<i>Only the Dead</i>: New Excerpt Only the Dead: New Excerpt Vidar Sundstol On a strange deer hunt, a Forest Service officer discovers family is its own kind of wilderness... Fresh Meat: <i>Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates</i> by Kathy Aarons Fresh Meat: Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons Terrie Farley Moran Can't stop at one murder either. Fresh Meat: <i>Fall of Night</i> by Jonathan Maberry Fresh Meat: Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry Katherine Tomlinson Parents aren't supposed to eat their children... FM: <i>The Skeleton Takes a Bow</i> by Leigh Perry FM: The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry Terrie Farley Moran Some people keep their skeletons in the closet. Others chose the attic.
From The Blog
August 30, 2014
Historical Crime Fiction: Writing the Lives of the Erased
Lyndsay Faye
August 28, 2014
Horns Trailer
Crime HQ
August 27, 2014
Toy Lightsaber Causes Bomb Scare
Teddy Pierson
August 26, 2014
Before Hannibal Lecter, There was Thomas Bishop: Shane Stevens' Forgotten Killer
Chad Eagleton
August 22, 2014
Checking into The Knick 1.03: "The Busy Flea"
Joe Brosnan
Tue
Aug 19 2014 11:45am
Excerpt

The Equalizer: New Audio Excerpt

Michael Sloan

The Equalizer by Michael Sloan is a thrilling reinvention of the TV series centered on former covert CIA officer Robert McCall (available August 19, 2014).

Michael Sloan, creator of the 1980s TV series, reinvents the story of the mysterious, former covert intelligence officer who helps desperate people who are in need of his unique and deadly skills.

Robert McCall is a former covert operations officer for the CIA who tries to atone for past sins by offering, free of charge, his services as a troubleshooter (often literally), a protector, and an investigator. People in need find him through a newspaper ad: "Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer.”

Aided by a group of sometimes-mysterious contacts (some of whom date back to his spying days), McCall traverses the streets of New York City, visiting justice upon those who prey upon the weak.

In this novel, based on the 1980s television show, and timed to come out shortly before the feature film version starring Denzel Washington, McCall gets pulled into a battle against Russian drug lords and finds himself pitted against his most dangerous foe ever!

[Click here to listen to Chapter 1 of The Equalizer!]

Tue
Aug 5 2014 11:00am
Excerpt

Alien Hunter: Underworld: New Excerpt

Whitley Strieber

Alien Hunter: Underworld by Whitley Strieber is the second sci-fi thriller featuring Flynn Carroll, a member of the secret alien communications department of the CIA (available August 5, 2014).

Flynn Carroll works for the most secret police unit on the planet, seeking the most brilliant and lethal criminals who have ever walked free: thieves and murderers from another world.

As part of a top secret CIA alien communications project, Flynn’s unit has been tasked with tracking down rogue agents from the planet Aeon. While Aeon claims to be a free planet desiring open communications with humanity, Aeon criminals have committed a series of brutal and bizarre murders on Earth. Flynn has been forbidden to take lethal action against the alien murderers—but as the bodies begin to pile up, something must be done.

Flynn finds himself cut off from his team, struggling to unearth Aeon secrets while protecting Earthling civilians from the deadly creatures. But as Flynn gets closer to the truth, he finds himself facing not only some of the most dangerous and frightening criminals ever seen on Earth, but also questions about his own existence. In order to crack the case, Flynn must come to grips with the greatest mystery he has yet confronted: who—or what—is he?

CHAPTER ONE

As he did every morning, Flynn Carroll was going through police reports on his iPad, reading them quickly. Then he stopped. He flipped back a page. As he reread, his eyes grew careful.

[Continue reading Alien Hunter: Underworld by Whitley Strieber...]

Fri
Jul 11 2014 8:45am

North Korea Complains to the U.N. About The Interview

Sometimes a movie sparks controvery, but rarely is that controversy taken to such as international scale. The Interview, which hits theaters October 10, 2014, focuses on two bumbling men—one, a journalist trying to redeem his career, the other, his producer—who land The Interview of The Year: A chance to sit down with Kim Jong Un. However the pair are recruited by the CIA to do, what else, but assassinate the North Korean leader.

