Previews

In appreciation of my readers’ continuing interest in my novels, from time to time, I’m going to post snippets from the novel I’m currently writing. Fans of Whelan and the Dogs will be able to enjoy their adventures while waiting for the next book to be published. It’s kind of like being a beta reader, so if you want to comment on these postings, please do.

Excerpted from The Dogs of War © 2017 by John Wayne Falbey. All rights reserved.

The following first three chapters are excerpted from The Dogs of War, A Sleeping Dogs Thriller.

PART ONE: A GATHERING OF WOLVES

For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

—Rudyard Kipling

Chapter 1—The Lodge, Tidewater Virginia

Brendan Whelan was still in the United States. To his amazement, Cliff Levell actually had begged him, not merely asked him, to remain involved with SAS in its efforts to defend America, at least until they could drain the swamp in Washington. Though he owed much to his old mentor, Whelan could make a compelling argument that all debts had long ago been paid. But there was another consideration. If and when America fell, Ireland and the rest of the free world would come plunging down right behind it. And Ireland was home. It’s where his wife, Caitlin, and sons were, along with friends and relatives he truly cared about. Whelan struggled with the dilemma, but eventually agreed to stay. But only until he could determine if SAS’s efforts were making a meaningful difference. The problem was…now he had to break the news to Caitlin.

   Although she tried to conceal it during their phone conversation, he could tell by her voice that she didn’t agree with his decision. “Have you forgotten about Maksym? And his threats to murder our whole family? He’s a monster, even if he is your brother.” 

   Whelan closed his eyes and took a long breath. “Cait, you know I haven’t forgotten. I’ve taken precautions to protect you and the boys.”

   “And what are they? If it’s Paddy and the townsfolk, I can’t say I’m comforted, even though Paddy is my brother.”

   “It’s much more than that. Sven Larsen is on his way back to Dingle in hopes Maksym does show up.”

   There was a moment of silence before Caitlin said, “Sven does have your genetic gifts, but he isn’t you.”

   “Sven may be the most dangerous sonofabitch on the planet. Your level of protection couldn’t get any higher.”

   “I disagree. And at the risk of casting aspersions on your late mum, anyone who knows you believes that you’re the most dangerous SOB on the planet. I…we all feel safest when you’re here, Bren.”

   Whelan felt a heart pang. Caitlin was more than his wife. She was his best friend, business partner, playmate, and co-conspirator in adventure. Their love story had a fairytale quality to it. Except for Maksym. Whelan never wanted to disappoint Caitlin or cause her concern in any way. Yet Levell, the SAS, and the survival of individual liberties, as well as Western culture, were on the brink of something dire. He hadn’t asked for it, but the capriciousness of genetics had gifted him and a handful of others with extraordinary skills, abilities that set them above and apart from the rest of humanity in terms of strength, speed, ferocity, and perception. Together they formed the deadliest, most frighteningly capable hunter-killer group on the planet. So far, there had been only one bad one in the bunch. Whelan’s brother, Maksym.

   Whelan said, “Cait, I promise you I’ll be home just as soon as I’m convinced that Cliff, the SAS, and the other Dogs can hold things together without me. We’re having that discussion this afternoon. If I think they can get by without me, I’ll be on a plane to Ireland tonight.”

   “But why does it always have to be you? There are five others like you, including Sven. Why can’t they handle this without you?”

   “Because, according to Cliff, three of them currently are in various prisons around the world, and another has taken to drowning his sorrows in a whiskey bottle.”

   “So you’re in this…whatever it is…alone?” 

   He could hear the alarm in her voice, and more than a trace of anger. “For the moment. But Cliff and I are working on a plan to change that.”

*     *     * 

Later, Levell asked Whelan to join him in his office. It was a sunny, well-appointed room just off the huge atrium that served as the Lodge’s reception and social area. When Whelan arrived, Levell was sitting on a leather-covered triple sofa, staring pensively at the thickly wooded area beyond the oversized window. Whelan wasn’t used to seeing his old boss seated in anything other than the ubiquitous wheelchair. Although Levell’s bodyguard/driver/personal assistant Nando wasn’t in the room, Whelan knew he was close by.

   “You look like you’re lost in thought, Cliff,” Whelan said as he entered the office.

   Levell turned slowly, almost absentmindedly, and motioned to an overstuffed chair that matched the sofa. Whelan sat in it.

   Levell continued to stare out the window. He sighed and then said, “I think there’s an old saying…something to the effect that the clearer a situation seems to be, the more confusing it becomes.”

   After several moments of silence, Whelan prompted him. “I’m listening.”

   Still gazing out the window, Levell said. “I’ve asked someone to join us, someone you’ll remember well, perhaps not with pleasure. But he’s become a very important asset for us.” Levell picked up the smartphone from the seat beside him and tapped a single button.

   A moment later the door opened, and Nando ushered in a man whose face Whelan would never forget. Mitch Christie.

   Christie glanced at Whelan. Both men nodded at each other.

   Once Christie had taken a seat on the sofa next to Levell, the old man spoke. “You two have a history together. I hope there are no lingering resentments.”

   “Resentments?” Whelan said. “A couple of years ago, this guy had a global APB out on me. Later, he came to Ireland and nearly succeeded in killing me. What’s to resent?”

   Christie shifted nervously. “I was just doing my job at the Bureau. You were the prime suspect in the Harold Case murders, and I was the agent in charge. It was my job to bring you in.”

   Levell interrupted. “He has a point, Brendan. After all, you did kill Case and his hired muscle.”

   The expression on Whelan’s face was cold and humorless. “And the attempt to kill me in Ireland?”

   Christie examined his well-polished shoes. “That, ah, happened because I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time.” He paused for a moment or two. “When you kidnapped my wife and kids, she developed, ah, a kind of an infatuation for you. When she left me, I blamed you.”

   Whelan grinned. “Relax, Mitch, I’m just messing with you. After your failed attempt to kill me, you met Caitlin. Why would anyone who’s met her think I would become interested in another woman?” He paused and then said, “But no, I’m not harboring any resentments.”

   Christie’s head bobbed up and down eagerly. “Nor am I. In a way, I owe you. I was devastated when Debbie left, but I’ve since met someone new, someone wonderful. I think I understand your relationship with Caitlin. I hope mine can be as good.”

