of Tehran in the middle of the night. Besides Rusty and Ali, the Samadis had a daughter called Shahana.
As they matured, the three Samadi children took turns pumping gas and wiping windshields while Mr. Sam sat at his desk in the cluttered gas-station office that reeked of tobacco, grease, and used motor oil. He chain-smoked Lucky Strikes, while reading volume after never-ending volume of the Great Books of the Western World. He'd been sold the expensive, faux leather, nearly unfathomable set of sixty books on the presumption that reading all of the volumes would provide him with the equivalent of a college education.
Excerpted from Executive Action by Jac Simensen. Copyright © 2015 Jac Simensen. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.5 stars there is much to be said about a novel that just reads well. I've mentioned this before in other reviews I’ve written, but a book that keeps you reading long after you plan on putting it down ranks high for me. Not only is it entertaining, but you look forward to getting back into the book each and every time you pick it up, if you have the self-control to ever put it down. That is what reading this book “Executive Action” has done for me. Typical of much of the political fiction I’ve read, it has much in the way of grittiness and high-stakes political maneuverings, yet it remains inventive. With twists and turns, you won't know who… or what… to believe and trust. The plot moved quickly and even though some traditional thriller archetypes show up, it is not in the usual way, which is refreshing. There only a few parts where I thought the pacing dragged and could have used more tension (more toward the beginning) but it definitely picked up steam as it rolled along, and that ending was amazing! A very strong effort by Jac Simensen, and I will be looking forward to reading more from him in the future.
first, I have to say that I don’t normally read books that are about world politics (or terrorism if I can help it), but considering what is happening with our elections today and the state international relations, I was curious to see what this book had to say. Color me impressed!! I wasn’t surprised to find out that this is not the author’s first fiction novel. There is such strong, vivid writing, and the characters are all fascinating, flawed, and going through their own problems. Liked Rusty, Mu, Rick, Jasper…Everything just felt “authentic” for lack of a better word. Shocking at parts (and sad), and makes you think. Dialogue, interactions, scenes, descriptions…I did notice some editing things (mostly just punctuation errors) but nothing too terrible. All in all a very good read that I’d recommend even to those who don’t normally read this sort of thing…try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
I read a lot of books in this arena, so this is a genre I’m fairly familiar with. Although “Executive Action” lacks the extreme detailing and depth of others I’ve read, nonetheless, it was an engaging novel that held my interest and made me think. I enjoyed the various POV’s Simensen employs to show us the different motivations and ramifications of the unfolding course of action, and how the storylines weave together in a tension filled, extremely climactic ending. This author crafts an authentic, engrossing novel that haunts you long after you are done, and makes you questions how much is real. Looking forward to reading more from Jac Simensen. Recommend to fans of political suspense and thrillers.
I admit took me some time to get into this book, and at first I wasn’t really sure where it was going. There was a lot of character “backstory’ right off the bat that really slowed the pacing for me. But the more I read the more I got into it, the more wrapped up I got in this world and characters Jac Simensen created. It’s weird to think it’s actually fiction as parts really seem real, and are relatable to current times. I have a feeling that this book and the characters and their fates will stay with me for some time. I thought the overall plot and narration was good, but it could have used a bit more polish as there was some long stretches of ‘telling’ of the events (as opposed to ‘showing’ us to bring us closer to the action). It’d didn’t ruin the book, but would make it better if was more intimately connected, in my opinion. Nevertheless I look forward to reading more from Mr. Simensen in the future as he is truly a gifted storyteller AND writer (not necessarily the same thing…
once I started reading “Executive Action” by Jac Simensen I didn’t want to put it down until I’d finished. Seemed never a good place just to stop for a while as the action continued to build and build. Some ‘not far out there’ scenarios that come to life, in a way that makes you wonder what is really going on behind the scenes, and just how much corruption and shenanigans affect every level of politics, local and worldwide. I personally feel that there could have been a bit more depth to some of the characters, and some scenes seemed a bit too rushed, as was the ending. It was so explosive and action packed then just stopped – almost mid-scene. Makes me wonder if there will be a follow-up but I didn’t see any mention of it. But overall an entertaining, well-written novel and for those who enjoy drama and politics, this is a good one for you.