Of course, it's not the most complimentary portrayals of a leader to ever be made, especially when an assassination attempt is a major plot point. Kim Jong Un did not take very kindly to the portrayal. In a letter made public this week to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam, Nam says the plot is tantamount to an act of war:

“To allow the production and distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent head of a sovereign state should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war.

”The United States authorities should take immediate and appropriate actions to ban the production and distribution of the aforementioned film; otherwise, it will be fully responsible for encouraging and sponsoring terrorism."

Seth Rogen, one of the stars along with James Franco, had this to say about the news:

Apparently parody and satire are not popular comedy devices in North Korea. What do you think the outcome of the open letter will be? At the very least, we don't see this movie seeing a debut in North Korea.

Wed
May 28 2014 2:00pm
Excerpt

Good Hunting: An American Spymaster’s Story: A New Excerpt

Jack Devine

Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story by Jack Devine is a historical memoir by 32-year CIA  member and eventual acting deputy director of operations that starts during the Cold War and ends in Afghanistan (available June 3, 2014).

Jack Devine ran Charlie Wilson’s War in Afghanistan. It was the largest covert action of the Cold War, and it was Devine who put the brand-new Stinger missile into the hands of the mujahideen during their war with the Soviets, paving the way to a decisive victory against the Russians. He also pushed the CIA’s effort to run down the narcotics trafficker Pablo Escobar in Colombia. He tried to warn the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, that there was a bullet coming from Iraq with his name on it. He was in Chile when Allende fell, and he had too much to do with Iran-Contra for his own taste, though he tried to stop it. And he tangled with Rick Ames, the KGB spy inside the CIA, and hunted Robert Hanssen, the mole in the FBI.

Part memoir, part historical redress, Good Hunting debunks outright some of the myths surrounding the Agency and cautions against its misuses. Beneath the exotic allure—living abroad with his wife and six children, running operations in seven countries, and serving successive presidents from Nixon to Clinton—this is a realist, gimlet-eyed account of the Agency. Now, as Devine sees it, the CIA is trapped within a larger bureaucracy, losing swaths of turf to the military, and, most ominous of all, is becoming overly weighted toward paramilitary operations after a decade of war. Its capacity to do what it does best—spying and covert action—has been seriously degraded.

ONE

Inside the Invisible Government

The Farm, 1969

It never occurred to me growing up that I would someday join the Central Intelligence Agency. I was the son of an Irish-Catholic heating contractor. My forebears were weavers and farmers who immigrated to the United States in the wake of the potato famine of 1846, settling in South Philadelphia and joining the building trades and the police department. But somehow covert action was in my DNA, a fact I came to understand in 1966 when my wife, Pat, gave me a book for my twenty-sixth birthday.

[Continue reading Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story by Jack Devine...]

Tue
May 6 2014 12:30pm

Now Win This!: Four Knaves Sweepstakes

You bet we've got four knaves for you: Jimmy, Moe, Alex... and, uh, Dismas? This handful of trouble includes fresh titles from Johnny Shaw, Reed Farrel Coleman, Marc Guggenheim, and John Lescroart—such a deal!

This Sweepstakes Has Ended

This is NOT a Comments Sweepstakes. You must click the link above to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins May 6, 2014, at 12:30 pm ET, and ends May 20, 2014, 12:29 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[See all the suits in this sweepstakes...]

Mon
Apr 28 2014 5:45pm
Excerpt

Live to See Tomorrow: New Excerpt

Iris Johansen

Live to See Tomorrow by Iris Johansen is the third thriller in the Catherine Ling series about the prized CIA operative who will do whatever it takes to keep her son safe (available April 29, 2014).

