Patriot Acts (Atticus Kodiak Series #6)

Patriot Acts (Atticus Kodiak Series #6)

by Greg Rucka

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553588996
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/25/2008
Series: Atticus Kodiak Series , #6
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 891,518
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Born in San Francisco, Greg Rucka was raised on the Monterey Peninsula. He is the author of Private Wars, A Gentleman’s Game, and six previous thrillers, as well as numerous comic books, including the Eisner Award—winning Whiteout: Melt. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his family.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Natalie Trent drove, speeding us away from Allendale and the body of the man I had been unable to kill.

She drove fast at first, trying to put quick distance between ourselves and the place where Oxford's body now lay, but once we left the Franklin Turnpike for US 202, she slowed to the speed limit. From inside her coat, she pulled her cell phone, pressed the same button on it twice without ever looking away from the road, and then moved it to her ear.

"About thirty minutes," Natalie told the phone, softly. "I've got both of them with me--yes, both of them. He's going to need a car."

She listened for a moment to the reply, murmured a confirmation, then ended the call and dropped the phone back into her pocket. She checked her mirrors, left then right then rear view,  and when she did that, she met the reflection of my gaze. She tried a thin smile, and it looked as tired as I felt.

"Dan says he'll have a car waiting for you," Natalie said, paused, then added: "You're still going through with it?"

"I'm wanted for murder," I said. I didn't say that the murder I was wanted for was probably the wrong one, the death of an FBI agent named Scott Fowler. I didn't say it because I didn't need to. Scott Fowler had been a friend to both Natalie and me, a dear friend of many years, in fact. Had been, right until the moment he'd shuddered out his final breath while I tried to save him from the knife that Oxford had buried to its handle in Scott's chest.

That was Oxford's revenge, the way he had worked. He'd killed Scott because he could, and because he knew it would hurt me, and he had been right. He'd killed Scott Fowler because Scott Fowler had been unlucky enough to call himself my friend.

That he hadn't, for instance, killed Natalie Trent, or any of those other people who had the audacity to call me their friend, to care for me, wasn't for lack of trying. It was because we'd barely managed to deny him the opportunity.

Natalie frowned, putting lines to her beautiful face, then shifted her attention back to the road and said nothing more. Beside me in the backseat, Alena shifted, turning her head to watch as a New Jersey State Police car raced by, lights and sirens running, heading the opposite direction. At Alena's feet, and mine, lying flat and forlorn, Miata pricked up his ears, raised his muzzle, then lowered it again, more concerned with the tension inside the car than anything that might be happening outside of it. He was a big dog, a Doberman, strong and loyal and silent as the grave. The first two were in return for the love Alena had given him; the last was because the man Alena had taken Miata from had cut the dog's larynx, to keep him silent.

Alena watched the police car disappear into the darkness behind us, then turned back and glanced at me, then quickly away again when she saw I was watching her. With the back of her left hand, she wiped at her eyes, deliberately erasing the last of her tears. If they embarrassed her, I couldn't tell. I imagined they did. The last time Alena Cizkova had cried, she'd been locked inside a Soviet prison cell with men three and four times her age. She had been eight at the time.

One shot would have been enough to kill Oxford, and God knew she could have put the shot where she wanted it to go. But Alena had used three instead, and the first two had been revenge, pure and simple. Until very recently, I'd been living with her and Miata at their home on the island of Bequia. Alena had brought me there to protect her life, and I'd succeeded, but with qualifications. Another woman, entirely innocent, had died at Oxford's hands. Then he'd taken the use of Alena's left leg with a blast from a Neostad shotgun that discharged while he and I had grappled. The shot had found Alena, turned the muscle and bone beneath her left knee to ground chuck. Since then, there'd been no opportunity and no time to seek truly appropriate medical attention,  and now Alena Cizkova--sometimes called Drama--who had once commanded millions of dollars for her ability to visit death upon anyone for a price, needed a brace and a cane to walk.