   Levell now was fully in the moment. “If you two have finished your lovefest,” he said dryly, “there is a slightly more important subject to discuss—namely saving what’s left of the world’s sorry ass.” He motioned to Christie with his left hand. “Mitch, bring the Irishman up to speed on the crisis du jour.”

   Now what? Whelan crossed his left ankle onto his right knee and slowly settled back into the overstuffed chair, gazing at Christie.

   The FBI agent cleared his throat and shot a quick glance at Levell. “You may not be aware of it, but the Bureau recently transferred me from International Operations to the National Security Branch, specifically CTD, the Counterterrorism Division.”

   “Was that move your idea?” Whelan said.

   “Ah…not at the time.” Christie shot another quick glance at Levell.

   “I arranged it,” Levell said. “It was necessitated by evidence brought to the attention of the SAS by one of our members, a senior fellow in a think tank that caters to a single client—DHS. She shared information about alarming discoveries made during a joint exercise involving the Mexican army and U.S. law enforcement, in particular, CBP—the Customs and Border Patrol.” He looked at Christie and nodded for him to pick up the narrative.

   “Among other things, the CBP found a book, In Memory of Our Martyrs. It’s an homage to Islamic suicide bombers. They also found prayer rugs, Qur’ans, terrorist flags and logos of the Holy Army of the Caliphate, Iranian military uniforms, and documents written in Arabic and Urdu.”

   “These materials were found on both sides of the border,” Levell said.

   “So the logical conclusion is that there are an unknown number of terrorists already in this country,” Whelan said. “Got a ballpark on how many we’re talking about?”

   Christie shrugged. “This and other evidence indicates they number in the thousands, with more coming all the time.”

   “Shit,” Whelan said. “You’re talking about dozens, more likely hundreds, of cells established in big cities and small towns alike. Their members will be busy mapping out soft targets all over the country, stockpiling weapons and ammo, building explosive devices, and making detailed plans for the moment the word to strike is given.” 

   “There’s proof of that too,” Levell said. “Mexican and U.S. officials recently found detailed plans of Fort Bliss, the home of the Army’s 1st Armored Division.”

   Whelan shook his head in disbelief. “How can this happen? Is your southern border that porous?”

   “‘Sieve’ would be a euphemism,” Levell said.

   “I haven’t heard about any of this; yet it’s the kind of thing the media should have jumped on,” Whelan said.

   “The media reports what the administration tells it to report. I understand that a TV station in Phoenix had a short piece on it. But their license was quickly threatened, and that shut them up.”

   “Now I understand why the SAS wanted Mitch to transfer to the CDT. You needed a reliable resource in the center of the action.”

    Levell looked at Christie. “Tell Whelan just how sophisticated the HAC operation is.” 

   “HAC is infiltrating the U.S. with the aid of transnational drug cartels, specifically the Mexican criminal gang MS-13. The gang already has a presence in more than a thousand of our cities and towns. Our sources tell us that HAC pays MS-13 upwards of fifty thousand dollars for each sleeper agent smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. They provide them with false identification, usually bogus matricula consular ID cards. They’re virtually indistinguishable from Mexico’s official ID and are accepted in the U.S. to open bank accounts and obtain driver’s licenses.”

   “And it’s not just HAC,” Levell said. “Al-Qaeda’s ally Al-Shabaab has a presence in Mexico too. They’re all Sunni radicals, but Hezbollah, a Shiite group, also has had an established presence in Mexico for the past fifteen to twenty years.”

   “So, you’ve got both the Sunni crazies with HAC and other terrorist organizations, plus Iran’s Shia wackos to deal with,” Whelan said. 

   “Of all of them, we consider Hezbollah to be the A-team of Muslim terrorist organizations,” Christie said. “Their operators are far more skilled, at this point, than those of most other radical groups. They’re the equals of the Russian or Chinese operators.”

   “What makes them more dangerous than HAC or the multitude of other Islamic terrorist groups?” Whelan said.

   “They’re more strategy oriented, more patient. They think more long-term. For example, they’re working with the drug cartels to build smuggling tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border. Satellite images show they’re very similar to the maze of tunnels running under the border between the State of Palestine’s Gaza Strip and Israel.”

   “So much for campaign promises to build a big wall all along the Mexican border,” Whelan said.

   “Bah,” Levell said irritably. “That wall is a fucking pipe dream.”

   “Even if it got built,” Christie said, “It would be too little, too late, I’m afraid. The damage has been done. The presence of Hezbollah’s expert tunnel builders on the Mexican side of the border eliminates any benefits a wall might have provided.”

   There was a dark wood credenza on the other side of the room. Whelan rose smoothly and gracefully from the embrace of the overstuffed chair and walked over to it. A carafe of coffee sat amid an assortment of clean mugs. He picked one up, filled it half full, and returned to his seat. 

   Sitting down, Whelan said, “Based on what you’ve told me, the jihadis are planning a major coordinated offensive throughout the United States. They’ll knock out power, communications, and first-responder and military facilities. The resulting casualties will be in the hundreds of thousands, probably millions when you count those who will perish in the aftermath without the comforts and lifestyle of the twenty-first century. Yet the administration and Congress do nothing about it.”

   Whelan paused and took a sip of coffee. It was strong and hot. He had a feeling he would need the caffeine as the day wore on. “So, what are you planning to do about it?”

   Christie sat back on the couch and looked at Levell, clearly deferring to him.

   It was a long time before Levell spoke. It felt interminably long to Whelan. Among his genetic gifts was the ability to process thoughts in nanoseconds. But patience was foreign to him. Yet there was nothing he could do. The Old Man would speak only when he had gathered and vetted his thoughts.

   At last, Levell said, “Unfortunately, at this point there’s no silver bullet. As Christie said, the damage has been done.” He looked at Whelan. “Your strategy proposal—assassinate the relatively small handful of international bad guys—would be optimal, if we had time. But there is no time. The threat to the homeland is immediate and dire. The best we can hope for at this point is to slow them down, confuse them, buy more time until we can figure out how to better contain the damage.”

   “Do you have a plan for that?” Whelan said.

   “That depends largely on your willingness and ability to reunite your unit.”

   “Have you forgotten how things ended in Geneva? There is no Sleeping Dogs unit anymore.”

   “Just round them up. I’ll take responsibility for getting them to play team ball.”

   “I assume you know where each of them is,” Whelan said.

   “Yes.”

   “Then why don’t you round them up yourself? I’m the only one with a family. Unless there’s some compelling reason why someone else can’t round them up, I’m going back to Dingle.”

