The headlines only reveal half the truth. Here's the real story. . . . Abu Qasim, the ruthless and cunning Al Qaeda leader who nearly succeeded in blowing up a meeting of the G-8 in Paris, has escaped from the grasp of the Americans and is plotting his next move. A small band of powerful men, highly placed leaders of industry and politics in the West, have decided they need to target and destroy the terrorist and his inner circle before he can strike again. When a prominent Russian dissident is poisoned in London, however, it's clear that there's a very dangerous leak within the ranks of the Westerners, and that Abu Qasim has turned the tables on his rivals---it is now he who is pursuing, and his aim is to kill. Admiral Jake Grafton dispatches special agent Tommy Carmellini to infiltrate the plot. He tracks the gorgeous and seductive Marisa Petrou, a Frenchwoman who may be Qasim's daughter and who has her own reasons for wanting him alive---or wishing him dead. Qasim, meanwhile, has a trick up his sleeve---one that he's been planning for years. Who is behind the methodical assassinations of the wealthy and powerful Western vigilante team? Will Abu Qasim slip the noose once again? In this pulse-pounding thriller, Tommy Carmellini must put a stop to a master of terror before he unleashes even more death.
Bestseller Coonts's exciting third thriller to star reformed burglar turned CIA operative Tommy Carmellini (after The Traitor) raises a timely issue--the lack of well-to-do Americans on combat duty in the war against terrorism. When an Iraqi bomb kills Huntington Winchester's only child, a Harvard med student who joined the navy out of patriotism, the grieving father decides he and his privileged friends aren't doing enough to defend civilization against the jihadist threat. Winchester gets tacit approval from one of those friends, the unnamed U.S. president, for him and some other well-to-do types to finance their own private war. When al-Qaeda mastermind Abu Qasim discovers the identities of those in Winchester's group and targets them, Carmellini and his CIA boss, Adm. Jake Grafton, determine to set a trap that involves Qasim's possible daughter. Though the constant switching between various points-of-view distracts at times, the action moves swiftly to its Hollywood ending. Author tour. (Aug.) ""
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St. Martin's Press
August 03, 2008
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Excerpt from The Assassin by Stephen Coonts
Ragheads dragged the driver out of the vehicle and took him away," the sergeant told the lieutenant, who was sitting in a Humvee. "They shot the woman in the car. She's still in it. Iraqi grunt says she's alive but the assholes put a bomb in the car. They're using her as cheese in the trap."
"Shit," said the lieutenant and rubbed the stubble on his chin.
The day was hot, and the chatter of automatic weapons firing bursts was the musical background. The column of vehicles had ground to a halt in a cloud of dust, and since there was no wind, the dust sifted softly down, blanketing equipment and men and making breathing difficult.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer Third Class Owen Winchester moved closer to the lead vehicle so that he could hear the lieutenant and sergeant better.
He could see the back end of an old sedan with faded, peeling paint sitting motionless alongside the road about fifty yards ahead. Three Marines and three Iraqi soldiers were huddled in an irrigation ditch fifty feet to the right of the road. On the left was a block of houses.
"Let me go take a look," Winchester said to the lieutenant.
"Listen, doc," the sergeant said, glancing at Winchester. "The ragheads would love to do you same as they would us."
"I want to take a look," Winchester insisted. "If she can be saved..." He left it hanging there as distant small-arms fire rattled randomly.
The place was a sun-baked hellhole; it made Juarez look like Paris on the Rio Bravo. The tragedy was that real humans tried to live here... and were murdered here by rats with guns who wanted to rule the dungheap in the name of a vengeful, merciless god, one who demanded human sacrifice as a ticket to Paradise.
The lieutenant had been in Iraq for six months and was approaching burnout. The wanton, savage cruelty of the true believers no longer appalled him--he accepted it, just as he did the heat and dirt and human misery he saw everywhere he looked. He forced himself to think about the situation. A woman. Shot. She would probably die unless something was done. So what? No, no, don't think like that, he thought. That's the way they think, which is why the Devil lives here. After a few seconds, he said, "Okay. Take a look. And watch your ass."
The sergeant didn't say another word, merely began trotting ahead in that bent-over combat trot of soldiers the world over. With his firstaid bag over his shoulder, Winchester followed.
They flopped into the irrigation ditch directly opposite the car, where they could see into the passenger compartment. There was a woman in there, all right, slumped over. She wasn't wearing a head scarf. They could see her dark hair.
Fifteen feet from them was the rotting carcass of a dog. In this heat, the stench was awe-inspiring.
An Iraqi soldier joined them. "She has been shot," he said in heavily accented English. "Stomach. I get close, see her and bomb."
"How are they going to detonate it, you think?" Winchester asked, looking around, trying to spot the triggerman. He saw no one but the Iraqi soldiers and Marines lying on their stomachs in the irrigation ditch, away from the dog. The mud-walled and brick buildings across the way looked empty, abandoned, their windows blank and dark.
"Cell phone, most likely," the sergeant said sourly. "From somewhere over there, in one of those apartments. Or a garage door opener."
"Saving lives is my job," the corpsman said. "I want to take a look."
"You're an idiot."
"Probably." Winchester grinned. He had a good grin.
"Jesus! Don't do nothin' stupid."
With that admonition ringing in his ears, Winchester ditched the first-aid bag and trotted toward the car. From ten feet away he could see the woman's head slumped over, see that the door was ajar. He closed to five feet.
She wasn't wearing a seat belt, and a bomb was lying on the driver's seat. Looked like four sticks of dynamite, fused, with a black box taped to the bundle. The woman moved her head slightly, and he heard a low moan.