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA’s most prized operatives. Raised on the unforgiving streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen, already having accumulated more insight and secrets than the most seasoned professionals in her world. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang. When Luke was kidnapped at the age of two, it nearly broke her. Now, nine years later, her son has astonishingly been returned to her and Catherine vows never to fail him again. But when her job pulls her away from home, she relies on the brilliant and deadly Hu Chang to safeguard Luke in her absence. Now Erin Sullivan, an American journalist with mysterious ties to Hu Chang, has been kidnapped in Tibet. If Catherine doesn’t agree to spearhead the CIA rescue mission, she knows that Hu Chang himself will go, a possibility she can’t risk. But she will be facing a monster whose crimes stretch back forty years, always eluding the CIA. And the job grows even more complicated when Catherine meets Richard Cameron, a supposed ally who’s clearly not telling all he knows. Their attraction is immediate, but Catherine isn't at all sure that he can be trusted. If she’s going to rescue this journalist with a story worth killing for, she’ll need to keep Cameron very close. From the treacherous landscape of the Himalayas to the twisting back alleys of San Francisco, the clock is ticking for Catherine and those she loves most. At every turn she faces a ruthless enemy who is determined to keep the truth buried, even if it means that none of them live to see tomorrow.

Chapter 1

HONG KONG

Why didn’t she think of this city as home? Catherine Ling wondered as she looked down through the clouds from the window of the jet approaching Hong Kong. Other people would have found it strange that she had never regarded this exotic, wonderful, terrible city as her home place. She had spent her childhood here on the streets struggling, sometimes starving, always having to use her mind and wits just to stay alive. It was only when she was fourteen and had been chosen by Venable to go to work for the CIA that she had left the city. Perhaps it was because she had never been at ease enough to think of it as a haven. Wasn’t a home supposed to offer safe haven?

[Continue Reading Live to See Tomorrow by Iris Johansen...]

Tue
Nov 19 2013 12:00pm

The Death of JFK, Part 3: Where We Stand 50 Years Later

Read here for Part 1: Five Things We Now Know and

Part 2: Trigger, Trigger! Who Pulled the Trigger?

 

Continuing...

At 50 years, I’m not sure where we stand. Yes, we have more information. We know that most of the CIA’s public pronouncements about their connection to Oswald were simply lies. Yes, they had more than just a passing interest in Lee Harvey Oswald, much more. We know that a great many public figures, while publicly supporting the Warren Report, privately believed few if any of its conclusions. Despite the desperate efforts of former Commission attorneys like California Supreme Court Justice Richard Mosk, the segment of the people who believe that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed JFK shrinks with each passing year.

Authors like Vincent Bugliosi and Gerald Posner have tried with all their might to back up the Warren Report, but they have been forced to cherry pick evidence, ignoring anything that didn’t fit their conclusions, just like the Warren Commission did. Indeed, Bugliosi uses blatant character assassination to counter conspiracy theories, which is not an argument at all. As I’ve pointed out before, it just makes Bugliosi look like an eight-year old on the playground.  Bugliosi simply tries to overwhelm the reader with words–over 1.5 million on the subject as a matter of fact.

The smoking guns in the JFK assassination lie not in the streets of New Orleans or the belly of the old Soviet Union. No, the smoking guns here rest in the still unanswered questions.

1)  Lee Harvey Oswald’s motive. He had none, at least none that’s ever been found. Even the Warren Commission could only come up with “possible” motives. Journalist Peter Savodnik tries to psychoanalyze Oswald in his new book, The Interloper, to provide a motive, but applying psychoanalysis to a man fifty years in the grave on the basis of what little we know of his life in the old Soviet Union is stretching it at best.

[And there's more worth wondering about...]

Fri
Nov 15 2013 12:30pm

The Death of JFK, Part 1: Five Things We Now Know

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of AmericaThe 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination is quickly approaching on November 22nd.  And we’ve already been subjected to panel discussions, new books, letters to editors defending the Warren Commission, letters to editors condemning the Warren Commission, and a spate of films yet to come.  The divide between those who believe Lee Harvey Oswald solely responsible and those who believe that a conspiracy resulted in the death of JFK has never been more gaping.  But this is a good time to step back and look at how far we’ve come since 1963, which claims/theories from both sides have been rendered null and void and which have stood the test of time.