   “Don’t you think I know your situation!” Levell said snappishly. “If there was any other way to do it, I would. But there isn’t.” He paused for a moment to contain his frustration and anger. “I’ve told you that three of your colleagues are in various brigs around the globe, and a fourth, Thomas, seems to have been imprisoned by demons of his own making.”

   Whelan said nothing.

   “It’s going to take all six of you, maybe more, if we’re going to slow down the terrorists.”

   “What does ‘maybe more’ mean? I thought the six of us were the only ones of our kind, other than Maksym.”

   “There’s a guy in Australia, name of Liam Stone, who supposedly has the same genetic gifts as you and the others. I want you to vet him, and if he works out, recruit him.”

   “In addition to springing three, or is it four, of the toughest bastards on the planet?”

   “Yes.”

   Whelan thought for a few moments before speaking. “Given our unique physical and intellectual assets along with our training and experience, why can’t they free themselves?”

   “One is in a maximum security federal prison. Another is being held as an enemy of the state under the tightest security in an ultramodern facility in the Middle East. The third…well, it’s Almeida. He’s only in a local lockup in Tennessee. While he’s like the rest of you genetically, he’s not really as…let’s say, competent.”

   “I know Rafe; I get it. What about Thomas? You said something about personal demons.”

   “According to my intelligence, Quentin developed a problem with alcohol. He seems to have it under control for the time being.”

   Whelan digested the information Levell had given him. “You’re asking the impossible. Do I get any assistance?”

   Levell shook his head. “Intel, weaponry, logistical assistance, yes. But, humanwise, there is no one else.”

   Whelan glanced at Christie. “What about Mitch?”

   “No, I need him right where he is. He’s a major source of intel on what’s happening behind the administration’s ‘Great Wall’ of bullshit and obfuscation.” He paused momentarily. “Ordinarily, I’d suggest Sven Larsen, but I’m sure you want him in Ireland watching over your family.”

   Whelan nodded.

   “Depending on how things go with the Aussie, he might prove useful.”

   Whelan took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “All right, get me all the available intel and logistics on where these men are. The sooner we start, the more effective we’ll be.” As an afterthought, he said, “Are there any other surprises, or is that it?”

   Levell stared at his hands before he said, “Yes, there is one more matter, but I’m not sure of its relevance. Our old nemesis Kirill Federov is alive.”

   “What! I saw him sprawled in the hallway at your Georgetown home. Bleeding out from a big-ass gunshot wound in his chest. You told me he’d died.”

   Levell stared at his hands again. “Yes, well, I wasn’t completely truthful. Thanks to some very good medical talent, he survived the gunshot wound. We detained him as an asset, a source of information about many subjects…including Nadir Shah and the Holy Army of the Caliphate, as well as Federov’s former Russian masters, and not least, his most recent employer, the Alliance for Global Unity.”

   “So you’ve got him squirreled away somewhere, hopefully waterboarding him or worse.” Whelan remembered the visit Federov had paid to him and his colleagues when they were imprisoned in Dubai. Not only had the big Russian helped to betray them but he had taunted them viciously.

   “Ah…that’s where the problem arises.”

   Whelan knew from Levell’s hesitation that the news wasn’t going to be good.

   “Federov is a clever and capable bastard, I’ll give him that. Somehow, he managed to escape,” Levell said.

   Whelan said, “And you have no idea where he is?”

   “Not at the moment.”

Chapter 2—Brighton Beach

Even hunched over, it was clear that the man was taller than average. He moved slowly down the steps from the elevated platform of the BMT Brighton Line station on Brighton Beach Avenue. He didn’t look like an old man, but he moved like one, as if he had an injury or illness. People, speaking mostly in Russian, pushed on by him. Occasionally, Ukrainian could be heard. The man was dressed poorly, like a homeless person. Although the day wasn’t particularly chilly, he clutched his tattered trench coat tightly at the waist as if he feared someone might rip it off. He hadn’t shaved in some time, and long, dirty blonde hair hung limply from beneath a watch cap pulled low on his forehead.

   At the bottom of the steps, he trudged the short distance to the corner of Brighton Beach Avenue and Sixth Street. He turned right on Sixth and walked down to the third door on the right. It was in an ancient two-story red brick building with shops at ground level and flats above. The door was made of heavy wood that had been painted red countless times, evidenced by patches where some of the more recent coats had peeled off or been chipped away. Above the door, a small sign in Cyrillic script identified the place as Tаверна Mагазин. The man knew it meant Little Bear Tavern, and his humorless laugh sounded like an angry snort. He thought momentarily of the Russian president, a man he once had served. Although short in stature, the president was famous for his efforts to establish his machismo at every opportunity. The man in the trench coat had dubbed him “The Little Bear” in derision.

   Inside, the tavern was long and narrow with a scarred wooden bar on the right and a row of battered and mismatched tables and chairs on the left. A narrow space ran between them to the restrooms at the far end of the room. Despite city ordinances to the contrary, the place was dense with smoke. Inspectors were either on the take or too frightened to drop in, and the cops didn’t care. The place was crowded and noisy. Mostly men. The few women there were dressed provocatively and wore far too much makeup and cheap jewelry. It did little to disguise their physical shortcomings, though each displayed impressive cleavage. It was easily their best feature. But it wasn’t the aging hookers that interested the newcomer. It was the men. Most of them were large and heavily tattooed. They all had the sneering arrogance of thugs grown used to having their way. Many of them noticed the stranger when he entered, but they quickly lost interest. It was clear from his appearance that he didn’t have anything of value to offer. Just some worthless fool hoping to find a drink.

   Russian was the language spoken, and vodka was the universal choice of beverage. As the man in the trench coat stepped through the doorway, a large man in an ill-fitting suit rose from a stool near the door and stepped in front of him, blocking his way. The bouncer’s head was shaved, and most of the observable flesh on his hands and neck was covered with gang tattoos. The kind found in Russian prisons.

   “I haven’t seen you here before. Are you lost?” The voice was deep and low, like rolling thunder.

   The newcomer said nothing. Instead, he slowly straightened his slouched posture. Though lean, he was as tall as the bouncer. He had broad shoulders and a square jaw like a curbstone. But it was his eyes that gave the bouncer reason for pause. They were a deep blue, and they were cold. They radiated a message that suggested the things the stranger was capable of doing. After a few moments, the bouncer broke off the stare-down and returned to his stool by the door.

