Wall of Night

Wall of Night

by Grant Blackwood
Wall of Night

Wall of Night

by Grant Blackwood

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Overview

CIA Agent Briggs Tanner helps a Chinese general defect in this thriller by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Tom Clancy Duty and Honor.
 
Twelve years ago, Tanner snuck into China to help strategic mastermind Gen. Han Soong defect to the West. The escape went perfectly—until, somehow, the secret police found them at the final rendezvous. Tanner barely escaped, but Soong and his family were arrested and quickly disappeared . . .
 
Now Soong has resurfaced. Once again, he’s asking the CIA to help him escape—and Tanner is the only person he trusts. Yet even as Tanner prepares to confront the chaos of his own past and challenge the authority of China’s brutal secret police, forces around the globe are watching him, waiting for the moment that will lead the world to the brink of war, and seal Tanner’s fate once and for all.
 
Praise for Grant Blackwood
“Fast-paced and filled with action. . . . Fans of international political, military, and espionage tales will want to read Grant Blackwood’s novel.” —Midwest Book Review for Wall of Night
 
“The action and intrigue keep accelerating without any attempt to brake.” —Clive Cussler, #1 New York Times–bestselling author for End of Enemies

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626812987
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication date: 02/06/2019
Series: The Briggs Tanner Novels , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 27,406
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Grant Blackwood caught the fiction-writing bug at the age of eighteen while reading Clive Cussler’s The Mediterranean Caper , and spent the next four years working in different styles of fiction before settling on novel-length work. Mr. Blackwood is a U.S. Navy veteran, having spent three years active duty aboard the guided missile frigate USS Ford as an Operations Specialist and a Pilot Rescue Swimmer. Two months after leaving the Navy in July 1987, Mr. Blackwood started the first draft of his first novel, which as he puts it, “wasn’t good enough to be published, but good enough to earn a spot in my sock drawer. It took me several more years of rewriting before I realized the publishers and agents who’d been saying ‘no’ were saying no for a good reason.” Twelve years to the day after leaving the Navy, Mr. Blackwood received an offer from Penguin-Putnam/Berkley to buy his second novel, The End of Enemies, which hit the stands May 8th. Mr. Blackwood is 36 years old and lives in Minnesota, where he is working on this next novel, the second in the Briggs Tanner series of thrillers, which is due out in Spring/Summer of 2002.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Washington, D.C.

Tonight was to be Jerome Morris's first solo duty shift in Rock Creek Park, and before it was over he would find himself questioning his decision to trade his post at Shenandoah National Forest for the urban sprawl of the capital's largest park.

A backwoods boy and third-generation cop from rural Georgia, Morris found the best of both worlds with the USPP: Not only did you get to catch bad guys, but you got to do it in some of the most beautiful places in the country.

Tonight, Morris was part of a two-officer team patrolling the West D-3 Station, which included the 1800 acres of Rock Creek, plus Meridian Hill, Fort Totten, and portions of the C&O Canal.

Morris's radio cracked to life. "Station to Three-One."

Morris keyed the handset. "Three-One."

"Head on over to Pierce Mill, will ya? Got a report of a car in the parking lot."

Probably kids making out, Morris thought. There were plenty of entrances and exits to the park and amorous teenagers rarely paid attention to signs. He'd give them a lecture and send them packing. "On my way."

It took him ten minutes to get there; the Suburban handled the park's occasionally rough roads well enough, but Morris was still unfamiliar with much of the terrain, so he took it slow. An accident on his first night wouldn't do much to impress his supervisor.

He swung into the mill's parking lot and his headlights immediately picked out a red Lumina sitting beside the waterwheel. Morris stopped, turned on his spotlight, and shined it on the car, expecting to see a pair of heads pop up from the backseat. Nothing happened.

Morris honked his horn. Still nothing.

"Three-One to Station, I'm ten-ninety-seven at the mill. I'm getting out to check."

"Roger."

Morris climbed out, clicked on his flashlight and undipped his holster strap. He didn't like walking up on cars at night. No cop did. Too many things could go wrong — too easy to get ambushed.

Walking along the car's rear panel, he shined his beam over the interior. Nothing in the backseat ... There was a figure in the driver's seat, though: a male, with his head resting on the headrest. He extended his flashlight away from himself to misdirect a gunshot should it come, then shined it on the driver's face. "Sir, this is the Park Police."

