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Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

[ Edited ]

This week's featured author has visited with us before. Here are the links to his previous visits:

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Mystery/Guest-Blog-by-Author-MATTHEW-DUNN/m-p/1370376/highlig...

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Mystery/Please-Welcome-Author-MATTHEW-DUNN/m-p/1138250/highli...

 

Matthew's website is here: http://www.matthewdunnbooks.com/

 

Matthew Dunn

 

Photo by Adam Scourfield

 

Matthew Dunn spent 5 years in the British Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6, as a field operative. His role required him to recruit and run agents, coordinate and participate in special operations, and to operate in deep-cover roles throughout the world in order to collect secret intelligence to support the West’s ongoing fight against hostile and unpredictable regimes, state-sponsored terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. His missions required him to travel extensively and typically he operated in highly hostile environments where, if compromised and captured, he would have been executed.  
 

Matthew was trained in all aspects of intelligence collection and direct action including agent running and debriefing, deep-cover deployments, small-arms, explosives, military unarmed combat, surveillance, anti-surveillance, counter-surveillance, advanced driving, infiltration and exfiltration techniques, and covert communications. His skills were widely deployed by him in the field. Matthew typically worked alone but he also had significant experience of working with highly-specialized units of the British SAS and SBS as well as joint-operations with MI5, GCHQ, the CIA, and BND.
 

Matthew was security cleared to the very highest level in Britain.  Because of the nature of his work in MI6, Matthew is bound by a life-long pledge of secrecy regarding his methods of work, agents, missions and overall knowledge of the British Intelligence community and its allies.  He remains in close contact with MI6 and will never breach its trust in him.  

Medals are never awarded to modern MI6 officers, but Matthew was the recipient of a very rare personal commendation from the Secretary of State For Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs for work he did on one mission which was deemed so significant that it directly influenced the successful conclusion of a major international incident.

During his time in MI6, Matthew conducted approximately seventy missions. All of them were successful.

He is the author of the contemporary spy novel Spycatcher.

 

http://www.harpercollins.com/author/microsite/about.aspx?authorid=37695

 

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

Matthew Dunn

Matthew Dunn

What Don't We Know About Edward Snowden?

 

While most people's eyes are locked on the massive ramifications of former NSA officer Edward Snowden's disclosure of the agency's Prism program, a group of intelligence and counter-espionage officials will be looking at Snowden himself and asking themselves, "What really makes this guy tick, and why has he done this?"

 

As well as looking at the facts about Snowden, they will use their judgment, experience, and imagination to fill in gaps of missing information and to extrapolate conclusions from scant data. When I was an MI6 field operative, I had to deal with data on thousands of foreign individuals, to ascertain whether I could recruit any of these individuals as covert spies. Very often, I had as little information on these people as we do on Edward Snowden.

 

Nevertheless, just one paragraph of information about an individual can be enough to start making judgments about that person. And after all, a judgment -- even if it is partially or wholly wrong -- is better than no judgment at all, because it gives one a starting point from which we can correct or refine that judgment when more data about the individual becomes available. Profiling individuals is therefore part science, part art of the possible, and part work in progress.

 

What do we know about Snowden? He's 29 years old, studied computing in college but failed to complete his courses, underwent training and selection for U.S. Special Forces but was medically discharged after he broke both legs, applied to the NSA and was given a job as a security guard, applied to the CIA and was tasked on IT security, left the Agency in 2009 to take up a more lucrative job with consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton where he was seconded as a computer specialist to the NSA, contacted Britain's Guardian newspaper and told two journalists all about Prism, and fled to Hong Kong because in his words theChinese city has "a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent." During his interviews with Guardian journalists, Snowden said, "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things. I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded." He added that he had an "obligation to help free people from oppression", and instructed the Guardian to release his identity. He concluded that he knew he'd never see his loved ones again. Snowden's now gone missing, though is believed to still be in Hong Kong.

 

When I look at the above reported brief facts, there are many questions and possibilities that nag me. His career progression suggests to me that it is possible he is a quitter, has macho aspirations that are at odds with his somewhat more mundane skills as a computer technician, and that after his discharge from the army he tried to fuel these aspirations in the NSA and CIA, only to find out that both agencies were only willing to employ him in jobs that were nothing like those of Jason Bourne. It is probable that bred resentment within him toward not only his immediate employers, but also the broader United States special operations and intelligence community that he wished to be part of. At some point he probably came to the conclusion, "They don't want me; so I don't want them." If accurate, that means his declaration that he blew the lid on Prism for the good of American people is actually a smokescreen to hide a self-centered grievance.

 

Like other public sector workers who walk away from their government jobs with chips on their shoulders, it is also possible that Snowden exchanged his loyalty to the state with loyalty to cash. It's reported that his job at Booz Allen Hamilton earned him a very lucrative salary that was no doubt significantly higher than he received in IT and security at the CIA and NSA. But if that's true, why would he throw that away in favor of telling the truth about Prism? Perhaps I'm wrong and Snowden really is a crusader with a cause. Maybe, but there are more red flags.

