The fate of the United States hangs in the balance and only a select few can prevent the impending disaster.
Stanley Carmichael is an intelligent and hard-working member of the Central Intelligence Agency. Yet, he never expected to be named Deputy Director of the CIA so soon in his career. Nonetheless, he finds himself stepping into shoes that feel impossible to fill.
Anna Carmichael is a legend. She's one of the fiercest ex-members of the Special Activities Division, where she saw more than enough blood and war for a lifetime. Now, she's still CIA, but stuck behind a desk and bored. Luckily for her, it seems her fieldwork isn't done yet. For as soon as Anna's partnered with rookie FBI Special Agent Blayze Phillips, she realizes his investigation is a lot more dangerous than it seems—especially when it turns its attention to the mysterious Caliph al-Maqasid.
They know that the Caliph spent the last few years successfully uniting fractured terrorist groups in the Middle East. Now he's formed the most well-funded, strategically efficient operation that's on its way to becoming a true global caliphate. But who is the Caliph, really? Why doesn't anyone know anything about this infinitely clever, charismatic, and terrifying man? And what, exactly, is he plotting next?
The Carmichaels will have to work together to find out because the Caliph is about to strike at the heart of America.
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The Ulterior Motive
By Jack Coleston
Everlast Media GroupCopyright © 2016 Jack Coleston
All rights reserved.
The elevator doors swung open and a blast of hot air hit Stanley square in the face. The air delivered smells of freshly burnt gasoline, carbon monoxide, and the acrid stench of something rotting in one of the nearby dumpsters. It was a stark contrast to the pure air-conditioned comfort of the nine-by-nine steel box where he had spent the last two minutes of his fifty-floor descent.
Yet Stanley was unfazed by the change because he was in an exceptional mood.
Shifting his shoulders to settle his finest Italian suit jacket in place, Stanley used both of his hands to smooth the white cotton shirt collar that curved around his thin neck. He emerged from the elevator into the corner of a large rectangular parking garage.
Rolling back his left jacket sleeve he glanced at his Rolex Submariner. The big hand rested on the twelve and the little hand pointed to the one.
A big smile creased his face. Time could change anything, even the things that had always seemed impossible, like a childhood dream.
Then the second hand stopped.
He tapped the face with his forefinger in irritation.
What's going on?
Stanley was jolted from his irritation by a disturbing commotion at the opposite end of the garage. The voices of men speaking loud and fast in a foreign language echoed above the distinct sounds of shoes squeaking sharp and harsh on the smooth concrete floor.
Swiveling his head in one quick movement, his eyes locked onto the source.
The timing couldn't have been worse.
Stanley's eyes widened with fear and his mouth dropped open in shock. His mind raced and he tried to comprehend the sight of four men in black ski masks wielding silenced MP5 submachine guns. For a second it looked like they were coming towards him, until he saw them change direction, revealing the man they were carrying. It was a sight materialized out of Stanley's worst nightmare. The kidnappers stuffed the limp body into the back of a waiting Range Rover.
Fear coursed through him. No time to waste. The men weren't taking notice of Stanley and he didn't want them to. With all the courage he could muster he sprinted across the concrete. The white fluorescent light bounced off the polished surface and into his eyes, causing a dull ache in the back of his head.
This is a bad idea; it's a bad idea!
Huffing and puffing, Stanley covered the distance to his car as fast as his long, skinny legs could take him.
Behind him he heard a roaring engine and distressed tires echoing throughout the confined space.
Don't look back!
Fumbling in his pocket with hands that shook like a fish out of water, he managed to grasp the fob with sweaty fingers and pressed the remote control to unlock his car. He reached forward and grasped the handle, swinging open the door of his black Maserati Quattroporte.
Stanley threw himself onto the driver's seat, his heart pounding so hard he feared that one of his ribs might break.
Damn, damn, damn!
Turning the key, the V-8 engine roared to life.
