The breathtaking new thriller by suspense master David L. Robbins of a conspiracy so explosive, it could only be told as fiction. You know only half the story. Now the other half will blow you away.
Can one man make history--and can another change it with a single bullet? It was a question that Professor Mikhal Lammeck had devoted his life to answering. An expert on history's great political assassinations, he's come to Havana in the spring of 1961 to seek the answer firsthand. For the more he sees of Cuba's charismatic revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, the more he's convinced that he's witnessing that rarest anomaly: the man who can change history...and who therefore must be murdered.
The wild CIA plots, the treacherous double crosses, the near- miraculous escapes, are already legendary, but it seems as if Castro's number is finally up. With a massive U.S.-backed invasion of the island looming, a trap has been set that not even Castro can escape. The players of this deadly assassination game are as varied as they are lethal--organized-crime figures, CIA agents, the Cuban underground, even a reclusive American billionaire. And now, perhaps most unlikely of all, a distinguished history professor.
Mikhal Lammeck is thrust dead-center between a Cuban secret-police captain and a chillingly amoral American CIA agent. It's a devil's bargain, one that Lammeck has no choice but to accept, and it will give him unprecedented access to the secret history of one of the twentieth century's greatest coups. Lammeck suddenly finds himself no longer only studying history, but making it. He soon becomes the unwilling mentor of a young man who's arrived in Cuba--a confused marine sharpshooter determined to become the century's most infamous assassin.
Seamlessly blending history and fiction into an electrifying page-turner, The Betrayal Game is that rarest of all thrillers--a novel so vividly real, it might very well be true.
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January 28, 2008
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Excerpt from The Betrayal Game by David L. Robb
The older brother moved first. More competitive, faster, he grabbed his swim fins, mask, and spear from the backseat. He dashed down the slope. The younger one hooted after him, not caring so much to win a race to the water. He knew his luck ran better; he would catch the most fish, as always.
"Rodrigo!" his brother called to him up the hill. He walked carefully, barefoot over the limestones and scraggy shells. "Slowpoke!" Manuelito made a show of putting on his mask and fins at the water's edge. He held up the spear, then splashed ahead. Rodrigo watched his brother kick, chopping froth behind his fins, to be first into the bay.
Rodrigo sat unconcerned in the sand. He wet the fins to slide them on better and spit into his mask. He stepped into the water, pleased at the flatness of the surface today. The sun shone from straight above, the visibility underwater would be ideal.
Rodrigo walked until the water rose to his knees. He kneeled forward and let his buoyancy take over, then propelled himself with a kick of the fins. He gazed down and ahead; the shelf of sand fell off quickly to deeper water, to the small coral reef only fifty meters from shore that was off-limits.
Schools of yellowtail and blue creole wrasses swam to meet him with curiosity. When Rodrigo offered nothing of interest, they dispersed. He paddled along the surface watching the sand bottom slope away. When the depth reached eight meters, the outskirts of the reef began to appear, small brain coral heads and elkhorn coral, sea whips and sea fans. Rodrigo and Lito did not know this reef so well as the ones of Bahia Honda fifteen kilometers west. Those were closer to their home and not the private preserve of Fidel Castro. But the boys had speared wonderful Nassau grouper in this place twice before, and had not been caught or bothered by anyone. They decided to come again today, a perfect day.
Staying on the surface, Rodrigo kicked until the reef beneath him grew denser. The tops of the coral lay ten meters below him, the sand bottom three meters more. He swam a wide circle, looking for Lito. For minutes he did not see his brother; Lito was the stronger swimmer and could stay down fantastically long. But Rodrigo had eyes for movement, a knowledge for fish his brother could not match. While Lito thrashed about on the bottom, lunging into holes, chasing, and stabbing, Rodrigo cruised, quiet and belonging on the reef, until his spear betrayed his intent.
He saw bubbles dribble out of the coral. Lito was in a crevice, chasing something. His brother emerged empty-handed, cheeks puffed with the last of his lungs. He did not speak when he surfaced beside Rodrigo but only gulped air, then propelled himself again to the bottom. Upside down, Lito looked up to Rodrigo and held his hands apart, to imply a medium-sized grouper.
Rodrigo drew a deep breath and dove. He kicked easily, wasting no motion or air. He settled on the sand beneath a jagged brow of the coral. Here in the blue depth the greens and aquas muddied to gray, orange faded toward bilious brown, and when a spear caught a fish in the heart, the brilliance of blood was never more than rust.
Rodrigo waited, releasing no bubbles. He held himself on the bottom with a hand gentle on the reef, to break nothing. He listened to the grinding rustle of sand on the other side of the coral wall where his brother worked to corner his grouper. Rodrigo stayed patient, knowing Lito might spook something out of the reef his way.
He exhaled a slow stream of bubbles to ease his lungs. Smaller denizens of the reef came to investigate--some grunts too little to take, a spider crab peeked at him then retreated. Rodrigo peered into the shadows at the bottom of the coral to be certain no morays lived there.
A burst of Lito's bubbles boiled out of the coral. A metallic thud sounded. Lito had loosed his spear but the noise was metal striking rock. Lito had missed. Rodrigo caught a flutter to his left; a grouper sped into the open trailing frightened puffs of feces. He watched his brother rise out of a crack in the reef, loose spear dangling at the end of its tether. Lito reeled the lance in and kicked to the surface for a quick breath. Rodrigo loaded his spear in his own hand, pulling the long shaft back, stretching the rubber belt anchored around his wrist.
That moment, a large blackfin snapper ambled around the corner of the coral head not two meters from Rodrigo's fins. The fish had seen Lito, had watched the grouper escape, and decided to follow suit while the predator was away. Rodrigo rolled to his side, swinging the spear into play before the snapper could react. He let go the long shaft, the sling launched the spear forward; the tip pierced the snapper just behind the gills.