So Alena had returned Oxford's favor. I wondered if Oxford had realized what was happening before the last round found home. If he'd understood who it was who was shooting him, and why. Time dilates in moments like that, and he was smart, and more, he was quick. He'd probably understood. It was probably the last conscious thought he'd had.

Alena had exacted an assassin's revenge. Just fast enough to limit Oxford's ability to strike back, just slow enough to let him realize what she was doing to him, and why.

The three shots though, regardless of their significance, had been a mistake. One shot, maybe that would have been ignored by a slumbering resident jerked suddenly awake. One shot, he or she could have believed it was just their imagination. But three, in quick succession? No doubt someone had called the cops.

It was the first mistake I'd known Alena to make, and it was significant as much for its singularity as for the reasons I suspected that lay behind it. It wasn't an error of planning, nor an oversight. Nor was it an error in judgment. She had made it deliberately, because she wanted to. She had wanted to punish Oxford, and not just because of what he'd stolen from her body.

She had wanted to punish him for what he'd done to me.

She and Natalie should have been halfway to the safe house in Cold Spring by the time I put Oxford in my sights. Somehow, Alena had convinced Natalie to turn around, to double back, and that must have been quite the trick, because I knew Natalie. She and I had been friends for nearly a decade, colleagues for just as long, and even business partners for a couple of years. We'd fought each other, loved each other, and carried each other through very dark days. We'd seen each other in glory and despair, with warts and without. I knew just how damn stubborn she could be, and how seriously she took her job. There was only one thing that would have convinced Natalie to risk the safety of her principle.

The safety of a friend.

They had done it for me.

That was why Alena couldn't look at me right now.

And that was why, as soon as we reached the safe house in Cold Spring, as soon as I made certain that Alena would be protected, I was going to leave.

We crossed the Hudson on the Bear Mountain Bridge and the water was black beneath us, and the sky still heavy with stars. It took another seventeen minutes to reach Cold Spring, and another ten after that to locate the safe house off Deer Hollow Road, where the street tapered out into the surrounding woods. We were maybe half a mile south of the Cold Spring reservoir, perhaps a mile east of Lake Surprise, and there were no other houses on the street. The safe house itself was a small two-story structure, old, pushed back from the road and surrounded by trees. All of its lights appeared to be off. The only things noteworthy about it at all were the three vehicles parked nearby, a Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 Kompressor on the driveway beside a Ford minivan, both of which I recognized as belonging to the security detail, and then a twenty-year-old Honda Civic. Even in the relative darkness of the night, I could see the Civic showing its age.

Natalie swept the Audi into a slow turn, then reversed into the driveway, killing the engine. I got out first, Miata following on my heels. Natalie emerged next, immediately moving around to Alena's side to give her a hand out. It was late October, predawn in the Lower Hudson River Valley, and the air had a bite to it, cold and a little moist, rich with the smell of autumn.

The front door to the house opened, and Danilov Korckeva stepped out, a serious-looking pistol in his right hand, held against his thigh. He made for us briskly, looking past me, up the street, checking the approach. Then he glanced over to where Natalie was helping Alena out of the vehicle, and the anxiety on his face flickered for a moment as he gave her a smile, then faded altogether for an instant when Natalie returned it. Then Dan put his attention on me, and however sweet he was on Natalie Trent, I didn't rate, because the anxiety was back, and now he was scowling. Past him, in the darkened doorway, I could just make out one of the security detail, another of the Russians standing post, night-vision goggles waiting on his forehead and a Remington shotgun close at hand.

"What happened?" Dan demanded when he reached me, hissing the question. "You were going to cap the fucker and do the vanishing act. What happened?"

I moved around to the back of the car as Natalie used her free hand to pop it open with her remote. She had Alena out of the car now, supporting her with one arm as Alena got her cane beneath her. I lifted the trunk, took hold of the submachine gun I'd failed to kill Oxford with, and the HK PDW.