Manage the situation, Stanley. Don't let them out of your sight.
Throwing the gear selector into reverse, he maneuvered the Maserati out of the parking space before slamming the transmission into drive, then he pressed the accelerator to the floor in frustration.
The rear wheels screeched in loud protest and wisps of pale blue smoke curled up from the tires as they spun and fought for a hold on the slippery concrete.
It took a few seconds before the tires found their grip. The engine shrieked and snarled like a wailing banshee. Stanley's body was sucked back into the seat by the sudden gravitational forces at work on his lean frame. He spun the steering wheel in a frantic motion and the car drifted around the corner sideways, then it hurtled at breakneck speed towards the exit.
Swerving, he managed to avoid clipping a reversing car.
Stomping on the brakes, the car decelerated to a stop as it reached the exit.
Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of the rear end of the offending black Range Rover disappearing from view.
Anna! Of course, what the hell am I thinking! She'll be able to help.
He pushed the speed dial for his wife's number into the car phone.
Anna's line was busy.
"Great, what am I going to do now!" He thumped the steering wheel and sighed.
It was at a time like this that Stanley needed his wife with him. It was just his luck that she wasn't.
Maybe I can scare these kidnappers into ... who am I kidding? These guys are obviously professionals.
Reaching down for the semi-automatic Glock 17 fixed to the side of his seat caused his hands to shake more than they already were. Anna always kept the pistol cleaned and loaded for him just in case, but she always hoped he would never actually need to use it. The cold polycarbonate shell of the gun made him want to recoil while he removed it from its holster with the utmost care. He could smell the familiar chemical scent of the gun oil that Anna used on every gun they owned.
Pulling back the slide on the top of the weapon as far back as it would go, he could feel the tough spring fight against his grip and the solid grooves digging into his skin. Letting go, it produced a resounding click and a fresh nine-millimeter cartridge was seated in the Glock's chamber. Stanley received comfort from this gesture, however his hands refused to stop shaking as he placed it gingerly in the mouth of the center console.
He jammed his right foot onto the gas pedal once more. The back end of the Maserati slid to the right and then left, fishtailing out onto the road and missing the oncoming traffic by a hair's breadth.
Turning away from the slide, the wheels regained their desperate grip on the blacktop. His eyes hunted for a sign of the Range Rover up ahead. The excitable Italian V-8 catapulted him forward faster and faster. He had to keep up with the kidnappers no matter what the cost.
This was more than just a matter of life and death. It was an unequivocal issue of national security.
* * *
Five months earlier ... Thursday, April 10, 2014
Sighing, Stanley stared down at his feet, hoping that somehow they would walk of their own volition in the opposite direction.
No backing out now; any minute I'm going to be marched into the Oval Office. But, it's not the office that scares me, or the president — it's him.
His eyes shot from one point to another: the ceiling, the floor and the president's chief of staff working away behind his desk. Anything in the room was a welcome distraction to keep Stanley's mind from thinking about "him."
I've always wanted to be the director of the CIA. One day, when I was ready — like when I'm fifty-something. Now, they want to make me deputy director? Now, when I'm just thirty-eight? My kids are still in elementary school.
Sucking in fresh air through his thin lips he tried to maintain his cool while continuing to internalize his complicated situation.
Sure, I've had two and a half years running the National Counterterrorism Center, but that's different from co-running an entire agency. Apparently they want me to swim in the deep end or die trying. Damn politics! By the end of today, I could be buried in a mountain of paperwork across the hall from the director. Unbelievable ... Damn! I don't want this, not yet.
Stanley played with the ring of keys in his pocket while he reflected on the man whose job he might replace.
Jamie Hanfield's favorite saying was, "If you feel like you're in over your head, you probably are. Don't worry though — fake it till you make it."
Jamie Hanfield had died of a sudden heart attack only two weeks earlier at age forty-seven, leaving his wife and three teenage children behind.