   There were two old men seated at the end of the bar, sipping vodka and watching a hockey game on an old, boxy CRT television affixed high on the wall behind the bar. The stranger slid in between them. Anywhere else along the bar, he would have risked annoying one or more of the younger thugs. The two old men, friends for decades in the old country, also were not pleased to have someone crowd between them, and they let the stranger know it. 

   “I only wish to buy each of you a drink, grandfathers,” he said to them in Russian.

   That made a difference. The two men wriggled to create a bit more room between their bar stools. The stranger caught the eye of one of the bartenders, a heavyset man with a gruesome scar that ran the length of the left side of his face. He pointed at one of the old men’s glasses and held up three fingers. Scarface nodded.

   While he was waiting for the drinks to be served, the stranger scanned the faces of the other men in the room. At the far end, sitting at a table with two men, was the person he’d hoped to find here. 

   When Scarface brought the round of vodka, the stranger handed him an extra twenty and asked him to send a drink to the man at the table. “Tell him his Старый друг is at the bar,” the stranger said, using the Russian term for “old friend.”

   A few minutes later, the stranger watched Scarface deliver the drink to the man at the table. He saw the barman lean over and say something as he served it, nodding his head toward the stranger at the end of the bar. When Scarface walked away, the man at the table stared hard toward the far end of the bar. His eyes came to rest on the stranger in the trench coat. His brow wrinkled as he squinted in the dark, smoky atmosphere. His expression was one of puzzlement, as if he saw something familiar in the stranger but couldn’t quite place it.

   The stranger raised his glass in salute and smiled. The man at the table said something to his two companions and then rose and walked down the bar. Stopping in front of the stranger, his eyes opened wide in astonishment.

   “My God, it is you, Kirill!”

   Kirill Federov, the man in the trench coat, nodded. “What’s the matter, Andrei? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”

   Andrei Ulyanin reached out and touched Federov’s arm, as if to convince himself he wasn’t speaking with an apparition. “You are a ghost. You were shot dead a year ago, at least that is the official version.”

   “Official?”

   “Yes. But through connections from the old days in Moscow, I had the DNA of your so-called remains tested. It was not you.”

   Federov grinned. “So it seems.”

   “I have suspected that you survived, and indeed you have. How did you manage that?”

   Federov looked at the two old men. They were staring intently at him and Ulyanin. And hanging on every word. “Come,” Federov said and placed a hand on Ulyanin’s arm. “Let’s go somewhere private. We have much to discuss.”

   “I know just the place. There is another, more private room upstairs. We must pay to enter it, but,” and he grinned, “I have been making very good money lately.”

   Ulyanin led Federov to the back of the bar. Another large, bored-looking man was sitting on a stool beside a door that was as stained and battered as the rest of the tavern. This man was even larger than the one at the front door. Ulyanin handed him a one-hundred-dollar bill, and the man opened the door. A flight of worn wooden stairs led upward. The air in the stairwell was musty and stank of stale tobacco. Ulyanin pushed open another door at the top of the stairs. The room was roughly half the size of the one on the ground floor. It was sectioned off into high-back booths that afforded greater privacy than was available downstairs. Most of the booths were occupied by rough-looking, heavily tattooed men. But there were also a few better-groomed men among them. Federov knew that these were kriminal'nyye avtoritety—criminal bosses of the Russian gangs.

   “They call this place ‘Little Las Vegas,’” Ulyanin said. “What is overheard here, stays here.”

   The two men slid into one of the few empty booths. Almost immediately, a waiter appeared. He set a bottle of Ruskova vodka and two heavy shot glasses on the table and left. Federov could tell from the black label that it was the 100-proof version.

   Ulyanin poured each glass to the brim, picked up his, and raised it in a toast. “За нашу дружбу! To old comrades!” 

   Both men tossed back a shot, and Ulyanin refilled the glasses. “So, Kirill, tell me how it is that you are alive and how you managed to find me.”

   Federov took a long sip. “I was indeed shot. Nearly died.”

   “Yes, I can see that you are much thinner than the old Kirill. And perhaps not completely healed?”

   “I am fine, getting stronger every day.” He took another sip. “I was shot in the thorax by a man I was supposed to kill.”

   “Does this man have a name?”

   “Yes. Levell.”

   “Levell!” Ulyanin said with obvious surprise.

   “Does that name mean something to you?”

   “My employer wanted me to arrange to have this Levell’s bodyguard killed as a message to him.”

   “Were you successful?”

   Ulyanin hesitated for a few moments. “No. My employer didn’t want me personally involved in the killing so I hired two acquaintances from the old days in Perovo. Unfortunately, they were not up to the task. They ended up dead in a car that was left in front of my employer’s home on Long Island.” He paused and looked at Federov. “The police said your fingerprints and hair fibers were found in the car.”

   Federov wagged his head slowly back and forth. A grin crept across his features. “I’m not surprised. Levell is a very clever adversary.”

   The two men each took another gulp of the vodka, and Ulyanin filled the glasses once more. “Why did Levell shoot you, Kirill?”

   Federov studied the rim of his glass for a few moments. “I was careless. I was sent to kill him at his home in Georgetown. I let my personal anger and hatred of the man cloud my instincts for caution.” He took another sip.

   Ulyanin said nothing.

   “A rogue FBI agent had just shot up the place, and Levell had a .45 pistol in his hand. He saw me and fired first. I got a shot off and winged him. But my wound was far worse than his. I almost bled out on his damn carpet.”

   “But you survived. How?”

   Federov slid his glass toward Ulyanin for a refill. “Levell, as you may know, is a man with very good connections. He had me taken to a private hospital. I was later told that I had been in surgery for more than seven hours.” He took a sip. There was a slight tremor in his hand. “America may be decadent and weak, but it does have the world’s best surgeons.”

   Ulyanin nodded. “So then what happened?”

   “Throughout my recovery and rehabilitation, I was kept in a secure facility.”

   “You were a prisoner?”

   “Yes.”

   “For what purpose?”

   Federov shrugged. “Levell thought I had intel he could use.”

   “Did you?”

   “Of course. Not that I shared any of it with him and his inquisitors. As you will remember, our VSR training was very thorough on the subject of interrogation by the enemy. I fed them half-truths mixed with nonsense that held the possibility of being valid.”