"What the fuck happened?" Dan asked a third time, more insistently, his voice lower.

Alena said something in Russian, softly, and it didn't sound hostile, but whatever it was, Dan reacted as if she'd put a knife to his throat. He stood six four, which put him almost five inches taller than both Alena and myself, and he had at least fifty pounds on me, probably as much as double that on her, and most all of it from bone and muscle, not from fat. I didn't know his age, but it had to be somewhere in the early forties, which gave him ten years on each of us. With his shaved head and his black goatee, he vibed Satan-as-bully, and looking at him you got the impression that he'd just as soon break your neck as get drunk on vodka with you. He'd been Russian spesnaz, essentially their equivalent of the Special Forces, and he these days was hooked in tight with the organized crime running out of Brighton Beach. He called Alena "Natasha" or "Tasha," for short, presumably because it was the name she'd used when they had first encountered each other. How he knew Alena I didn't know and I'd never asked, but however he knew her, one thing was clear.

She scared the living shit out of him.

When I met his eyes as I handed him the PDW and said, "Get rid of this," the look he gave me said that now I did, too.

"Can it wait until morning?" he asked. "I'll have to pull a guard off the house otherwise."

"Morning's fine."

"It'll go in the Hudson."

I went back into the trunk, hooked the strap on the go-bag, and pulled it onto my shoulder. It was a small nylon duffel, nothing fancy. Inside were two pairs of underpants, one clean shirt, a toothbrush, a set of fresh socks, and what was left of the half million dollars I'd held back from Oxford's money. By my guess, there was about three hundred thousand left, but I wasn't sure, because I hadn't counted.

I pointed to the Civic, asked Dan, "That's for me?"

He looked vaguely embarrassed. "The best I could do so quick, Atticus."

"As long as it gets me to Newark, I'm happy," I told him.

He looked relieved, but not by much, then turned to follow Natalie and Alena as they made their way into the house. I went to the Civic, found the driver's door unlocked; when I opened it, the dome light stayed off. I appreciated that, and I appreciated that Dan had taken the time to disable it. Then again, from the shape of the car, it was just as possible that the bulb had died.

I tossed the go-bag onto the passenger seat, pulled the keys from where they were waiting in the ignition, and dropped them in my pocket. I closed the door again, took a moment for another look around, another listen to the surroundings. The sky was still dark as pitch, and the only sounds I heard were from the woods, rustling dead leaves and shifting branches, and then, from somewhere above me, the sound of something solid knocking on wood. A tree house was just visible in the branches, perhaps twenty-five feet from where I was standing, maybe fifteen feet or so from the ground. There was a figure moving inside, and he raised a hand to me, and I raised one back. Another of Dan's Russians, this one on overwatch. Whoever was up there was probably very cold and very bored, but again I appreciated the precaution.

Miata nudged my left hand with his muzzle. He'd hung back to wait for me, and I reached down and gave him a scratch behind the ears. He looked up, fixing me with those soulful dog eyes, and I swear it was as if he knew what was going to happen next. Dogs' eyes are like that. Sometimes you can see exactly what they're feeling; sometimes, you see exactly what you're feeling yourself.

"Yeah," I told him. "Stop wasting time, right?"

By way of answer, Miata turned and headed up the path to the house.

I followed the dog.

Natalie and Dan were in the kitchen, which seemed to be the only room with its lights on, and that was fine with me because there was no way to see into the kitchen from the outside. Looking from the exterior, the house would appear dark, and that was how both I and Natalie wanted it.
"Who's in the tree house?" I asked, taking off my jacket.

Dan's expression was one of both disappointment and surprise. "You saw him?"

"Not soon enough."

That mollified him, and he grinned. "That's Vadim up there. He's my boy."

Natalie arched an eyebrow. "You've got a son?"

"Nineteen," Dan said, then added, "He has promise."