Everyone could see it coming, but they hadn't expected it so soon. For as long as anyone could remember, Jamie had downed food in vast quantities like the acceptable social drug it was. Twinkies, Ding Dongs, sugary doughnuts and every kind of fast food known to man had conspired together to produce his portly three hundred and fifty pounds. Hanfield's looks were very deceptive though. Behind the mountainous rolls of fat had been a charming man with a big heart and an extraordinary mind, honed from years of service both on and off the field. A critical eye for detail — that's what had made him so good at what he did.
Many CIA officers reflected, on why Jamie never made it to director. No doubt, he had been the people's choice hands down over the ruling tyrant, General Sandro Johnson.
Despite being a fifty-four-year-old general, Johnson was the man everyone called "Colonel Sanders" or "the Colonel." All this behind his back, of course. The name was in reference to the late founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken — an unwitting analyst had somehow figured out Johnson was a distant relative of the late Colonel Sanders, a cousin of a second cousin. Even Hanfield had joked he was off to get fried chicken from the Colonel whenever he'd been summoned to meet with the pompous, self-centered, ill-mannered, short-statured, and short-tempered director.
It was probably a bit unfair to the real Colonel Sanders, but the name stuck.
The Colonel was whom Stanley was afraid of. Hanfield had figured out exactly what buttons to press to keep the Colonel happy. Stanley wasn't so sure that he could do the same. Just working alongside the totalitarian Colonel held some sort of unnatural terror over him, not to mention the thought of occupying an office just across the hall.
Stanley stopped staring at his feet when the president's aide appeared.
"Dr. Carmichael, they are ready for you now. This way please."
"Thank you," Stanley said, faking an air of nonchalance like he visited the oval office every other day. Okay, let's get this over with.
He reluctantly stood up from the antique chair, and took a brief, longing look out the white-arched French doors opening onto the beautifully manicured grass and gardens of the South Lawn.
The view provided him with no solace. In fact, the knot in his stomach began to tighten, squeezing down on what was left of his half-digested lunch. Turning his head, he focused his vision on the looming doorway twenty feet away and licked his drying lips.
Hanfield's voice echoed inside his head again, "Fake it till you make it, Stanley."
When Stanley walked through the door into the Oval Office, he saw three men seated on antique couches.
President Elroy McKenzie, the first ever African-American Commander-in-Chief, sat with his legs apart on the couch farthest away from Stanley. His mid-sized, middle-aged frame was spread across almost half of the sandy brown velvet lounge chair he had chosen when he took office. The president looked the most comfortable and confident of the three men. A big grin parted his lips to reveal glowing white teeth.
The president looks like one happy cat today.
Seeing Stanley enter, the president motioned to the two men to stay seated and then straightened up and rose to his feet.
"Stanley, it's a pleasure to see you again. How are Anna and the kids doing?"
Stretching out his large hand, he enveloped Stanley's in a firm grip. His eyes softened as they stared into Stanley's with a compassionate expression that oozed reassurance. It seemed that he knew all about the inner battle that Stanley had been fighting moments before he stepped through the door.
Stanley replied, "The pleasure's all mine, sir. Anna and the kids have never been better."
"Stanley, call me Elroy. Please don't worry about formalities in here."
"Okay, sir ... sorry, Elroy."
Stanley looked across at the two men seated on the other couch. Their body language made it apparent that they were each other's kryptonite — both men seated as far away from the other as physically possible, while still remaining on the same piece of furniture.
The man seated at the far corner looked up at him with a genuine fatherly smile that warmed Stanley's heart and gave him an extra dose of courage.
I'm going to be okay.
John Durham was the director of National Intelligence and responsible for overseeing the seventeen agencies that made up the United States intelligence community. Durham was also Stanley's mentor, the man who had recruited him to work for the CIA fourteen years earlier.