   “Somehow I cannot imagine that Levell tired of the game and simply let you go. So how is it that you ended up here?”

   “I befriended a male nurse, a homosexual, who was attracted to me. I convinced him that if he helped me get out of the facility, we would go away together.”

   A cold grin spread across Ulyanin’s features. “He’s dead, isn’t he? The nurse?”

   Federov nodded. “Of course.”

   Ulyanin laughed. “Same old Kirill. Never leave a witness behind—real or potential.”

   Ulyanin topped off the shot glasses. “And how is it that you found me, Kirill?”

   It was Federov’s turn to grin. “This bar is known as a place where ex-Spetsnaz and SRV operatives congregate to tell war stories and look for work—wet and otherwise. Where else would you be?”

   “But how did you know I was in this country?”

   “Easy. After our adventures in the Middle East, there was no going back there. And Russia, where we are considered traitors, would have been even less hospitable. America is the land of opportunity. It is where the money is, lots of it. You are as much a mercenary as I am. I knew you would come to this country.”

   They drank in silence before Federov said, “Andrei, you mentioned your employer was someone who wanted to send Levell a message.”

   The other man nodded. “What of it?”

   “That sounds suspiciously like the man I was working for when I was shot, the one who sent me to kill Levell. Is your employer Harland Fairchilde?” Federov studied the other man’s face.

   Ulyanin smiled easily and said, “I was wondering when you’d ask me that. Your name came up on the night he hired me. And again, when the police told him your thumbprint and hair were found in the car with the two dead men in it in front of his house.” He paused, still smiling, before saying, “Are you thinking about asking for your old job back?”

   “Why? You don’t think there’s room for the two of us on his payroll?”

   Ulyanin shrugged. “That’s his decision.”

   “Well, I have a better idea. Fairchilde is a useless prick but an extremely wealthy one.” A sly look appeared on Federov’s face. “I’m through working for others. Why don’t you and I find a way to…, how do the Americans say it, redistribute the wealth?”

Chapter 3—Pueblo, Colorado

The Pueblo County Detention Center was a sturdy-looking, multistory buff-colored building constructed in an X-pattern. With its institutional public-use architecture and rows of long, narrow, barred windows, it looked like a lot of jails around the country. An inscription on a stone marker in front of the entrance read Pueblo Justice Plaza. Behind it, atop a tall flagpole, the U.S. and Colorado flags whipped and snapped in the thin air that was over six thousand feet above sea level. Inside, the sheriff, Frank Tuccio, was drinking his third cup of coffee in his glass-enclosed office on the building’s top floor. He looked up when the head of the detention center, Captain Alonzo Parnell, tapped on one of the glass panels. Tuccio waved him in.

   “Got a minute, Sheriff?” Parnell said.

   “Sure.” Tuccio pointed to a chair. “What’s on your mind?”

   “It’s about the John Doe in solitary, the one we call Prisoner X.”

   “The guy that did society a favor and killed that fucking deserter Kevin Johnson.”

   “Yeah, him, the one with the crazy-ass eyes.”

   “I hope you’ve come to tell me that you’ve finally been able to identify him.”

   Parnell shook his head. “Nothing so far.”

   “And you’ve checked every database there is? FBI. Interpol. All of them?”

   “Yeah, all of them. It’s crazy. It’s like the guy just arrived from outer space. There’s no history of any kind. No police record, no military, no SS number. There were no labels in his clothes. No nothin’. We even ran the DNA from his eating utensils. Again, nothin’. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    “Nothing on social media?”

   “Nope. Drew a blank there too. The guy looks and speaks like an American. He’s probably in his late thirties, give or take. How in hell does someone spend nearly four decades on planet Earth and leave no trace?”

   Tuccio shrugged. “Doesn’t make any sense. You still haven’t been able to get him to say anything during interrogations?”

   “Not a word. He just smiles that nasty cold smile. And those fucking eyes…,” Parnell’s voice trailed off. “He’s unnerved everybody who’s come into contact with him. I’m at a loss to know where to go from here.”

   “Well, we’ve got eyewitnesses to the killing, so a confession isn’t necessary to convict him. But it would help to know who he is and whether anyone else was involved.”

   “More like an assassination. Eyewitness testimony makes it clear he was stalking the victim.”

   The phone on the sheriff’s desk buzzed, interrupting the conversation. Tuccio leaned forward and picked up the receiver. “Yeah?” He listened for a few moments and then said, “The Bureau? Shit. All right, bring him up.” 

   He replaced the receiver and looked at Parnell who raised his eyebrows quizzically.

   “There’s an FBI agent here. Says he wants to speak to our Prisoner X,” Tuccio said with a sigh of frustration.

   “What the hell does the Bureau want with this guy?’

   Tuccio shrugged resignedly. “Seems clear the perp killed Johnson because of his military record. I guess, somewhere under the mountain of government regs, there’s grounds for the Feds to get involved.”

*     *     * 

A uniformed female deputy showed the federal agent into Tuccio’s office and closed the door behind her as she left.

   The agent looked around. New, modern facility, he thought, but all jails, new and old, have the same look and feel—cold, sterile. 

   The sheriff nodded at him and offered his hand. “I’m Frank Tuccio, and this is Captain Parnell.” He pointed to a vacant chair. “Have a seat, Special Agent…?”

   “Christie,” the newcomer said and showed his credentials to the two men. He sat down facing them.

   “So, Special Agent Christie, what’s the nature of the Bureau’s interest in our prisoner?”

   “I’m with CTD, the Bureau’s Counterterrorism Division. We suspect he may have been involved in other acts of terrorism. I’d like to talk with him. Also, while it may seem like a tenuous connection, because Johnson was on probation for United States military crimes, he remained under federal jurisdiction.”

   The two members of the sheriff’s department exchanged glances. Parnell snickered.

   “Well, I suppose I don’t have any reason to refuse the Bureau’s request, but you’re wasting the government’s time. The prisoner hasn’t uttered a peep since we apprehended him. And it hasn’t been from lack of effort on our part.”

   Christie smiled. “Maybe I won’t get anywhere with him either but trying is part of my job. I’m sure you understand.”

   Tuccio nodded.

   “There are some questions I want to ask him. His responses may help shed some light on matters I’m investigating.”

   “In the event you get anything outta this guy, you are gonna share intel with us, right?” Parnell said.

   Christie smiled again. “Absolutely. I’m a big believer in interagency cooperation.”

