CUTOUT: A third person used to conceal the contact between two people. A pawn.
They were partners -- lovers in a business where betrayal is a heartbeat away. CIA analyst Caroline Carmichael lost her husband Eric when his plane was blown out of the sky by an elite group of terrorists known as 30 April.
Now her dead husband has surfaced among those responsible for an explosion that rocks Berlin -- and the brutal kidnapping of the U.S. Vice President. Uncertain of Eric's motives and loyalties, the Agency plays its last, best card: Eric's wife -- the Cutout.
Is Eric a rogue agent gone bad? Or has he thrown himself under deep cover to terminate a ruthless psychopath? Caroline is drawn into a dizzying maze where one wrong turn will mean certain death ... and in which the Cutout will be the first to fall.
The kidnapping of the U.S. vice-president, Sophie Payne, sets off a firestorm of CIA intelligence and rescue activity in this first espionage thriller by Mathews, the popular author of the Merry Folger mystery series. After making a controversial speech in Berlin, Payne is abducted by a fringe terrorist group known as 30 April. For CIA operative and protagonist Caroline Carmichael, the kidnapping becomes more complicated when her husband (and associate), Eric, is spotted in the video footage of the abduction, leading her boss to think that he may have turned traitor on his CIA colleagues. Carmichael is chosen to head up the clandestine rescue operation because of her knowledge of the terrorist leader, but the time window for Payne's rescue is reduced considerably when her captors inject the v-p with a deadly anthrax strain. Carmichael sprints to Budapest and then Bosnia, all the while trying to balance her love for her husband with her knowledge of his duplicitous and often deadly tactics. Mathews, a former CIA intelligence analyst, keeps the action moving at a sprightly pace, and her presentation of espionage and CIA tactics is impeccable. But the secondary characters from Eastern Europe are a faceless bunch, and the author focuses so intently on the espionage activity that she ignores the reaction of the world at large to the kidnapping, although she does toss in an intriguing subplot dealing with the possible involvement of the German chancellor in the crime. Mathews makes up for these small flaws by avoiding an obvious formula ending, allowing the final riveting rescue attempt in an abandoned underground concentration camp to end on an unlikely note. It remains to be seen whether Merry Folger readers will make the genre leap with Mathews, but fans of spy thrillers should be alerted to this promising debut. Major ad/promo. (Jan. 30)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
October 29, 2001
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Cutout by Francine Mathews
ONE Berlin, 12:03 p.m. She was a small woman; the press had always made much of that. On this crisp November morning in the last days of a bloody century, she stood tiptoe on a platform designed to lift her within sight of the crowd. They were a polyglot mass — threadbare German students, Central Europeans, a smattering of American tourists. A few Turks holding blood-red placards were shadowed, of course, by the ubiquitous security detail of the new regime. After twenty-four hours in Berlin, Sophie Payne had grown accustomed to the presence of riot police. The international press corps jostled her audience freely, cameras held high like religious icons. The new German chancellor had not yet banned the media. Just across Pariser Platz, at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, sat a tangle of television vans and satellite dishes. Sophie surveyed them from her podium and understood that she was making history. The first American Vice President to descend upon the new German capital of Berlin, she had appeared at a troubled time. The people gathered in the square expected her to deliver an American message — the promise of solidarity in struggle. Or perhaps redemption? She had come to Berlin at the request of her President, Jack Bigelow, to inaugurate a foothold in the capital. Behind her, to the rear of the seats held down by the German foreign minister and the U.S. ambassador, the new embassy rose like an operatic set. Before it, Sophie Payne might have been a marionette, Judy playing without Punch, an official government doll. The U.S. embassy’s design had been fiercely debated for years. The trick, it seemed, was to avoid all visual reference to Berlin’s twentieth century — that unfortunate period of persistent guilt and klaxons in the night. Comparison with the present regime might prove unfortunate. But neither was the nineteenth century entirely acceptable; that had produced Bismarck, after all, and the march toward German militarism. The State Department planners had settled at last on a postmodernist compromise: a smooth, three-storied expanse of limestone corniced like a Chippendale highboy. It might, Sophie thought, have been a corporate headquarters. It made no statement of any kind. That was probably her job today, too. But in the last thirty-six hours she had read the obscene graffiti scrawled on the new Holocaust memorial. She had met with third-generation Turkish “guest workers” — gastarbeiters — about to be repatriated to a country they had never seen. She had even dined with the new chancellor, Fritz Voekl, and applauded politely when he spoke of the rebirth of German greatness. Then she had lain sleepless far into the night, remembering her parents. And decided that a statement must be made. Now she set aside her carefully crafted speech and adjusted the mike. “Meine Damen und Herren.” In the pause that followed her amplified words, Sophie distinctly heard a child wailing. She drew breath and gripped the podium. “We come here today to celebrate a new capital for a new century,” she said. That was innocuous enough; it might have been drawn from the sanitized pages she had just discarded. “We celebrate, too, the dedication and sacrifice of generations of men and women, on both sides of the Atlantic, who committed their lives to the defeat of Communism.” Nothing to argue with there — nothing that might excite the black-clad police or their waiting truncheons. “But the fact that we do so today in the city of Berlin is worthy of particular attention,” she continued. “The capital of Germany’s past as well as her future, Berlin can never be wholly reborn. It carries its history in every stone of its streets. For Berl