First, we need to accept the fact that nearly all is theory and speculation about this tragic event. Regardless of how many times the late Arlen Specter tried to convince us that the lone bullet theory is now lone bullet fact, he was wrong. It is still just a theory. Just like the theories that involve the Mafia, Cuban freedom fighters, the CIA, Lyndon Johnson. They are all just that: speculation, at best, informed speculation.

Why?

Lee Harvey Oswald never went to trial. As then Dallas police chief Jesse Curry once told the Dallas Morning News, ““We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did. Nobody's yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand.” The Warren Commission was not a substitute for a trial by jury. It was comprised of government officials, some of whom had their own agendas. We will never know how that trial might have turned out. Too many questions remain unanswered, and too many claims on both sides of the controversy just don’t hold water.

Let’s get another thing straight: conspiracies do exist. Regardless of how many journalists, both veterans and those still wet-behind-the-ears, make fun of conspiracy theorists, people conspire every day to break the law. Yes, sometimes such theories are out there on the fringe. But history shows that they do happen, even within the government. As a primer for those who have forgotten that character assassination is no argument at all, let’s remember Watergate and Iran-Contra. They were criminal conspiracies. People went to prison.  Those who talk of “tin foil hats” to mock conspiracy theorists need to return to being legitimate journalists and quit acting like kids on playgrounds calling people names. If you want to refute a claim, do it with facts.

A trio of blog posts can only scratch the surface, but I hope they can give a hint of the vast spider-web that surrounds the JFK assassination today.  So, to get started, here are Five Things We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then:

1) Whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole person responsible for John Kennedy’s death or whether he was, as he phrased it, “a patsy,” the cornerstone of the Warren Commission findings was laid on November 25, 1963 by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach in a memo, which surfaced in the 1970s, written to LBJ aide Bill Moyers: “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.”

This was the same day as JFK’s funeral. Oswald was barely cold. No true investigation had really gotten off the ground. And yet, here we have the conclusions that will be drawn by the Warren Commission all laid out.  Although Warren Commission apologists try to talk their way out of this memo, it’s nearly impossible to explain away Katzenbach’s statement, made within 72 hours of the assassination. A fair and objective reading of the memo shows that, for whatever reason, Katzenbach either knew that Oswald was guilty or was willing to accept that conclusion, without an investigation.  And that is the question.  How could anyone be so certain that Oswald alone was guilty before any investigation had really begun?

[That's curious... wonder what else might be?]

Thu
Oct 17 2013 5:30pm

Fresh Meat: Ask Not by Max Allan Collins

Ask Not by Max Allan Collins, a Nathan Heller P.I. historical novel Ask Not by Max Allan Collins is historical fiction, the third novel in the Nathan Heller JFK Trilogy preceded by Bye Bye, Baby, and Target Lancer (available October 22, 2013).  

It’s September 1964, in Chicago, and Nathan Heller, a P.I. to the stars, and his 20 year-old son, Sam, have just gone to a Beatles concert where they also obtained the signatures of the four superstars. The good times end abruptly, however, when they barely escape being hit-and-run victims of a driver who targets them.

Heller recognizes the driver as a Cuban connected to Project Mongoose, a 1960 secret terror plan to assassinate Castro, which he was involved in while working with the CIA. A rash of suspicious deaths have occurred in Dallas, such as questionable suicides, murders, and accidents similar to Heller’s near hit-and-run death. Most victims have been witnesses, or connected in some way to the assassination of President Kennedy.

The Warren Commission has yet to announce its finding. Heller soon discovers that the Dallas deaths are also viewed as attempts to clean up “loose ends” to the assassination. So he embarks on a journey to convince the CIA and the Mafia that he is not a “loose end.”

