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The Tehran Conviction

The Tehran Conviction

3.9 9
by Tom Gabbay

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Agent Jack Teller had to make an ugly choice in his youth.

Now, decades later, he and his country must deal with the blowback.

Tehran 1953. A new recruit to the recently established CIA, Jack Teller is torn between loyalty to U.S. policies and sympathy for the hopes of a fledgling democracy in Iran—and he must choose which


Agent Jack Teller had to make an ugly choice in his youth.

Now, decades later, he and his country must deal with the blowback.

Tehran 1953. A new recruit to the recently established CIA, Jack Teller is torn between loyalty to U.S. policies and sympathy for the hopes of a fledgling democracy in Iran—and he must choose which side he will betray.

Twenty-six years later, Jack returns to a very different Iran—a nation in the grip of a religious revolution, its populace clamoring for the destruction of “The Great Satan” America. Descending into the deadly chaos at the heart of an emerging struggle between the West and a dangerous new ideology, Jack must risk everything to save one man from Islamic justice—a man he once called his friend.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Gabbay's winning third thriller to feature CIA spook Jack Teller (after The Lisbon Crossing) focuses on Iran during two pivotal years: 1953, when a mistake-laden covert CIA operation overthrew the nation's prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and 1979, during the chaos of the Islamic revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power. In 1953, as a naïve Company recruit, Teller befriends an idealistic Iranian government official, Yari Fatemi, only to be manipulated into betraying him and his family. In 1979, when Yari's sister shows up in New York and informs Teller that her brother is in jail awaiting certain execution, Teller feels compelled to return to Iran in a suicidal attempt to save Yari. Powered by relentless pacing and a story line abounding in subterfuge, treachery and subversion, this Ludlumesque page-turner offers invaluable historical insights into the turbulent relationship between America ("the Great Satan") and Iran. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In Gabbay's third historical thriller chronicling the deeds and derring-do of CIA agent Jack Teller (after The Lisbon Crossing and The Berlin Conspiracy), Jack returns to Tehran on a suicide mission to bust loose an Iranian asset who was once his friend from Iran's most forbidding prison. The narrative moves back and forth between the 1953 overthrow of Iran's left-leaning prime minister Mossadegh and the 1979 overthrow of the Shah.
—David Keymer

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Tehran Conviction

Chapter One

As far as I could remember, it was the first time I'd held the dead man's hand. I knew a guy once who was so superstitious that he'd fold the infamous aces and eights whenever he saw them, but not me. I sat back and waited for the action. It had been a long night of busted flushes and gut-shot straights going nowhere and this might be my last chance to pull something back. Of course Wild Bill Hickok was probably thinking along the same lines as he contemplated the hand, unaware that a Colt Peacemaker was about to blow a .45-caliber hole in his luck. Funny. You'd think an old gunslinger like Wild Bill would know to sit with his back to the wall. I certainly did.

I glanced around the table. It was the usual Friday-night collection of postmodernist bohemians, New Wave cokeheads, and weekend refugees from Wall Street. I knew the faces and some of the names, but not much else. It was one of the things I liked about Barnabus Rex. Nobody tried to sell you their life story. If they didn't come for the backroom cards, it was for the eight ball, or to feed the old Rock-Ola jukebox, which at the moment was blaring out Blondie's "Heart of Glass" for the umpteenth time.

Four and a half years had passed since the fall of Saigon. It had been the end of a chapter for me, but like a lot of other -people, I was having trouble turning the page. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't in any sort of desperate straits, but Vietnam left its mark on anyone who spent time there, and I was no exception. It was a tough place to leave behind, and I'd hung on to the bitter end, not realizing until that last chopper was lifting off the embassyroof that I'd stayed because I had no idea where else to go.

New York was the closest thing I had to a home, and as good a place as any to get lost for a while, so I caught a flight from Manila, and two days later I was ensconced in a top-floor loft at the corner of West Broadway and Grand. It wasn't elegant...or legal, for that matter...but it was cheap, and it had space, which was what I needed more than anything at that point. Once I'd cleaned the place up, put some plumbing in, and declared victory over the rats, it wasn't half bad, either. There was even a view, looking south onto the newly built twin towers of the World Trade Center.

A guy with long, tangled hair and cocaine eyes decided he'd try to steal the pot for ten bucks. I should've given him some rope, let him hang himself, but I couldn't resist the urge to wipe the silly grin off his face, so I raised back. He folded his bullshit, and that was enough for me. I called it a night.