   “Then you won’t have a problem with one of our people sitting in on your session?” Tuccio said.

   “Actually, there is a problem with that. The matters I’m dealing with here are of a highly-classified nature. For that reason, there can be no surveillance—oral or visual. Sorry. But I assure you, I’ll share any information that’s relevant to your investigation.”

   Tuccio and Parnell looked at each other for a long moment. Christie could tell by the expression on Parnell’s face that the jailer was angry about the arrangement. 

   Finally, Tuccio turned to Christie and shrugged. “Sure. What the hell. We haven’t gotten anywhere with this bird. Maybe you can. Besides, my department is always happy to help the Bureau.” His tone of voice said otherwise.

   “One question…Special Agent…we haven’t found a shred of evidence to identify this guy. He’s like a ghost. You got any idea who he might be?”

   Christie shook his head a couple of times and smiled again. “No idea. We just want to eliminate the possibility that he’s involved in other…highly classified matters.”

   Christie thanked Tuccio for his time, and followed Parnell out of the office. The deputy escorted Christie into the bowels of the cellblock where Prisoner X was being held in solitary confinement. Before passing through the cellblock’s outer door, Christie surrendered his weapon and was subjected to a wand search for other prohibited devices. His cellphone was not one of them. As a federal agent, he was required to have it with him at all times. The sheriff’s office was aware of the regulation.

   When they reached Prisoner X’s cell, Parnell triggered a switch, and the heavy metal door slid open almost soundlessly. Parnell nodded for Christie to enter. “You got thirty minutes.” There was a surly edge to his voice.

   The door slid closed, and Christie heard the bolts click into place. He turned and looked at the occupant of the cell. The man was stretched out on the metal bunk, hands behind his head, eyes closed. Even lying down, he looked powerful. His facial features were angular. They reminded Christie of a hawk. The FBI agent pulled out his cellphone from a pocket and triggered a special application. It was designed to detect any electronic surveillance. It showed none. The sheriff may not be happy with my being here, but at least he seems to be a man of his word.

   Christie couldn’t tell whether the prisoner was asleep. “I’m Special Agent Christie with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

   The man showed no response.

   For the sake of caution, Christie said, “I’m going to approach you. I have something you’ll want to hear.”

   No response.

   Knowing who the man was, Christie approached him with a fair amount of apprehension. Speaking softly, he said, “You’re Nick Stensen. I have a message for you from Cliff Levell.”

   The man slowly opened his right eye and rolled his head to the right until the eye was fixed on Christie. There was a bright red dot in the center. He gave a barely perceptible nod and closed the eye.

   “Levell needs you. He’s sending Brendan Whelan to free you.”

   Christie was a little surprised when the man showed no response. But, he thought, this guy’s a Sleeping Dog, something that often seems more than human. Maybe nothing rattles their cages. 

   “Because of the nature of the crime and who the victim was,” Christie said, “the federal government is taking jurisdiction of your case. You’re going to be transferred to a U.S. prison, ADX Florence. It’s about forty miles west of here. U.S. Marshals will escort you by ground transport, using the back way, State Roads 96 and 67.”

   Christie paused for some response from Stensen. There was none.

   “About thirty miles out, in a little settlement named Wetmore,” he continued, “the marshals will turn onto 67 from 96. Somewhere between there and the ADX, Whelan will make his move. Be ready.”

   Christie wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw Stensen nod his head again. “For what it’s worth, if you actually do get to ADX Florence, you’re fucked; nothing can be done once that happens. It’s a supermax facility. It’s where we’re keeping Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid, Ted Kaczynski, and a number of other bad actors. 

“You’ll never get out, not even to go to court. They’ll put you in a prison ‘studio’ and beam all pretrial matters to a federal courtroom in Colorado Springs. The actual trial will also be beamed to a federal district courtroom. There will be no opportunities to escape. If Whelan doesn’t succeed, you’ll never set foot out of that prison. Ever.”

*     *     * 

Three days later, four deputy U.S. marshals presented the necessary paperwork to Sheriff Tuccio and took custody of Prisoner X. As they were waiting for Parnell and other deputies to bring the prisoner to them, Tuccio took the Supervisory Deputy Marshal aside.

   “You know much about this prisoner?”

   The other man shook his head. “There isn’t much information on him. Why?”

   Tuccio looked the marshal directly in the eye. “He’s dangerous as hell. Never seen anything like him. I recommend you keep him shackled at all times. Don’t take your eyes off of him.”

   The marshal cocked his head to one side and raised an eyebrow. “This ain’t our first rodeo, Sheriff.”

   “I didn’t mean to imply that. I’ve been in law enforcement for thirty years. I’ve seen strong guys, I’ve seen mean guys, I’ve seen crazies, but I’ve never seen anything like this one.”

   “How so?” The marshal wore a patronizing smile on his face.

   “For one thing, his eyes. There are little red dots in the middle of them. The dots grow when…he smells blood.”

   “Hmm. Sounds interesting,” the marshal said with obvious disinterest. “We’ve transported a lot of crazies with wild-looking eyes.”

   “Yeah, but there’s more. A couple of days ago, we let him into the yard to exercise. A couple of the prisoners started to fuck with him because he was the new guy. He moved faster than anyone we’d ever seen. Grabbed each of them and picked them up like rag dolls…and they were a couple of two hundred pounders. He slammed them together, splitting open their heads. Then he slung them twenty feet into a brick wall. It happened so fast and was so unnatural that no one, not even the guards, could react. Everybody just stared. 

   “Then this guy sauntered over to the weightlifting area. All the prisoners using the weights scrambled out of his way as fast as they could. The guy slid four hundred pounds on the bar and began cranking out bench presses like he was lifting a bag of marshmallows.”

   The patronizing expression vanished from the marshal’s face, replaced by a look of concern. “Interesting,” he said slowly. “We’ll definitely follow the manual on this one.”

*     *     * 

Prisoner X was brought to the loading dock. The marshals placed him in full shackles and squeezed him into the back of a black Chevrolet Suburban, bracketed by two beefy marshals. The other two rode up front. There were two routes that could take them from the Pueblo County Detention Center to ADX Florence. The shorter way was more direct. It involved taking the Interstate north to U.S. Highway 50, then west to Florence via State Roads 120 or 115. The other route was more circuitous and slightly longer but less traveled. The marshals opted for that one. In fact, their choice of route had been entered into the U.S. Marshal Service’s computer database days earlier. And Levell’s people had hacked it. Whelan knew exactly where the Chevrolet Suburban would be and when.