No response. Behind the glare of the flashlight, the man remained still.

Morris tapped on the glass. "Sir ..."

Again there was no response. Now Morris felt the cold sheen of sweat on his face. Should he call backup? MaybeJesus, Jerome, just do it ...

Very slowly, Morris reached out, lifted the handle, and opened the door. The stench of feces and urine washed over him.

Suddenly the man was moving, tipping toward him.

Morris backpedaled, fumbling for his gun. The flashlight clattered to the asphalt. The beam danced wildly over the car, then rolled to a stop, illuminating the man's head. Still buckled in his seat, the man lay half out of the car, his arms touching the ground.

The top of his skull was missing.

The watch supervisor arrived four minutes later and found Morris squatting a few feet from the Lumina. "Jerome? You okay?"

"Yeah, Sergeant, I think so...."

"Just stay there, lemme take a look. You touch anything?"

"No ... uhm, yeah, the door handle."

The supervisor shined his flashlight over the man's head and knew immediately it was a gunshot wound. The roof upholstery was covered with blood. A revolver lay on the floorboard below the man's right knee.

"He's been dead awhile, I guess," Morris called.

"Why's that?"

"No blood on the ground; any more recent and he would have bled when he tipped over. Plus, his ankles are fat."

"Yeah, probably. Well, whoever he is, he picked one hell of a place to kill himself."

"Why's that?"

"Because we're standing in the middle of a jurisdictional black hole, that's why."

While all national parks are overseen by the department of the Interior and its law enforcement body, the Park Police, a homicide on federal property tends to wreak havoc with standard procedure.

Within an hour of Morris's initial call, the Lumina sat under the glare of five sets of headlights and was surrounded by the USPP Duty Commander, an investigator from the USPP's Criminal Investigations Branch, a Special Agent of the FBI, a city Medical Examiner and, because Rock Creek's roads and parking lots are regulated by metro traffic laws, a pair of patrol officers from the DCPD.

"The car's got a government parking sticker," the CIB investigator called to the FBI agent. "Commerce Department. Dead fed on fed property. Looking like yours, Steve."

"Yeah." The agent opened the glove compartment and extracted the registration. "Owner is a Larry Baker." He handed it to one of the cops. "You wanna — What's your name?"

"Johnson. My partner, Meade."

"You guys wanna check the house?"

Meade, the rookie of the pair, took it. "Jesus, you don't think he ..."

"Hope not," said the agent, "but it's best we check."

"Man drives away from home, parks his car, and blows his brains out ... God."

The agent understood Meade's trepidation. Either Baker had come here so his family wouldn't find him, or he'd come here because he'd done something at home he couldn't bear seeing.

The address took the officers to Parklawn Drive, a neighborhood in Randolph Hills, three miles from Rock Creek. The Baker home was a two-story Chesapeake with a pair of maple trees bracketing the driveway. A bug zapper glowed purple on the front porch.

"No lights on inside." said Meade. "Asleep, you think?"

"Yeah, probably," replied Johnson.

They got out and walked to the door. Meade raised his finger to press the doorbell. Johnson stopped him. "Wait," he whispered, then pressed his knuckle against the door and pushed. It swung open a few inches.

"Oh, shit," Meade whispered.

Johnson pushed the door open until it bumped against the wall. Inside, the marble foyer was dark; beyond it lay a T-turn hallway.

Johnson keyed his radio. "Two-nine to dispatch."

"Dispatch."

"We've got an open door at our location. Request you attempt contact via landline."

"Roger, standby."

Thirty seconds passed. In the distance, a dog barked once, then went silent. The bug zapper sizzled. Inside the house they heard the distant ringing of a phone. After a dozen rings, it stopped.

Johnson's radio crackled. "Dispatch, two-nine, no response landline."

"Yep, we heard it. We're going in."

Johnson looked over at Meade, gave him a reassuring nod, then drew his gun and clicked on his flashlight. Meade did the same, then followed.

They turned right at the T and walked through the kitchen, dining room, and living room. All were empty. A side door led from the living room into the garage. Johnson peeked out, pulled back, and shook his head.