 

Why did Snowden flee to Hong Kong, rather than to somewhere without an extradition treaty in place with the U.S.? He could have done so knowing that Beijing has the right to block requests for extradition, but that would mean that Snowden was completely at the mercy of Beijing. And upon arrival in Hong Kong, why did he go out of his way to make the bizarre declaration that Hong Kong was a place that encourages free speech and political dissent? Alright, Hong Kong is the most Western-friendly face of China, but it's still China and part of one of the most oppressive and intrusive regimes in the world. The United States constitutionally encourages liberty and political debate. China does not.

 

And why did Snowden instruct the Guardian newspaper to release his identity? Because he wanted the world to know that he's willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the greater cause? This could be true, though he's not currently standing on the steps of the White House with arms outstretched, waiting to be taken into custody as a noble martyr. Again his true motivation may be driven by a sense of dislocation from the secret world he wanted to be part of. By supplying his name, he's sticking two fingers up at the United States intelligence community. Another possibility is that in supplying his name, he's added further fuel to a fire that's blazing across the political landscape of America.

 

It doesn't add up that Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's Prism program solely because he is a selfless moral crusader. And it only partly adds up that Snowden is an aggrieved traitor who rashly threw away his lucrative job and went on the run in China.

 

There is a third possibility that could make sense:

 

Against a backdrop of scathing U.S criticism of China's cyber attacks against America, China decided to hit back at America with an clever tactic: credibly expose American espionage activities that undermine the constitutional rights of American citizens, and thereby get America to tear apart the NSA to the extent the agency's future capabilities will be diminished. Edward Snowden was profiled by Chinese intelligence agencies while he was working at Booz Allen. The Chinese assessed that he had grievances against the U.S. state and was also financially motivated. They recruited him using cash. The deal was he had to whistle blow the Prism program by talking to the reputable Guardian newspaper. He also had to reveal his identity to further his credibility. In return he'd be given a comfortable life in China. Any U.S. attempts to extradite Snowden would be blocked by Beijing.

 

Like all theories, time and further information will prove whether it's right, partially right, or wrong. But if I am right, that means Snowden is just a pawn, and China has put America in checkmate.

 

About The Author: Matthew Dunn was a former MI6 intelligence officer who operated in hostile overseas locations where he recruited and ran spies. He is the author of the Spycatcher series of espionage novels, including the forthcoming SLINGSHOT (to be published June 27 2013, William Morrow).

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

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Slingshot (Spycatcher Series #3)  

 

Overview

 

 

Master spy Will Cochrane must catch a missing Russian defector as well as one of Europe's deadliest assassins in this action-packed follow-up to Sentinel, written by real-life former field officer Matthew Dunn

 

Will Cochrane monitors the nighttime streets of Gdansk, Poland—waiting for the appearance of a Russian defector, a man bearing a top-secret document. Will believes the defector is about to step out of the cold and into the hands of Polish authorities, but suddenly everything goes sideways. The target shows up, but so does a team from the Russian foreign intelligence service SVR, and they are hell-bent on keeping the man from walking. Then, in a hail of cross fire, a van speeds into the melee and snatches the defector out from under them all. Everyone wants the man and the codes he carries—but now he's gone and it's up to Will and his CIA/MI6 team to find him before the Russians do.

 

Will tracks both the missing Russian and his kidnappers, believing the defector has his own warped agenda. But soon it's apparent that the real perpetrator could be someone much more powerful: a former East German Stasi officer who instigated a supersecret pact between Russian and U.S. generals almost twenty years ago. An agreement, which if broken for any reason, was designed to unleash the world's deadliest assassin.

 

Then Will learns that the Russians have tasked their own "spycatcher"—an agent just as ruthless and relentless as Will—to retrieve the document. Now Will knows that he faces two very clever and deadly adversaries, who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims.

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http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/post/2012-08-28/cathy-maxwell-interview-matthew-dunn-sentin...

 

August 29, 2012

 

By Joyce Lamb, USA TODAY

 

 

 
 

Did you know that Cathy Maxwell, author of the Chattan Curse series (Lyon's Bride is out now, and The Scottish Witch comes out at the end of October) and lots of other awesome romances, was a spy? OK, I'm exaggerating. She wasn't. I don't think. And even if she was and she told us, she'd have to kill us. So let's let it be a mystery. The point is that Cathy's six years in the Navy and her work for Naval Intelligence and at the Pentagon make her the perfect person to interview former elite MI6 spy Matthew Dunn, whose new Spycatcher novel, Sentinel, came out earlier this month.

 

Cathy: So, Matthew, considering your years as a field operative for MI6, how much of yourself is in Will Cochrane?

Matthew: His background is different to mine, but otherwise his personality is similar to the person I used to be and to some extent still am. Given I'm a private man, it's a strange process putting down thoughts and actions that could easily be my own — at times it feels as if I'm exposing my soul.

