From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp Series
It's bold. It's dangerous. It's the kind of maverick operation that has made Mark Beamon both the FBI's best agent and its least-likely-to-succeed screw-up.
A top-secret FBI file -- buried in an anonymous government warehouse since J. Edgar Hoover's death -- is missing. The unlucky grad student who uncovered it is dead, and now his ex-girlfriend is on the run, accused of the murder. The only man everyone agrees can find the young woman and turn up the explosive document is "off-duty," suspended and under the threat of prosecution by the bureau itself.
Beamon knows better than anyone that this is his last shot to save his career -- and his country. Tracking the young woman down, though, will be the hardest assignment he's ever tackled, for she's a gutsy world-class rock-climber who can drop out of sight anywhere in the world. And even if he finds her and the file, who can he trust when the FBI itself is under suspicion? Beamon has no room for wrong guesses -- or moves. If he blows this one, he'll free fall straight out of the bureau -- and straight into prison....
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About the Author
Kyle Mills is the author of Sphere of Influence, Burn Factor, Free Fall, Storming Heaven, and Rising Phoenix.
Read an Excerpt
Tristan Newberry glanced up at the seemingly endless rows of gray metal shelves surrounding him and immediately spotted the ancient black man as he came around a mountain of file boxes.
"You ready for another one?" the man said as he continued to shuffle, slightly stooped, in Tristan's direction.
"Guess so." Tristan wedged a toe under the box at his feet and lifted it a few inches off the floor. Still a little heavy. The old security guard, as the only other human being inhabiting this forgotten warehouse, insisted on helping lug files around. But at seventy-two, his back wasn't what it once was. Tristan crouched down, pulled out a few of the heavier looking bundles, and laid them on the floor.
"Watcha doin'?" Carl said, continuing to deliberately close the distance between them. Same question every day.
"The bottom of this box looks like it's about to fall through." Same answer every day.
Carl nodded sagely and accepted the white lie with a grateful smile.
Tristan hefted the box with an exaggerated grunt and presented the light end to the old man who got a firm hold of it and began shuffling slowly backward. "Probably ought to cut down here," he said, adjusting his trajectory a bit. "Looks like we got another leak the other way."
Tristan looked up at the tangle of pipes running across the ceiling and tried to spot the particular one that Carl was talking about. The insulation surrounding most of the lines had started to rot years ago and now the condensation was beginning to slowly drip on the mindless government drivel contained on the shelves below. After the first few weeks of being trapped there,Tristan began to notice that the distinctive smell of mold was still clinging to him on his drive home. Now it hung on even after his evening shower.
This wasn't how things were supposed to have worked out.
He'd been a year into his law degree at Georgetown University when the economy had gone into a tailspin. By that time, he'd already sold damn near everything he owned to pay for tuition and was up to his eyeballs in credit card debt and student loans. But who cared? In less than two years, he'd graduate and sign on with some prestigious law firm for a hundred grand a year, right?
Wrong. Last year's law school graduating class probably had more lawyers in it than there were practicing. And they were all going after the same ten jobs. He'd recently run into a friend who had passed the bar six months ago, working in a video store.
So he'd no choice but to drop out and take a shot at landing a job in one of the few growth industries left in America: the government. Or more specifically, declassifying documents through the newly fortified Freedom of Information Act.
He showed up for the open interview and was directed toward a waiting room so full of other potential applicants that some of them had been forced to stake out small areas of industrial green tile and sit on the floor. After a few seconds of milling through the crowd and discovering just how jealously those tiles were being guarded, he'd headed for the door. What chance did he have? He was just a penniless law school dropout from a poor farming family with no connections and no background in government work.
He'd been halfway down the hall, and nearly to freedom, when a young woman in thick, black-framed glasses jogged up behind him and took him by the arm. He could still hear her voice: "Mr. Newberry. I'm sorry. You were directed to the wrong interview."
He'd followed obediently through the maze of hallways, stairs, and elevators, long enough for his normally infallible sense of direction to start to spin, then was deposited in a small, windowless office somewhere deep in the building.
It was there that he had met some bald guy with marginal dental work and heard the rather cryptic legend of the Misplaced Documents. The guy had gone on to tell Tristan how his rée;sumé was most impressivewhich it wasn't-and how he seemed to be imminently qualified to help in the search-which he wasn't. Blah, blah, blah.
At first he hadn't been that interested in the man's story. He just wanted a secure job that would pay enough to keep him living at a reasonable standard until the economy turned around. But the more the guy talked-in circles, mostly-the more captivated he became. Bald Guy-he honestly couldn't remember his name-had told him that the person they were looking to hire would be kind of the Indiana Jones of the National Archive. Now, how could anybody resist a pitch like that?
"On three," Carl said.
Tristan followed Carl's lead and gently swung the box as the old man counted. On three they dropped it on the card table Tristan had been using as a workspace since his first day.
"I'll go grab the stuff you took out," Carl said, already moving off in the direction they'd come from. Tristan nodded absently and peeked into the box. What would it be today? Farm subsidy budgets from the 1940s? An in-depth statistical analysis of the height of wheat versus inches of rainfall? Whatever.
As was so often the case, the reality of the job hadn't quite lived up to the initial hype. The real story was that, a while back, some government moron had deposited a hand-truck full of apparently sensitive FBI documents in the middle of an Agriculture Department storage facility. And now they needed to be found before the warehouse could be emptied into the public domain.
It hadn't seemed like a particularly monumental task until Bald Guy had started slapping down thick stacks of bound paper.
"Revision of the filing system," he'd said. Slap.
"Original warehouse closed down, documents moved." Slap.
"Broken water line, documents moved again." Slap.
"Construction." Slap. It had gone on like that until there was a paper trail nearly eight inches in height teetering on the desk.
Strangely, though, the job was right up Tristan's alley. Since grade school whenever he'd taken those tests where you had to find patterns in streams of numbers or geometric shapes, he'd always scored off the scale. He'd told Bald Guy as much during his interview and gotten a disinterested smile that seemed to say "lucky for us."Free Fall. Copyright © by Kyle Mills. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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In a world of political thrillers, I have the feeling that Kyle Mills will soon be a very big playwright.