I hung my jacket on the back of the nearest chair, fighting off a wave of sudden exhaustion while listening as Natalie and Dan continued discussing the security arrangements for the safe house. Oxford's death diminished the threat against Alena, but none of us was willing to say it was gone, not yet. Three hours before Oxford had planted his dagger in Scott Fowler's heart, Scott and I had met with two men at a Holiday Inn off Times Square. Two men who, we'd assumed, had been holding the end of Oxford's leash. One had been a big stack of jovial threat who had done most of the talking, but the other had been a quieter and more thoughtful piece of menace named Matthew Bowles.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Patriot Acts 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing 18 days ago
Years ago I recall enjoying earlier novels in the series. The main character, Atticus Kodiak was an ex-military man turned bodyguard. I vaguely recall the story where he is assigned to protect a man being hunted by an assassin called Drama. Now Atticus and Drama are lovers and entangled in some plot involving the killing of an FBI agent; a friend. They are on the run, but also trying to find out who set them up and why. Pretty standard stuff and definitely not as well done as I recall. I also recall Atticus as a man who wouldn¿t befriend a person like Drama (read cold-blooded assassin with so much blood on her hands as to completely erase her humanity) and so how they wind up together is a mystery. Maybe it¿s contained in another book, but I think some explanation would be helpful in this one since I missed it.Maybe the writer was bad all along and I didn¿t notice. Maybe his skills have declined and these books are worse than the ones I read. Maybe he is so involved in other projects that he doesn¿t care about this series anymore and has let the quality suffer. Whatever it is, I think I¿m done with this series. I had some interest in reviving it in my reading life, but this one killed that desire.Partly it¿s the clunky sentence structure. He often uses the same word or variations of the same word in a single sentence or in two sentences close together. Once in a while isn¿t so bad, but repeated often enough it sticks out. Also, he has a terrible tendency to lecture. That is to include lengthy asides to explain various techniques, devices and operational details that completely take the reader out of the story. Once he spent pages and pages describing how an assassin sets up his or her legitimate face to the world through a shady lawyer. All well and good, but it was directly following Drama¿s rescue of Atticus in a tense and dramatic scene. As a reader I was all jazzed up and wanted to hear what came next; how they got away from the scene, how Atticus was surviving his beating, where they went, etc. But all I got was a lecture about how to hide your blood money and sound out a lawyer to tell how far to the dark side he¿ll go. Serious mistake. The timing was disastrous even if the information was interesting; which it wasn¿t terribly. If it were me, if I decided I really needed to include such information, I¿d have done it in smaller chunks during parts of the story that already dealt with set-up or take down, not during one of my more intense scenes. I don¿t think the author understands pacing or narrative flow since he committed this crime more than once. Oy vey.Character-wise, I didn¿t perceive any chemistry between Atticus and Drama. It was as if they were actors just pretending to have an intimate relationship. It seemed forced and hesitant to me. No inside jokes. No fond memories. No pillow talk. Just how did these two bond, anyway? No clue. Another character is killed at the beginning; a close, long-time friend of Atticus¿s and the revenge plot just seemed like going through the motions. Maybe because of the 3 ½ year gap between the death and the revenge, but it rang hollow.
jpporter on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Rucka finally hits the target straight-on with an exceptional thriller that goes a long way towards marking Rucka's maturing sense of creating a story that is engrossing, challenging and satisfying. This book must be read after reading "Critical Space," which, in turn, should be read after "Smoker." The central character of Atticus Kodiak is given honest, thoughtful, reasonable development. The supporting characters are drawn more realistically. Where the story development in "Keeper" (the first book of the series) is minimal, consisting of jumps from one action scene to another, "Patriot Acts" is a fairly well developed story. It is a pleasure to have seen Greg Rucka develop as a writer.
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DHLinton More than 1 year ago
So far, the Atticus Kodiak books have been enjoyable, well revised books about a bodyguard. In this one, Atticus leaves his previous life behind dramatically when his government turns against him. The sudden change in tone is striking, but the quality of the books just get better. Atticus is a different character now, and Rucka a very different writer from when he wrote "Keeper." Like most of Rucka's work, Patriot Acts is unputdownable.
