When he is assigned to Paris, CIA officer Tommy Carmellini joins his old boss Jake Grafton on a bold mission: To locate a French intelligence agent who has secret investments in the Bank of Palestine. Together they work to unravel a tangle of espionage, deception, and murder…and develop an elaborate strategy to infiltrate the highest levels of Al Queda.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the G-8 industrialized nations will soon meet in Paris—an event that would make a tempting terrorist target. Throw into the mix the beautiful, clever daughter of the French ambassador to Washington and an Israeli spy or two, and the stage is set for a tour de force of deception and drama.
Soon Carmellini and Grafton unearth a horrifying plan to shake the West as never before. But can they stop the conspiracy without compromising the intelligence source that could bring down Al Queda once and for all?
|Publisher:||St. Martins Press-3PL|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)|
About the Author
STEPHEN COONTS is the author of thirteen New York Times bestselling books, which have been translated and republished around the world. A former naval aviator and Vietnam combat veteran, he is a graduate of West Virginia University and the University of Colorado School of Law. He and his wife live in Nevada. He maintains a Web site at coonts.com.
Date of Birth:July 19, 1946
Place of Birth:Morgantown, West Virginia
Education:B.A., West Virginia University, 1968; J.D., University of Colorado, 1979
Read an Excerpt
Maurice Marton died of a heart attack thirty-seven thousand feet above the Mediterranean. He did it quietly, the same way he had lived his life. He felt a sudden, severe chest pain, couldn’t breathe, and reached for the call light above his seat. As he looked up, gasping, groping for the button, his heart quit beating altogether. Maurice Marton slumped in his first-class airline seat. By chance, he was in a window seat and his head sagged toward the window. Also by chance, the aisle seat beside him was empty.
It was several minutes before the flight attendant noticed Marton. The man was slumped down, facing the window, and although his eyes were open, the attendant couldn’t see them and thought he was asleep. As is customary in first class, he let him sleep.
A half hour later as the aircraft began its descent into Amman, the seat-belt light came on. It was then that the flight attendant tried to wake his sleeping passenger. As soon as he saw the open, unfocused, frozen eyes, he knew the man was dead.
An old hand at the business, the attendant felt for Marton’s pulse. Finding none, he covered the man with a blanket and turned his head back toward the window.
The plane made a normal landing in Amman, and after the other passengers were off the plane, a doctor and two policemen came aboard. As the senior cabin attendant watched, they loaded the corpse onto a stretcher and carried it off.
With the airplane empty of people, the senior attendant removed Marton’s attaché case from the storage compartment over his head and opened it. The case was crammed full,mostly letters and spreadsheets and a few printed statements. Roughly half were in French and half in Arabic. The attendant sat down and began rapidly scanning the documents.
Three weeks after the death of Maurice Marton, a man from the American embassy entered a nondescript building in Tel Aviv and was ushered to a basement room. The walls, floor and ceiling were poured concrete. A naked bulb on a wire hung from the ceiling over the only desk, a small, scarred steel one that at some time in the historic past had been painted a robin’s egg blue. Behind the desk was a tanned man with close-cropped brown hair wearing a white short-sleeved shirt. He had a comfortable tummy, and a firm grip when he shook hands.
“Good to see you, Harris. How was Washington?”
“A steam bath,” the American said. “With a whole continent to play with, they managed to put the capital in a place that’s cold, damp and miserable in the winter, and hot, humid and miserable in the summer.”
“I’ve never been there. Should I make the trip someday?”
“Only if the airfare is free.”
The men were seated now. The host said, “I have a story that I thought would interest your colleagues.”
“Anything that interests the Mossad will interest my crowd,” Harris replied candidly.
“On the twenty-seventh of last month, a French intelligence agent named Maurice Marton died on an Air France flight between Paris and Amman. Had a heart attack, apparently, and quietly expired. In his attaché case were some interesting documents that I would like to share with you.” The host picked up a small stack of paper and handed it to his guest.
The American examined the sheets carefully. They were obviously copies. After a few minutes, he remarked, “I understand most of the French, I think—it’s been a few years since college—but my Arabic is a little rusty. It appears someone named Henri Rodet is buying stock in the Bank of Palestine, two million euros’ worth.”
“I think so, yes,” murmured the Israeli. “Do you recognize the name?”
“Henri Rodet is the head of the DGSE.” The Direction Générale de la Sécurité Exteriéure was the French intelligence agency.
Harris lowered the sheets and stared at his host. He blinked several times. “Really!”
Harris spent another minute scanning the documents, then raised his head and said, “They’ll want to know how you got these.”
“As I said, Marton, a career clerk in DGSE headquarters, was on his way to Amman, presumably to do this deal for his boss, Rodet. He died en route. One of our men got his hands on Marton’s attaché case, saw that these documents were of interest, and managed to run the originals through a copier and return them to the case.”