 

 

Like me, Cochrane has a clear idea of what is right and wrong, yet he has to live and work in a world where those distinctions are far from clear. He's clever and tough, recognizes that the world of espionage is rife with moral ambiguities, and is not scared to make hard decisions. But he has tremendous inner compassion; the sacrifices he has to make take their toll on him.

MI6 and CIA officers have to work in an environment where there are no laws or rulebooks. Of course, we have to act with dignity, have a strong moral compass, and are directed against very specific objectives. But the nature of the work is such that one has to interact with people from many different walks of life, some of whom are very dangerous creatures.

To that extent, there is a degree of sadness within most intelligence officers. We see the world as it really is. We're guardians of humanity, yet we know it is filled with multiple shades of evil.

 

 
 

Cathy: Cochrane is no gadgetry James Bond and yet he is perfectly self-sufficient. What brings a person to this line of work? And what skills or personality traits are necessary?

 

Matthew: MI6 officers have to be completely self-sufficient. The work of a field operative is often misrepresented in the movies and certain books. Typically, an officer will be working alone and will have no ability to call into headquarters halfway through a mission to ask for updates or support.

The selection and training of MI6 recruits is extremely rigorous, one of the hardest in the world. Successful applicants will have a very strong intellect, lateral thinking skills, be excellent communicators, have an acute ability to read people, can transform themselves into different personalities, and are supremely resilient.

Identifying recruits is made harder by the fact that officers are required to have the ability to operate as lone wolves but also be leaders of men. For years they may work alone, in the shadows. But if the need arises, they may also be required to have the skills to marshal and lead an army behind enemy lines.

Cathy: Have you been to all the places you write about? I truly felt I was walking down those alleys or through the drifting snow with you.

Matthew: Yes, I've been to all the places I write about. I know the operating environments. When you're on an overseas mission, your senses are operating at maximum levels and you see everything around you in a very different way compared to others. If you're walking down a street, you'll mentally note everything about the route, the people around you, the entrances and exits, and the best escape routes if you're attacked.

One can be in one of the most beautiful places in the world, yet the beauty will not register. Instead, you'll be looking for danger.

Cathy: Is the spy novel as simple as a tale of good vs. evil? Or is there another darker theme in place?

Matthew: My writing style has been described as "espionage noir" and I think that's a good description of my style and the way I construct my stories. It's a reflection of my experiences in MI6. No doubt, ultimately the work of an MI6 officer is about good vs. evil. But the process of getting from one to the other can be a dark and complex path, riddled with the need for agonizing decisions and the requirement to work with people who ordinarily you'd cross the street to avoid.

 

 

 
 

I've worked with people who'd done very bad things in their life, things that good civilians would find abhorrent. Some of those people were charming, erudite and highly intelligent. I had to manipulate and exploit them to source something far worse: pure evil. When you look pure evil in the eye, as I have done, then the journey of an MI6 officer is complete. You are staring at your nemesis. But it is rarely a cathartic moment because of the sacrifices you've had to make to get there.

 

 

Cathy: I pride myself on being in step with the author when I'm reading a book, but you caught me by surprise. I did not anticipate the ending. When you are plotting a novel as intricate as this one, do you start at the end and work your way forward or are you sometimes surprised by the turns the story takes?

Matthew: I'm delighted the ending came as a surprise to you. I tend to tightly plot my novels, and the starting point for me is always how the story ends. That said, I give myself significant latitude as to how the story unfolds, how the characters react to certain situations, etc. It makes the whole process of writing so much more fun. Frequently, I put Will Cochrane into situations without knowing how he's going to get out of them. I've just finished writing book three (provisionally entitled Slingshot), within which is a German assassin whose character developed in an unexpected way to the extent that his role in the book changed. The big twist in Sentinel was my starting point before putting pen to paper to write the story. But the process of getting there was up for grabs.

Cathy: Finally, one of the threads in Sentinel is Cochrane's longing for something more out of life — the wife, the children, the evening pint at the pub. This appeals to the romantic in me. Will it be possible for him to incorporate these things in his life and still work for MI6? Or is it possible for a man who has done the things he has to find the peace of love?

Matthew: That's the million-dollar question. But I'm not yet ready to give you a definitive answer! You're absolutely right about his aspirations beyond MI6. He's not a cold, loner, even though his life is to a large extent dislocated from the rest of humanity. He dreams about love, having a family, doing normal things, having unconditional happiness. It's possible he can find love. It would have to be a very particular kind of woman, one who could teach him to trust, who could allay the fears he has about loss. I will be further exploring his character and aspirations throughout the series. Finding the peace of love and viewing the world through normal eyes would still be difficult for him if he left MI6, so the challenge will be if he can find those things while being an officer. It's taken me 10 years to adjust to being outside MI6. But I don't think I've fully adjusted because the secret world never leaves you, it's everywhere. Nowadays, I can gain pleasure by sitting in a pub with my loved ones. But, I'll still sit with my back to the wall, analyze everyone around me, and make mental notes about exfiltration routes. Not because I have some baseless paranoia; rather because that's who I am.

 

Readers can find out more about Matthew and his books at his  author page on the HarperCollins website. Readers can find out more about Cathy and her books at her website,  CathyMaxwell.com.