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bumlucy More than 1 year ago
The subject is good ,but farfetched plotlines made it less than a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our old friend, Atticus Kodiak, conflicted bodyguard, is back to tie up the loose ends left from ¿Critical Space¿, his last appearance 6 years ago. The plot is simple although wrapped in convolutions in fact, the whole novel surrounds two of the great literary themes, greed and revenge. Natalie Trent, Kodiak¿s great friend and partner, has been killed in a botched attack on Atticus and Drama, world class assassin and his new love. Essentially, the rest of the story concerns their attempts to identify and track down the party responsible for Natalie¿s killing. The fact that both Atticus and Drama need to heal from physical as well as psychological wounds provides them with the time to work through a lot of this in the three years it takes them to begin exacting their vengeance. Since Atticus is metamorphosing from bodyguard to assassin during this time period, few of his former team and comrades appear in this book. Kodiak is called upon to utilize all his old skills along with new talents gained from his training with Drama. This may be the most complex of Rucka¿s Kodiak novels in that it contains elements of the thriller, a love story, a morality play, and, as always, a character study. I particularly was struck by the passages that highlighted Drama¿s and Atticus¿s ongoing inner conflict between their confidence of training and their doubts of their humanity. I am weary of the posts on here lamenting the changes in Atticus and wondering what they portend. Why can¿t a character evolve in the course of a series to become something/someone new and different? Isn¿t that exactly what happens to many of us as life happens around us. Certainly revenge can change any of us¿why not an action figure involved in the world of violence in the first place? If Rucka brings Atticus back in the future, he will have a wider spectrum of opportunities to explore than ever before. And if he does return, I will be here to greet him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best part of the latest Atticus Kodiak novel is the stark reversal of the premise. Whereas Atticus was previously a man who took money to protect someone's life, even at the expense of his own, he has now become a man who kills for money. The elimination of the previous supporting cast was done well, with nameless references to a few of the vanished characters. And given the finality with which his life was destroyed in the previous book five years ago, a return to status quo would have been bad. That said, the writing in the new book just isn't as strong as the series has seen since Rucka's early days, and Drama just isn't as compelling or sympathetic as Bridgett, Natalie, Erika, or even Dale. Patriot Acts is still an above average genre thriller, and Rucka takes his protagonist in some interesting directions. Given how important a chapter this is- is it the end of this character? or will we see more of Atticus Kodiak in his new life? -I feel like the book could have been stronger.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Running away after killing a man who was hired to kill them, Atticus Kodiak, Alena Cizkova and Natalie Trent run to the safe house at Cold Spring. Atticus is a wanted man because it is believed he killed his friend Scott Fowler, an FBI agent, when it was Oxford who fired the gun. He leaves the women at the cabin and takes off when two teams of assassins hit them. He makes it back to the cabin after he disposes of them to find Alena and Natalie have dispatched those sent to kill them. There is one assembly among the friends, Natalie, and the group using to avenge her. --- It takes him years to track down the man who betrayed him and when they catch him he regain to give up except he owes him. In order to find the man who ordered the hits, Alexa and Atticus devise a trap but in Lynch, Wyoming they are trapped by various government agencies and it is only through ingenuity and luck they escape. They are hired by Natalie¿s father to kill the man who ordered the hit that killed his daughter but to do that Atticus and Alexa, now known as Patrick and Diana must work it so that justice is served without the president and his government tarnished. --- Atticus and Alexa can kill in cold blood but they are not stone cold murderers. They live in a different world where murder is a tool yet when they have an easy chance to catch the man who destroyed their lives they pass, because it would mean involving a woman under his protection. That also means they have to work harder to catch him. Both anti-heroes are and would not be killing their adversaries, to save one who didn¿t put a hit out on them. Greg Rucka scores a best seller with this thriller. --- Harriet Klausner