Like Sam Spade, Heller walks a fine line between two worlds. His A-1 Detective Agency that originated in Chicago had expanded to LA and Manhattan. Heller has had such clients as Marilyn Monroe. And Jimmy Hoffa has hired him to infiltrate the so-called Rackets Committee, which he did with the full knowledge of Robert Kennedy, chief counsel of the Rackets Committee.

[Down, down the rabbit hole we go...]

Thu
Oct 17 2013 8:45am

No Arm Chair Quarterback: Trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

It's been a while since Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan has appeared on the big screen. The last time was 2002's Sum of All Fears, and I must admit, I was disappointed in Ben Affleck's Ryan. All that said, it looks like the analyst turned spy turned president is making a come back, and this time he is played by Captain Kirk. It also looks like they are going for a more shoot 'em up kind of Ryan than the brainy one, but it still looks like a fun ride. Here's the official synopsis:

Based on the character created by bestselling author Tom Clancy, “Jack Ryan” is a global action thriller set in the present day. This original story follows a young Jack (Chris Pine) as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot. The story follows him from 9/11, through his tour of duty in Afghanistan, which scarred him forever, and into his early days in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the modern CIA where he becomes an analyst, under the guardianship of his handler, Harper (Kevin Costner). When Ryan believes he’s uncovered a Russian plot to collapse the United States economy, he goes from being an analyst to becoming a spy and must fight to save his own life and those of countless others, while also trying to protect the thing that’s more important to him than anything, his relationship with his fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley)

Tue
Jul 2 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: The Eleventh Commandment by Jeffrey Archer

The Eleventh Commandment by Jeffrey ArcherThe Eleventh Commandment by Jeffrey Archer is an espionage thriller about a retiring CIA operative who finds himself at war with cartels, the Russians, and even his agency (available in new U.S. reprint July 2, 2013).

Two types of books exist: good and bad. But many titles occupy the grey lonely place in-between, only changing their position on a either a trickle or a tidal wave of enthusiastic debate by readers, publishers, bloggers or a combination of all three. Blood often remains on the floor or the computer screen as the various parties give no quarter in their quest for top opinion.

Jeffrey Archer can gaze down upon all this, untouchable, when he picks up pencil, pen, etch-a-sketch or whatever his chosen literary tool. This book is terrific, like a master class in crime writing with the thrills spilling off every page and spinning off into the stratosphere. I felt like I had been grabbed and chucked into a Mixed Martial Arts tournament and then passed from one fighter to another, but never having been slapped into unconsciousness, as then I would be unable to turn the page, or run my finger down the screen to keep on readingk.

[When being battered with a book is a good thing...]

Sun
Jun 2 2013 12:00pm
Excerpt

The Last Line: New Excerpt

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and William H. Keith

An excerpt from The Last Line, a military thriller by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer with William H. Keith (available June 4, 2013).

Chris Teller may be the best in the intelligence business, but that doesn’t mean he’s the most popular. Far from it, in fact. While he may be a threat to the status quo, however, the only thing saving him from expulsion is an even greater threat to his country, one that’s already within our borders.

With Mexico descending into anarchy, the drug cartels have kicked up the heat, allying with Hezbollah and the Iranian secret service in a plot aimed at nothing less than the destruction of the United States of America. As Teller races to unravel the plot, he discovers that the most dangerous and pernicious enemies are not bloodthirsty drug lords, but a terrifying and treasonous cabal within the U.S. government itself.

Prologue

U.S.-MEXICAN BORDER
2 MILES EAST OF NOGALES, ARIZONA
1650 HOURS, MST
12 APRIL

Even here, the screams were too loud to allow him to pray.

Saeed Reyshahri remained kneeling, facing east, trying again to recite the Surat al-Fatiha, the seven opening verses of the Koran. “In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful, all appreciation, gratefulness, and thankfulness are to Allah alone, lord of the worlds . . .”