 

You might also be interested in HEA's  video interview with Cathy(in which she talks about her Pentagon days) and Joyce and Cathy's rambunctious discussion about cliffhangers.

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

Suspense Interview: Matthew Dunn, author of the Spycatcher series

Matthew Dunn is a former MI6 agent and he’s brought his expertise to his Spycatcher series of thrillers, of which the latest is Sentinel. Matthew was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome him to the blog!

 

SentinalMatthew, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m a former MI6 field operative who spent over 5 years operating deep cover in numerous hostile locations around the world. My work required me to operate under alias identities; identifying, recruiting, and running foreign assets; obtaining intelligence to assist the West in making strategic foreign policy and military decisions; and conducting deniable direct action operations. I was recruited into the secret world after completing my undergraduate degree. Post MI6, I’ve been a director in the City of London, a CEO of an international company headquartered in the Middle East, a single father of two young children, a writer of the Spycatcher espionage series, and – as of last week – a happily married man.

Your current Spycatcher novel, Sentinel, came out last year, and you have a new one coming up in June, Slingshot! When you started the series, did you already have in mind the number of books you’d like to write, or did you just decide to see where the series took you?
I was awarded a 3-book deal by my US publisher (William Morrow/Harper Collins) and my UK publisher (Orion), so there was never going to be any doubt that they’d get a minimum of three Spycatcher stories out of me. However, I have many ideas for future novels in the series. The escapades of my central protagonist, joint MI6-CIA operative Will Cochrane, could easily be seen in fifteen to twenty, probably more, books. That said, I’m extremely focused when it comes to writing my books and throw myself into each new project, without allowing myself to become overly distracted by dwelling on other future ideas for novels. It’s always my firm objective to make each new novel better than the last and to produce a final product that reflects the very best of my abilities at that time. Only when I write “The End” on an existing draft book will I start throwing myself fully into the next project. Moreover, I believe it’s crucial to be flexible. I’m exploring and developing Cochrane’s character as I write. Sometimes, that exploration takes unexpected directions. It’s a lot of fun to write that way, and it pays to avoid too rigid a plan for the Spycatcher series as a whole.

spycatcher1Will you tell us a bit about your hero, Will Cochrane?
Will Cochrane is in his mid-thirties, single, and has nine years experience of working as a field operative for MI6. Prior to joining the service, he was a student at Cambridge, and prior to that he spent five years in the French Foreign Legion. Shortly after joining MI6, Cochrane was identified by his superiors as someone with potentially unique skills. As a result, he was put through the top secret 12-month Spartan Program – a mentally and physically brutal training and assessment program designed to fail the applicant. Only one officer at a time is allowed onto the scheme and, to his MI6 and Special Forces instructors’ surprise, Cochrane passed and earned the distinction to carry the codename “Spartan”. Since then, he’s been deployed on the very toughest and complex MI6 and CIA operations. He’s the man that the US and UK premiers turn to if the West is faced with potentially catastrophic threats.

However, despite his prowess, Will is a complex and lonely individual. Part of him yearns for another side to his life; one that could enable him to have friendships and maybe even love without fear that his work would place such individuals in danger. Though his job requires him to do hard and at times morally questionable things, he has tremendous inner compassion and a real sense of what is right and wrong. He enjoys making a perfect cup of tea, loves playing and listening to Spanish classical music, and is an accomplished cook. He’d love to share those interests with someone special.

thehonourableschoolboyWhat (or who) are some of the biggest influences on your writing?
I read less these days, simply because I’m the kind of writer who can’t read other people’s stories when I’m fully immersed in my own tales. But when I was younger, I was a voracious reader and would spend hours in second hand book stores. At school, I studied the classics and other literary works, though my heart has always been in thrillers and adventures. As a boy, I read eighteenth and nineteenth century seafaring tales and stories about early twentieth century spies chasing after anarchists in the backstreets of Europe. Also, I devoured Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series, and the early novels of John Le Carre, Frederick Forsyth and others. No doubt, all of that reading has been a major influence on my writing. But I also get influenced from other quarters, and sometimes unexpectedly so. Obviously, I have my own background in espionage as a major influence, but ideas can also come to me by talking to people, when listening to evocative music, watching a movie, standing in front of a painting, or simply having a walk through the English countryside. Today, an idea came to me for my next book while I was grocery shopping. So, my influences range from obscure out-of-print books, authors like Doyle, through to buying a sack of potatoes!

What do you love most about writing suspense/thrillers?
The aspiration to make a mass audience “thrill”. It may sound an obvious point, but it’s not an easy task for any thriller writer because people’s tastes are so varied. I think thriller writers require nerves of steel when putting pen to paper, must write what excites them, and must never let doubt set in when crafting their tale. I bet most thriller writers would agree that it can be an arduous process, but it’s the reason why we have been put on earth. I wouldn’t swap being a thriller writer for anything else. For me, it’s a dream vocation.