*     *     * 

Shortly after the marshals departed the detention center, a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver took off from a grass strip on a ranch owned by a retired Marine colonel who had served with Levell in Vietnam. The men had remained close over the ensuing years. The colonel was a patriot as well as a member of SAS. The strip, approximately fifteen miles southwest of Pueblo, was private. It also was small, out of the way, and off the FAA’s grid. 

   The de Havilland was the quintessential bush plane. Although commercial production of the plane stopped in 1967, the rugged-looking workhorse was still one of the most cherished rough-country aircraft on the planet. In addition to the pilot, there was a single passenger. Whelan was seated on a tube-frame, web-fabric seat in the plane’s spartan interior. The pilot was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force’s 1st Special Operations Wing. One of its chief roles was agile combat support, including infiltration and exfiltration, for U.S. Special Operations Force operational elements. In civilian life, the pilot was a loyal and trusted employee of one of the Mueller brothers’ global enterprises. 

   The plane, a STOL aircraft, designed for short takeoffs and landings—features that made it a good choice for this operation—flew almost due west, paralleling Colorado Route 96. The pilot kept it at a low altitude to avoid detection and tracking. When its course intersected Route 67, the pilot swung its nose to the north and followed the road. About six kilometers north of the wide spot in the road, known as Wetmore, the road began a slight curve to the west. Another four hundred or so meters farther was a deep arroyo and a bridge. Whelan signaled to the pilot to put the plane down.

   The pilot located a twisting gravel farm road nearby, scoped it out for the presence of power poles, and finding none, prepared for a STOL landing. The pilot set the aircraft down with amazing ease, given the bumpy surface of the road and the short distance between curves. He left the prop turning over as Whelan scrambled out of the cabin and opened the cargo door. Whelan was wearing a U.S. Army Desert Battle Dress Uniform, or DBDU, and matching balaclava, in case any unexpected witnesses showed up. He removed a duffle bag from the plane and began jogging with it toward the nearest point of intersection with the arroyo. 

   The pilot spun the plane around and taxied along the road to where he originally had touched down. He turned the plane again, revved the prop and, with the benefit of its STOL characteristics, took off. In a matter of seconds, he was airborne and began circling the area about one thousand feet above the bridge. 

   Whelan reached the edge of the arroyo and slid down its steep side to the bottom. The dry creek bed was flat and sandy with a scattering of boulders and gravel. He navigated it with an easy lope until he reached the bridge. There, he slipped on surgical gloves and climbed up the bank beneath the span. Moving quickly but carefully, he removed a small brick of Semtex 1 from the duffle and, using his hands, fashioned it into a long strand. The gloves prevented any DNA material, like sweat or body oil, from getting on the explosive. He knew the government would reconstruct the scene and run tests on anything it could find that might be related to the crime. It was amazing what could be gleaned from the residue of an explosion. 

   Whelan stuffed the reworked Semtex into the crevice that was formed where the foot of the bridge extended out from the arroyo’s bank. Semtex, a high-order explosive, created a blast wave in the form of an intense over-pressurization impulse. Whelan arranged the explosive so that the wave would travel upward rather than horizontally. He took into consideration the blast wind and forced superheated airflow. Both effects were capable of inflicting traumatic injuries, even death. To the extent possible, Whelan wanted to mitigate potential damages to the marshals and especially to their prisoner. The goal was to render the marshals temporarily inoperative, not slaughter them. Or Stensen. Finally, he inserted the detonating cap, which was attached to the guts of a cell phone. The explosive material would be triggered by a signal from another cell phone in Whelan’s pocket. IED, Yankee-style.

   When he was finished, Whelan slid down the bank, peeled off the gloves, and slipped them into a pocket in his DBDU. He trotted back along the bottom of the twisting arroyo. When he was about a quarter mile from the bridge, he climbed the steep bank and hunkered down behind a Bebb willow tree, its growth stunted by the arid climate. He pulled out the cellphone and waited for the black Suburban to approach. He knew there would be injuries, perhaps critical ones, as a result of the explosion. Even with body armor, the marshals would not fare as well as Stensen. They lacked his genetic benefits. He remembered one of Levell’s favorite sayings: Some collateral damage is almost inevitable. He just hoped Stensen survived the incident in sufficient physical condition to participate in the exfiltration. If not, Whelan was prepared to sling him over a shoulder and carry him out.

   About twenty minutes later, the pilot’s voice crackled in the earbud of Whelan’s comm gear. “Black Suburban approaching from the south at sixty-five mph. ETA the bridge in approximately one minute.”

   In the distance to the south, Whelan saw the vehicle approaching. Timing, he knew, was everything. He punched in the speed-dial number, placed his thumb above the call icon, and waited. The seconds seemed to drag by. And then the Suburban was only a few car lengths from the bridge abutment. Whelan pressed the call icon.

   Immediately, the south end of the bridge erupted in a large fireball. Even a quarter of a mile away, the sound of the explosion hammered Whelan’s ears. 

   He had purposely used a measured amount of explosive and carefully arranged it so that it would blow away a portion of the bridge. If all went well, the vehicle would plunge into the resulting gap in the paved surface. The combination of the effects of the high-order explosive’s power and the resulting crash should achieve the desired results. Overkill was to be avoided.

   Whelan sprinted toward the billowing cloud of smoke, and quickly reached the shattered bridge. The badly damaged Suburban was nose down at the bottom of the arroyo, its rear wheels still spinning. From where he stood at the top of the arroyo, the five occupants all appeared to be motionless. Whelan, pulling the gloves back on, slid down the embankment and took a quick look inside. Stensen was in the center seat in the second row. He was hunched forward, not moving. The four marshals also were bent forward, held in place by their seat belts. There was blood oozing from all five men. Whelan pulled a thick rag from the duffle. Using it, he grabbed the right rear door and yanked. Even with his remarkable strength, it wouldn’t budge. The effects of the blast and the crash had torqued the vehicle’s frame and jammed the door. Shit! I should have anticipated this.

   He looked around quickly and spotted a piece of concrete that had been part of the bridge. It weighed close to two hundred pounds. He picked it up and smashed it against the window. The laminated safety glass didn’t shatter but did break into a crazed pattern. He used the piece of concrete to push the remnants inward and out of his way.