A dry wind whispered across the sere and barren landscape. Behind him, on the other side of the ridge, a woman was begging, desperately pleading. Reyshahri did not speak Spanish, but he could guess easily enough what she was saying.

“!No! !No! Por favor . . . !Largate! !No me chinge! ¡No me chinge!

Filthy dogs. No respect for women— but worse, far worse, no concern for the importance, the urgency of his mission. Why had Colonel Salehi insisted on using these . . . these animals for Operation Shah Mat? The Sinaloa Cartel’s coyotes were . . . ruthless. Mercenary. Reliable enough if you met their price, but vicious and dangerous.

They had their own agenda.

Reyshahri was an officer in the Vezarat-e Ettela’at va Amniyat-e Keshvar—VEVAK as it was commonly known, the state security service of the Republic of Iran. His rank was sarvan, equivalent to a captain in the U.S. Army; he’d been a member of the Sepah for ten years, and with VEVAK for three more. For most of that time he’d helped train Hezbollah militias for their struggle against the Zionists.

VEVAK was known neither for sentimentality nor for squeamishness when it came to operations in the field. There were times when raw brutality was absolutely necessary—to fulfill a mission, to make a point, to send a message.

This, however, was not one of those times.

[Read the full excerpt of The Last Line by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and William H. Keith]

Fri
May 31 2013 4:00pm
Excerpt

Sandstorm: New Excerpt

Alan L. Lee

Sandstorm by Alan L LeeSandstorm by Alan L. Lee is a political thriller involving CIA agents, assassins, politicians, and a plot to kill thousands (available June 4, 2013).

Far away from government oversight, a secret partnership has been formed between an Israeli spymaster pulling the strings of the most efficient killing machine the Mossad has to offer and an exclusive billionaire boys club that wants to dictate the New World Order. In their pocket is a powerful U.S. senator who aspires to the presidency. Success means vast wealth and increased power, and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.

CIA operative Nora Mossa is trained to kill when the situation calls for it. She’s also capable of disappearing into thin air. Being efficient, deadly, and beautiful, however, won’t be enough to protect her after her mentor Erica Janway is assassinated in her Maryland home. With everyone in the Agency suspect, Nora turns to the only person capable of keeping her alive while she uncovers the truth behind Janway’s demise—her former lover and ex–CIA agent Alex Koves. That is, if he will even speak to her.

With danger lurking in every corner of the globe, Koves and Nora must stay alive long enough to piece together the clues to a deadly plot capable of killing thousands in the Middle East. And the clock is ticking….
 

Chapter 1

Erica Janway reflected on her past because she had no future.

Forty-eight years of living, most of them good. A decent child­hood. No serious health issues other than a brief fondness for al­cohol. The usual amount of bad dates before the right one showed up. She was proud to have served her country with honor, no mat­ter what some of the assholes at the CIA thought. She’d get a black star chiseled into the white face of Vermont marble on the Wall of Honor at Langley. Her husband, Paul, was the rock of her foundation and the main reason the drinking stopped. There was plenty more to reflect upon, but she was out of time.

The ominous figure clad in a dripping wetsuit stood motion­less a few feet away in her Annapolis, Maryland, kitchen. She knew his presence was of her own doing. She hadn’t been able to keep her nose out of things. When they’d reassigned her from station chief in Moscow back to Langley, she’d been able to deal with the indignity only for so long before it had really pissed her off. Work­ing from a desk, she’d searched daily for trouble, and once she’d stumbled upon it, resisting the temptation to dig further had been impossible. She’d wanted to take her suspicions up the ladder to her superiors but had lacked concrete proof. Plus, she could ill-afford another blemish on her record.

As a puddle formed on the tile, Erica figured he’d been watch­ing her for a long time from the inlet off the Chesapeake Bay, the water’s edge just a chip shot away. She’d been on the deck for most of the evening and hadn’t heard or seen anything unusual.