My background as a secret operative helps. I’ve heard that some authors dread the day they have to start writing a new novel – staring at a blank sheet as panic sets in. For me, such days are the start of an adventure – once again, I’m an MI6 officer, about to take a dangerous journey into the unknown.

slingshotHow long does it usually take you, from start to finish, to complete a novel? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I write very quickly, but re-read my work and edit and digest what I’ve done quite slowly. I can easily produce a draft manuscript in five weeks. But it can then take me six months or more to get the book into the final shape I want it to be in. I firmly believe in the principal that my readers should get the very best from me. I’m still learning, and constantly striving for improvement. I believe my writing is getting better and better, but I can hand on heart say that my first book was written with as much effort and attention to detail as my last. I will never send out a manuscript that reflects anything less than 100% of my effort.

I plot, but only to the extent that I’ll have a page or two of bullet point notes. My books have twists and turns and moments when I knock everything onto its head, so I have to have some pre-prepared idea as to what I’m doing! But, how Cochrane gets from A to Z and what happens to him along the way is up for grabs. I’ll frequently put him into situations without necessarily knowing how he’ll get out of them. At such moments, I’ll think “what would I have done?”. It makes the process of writing so much more creative and enjoyable.

What are a few of your favorite novels?
Pretty much anything by Jeffrey Deaver, Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad, and Thomas Harris. I loved Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal and believe that, though readers now generally like pacier thrillers, it was very much a game changer in its time. In the non-thriller/adventure camp, I’d single out Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (published in 1889) as the one book that will guarantee to have me laughing out loud.

What’s next for you?
I’ve just sent off the outlines for books 4 and 5 in the Spycatcher series to my agent and publishers. Once given the green light to work on the stories, there’s up to 2 years of work in there. In tandem, I’m also working on a non-fiction book, and am fleshing out ideas for a Young Audience series. Plus, there’s the associated work involved in marketing my books via interviews etc, and keeping my readers up to date with what I’m doing. It’s a lot of current and future work but I’m not complaining. I feel gifted to have the opportunity to turn my experiences into fiction and to be a storyteller. I love books and writing. The notion that someone, somewhere, is currently absorbed and thrilled by my tales makes me a happy man.
Keep up with Matthew: Website

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

Hi, Matthew, welcome to the forum. I haven't read your books but intend to. Do you read them in order or are they stand alone books?

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!


maxcat wrote:

Hi, Matthew, welcome to the forum. I haven't read your books but intend to. Do you read them in order or are they stand alone books?


Hi Max - I've read Matthew's books. I would say they can be read as stand-alones, but you'll understand more about the background if you read them in order.

 

The books are very exciting - when I'm reading his books, I find myself wondering if Matthew has experienced similar adventures.

 

I believe Matthew is going to be joining us from London, so we're going to have some time zone issues.

 

This is my niece's last day in Chicago before she goes home, so I'm going to take her downtown in a little while. I'll be back later on.

 

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[ Edited ]

Thanks to Matthew's publisher, here's an excerpt from SLING SHOT. Matthew is trying to join us, but the gremlins and trolls are trying to block him. Hopefully he'll be able to sign in soon!

 

 

Slingshot (Spycatcher Series #3)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

BERLIN, 1995

 

 

 

Each step through the abandoned Soviet military barracks took the Russian intelligence officer closer to the room where men were planning genocide.

 

   Nikolai Dmitriev hated being here.

 

   And he loathed what he was about to do. 

 

   The barracks were a labyrinth of corridors and rooms.  Icy water dripped over the stone walls’ paintings of Cold War-era troops and tanks; the air was rank with must; the officer’s footsteps echoed as he strode onward, shivering despite his overcoat and fur hat.  Previously, the complex would have housed thousands of troops.  Now it resembled a decaying prison.

 

   He turned into a corridor and was confronted by four men.  Two Russians, two Americans all wearing jeans, boots, and windbreakers, covering their silenced handguns.  The Special Forces men checked his ID and thoroughly searched him.  It was the seventh time this had happened as he’d moved through the barracks.  Two hundred Russian Spetsnaz operatives and an equal number of US Delta, SEALs, and CIA SOG men were strategically positioned in the base to ensure that every route to his destination was defended.  Their orders were clear: kill any unauthorized person who attempted to get near to the men in the room.

 

   The men motioned Nikolai forward.

 

   Reaching the end of the corridor, he stopped opposite a door.  Extending his hand to open it, he hesitated as he heard a high pitched noise.  Glancing back, two rats in a stagnant pool of water and grease were ripping skin and flesh off the dying carcass of another screeching rat, neither predator attempting to fight the other for the meat; instead they seemed to be cooperating.  He wondered if he should turn around and leave while there was still time.  Everything about his presence here was wrong.  But he was under orders. 

 

   He entered.

 

   It was a large mess hall.  Ten years ago, he would have seen long trestle tables and soldiers eating their meals.  Now it was bare of any furnishings save a rectangular table and chairs in the center.  Graffiti covered the walls, most of it crude, deriding the Soviet Union.  Cigarette smoke hung motionless in the stagnant air.  Rainwater poured from cracks in the high ceiling onto the concrete floor.