   Whalen leaned in the opening and looked around the interior of the badly damaged vehicle. He immediately smelled the acrid odor of the explosive that had released the airbags. There also were other smells—blood, fear, and the talcum powder used by the airbag manufacturers to keep the bags pliable and lubricated while in storage. The powder residue was strewn around the Suburban’s interior, but the bags appeared to have done their jobs in preventing more serious injuries. 

   The occupant closest to Whelan was a beefy marshal. The man was unconscious and bleeding from a number of superficial wounds. But Whelan didn’t see signs of traumatic injury. Reaching through the opening where the glass had been, he undid the man’s seat belt and dragged him out of the cabin. He laid him on his back on the ground with his head slightly elevated. Whelan frisked him quickly and found what he was looking for—keys to the shackles binding the prisoner.

   Stensen was bleeding steadily from a gash in his scalp, and his nose was bloodied. Whelan leaned in and undid Stensen’s seat belt, then unlocked the shackles that bound him. As carefully as possible under the circumstances, he pulled his unconscious friend out of the vehicle and stretched him out next to the marshal. Whelan quickly checked Stensen for injuries. Aside from the scalp wound and bloody nose, the man didn’t seem to have any. Stensen’s breathing was steady. Whelan pulled a vial of smelling salts from a pocket of his DBDU. He broke the cap off and held the vial under Stensen’s nose. After a few moments, the unconscious man grimaced, coughed, and opened his eyes slowly. They were badly bloodshot from the concussive effects of the explosion. He struggled to focus on Whelan. For the moment, there was no red glow in their centers.

“Welcome back, Sleeping Beauty,” Whelan said wryly.

   Stensen stared at Whelan’s lips and reached up with his hands to touch his own ears.

   “It’s temporary,” Whelan said slowly and with exaggerated mouth movements so that Stensen, hopefully, could read his lips. In planning the mission, Levell’s people had told Whelan that temporary deafness would be a given for the occupants of the Suburban.

   Whelan knew that time was essential. When the marshals failed to report in, the state and federal authorities would quickly begin searching for them. He pulled Stensen to his feet. Standing directly in front of the man, he mouthed the words, “Can you run?”

   Stensen nodded slowly.

   Whelan scooped up the duffle bag and, grabbing the sleeve of Stensen’s orange prison jumpsuit, pulled him along the creek bed. When he came to where the side of the arroyo was less steep, he helped his friend scramble up it. At the top, Whelan looked out toward the gravel farm road the de Havilland had used as a landing strip. The pilot had already landed and was taxiing toward the two men as they jogged in his direction. Whelan threw the duffle bag in the cargo compartment and helped Stensen, who was still groggy, get belted in. Then Whelan climbed aboard next to the pilot. In a matter of seconds, the plane was roaring upwind across the bumpy surface. Another few moments, and, the STOL craft was airborne. It banked to the east, putting distance between itself and the wrecked Suburban as fast as the pilot could get the old airplane to go.

*     *     * 

Sheriff Frank Tuccio was studying a sheriff’s office budget report when he looked through the glass interior wall of his office. One of his deputies was striding briskly toward him. He followed the deputy with his eyes and thought, Now what?

   The deputy saw the sheriff watching him, but started to knock on the glass door anyway. Tuccio sighed with an air of resignation and laid the report on his desk He waved the deputy in.

   “You look like your pants are on fire, Roscoe.” He pointed at the report on his desk and said, “I’m busy. Is what you’ve got important enough that I need to know about it right now?”

   Roscoe’s head nodded up and down vigorously. “Yessir, it is.”

   “That’s what I was afraid of.” The sheriff sighed again and leaned back in his chair, motioning for Roscoe to continue.

   “It’s that Prisoner X guy, Sheriff. One of the deputies over in Fremont County found the truck those marshals were using to transport him to ADX Florence.”

   The sheriff sat bolt upright. “Found it? Found it where?”

   “In an arroyo about five miles south of the prison.”

   Tuccio jumped to his feet. “A fucking arroyo! How did it get there? Where are the marshals? Hell, where is the prisoner?”

   Roscoe gulped, his Adam’s apple bobbed visibly. “Somebody blew up the damn bridge over the arroyo. The marshals are alive but pretty badly banged up.”

   “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Tuccio said, his voice rising. “But what about the prisoner?” 

   “Gone. No trace of him. Dogs tracked him for a ways, but then he seems to have disappeared into thin fuckin’ air.”

   “Sonofabitch!” Tuccio slammed his palm against the top of his desk. “He must have been picked up by someone in a vehicle. Hell, maybe even a plane or chopper.”

    “The U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons are organizing search parties,” Roscoe said. “They tried to put out an APB too. He can’t have gotten too far, what with being banged up in the wreck and all.”

   Tuccio waved his arms and yelled, “Jesus H. Christ, that’s the one sonofabitch that should never have seen the light of day. He’s the scariest bastard I’ve ever run across.” He paused and looked at Roscoe. “Wait a minute. What did you say…tried to put out an APB?” 

   Roscoe looked down at his feet. “Well…there’s sort of a problem.”

   “Problem?” Tuccio screamed. Beyond the glass walls of his office, all activity had stopped. His employees were staring at him.

   “What the hell kind of problem?”

   “Uh…it seems that neither the Bureau of Prisons nor the Marshals Service can find any of the information we gave them.”

   “Did those dumb-ass bureaucrats try looking in their computer databases?”

   “Yessir. There’s nothing there. They asked us to resend it.”

   “And you’ve sent it?”

   “Uh…sir, that’s the problem. There’s nothing in our databases either. It’s like they’ve been wiped clean. Like the guy never existed.” The words spilled out of Roscoe’s mouth in a torrent.

   Tuccio stared at the deputy, his mouth moving but no words coming out. Finally, he was able to say, “But how can that be? I know we had a record on this guy, if only for the time we had him in custody. Fingerprints, DNA. How the hell does that kind of data disappear? Do we have a traitor in our midst?”

   “Doubtful, sir. The FBI says someone outside did it. A hacker.”

   Tuccio shook his head in wonderment. “Good God, who is this Prisoner X? What the hell are we up against?” 

The complete version of The Dogs of War is now available on preorder for a July 4, 2017 release date at Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Smashwords, and most other online booksellers.

The print version is available today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers.

© John Wayne Falbey 2016 All Rights Reserved