Erica stared at the 9 mm pistol pointed at her chest. “If it’s money you want, I only have about sixty dollars in the house.” She was trying to buy time. She knew he wasn’t here for money. Com­mon criminals didn’t walk around with silenced weapons. She coyly eased toward the knife holder on the counter.

[Read the full excerpt of Sandstorm by Alan L. Lee]

Fri
May 24 2013 8:45am

The Purrrr-fect Spy: Operation Acoustic Kitty

Somebody is watching me...There’s a lot of justifiable worry over the government’s use of drones in civilian populations, with even some police forces investigating the idea of using them in their day-to-day work. But what if it wasn’t the skies that were compromised, but our own homes? What if our pets were secretly Big Brother’s little spies?

Pretty nefarious idea, no? That is probably exactly what the CIA thought in the 1960s when they had a vet perform an hour-long procedure that turned a feline into a multimillion-dollar spy as a part of Operation Acoustic Kitty. The cat was implanted with a good deal of equipment then sent on a test run to spy on two men in a park.

We all can probably guess the likelihood of a house cat obeying its master/owner. What the CIA probably didn’t count on was their new multimillion-dollar national security ace-in-the-hole being run over by a taxi on its way across the street. The program was scrapped soon after. However, it wasn’t the first nor will it be the last attempt to employ the animal kingdom in our government’s day-to-day spy work. The website iO9 has a round-up including this case and other rather interesting tales of animal spies.

Sat
Apr 27 2013 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Blood Makes Noise by Gregory Widen

Blood Makes Noise, the debut novel by Gregory Widen, is an action-packed thriller based on the events before and after the death of Eva Perón (available April 30, 2013).

It’s hard to articulate the effect Eva Perón had on Argentina. Her combination of charisma and chutzpah took her from what we could gently call an unfortunate childhood, to an undistinguished career as an actress, to the position of First Lady. In a different time, she’d have been running the country herself. (There were plenty of people who figured she pretty much was.) But this was 1946, and while her husband Juan Perón was serving as president of Argentina, Evita was traveling around the country charming the pants off everyone. By 1951, there was strong and unprecedented public sentiment toward making her a candidate for vice president in the next election.

The fact that she died of cancer in 1952 at the age of 33 merely ensured Evita’s place in the pantheon of the great gone-too-soon and elevated her popularity to a galactic scale. Weirdly, her body was embalmed and meticulously preserved by a Dr. Pedro Ara in a process that took about a year to complete. Her remains became what could only be described as a holy relic.

And then they disappeared…

[Wait…what?]

Sun
Apr 21 2013 10:00am

Fresh Meat: The Bleiberg Project by David Khara

The Bleiberg Project by David Khara, translated from the French by Simon John, is a best-selling international thriller in its first English-language edition (available April 30, 2013.)

A Mossad agent, a CIA agent, and a Wall Street Trader walk into a bank. What happens next is no joke.

I loved this thriller. Written by former journalist David Khara, The Bleiberg Project, keeps you involved, whether you’re in the midst of a flashback to Nazi activities or following modern-day bad guys with links to some truly evil men from World War II.

Jay Novacek has more money than he’ll ever spend and he’s one of the unhappiest people on earth. One night of debauchery brought him a pain so deep it never leaves his conscious thoughts. Then, when two representatives from the United States Army show up to inform Jay of his father’s death, he finally has something to celebrate.

[So, not a happy childhood then...]

Sun
Feb 17 2013 1:00pm

Spying on Spies

Headquarters of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND)

We all know the CIA, the KGB (FSB), the BND, the NSA. Acronyms for some of the world’s top intelligence agencies, they bring certain images to mind, whether it’s men in trench coats or James Bond look-alikes.

But what about where these men work? What do the agencies themselves look like? Last month Robert Beckhusen wrote about nine of these super secret spy bases for Wired magazine. Check out the photographs and decide—where would you like to work?