A light October rain was falling as I stepped onto Duane Street and headed uptown, lingering through the no-man's-land of dark warehouses and hidden sweatshops that I still thought of as the Washington Market, even though everyone else had taken to calling it Tribeca. There was something invigorating about the city at this hour, especially down here. The streets were empty and still, but there was this vibration in the air...a charge in the atmosphere that went right through you, quickening the heart with a dose of adrenaline and arousing the senses. It made you feel alive, ready for anything.

I picked up the early edition of the Times from a box on Canal, then made my way home as the day's first gray light crept onto the horizon. As I approached the graffiti-covered industrial door that I called home, an uneasy feeling came over me...a distinct sensation that I was being watched. It wasn't the first time I'd felt that way in recent days, but a quick glance over my shoulder confirmed that no bogeyman was lurking, so I pushed the door open and stepped into the building's dark, musty-scented entranceway. I guess old habits die hard, I thought as I stepped into the freight elevator and made the slow ascent to the fourth floor.

Sleep was out of the question, so I headed into the darkroom, where there were still a -couple of unprocessed rolls from the Andy Warhol shoot I'd done for Esquire the previous day. It had been an interesting afternoon at The Factory, which was what the artist called his studio overlooking Union Square. The session had ended in disaster when Warhol demanded that I hand over my undeveloped film so he could "edit the shit out." I thought he was joking at first, but when I realized he wasn't, I laughed and told him to go fuck himself. His face went the color of one of his Campbell soup cans, and in a hilarious attempt to intimidate me, he called in security, which appeared in the form of a large transvestite who called himself "The Sugar Plum Fairy." I'm sure the guy was tough enough, but, hell, he was wearing hot pants and black silk stockings. I had a good chuckle and walked out with my film intact, but my career in deep shit. Esquire's photo editor...a guy named Brad...called that evening to spit blood down the line. He promised at the top of his lungs that I'd never work again, so I said "fine" and hung up on him.

"That was clever," Lenni said.

"He's an asshole."

"So are you, Jack."

"Yes, but I'm a lovable one." I flashed her a smile.


She picked up the phone and soon had Brad back on the line. After a bit of back-and-forth about what an insufferable jerk I was, she went on to say that it was a shame, because I had some fantastic shots. Prizewinning stuff. The fact that she hadn't seen any of it didn't make her any less convincing, and it piqued Brad's curiosity. When she wondered out loud how he'd break it to his publisher that the Warhol article would have to be delayed because there were no photos, he finally figured out that he was stuck with me.

"Tomorrow afternoon, four o'clock, his office," Lenni said as she hung up. "I hope you've got something good to show him."

"Tomorrow's Saturday," I noted.

"Oh, right, I forgot. You'll be in temple all day."

I shrugged and went back to the Rolling Stone article I'd been reading about the Blues Brothers. "He's a jerk," I grumbled.

"Maybe so," Lenni said, defeating my attempt to get the last word in. "But he's a jerk who pays well."

I couldn't argue with that. Photographing celebrities for a living certainly had its drawbacks...Andy Warhol wasn't the worst I'd come across...but it paid the bills. And everybody's got bills to pay.

Lenni Summers was a Pulitzer Prize...winning journalist, but she'd been no more than a fresh-faced novice when I first laid eyes on her, in the back of a Huey in January of '68. It was the first day of the Tet Offensive, and we were both hitching a ride up country to Danang, where the action was. Amid all that chaos, something clicked, and we got together that night. We'd been on and off ever since, more on than off lately. Lenni hadn't exactly moved in...at least not officially...but she was more or less full-time now. We were an easy kind of close, the kind that doesn't involve having to tell all your deep, dark secrets. And Lord knows, I had a few.

After what happened in Berlin, it was pretty clear that I'd have to disappear for a while. I knew too much, and certain -people knew I knew too much. So I headed south, to warmer waters, landing in a spot that was as close to paradise on earth as you can imagine. White sandy beach, palm trees gently swaying in a warm tropical breeze, and plenty of native girls to crack your coconuts. It took me all of six weeks to figure out that paradise on earth is just about as boring as it gets. I stuck it out for another two long years, until one afternoon, while swinging in my hammock and listening to the faint signal I'd managed to get out of Miami by building a forty- foot radio tower, "Monday, Monday" by the Mamas and the Papas came on the radio. I started wondering if they were playing it because it was actually Monday, and then I realized that I didn't even know what month it was. It was time to get out of paradise, before I lost track of the years.

The Tehran Conviction. Copyright © by Tom Gabbay. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Tom Gabbay is the author of The Berlin Conspiracy and The Lisbon Crossing. He previously worked for NBC Entertainment as director of children's and comedy programs, and was creative director of the production partnership between NBC and ITV Television in the United Kingdom. He lives in Europe.

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