From a bestselling author with intimate knowledge of CIA tradecraft comes an electrifying novel of terrifying possibilities –– a story of betrayal and secrets that could implode America's war on terrorism ... and a nightmarish conspiracy firmly rooted in the very highest levels of our nation's government.
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About the Author
Seven-time New York Times bestselling author John Weisman is one of a select company of authors to have their books on both the Times nonfiction and fiction bestseller lists. He pioneered coverage of Naval Special Warfare when he co-authored the number one New York Times bestseller Rogue Warrior, the story of Richard Marcinko and the creation of SEAL Team 6, and then conceived, created, developed, and wrote eight bestselling Rogue fictional sequels. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Seymour Hersh praised his 2004 novel Jack in the Box as "the insider's insider spy novel." Weisman's CIA short stories were chosen for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories in 1997 and 2003. His most recent CIA short fiction appears in Agents of Treachery. He reviews books on intelligence and military affairs for the Washington Times, and his analysis has appeared in AFIO's periodical Intelligencer. John Weisman lives sin the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Read an Excerpt
Jack in the Box
A Shadow War Thriller
Friday, October 23, 1998
Sam Waterman spent the morning of his forty-fifth birthday a hostage to his profession, stuffed rudely onto the rear floorboard of one of the consulate's 1985-vintage four-door Zil sedans, the driveshaft hump wedged uncomfortably against his kidneys, his long legs tucked fetal, his body hidden under a damp blanket. Even though he knew he couldn't be seen through the dark-tinted windows, he still held his breath as the car clunked over the antiterrorist barriers just prior to passing the Russian police checkpoint outside the garage gate. He exhaled slowly when the driveshaft under his side whined as the car merged into the late-morning traffic.
"Keep going, keep going," Sam instructed tersely from under musty cover. "Don't check your mirrors. Just drive. Nice and easy."
"Don't have a cow, man." That was Consular Officer Tom Kennedy, imitating Bart Simpson. Tom, who'd been recruited to do the driving, could impersonate Bart perfectly. He was still working on his Homer, though, running and rerunning the videotapes his sister sent him through the mail pouch, night after night after night. Which kind of told you what Moscow's social life had to offer a reasonably good-looking African-American juniorgrade diplomat, even in these post-Soviet days.
Sam grunted and shifted his position slightly, trying to reduce the pressure on his kidneys as the car turned left, heading west.
"We're on Kutuzovsky Prospekt," Homer told him. "Doh. Crossroads of the world."
"Tom, put a cork in it." Christ, he'd warned the kid this was serious business, and the youngster still wanted to talk. Not good. Because they weren't safe. Not by a long shot. FSB, the Russian internal security agency, had inherited the KGB's elaborate passive surveillance system. Vizirs they were called -- long-range, high-power telescopes mounted on sturdy tripods, positioned in buildings along Moscow's major thoroughfares. The watchers would scan for diplomatic plates, and peer inside the cars. If they saw your lips moving, they'd take note. Were you talking to someone hidden in the car? Were you operating a burst transmitter in the open briefcase on the passenger seat? Were you broadcasting? If they thought you were up to no good, they'd dispatch one of the static counterintelligence teams that were all over the city to do a traffic stop -- dip plates or no.
And Sam couldn't afford a traffic stop. Not today.
Today he had to meet General Pavel Baranov at precisely five past one, and failure wasn't a viable option. The rendezvous was critical. Baranov had used his emergency call-out signal, an inconspicuous broken chalk line on a weatherworn lamppost sixty yards from the entrance to the Arbatskaya metro stop. Sam had seen the long-short-short Morse code signal last night on his regular evening jog -- a five-mile run that began outside the embassy's faded mustard-colored walls and took a long, meandering, but unfailingly consistent route that brought him all the way to the western boundary of the Kremlin, and thence back toward the embassy.
The Arbatskaya signal site and the letter D were to be used by Baranov only under crisis conditions. Still in his running gear, Sam sent Langley a code-word-secret "criticom," an urgent cable alerting his division chief to Baranov's emergency signal (in the cable Sam referred to Baranov not by his true name, but by his CIA cryptonym, GTLADLE; Sam's CIA in-house pseudonym, which he used to sign the cable, was Cyrus N. PRINGLE). In it, he enumerated all the operational details for the emergency PMP3 and requested comment. Today he was awake by five, running and rerunning the operation in his mind. By six he was in the office, checking for response from Langley -- there was none, which was typical -- and removing gear from the duffel he kept in ------ walk-in safe.
The next step was to shanghai young Tom Kennedy, one of three greenhorn consular officers Sam had identified as potential decoys. The decoy factor was critical. As CIA's Moscow chief, Sam was "declared" to the Russians. He even held regular meetings with his counterparts at SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service. And thanks to an American defector, a CIA turncoat named Edward Lee Howard who'd been transferred into FSB, Russia's internal security and counterintelligence service by Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin's aggressive new director of counterintelligence, FSB pretty much knew who was Agency and who wasn't.
Ed Howard and Sam Waterman had history. In fact, sometimes Sam felt as if the traitor was shadowing him. He and Howard had been members of the same basic Russian-language studies class at Georgetown University. Subsequently, Howard sat next to Sam at the CIA's language institute in Rosslyn during the two-year, advanced Russian course. They'd even shared a room at ------, the Agency's case-officer training facility near Williamsburg also known as the Farm, for the six-week class in advanced tradecraft procedures required of all case officers assigned behind the Iron Curtain.
But that's where the relationship stopped. As he readied himself for his first Warsaw Pact tour, Sam was already an experienced case officer with a successful tour in Germany. He'd run an agent network and worked against a KGB Rezident. Howard was a greenhorn trainee who had never handled an agent or worked in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a real-world op.
Despite that lack of experience, Howard had been selected to go to Moscow under deep State Department cover. But then, in the spring of 1983, Ed Howard flunked four separate polygraph tests -- and his career was abruptly terminated.
On May 2, 1983, Howard was told to report to the personnel office. Sam had even seen him in the corridor. The distraught young case officer was flanked by two armed CIA security agents. Later, Sam heard that when Howard got to personnel, he was given papers to sign, fired on the spot, and escorted from the building ...Jack in the Box
A Shadow War Thriller. Copyright © by John Weisman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
What People are Saying About This
“The insider’s insider spy novel: full of tricks of the trade, and characters that are real and cutting edge.”
This is an excellent story. I stumbled onto John Weisman's writing after reading the entire Rogue Warrior series he co-authored with Dick Marcinko (fun reads). Jack in the Box is very well written. I only read it while I was working out at the gym, so I got a good work out and a great read. I typically devour a book, yet this I savored every word. I really dreaded finishing the story because I enjoyed it so much. His research seems to be excellent based on similarities seen in Tom Clancy novels (not that Clancy's characters always do what they should). He does explain terminology through the book as it is needed. The jargon also makes the story come alive because it seems to be more realistic. It is thoughtful and thought provoking. The number of characters involved are minimal -- this is definitely not a Tom Clancy novel in this regard. The plot line is plausible. It's a joy to read. I look forward to the next book!