I thought this book to be very good—excellent writing and a compelling, realistic plot set against a familiar background. I like the fact that it is a fully-realized political thriller, action adventure without all the bloat that can sometimes weigh down a complex book like this one. Simensen fills you in as we go without getting bogged down in describing every last thing, but still maintains great character and plot integrity. The story moves forward and you can't help but get sucked into Simensen’s strong narrative. And I haven't even begun to talk about the characters, which were authentic and move the story forward nicely. Some similar themes and motifs found in political thriller/suspense lore, but Simensen does a fantastic job of putting his own unique spin on them. Could benefit from some light proofreading, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment any. Recommend for mature fans of literary drama/thrillers with a realistic angle.
lately I’ve been in a rut of putting down books and not picking them up again because I lost interest at one point and just never continued. This was definitely not the case with this book, “Executive Action” by Jac Simensen! From the very beginning of the book we are drawn into this enticing political/religious underworld on a global scale, and the action and narrative flowed seamlessly from one page to the next, and was unpredictable and shocking enough to make me just *have* to see what would happen next. Not formulaic or cookie-cutter at all, even though there are plenty of “familiar elements” necessary for a political suspense thriller. I was impressed with Simensen’s writing style, and liked the characters, especially Rusty and Jasper. I have to say that I was really caught off guard by the ending… is there more to come? Seems to stop almost mid-action, and the epilogue seems to hint at more. Hope so!
no lack of ‘explosive’ drama here! Try and be bored reading this… just try. I dare ya! But seriously, this was one roller coaster ride that I was not expecting. It’s a fast read, one I finished in just a few settings, and the brisk narrative is perfect tempo for a book of this genre. Mr. Simensen uses great word economy and doesn’t bore us with too many unnecessary details. Fast, focused, and to the point, “Executive Action” is a frighteningly realistic look at what happens in the world of geo-politics and how corrupt and unethical many political entities and people can be. It’s all just a big game, and one that is fascinating, and somewhat depressing to read because it is clear that much of this is all too real, even though this book is supposedly ‘fiction’. Riveting and addicting, “Executive Action” is sure to please fans of political thrillers and contemporary drama alike.
4.5 stars great writing, great action, great characters, great plot…. Overall a terrific read that I feel really opened my eyes to the seedy underbelly of corruption on every level as it permeates the national and international political system from different perspectives. I admit this isn’t really my normal genre of reading, but the sample pulled me in, but considering this is so relevant to what is really going on in the world today, it was really worth reading more about and learning more about how people really feel and think, and what is really going on in parts of the world. This isn’t a nonfiction book, but there is enough truth in here to give you pause. I thought the writing was descriptive and the characters really helped bring the story to life in a relatable way. I can totally see this book as being a movie. Recommend.
I really enjoyed “Executive Action” by Jac Simensen, even though at first I wondered if I would because I though the beginning was pretty slow to be honest (need the ‘hook’ or inciting incidents to come much sooner, in my opinion). But the story definitely picked up as it progressed, with plots that continued to build with tension and shock and surprise. Just when you think you know what’s happening, something comes along to throw a wrench in it. This is good because I hate books that are super predictable. And this one isn’t. Although there are some familiar themes and tropes at play, Simensen brings a fresh attitude and literary style and makes it all his own and doesn’t just rehash ‘real life’. But there is plenty of that here too, which makes this book unique. I’ve read a ton of political-action thrillers & suspense over the years so I’m rarely surprised by anything anymore but I can say that this author managed to do it. After the initially slow intro, I appreciated the brisk pace and the descriptive details that really brought the story to life – authentic world building (and character development) is absolutely crucial in selling a believable story and it is done quite nicely here… Recommend for anyone (adults) who enjoy a well-written, action packed, true-to-life political thriller with unexpected twists.
holy bananas!! Okay, I don’t even know where to begin because so much happens and I don’t want to give anything away… “Executive Action” by author Jac Simensen is one of the most original and just flat-out interesting political/thriller fiction novels I’ve read in a while. I liked it for so many different reasons, first the writing was stellar. The strong word choice and fluid, fast-paced narrative and witty dialogue makes it a very easy book to sink into. There are enough descriptions where you can picture everything perfectly, but not so much that it bogs down the pacing. Because of the overarching storylines relating to real events (or plausible hypotheticals) it just felt more “intelligent” than I expected and extremely relevant to today’s international political landscape. It makes you think a bit what’s really going on, and worse – what could possibly happen. Recommend for fans of political thriller/suspense.