The third man in the room looked like he didn't want to be there. Seated on the end of the couch closest to Stanley, he was skinny and short with flat silver hair that was slicked down in a still wet look with fresh comb marks running through it. He wore an immaculate class A military uniform with three stars on each shoulder, not a wrinkle in sight. Stanley couldn't help but notice his murky brown eyes looking back at him with a striking dark stare. It was the sort of stare that made Stanley feel ten inches tall on the inside, sucking away his shaky confidence like a giant vacuum cleaner.
It was the kind of effect the Colonel had on certain people. An expert in the game of power, he liked to dominate and manipulate those under him like simple pawns in a game of chess. The Oval Office, however, diminished his usual power and ability, for here he was subject to a higher power.
The president gestured for Stanley to take a seat, and without any hesitation he complied. The aide closed the door to the room. President McKenzie took his place on the couch next to Stanley, his posture emanating confidence and authority.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, we had a few details to go over before we brought you in. This meeting has to happen under rather unfortunate circumstances, with the recent passing of Hanfield. I'm sure you are aware, we have been discussing your suitability for the Deputy Director of the CIA role. You were on our short list from the beginning — a credit to you and your abilities, which have been clearly demonstrated by the excellent work you've completed in your two and a half years at the National Counterterrorism Center. The NCTC has intercepted more threats during your tenure than under any other director since it was first established eleven years ago."
"Thank you. It really is a team effort, sir ... Elroy."
"No, thank you, Stanley. You and your team have helped make America a safer place for all of us."
Stanley glanced over at the other men. He noticed the Colonel fighting to stop his lip from trembling and his stare intensifying. He bit his lip.
The hell is his problem? Looks like he's about to become a victim of spontaneous combustion or something.
The Colonel couldn't take it any longer, his impetuous nature got the better of him.
"How come he couldn't damn well stop the Boston Marathon bombings then?"
The Colonel had lost a close friend in the attack, a man that he'd known since he was a recruit at West Point Military Academy. It had become a sore point between them.
The president's face clouded, "I'm going to stop you right there. We have already discussed that at length, and your opinions and feelings have been taken into consideration."
"With all due respect Mr. President. I admit Stanley is qualified for the role, but my personal preference would still be Michael Freemont."
Stanley couldn't look at the Colonel any longer, so he turned his head away.
Of course he wants Freemont! His lapdog, almost as much of a stubborn, hard-nosed and difficult sod to get along with as the Colonel is! It will never happen. They need someone more personable and approachable in the role, someone similar to Hanfield — someone like me. All I need to do is step up and they'll be happy.
"I'm not so sure Carmichael is a man I can trust or rely on the way I can with Michael —"
John Durham cut him off. "That's enough! Stanley is one of the best and brightest up-and-coming talents we have. So what if he's not your protégé? Yes, one day he might put you out of a job. If he's the Deputy Director today, he's more likely to be the Director of the CIA tomorrow. But you'd rather have someone you can influence in the position, wouldn't you?"
The president spoke again, "Gentlemen! Compose yourselves. We all agreed beforehand that Stanley is the most suitable candidate for this role. Nobody could've predicted the bombings, it's like blaming President Bush for what happened on 9/11. That was institutional failure, not individual failure. We live, we learn, we make changes, we move on. End of conversation."
Excerpted from The Ulterior Motive by Jack Coleston. Copyright © 2016 Jack Coleston. Excerpted by permission of Everlast Media Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Triumph of Evil The opening quote, "'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.'? Edmund Burke" drew me in immediately. Then, I was introduced to Stanley, and the stagnant air of rot and something burned. The senses were in overdrive as I read on. I couldn't stop until I was finished. This book kept me focused on each word, waiting for the next scene. Stanley is one of those characters that become unforgettable. And then there was Anna ... I would give too much away if I commented on Anna. I highly recommend this book and the intrigue will keep you wanting more. Also, take the few seconds more to read the note from the author. I enjoy a glimpse into inspiration from the authors.
Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite The Ulterior Motive by Jack Coleston was a great read. It took me a few pages to get into the story, but once I became familiar with the characters, I was hooked and I didn’t want to put the book down. The subject is an attempt by a fanatical Sunni Group, led by a Caliph with a grudge against the Americans, to wreak as much damage on the United States by any means possible. The Arabs are incredibly ingenious, planning one incursion after another. There are plenty of twists and turns, but throughout the story we learn the reasons for earlier actions which keep you wondering at first until all is made clear. I’m not going to give away anything here, but the hotel bathroom renovation had me curious for several chapters. We are aware there is a mole somewhere in the CIA, but we don’t know at first who it is. The narrative builds to a satisfying conclusion. This book is right up to date, the events are set in 2014, and the author gives us descriptions of equipment and technology that, if they are factual, lead me to think a lot of research went into the writing. From the information at the end, author Jack Coleston mentions that The Ulterior Motive is the first in a new series, and I, for one, will be looking out for the others when they are published. A great book with believable characters you care about, plenty of suspense and surprises, an easy to read steady flow, and a well deserved 5 stars from me.
Heat Level: 0 flames out of 5 Rating: 4 stars out of 5 The Ulterior Motive is a well written political drama. It reads well with high action that will keep the reader interested until the very end. If you are anything like me, you will be wanting more of this book because things didn’t really end. The plot of this story is about Stanley Carmichael and his new role As Deputy Director of the CIA. This is a position that he does not feel that he is ready to tackle. Making matters worse the current director does not want him in this position. He had already groomed someone else to become the next deputy director and makes every effort to make that fact known. This story is also about Stanley’s wife. Not your typical stay at home mom. No, Anna is one of the most feared and respected ex-members of the Special Activities Division. Stanley and Anna are complete opposites and very much in love with one another. You can tell that there is hot explosive chemistry between Stanley and Anna. There is no competition between them, just a strong bond that will see them through a very difficult situation. As mentioned this story is full of action. It is very intense. It kept me turning the pages till I hit the end. Now I just want to read more about this couple as they continue to save the world. There are many characters in this story. We get to know a little about most of them. We learn the most about Stanley in this book and what shaped him to be the man that he is today. If this is going to be a series, I would love to learn what makes Anna tic. She really is an amazing character. PLOT 5 Stars CHEMISTRY: 4 Stars PACING: 5 Stars ENDING: 4 Stars CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: 4 Stars Reviewed by Mollien from Alpha Book Club
For a debut novel I thought this was really good, the author really put a lot of thought and time into writing this giving you a wonderful mixture of fiction, fact and history. I enjoyed the detail he gave to places it really made them story come alive you have no trouble picturing the scenes that play out before you. I thought this was a very believable story that was very fast paced with lots of action. It is a story that could very easily be taken right from our newspaper. Is a story that kept my attention but at times I was a little confused. There are a lot of characters to keep up with and hard keep them all clear in my mind. At times I had trouble remember who was who and had to back track to keep it all straight. For me it was a page turner with lots of action and thrills for those of us who crave it. I felt the danger and at times my heart beat a little faster. The buildup was great with just enough details to really keep it interesting and the reader invested. There really is not a dull moment throughout the story. Stanley and Anna really have their hands full trying to stay one step ahead of a terrorist group and its mystery leader Caliph. IMJIW is a terrorist group that is spreading throughout Iraq and Syria. Being a big military support myself and being told many different stories from our soldiers that had been in Iraq it was very easy to buy into this story line with a plot that is not only exciting but thrilling. I almost felt I was right there with them. Not only is this group a threat to Iraq and Syria but to the US with our National Security being in danger it is a race against the clock. I thought it was worth my time and really enjoyed the read. For those that like thrillers, adventure and action there is much to enjoy between these pages. You really need to pick a time when you can really focus on the story and play close attention as not to get confused with so many different characters. That is really the only issue I had with this story just too much going on to fast to keep up with. It is a very fast pace and enjoyable read.