 

   Sitting on one side of the rectangular table were a US admiral, a general, and a CIA officer.  Opposite them were two Russian generals.  Between them were two files, and ashtrays.  None of the men were in uniform; the presence in Germany of America’s and Russia’s most powerful military commanders was secret. 

 

   As was the presence of the intelligence officers.  Nikolai himself was Head of Directorate S - the SVR’s division with responsibility for Illegal Intelligence, including planting illegal agents abroad, conducting terror operations and sabotage in foreign countries, and recruitment of Russians on Russian soil.  The CIA officer at the table was the Head of the Special Activities Division – responsible for overseas paramilitary activities and covert manipulation of target countries’ political structures. 

 

   At the head of the table was a small, middle aged man, with jet black hair.  Dressed in an expensive black suit, crisp woven white silk shirt, and blue tie that had been bound in a Windsor knot, the clean shaven man removed his rimless circular glasses, polished them with one end of his tie, and smiled.  “Always late for the party, Nikolai.”

 

   Nikolai did not smile.  “A party requires salubrious surroundings.  You’ve chosen unwisely, Kurt.”

 

   Kurt Schreiber nodded toward the vacant chair next to one of the Russian generals.  “Sit, and shut up.”

 

   The senior SVR officer said with contempt, “You’ve no authority over me, civilian.”

 

   Kurt chuckled.  “When you and I were colonels in the KGB and Stasi, you’d have called me comrade.”

 

   Nikolai sat and nodded.  “Different times, and I’d have been lying to your face.”

 

   Kurt’s shrill, well spoken words were rapid, “The Russian premier chose me to chair this meeting.  Not you.”  He placed his manicured fingers together.  “That is telling.”

 

   “I agree.  It tells us how low we’ve stooped.”  Nikolai looked at the Americans.  “Have the protocols been drawn up?”  

 

   “They have.”  Admiral Jack Dugan nodded toward the Russian generals.  “It took us two days.”

 

   General Alexander Tatlin lit a cigarette.  “It was worth the effort.”  The Russian exhaled smoke.  “The results are precise.”

 

   “Seems to me,” CIA officer Thomas Scott eyed Nikolai with suspicion, “that you’re not comfortable with this.”

 

   Nikolai laughed, his voice echoing in the bare hall.  “How can any sane man be comfortable agreeing to this?”

 

   “Kurt Schreiber’s idea is brilliant.”

 

   “It’s psychotic.”  Nikolai looked at Schreiber and repeated in a quieter voice, “Psychotic.”

 

   US General Joe Ballinger pointed across the table.  “Schreiber’s right.  The act has to shock the **bleep**ers into submission.  Man comes at you with a knife; you defend yourself with a gun.  Trouble is – we haven’t got anyone on our side of the fence who’s got the balls to do another Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  So we make the decision, and it’s a sane one - as uncomfortable as it may make us.”

 

   Nikolai frowned.  “You haven’t reported the true meaning of the protocols to your president?”

 

   The US commander shook his head.  “Nope, and we’re never going to.  Nor are subsequent presidents going to find out.”  He gestured toward his two American colleagues.  “We’re the only Americans who’ll know the secret. No one else States-side would ever agree to this plan.”

 

   “And that’s because they lack my…imagination.”  Kurt withdrew two ink pens, handed one to General Leon Michurin, and the other to Admiral Dugan.  “Signatures, please.”

 

   The Americans signed a sheet of paper inside one of the files, the Russian generals did the same in their files, they exchanged documents and countersigned, and moved both files in front of Nikolai.

 

   The SVR officer stared at the two files.  All that was needed to make this official was his signature on both documents.

 

   “Nikolai, we’re waiting.”  Kurt’s tone was hard, impatient.

 

   Nikolai looked at the men opposite him; ordinarily they were his enemies.  He pictured the two large rats, feasting at opposite ends of the third rodent. 

 

   “Nikolai!”

 

   The Russian intelligence officer shook his head.  “This is wrong.”

 

   “And yet the alternative isn’t right.”

 

   “If I sign this, millions of people could die.”

 

   “Not millions, you fool.”  Schreiber smiled.  “Hundreds of millions.”

 

   Nikolai couldn’t believe this was happening.  He’d always hated Kurt Schreiber.  The man was undoubtedly highly intelligent, but was also untrustworthy, manipulative, cruel, and since the collapse of East Germany had made millions through illegal business ventures.  Now he had the ear of the Russian president and that made him more dangerous than when he’d been a Stasi officer.  “How can you live with yourself?”

 

   Schreiber shrugged.  “I view the deaths as necessary statistics.  I suggest you do the same.”

 

   Nikolai was tempted to respond but knew there was no point.

 

   Schreiber would not listen to reason.

 

   Pure evil never did. 

 

   Nikolai gripped the pen, momentarily closed his eyes, muttered, “Forgive me,” and signed both documents.