“Luck,” muttered Harris.
“On rare occasions that sprite does indeed smile,” the Israeli said casually. He said that to be polite; the only kind of luck he believed in was the kind you made for yourself. The men and women of the Mossad used every morsel of wit and guile they could muster, and every penny of their budget, to keep agents in place in key positions in Cairo, Amman, Damascus, Beirut, Riyadh and two dozen other places around the globe. Because agents were there, in place, good things could happen. Good things had to happen for Israel. Without timely, accurate, reliable intelligence for its decision makers, the nation would cease to exist.
The American settled himself to study the documents in detail. When he finished he put the sheets back on the desk.
“You may have those,” the Israeli said.
Harris folded the sheets carefully. “You are convinced these are genuine?”
“Marton was very dead, right there in a first-class seat. From all appearances, it was a natural death.”
“Why first class? Why not coach?”
“The French government bought the ticket. Air France upgraded it because there was room in the front of the plane.”
After Harris placed the copies in his trouser pocket, he asked, “Did your man raise any suspicions?”
“He thought not. The attaché case and the dead man’s luggage were held by the airline. After his family was notified, a man arrived on the next day’s flight and claimed them.”
“Claude Bruguiere. We believe he, too, is DGSE.”
“And what did he do with the attaché case?”
“This happened in Amman,” the Mossad officer explained. He spread his hands. “We have limited assets, as you know.”
“So you’re not going to share that.” It was a statement, not a question.
The Mossad officer smiled.
The American intelligence officer scratched his head, then smoothed his hair. He didn’t have much; the motion was an old habit. Finally he stood and stuck out his hand. “Thanks for the information,” he said.
“You’re welcome,” the Israeli replied as he pumped Harris’ hand.
“You’ve opened a whole can of worms, you know.”
“The worms were already there, my friend.”
“I suppose so,” Harris said.
By pure coincidence, the day the American named Harris had his interview with a senior Mossad official, a well-dressed man in his late forties or early fifties joined a group of tourists waiting for a guided tour of the Château de Versailles, the Sun King’s palace that is today in the southwestern suburbs of metropolitan Paris.
The man had a dark complexion, as if he spent much of his life in the sun. Of medium height, he was perfectly shaved and barbered, with a lean, spare frame that showcased the dark gray tailored Italian suit he wore. He wore handmade leather shoes; on his wrist was an expensive Swiss watch. His deep blue tie was muted and understated, the perfect accent for a wealthy man in the upper echelons of international society, which was, of course, precisely what the man was.
An American college professor on sabbatical spoke to the man in heavily accented French, asking if he had ever before toured the palace. He replied with a hint of a smile, in perfect French, that indeed he had, although many years had passed since his last visit. The professor, a single woman who had always been enthralled by France and all things French, gave the man her absolute best smile.
He answered it by discussing the history of the palace as they waited for the professional guide. He knew so much about the palace that the American asked, “Are you a scholar?”
“A businessman, madame,” he said with another hint of a smile. The lady thought him charming. She would have asked more questions, but the guide showed up and launched into a canned speech, and a minute later the group straggled off after her.
The American woman stayed close to the well-dressed man in the dark gray suit. Occasionally, when the guide glossed over some fact that the woman thought might be intriguing, she asked the man, who knew the answers.
The group—there were several dozen tourists, mostly couples—made their way through the palace. They worked their way through the north wing, looking in on L’Opéra, the site of the marriage of the future Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the Chapelle Royale and the picture galleries, then made their way into the center section of the palace. The guide led the group through the library, the Cabinet du Conseil, and the king’s bedroom. From there they went to the queen’s bedroom, where the queens of France gave birth to their children as members of the court watched with bated breath.
“That way there could be no question as to who was the lawful heir to the throne,” the man whispered to the American, who was slightly appalled at the public nature of what she considered a very private event.
From there, finally, they entered the Hall of Mirrors, the great room of state for eighteenth-century France. “In fact,” the guide intoned in heavily accented English, “this room is still used for great state occasions. For example, in 1919 the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I was ratified in this room.”
It was a huge room, about eighty yards long, with a high, vaulted ceiling covered in gold leaf. The long wall on the exterior side of the building was perforated with tall arched windows, from which one could gaze in awe at the magnificent gardens behind the palace. The opposite wall was lined with mirrors, and the entire room was lit with dozens of dazzling chandeliers.
“Very impressive,” the American lady whispered to her fellow tourist.
He nodded in agreement, and stood rooted as the group moved on.
This is the place, the man thought.
They will be here before the cameras, surrounded by television crews, reporters and security guards. The world will be watching.
We will kill them here.
Copyright © 2006 by Stephen Coonts. All rights reserved.
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