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.
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 airconditioned 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.
Uncaged Review: I was very surprised to learn that this is a debut novel by an author, and it’s an impressive first outing. This is a powerful political thriller that feels like a first-hand account of what could be going on today. The author takes you on a journey of kidnapping, espionage, terrorists and murder and has set the bar so high for both himself and fellow authors, that it will be very interesting if he can keep up the pace and the standards on his next novel. This is a home-run for suspense, and it will keep you turning the pages.
Be aware that you will hit multiple POVs, although it blended well and was refreshing instead of confusing. This is one of those rare books that could easily translate to the big screen. Reviewed by Cyrene
Read an interview with Jack Coleston in the August issue of Uncaged Book Reviews