They retraced their steps out of the kitchen, past the foyer, and followed the hall to a set of stairs leading upward. At the top they found another hallway: two doors on the right, balustrade on the left. At the far end lay another door. Master bedroom, Johnson thought.

Moving by hand gestures, they checked the first two rooms. Bedrooms: 'N Sync and Britney Spears posters, toys scattered on the floor, colorful wallpaper and curtains ... Kid's rooms.

They moved on. At the last door they stopped. They glanced at one another. If there's anything to find, Johnson thought, it'll be here. He gulped hard, looked over at Meade, and gave him another nod.

Johnson turned the knob and pushed open the door. The room was black. The air smelled stale. There was another odor as well, but Johnson couldn't quite place it. Like metal, he thought. Coppery. Even as his brain was identifying the odor, he tracked his flashlight across the floor to the bedpost, then upward.

What he saw made him freeze. "O sweet Jesus."

Burdette, Maryland

Charlie Latham jolted awake at the phone's first ring. Part habit, part instinctual consideration for his wife, he rarely let a phone ring more than twice. "Hello."

"Charlie, it's Harry." Harry Owens, a longtime friend of Latham's, had recently been promoted to assistant director of the FBI's National Security Division, which made him Latham's boss. "Did I wake you up?"

Latham smiled; the joke was old between them. "Nah. What's up?"

"Multiple murder. I think you're gonna want to see it. I'm there now."

Latham was wary. As head of the NSD's Counterespionage/Intelligence group, he had little business poaching on a homicide; his bailiwick was spies and terrorists. "What's going on, Harry?"

"Better you see it for yourself."

"Okay. Give me the address."

It took Latham twenty minutes to reach Randolph Hills. The driveway to the Baker home was filled with three DCPD patrol cars and a van from the medical examiner's office. Strung from tree to tree in the yard, yellow police tape fluttered in the breeze. Robe- and pajama-clad neighbors gawked from across the street.

A cop met Latham on the porch, handed him a pair of sterile booties, a gauze beanie for his head, and latex gloves, waited for him to don them and then led him inside and up the stairs. Owens was waiting; his face was pasty. "Hey, Charlie."

"Harry. Bad?"

"Pretty bad. Mother and two children."

Latham had known Owens for seventeen years and he could count on one hand the number of times he'd seen Owens so shaken. Still, that didn't answer why he was here. "What is it?" Latham asked.

"Just take a look. I don't want to put a spin on it. I need your eyes."

He led Latham down the hall to the bedroom door, gestured for Latham to wait, then poked his head inside and waved out the Crime Scene people. "Go ahead, Charlie."

Latham stepped through the door. And stopped.

The mother, an early forties redhead, sat in a hard-backed chair beside the bed. Her wrists were duct-taped to the chair's arms, her ankles to the rear legs, so her thighs were stretched tight. Harder to rock the chair that way, Latham thought. She'd been shot once in the forehead. Behind her, the yellow bedspread was splattered in blood and brain matter.

The children, both blond-haired girls under ten years of age, were sitting against the wall with their arms taped behind their backs. Their feet, similarly taped together around the calves, were secured to the bed's footing by nylon clothesline.

Both girls had been shot once in the crown of the skull. The shock wave from the bullets' passages had left each child's face rippled with bruises. The effect was known as "beehiving," named after the ringed appearance of beehives in cartoons.

Latham felt the room spinning; he felt hot. He took a deep breath. "What the hell happened here, Harry? Where's the —"

"He's in Rock Creek Park, shot once under the chin."

Latham felt a flash of anger. "Son-of-a-bitch ..."

"Maybe. Look at their ankles, Charlie."

Latham stepped over the children's legs and squatted down beside one of them. He pulled back a pajama cuff. There, beside the knob of the ankle bone, a tiny red pinprick on the vein.

Oh, no ... Latham grabbed the bed's footboard to steady himself.

Owens held up a clear, plastic, evidence bag. Inside was a hypodermic syringe. "We found it on the stairway. There's a little bit of blood on the tip."

Latham opened his mouth to ask the question, but Owens beat him to it. "We'll have to get the lab to confirm it, but the syringe looks empty. No residue, no liquid — nothing."

Nothing but air, thought Latham. They'd seen this before.