Fri
Feb 15 2013 12:30pm

Where in the World?: Thailand Makes for Perfect Crime Film Backdrop

When it comes to eye-popping landscapes and city streets that evoke exotic, deadly intrigue, Hollywood’s go-to country for Asian locations may very well be Thailand. The kingdom boasts a variety of terrain—everything from thick jungles and vaulting limestone mountains to broad, bone-white beaches and chaotic, neon-drenched urban cores—as well as competent, relatively inexpensive movie crews.

That camera-friendly mix has been on display for nearly 40 years, ever since The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), the ninth installment of the James Bond franchise, filmed extensively in Thailand. There was the boat chase through the klongs (canals) of Bangkok, the karate school in nearby Samut Prakan province, but the real show-stopper was Scaramanga’s lair in the otherworldy archipelago of Phang-nga Bay on Thailand’s Andaman Sea coastline. The dramatic limestone island of Ko Khao Phing Kan lies about 20 miles northeast of Phuket and is notable for a massive section of rock that has cleanly sheared off—the result of thousands of years of undercutting erosion—and now leans against the remaining mountain. Punctuating the island’s small cove is the pillar of Koh Tapu (“Nail Island”), now commonly known as “James Bond Island” by every tour operator in Phuket.

[Can’t blame them for that...]

Sun
Dec 23 2012 1:00pm
Excerpt

The Moscow Club: Excerpt

Joseph Finder

The Moscow Club by Joseph FinderAn excerpt of The Moscow Club, a 1991 spy thriller by Joseph Finder (reissue available December 24, 2012).

It’s 1991. The Cold War is over. Charlie Stone is a brilliant analyst for the CIA who made a name for himself during the height of the Cold War. But today his expertise is needed yet again: A top-secret tape—one that foretells a coup d’état in the Kremlin—has been smuggled out of the Soviet Union by one of a few remaining moles. Stone’s assessment of the transcript is twofold: Not only is a very real, very violent power struggle underway but the plot may be linked to an old mystery involving the imprisonment of Stone’s own father. Could a McCarthy-era enemy be trying to send Stone a deadly modern message?

Soon Stone finds himself at the center of another conspiracy—framed for a grisly murder. Without proof of his innocence, he enters into a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse that leads him across the United States, through Europe, and finally, to the Soviet Union. There, he will come face to face with a group of Kremlin insiders whose ruthless agenda threatens to disrupt the fragile balance of world power—and leave Stone with nowhere left to run. But before he can thwart a tragedy of epic proportions, he must put a stop to the elusive ways and means of The Moscow Club.


Part I: The Testament

In Moscow he went to his office in the Kremlin...Silently, with hands folded be­hind his back, Lenin walked around his office, as if taking leave of the place from which he once guided the destinies of Rus­sia. That is one version. Another has it that Lenin took a certain document from his desk and put it in his pocket. This second story is contradicted by a third: he looked for the document; not finding it there, he became furious and shouted incoherently.

—David Shub, Lenin (1948)


Chapter 1

The Adirondack Mountains, New York

The first hundred feet or so had been easy, a series of blocky ledges rising gently, rough-hewn and mossy. But then the final fifty feet rose almost straight up, a smooth rock face with a long vertical crack undulating through it. Charles Stone rested for a long moment at a flat ledge. He exhaled and inhaled slowly, with a mea­sured cadence, glancing up at the summit from time to time, shielding his eyes from the dazzling light.

[Read the full excerpt of The Moscow Club by Joseph Finder...]

Wed
Dec 5 2012 9:45am

Careful with that Pooper Scooper!

The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., has some incredible listening devices and transmitters in its collection: bugs that were planted in fake tree trunks, children’s toys, picture frames, and, of course, the good ol’ telephone receiver. (Remember those?) But none is quite as…erm…prosaic as the little number above: the Dog Doo Transmitter.

The museum describes it thusly:  “Issued by CIA, circa 1970. Effectively camouflaged, this homing beacon transmitted a radio signal that directed aircraft to locations for strikes or reconnaissance.”

Was someone in R&D having a laugh? Or was this the most ingenious concealment ever?

Photo courtesy of The International Spy Museum.