 

   “Excellent.”  Kurt reached across, grabbed both files, shoved one at the Russian generals, the other at the Americans.  The former Stasi colonel smiled.  “The protocols for Slingshot are now in place, ready for use should ever the need arise.”

 

   “Great.”  General Tatlin stubbed his cigarette out.  “So now we can get out of this shithole.”

 

   “Not yet.”  Kurt placed his hands flat on the table.  “How can we ensure that no one in this room ever reveals the secret of what’s missing in the files?”

 

   Thomas Scott huffed.  “Slingshot won’t work if one of us talks.  We’ve agreed that.”

 

   Kurt stared at nothing.  “We have, but we need more than agreement.”

 

   “What are you proposing?”

 

   “Insurance.”  Kurt looked at the men, before resting his cold gaze on Nikolai.  “Time can erode a man’s resolve.  But fear can keep him resolute.”

 

   “Speak plainly.”

 

   Kurt nodded.  “One day, one of you may wake up with a crisis of conscience and decide that he can no longer carry the burden of this secret.  That can’t happen.  So, my solution is simple and effective.  The Russian president has authorized me to activate an assassin.  He will be deployed as a deep cover sleeper agent and his orders are to kill any of you,” he looked at the CIA officer and smiled, “who talks.” 

 

   General Tatlin lit another cigarette and jabbed its glowing tip in the direction of Schreiber.  “You expect us to live our lives with a potential death sentence hanging over us?”

 

   Schreiber interlaced his fingers.  “Yes.”

 

   Dugan laughed.  “Take a look around this base, Schreiber.  We’re the kind of men who like to have impenetrable security wherever we go.”

 

   “Impenetrable?”

 

   “Damn right.”  The admiral’s tone was now angry.  “Send out your assassin for all we care.  But, you’re going to need better insurance than that.”

 

   “There is no better insurance.” 

 

   Nikolai wondered why Schreiber looked so smug.  “Who’s the assassin?” 

 

   The sound of rainwater striking the concrete floor intensified as Schreiber momentarily closed his eyes.  “You know of him by the codename Kronos.”

 

   “Kronos?!”  Nikolai’s stomach muscles knotted.  “Why was he selected for this task?”

 

   Before Schreiber could answer, General Ballinger asked, “Who the hell is Kronos?”

 

   Nikolai looked at the American commanders, as he began to sweat.  “He was a Stasi officer, tasked on East Germany’s most complex and strategic assassinations.  Since the collapse of communism, he’s been on the payroll of Russia.  He’s…he’s our most effective killer.  One hundred and eighty three kills under his belt.  Always successful.”  As he returned his attention to Schreiber, he felt overwhelming unease.  “Why was he selected?”

 

   Schreiber opened his eyes.  “Because the Slingshot secret is so vital.  We needed our very best assassin to ensure that,” he swept his arm through air, “no amount of impenetrable security can protect a man who might betray us.”  Schreiber checked his watch, and looked toward one of the far corners of the mess hall.  In a loud, clipped tone, he called out, “Show them.”

 

   Nikolai and the others immediately followed Schreiber’s gaze.  At first nothing happened.  Then, movement from within the shadows of the corner of the room.

 

   A big man stepped into the light.

 

   Standing directly underneath one of the streams of water pouring down from the ceiling.

 

   Was motionless as he allowed the icy rain to wash over his head.

 

   His handgun held high and trained on them.

 

   Kronos.

 

   Schreiber smiled and looked at the others.  “Not only did Kronos get past all of your men, he did so with very precise timing.  I ordered him not to enter this room until one minute ago, so that the contents of our discussion would remain confidential to only the men around this table.  Since then, he’s been pointing his weapon at you.”

 

   General Michurin slammed a fist down onto the table.  “How dare you make fools of us?!”

 

   Schreiber responded calmly, “It wasn’t my intention to make fools of you. Rather, to demonstrate to you that you do indeed have a potential death sentence hanging over you.”  He darted a look at Kronos.  “Give them what they need.”

 

   Nikolai felt fear course through him as he watched the German assassin take measured steps toward the table, his gun still held high.  Though Nikolai was one of only a handful of SVR officers who was security cleared to know all about the Kronos operations, he didn’t know the assassin’s real name.  Moreover, this was the first time that he’d been in the presence of the man.  Kronos was nearly two meters tall, muscular, had black hair, and was wearing clothes identical to those Nikolai had seen worn by the base’s protection detail.

 

   Kronos lowered his weapon, withdrew a piece of paper from his jacket, tore it in half, and slapped one piece of paper on Admiral Dugan’s chest, before moving to the other side of the table and doing the same with the other bit of paper on General Michurin.

 

   Schreiber spoke to the Americans.  “I suggest you bury your paper deep in the vaults of the CIA.”  Then the Russians.  “Put yours in the SVR vaults.”  He cupped his hands together.  “Never combine them, unless there is reason to do so.”

 

   “Reason?”

 

   “One of you needs Kronos to put a bullet in your head.” 

 

   “You…”

 

   “Enough, admiral!”  Schreiber composed himself.  “The relevance of the two pieces of paper will be made known to you if the need arises.  Until that time, Kronos will vanish.  No one, not even me, will know of his location.  He’ll wait for years, decades if necessary, until he is…needed.”