CHAPTER 2

White House

"What's next?" said President Martin, flipping to the next page of the brief. "The Angola thing?"

"Yes, sir," replied Director of Central Intelligence Dick Mason. The Angola thing ...

Martin spoke as if the plight of thousands of refugees carried no more import than a photo op with the Boy Scouts. Since the start of the war in Angola, thousands had been driven from their homes in the capital and Luanda and into squalid tent camps.

"If we don't find a way to get the Red Cross in, disease is going to start hitting the camps."

"I see."

Do you? For the first time in his life, Mason found himself in the unenviable position of disliking his boss. It didn't help that his boss also happened to be the president of the United States. Not that it mattered, of course. He wasn't required to like the man — he just had to follow his orders.

Martin was what Mason called a "too much man." Too handsome; too polished; too poised — too everything but genuine. Not that he was a simpleton; in fact, he was well-educated and quick on his feet. The problem was, Martin cared for little else than Martin. He was a dangerous narcissist.

His smartest move had been hiring his chief of staff, Howard Bousikaris, his right hand since the early days of the Haverland administration. The third-generation Greek was loyal and adept at playing Martin's political hatchet man. Inside the Beltway, Bousikaris had been nicknamed "The Ninja": It was only after you were dead that you realized he was after you.

"What does State have to say about this?" Martin asked.

Bousikaris said, "Not much at this point, sir. We don't even know for sure who's running the government. The central news agency in Luanda has changed hands four times in the last week."

"Lord, what a mess. Okay, Dick, what's next?"

Moving on again, Mason thought Martin was loath to make executive decisions. Fence riding, when skillfully done, was safer. From here, Angola would be dumped on Bousikaris, who would in turn dump it on either the National Security Council or the President's Foreign Advisory Council. Meanwhile, the situation in Angola would deteriorate and the death count would mount until Martin had to move lest he lose face. You don't have to like the man, Mason reminded himself.

"The elections in the Russian Federation. The issues are no different: the economy, agriculture, oblast autonomy — but it looks like the current president might have a real race on his hands."

"You're kidding," said Martin. "From this Bulganin fellow?"

"He's gaining ground fast."

"What do we know about him?" asked Bousikaris.

"Not as much as we would like," said Mason. Not nearly enough, in fact.

Vladimir Bulganin, a former factory foreman and local politician from Omsk, had founded the Russian Pride Party six years before and had been gnawing at the flanks of the major parties ever since.

On the surface, the RPP's platform seemed based on moderate nationalism, infrastructure improvement, a more centralized government, and, paradoxically, an emphasis on the democratic power of the people. That Bulganin had been able to dodge this apparent inconsistency was largely due, Mason felt, to his chief advisor, Ivan Nochenko.

A former colonel in the KGB, Nochenko was an expert at propaganda and disinformation. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, the First Directorate had toppled governments, swayed world opinion, and covered up disasters that would have been front-page news in the West.

Since his retirement in 1993, Nochenko had worked as a freelance PR consultant in Russia's always uncertain and often dangerous free market. Though no one on Madison Avenue would dare admit it, there was little appreciable difference between public relations and propaganda.

Lack of solid evidence notwithstanding, Mason suspected Nochenko was not only the driving force behind Bulganin's success, but also the reason why no one seemed to know much about this dark horse of the Russian political scene.

Mason said, "We don't think he's got enough backing to take the election, but a solid showing will give him clout in Moscow."

Martin nodded. "Leverage for the next go-around."

"Yes, sir. Maybe even some policy influence. Problem is, nobody's been able to nail down Bulganin's agenda. So far he's done little but echo the frustrations of the average Russian citizen."

"Dick, it's called politics. The man's building a constituency."

"In a country as volatile as Russia, sir, political ambiguity is dangerous."

"For who?"

"The world. The fact that Bulganin has gained so much support without tipping his hand is worrisome. There can be only two explanations: Either he's avoiding substance because he doesn't have any, or he's got an agenda he doesn't want to lay out until he's got the influence to make it stick."

Martin leaned toward Bousikaris and mock-whispered, "Dick sees a conspiracy in every bush."

Mason spread his hands. "It's what I'm paid to do, Mr. President."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Wall of Night"
by .
Copyright © 2002 Grant Blackwood.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
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.

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