 

   Thomas Scott shook his head.  “Our men have been here for three days.”  The CIA officer felt disbelief.  “And when they arrived, they searched the entire base.”

 

   General Ballinger shrugged.  “There’s no way he could’ve penetrated the base today.  He must have entered the complex before our men arrived and hid in a place they failed to search.”

 

   “That’s the only possible explanation.”  Admiral Dugan pointed at Schreiber.  “Next time we’ll be more thorough.”

 

   Schreiber grinned, though his expression remained cold.  “Kronos – show them where you were two and three days ago.”

 

   The German moved around the table, placing a photograph each in front of the Russians and Americans.  Incredulity was on all of the men’s faces as they stared at the shots. 

 

   Each showed the inside of their homes in America or Russia.

 

   A local newspaper clearly showing the day’s date.

 

   And Kronos pointing the tip of a long knife toward family photos.

 

   “Bastard!”

 

   Kronos retrieved each photo, placed them in a pile in the center of the table, and lit them with a match. 

 

   Schreiber watched the flames rise high.  “Our meeting is concluded.  You will take the Slingshot protocols back to your respective headquarters.  You will secret the torn papers as instructed.  You will keep your mouths shut.  Otherwise, my assassin willfind and kill you.”

 

   Kronos stepped away from the men, hesitated, then turned to face them.  In a deep voice, he said, “Gentlemen, I left all of your men alive though I must apologize for the harm I had to cause some of them.” 

 

   Then he disappeared into the shadows.

 

 

 

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MatthewDunn
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

Hi Becke.  Great to be back on your forum.  By the way, the above chapter is the opening to my latest book - the third in the Spycatcher series: SENTINEL (published hardback tomorrow).

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MatthewDunn
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

Correction, SLINGSHOT (of course!). IT glitches are making me forget the sequence of my books!
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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!


MatthewDunn wrote:

Hi Becke.  Great to be back on your forum.  By the way, the above chapter is the opening to my latest book - the third in the Spycatcher series: SENTINEL (published hardback tomorrow).


Thanks, Matthew - I just received the excerpt. In my rush to post it, I must have read the information wrong! I'll fix it right now!

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!


MatthewDunn wrote:
Correction, SLINGSHOT (of course!). IT glitches are making me forget the sequence of my books!

You've been busy! Haven't you had two or three books come out in the past year?

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!


becke_davis wrote:

MatthewDunn wrote:

Hi Becke.  Great to be back on your forum.  By the way, the above chapter is the opening to my latest book - the third in the Spycatcher series: SENTINEL (published hardback tomorrow).


Thanks, Matthew - I just received the excerpt. In my rush to post it, I must have read the information wrong! I'll fix it right now!


Plus, duh, if I hadn't been rushing I would have recognized the excerpt. I'm halfway through SLING SHOT right now. (Your lovely publisher sent me an advance copy.) I've had out-of-town guests all month or I would have finished it by now.

 

I will be offline for a few hours - I'm taking my niece to lunch in downtown Chicago today. She returns to Albuquerque tomorrow and I want her last day here to be special. I'll be back online as soon as we return and I'll be here all week, apart from those few hours.

 

I hope our regulars here will keep you entertained in my absence!

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

Matthew - I'm surprised your books haven't been made into films yet. Have they been optioned for the big screen?

 

Also, can you tell us what you're working on now or is it too soon to say?

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MatthewDunn
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

Thanks Becke. I'll notify my twitter and f/book followers we're now live on here, but before doing so label me as "author"? Can't remember how this works.
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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!


MatthewDunn wrote:
Thanks Becke. I'll notify my twitter and f/book followers we're now live on here, but before doing so label me as "author"? Can't remember how this works.

I used to be able to assign "author" tags, but B&N is no longer giving us that option. I understand the whole site is going to get an overhaul soon, so maybe the author tags will return when that happens. I'm sorry about this!

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MatthewDunn
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!

All three Spycaatcher books are in the hands of Hollywood as we speak. We'll see. Right now I'm hard at work on book 4 in the series. Plus, book 3 (SLINGSHOT) is published tomorrow so I'm involved in a lot of interviews and other promo. Plus, I'm doing quite a bit of work with the media on intelligence and security issues/breaking news such as the recent Snowden/NSA story. Finally, I have two TV initiatives that I'm working on.
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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author MATTHEW DUNN!


MatthewDunn wrote:
All three Spycaatcher books are in the hands of Hollywood as we speak. We'll see. Right now I'm hard at work on book 4 in the series. Plus, book 3 (SLINGSHOT) is published tomorrow so I'm involved in a lot of interviews and other promo. Plus, I'm doing quite a bit of work with the media on intelligence and security issues/breaking news such as the recent Snowden/NSA story. Finally, I have two TV initiatives that I'm working on.

Wow! Congratulations! With so much going on, when do you find time to write? Will you be doing any Barnes & Noble book signings this year?